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darkscaryforest

What is the true value of incubators?

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Hello Oxygen Not Included community!

I was hoping you could help me with a ranching concept I'm struggling to understand. New to ranching, I've been working out a design.  In short, I came up with an automated way to maintain a population of critters + eggs in a stable using autosweepers/critter sensor etc. Extra eggs are sent away for consumption.
 
So I took a peek at other folks designs and find a common element I don't have: incubators/hatchery room. Everyone seems to use incubators, but I can't shake the feeling that in the grand scheme of things, they are unnecessary.  Maybe you could listen to my thinking and point to something I'm missing.
 
I was thinking unless you have a population of critters that you want to expand indefinitely, incubators just speed up a small part of the process that can be matched instead with a little more volume. For example, you figure out you need to maintain X number of critters for a desired resource amount. Well, if you don't use incubators you have to wait 5 times longer for the eggs to hatch...but its not like those eggs use more resources.  They just sit there. So, you could create enough stable space (and there's tons of space right?) for X + Y where Y = the amount of critters to make up for the extra time spent waiting, which seems manageable. Eventually, you'll meet the same rate of return as with incubators. Am I thinking about that right?
 
Then I thought, ok but say I don't want to make stable space for Y more critters. Let's say I'm breeding hatches and want them for their meat.  I could dump all hatch eggs in a room where they wait and starve. If a breeding room has a vacancy, I move a starving hatch back into one of those breeding rooms that has food (not 100% sure how to automate that, maybe lock the room with automation). Now I don't have to make more stable space, since there's always replacements in the wing. When they do starve, I get the resources I desired in the first place. Eggs take 5 times longer to hatch, but after I've achieved momentum, what do I care since the rate of return doesn't change? Granted, the ages of breeding hatches have to be spaced out to avoid a feast or famine scenario. What do you think, am I missing a key element here?
 
Thanks for reading and your thoughts!

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Wedgebert    34

I started using a few unpowered incubators as soon as I can to ease the management of ranching.

I build two incubators and set to a priority of 7 or 8. Then, once I have a full stable, I set a storage compactor for eggs with a priority of 6 or less. That way, I've always got two eggs that are on their way to becoming new hatches, while the other eggs are automatically taken to the kitchen to turn into raw eggs.

That keeps the stable from being cramped without requiring full blown automation. It also means when the stable becomes overcrowded,I can just pick a ranch to attack and BBQ up.

 

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suxkar    129

Two main reasons:

1) It offers, to my knowledge, the most optimized way to automate ranch and minimize user interaction. I've tried many setups with ranching, the one I find the best is setting up a kill room with a drop off 1 priority lower then the main ranches so that when the eggs hatch in the incubators they are automatially brought to ranches if needed or the kill room if not. The alternative would be either manually moving critters (which I personally don't enjoy, I prefer full automation, plus it is prone to "human error") or have a birth room with autowrangle, which is MUCH more time consuming for dupes. If you want the omelette (which you shouldn't since it is less calories I believe), you can just transport the eggs to the kitched with loaders.
As a side note, once the eggs alle lullabied, the incubators don't need to be powered so you can keep them switched on for like 15% of the cycle only, to save power.

2) It is currently the only way to train the ranching skill. If you don't use them, the best your ranchers will ever get to is the amount they are printed with (maximum 7, 9-10 with early bird-night owl). If you use them, you will eventually get them maxed out, which makes A LOT of difference since the grooming debuff lasts 10% for each point in husbandry. I currently have 4 ranchers with maxed out husbandry that easily groom hundreds of critters. The training takes a lot, like hundreds of cycles, but it is worth it imo.

