Factorization is one of the cooler, more think-outside-of-the-box mods I’m familiar with. Recent versions have been changing things up a little bit, and, to be honest, my first reaction to these changes wasn’t positive. It’s not that I’m philosophically or brain-chemically opposed to change. For the most part, I have welcomed the changes in vanilla Minecraft (I started playing the day 1.3 released) and in many of the mods I play with. I suppose my trepidation about recent versions of Factorization was that I didn’t see the immediate sense or benefit of some of the changes. Specifically, I am talking about the very significant change in auto-crafting from the craft packet system to compression crafters, the move away from routers to sockets and servos, some of the changes to the Factorization barrels, and, to a lesser extent, the change from the Grinder block to the Lacerator socket. These changes seemed to make the mod even less intuitive than it had been (which wasn’t very). Furthermore, the servos just felt like a totally different mod. In other words, it didn’t feel at first like the mod was moving forward but sideways.
After having taken some time, however, to conquer the very significant learning curve of the servos and the sockets, while I still like and use the routers, there are some really cool things you can do with servos (perhaps I’ll write about some ideas in a different post). For those who don’t understand the basic rationale behind Factorization, the idea of the mod is to take processes that were in other mods increasingly moving toward simplification and tons of tweaking in block GUI’s back into the space of the game world itself. Some mods do this with multi-block structures. Factorization attempts to do this by breaking up complex processes into their constituent steps and making you work for each step. I’ve seen lots of comments on forums like, “Why would I go to all that effort when I can it more simply in [mod X]?” These people miss the point. The clunky, mechanical, complicated feel of the mod is what appeals to its fans, and is the reason I really liked the craft-packet system. Even now I don’t think it should have been deprecated in favor of the compression crafters. I think NeptunePink should keep both systems side-by-side.
Some things have been left mostly unchanged in recent versions of the mod. These include the mod’s power system (electricity generated by a steam turbine using solar heat, though now you can burn food, too) and the ore-processing system, which will triple your total ore output rather than double it like Industrial Craft 2 and Thermal Expansion (but without the by-products of TE, like shiny ingots). After having used Factorization in a few of my worlds, I finally bit the bullet and built a full-fledged, almost fully automated Factorization ore-processing system. It took a four story building.
To fully automate Factorization using vanilla mechanics would take up even more space. I use Thermal Expansion for things like transferring and filtering items, refilling water buckets, and smelting. I probably could have made this build a little more compact, but I wanted it to be explorable and housed in something that didn’t look totally utilitarian. At least I hope that building doesn’t look totally utilitarian.
On top of the building is the bowl o’ solar power that generates all the power needed for the lacerators, the mixers, and the heaters (the furnace and fluid transposers are, once again, Thermal Expansion-powered).
The ore-processing starts in the basement. From my central deposit box, most ores are routed to a silver chest. From there the TE a pneumatic servo-powered itemduct pulls the items out in groups and sends them into one of two barrels where they are ground into dirty gravel by the two lacerators.
From here, the dirty gravel is sent up two floors to the mixing room, where the gravels are sorted into four groups. This keeps the mixers from filling up with gravel and leaving no space for the water bucket to return from the fluid transposer.
I discovered in early models of this building that the only thing that could pull items from a Factorization machine were vanilla hoppers. I tend to use hoppers with chests as an added buffering mechanism. It may not be technically necessary, but it’s just to be on the safe side. From these chests items are pulled out in two directions. Empty water buckets are pulled out to the side toward TE fluid transposers. Each mixer has its own dedicated fluid transposer. I could not think of a way with one fluid transposer to make sure that the mixer that sent the water bucket was the one that would receive it. All items that are not an empty water bucket (sludge and clean gravels) are pulled out to the bottom and go down one floor to the slag furnace room.
As with the mixers, I filter the different kinds of clean gravel into four groups. Sludge is filtered off and sent to the basement to be cooked into clay and sent into my sorting system. The heaters and slag furnaces are arranged in a compact alternating setup that makes it so that the two outer furnaces touch two heaters and the two inner furnaces touch three heaters. Once again, the result, this time reduced metal chunks, are pulled out the bottom of each chest and are sent down a floor into the basement where everything started.
As far as I know, there are nine kinds of ore that can be processed by Factorization machines: iron, gold, tin, copper, silver, lead, dark iron, cobalt, and ardite (the last two come from Tinkers Construct). Neither TE ferrous ore nor Tinkers Construct aluminum ore seem to work with the Factorization ore-processing system, though I could be wrong. In any case, I use a dedicated crystallizer for each of the nine kinds of ore I send into the Factorization Building of Ore-Processing Awesomeness.
Though the kinds of reduced metal chunks are filtered into their respective crystallizers, here I manually make sure that the reduced chunks are distributed among the five available slots in each crystallizer. This is the one part of the whole process that, so far, I have not figured out a good way to automate. ***Update 2/19/14 Check out my post from February 14 on ways to automate the crystallizer. Following a hint from neptunepink on the Factorization forum, yet another post on the subject is forthcoming: the one servo solution!*** Item shifter sockets and servos can be made to target specific slots, as can routers. But there aren’t enough sides to put five item shifters per crystallizer (6 total sides – 1 hopper – 1 heater = 4 sides remaining). It would take a lot of servos and therefore a lot more space than what I have used here. Routers are probably the best solution, and it is rumored that NeptunePink suggested a setup with six routers, but this seems like it would have to be six routers per kind of ore: in other words 54 routers which is unbelievably expensive. I had thought Computer Craft Turtles could target an inventory slot, but if they can I can’t figure it out. I don’t think the crystallizer slots are tied to a particular side of the crystallizer, otherwise, I supposed you might be able to use Project Red pipes to automate the distribution of items among the available slots (Project Red pipes can simulate interacting with any side). As I’m writing this, I’m wondering about using pistons to move a crystallizer from one item shifter socket to another, but I’ll have to work on that one. As it is, manually distributing the reduced metal chunks is not really that big of an imposition on my time in return for tripling my ore output and for giving me the satisfaction of having conquered the Factorization learning curve.
Crystallization is slow but not as ridiculously slow as it might at first seem. It ends up taking an average of, I think, about three minutes of real time per ingot (15 minutes for each cycle of five ingots) per kind of metal, which, with nine kinds of metal, works out to about one ingot every 20 seconds when the system is in full use. A single Thermal Expansion pulverizer and redstone furnace setup will process one ingot every two or three seconds. Now, when I use TE for ore processing, I use a setup of one to three pulverizers and three redstone furnaces, so there really isn’t any comparison in the time department between Factorization ore-processing and other mods’ ore-processing. The point is that Factorization can still be measured in productivity per second rather than productivity per minute when it is used in large scale rather than just for the processing of one or two blocks of iron. If I were to distribute among more than one crystallizer the reduced chunks of copper, tin, and iron especially, the one ingot per 20 seconds statistic would go down even further.