It's the last Friday of 2018, and as such the last Friday Facts before the New year of 2019.
We all hope everyone has had a great 2018, and looking forward to a lot more automation fun to come in 2019. Albert has produced a postcard for you all to share to give the year a good send-off.
Science in Factorio or more separately, technologies and science packs, are the main progression mechanisms in the game, and all entities are unlocked by it. This is great but it also means that when we change or add almost anything to the game, it will certainly have some impact on science. Over time we have changed the technologies and science packs multiple times because their context and design goals moved and evolved with the game.
Before 0.15 we had a fairly linear progression of getting from Science pack 1 to Science pack 3 with increasing complexity, plus the go-fight-your-neighbours Alien science pack which didn’t really require much factory/crafting.
In 0.15 Kovarex introduced a new design where the player should be able to make a choice between different tech paths and get different benefits from each. The amount and price of these science packs also made the game significantly better paced and longer, meaning you have enough time in the game to appreciate the intermediate steps between upgrades, like for example, not ignoring Modular armor or Power armor Mk1. In 0.15 we also added infinite technologies with Space science packs, which give more sense to the large factories that never have to stop.
During 0.15 we did some tweaks to Production science pack as we realized neither the Assembling machine 1 or Pumpjacks were the right ingredients... and it ended up a bit too simplified.
I really like Kovarex’ general idea of the 0.15 science packs, but I also feel like it’s possible to improve the implementation in order to really make more out of its potential...
Over time we have gathered a lot of experience through playing the game ourselves and feedback from reading your posts and comments about the technologies and science packs. Here are some of the issues we noted:
Military science pack
Science pack 3
Production science pack
High-tech science pack
In short, Military pack could be nicer and cheaper, Science pack 3 is a huge difficulty spike, while Production vs. High-tech science pack balance doesn’t really work. Let’s have a look at what we can do about it.
While the design idea stays the same, the new science is trying to make the progression difficulty smoother and the places with choice more clear. We will try to achieve this in three steps - changing the names, recipes, and technology dependencies.
The names will make more sense once you know the rest of the changes, but I think it’s important to set a dictionary first so the article is less confusing.
One of the other factors which may have made things further confusing is that the naming convention of science packs is a mix of old science-pack-1,2,3 from pre-0.15 and unique names (military, production, high-tech, space). The idea behind this was that the specialized science packs get unique names, while the mandatory early game progression keep numbers 1,2,3. With the upcoming changes it’s a great opportunity to make this more consistent and fitting.
It’s noteworthy that we considered multiple options - whether we should keep the naming, give them numbered names or just name them by colours.Naming by numbers
Giving them numbered names (1-7) would mean that any choices would be out of the window, unless we would add sub-numbers like for example Science pack 3A and Science pack 3B. That’s completely abstract though - would you ever remember which one is A and which one is B?Naming by colours
The other option would be to just call them by colours - so many people do that already regardless. However, a lot of us also say green/red/blue circuits or yellow/red/blue belts. And that’s completely fine, but the official name in the game should be representative about the differences. The main difference between a green and a red circuit is not the colour, but the recipe and complexity.
Furthermore, I believe it has some value to have official 'formal' names, even if we know that we will call all of the things with simplified 'informal' names anyway. I believe that creating this informal language, in your mind or in the whole community, is subconsciously really cool. You’re calling things by their colour, it’s easy to remember and everybody understands each other - but only because you all share the knowledge of what the colour in that context means.
To summarize; it would be best to have unique names which represent each science pack well, they should be a representation of its purpose, of the stage in the game and the recipe, be short and easy to pronounce, it would be nice if each science pack name would start with a different letter, and so on... The only slight problem would be that those names weren’t easy to find, but I believe now we have them at last:
One of the most important aspects of the science pack is its recipe as it defines how many resources it costs, how complicated is it to produce, how much do you need to research before being able to produce it (because of prerequisites), and how much time it takes to craft it including all the ingredients.
