Serious Bug - Large radius explosions cause several bad behaviors and can break a save file permanently.


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Explosions in Astroneer are normally not very big.  It is possible, and huge fun, to arrange items to make much bigger radius explosions.  Everything seems like good normal game play to me, until they get over about 3 tether-lengths, and it goes horribly wrong above a radius of (about) 6 tether lengths.

a) Features like grass, trees, fauna, and those little decorative objects are normally removed in small explosions, and this seems to be the correct behavior.  Explosions above about 3 tether length radius sometimes leave some of them in place.  Fauna is always left in place in large explosions.  It is possible that the instances of grass and trees being left was mainly a problem of corrupted surfaces, see below.

b) Resources should be mined by explosions, with lots of items dropped into the crater.  Explosions above 3 tether length radius have weird effects.  Often, the resources are left hanging in the air in their native form.  Occasionally, the resources are mined, but piled up in a tight little stack that looks like one slightly fat resource.  When touched, they scatter wildly from that point, similarly to how they used to pile up at an Extractor.  Note that the mined resources are often hanging in the air until the player comes within a certain distance, but that may be normal.  I have seen occasions of many different types of resource hanging unmined, but iron and lithium are never mined.  There may be a difference in behavior for iron as opposed to compound, or they may be lower down and I only reach them on larger deeper explosions.

c) A lot of platforms hang in the air after bigger explosions, including the medium storage units I use to hold enough explosive gas to make a big shot.  Sometimes they fall when the player approaches.  One player object is destroyed by each spherical explosion, usually one tether, and this is probably the intended behavior.  Tethers, button repeaters, medium storage units join the natural gunk hanging in the air, spoiling the nice view of a big open spherical crater.

d) Right after a big shot the game pauses.  This is probably a good way of handling it when the game suddenly has to fix tens of thousands of triangles.  An indication of progress would be nice, perhaps a pop-up like the "saving game" message when you enter a rover.  There are other reports on Youtube and other places of the game locking unrecoverably after a good boom.  The frame rate slowdown can be much more troublesome.  It doesn't always happen, but it can be bad near the area of the shot, and persists for a longer time.  It is very frustrating to try to get back to oxygen, on the edge of a new large cliff, at a frame rate of about 1/4 fps. 

e) The Big Problem is that explosions bigger than 5 or 6 tether length radius break the surface description of the planet.  Usually this is naked edges hanging in free space, see pictures attached in following entries.  Often it has terrain areas which appear to be gone from far away, but appear visibly and are tangible close up.  The game becomes unplayable near these areas, which players getting stuck and frame rates under 2 fps.  The damage is not repaired on save, that save file will be corrupted forever.  I have a guess that the size of an explosion that corrupts is dependent on the player's computer, perhaps more memory helps with bigger volumes.  I believe that the problems with mining and floating objects are probably not a function of the player's available memory, that's game play.  I have some other unconfirmed guesses about what affects the success or failure of the surface mapping, notably whether the player survives or not and how far they are from all of the volume being disintegrated.  I do know that being too far definitely affects the process.


My system is Windows 10, Steam.  8 Gig Ram, AMD Athlon(tm) X4 860K Quad Core Processor, 3700 Mhz.  AMD Radeon (TM) R7 360 Series.  The work researching explosions has been since the automation update, and this bug report was filed while playing 1.17.89.0.  My settings are all default, with the graphics qualities being "ultra", "high," "high," and "ultra."  I haven't tried "High Quality Terrain" mode, it has been off.

I'll give more details in the next few entries, and recipes for making large radius explosions, and some pictures of broken terrain and other problems.

Large explosions can be huge fun.  I'm not talking about some youtuber piling up a pile of dynamite in a single pile.  There is a method that makes large efficient explosions, and it's entirely possible that the math in the game is off by one in an exponent.  It's been tremendous fun to figure it out, and of course it's fun to blow holes big enough to expose the core.  I hope that this ticket gets some attention with the wonderful developers.  It's not just big holes, I believe this problem probably highlights weaknesses that are in the game or engine anyway.  Regardless, I am thoroughly enjoying Astroneer, and wish you guys all the best, and I'd be glad to discuss it further with you.
 

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Attached is a picture after a "normal" explosion, of radius 2.5 tether lengths, with the resources nicely sitting in the bottom of the crater.

Also attached are pictures of naked unmined resources, from larger explosions.  You can see popcoral, medium storage units, and other items hanging in air.

