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esd's X² guide to loops
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esd
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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 00:58    Post subject: esd's X² guide to loops Reply with quote Print

So you've noticed that chaining factories together solves the local supply problem? Good, because the loop leaves the local economy's fragile nature completely alone, providing a product that was made using only your materials.

THE BASICS
Each factory manufactures enough produce to supply one factory with it's needed resource, with the following exceptions: Silicon and Ore Mines (which produces 100% of a factory's resources when on a 26-yield asteroid) and Solar Power Plants (Which produce enough energy for eight or nine factories in a 100% sun sector).

Given this, we know that each factory needs to feed one factory. To produce Energy Cells we need Crystals. To produce Crystals we need Food, Silicon and Energy Cells. For Food we need the Food Ingredient and Energy Cells. For Silicon we need Energy Cells. For the Food Ingredient we also need Energy Cells.

Confusing, isn't it? Well it can be when described like that. It took me a while trying to visualise the logistical needs before I managed it, and now I have Zero-Credit loops happily running accross the Xverse.

LOGISTICS
I used the SDS for all of my loops. That is, of course, until the new Bonus Plugin Pack was released. Now I use the Logistics Software, but do not allow it to learn. this keeps it free, and identical to the SDS. In the diagrams, the arrows represent SDS deliveries. For the Solar Power Plants I have one ship supplying two or three factories.

KEY
The diagrams use two-character acronyms. Here's what they all mean:
  • FI - Food Ingredient (eg Argnu Beef)
  • FP - Food Product (eg Meatsteak Cahoonas)
  • SM - Silicon Mine
  • OM - Ore Mine
  • CF - Crystal Fab
  • SP - Solar Power Plant
  • PF - Plasma Forge


THE SINGLE ENERGY LOOP
This is the simplest enclosed loop, which leaves you with 50% of the Solar Power Plant's output to sell.


Click to enlarge

Requirements:
1 Solar Power Plant
1 Silicon Mine
1 Food Product Factory (eg Cahoona Bakery)
1 Food Ingredient Factory (eg Cattle Ranch)
1 Crystal Fab
1 TS (XL requirement) - Logistics Software Equipped - shipping the Silicon.
5 other freighters - Logistics Software Equipped - two shipping Energy Cells to two stations each.

That 50% output can be put to another use. You can put some Energy-Cells-needed-only factories, like a Cattle Ranch or Silicon Mine and sell the produce, or you can go for the Double Energy Loop.

THE DOUBLE ENERGY LOOP
That's right! Twice the fun! This "double loop" puts all of it's resources into making a single sellable product: Energy Cells. This loop will leave you with 100% of a Solar Power Plant's output to sell.


Click to enlarge

Requirements:
2 Solar Power Plant
2 Silicon Mine
2 Food Product Factory (eg Cahoona Bakery)
2 Food Ingredient Factory (eg Cattle Ranch)
2 Crystal Fabs
2 TS (XL requirement) - Logistics Software Equipped - shipping the Silicon.
9 other freighters - Logistics Software Equipped - three shipping Energy Cells to three stations each, one shipping Energy Cells to two stations.

But again, you can put that surplus energy to a much better use. You can supply eight Energy-Cells-needed-only factories, and sell their products. Or you can go for the Final Product Double Loop! (ooo!)

THE FINAL PRODUCT DOUBLE LOOP
This one's the Big Daddy of the loops. I have two of these running with zero credits in Seizewell, one producing Gamma High Energy Plasma Throwers, and the other producing Beta High Energy Plasma Throwers. I do not sell these, instead I make them for my fleet (that's not been built yet.. thinking ahead!). Each has a Dolphin docked for stockpiling the HEPT's.


Click to enlarge

Requirements:
1 Solar Power Plant
1 Silicon Mine
1 Ore Mine
2 Food Product Factory (eg Cahoona Bakery)
2 Food Ingredient Factory (eg Cattle Ranch)
1 Crystal Fab
1 High Energy Plasma Forge
2 TS (XL requirement) - Logistics Software Equipped - shipping the Silicon and Ore.
8 other freighters - Logistics Software Equipped - three shipping Energy Cells to three stations each, one shipping Energy Cells to two stations.

