Building Backpressure with Combinators

Dragontamer's animated guide to jumpstart combinator use in Factorio

Work in Progress

I am still writing the combinator guide. Please contribute comments, questions on this Reddit topic or this topic on the official Factorio forums.

My initial plans are documented in this reddit topic. However, the amount of filming, editing, and writing I've been doing is far more than I expected. I'm going to be forced to cut down on my original plans.

Forward

Combinators are among Factorio's most complicated features available. In fact combinators have been shown to have a property called Turing Completeness, which means they are equivalent to a full blown computer.

As such, it has been difficult to write a guide for combinators. Many newbies ask "What can combinators do?" and the most honest response is "Everything". I don't think this is too useful an answer however.

This guide takes a focused approach. Instead of talking in the abstract or academic, this guide first introduces a SINGLE problem that can be solved with combinators. Everything in this guide will focus on backpressure and how to add backpressure to more things in the Factorio universe.

I will first walkthrough the basics of Factorio backpressure and why it is a good thing. Then, I will introduce combinators. I will then demonstrate simple combinator circuits (no more than one or two combinators at a time) that can add or modify backpressure in various Factorio systems.

Combinators can do so much more than what is explored in this guide but newbies have to start somewhere. Starting at backpressure is ideal, because backpressure is a very strong strategy in Factorio even without any combinator usage.

Changelog

  • September 6, 2016: Split guide up into multiple sections: sorry, a single page was using too much bandwidth. Created Navigation bars, Table of Contents. Added Remote Backpressure section. Changed "Version Information" now that 0.13 is "stable".

  • August 24, 2016: Fixed minor errors. Added long backpressure video. Initial public release.

  • August 22, 2016: Initial Upload. Includes Forward, Backpressure, and Red / Green Wire sections.

Version Information

I am writing this Factorio guide for version 0.13. Factorio is a game in active development, and this information may go out of date.

Factorio version 0.13 added a huge number of combinator features, most of which have seen widespread use. I therefore expect them to remain in the game. However, Factorio's active development means that details and individual features may change. I cannot guarentee that all of the following information will be accurate in future versions of Factorio.

Support Information

I'm writing this guide targetting the Reddit Factorio community and the Official Factorio Forums community. I expect this simple HTML5 website to work on any modern web browser, IE9+, Firefox28+, Chrome 29+, and even iPads, iPhones, Androids, and Windows 10 Phones. If anyone has an issue, contact Dragontamer5788 on Reddit.

Because of the complicated nature of Factorio components, I felt it absolutely necessary to have video-documentation of my examples. Therefore, the HTML5 <video> tag is absolutely necessary, which is why I require modern browser support.

I'm not exactly a web developer by trade. I've made an assumption of ~600px minimum for this website to be rendered properly. I expect all text, videos, and pictures to work even if things get misaligned however.

Web Development Information

I used Fraps to capture video. I used Sony Vegas Pro 10 to edit the video. Videos were rendered with the lossless UTvideo codec. FFmpeg converted the video files into MP4/H264 or Webm/VP9 for web distribution.

Hosting is by NearlyFreeSpeech.net . All HTML was handcrafted using Wordpad and Notepad++. The stylesheets are from the W3.CSS Framework.