However, I was missing a clue about something.  I reloaded a previous save file, and drove to a big crater where I distinctly remember lots of decorations, stalactites, and stalagmites hanging in the air, obscuring the view down into the crater.  It appears that saving, closing, and reloading a file removes some of this gunk.  As I drove around in the crater, more items fell every now and then, especially research items that had been attached to an organic source that disappeared on reload.

resin_and_sphalearite_hanging.png

unmined_iron_hanging_in_air.png

Happy_Resources_Bottom_2.5_Radius_Crater.png

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It may not be important which resources are un-mined.  Definitely I can confirm in those screenshots that Iron, Sphalerite, and Resin have done it. 

I've seen Aluminum and Ammonium tend to be mined and present as strange stacks of mined resources that splatter out wildly when touched.

before_touching.png

stack_of_resource_dispersing.png

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I did some work many, many years ago on one of the first ever solid modeling file formats, especially writing the routines that corrected errors in those files, so I have a knowledge of broken surfaces.  Astroneer is absolutely amazing at getting it so right so much of the time.  (Although the pre-release versions had a tendency for a crucial item to fall through the floor, sigh.)

Here are screen shots of a broken surface.  The u-shaped green area in the shadow of the shelter is a hole in the surface, we're seeing the interior of the dirt on the far side of that mountain.  This happened when the shelter expanded and disintegrated some dirt.

When I used the Terrain Tool, the missing triangles repaired perfectly, and the game remained perfectly playable.

broken_manifold_repaired.png

broken_manifold_atrox.png

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My biggest explosion ever was very large.  A significant fraction of DeSolo is now in a broken surface state.  From some places in orbit, a large volume is missing and you can see down into the core.  From other places in orbit, those surfaces are still there.  One section of the sphere is actually totally gone, a "spherical cap," the part closest to the player, the eastern most section of the sphere.  In these pictures, the player is standing on the edge.  From above, he's standing on solid blueish ground, "standing_on_bad_surface.png."  Directly in front of him is a knife edge of broken surface.  From below, those triangles are invisible.

Walking in this area is difficult, the frame rate is absurdly low, the game or engine is having trouble coping with the geometry. In other corrupted saves, I found that a player or rover could fall through one of these holes and fall to the next surface and die.

This is the main problem I'd like to show in this bug report.  I have learned what size explosion is safe on my computer, and it's a diameter of 10 or maybe 11 tether lengths.  Above that, reality is broken.  I can quibble all day about what should or should not be mined or left hanging, but broken surfaces break the game and make it unplayable, and they do NOT get fixed by saving and re-entering.

Recipes for recreating my madness in following posts.  It's not that hard to blow 10% of DeSolo out of existence, if it just worked.

Underneath_bad_surface.png

Standing_on_bad_surface.png

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SPOILER ALERT!

The following posts tell how to make stupidly large explosions.  I have to post this, in order for the System Era developers to recreate the bugs.

It was INCREDIBLY fun to work this method out, and measure it, and graph it, and then use it safely to sculpt worlds.  I really recommend not reading further, but reload a world where you've finished the game and have a big automated production center and churn out some dynamite and a vast amount of hydrogen and learn it yourself.

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The basics of single-point explosions:  All explosions in Astroneer are spherical.

An item of dynamite, a single cylinder of hydrogen, (or methane,) or a partially empty cylinder of those gases all create the same size hole, about half a tether length in radius.  Whee.

You can put additional items on your stack, and get the hole a little bigger.  It doesn't matter if it's a tight stack of singles, or storage units, the volume of the spherical hole is roughly proportional to the number of units.  This is pretty good math, not far from the real world.  So if your volume is the same, your radius goes up as the cube root of the number of items you put in your pile.  It would take a vast quantity of items to make a boom much larger than 3 or 4 tether lengths in radius.

Exception:  Medium Gas Canisters give much less bang than a pile of 32 individual units or units on storage trays.  

But, consider putting your explosive items in a spread out fashion instead of a pile.

If you put 32 hydrogen cylinders in a pile with one dynamite, I get a radius of one tether length.  If you spread those 32 cylinders out in a very neat, evenly spaced line along four tether lengths, you get a radius over 2 tether lengths.  That's twice the radius, so over 8 times the volume removed.

 

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Explosions "Devolve" into smaller spheres if you put them too thinly:

I have tried a lot of shapes and distributions, but never achieved results any better than putting the items in a straight line, or a slight arc following the surface.  How you space them matters, the more evenly separated the better.

But you can't just make a line of items arbitrarily long with items spaced 8 to a tether length.  The explosion separates into a group of spherical explosions, or as I've been calling it, it "devolves."  At 4 items per tether length, it devolves into smaller explosions only 2 tether lengths in diameter.  At 8 items, it's 4 tether lengths in diameter.  If you perfectly space out 16 items per tether length, it can grow to a diameter of 8.6 tether lengths, but that is unbelievably tedious.

