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Food Priority: How to force dupes to eat lower quality food.

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A common belief within the ONI community is that Duplicants will always take the best quality food available to them. This is in fact wrong.

Instead how it actually works is something a lot like this:

  • When the duplicant decides to eat, they look for the closest piece of food (simple distance X+Y, not path distance).
  • They then look up to 35 tiles further than that (from their position, not the position of the food) for higher quality food, if they find something higher quality they eat it, otherwise they eat the closest piece of food.
  • They are willing to look 5 tiles further for each quality level. So if they find Nutrient Bar (-1), they would look 20 tiles further for BBQ (+3) or 30 tiles further for Mixed Berry Pie (+5).

To demonstrate this, here is a video where I have lovingly dispensed 10 gram portions of Nutrient Bar (-1) and Mixed Berry Pie (+5) along the floor. When the test subjects are hungry, which they always are, they decide what to eat. The conventional wisdom is they'll always go for the pie. In reality, they take nutrient bar if they'd have to run more than 30 extra tiles to get pie.


Weaponizing this information.
In a typical cycle using typical scheduling (just downtime, no bathtime) for a properly cared for dupe, the dupe will decide what to eat after they finish pooping, hence you can manipulate what they eat by distance to the bathroom, placing the garbage food you want them to eat closest to the bathroom, and the food you don't want them to eat further from the bathroom, respecting the 5 tiles per quality level.
So for example you can place the garbage food you want them to eat right under the bathroom door, and have the less desirable food say on the far side of the Great Hall, which could easily be 20 or 30 tiles further away. In this way you can manipulate their food priority without causing excessive needless running.
Or in Spaced Out if you want to basically reserve the Berry Sludge for rockets but not bother with the unpleasant experience of the consumables tab, you can just place the food storage for Berry Sludge way up near the rockets, safe that no duplicant will ever take it unless they decide to poop in a rocket which doesn't have grounded restrictions.

When a dupe is improperly cared for and becomes starving, they'll instead seek whatever food is closest to them while they are starving, so starving dupes will defy the "bathroom proximity strategy", but chances are if a dupe is starving they should be allowed to just grab whatever food is available. If a dupe's bladder gets messed up due to doing an "emergency pee" or if the toilets are not functional, causing them to not be ready or able to poop when downtime starts, they'll instead be looking for food from their position when downtime starts, which could be pretty much anywhere.
But it is even easier to protect the decay-proof low quality starter foods, just store it within 5 tiles of higher quality food and even neglected dupes will never touch it as long as the higher quality food doesn't run out, because the higher quality food is sufficiently close.

What dupes don't care about
Dupes don't seem to take into account staleness or the size of the portion at all when deciding what to eat. It's just quality and distance.
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