FINANCES
I personally use Zero-Credit Loops to minimise the need for interaction with the stations. Using the Logistics software I "sell" the goods to the factory for 0cr. The disadvantage of this is it needs a manual injection of resources to get it going (though once it's going you need never touch it again, unless a ship is destroyed).
My way of manual injection is to send a TL to The Wall, and another to Akeela's Beacon. I then send one Dolphin to each Solar Power Plant with the command "Buy Ware -> Energy Cells". The TL's fill to the brim with Energy Cells and jump on back to the sector the loop is in. The Dolphins then spread out around the "bottom tier" factories (The Silicon mines, the food factories) and the Solar Power Plants and dump the Energy Cells. After a while, the resources filter round, and the loop starts storming along at full speed. Before you know it, you'll have GHEPT's being loaded aboard your fleet without having a single credit change hands during manufacturing.

Some people however prefer the "leaky loop" method, which involves using BHP or "Best Buy" ships to collect the resources, and setting prices to ensure your ships buy your products unless there is a REALLY cheap deal going with an AI factory. This can save some money, however BHP can cost a fair bit of money after a while, and the fluctuating AI economy means your Best Buy ships could get to a factory after prices have gone up. Ultimately, you may need to top up the cash in each of your looped factories.

HARDWARE
Personally I use Mantas for everything except that which requires XL cargo. For XL, I use Dolphins. They look cool. Mantas however will only hold about one fifth of the total maximum stock for a Solar Power Plant. Using Mantas with SDS stops one factory getting three thousand Energy Cells from a maxxed out Dolphin leaving the others with hardly any, and ensures a reasonably even spread of Energy throughout the loop.

So, there you have it. Looping, a'la pictures. Hopefully this (amazingly long for me) post will help someone, old or new, to properly visualise the logistical problems of three different types of loop.

Smile


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Last edited by esd on Tue, 22. Nov 05, 19:03; edited 2 times in total
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Electric_Kola



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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 01:00    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Cheers mate, that will come in handy in my new savegame.. took me a long time and alot of trouble on the last one Smile


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nilof





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 01:07    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

You will mind if I add this to the guide compilation in my sig?


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esd
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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 01:17    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

nilof wrote:
You will mind if I add this to the guide compilation in my sig?

I'm honoured - go right ahead Smile

Don't forget - comments, suggestions, additions and corrections very welcome Very Happy


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Mopy





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 01:23    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Hey ESD, I only started playing three or so days ago, and have some very basic SPP straight up sells going on. This will come in real helpful. Appreciate the effort that went into creating it.

Take Care
Mopy


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Cycrow
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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 04:42    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

im not that bothered about leving up my commodity logistics freighters, as the price isn't all that high really

i have to full loops running and use the freighters between them
i have 2 caimen that can delevery power to all 19 of my stations
so it saves quite abit on ships Smile

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NavaCorp





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 06:06    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

esd wrote:
nilof wrote:
You will mind if I add this to the guide compilation in my sig?

I'm honoured - go right ahead Smile

Don't forget - comments, suggestions, additions and corrections very welcome Very Happy


Nice job esd, but I have a question; you stated that an SPP in a 100% radiation supplies 8-9 factories: do you mean that also in a loop if the sector is at 150% or 450% the SPP's speed is affected?

I thought that only SPPs working by their own were affected by radiation % while SPPs chained in close loops were stable at the 100% radiation speed.

Can you clear it to me, please? Smile

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jaguarskx





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 07:17    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

NavaCorp wrote:

Nice job esd, but I have a question; you stated that an SPP in a 100% radiation supplies 8-9 factories: do you mean that also in a loop if the sector is at 150% or 450% the SPP's speed is affected?

I thought that only SPPs working by their own were affected by radiation % while SPPs chained in close loops were stable at the 100% radiation speed.

Can you clear it to me, please? Smile


The amount of sunlight does affect E-Cell production, I'm never actually caluclated how much E-Cells is produced in 200% or more sunlight, but 200% sunlight doesn't mean 16 - 18 factories can be supported. It's more like 10 or 11 factories.

