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Coolthulhu    28

Algal terrariums have no real niche. It's perfectly feasible to rush electrolyzer without building a single one of those. They use up valuable cool water, can't deal with hot geyser water (like electrolyzer can), require frequent manual recharges, and don't really offer anything over electrolyzer+scrubber (unless you count stacking pressure). They lack a permanent niche and become obsolete very soon after becoming available.

Some ideas:

  • Make terrarium that has both light and CO2 in one tick skip consumption of algae or possibly even regenerate some (up to a limit?)
  • Terrarium with some fresh water in it could consume some polluted water instead of fresh water in current tick. Say, 50% of water requirement could come from polluted water.
  • Allow terrariums with no water in them to suck up water without being first filled up by a dupe
  • If nothing else, just make them work faster and store more algae - they're just too work-intensive to maintain
  • Get rid of them and turn them to "algal water" liquid that works similar to polluted water except with clean oxygen instead of polluted one, and floats on top of regular water. Produced in some machine fed algae (by hand) and water (by pipe)

It's better to make it too good than to keep it boring and weak. If it gets too strong, it's better to give it interesting downsides:

  • Make it produce minor amounts of polluted water if not given light
  • Give it stricter temperature requirements
  • Drop the bottle filling altogether and make it non-portable, as opposed to deoxydizer and electrolyzer which can stand anywhere
  • Make it require both polluted and clean water (possibly just for more efficient function). But make it taller, so that it always stands out of layered liquids.
  • Make it produce small amounts of natural gas - small enough that it doesn't end up another fertilizer maker, but high enough that it forms pits if not taken care of
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Sevio    24

I like these ideas.

Right now the Algae Terrarium has a small edge in terms of algae/oxygen ratio over the deoxidizer (and no power requirement save for a light but requires frequent dupe attention instead), but once you factor in the huge water consumption, the benefits are just too little for the resources and dupe time taken.

It works kind of like a self-powering electrolyzer + airscrubber in one, but really inefficient at both.

Maybe its niche could be shifted towards algae production, requiring a certain amount of algae to start the process. Then it would use water, fertilizer, a slightly larger amount of CO2 and light to produce more algae and a small amount of oxygen. (less efficient than the electrolyzer). If CO2 is absent, it will still use water but only produce oxygen. If light is absent, the terrarium stops working entirely and the algae slowly start dying off.

Edited by Sevio
Grammar
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Kasuha    412

I think algae terrariums could be turned useful if one terrarium reversed about one duplicant breathing. Require light, consume reasonable amounts of algae and water (e.g. 50 g of algae and 100 g of water), and turn 3 g of CO2 into 150 g of oxygen per second (or do nothing if there's no CO2 around). Give them an upgraded variant with pipe input and decor bonus. They wouldn't be suitable for "industrial" applications (coal/gas generators) but could keep being a feasible alternative for living quarters.

Current terrariums are waste of water. To process CO2 produced by one duplicant, you need six terrariums which turn 180 g of algae, 1.8 kg of water (half a steam geyser production) and 2 g of CO2 into 240 g of oxygen every second. It's way too much water, and too much oxygen in my opinion.

Electrolyzer and air scrubber, in turn, require only 277 g of water to produce the same amount of oxygen and process the same amount of CO2, no algae involved.

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Rossum    1

Another thing to do would to allow a water pipe hookup. So if you have a few algae terrariums and a water pump you can just pipe in the required water, thus freeing up the dupes who would normally have to keep delivering water to it.

They could still function with hand-delivered water if necessary, but adding pipes would effectively automate the watering process.

So, in a way, adding water input pipes to the algaw terrariums could be a kind of interoduction to setting up the air scrubber. It would be like a mini scrubber that requires no power input while also producing no polluted water. Just place a terrarium, hook up a water pipe, and it does it's job.

As for requiring both polluted water and regular water... maybe it needs the regular water to convert CO2 while adding polluted water feeds the algae inside it? Maybe it has two pipe inputs, one for water and the other for polluted. Have both hooked up at the same time and your terrarium will still convert CO2 at the regular rate, but it will also occasionally grow additional algae to harvest. That algae can then be used to feed into the algae deoxidizers. Or if having them produce algae is too much, maybe they produce slime to put in the bio distillers?

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Buldric    12
On 7/7/2017 at 11:40 AM, Coolthulhu said:

They lack a permanent niche and become obsolete very soon after becoming available.

I think their niche is mainly to give some slack when you're starting out.

