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Let's talk Ranching


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The egg workflow is a work in progress, of course, but there's a couple of huge gaps in what we're trying to do that seem outright confusing if they're not intentional gaps.  Let's begin the process in Cosmic with bugs, because if you don't get them early they're probably dying off anyway when you build one too many on top of something or toss 'em in the drink when your sand cave in starts.

To start with, there's 3 overall goals for a player in ranching in my experience.

1) Keep up with your stable -1 to keep them from reaching expecting status.  While the critter count in the stable helps a bit with this, the expecting result still means you care about critter + eggs more than you care about # of critters in ranch.  There's currently no way to automate egg pickup.  There's also no way to only keep an egg around when one of the critters dies of old age... nevermind trying to only keep the oldest normally incubating eggs.

2) Use all the eggs *except* for your backup eggs.  Dumb happens.  Forget to turn on the heaters for the slicks or put food in the feeder for a while.  We need a place that we can buffer eggs that allows for normal incubation in the corner of somewhere.  Right now that means putting stuff into a storage compactor then emptying the storage compactor manually.   It also means finding ways to not compost egg parts which you need later.

3) Keep our stables up to needed amounts of critters.  This is for egg production, or plastic production, or fuel produ… you get the drift.  This has most of what it needs, except that it relies on auto-wrangling which for some reason doesn't have an automation connector.  Oddly enough, Grooming station does, and I have no idea why.

Right now, this requires a lot of manual intervention, which is not why (most) of us play this game.  We hope to design a system them move on from it once it's working and is now 'not our problem'.  Let the dupes do it.

The workflow for these steps right now is a combination of heavy manual interference with storage compactors and what not, a couple of bits of automation but not enough, ridiculous amounts of dupe time in incubators and grooming systems (My farmers are wondering why those ranchers work so much!), and missing pieces of the puzzle.

Things that would help make this work.

A) Autowrangling was a start, but the wrangling is only half the discussion.  The other half is the eggs, which currently have no controls unless you put them into a storage that can make then unviable.  However, even that storage compartment doesn't account for 'eggs to work with' and 'eggs to keep protected'.  You will always have some kind of churn for old age for your critters and you need to be able to keep an egg or two to replace them in that ranch.  Food chests AND Storage Compactors are probably needed to even start this discussion.  One for 'crack 'em if you got 'em' storage, another for 'and we lost one, present EGG!'.

B) Maths.  We need some maths and the ability to count things and decide results on those decisions.  A simple set of automation components: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, remainders, totals.  This however comes with a bucket load of background concerns on all the other objects, which is probably why the automation tab wasn't even built for critter drops and the one on the grooming station doesn't really make sense to me.

C) The entire process is overly complex and difficult to manage.  It could use some simplification.  For example: Why does the egg cracker not have a way to automate when it's used?  Every egg has to be *manually* cracked.  Every egg has to be manually incubated for a replacement critter.  You have to do incredibly complex setups to make sure your egg shells don't end up in the compost bin instead of when your one or two engineers can get over to the crusher.  I'm not saying streamlining should be easy, but it definitely needs to be *possible*.  We're already spending a huge chunk of resource cost in dupe time, it would help to reduce the cost in player time on trying to work around difficult methodologies.

… well, thank you for your time.  As I mentioned at the beginning, I'm sure this is a work in progress.  Having no idea where it's actually aimed at eventually going I'm not sure what, if any of this, is already being considered.  As it stands right now though, for me at least... Mushrooms!  Get your hot fried mushrooms here!  Mushroom!....  I don't even want to bother trying to get the whole egg shell crusher into place for huge amounts of materials.  I have plenty of ideas, but I don't really know what's feasible in the engine and dev time versus what's there, but the end result, at least for me, is ranching isn't *fun* right now.  It's tedious and annoying.

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I'm completely happy with the system being overly complex. Farming can be the simple one, ranching the complicated. I have no issues with this.

As for the actual backup eggs, I feel like once you get it off the ground, you should be fine. Timing egg hatching should also fall on the player to find a way to get it done. It's possible to build an automated clock for any number of cycles you want (albeit, it's somewhat complicated and for 100 cycles (hatches/slicksters) it's going to take up alot of space). You can use that clock to determine when you want to keep your eggs instead of cooking them via automation. It's work, but it's also cool and challenging and I like that about it.

Autowrangling also works, as it makes you sacrifice eggs for meat. You can let all your hatch eggs erm.. hatch. And then you can let the hatches starve. Autowrangling, your dupes will just pull a hatch that hasn't starved yet and throw it back in. No problem for something with such a long life span. You're just getting meat instead of omelettes then, which is half the kCal and lower quality. A tradeoff for sure, but also significantly simpler than making the egg thing I described above.

I think there needs to be an automation item for counting the number of critters in a room. Nothing else. You can set it to on if above or below a certain number. Part of the way the game works is by making the player put together complex systems, as their systems are basic. They're If statements (If over temp X, on. If not, off. Same for gas type, gas density, disease, etc.). While I agree an automation sensor for it should exist (as mentioned above, I think you can get around it, but I also don't think you should need a 100x100 automation setup to count when to put in new hatch eggs), I don't want it to be too much.

To address your points at the beginning:

  1. Stables can be full size. When they hit +1 and turn into expecting, you just have a sweeper in the room. The egg disappears in a few seconds and it doesn't matter.
  2. Have a separate room, off from the rest, where you keep 1 of the wild animal (or a tame and feed it. Your choice). It's an easy way to make sure they never go extinct. But, barring weird issues with the game (like pufts giving birth and the puftlings dying in the PH2O the egg was in, effectively wiping out almost all the pufts on the map) - I feel like it should be the player's duty to not let a critter go extinct.
  3. I'll agree to this point - it needs help.


