Machine Butting

I recently downloaded the newest patch for Big Pharma and was disappointed to see that machines could no longer be put up against one another. Personally I really enjoyed using this to conserve space in some of my production lines. It’s not my place to speculate as to why it was taken out but I think it really added something to the game. Before this change machines could be fit together like Tetris pieces and finding that “perfect” slot to fit your machine into felt really satisfying. By doing this, however, you sacrifice modularity. Trading out one machine for another becomes really hard when that machine was perfect for the space it was in.

At the end of the day this change only makes machines need half a block more space one either side (if the machine shares it’s input and output belt with another machine). While this change may make production lines look nicer the gameplay feels less intuitive as a result.

I agree with this 100% It also have bigger implications on gameplay balance, specifically nerfing 1-unit machines (Evaporators and Dissolvers) as they now require more total floor space per unit compared to their 3-unit counterparts. I think this change has caused more harm than good and plead with the dev to reverse it. This makes the ‘puzzle’ aspect of the game more ham-fisted and otherwise clever solutions to space issues are punished by an arbitrary rule change. If you were worried about the tighter builds being unbalanced, I’d gladly take an increase to plot costs, increase to machine operating costs or decrease to drug revenue if it meant we could have the old machine placement back.

Just my two cents.

I made a point of this in my own thread, but I’d like to cast my vote in favour of returning it to how it used to work.

Actually that is exactly why I don’t mind the change too much, I only really used the 3 unit changing machines whenever I needed to remove or upgrade a effect as it was so easy to pack all the 1 unit changing machines tightly. Space never became too much of an issue as long you planned ahead, so the game was clearly not planned with it in mind. It was clearly unintended too, as you could not pack everything tightly together, the output sockets would refuse to take in anything coming from a pill machine, creamer or similar sitting next to them for example.

My biggest gripe with the change is that it’s unintuitive. Anybody that has played similar games in the “pseudo factory building” genre (like Factorio or FTB) will be already familiar with the ability to put inputs right up against outputs. The restriction seems arbitrary.

When it comes to stuff like this, you really shouldn’t have an absolute ‘No!’ in place. He removed it because it was technically a bug, and it looked ‘odd’ to him.

It’s like legalized marijuana, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you have to use it. Just because you can jump off a cliff doesn’t mean you should do it. For the people that want to fit their machines as tight as we can (Since yes, it is much like tetris, except all you get are L blocks and reverse L blocks) we should be able to do it, while people who want to have a belt between can still do it. More decoration options would be good too, and of course a way to ‘fill’ a space with one floortype.

Speaking of the decor what I like to do is put Hazard flooring under Pill Printers, Shakers and Hadron Colliders. I also like to have my belts color coded, with ‘orange’ being finished products, violet/reddish/purple being unrefined ingredients, green being normal and blue for refined ingredients that will be combined with another refined ingredient, merging the production lines.

I agree with this suggestion. I had great pleasure to figure how to make the smallest production line by all butting together, and now it no longer works.

I think that this was actually the right way to go aesthetically and mechanically. Yes, not being able to but machines together makes assembly line design more difficult and you now have to figure out new optimal ways to assemble things, and I think that’s good. I feel that Agglomerators and Ionizers should be a bit more useful and it WAS a bit too easy to squeeze in 8 evaporators into one spot.

Also I really like that the assembly lines look more like assembly lines and less like a fractal evaportator machine turning inwards on itself.

I feel I am in the minority of disliking machines butting (heh, butt) up against each other. I like the look of factories where things are moving around, things should be moving around. Having everything butting (heh, butt) against each other means that you lose out on a lot of the visual aspect of the game.

But, really, to each their own. The only way this change has affected me is that it’s now harder to move a whole bunch of machines to a corner of my factory, because if any outputs or inputs touch each other then I can’t place the machine there, even though there’s nothing being processed.

I think this is quite a detrimental change.

This is the most subjective of the points, but I actually liked the look of the butting machines. You don’t lose the “movement”, because it actually takes a lot of work to figure out configurations with more butting, so you always have some conveyor belt alongside the movement conveyed by the machines themselves. Having fewer conveyor belts can also make machines easier to follow, as an area with more butting appears almost becomes one composite machine, whereas having lots of single cell conveyors seems to add noise. Regarding how realistic it is, it’s neither realistic for machines to slot straight into each other, or for a square grid cell sized conveyor belt to link them. There isn’t any realism benefit either way as far as I can tell.

As Omnirach mentioned, the change at the moment has the side effect of preventing machines from being stored in certain configurations even when they are part of an active line.

The most significant problem with this change, however, is it’s effect on the gameplay. You might say “this makes the game harder”, which of course, it does on average as it is simply a restriction. However, you can also say “this makes the game easier to play closer to optimally” in the sense that previously “bad” configurations with excessive conveyor belt use are now much closer to the actual optimal configuration. This change effectively rewards sloppy configurations, while reducing the benefit of optimising configurations. If this is difficult to see, consider a case where it might be possible to make every machine in a configuration butt, with no gaps between the wall and the side of the configuration. This is likely very close to optimal, however, finding this configuration would also likely take a lot of thought and planning, or skill. Due to the fact that entrances and exits must always align in a specific direction, there will likely be very few such layouts, or it might even be unique. If we now consider an optimal configuration where a square of conveyor is enforced between each machine, the number of possible optimal configurations is now much more, because there are now more possibilities for alignment. On top of this, these now more numerous optimal configurations are relatively closer to your average, less-considered configuration,

Note, also, that the relative cost of having larger machines is reduced by enforcing the conveyor belt gap. On average, there will not be more conveyor belt required for any configuration, so on average, each machine requires more cells in the factory. This increase on the average space required affects the smaller machines more than it does the larger machines. Ultimately, everything is averaged out a little. There is relatively less cost to using larger machines, less benefit to finding optimal solutions, and less thought required to find an optimal solution.

