i [Implemented] Fluid Wagon requirements seem a bit harsh
Overall I very much like the mod! I love the fact that it's made me rethink my science setup and progression.
The logistic science requirement on Fluid Wagon makes it very difficult to progress however. With neither barreling nor barrelling available you're basically stuck with your starting oil patches until you get science 3, power science, and logistic science. Perhaps it's the mostly fault of the other difficulty mods I've added (omniscience) but the amount of oil you need to progress through to get to Fluid Wagons is prohibitive. The tech chain is plastics, batteries, power science, electric engine, and logistic science and there's a lot of oil needed in there.
In my game I've modified the science requirement to red/green/orange/blue and changed the prereqs to fluid handling 1 and rail signals.
I also found the climb to railways difficult due to omniscience (short a million iron or so), but I bridged it with a couple of long-distance ore belts and AAI Programmable Vehicles.
I am aware for this beiing a though spot indeed. I am already rethinking this for 0.17. I am thinking of making an 'easier' step with barreling in cargo wagon, but I want to keep fluid wagon somewhere furter down the line, so later on you can 'upgrade' to not have to use all those barels. To get rid of excess barrels I might make a 2nd recipe to recycle the empty barrels or make a fluid wagon out of barrels. Also the stack size of empty barels would be increased to 100 i think. (not full barels).
It is still a thinking process at this point. When 0.17 hits (hopefully the 25th) and I am gonna work on the science part first, then work on the other parts of the game, from the start up.
I'll pipe in to suggest that, perhaps, 100-stack e.oty barrels might be a step past the sweet spot.
Full disclosure, part of my own work history is in logistics, dispatching, and truck driving. An empty barrel still takes up the space of a barrel (it doesn't fold / collapse / nest within one another). Conceivably, one could load slightly more barrels empty than full were you to stack them higher within a cargo vessel. In road trailers, common practice is to load barrels installed, so as to keep the center of gravity lower to the floor and to prevent tipping from top-heavy loads. Further, any stacked barrels would theoretically be carrying liquid or powderized freight, such that a free-rolling barrel stacked above the others would cause concerns that it would puncture, dent, or leak.
Contrast that to hauling empty barrels. Being much lighter, first of all, allows for easier manual lifting above ground level, so stacking them might not even require a forklift. Further, vertical clearance is more easily managed with empty barrels, since empty barrels might be loaded on their sides (if secured properly to prevent rolling) even if there's insufficient space for an entire extra vertical layer.
In game terms, the benefits of vanilla behavior is that a single cargo wagon of empties will supply enough to evenly fill a single wagon of laden barrels -- conceivably, they could even be reloaded directly onto the same wagon for each leg of the haul.
For my own personal playstyle, I prefer to avoid barrels altogether in vanilla, with the possible exception of a single-use-case for perhaps one or two stacks of heavy oil barrels to be used in kickstarting a coal liquefaction loop at a remote location without having to fool around with a tanker just for the kickstart or a long distance pipe delivery that'll just be torn down anyway.
Requiring barrels prior to unlocking the tech progression would make sense (I'd be very curious to know more about why specifically you want it that way, i.e. what other balance issues you're considering) so compensating with empty stack size could make sense. However, empty stacking to 100 now means that a wagon of empties needs 10 wagons for laden hauls, which would likely end up simply meaning that empties get reloaded into the forward-most wagon and the remainder of the train is simply dead weight. Stacking them to 15 instead of 10 might be a happy medium, justified in game-lore by side-stacking them in a way not feasible for filled barrels?
I REALLY like the idea of a recycling recipe for barrels once tankers are unlocked. What about a modded building, a "recycler" that carries the skin of the electric furnace, perhaps with an enlarged 4x4 footprint, that consumes a lot of electricity to consume empty barrels and yields 85% of the invested steel plus one or more waste products useful elsewhere?
I am aware that physics says no about higher stackable barrels. Another solution to this could be to increase all barrels to 20 stack size for example, keep empty/full barrels balanced. By doiing so, this will balance the difficulty of setting up a train with cargo wagons to haul fluids, maybe make it a bit easier? (Bigger question that I am trying to answer, since the introduction of fluid wagons, why dislikes everyone to use barrels?) So I want to 'force' the barrel system a bit, becose in my opinion, the fluid wagon is taken for granted too much.
Your question about why unlocking barrels first... My thinking process is as follows: first you unlock basic storage of fluids, in barrels. Further down the line you unlock storage tanks, a bigger, more compact way to store fluids. And as final step to combine (three) storage tanks on wheels to get a fluid wagon (instead of putting barrels in cargo wagons). This is how I imagine the technology progress.
As final note I want to come back on my first paragraph, forcing barrels in cargo wagons for transport, by doiing before oil science (blue science, require plastic). After that I want to unlock the ability to actualy move on to fluid wagons, also on blue science. This would be a compromise to first of all, not lock fluid wagon too far on the tech tree. Secondly, still allow the player to pipe the fluid over initialy if they realy didn't want to use fluid wagons, and lastly, trains is a big deal end game (read as megabase style) but they are unlocked so early on in the game. This could be a way to extend the footprint of the trains in the technology tree.
By forcing barreling, I want to compensate for this huge production of barrels. Let's say you got chests upon chests of barrels, just becose they couldn't get to fluid wagons, or for some other reasons... That's why I want some recycling recipe that would unlock together/after the fluid wagon. I like your idea where there is some sort of resmelting barrels into steel. I might just allow this to happen in a furnace, so you could just feed those together with your iron plates to furnaces and get steel out, without having to build a dedicated setup for maybe those 1000 barrels you initialy made. Ofcource it wouldn't give the full amount of the steel back. (Maybe 80% to get a steel plate back?)
I am open for the idea of a waste product, but then I am thinking furter, with dirty barrels, having to clean them before putting a different fluid in them, then a waste product could be usefull. Just introducing a waste product from recycling barrels is not worth it in my opinion... But then I would split this up in a seperate (maybe stand alone) mod. So the idea of a waste product I won't implement for now (never say never).
With kind regards,
There was another mod a few versions ago, "barrel washing" or somesuch. I think it died.
And thank you for the reply.
Oh! I almost forgot, you asked why people prefer no barrels.
Because with fluid wagons, they're an extra exponent of complexity (as opposed to a linear coefficient.) It introduces backflow-bottleneck constraints, it delays jams and lulls in output, and need I emphasize: 1 steel plate, at vanilla-cost, is 5 iron plate. In AngelBob, that can easily become 8 or even 10 iron plate for a single steel. The rail wagon is a one-time construct with a one-time up-front crafting cost, interfaces directly with pipe spaghetti in lieu of overlaying even an abbreviated belt-spaghetti scenario for a barreling setup, and the default game behavior of routing trains along a route magically handles the "return empties for refill" issue by being attached to the locomotive directly. Barrels have their own one-time up-front production cost, and THEN there is the logistics of getting new barrels to a point of lading, THEN there's the belt-spaghetti to fill them, THEN shipping on a train, THEN unbarreling, THEN re-loading them for the backhaul.
And all of THIS without supply bots to send freighted barrels into the air. All belts, all spaghetti, all the time.
I'm not arguing with your design vision to bury them later in the research tree, sounds like a hearty challenge to be honest. But this is to answer your question.
Edited to add: I kinda wish I could liquefy ALL my cargo items. I have a train loader design for fluids that allows me to load or unload 100k in fluids in 2.5 seconds.
Implemented: Fluid wagons are unlocked earlier (chemical science pack) in v0.2.0