The role of the Mass Fabricator

The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby A_vehicle » 13 Mar 2013, 01:48

I have read extensively about the various suggestions regarding the costs and incomes for the mass fabricators. I know that at one point T2 mass fabs, back when they were T1, cost zero mass to build. I know they were changed to be super expensive and inefficient in order to emphasize the importance of the mass extractor and encourage map control.

On the other hand the current stats make the mass fabricator unusable in most cases discounting phantom X games and the like. I've seen a very lengthy analysis of the mass fab and the suggested price and economic values that would make them more useable. Here is a link:http://forums.gaspowered.com/viewtopic.php?t=26764
While I agree with the ratio of mass income per energy cost, I think that his suggestion of 2 mass per 150 energy is too high, and that T2 mass fabs should cost 75 energy for one mass income.

Regardless of what I think, however, I want to know what you guys think would make the mass fab more useable without negatively altering supcom's current balance so that changes can be made that enhance the game.

What role should they fill? When should be the right time to build them? How efficient should they be? At what point should they become an option to the player and how should the battlefield environment change how or when should they be used? How should their health and death explosion damage interact with other units that they may be built around? Do you even think they should be changed?
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby FunkOff » 13 Mar 2013, 02:54

Mass fabs are a difficult thing to balance conceptually: The exponential nature of the growth they enable gives them astonishing capability.

There are two things we know, however, when it comes to fab balance:
1. They must be substantially less efficient at producing mass than even the least efficient mex,
2. To still be useful given #1, they need to have some kind of advantage that mex don't have.

That said, I don't think we can improve the mass production efficiency of fabs in any way: They are already very efficient when compared to mex. However, fabs suffer numerous disadvantages: Heavy power consumption, low health, and high damage death weapon. Any attempt to re balance FABs should focus on buffs that DO NOT IMPROVE their raw mass-producing efficiency (how much time it takes to produce its own cost in mass) and eliminating some of their major weaknesses.

Off hand, here are a few potential ideas:
-Improve health from 360 to 1000 for T2 fabs, and 6000ish to 8000 for T3 fabs
-Reduce death weapon damage from 370 to 200 (for T2) and from ????? to something less for T3 fabs
-Reduce power consumption to something reasonable, like -20 T1, same as a T1 radar
--If decreasing the energy consumption, increase mass cost proportionate to how much mass that energy production would have cost (ie, -100 to -20 is an effective buff of 4 T1 pgens, worth 300 mass, but T2 pgens are 2x as efficient, thus a T1 mass fab should cost 150 mass more, thus 250 mass for +1 benefit)
--Add some other benefit, like an build bonus adjacency to, hypothetically, let them improve a factory's build power if they are adjacent to it

With these sorts of changes, FABs would be distinctly necessary, but less efficient enough than mex to allow mex to retain their purpose.
(250 mass for +1 is 10% less efficient than upgrading a T1 mex to T2)
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby Raghar » 13 Mar 2013, 03:21

Energy to mass conversion is hard and should be relatively complicated. The cost in vanilla supcom was atrociously low and was hurting suspension of disbelief. Also it encouraged avoiding expansion.

2 T3 PG and 2 FAB3 provide 24 mass, 4 Mass storage and one T3 extractor provides only 27 mass. +9 mass per 4 structures is far less than +24 mass per 4 structures. Which can be important in case of games with low command points, or on maps that are resource starved. Of course majority of MP maps have atrociously many mass extraction points.

There is the problem with FAB2 requiring only 100 mass to be constructed. They definitely don't have 1/30 of FAB3 output. 200 might be more reasonable.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby A_vehicle » 13 Mar 2013, 03:47

Look at it this way though:
A T3 mass extractor costs 4600 mass and generates 18 mass per second, while it costs 31625 energy to build and 54 energy to keep on. This means that, while running, a T3 mass extractor pays for itself in mass in about 255 seconds while costing its own price in energy about every 585 seconds. That means it refunds its mast cost more than twice for every time you pay for it's energy cost in operating energy cost.
On the other hand, a T2 mass fab has the opposite efficiency, costing the user 3.75 T2 mass fabs in energy for every time it refunds its mass costs, instead of the other way around. The T3 mass fab is worse, costing 13.4 T3 mass fabs in energy for every single time it refunds itself. This is atrociously wasteful in terms of mass investment compared with the T3 mass extractor, which is the least efficient extractor anyway, and renders them almost unuseable until the extremely late game where all mexes are T3 and capped. Often, however, they are never even used in long games because Paragons are rushed first.
Typical Voodoo Edition Map Dialog:
Master_lee wrote:Varaxis ist loser vote all my maps 1 !!! he cant make maps noob go home !!!!!!

Padfoot141 wrote:Terrible map. Spawn with 6 commanders and there are civillians with fatboys.