To me, this is the genius of this game: the world is very forgiving at first, but as non-renewable resources start to deplete and heat starts to build up, the player is forced to move on to more complex and durable solutions. Algae is a sort of springboard, allowing new players to get started without a fully formed understanding of the piping and wiring systems, while not-so-gently nudging them in that direction.

I do also find them useful even after I have a steady oxygen supply from electrolyzers. They're quick and easy to slap down where you need them (say, at the end of a long tunnel), and they require no supporting infrastructure. They also provide a reliable fail-safe in case something goes wrong with your oxygen production, power grid, etc.

On 7/7/2017 at 11:40 AM, Coolthulhu said:

It's perfectly feasible to rush electrolyzer without building a single one of those.

Huh, really? I've never tried that, but that just seems like pointless self-inflicted misery. Which wastes more dupe time- refilling terrariums, or dupe-powering an electrolyzer while you research up to performance combustion?

This is like saying that you can rush sleet wheat without planting any mealwood. Sure, you can do it, but aren't there better ways to spend your early-game time?

On 7/7/2017 at 3:16 PM, Kasuha said:

It's way too much water, and too much oxygen in my opinion.

What do you mean by "too much oxygen"?

Personally I don't think it's important to 100% balance CO2 removal in the beginning. Excess CO2 can be used to create a quick and dirty food storage area, and terrariums allow you to overpressurize oxygen to the point that other gasses are held pretty well in check until you can get around to handling them.

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Kasuha    412
1 hour ago, Buldric said:

What do you mean by "too much oxygen"?

Personally I don't think it's important to 100% balance CO2 removal in the beginning.

Yes, I agree with you that it may be beneficial in the beginning when you start expanding the base. But it renders the terrarium useless for sustaining phase where the space doesn't expand anymore. And we got other, more efficient means of early oxygen generation - the Algae Deoxydizer.

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Buldric    12

Depends what you mean by "more efficient". The deoxydizer is less than half as efficient in terms of algae, and to me that's the only relevant resource, since it's essentially non-renewable.

Both are useless for the "sustaining phase", but IMO the terrarium is far more useful than the deoxydizer.

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Coolthulhu    28

Algae efficiency is not as important as it looks like to a new player. Early on, algal deposits are plentiful. Later on, they are obsolete.

That mealwood comparison is good. Mealwood, like terrariums, is harmful to inexperienced players: if you mush it you waste water, if you store it in powered refrigerators you waste a lot of power (mealwood takes more space than usual), if you try to get good ratings on it you waste dupe-time and fertilizer. It takes more skill to use it efficiently than sleet wheat, but it pretends to be the new player option.

Similar with terrariums: their CO2 consumption is minuscule and you're better off just dumping all the CO2 into pits until you can scrub them, their massive consumption of water will drain your water resources quickly and you will need to waste sand or find a geyser (and deal with heat), their oxygen production is low enough that you need to stack them, their seeming portability is just a trap because it will make dupes haul water from afar while not generating enough oxygen to cover the wasted time.

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Sevio    24

As a new player I fell into the algae terrarium (and mealwood) trap as well early on. Looks good on paper, but it's easy to overlook the huge amounts of water they consume. Your starting water is too precious a resource to waste on liceloaf and terrariums.

In my later games, I used algae deoxidizers exclusively until I could get an electrolyzer set up.

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asveron    5

This is how I hope they would work

-produce a tiny bit of excess algae.

-very minor oxygen generation.

-either A and/or B

a. use up water quickly and can only replenish a small amount so its very labor intensive.

b. occasionally create small amounts of polluted water if it's submerged in it, and creates polluted oxygen if it's manually watered.

Therefore they would take up a lot of space and labor to produce enough oxygen. But it'll produce more algae.

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Sevio    24

After doing some reading on the wiki page about Algae, I thought of an alternate mode of operation to the Algae Terrrarium, expanding on my initial suggestion. Both modes require light to be present or the algae in the terrarium will die off. The mode depends on the liquid the Terrarium is submerged in (bottom tile).

Grow Mode - submerged in water, or can be supplied by duplicants with water bottles

  • - (med) water
  • - (small) fertilizer
  • - (small) CO2
  • + (med) Algae
  • + (small) Oxygen

Purify Mode - submerged in polluted water. This mode uses the fact that clean water will sit on top of polluted water. Water is produced in the upper tile.

  • - (med) polluted water
  • - (med) algae
  • + (med) water

I haven't thought of exact numbers but I should stress that these are intended to be for early-midgame small scale operations, with a niche for late game. Since the grow mode requires CO2, you can only scale it up as much as your duplicant's breathing produces. You can supplement your oxygen and algae supplies with the excess CO2 you have early game at a reasonable cost of water, but on the whole picture not as efficiently as an electrolyzer. Most of the net oxygen benefit from the Grow mode should be in the Algae that it produces. (use with algae deoxidizer)

If you're already using an electrolyzer, you could use the algae from the Grow mode (or excess you collect from the map) instead on the Purify mode to deal with some of the lavatory and shower water that's accumulating in that nasty cave over there that no one in the colony wants to go to.

