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Up Topic General / General / Transport, pathfinding and automation: boosters & cable cars
- - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-04 17:14 Edited 2011-03-04 17:16
This discussion was initiated in the topic Introducing: the Railway! as a reply to Peter's initial feedback on the idea here.

As discussions like this don't belong into the ideas forum, I moved it into this board. The discussion is about two (opposing) concepts of how to automatically transport materials in your base with the use of lorries. Proposed has been some kind of cable railway on which lorries can be hooked and booster stations which give lorries impulses to move into certain directions.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-02-22 19:19 Edited 2011-02-22 19:23
Hm, to be constructive, here's my counter-proposal on how things could work like:

Semi-intelligent lorries: A lorry fitted with automation would log all buildings it comes across. When coming to a sign showing "supply buildings" it changes direction, then attempts to even out material counts across all buildings it comes across. Example:

A lorry with 5 gold and 6 sulphur comes. It rolls past one chemical foundry with 2 sulphur, one storage with 4 sulphur, and another chemical foundry with 4 sulphur. No action so far. Then it comes to a bumper putting it into automation mode. Now it calculates that it has seen 2+4+4 sulphur in buildings, can add 6 itself, for a sum of 16. Furthermore, there have been 2 producers, which means that each should get 8 of those. Therefore, it will roll to the first one, give it 4, then take 4 out of the storage and give 6 to the other factory. As it saw no consumer for the gold, it will put them into the first non-full storage it comes across.

What can go wrong? Lorries can reach their storage limit, at which point they might have to downgrade their goals on how much to give per building (just repeat the above calculation with the remaining buildings). The same applies if the lorry would be supposed to give more raw material than it currently contains - which might happen when there's a storage behind the production buildings.

The nice property of this system is that it could scale extremely well, and that with less "magic" in the lorries. On top of that, it would make producing something on-demand quicker, as the raw materials would most likely already be present.

(Burn lazy evaluation! How ironic.)

Optional rails: Make them static-back. They would be constructible wherever you want them, no need for hubs. Rails automatically grab lorries when they pass by, maybe even have lower friction. But lorries should still be able to roll on their own. This should be how they travel across bases, with rails getting used mainly to get them over rough terrain.

They should deconstruct simply by Clonks grabbing them or a single explosion. Players concerned with rail security should just dig out earth below, so it can not be grabbed and meteor explosion don't reach it.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-02 18:14
Hm, any feedback?

Random thoughts:
* It would probably be cool to ride a lorry and construct further rails from it.
* We might want to restrict the usage of rails to Tunnel.
Parent - - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-02 18:30

>* We might want to restrict the usage of rails to Tunnel.

Why is that?
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-02 18:32
Otherwise two teams might start trying to build a rail over each other. That would just be silly. Apart from that, it answers the obvious "how are those rails fixed inplace?" question.
Parent - - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-02 19:11 Edited 2011-03-02 19:14
That question has been already answered by Clonkonauts initial suggestion. And for that reason, I find the name "rail" misleading:

"To construct your railway, you build a crossing and however connect it with an existing crossing (thinking still in progress...) (maybe with a line?). The railway can point in any direction. A connection between two crossings is always straight. You create your network by constructing crossing." [1]

"Though, perhaps you remember that we talked about the rails too but came to the point that it would be easier if you only have to build the crossings and connect them somehow. So the metaphor of mechanical belts (German: Riemen) or roller chains is more fitting for that kind of construction." [2]
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-03 01:08
That's not what I meant. I was talking about the "realism" argument: How would rails hold when there's nothing to support them? With tunnel behind them, we can just say that there's a wall behind them that they are attached to. In this case, it's about conforming to the player's expectations: Just building a rail into the sky would be impossible, you need to be below ground to be able to construct them easily.
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-03 06:24
Well, you could still offer the player the possibility to build supports. That would also make sure that two teams won't build a rail over each other. And it might be a bit more compatible with sky-island maps (where you may have to tunnel behind the sky-islands)

PS: Someone wanted supports for tunnels anyway I guess. So we would not even have to introduce another building.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-03 11:45
Restricting the rails to tunnel background confronts you with two problems:

And I don't see the problem anyway. You have to construct a crossing at the end of the rail so you need to be at its future final point. In addition there has to be a sky island. Mid-air loam might become a problem but I don't think so - it wasn't in CR as well.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-03 16:38
Just means that the lorry has to roll across such sections... And I'm still not sure what crossing should be good for. Couldn't we just remove it?
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-03 16:59
I'm still in favour of the full rail system and not with your partially rails, partially landscape proposal.
And there the crossing is the only way to change the direction.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-03 18:26
Any reasons beyond that it would make lorry-pathfinding hard? I would find it pretty cumbersome to have a system that *requires* you to spam rails everywhere.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-03 18:56
It does not get knocked out by a single misplaced digging attempt. This makes lorries almost inoperable and worst of that, having in mind the main idea of this system was to speed up your logistics, your focus is shifted from being the logistics (i.e. you push lorries arround consuming most of your settlement time) to maintenance because figuratively everything (meteors, earthquakes, liquids, wipfs, enemies, explosives on the wrong spot, you digging in the wrong spot) jams your supply in less than a second with an effectiveness of almost 100% while you need 2 or 3 lumbs of loam and a considerable amount of time to fix it.
I know I'm exaggerating but I really can't think of any way your proposal becomes handy.

Pathfinding, on the other hand. The bots from hazard do it that way. Their pathfinding is based on a network of ways (~rails) and waypoints (~crossings). Still it's quick and accurate and maybe not even optimised to the full extent.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-03 20:32
Well, as I said, I kind of see the appeal of rails and am willing to accept them. I am just opposed to force players to build them in order to have better logistics. Deep underground, no enemy in sight, terain perfectly flat - that's not exactly an unrealistic situation. I think rails would just feel unneccessary.

So again: Is there any reason beyond pathfinding that we really need a full rail system?
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 11:44
Of course it's still possible to push the lorry back and forth. And...dunno, you can think of a manual break or something which is loosened to let the lorry go on a slant surface.
I may have gotten you wrong in this point. What exactly do you want for a control mechanism to start and stop the lorry?
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-04 12:24
Well, boosters. Lorry comes in, comes out with more momentum. Maybe snaps to rail to go over tricky bit. Hits bumper to change direction. Hits another booster to have enough momentum to make the return trip. Should have less friction than currently to make it worthwhile.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 13:13 Edited 2011-03-04 13:17
I don't see the real advantage except for no visible path the lorry takes. Let me elaborate this.
As Newton mentioned, 'cable car' is a better association of the idea. I, as well, never wanted the player to construct 'rails' part by part. You drag a line, build a crossing and there it is (in case of buildings you don't need the crossing because every building should be a crossing itself.
So here is the comparison of your and mine suggestion:
Example situation:
Two buildings, flat landscape in between.

You construct a booster in front of the building, then open some kind of direction picking menu (or it's a grab&click option or whatever, but something you have to adjust manually) and after that the strength menu (alternatively every booster has the same strength which may not fit every wanted situation).
You walk to the second building, do the same stuff.
Or you adapt the 'every building is a crossing' idea: the booster is preinstalled in the building. (well, I personally don't want the player to have this possibility out of the box, so it turns out like an upgrade option, see below)
The installation part (direction, strength) is still needed. The dual function of the buildings allows you have some kind of visualisation of the lorry dropping stuff (otherwise it just passes by, leaving the stuff there by teleportation magic) and after that returning.

Problems I see:
- booster strength is trial'n'error
- develop the example: you want the lorry to pass the first building and drive to a second one. Now returning the lorry becomes a little bit tricky. Either you have to create a new tunnel where the lorry returns which at best needs two boosters and one bumper or the central building needs to distinct the cases: lorry comes in from the left? -> Send it to the right, lorry comes in from the right? -> Send it to the left
- add a third way and you are lost in options

This is how I understand your idea, correct me if I'm wrong.

Cable car / rail (I will abandon this term, because it's obsolete)
You forge a cable kit (roller or whatever). Or do you want to skip this part? Just take one metal and your hammer, stand in front of your building and select 'construct cable' skipping the production part.
The see below explanation: the building is a crossing from the beginning but it lacks of a cable. To develop your production you have at least provide the cable. This gives you the real impression of progress in your settlement and not a 'everything is possible from the beginning' game.
Drag your cable to the other building, connect, done.

Connect the second building the same way. When starting the lorry you select the target, it drives off and returns with no problem.

Okay, so far until now. I have written so much about this easy examples, I don't start with splitting ways up and down etc.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-04 14:46

> You construct a booster in front of the building, then open some kind of direction picking menu

Well, I suppose we could roll boosters and bumpers into the same building using this menu. Standard boosters should just send the vehicle in whatever direction it was going.

Why would you have to adjust the strength? We might just give vehicles passing through a constant velocity, so the question how many boosters you need for a given slope can come with experience.

(btw: Note I'm talking about "vehicles". Maybe we can mix, say, automated catapult into it somewhere? Shooting your material automatically across half the landscape?)