Edited by suxkar

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psusi    188
16 minutes ago, suxkar said:

2) It is currently the only way to train the ranching skill. If you don't use them, the best your ranchers will ever get to is the amount they are printed with (maximum 7, 9-10 with early bird-night owl). If you use them, you will eventually get them maxed out, which makes A LOT of difference since the grooming debuff lasts 10% for each point in husbandry. I currently have 4 ranchers with maxed out husbandry that easily groom hundreds of critters. The training takes a lot, like hundreds of cycles, but it is worth it imo.

I'm pretty sure that wrangling critters also trains it.

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So first off, you guys had an excellent point about using the incubators as a place to force duplicants to store eggs that will keep incubating even without providing power..I totally missed that application.  The second point made about increasing ranching is good too.. I wrongly thought that once a creature was tamed it would not need to be groomed again so I see the value of increasing that skill.

My design used some complicated automation to ensure the correct number of eggs and critters stayed in the breeding room:

bAMqetK.png

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It is a little confusing since the picture shows 2 breeding rooms connected in sequence so that the top one can feed eggs if any vacancies appear in the second (even before the second restores itself).  The first main problem was that the autosweeper will snatch all laid eggs at once before sending them into the loader. So if multiple eggs get laid at once, the population count would be thrown off. That's why once loaded they come back around to be re-evaluated with the conveyor shutoff. The extra bridge on the outside spaces out the eggs by one tile (important since in some cases the shutoff wouldn't activate in time for some reason). So, with the conveyor shutoff the right number of eggs should be returned to maintain critter population.

The doors that open to the loader get a signal from a filter gate that must have a green signal for 20 seconds. This prevents thrashing/having the doors reopen for the autosweeper when the eggs reenter the room to be evaluated by the shutoff. 

Thanks for your responses!

Edited by darkscaryforest

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suxkar    129

I strongly suggest you avoid crossing lines with conveyors or any other pipe as it will in general mess up the flow. To understand what I mean, just make a test and see what happens when eggs are loaded: when the eggs reach the cross in the center right they can either go right or down. if they go right, they are transported down the the bridge and will go into the shut off. If they go down, the same thing happens but I think they might go up and down a bit as they detect they have 2 options (or something like this). In this case, this will not create any problem but it doesn't do you any good. The problem lies in the redundancy between the "down" path and the bridge parallel to its right. Again, this will cause no problem in this setup, but if that was say a liquid pipe, your total flow would be halved due to packets getting "confused". if there are multiple outputs and inputs (I mean literally the green and white arrows), always use bridges to prioritize. You can take a look at a pipe priority turorial in youtube, it is extremely useful.

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Yeah, that's actually intended to space out the eggs since an egg will go back and forth.  Granted this is a janky hack to achieve that so if you have a better way let me know. I was seeing cases where the automatic shutoff turned on too late (if there were 3 eggs in a row when the critter sensor was set to activate above 7 I think).

 

 

Edited by darkscaryforest

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Zarquan    777

I usually use incubators to get my ranches started.  It reduced the time to fill up a ranch, as eggs hatch faster (when attended to), therefore critters get to the point where they can lay eggs faster.  After that, I usually just use them to have a back up population for my main ranch.

Edited by Zarquan

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Craigjw    405

@darkscaryforest I would suggest that you re-examine your conveyor lines, that vertical bridge on the right is all wrong, either remove it or the parallel line to it's left, they will be causing conveyor traffic jams.

Edited by Craigjw

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oosyrag    53

Incubators don't increase the rate of return of critters over time. They can be useful for getting a specific (advanced morph) ranch up earlier. The main advantage is that they can be used with critter sensors and drop-offs to automate the refilling of breeding rooms without manual wrangling, if you utilize separate breeding/overflow rooms.

Normally all eggs are removed from breeding rooms immediately, so when the breeders die they don't get automatically replaced. You can sense when you don't have enough breeders with automation to turn on an incubator of the right kind. When it is done incubating, it automatically gets dropped off at the highest priority available dropoff, which should be in your breeder chamber. It basically takes the place of you noticing your breeder is dead, and wrangling a critter manually from the overflow chamber.

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