Master_lee wrote:Padfoot141 go home loser ! go play thermo !
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby Wakke » 13 Mar 2013, 09:32

Do not forget mass fabs received a major buff in the last FAF patch, by greatly increasing their adjacency bonus.
The fact that this was not mentioned in this thread yet leads me to believe this buff is not fully explored yet, and as such, we shouldn't talk about other buffs.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby pip » 13 Mar 2013, 11:18

Wakke wrote:Do not forget mass fabs received a major buff in the last FAF patch, by greatly increasing their adjacency bonus.
The fact that this was not mentioned in this thread yet leads me to believe this buff is not fully explored yet, and as such, we shouldn't talk about other buffs.


Indeed. T2 mass fabs were not buffed a lot through adjacency, because they are generally more profitable than t3 mass fabs already, but t3 mass fabs are now very useful for adjacency, especially if you optimize it : next to a t3 pgen on one side, next to a t3 fac on another, and a Quantum gateway on another. Thus, a single t3 mass fab provides very good extra mass through factory discount and don't consume too much energy.

However, the main reason people don't use fabs is the crazy explosion. It's the firs thing to tune down if you want to make mass fabs more viable, not their production efficiency.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby Valki » 13 Mar 2013, 13:21

pip wrote:However, the main reason people don't use fabs is the crazy explosion. It's the firs thing to tune down if you want to make mass fabs more viable, not their production efficiency.

That's a very interesting suggestion.

This also makes me think about the other discussion about engineers. One big advantage a factory has over an assisting engineer are the adjacency bonusses. A factory surrounded by 4 T3 mass fabs builds units with a huge discount of around 75%, but all engineers assisting the factory get no discount at all.

If you:
  • Removed the explosion
  • Significantly reduced their build and running costs
  • Reduced their mass output
...but:
  • Maintained their current adjacency bonus

Then you might just solve two problems at once. T1 engineers keep the advantage of having the most efficient build power per mass, while using factories with massfabs allows you to produce more units for the same amount of mass - after an initial investment.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby Wakke » 13 Mar 2013, 13:28

Imo the explosive character of mass fabs creates an interesting risk/reward scenario and should not be discarded.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby MushrooMars » 13 Mar 2013, 14:22

I agree, the explosion adds character and balance. Really, the way it should be is that mass fabs are a viable source of additional mass, not as viable as mexes OFC, but they should be devestating if they are destroyed. The explosion should be big enough and powerful enough to destroy any adjacent tabs and power generators. Like the T2 is now, only the energy efficiency needs balance.

However, I think T3 Fab needs some love. He should be more efficient than T2 by a significant margin, however, he should also be proportionately more dangerous to use. On death, he should cause a small nuclear explosion, like what the SCU produces, with enough damage and AoE to destroy a good portion of the base he is in.

This gives the player a choice: Do I stick my fabs in my base for adjacency and shield cover, or do I chuck them in a stealth base in some corner of the map, so if the enemy finds them they don't completely ravage my base?

Most importantly, both fabs should have a high capital investment, but should also pay their mass cost off quickly to encourage risky use of them.

Edit: Even more important is that they should be renamed to 'fabbers'.
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Re: The role of the Mass Fabricator

Postby Raghar » 13 Mar 2013, 20:30

A_vehicle wrote:Look at it this way though:
A T3 mass extractor costs 4600 mass and generates 18 mass per second, while it costs 31625 energy to build and 54 energy to keep on. This means that, while running, a T3 mass extractor pays for itself in mass in about 255 seconds while costing its own price in energy about every 585 seconds. That means it refunds its mast cost more than twice for every time you pay for it's energy cost in operating energy cost.
On the other hand, a T2 mass fab has the opposite efficiency, costing the user 3.75 T2 mass fabs in energy for every time it refunds its mass costs, instead of the other way around. The T3 mass fab is worse, costing 13.4 T3 mass fabs in energy for every single time it refunds itself. This is atrociously wasteful in terms of mass investment compared with the T3 mass extractor, which is the least efficient extractor anyway, and renders them almost unuseable until the extremely late game where all mexes are T3 and capped. Often, however, they are never even used in long games because Paragons are rushed first.


An energy self sufficient block costs 12000+ mass, it repays its costs in mass in 8+ minutes. When you destroy experimental then use the mass for mass fabs and PGs, it's basically free. And because FAB3 can be powered off in case few T3 PG would be blown up, it's basically a hedge fund against energy shortages that would cripple the economy and more importantly disable shields which would cause massive problems.

Changing adjacency bonuses for FAB3 was bit useless. The reason why players avoided it was because its explosion could wipe these 60 T1 engs, that were assisting, in a single blast.

1/2 efficiency per mass when compared to T3 mass extractors was actually quite high. You don't have T3 MX to upgrade? Then either do an offensive tactic, or pursue a long term strategy and you'd have few free nukes after you finish few FAB3 blocks.
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