I think these kinds of "marble run" mechanics are a really good thing to have. As I see this as a non-essential feature, I am aiming for the Rube Goldberg crowds here on purpose. A bit of (player-made!) complexity won't hurt.

> Two buildings, flat landscape in between.

Uh, that's kind of a bad example. Automation is something that should have its major returns after you have a dozen or so buildings. I would say: You have a dozen buildings on flat landscape (say, inside your castle). You construct a "right" bumper on the left, a "left" bumper on the right, push your lorry on one of them and let go.

That's way less complex then having to install each building with a cable or whatever.

Other example: Rattlesnake situation, you have two buddies making a long road to the gold. One would construct a bumper at the base, the other would build a booster every screen or so, and switch them from "bump" to "boost" as he constructs new ones. Material can travel then in the lorries or wagons. Bumpers should probably have a delay so the working player can grab it in case he wants some material out of it.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:16
Rattlesnake is a good example, I'm glad you mentioned it. It proves my 'maintenance' argument., coming back to the starting point if the discussion and leaving the "easy installation or not" part.

This is your kind of new Rattlesnake: bumper at the left, bumper at the right (amount of boosters is not important here). Lorries travel back and forth.

This is the current CR Rattlesnake (theoretically): signal at the left, signal at the right. The steam-engine travels back and forth. Imagine away the fact that the steam-engine is painful to handle when it comes to picking something up and dropping it somewhere else.

Now think of what Rattlesnake in CR really is: a scenario of "screw this damn steam-engine". Why? Because you can count the seconds between two meteorites blasting a hole somewhere. The engine gets stuck and then you have to walk the way back, fixing the hole. What is the point in having this engine when in the time you need to fix the path you could have pushed the lorry inside the engine yourself back to the base? And - oh boy - what if the meteorite blasted a bridge? The engine will fall into the water troubling you ridiculously hard to recover it.
Boost you call that? Slowdown I do.

Now comes your bumper system: you said, supporting rails are okay. So if a player wants to get rid of the meteorite problem he has to support almost every part of the track with a rail. He can leave out the tunnels but that's it.
Parent - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 00:51
Ah, this is where the thread ended up? I wondered why everything had vanished all of sudden...

Well, I know where you're coming from. That's still no argument for forcing the player to use rails. Letting the player discover the strengths and drawbacks of given setups is gameplay, we shouldn't just bolldoze over it by making the descisions for the player...
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-04 15:37 Edited 2011-03-04 15:54



...stupid forum making a difference between jpeg and jpg..
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:22
You don't need a circle to have the lines fully functionable. The support isn't need as well.
This is the optimised outcome:

4 Lines vs. 9 Boosters/Bumpers (if I counted correctly)
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:32
No, you would not need a circle - but it's faster!

Also I intended to have the slope thing on the left be in the way of a straight rail so that you would need some kind of supports
Parent - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:41
A circle would match up to 5 lines. Nothing hard as well.
And I really want to discourage the introduction of supporters. To solve the problem, you have two possibilies: remove the slope(!) or this:

A crossing at the far end should always do.
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:45
As I understand it now one of the main differences would be that in Peter's system the lorry is moving constantly (through the parcour, without a target) while in the railway thing the lorry would go where it is needed.

That would imply that the Bumper system is small enough so that the lorry can go through it in a reasonable time - you would not be able to connect the whole landscape (or two far away bases), because your lorries would never be where you need them.

I, for example, would like to have a dedicated lorry to transport the flour to the bakery - in addition to some stand-by lorries that jump in whenever they are needed.
In Peter's system that would mean that I would have to build the mill and the bakery at some remote location so that it does not interfere with the rest of the infrastructure.
While in the railway system I could theoretically set a lorry to always be between the bakery and the mill
Parent - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-04 16:48
Yes, I intended to give the player the possibility to provide every building with its own lorry which is started on demand and returns after having done the transportation job.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 00:59

> you would not be able to connect the whole landscape (or two far away bases), because your lorries would never be where you need them.

The player would have to control it properly, yes. You'd need some kind of building for transferring items between lorry routes.

Afterwards, your lorries are actually far more likely to be where you need them - not all clumped up in a remote base because some minor order all made them go there.

> In Peter's system that would mean that I would have to build the mill and the bakery at some remote location so that it does not interfere with the rest of the infrastructure.

What do you mean by "interfere"?
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-10 01:34
Well, I dunno whether or not you read clonkspot but I left some thoughts on automating your supply lines there. I'm fairly tired so I don't translate it right now. Maybe tomorrow or so.
But in short the argument goes like this:
Any system that's harder to set up than shifting the objects by hand is doomed to uselessness. And I still think making the player put minutes of minutes of effort into shaping the landscape to the right angle or remove some pixels which lorries bump into will get anyone frustated to the point he or she stops using the system.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 13:09
And I think that any solution that just automates away the need to care about all that interesting terraforming that's so unique to Clonk wastes a lot of potential. In Seven Keys and Sunshine, I have built two scenarios pretty much all around all the interesting stuff you have to do in order to get things from A to B.