You are right about the production rate of an SPP in a closed loop. While the SPP itself is capable of producing E-Cells at a faster rate, all other production remains the same. So even in 200% sunlight the speed of Crystal production by a Crystal Fab is the same as in 100% or even 450%. Therefore, in a closed loop a SPP will produce E-Cells only as fast a system with 100% sunlight.

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xria





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 08:22    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Personally I tend to kick start my loops with crystals rather than energy, you can fit enough for any reasonable number of loops with just one transport needed (and you would have to look at some of my overloaded sectors to see how high 'reasonable' can be pushed). Of course this presumes you have some supply of crystals elsewhere in abundance, but I always use my old stabilised loops, just taking about 250 crystals from each power plant, and move them to the current development sector.

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DeathAndPain





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 08:45    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The downside of these closed loops is that they are not efficient money-wise. With all those stations, you could be making much more money if you included NPC stations. And still you could get the products you desire. The profit from closed loops is minimal. The value of the output of a single spp is not much compared to what you pay for all the stations and ships in your double spp loop.

The reason is that if you are "selling" to yourself, you do not sell at a high price. If you "buy" from yourself, you do not buy at a low price. The price is only fictive when you are usign SDS software, but it can be considered as being average. (Assuming a high or low price makes no difference: A high price will cause your selling station to make profit but you buying station to make corresponding losses. With a low price it is vice versa.)

Normally, there are NPC stations of all types nearby. The point of setting up a loop anyway is that you do not want any resources that you need to be in short supply. So it is perfectly ok to set up all stations that you described in your loop. But have them sell to anyone, and your next-hop-stations buy from anyone. Your stations will then sell for the highest price they can get from the nearest NPC stations, and they will buy where the stuff is cheapest. Of course, if there is a general shortage of a resource in the sector, you may not always be able to buy as much of a resource as you sell of it. However, you can easily remedy by adding another station that makes that type of product, and since it is a scarce product, have it sell at high prices and make good profit.

You will end up getting your desired end products (such as shields or HEPTs), but you will also be constantly earning much more money that way.

The only downside is that you will be needing a few more freighters, because you need a freighter for buying and another for selling for each station (rather than having only one SDS freighter that effectively does the selling for one station and the buying for another). However, for many stations you will not need any selling freighters. These are the stations that sell products that are traded in the Trading Stations. The trading stations will always come with their own ships and buy your stuff at max price, so there is no need to care for selling that.

Due to the added ships and occasionally added factories that produce scarce goods, you will need some more money to set up such an open loop. But the effective profit will be far higher and more than compensate for these additional expenses. On top of that, your added stations for scarce products will cause the surrounding NPC stations to work better, so if you need to purchase something that your loop does not produce, you will have a better chance that a nearby NPC station has it in stock.

A rule of thumb
After second thought you think,
that closed loops really stink.
Cool

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pjknibbs



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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 08:54    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

That would be true if the universal economy wasn't in a recession, DeathAndPain. However, it IS, and if you want an empire of hundreds of factories to work, you need to have some closed loops in order to supply power to the rest of it--the NPC stations can't supply enough to keep the existing factories going, much less all yours as well!

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NavaCorp





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 09:37    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I don't agree with you DeathAndPain: close loops are great money-making!

If you use SDS with zero credits x unit set you don't transfer money between your stations but your transports only transfer wares.
Therefore you produces for free and continuosly selling to the NPCs without any stop.

You're right when you say that the income it's not so high if you sell e-cells using a loop but if you build a loop to sell high-tech products the income is huge.

Personally I've got only two closed loops: one produces laser towers and the other drones. I actually built them due a big HEN I hadn't seen before placing some stations and I didn't think it was worth economically too.
However when after some hours that I let my 2 loops working I checked their income by the SMS Log I couldn't believe it: they had paid their cost yet and they were already producing pure income!

The only bad thing that I see in closed loops (the reason because I've built only two of them) is that it's a pain to fill the crystal production line and the SPP full stock of resources to make the loop to start properly.