It’s a fairly common game design goal to minimise complexity while maximising depth. This change adds complexity by imposing an extra rule on the system, while also reducing depth, in that there is both less potential and less reward for optimisation.

I prefered the old way, much more intuitive imo.

Yes it does neaten things up slightly aesthetically but there’s something satisfying about looking at a mess of machines you’ve built yet understanding exactly each machines role in a complex system.

I do not like this change, please give us the option to enable machine butting, thank you.

I prefer the intended way - Which is how it is now.

The machine butting is an unintended leftover that was never supposed to be there in the first place. Factory floor sizes weren’t balanced for butting either, making the game MUCH easier than it should be.

Even so, Tim took the easy way out in coding it by just not allowing it, rather than making it not work (and explaining that in the tutorial). It’s kind of dumb that I have to be careful with my machine’s placement in storage too.

I disagree with the argument that this adds a additional complication without an appropriate reward for optimization.

In this game, why do you want to optimize your assembly lines? The answer is because each machine in your assembly line costs money every time it processes something and the more ‘powerful’ machines have a big cost to running them compared to the ‘weaker’ ones. This has not changed. The reward for being able to make an assembly line that uses primarily dissolvers or evaporators is the same as it was. What HAS changed is that there is that you cannot butt them together. What mechanical changes does this make in the game?

It increases the footprint of every machine by a variable amount but at least by one tile of factory belt. However this is something in the player’s control. Optimizing assembly lines means that you now have to take into account this variable extra footprint and mitigate it with careful planning. Something I suspect will become more intricate once the crisscrossing factory lines are in the game.

There’s the cost of having to lay down more factory belt. Again, careful optimization and pre-planing are important here because 100$ a tile adds up and I suspect that the amount of money you make in game is balanced around considering that you have to lay down factory lines. Again, this rewards careful planing and optimization. And before you think that it ‘only’ allows you to save 100 here and there, remember that an agglomerator ‘only’ costs 5 more than three evaporators to run and ‘only’ 400 more to build but we understand that this adds up over time.

As for the no butting thing actually interfering with storing machines, I agree that’s dumb. There should be some kind of ‘off’ switch that allows you to butt machines in the event you need to store them.

Honestly, I like it the way it is now more than the way when butting was allowed. Most people seem to like it the other way because it made the game easier, but to them I say that easier is not necessarily better. This game is already too easy as it is, and anything that makes the game even slightly more difficult is a good change in my book and really ought to be in your book too.

To the dev I say this, give people a few patches and if they’re still complaining about it after the “honeymoon period” of this change, then change it back. Or don’t, your call.

My biggest objection to this change is that it re-balances the machines in a very uneven manner. I for the sake of argument I will assume that each input/output belt takes up .5 tiles, because it can share the belt with another machine quite easily. tier 1 machines all had their sizes increased 50%. the collider is only increased in size by 11%. Assuming they were balanced for placement size and not effective belt size, this is rather uneven. it gets a little weirder though, because now the mixer is effectively bigger then the autoclave and and the other 2x2s. The poor centrifuge which was already hard enough to set up nicely is now effectively 8 tiles, and a shape that annoys me to no end.
Most of all I dislike the change because it is just really counter-intuitive. Most players will naturally assume machine butting as a natural extension of the rules, but blocking it feels like an arbitrary addition to the rules. Although arbitrary rules are sort of the essence of games, it does feel rather restrictive, which is generally not a good thing. The whole exports need to have a conveyor (which was a rule before the patch) feels a little arbitrary too, but at least it sort of had the justification of you needing to name the drug.
As it stands the no butting rule gives me a small twinge of annoyance every time I place a machine. I enjoy the game a little less as a result.

I don’t think the decisions were “arbitrary”. I can think of several reasons that the butting was removed. For one, it was easy to do and optimal. The idea behind machine butting is that you wanted to pack in machines as tightly as possible and use as little conveyor as possible. I can speculate that the devs wanted conveyor belts to be more prevalent and that the machine butting was too easy to do. So it’s not arbitrary, which implies it was simply changed out of whimsy. As for not being intuitive, I was actually thrown off when I discovered you could do machine butting because you couldn’t feed products directly into an output and now as a result of the machine butting bug being removed the game makes more sense to me.

Agreed, if anybody actually watched his video blogs, this is not a change, it is a bug fix. It was an error that allowed machines to be right up against each other. I find it much more balanced to have conveyors.

I don’t discount the fact that this was legitimately a bug, and was not intentional behavior by the developer. However, there is a concept called the Ascended Glitch

An ascended glitch is basically a bug that is enjoyed by the fans to the point where the developers decide to either just leave it in or even enhance it as a feature.

The classic example is Street Fighter 2 and the combo system. Did you know that the concept of “Combos” in the fighting game genre was actually a bug? For anyone who’s a fan of fighting games, combos are bread and butter for the genre…but they were originally just a bug.

My plea to Tim is to turn machine butting into an ascended glitch. Heck, I’d be happy to swallow a penalty for using it (Maybe like a X% higher processing costs for machines that are butted up against each other). Having the option makes for some very tight builds and the satisfaction of cramming several major production lines into a tight space by utilizing every single square to their fullest potential.