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Pollution as an attribute rather than type.

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I just bought this game during the Steam Summer Sale (not on sale, but I found it during one of my queue quests). I've put about 20 hours into it so far and have a base on cycle 150. One thing I've run into that I thought I would propose here and see what other people think is related to pollution.

Currently, pollution exists as polluted oxygen or polluted water. These two items don't mix with oxygen or water. I think this makes the problem of pollution a little too simple to address. Without mixing, the problem can also be ignored. Here are a few examples.

Around cycle 75, my base suffered a stress cycle that nearly ended it. I had only a few pockets of breathable oxygen in my base, and I had misplumbed my lavatory and removed the outhouses, so there were messes and stress vomit everywhere. One of the dupes managed to stress vomit into my clean water reservoir. When I saw this, I immediately installed a liquid filter, but that tile of polluted water is still there in the reservoir 75 cycles later, even after running the pump dry (flat bottom, so it didn't fully empty). I don't believe my filter has ever sent a single bit of polluted water to my septic tank, because it's been in the opposite corner as the pump. I actually have an identical problem in my steam geyser setup. there is a tile of polluted water that never moves into the pump. Even on top of this, when I leaked some clean water into a part of the base that I accidentally flooded with polluted water, it just sat on top of the polluted water, and the dupes came and harvested it when the clean reservoir ran dry.

So, my proposal would be to remove polluted water and polluted oxygen and instead add an attribute to liquids and gasses that would represent pollution of all types (possibly implemented as multiple attributes, i.e. biological pollution that diffuses, particulate pollution that diffuses and then settles out until disturbed). The pollution would largely diffuse akin to heat and concentration of gasses. It would also add the challenge of having polluted hydrogen and natural gas that may damage generators if not cleaned appropriately.

Let's revisit my encounters with polluted water from above under this proposed system. In the first case, with polluted water in my reservoir, it would have diffused into the larger volume. If 1000kg of 100% polluted water fell in, and it's got an 18,000 kg capacity, you'd end up with 5.5% pollution in the whole reservoir until over time water is removed and 0% polluted water replaces it. In the steam geyser scenario, it would have been similar in that polluted water would have been pumped to my reservoir with the pollution percentage dropping off as the geyser spews clean water and the slightly dirty water is removed. With the flooded part of the base, the clean water that dropped in would have had pollution diffuse into it almost immediately, and would have been unusable.

To go along with this, there would need to be some other new mechanics. Dupes would need to have thresholds for how dirty their water can be for certain things (making food, taking showers, using the toiled), and they would have a sliding scale of how likely they are to get sick from inhaling polluted air. As I hinted at, machines would also have a tolerance for pollution levels before damage occurs. Also needed would be new items, such as in-room air cleaners like the Ionic Breeze (removes X amount of pollution from the air around it and has to wait for diffusion to bring the dirty air to it). In-line passive gas filtration systems a la your air filter for home forced hot air heating systems (maybe with a few tiers, with low tiers bringing it down to a minimum percentage to simulate fine particulates that slip through). Water filtration could be passive, with a block akin to dialysis membrane that will let clean water through but block pollution, with really low flow, or a Dean Kamen magic water machine that uses electricity and requires pumps and is super expensive but outputs pure water.

This would open the door for other pollution sources: a septic tank could slowly diffuse pollution into the air above it. Blocks, like slime, could slowly sublimate into the air. Mining certain materials could produce dust which would be a form of pollution.

Early on, pollution wouldn't be much of an issue, because your big sources would be the outhouse and maybe mining. As the game progresses, though, even those basic sources would be building up into something that needs to be addressed, and that's before getting into pockets of polluted oxygen at 15 kg/tile.


In summary, I think this change, if balanced correctly with new mechanics and machines to deal with it, would make pollution a much more enjoyable challenge.

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I would be slightly sad to see this implemented very soon because this water/polluted water heat exchanger that came out of some thermodynamic experimentation in another thread would no longer work.


But only just slightly. I fully support this idea. :)

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