We are happy with the first science pack, especially when it gets a nicer name that sets the tone for the whole game.
The second science pack is fine. Here the name was not very easy to find as 'green science' is used to unlock so many various things, but logistics are a big part of them (red belts, car, trains, stack inserters, robots). In general Automation + Logistics is the first, and mandatory, part of the game so they fit well together, and the ingredients (Inserter + Transport belt) are both related to moving items around.
I have been considering to add 1x Pipe to the recipe to make getting to oil easier - if you have pipes automated, it’s so much simpler as you need a crazy number of them to build the refinery and even craft the items that the refinery consists of. Using it in a science pack recipe is not guaranteeing that the player will automate pipes and store them in a chest for later use, but it’s a step closer, or you can just pick up pipes from a belt if they back up and you need them. The ore price would be a little bit higher (+14%), and it would add a little more complexity in this science pack. Which might be a good thing if it makes Chemical science easier.
Especially since Assembling machine 1 does not have the 2 ingredient limit (FFF-266), I’d say this option is not completely off the table yet so I’m especially interested in what you think about this.
This recipe does not exist as it kind of is the process of the Rocket silo, but the values are representative. Note that it returns 1,000x science packs.
The Space science pack is only influenced by Low density structures having a slightly different recipe (20x copper plate, 2x steel plate, 5x plastic bar), but other than that it is the same.
Renaming of the science packs gave me an opportunity to rethink if it really should not be called Rocket science as many people have half-jokingly suggested. In my mind 'Rocket science pack' would mean you are trying to research some technology which improves rockets, which is not what is happening in the game. Space science pack tells me that I am discovering space, which is what the rocket is doing if you assume that the Satellite is sending you scientific data and the Rocket silo turns them into a bottle of scientific data, like any of the other coloured scientific data in the game.
Also space is said to be infinite, and this is a science pack for infinite technologies.
Numbers are definitely important when it comes to science packs as they are a significant portion of where your resources are spent. When iterating the different science pack recipes, it was immensely helpful to use a spreadsheet in combination with my favourite Factorio calculator (thank you very much for this useful tool Kirk McDonald). If you are interested you can find the full spreadsheet here.
The spreadsheet can be pretty confusing so let’s just summarize the most significant points:
As it’s been hinted in FFF-245 earlier, one of the issues was the distribution of which technologies were unlocked by Production and Utility science packs. The same FFF also stated that we are trying to improve this and showed the tech trees for it. At that point the new science packs were not in our master branch yet so it wouldn’t be wise to include them in that FFF. Now we have a newer version...Production science pack alone now unlocks:
Utility science pack alone now unlocks:
With that the only technologies which require both Production and Utility science packs are:
During several playthroughs of very different settings and styles I have tried how viable it is to prioritize one or the other science pack (Production vs. Utility) and I got results I was very happy with.
Separately from any science pack rework, we have realized that we have a few too many technologies for damage/shooting speed upgrades.
In general the combat rebalancing Twinsen did for 0.15 is very good and all weapons have their uses, but in order to make for example Shotgun useful you have to invest a lot of time and resources into upgrades for it. This is hard to justify when you could instead research upgrades which benefit both Gun turrets and your Submachine gun and get a comparable amount of offensive power. A similar case happens in multiple places.
The tank had a specific issue where the tank Cannon shells would seem weak compared to all the automation and investment you would need to do to get them. Instead you can just put the Piercing rounds magazines in, and especially if you upgraded them, the damage was more than enough. This was majorly influenced by the tank submachine gun having +100% damage bonus. We have removed this bonus in 0.17.
Please note that the icons above are provisional, but the solution is that we are merging all military upgrade technologies except Artillery upgrades into 5, which should make a lot of technologies much less redundant. The new technologies are:
Artillery, Follower robot count, and Laser turret shooting speed upgrades remain as separate technologies.