So I usually use hydrogen filling medium storage units, and space them out to 4, 5, or more per tether length.  At the cost of extra hydrogen, which is free given adequate time with lots of power running lots of condensers, it can be made to automatically fill the storage units.  The biggest time needed is to un-package the storage units, put them on a silo, watch them fill, and then individually place them along the line of tethers.  One dynamite in the middle, lots of button repeaters, and I'm pretty well trained in making arbitrarily large explosions'.

Yes, that data point on the right is from an actual trial shot in a game, but it raises two problems with large explosions...

devolution_chart.png

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Safe Distance from an explosion.

There is a spherical region where dirt and rock is removed, and there is a larger distance out from that where an explosive item will also ignite, starting a new explosion.  That ignition distance is either the same or very similar to the distance at which the player is killed.  

The secondary ignition distance appears to be 1.83 times the radius of the original explosion.

If the player dies, anecdotal evidence suggests that even a moderately sized explosion will corrupt the surface.

There is a distance beyond which a physical effect doesn't happen until the player gets closer.  I could be way off base here, but I think it's about 30 tether lengths.  This is kinda sorta related to what happens when you explode your entire base, and platforms go flying out into the air in all directions.  Some of the land close to base, and some of them are stuck high up in the air in a ring around your base.

If your player is outside of this distance, measured to the furthest area of the spherical dirt removal volume, anecdotal evidence says it contributes to surface corruption.

So figure out what radius of dirt removal you want, and stand your player pretty much exactly twice that distance away from the center.

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Large Explosions will corrupt no matter what you do correctly otherwise.

On my machine, described above, I'm pretty safe making explosions at about 5 or 5.5 radius.  I'm pretty certain to get surface corruption at radii above six.  Your results may vary.

Recipes for Explosions:

32 single hydrogen spaced perfectly over 4 tether lengths will give a radius of 2.3 tether lengths. It will mine everything correctly, and you can stand a little more than one button repeater away.  Simple, clean, fun, easy, safe.

39 medium storage units filled with hydrogen and spaced evenly along a line 9.5 tether lengths long.  That's four trays to the tether length, 10 tether lengths but no tray on the very end.  This gives a radius of 5 tether lengths.  This is safe on my machine.  It won't mine very well at all, but it won't corrupt your game.  Save and reload, and the munge left behind mostly goes away.  Use a jetpack to click on and knock down the trays hanging in mid-air.  Use three button repeaters.  I experience about 10 seconds of locking up, then a minute or two of extremely low frame rate.  This is my go-to recipe, you can get very efficient at loading up a rover with enough stuff to do this.

You can use the same spacing of 4 medium storage units per tether length up to a radius of 6.5 tether lengths.  It's a really nice big hole, but it breaks my save file and never repairs.

Follow the chart above, and eventually you'll attempt a spacing of 8 medium storage per tether length.  I know this works up to at least a radius of 17 tether lengths, and might be a little longer.  If you fire this from the first underground layer of DeSolo, you will not just expose the core, you'll expose about 4 towers worth down there.  That's like 10% of the volume of the entire moon.  Whee.

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Exponents:

The radius of the volume removed by single point explosions is approximately 0.35 times the cube root of the number of individual items.  Not unrealistic, pretty consistent.

If you lay out the items in a line, or in a line of storage units, my chart suggests that done correctly, the distance before it devolves is proportional to the density. So the radius is proportional to the square root of the number of items.  This is a huge difference, and allows mad engineers to do stupid things like I did.

This is NOT a bug!  This is a feature!  Don't fix this!  Please don't fix this.  Real demolition engineers used carefully placed charges to bring down an old building instead of one lump in the basement.

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I hope it's possible to fix the surface corruption.

I'll be glad to help in any way I can, of course.  Save files, a video meeting, whatever you can use.  I can't begin to tell you how much I've enjoyed Astroneer.  I can't wait for sequels, new star systems, animals, meeting the aliens, liquid, whatever you come up with it's going to be awesome in the system/engine/universe you've created.  I work in a closely related field, so I can appreciate the sweat that's gone into it.

It probably means an hourglass on the screen while thousands of triangles get stitched together.  You may study it and tell me to man up and buy some more RAM.  What happens in multiplayer is going to be another headache.

Attached is a picture of the results of 2408 hydrogen on DeSolo.  I had to try it on DeSolo because Novus was too corrupt to even land there any more.  If you zoom in, you can see four towers around the core.

17_tether_length_radius_fired_on_DeSolo_core_and_towers_visible..png

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