 

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16 hours ago, Juicearific said:

I'm completely happy with the system being overly complex. Farming can be the simple one, ranching the complicated. I have no issues with this.

I don't necessarily disagree with the premise, but in my opinion the complexity should be in how to use the critters and make your system viable, not trying to thread the needle in making the tools work correctly at all.

16 hours ago, Juicearific said:

As for the actual backup eggs, I feel like once you get it off the ground, you should be fine. Timing egg hatching should also fall on the player to find a way to get it done. [snip]

Autowrangling also works, as it makes you sacrifice eggs for meat. You can let all your hatch eggs erm.. hatch. And then you can let the hatches starve. Autowrangling, your dupes will just pull a hatch that hasn't starved yet and throw it back in. No problem for something with such a long life span. You're just getting meat instead of omelettes then, which is half the kCal and lower quality. A tradeoff for sure, but also significantly simpler than making the egg thing I described above.

So, a couple of disagreements here.  Clocks are fun but I shouldn't need to make a Graphics Processor full of clocks to make what I consider a set of simple functions to work.  You *can* time eggs, if you are willing to manually control which specific egg is placed into an incubator.  It requires luck and timing, neither of which I think should be involved in a simulator.  Those parts come in when it comes time for X dupe to place Y incubator.  Which one does it grab, and where's he think he's heading when you've got more than one ranch?

I have no idea why you think autowrangling sacrifices eggs for meat, please illuminate.  Autowrangling basically lets you take newly born critters who have enlarged one aspect of your population, born critters, from one ranch and shove them into another, or in bags.  That's it.  It picks them at random from the current stocks, so you can't control age or similar concerns.  You *could* I suppose starve them into a different ranch, but there's easier ways to deal with this, such as drowning Hatches.  Also BBQ, which is easily provided with Pincha Peppers, are much more valuable to a chef then just meat.  Meat also doesn't produce for all creatures, unless that changed.  If you're not cooking the meat for a setup like that, you have a very made a very... interesting... design choice.

16 hours ago, Juicearific said:

I think there needs to be an automation item for counting the number of critters in a room. Nothing else. You can set it to on if above or below a certain number. Part of the way the game works is by making the player put together complex systems, as their systems are basic.

The systems ARE basic, but the tools to create the complex system need to be there.  Take gas sensors in pipes for example.  We had to go through basically an emptied room to detect elements and make huge changes.  Now we can just shut on and off a valve.  I feel some simple math tools and some additions and changes to the ranching features will make a similar idea possible without having to build that giant circuit room.

Also I don't think these are necessarily all tools for average players.  A XOR switch is rarely needed, but invaluable to someone who understands complex logic designs.  Some of these tools will be significantly helpful to average players, sure, but others will be toys to play with and see what examples are in the forums.

16 hours ago, Juicearific said:

To address your points at the beginning:

  1. Stables can be full size. When they hit +1 and turn into expecting, you just have a sweeper in the room. The egg disappears in a few seconds and it doesn't matter.
  2. Have a separate room, off from the rest, where you keep 1 of the wild animal (or a tame and feed it. Your choice). It's an easy way to make sure they never go extinct. But, barring weird issues with the game (like pufts giving birth and the puftlings dying in the PH2O the egg was in, effectively wiping out almost all the pufts on the map) - I feel like it should be the player's duty to not let a critter go extinct.
  3. I'll agree to this point - it needs help.

A stable at full size has the "expecting".  You cannot get a new egg from an expecting creature.  This debuff happens at max population.  Also some ranches are more conducive to this concern than others.  Yes, you can suction up your hatch eggs if you design the stall just so pretty easily.  Try it with bugs or pufts.  Also try it before cycle 70-80 when you actually get a Mechantronics engineer since you've got a lot of dupes up in the ranching tree.  I personally have plenty of dupes in my games, but there's a lot of folks who use only 5 or 6 dupes for a long time.

Separate Room: Once you've tamed it, it can't go wild again (at least that's how it's supposed to work).  So you have to feed it.  Currently shinebugs are very easy to have go nearly extinct with a couple of early game RNG moments (go, fly!!!.. … and right into the filling pond, nicely done, little shinebug), and slicksters can end up screwed if you're not on your game between when you make the active and visible and have any kind of infrastructure to keep them in.

Critters going extinct, currently, is an easy fact of life for the game right now.  Sure, I hope that'll change, but until when/if it does we need some tools to deal with a safety valve for critters.  Also depending on your egg hatching timings and the fact that you can't force a ranch to have a variation of death times, you could actually kill all of your critters in one fell swoop if you end up with a large population of end of life critters.  This is particularly possible with multiple incubators and slow spawners. 

As anecdotal evidence my early shinebug ranches with only 2 or 3 around during the first ranching phase have nearly exterminated themselves twice until I get a full ranch up, and I had an entire ranch of hatches die off when I was testing a few different incubation ideas. 

So, overall, while I can understand your preference for 'simple tools, complex systems', I honestly think we've got a few screwdrivers and drill bits missing from the toolbox.

@Juicearific  EDIT: I see what you mean by full stable population.  I had thought expecting indicates at max pop, not max pop + egg.  You can cause the overcrowding immediately at 9 critters, but 8 critters + an egg creates expecting but NOT overpopulation.  Well, that can be a bit more helpful, but there's still nothing for automation about when you create an expecting event, so I'm not sure it really makes a difference.

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