The prices of these new upgrades are about double than what 0.16 individual upgrades used to be. However you almost always get more than two improvements in return and some of the science packs (Military, Chemical and Utility) are now significantly cheaper.
You don’t get all of the upgrades from level 1 though. For example Stronger explosives level 1 gives only Grenade damage bonus, on level 2 it gives both Grenade damage and Land mine damage, and from level 3 further it influences Grenades, Land mines and Rockets. That way we avoid that you would get an upgrade for something far before you could actually possibly unlock and craft it.
Also, it means for example Tank cannon shell upgrades do not have 7 tiers but just 2 (Physical projectile damage 5+ and Weapon shooting speed 5+), but instead they are expensive and very impactful.
All the weapons which have a shooting speed kind of make sense that they could be in a single technology, so we did just that. The Artillery shooting speed is separate mainly because it’s an infinite research unlike the Weapon shooting speed.
One of the reasons why for example Land mines didn’t have their own upgrade technology is because it would be just another research. With this kind of grouping it is so much easier to add it into one of the categories without adding more technologies which would feel like bloat.
Personal laser defense is now also influenced by Energy weapon damage upgrades (which also affect Laser turrets), but on the other hand we decreased the base damage it does, and also decreased its power consumption so it is fun to use even with Personal solar panels early on, and if you invest into the Energy weapon damage, it becomes quite good later.
Combat robot damage was quite hideous because it didn’t actually provide bonuses for all combat robots - just for the two later tiers. Defenders did still get upgrades, just from a different place - the damage and shooting speed upgrades for bullets. Now it’s much clearer as Defenders are kept the same way while the upgrade for Distractors and Destroyers are in Energy weapons damage which is clearly focused on laser and electric beams.
Both Personal laser defense and Distractor robots now have the same laser beams as the new high resolution laser turrets (FFF-228).
With the military technology changes, Rocket shooting speed technologies no longer exist. This opens the question what do we put to the Rocket silo prerequisite instead of Rocket shooting 5... The answer is: Nothing.
Putting any arbitrary military upgrade there just makes that weapon type mandatory to upgrade even if you don’t want to use it. Not only that, but it was also the only reason why you would need to make Military science packs if your only intention is to launch the Rocket.
This makes it even more clear that the Military science pack is a separate branch of science. It depends on the progression of your factory, but its sole purpose is to deal with the distraction - the enemies - from your main goal.
Biters by themselves already give you a very good reason to invest into Military science regardless and it’s unnecessary to force the Military science pack on people who play without biters - just because of the few Rocket shooting speed (or any other) military technologies that you don’t even make use of. Or maybe you play with biters but are badass enough to just use more unupgraded Gun turrets and launch the Rocket without any Military science packs anyway, we’ll leave that decision to you.
It’s late at night, you have been playing for a while now (again), you built all the assembly lines to make the rocket parts, provided the gluttonous silo all the parts it demanded. You can finally see the counter of rocket components say 100%. You watch the great animation of the rocket preparing. All excited you hit the LAUNCH button written in capital letters because this stuff is lit. Your emotions are through the roof, your eyes are desperately trying to remain dry. In feelings of pride and accomplishment, thinking about all the effort it took to achieve this great technological feat, you observe your great creation flying upwards. The epicness of the moment couldn’t be much higher. At least until you see the following:
How many of you have seen this great message before and how many of you have seen it on your first rocket launch? It’s really easy to forget the satellite, especially as the GUI slot for it only shows after the rocket is ready to launch. Not to mention that a new player might not know at all that the satellite even exists and is required.
Mainly for these reasons, you now win the game by launching an empty rocket. The satellite is unlocked with the Space science pack technology and its only purpose is obtaining these science packs.
The idea of an escape pod has been abandoned but we will might try to somehow use it in the campaign.
Mods like SpaceX which redefine the victory conditions with a super-satellite can use a remote call to disable the default victory condition.
As always, let us know what you think on our forums.