Killtech

Automation: Hopes and Concerns

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Great to hear that automation is next on the agenda and the prototypes i have seen are were already quite interesting. Given that the game has quite a few recipes to go through we will have enough automated production lines to build and setup - so this will be the biggest content update in terms of time needed to fully go through it. Therefore I am soo looking forward to it.

But as it is still in a development I would like to address the typical balancing issues that come up with any such concepts.

  • First of all there is the issue of resources and sinks. It doesn't make that much sense to automate production in the case one needs only a few processed resources. For example producing diamonds wouldn't be worth the effort as we currently only need a very limited amount to build a personal drill and perhaps another for a vehicle and that's it. So a central problem with games that have good automation is that they need to setup proper resource sinks to motivate automating in the first place.
  • On the other hand automation itself partly serves as a big sink itself because in order to setup a production line we will likely need to build multiple chemical labs each dedicated to a specific recipe and build a lot of logistic in between that'll also need more power - all those buildings take quite a bit of resources to build. So that presents another problem: as of now all resource deposits are limited. So if that remains unchanged then some planets might get mined dry to meed that demand. However we've already seen the resource extractor prototype which I assume will last a lot longer than a regular vain, but endlessly?
  • Infinite resources sources can often trivialize a game - especially one originally balanced for limited amounts. I mean resource acquisition so far is a central gameplay aspect that drives exploration and I wouldn't want it to be lost. From games like Satisfactory I know that it leads to player rarely leave their base at all - which I disliked since that game has quite a beautiful world to explore, too.
  • resource vein types: also please consider making different deposit types for the hand tool and the resource extractor - well, if the total amount of mined resources will differ between the mining methods. Otherwise experienced players will try minimally mine deposits near their stating base with the hand tool so they remain available for the extractor later while new players will realize too late that they have created a big logistics problem for themselves.
  • New logistical/exploration challenges: If resource extraction can be automated too (i.e. via the extractor) we finally will have a big motivation to setup additional outpost and even underground bases for those resources. So please make sure we have the good automatable resource sources far apart to give us some proper challenges, both for exploring and logistics.
  • Power management: underground bases offer a unique challenge and with automation we will finally have some decent power consumption. So managing power generation could be quite a fun because generators even have their own automation line to keep them going (though this requires some trigger system to shut them down when batteries are full: like a new battery building that can turn off all buildings on the same platform when it's charged and turns them on again, when it deletes). Bun sadly we have RTGs in the game that scratch that content almost entirely because they are a energy source that beats all others in every possible way. So please bring back energy management before automation update goes live.

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Posted (edited)

Thinking about resources, how about having medium and large resource items additional to the regular small ones that we can put into out backpacks? The medium and large ones couldn't be directly used in any recipe but they would have to be processed into small items first. Of course the resource extractor wouldn't have a problem of mining those larger resources and extract small ones from it directly. Alternative ways of processing would be dynamite and the shredders (but those methods may yield less). the large resource items shouldn't be movable by hand like some large wreckage.

furthermore research items are already medium sized and given that most of use don't need any more bytes they could get an alternative use as medium resource items. There are more than enough for most resource types even. Plant researchables would break up into organics or resin, mineral ones into different ores while the artificial ones (from exo research pods) could break up into refined resources.

Edited by Killtech

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Whether or not we actually need the resources doesn't really matter to me, I just like the view of a fully stocked up storage. Having everything ready just in case. Also aesthetics. I don't care if I have more diamond than I will ever need for the rest of my natural life, I want it sitting there and look nice and orderly.

Most of the fun with automation for me will be tinkering with the tools we are given to make the most elaborate chains that I can. I hope it offers a lot of options and lets me organize my storage to a very intricate degree.

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Make a perpetual motion machine that starts with raw resources, automates them to build something, automate to scrap said somethings, automate trade platform to get more raw resources...

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Posted (edited)

I've always been so-so about the need for automation - i mean, i get how utterly tiresome it is to have to feed a process one by one in order to convert all the resources you have into a new product or resource, but there are other activities, core game activities that, if automated, would leave me wondering exactly what i should be doing with my time instead.

And in this question lies the essential issue with automation: if i no longer need to do the repetitive grunt work of providing for bases, what then am i supposed to be doing? what other gameplay task will engage my interest and take up my time?

see, just adding 'robots' to the game isn't simply a self contained thing. without other activities to occupy the player's time and intelligence, it's value is questionable. worse, it actually becomes an 'endgame' in itself; land, gather resources, build bases, build machines to create more resources to build better machines, then set the machines to do it all without you, then - leave? Die?

the simple, but crude, way to address this possibility is to simply hamstring the automation process, so it only works if the player has to continue to do something else, like running adjustments or repairs, or manual feeding of the automated machines. this, of course, is no kind of automation at all, just another version of the old process. this is why the portable oxygenator is such a white elephant - by simply replacing one continually reducing resource (the blue one) with another (the yellow one), you have simply shifted the same activity across in the colour spectrum, if you like. automation simply cannot function in this way.

this is why i've been lukewarm about automation. it presumes that the player needs time to do other stuff. without providing the other stuff, why provide the time-saving mechanisms?

i will be very intrigued to see exactly what the game devs are bringing to this particular idea that addresses this, if anything.

 

Edited by Bron

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On 5/13/2020 at 5:22 PM, Bron said:

this is why i've been lukewarm about automation. it presumes that the player needs time to do other stuff. without providing the other stuff, why provide the time-saving mechanisms?

you got it somewhat wrong. Automation allows you to save time so you can spend more of it on... more automation. If done right, then this is indeed a self sustaining gameplay goal. here is why: for automation suddenly many buildings will become dedicated to one recipe only... so you will need more buildings. more buildings need more resources, so that's what you will have to spend time on at the start. And given that the amount needed might deplete all nearby sources such that getting new shipments will take more and more exploration and road building. Then setting up your automation, takes it's own time before it works the way you want it... and since it get's somewhat complex you soon realize you could do it better... and invest even more time to reorder stuff. 

And if they add the resource thumper/miner right it could lead us to building additional remote mining outposts which need their out power supply and so on. that's even more resources, roads and logistics you need that will eat even more of your time.

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