Using the two modes together in balanced amounts, the net balance would be something like:

  • - (med) polluted water
  • - (small) CO2
  • - (small) fertilizer
  • + (small) oxygen

Of course the fertilizer requirement would also have a tie in with the game's current favorite way of dealing with polluted water: The Fertilizer Maker. The fertilizer maker chain takes polluted water and produces (after the natural gas step) large amounts of CO2 as a waste product. The balance here would have to be such that you have to make a choice what you spend more of your fertilizer on: Growing plants for food (since that will be a requirement next update), or growing algae to help keep the place clean of all that CO2 from your natural gas.

Edited by Sevio
Net balance fix

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brummbar7    363
3 hours ago, Sevio said:

Since the grow mode requires CO2, you can only scale it up as much as your duplicant's breathing produces

Coal generators and natgas generators both produce CO2 in large amounts.   In the current situation, fertilizer is also effectively unlimited given that fertilizer makers are commonly primarily used for generating natgas, rather than fertilizer (a gripe of mine).  Fresh water is by far the limiting factor, especially given that algae terrariums cannot have scalding water piped directly into them through abyssalite pipes with no ill effects, unlike hydrofarms and a host of buildings.

Added to all this, there's no disadvantage to using scrubbers to remove CO2 currently.  They can use scalding water, reduce it to a fixed temperature, and output polluted water, which can be almost infinitely disposed of in hydrofarms, provided you're doing well with your mealwoods and peppers.  So PW isn't really that bad a byproduct.  Even arguably not at all bad - just awkward when it gets mixed with pure water.   Now, it's going to be interesting to see how the next update might change the farming situation. 

I'm unclear how you arrive at your 'net balance' given that your two modes have only one -small PW (how do you net -med PW out of that?), and has a -med water and +small water, which sounds to me like a net - of water.

And overall, I think it would be too confusing to have one building have two modes.  Better to have an entirely separate building to do one of the things, imo.

Edited by brummbar7

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Sevio    24
1 hour ago, brummbar7 said:

Coal generators and natgas generators both produce CO2 in large amounts.   In the current situation, fertilizer is also effectively unlimited given that fertilizer makers are commonly primarily used for generating natgas, rather than fertilizer (a gripe of mine).

You're talking about late game setups with CO2 generation that the algae terrariums I suggested aren't meant to handle (see below).

5 hours ago, Sevio said:

I haven't thought of exact numbers but I should stress that these are intended to be for early-midgame small scale operations, with a niche for late game. Since the grow mode requires CO2, you can only scale it up as much as your duplicant's breathing produces.

They're not meant to be scaled up easily early game, and late game the point is to make fertilizer a managed resource rather than an unlimited one. This is in anticipation of the fact that plant fertilization is not going to be optional anymore next update. Using algae water purifiers would also take away from turning polluted water into fertilizer for your plants (and more algae growing), so it's a thing you're going to have to balance if you use algae purifiers at all.

 

1 hour ago, brummbar7 said:

I'm unclear how you arrive at your 'net balance' given that your two modes have only one -small PW (how do you net -med PW out of that?), and has a -med water and +small water, which sounds to me like a net - of water.

I've been adjusting the wording of those bullet points as I was writing that post, so apologies that they're not quite making sense, will edit to fix. The balance was intended to be approximate as I'm not entirely certain of what the best niche is for the algae terrarium, and algae production/processing in general.

If I was going to have the terrarium produce algae, I wanted there to be an alternative way to use algae as well, to clean up polluted water into fresh water. Algae in reality can be/are being used to treat sewage to capture nutrients, with the "enriched algae" becoming fertilizer as a result. I was attempting to capture that with the Purify mode without stepping on the Fertilizer Maker's toes.

But maybe there's no harm in an alternate way to produce fertilizer with algae. Should algae growing combined with algae water purification be a net positive of fertilizer and/or water, or neither? How should algae terrariums and purifiers tie in with the large scale CO2 production of coal gens, natgas and fertilizer makers?

1 hour ago, brummbar7 said:

And overall, I think it would be too confusing to have one building have two modes.  Better to have an entirely separate building to do one of the things, imo.

A fair point, two separate buildings for these two purposes would suit the idea just fine as well.

Edited by Sevio

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