> Any system that's harder to set up than shifting the objects by hand is doomed to uselessness

No, it isn't. The old transport system is bad because it makes you do repetitive things. If you have to think a bit about the landscape in order to get it to work like you intend, you instead make a nice little mini-game out of it. Contrast that with "just construct a cable, problem solved" - it might be faster, but because of the lack of thought involved it might just feel even more repetitive than setting up a proper booster system.

Just think about Sunshine. Having a cable car would just destroy the whole point of the scenario. Set up one of those, and you are pretty much done. Boring. With boosters and stuff you would at least have to think - I can just forbid rails and all of sudden players have to set up fun ramps in order to make lorries jump over the abyss. The cable concept doesn't have this kind of flexibility.
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-10 13:33
Well, yeah. Stuck at this point, it seems? Though I don't think sunshine should be considered the standard settlement scenario, I accept your arguments.
Because of Randrian's beginning I will for now work on the cable car but generally I'm willing to assist in your concepts when it comes alive and/or is to combine with the cable cars.
In the end, it's the (scenario) designers choice.
Parent - By Andriel Date 2014-04-16 14:10
Here's how I see it:

Peter's idea sounds like it could be really fun for scenarios which are designed for it, because creating this whole lorry "rollercoaster" system can be a game for itself, just imagine complex situations/production chains.

But I don't think it's suited for normal scenarios because in normal scenarios, you mainly work towards achieving the scenario's goal. It takes a lot of trial 'n error to set the course up in the first place, furthermore, it has already been said, a meteor, accidental digging, etc. can completely mess up your system. Think about the consequences for melee scenarios: Not in the slightest would it be worth the effort required to build up a transportation system (although it would be important to have a steady resource income in base melees), when it only takes a clonk with flint/shovel or even a random natural event to ruin it all.

So in conclusion, I'm in favor of Clonkonaut's cable car concept, especially since recent discussion has demanded sweetening of transport!
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-10 06:21

>What do you mean by "interfere"?

The lorries would be constantly moving. That means I need some kind of circle (bumper -> mill -> bakery -> bumper) to make sure the lorry moves only between the bakery and the mill.
I cannot imagine how it would work to have two of those circles (the whole base vs the mill+bakery) be connected without the lorry going off to where you don't want that. At least not with bumpers and without any pathfinding (and with constantly moving lorries).
Parent - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 13:16
Well, as I said, you'd have to have multiple communicating circles. Have a special "sorter" building that bumps lorries in both directions, but requests bread on the left and pushes it to the right.
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 00:53
What are you trying to say? Getting the second setup to actually work sounds like fun :)

In real world play, I would suggest better building placement, though.
Parent - - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-10 02:18
I would also like a barrel cannon like in Donkey Kong Country that may be used to transport stuff from A to B (to C to D to E... :-))
Parent - - By PeterW [gb] Date 2011-03-10 13:28
Yeah, you could make the sorter building to be such a cannon - would introduce some extra crazyness. I fear it would be unbalancing though if we don't have it require gunpowder - you could set up a very powerful automatic artillery otherwise.
Parent - - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-10 18:18

>you could set up a very powerful automatic artillery otherwise.

Shooting lorries..? :D
Parent - By MimmoO Date 2011-03-10 18:44
Shooting lorries full of flints, which fall out of the lorry upon impact.
Parent - By Zapper [de] Date 2011-03-10 06:22

>What are you trying to say?

I was trying to make sure that I got both of you right first ;)
Parent - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-10 12:20
Matthi's comment on your concept was "Too few pictures."
Parent - By Newton [de] Date 2011-03-04 11:53
Err, did you read my post? Think of:

cable car.

Parent - - By Randrian [de] Date 2011-03-10 00:31
I started to implement a cabel car like lorry system. It can be tested in the tests.c4f folder.
Parent - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-10 13:01
Like it. Code could make use of some comments though ;)
Parent - - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-10 13:24
Ah and by the way, constantly working on this or is it possible to add something by myself?
Parent - - By Randrian [de] Date 2011-03-14 09:39
No, you may add something if you like.
Parent - By Clonkonaut [de] Date 2011-03-14 11:49
Okay. But wasn't productive last week anyway :D
Up Topic General / General / Transport, pathfinding and automation: boosters & cable cars

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