Usually I prefer single stations because they are easy to install and to start though they give me sometimes (quite rarely, anyway) problems of resources scarcity while my closed loops never had a problem in many days of game.

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DeathAndPain





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 10:19    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

pjknibbs wrote:
That would be true if the universal economy wasn't in a recession, DeathAndPain. However, it IS, and if you want an empire of hundreds of factories to work, you need to have some closed loops in order to supply power to the rest of it--the NPC stations can't supply enough to keep the existing factories going, much less all yours as well!

I never said you may not have some spps in your open loop, pjknibbs. Actually you can implement the spps loop as esd described it. Just do not limit trading to your loop stations. You make cahoonas at one station and need them at another, so sell them to the trading station and buy them again from there. You make silicon wafers at your mine and need them at your crystal fab, so have your ships sell them to a station that pays 600 for them and buy the ones you need from a NPC mine that sells them for 227. The difference is pure profit! And the outcome of your circle is the same: You will still be making the desired energy cells to support the galaxy economy with.

NavaCorp wrote:
You're right when you say that the income it's not so high if you sell e-cells using a loop but if you build a loop to sell high-tech products the income is huge.

And so is the investition. First of all, you will need esd's closed spp loop in order to have any free energy cells to supply your subsequent hich-tech-factories with. Then you will need additional interchained factories to produce the food and other resources (such as majaglit for satellites, or quantum tubes for other products) that you need for your final product. The final high-tech factory is only the top of the investition-cost-iceberg. Of course 25 MW shields or whatever you plan on making are valuable when you sell them, but if you compare their value with the huge investitions you made to get there, then the profit is pathetic.

It is only a matter of feeling: When you have finally set up everything so that you can make and sell 25MW shields (as an example) without needing anything from a NPC source, then you can say, here, this is a free 25MW shield, and I can sell it for 18000 credits profit. But when you use open loops, then profit will constantly be dropping into your purse from all the stations in your loop, not only from the one that makes the final product. You will not see it that easily, because it is 500 credits here and 1000 credits there, but the sum will be much more than what you make with your end product alone.

And here is the show-stopper: You get your free final product anyway! An open loop as I described it does not mean you mindlessly disperse some stations across the galaxy. The "open loop" as I define it is not a loop in which stations are missing, but one that trades with NPC stations rather than only with itself. You still set up all stations that you need to produce your final product. But you do not sell your intermediate products to your own stations if NPC stations pay you more for them, and you do not buy your intermediate products from your own stations if you can get them cheaper from an NPC station. It is better to buy energy cells from an NPC station that sells them for 9 than from your own spp, because your own spp cannot produce them that cheaply (the required crystals cost too much). But your own spp will have no trouble finding an NPC station that pays much more than 9 for your e-cells. So sell your e-cells somewhere for 20 (or whatever your "sell at best price"-freighter can get for them) and buy the ones you need at the NPC station that sells them for 9 credits (or whatever your "buy-at-lowest-price" or BPH freighter can get them for. If your own station happens to offer cheapest, then it will automatically buy there, falling back to the closed loop variant as the worst case). The difference is profit, and your e-cell-needing station will still get its cells and be able to work for you.

So whatever gain you see in a closed loop, the open loop will give you the same gain, but a fat on-the-way-profit on top of it! That is also why I responded to pjknibbs that he can serve his goal of supplying the galaxy economy with free e-cells and still make the additional profit on an open loop!

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Logaan





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 10:20    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

First class Thumb up Added it to My Guides list Smile

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chovy





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PostPosted: Thu, 18. Aug 05, 10:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Nice, esd! Good diagrams. Clear and easy to understand. The're actually a lot like the ones I've drawn on paper and stuck with bluetack. (Except my SPP is in the middle of the "B" diagram I've made, rather than the side and the excess goes out the left, instead of your right.. But it works both ways. I actually like yours a lot Very Happy)

Good idea about not letting the CLS "learn" as well. I didn't think of that. I'm learning many of the tricks to X2 the hard way.

Nice work!

psst. DeathandPain...esd said "...providing a product that was made using only your materials... "



Last edited by chovy on Thu, 18. Aug 05, 11:16; edited 1 time in total
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