[Mod] Digtron tunnel boring/building machine [digtron]

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[Mod] Digtron tunnel boring/building machine [digtron]

by FaceDeer » Sat Dec 31, 2016 07:10

Modular Tunnel Boring Machine, aka
The Digtron

Image

This mod contains a set of blocks that can be used to construct highly customizable and modular tunnel-boring machines, bridge-builders, road-pavers, wall-o-matics, and other such construction/destruction contraptions.

A digging machine's components must be connected to the control block via a path leading through the faces of the blocks - diagonal connections across edges and corners don't count.

The basic block types that can be assembled into a functioning digging machine are:

  • Digger heads, which excavate material in front of them when the machine is triggered
  • Builder heads, which build a user-configured node in the direction they're facing
  • Inventory modules, which hold material produced by the digger and provide material to the builders
  • Fuel modules, which holds flammable materials to feed the beast
  • Control block, used to trigger the machine and move it in a particular direction.

Diggers mine out blocks and shunt them into the Digtron's inventory, or drop them on the ground if there isn't room in the inventory to store them.

Builder heads can be used to lay down a solid surface as the Digtron moves, useful for situations where a tunnel-borer intersects a cavern. Builder heads can be set to construct their target block "intermittently", allowing for regularly-spaced structures to be constructed. Common uses include building support arches at regular intervals in a tunnel, adding a torch on the wall at regular intervals, laying rails with regularly-spaced powered rails interspersed, and adding stairs to vertical shafts.

The auto-controller block is able to trigger automatically for a user-selected number of cycles. A player can ride their Digtron as it goes.

Other specialized Digtron blocks include:
  • An "axle" block that allows an assembled Digtron to be rotated into new orientations without needing to be rebuilt block-by-block
  • A crate that can store an assembled Digtron and allow the player to transport it to a new location
  • A duplicator that can create a copy of an existing Digtron (if provided with enough spare parts)
  • An item ejector to clear Digtron's inventory of excavated materials and inject it into pipeworks tubes if that mod is installed.
  • A light that can be mounted on a Digtron to illuminate the workspace as it moves
  • Structural components to make it look cool

The Digtron mod only depends on the default mod, but includes optional support for several other mods:

  • doc, an in-game documentation mod. Detailed documentation for all of the Digtron's individual blocks are included as well as pages of general concepts and design tips.
  • pipeworks, a set of pneumatic tubes that allows inventory items to be extracted from or inserted into Digtron inventories.
  • hopper, a different mod for inserting into and extracting from Digtron inventories. Note that only the most recent version of hopper is Digtron-capable, earlier versions lack a suitable API.
  • awards, a mod that adds achievements to the game. Over thirty Digtron-specific achievements are included.
  • technic, which adds rechargeable batteries and power cables to the game that Digtron can use instead of fuel.

License: MIT

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Last edited by FaceDeer on Sun Jun 03, 2018 17:50, edited 48 times in total.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine

by D00Med » Sat Dec 31, 2016 07:39

This looks really good, I will have to test it.
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine

by FaceDeer » Sat Dec 31, 2016 08:08

D00Med wrote:This looks really good, I will have to test it.


Please do let me know of any reactions or problems you might have. I've tinkered with existing mods before but this is the first time I've made one from scratch, and I may have chosen a bit of a doozy to get started with. :) I'm particularly interested in usability feedback, it's easy to make assumptions about what's easy or obvious when testing systems that you created yourself.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by Nathan.S » Sat Dec 31, 2016 16:17

First impressions are really good on this. I built a machine and had it tunneling me a hole and laying a road and lights within fifteen minutes. I did notice two things. The machine continues to work even when there is no solid node under it, handy for building bridges and tunneling through caves but kinda weird above ground when you have floating paths. Not really a bug just something I noticed and thought was odd. Second thing, the machine seems very OP, the recipe isn't that expensive and once built it seems to last forever. Maybe the control unit should require some sort of fuel. As far as code to add there wouldn't be much, just a new inventory slot, and then every N clicks you remove an item. Maybe that could be made an option, as I'm sure not all players would want that, but others myself included ;), would like the extra challenge.
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Sat Dec 31, 2016 17:48

Nathan.S wrote:The machine continues to work even when there is no solid node under it, handy for building bridges and tunneling through caves but kinda weird above ground when you have floating paths. Not really a bug just something I noticed and thought was odd.


It does require a solid node to be adjacent to it somewhere, but yeah, it can balance on the head of a pin. I want to err on the side of permissive though because this device should be useful for building bridges and digging vertical shafts, and Minetest doesn't have a terribly good grasp of the laws of gravity and landscape structural integrity to begin with. You could build a "flying" digtron by having it lay down nodes next to itself to push off of and then recycling them with a digger head as it passes. :)

Perhaps I could count the number of adjacent traction nodes and require one every X number of digtron nodes, so that bigger arrays need more "horsepower" to move. A very large bridge-builder might need to have structural nodes added to it to ensure it can move on the roadway that it's laying down. I like this, it seems reasonable and puts more importance on making the digtron's design look sensible.

Nathan.S wrote:Second thing, the machine seems very OP, the recipe isn't that expensive and once built it seems to last forever. Maybe the control unit should require some sort of fuel. As far as code to add there wouldn't be much, just a new inventory slot, and then every N clicks you remove an item. Maybe that could be made an option, as I'm sure not all players would want that, but others myself included ;), would like the extra challenge.


I'd thought about that a bit, yeah. I'd also considered having the digger heads require picks to be inserted into them and adding wear to the picks as they're used, but given how inaccessible the digger heads can be and how annoying it would be to check each one of them whenever the machine stopped I figured that would just be cruel.

I have to admit, I avoided adding a formspec to the control unit itself to make it simpler to right-click on. :) How about having the digtron draw its fuel from its general inventory? That way it can fuel itself through the coal and trees it excavates as it moves. Depending on your luck and location the thing could still be almost autonomous, but even then it's costing you resources you would have otherwise received. I could scale the fuel costs based on the digtron's component count, too.

Thanks for the feedback, I'll take a crack at adding these features this evening (and make them configurable for those who just want to go nuts building stuff without so much challenge). Should I make the crafting recipes more expensive too? I really wasn't sure what made sense there, and I suspect merely cranking the cost of the digtron components up higher won't be a satisfactory solution in itself.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by Nathan.S » Sat Dec 31, 2016 18:27

I bet the road I was placing was then the solid node, that makes sense. I built the entire base of my "machine" with the structure nodes, I thought I had to use those to connect the nodes so they would all move.

I agree, picks wearing out would be painful when one broke, on my test machine I had nine diggers, and could only reach three of them, and if one of the lower ones broke I would have to manually dig around the machine to get to the front end which wouldn't be fun at all. Taking fuel from the main inventory does seem like a good idea, though you'd need to let people know somehow that the machine needs power. maybe some meta on the control unit that shows on mouse-over?

I think the craft recipes were fine, as everything needed mese crystals, as far as I could see, and those require a bit of work to find.
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by DS-minetest » Sat Dec 31, 2016 18:58

this mod seems to be really nice!
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Sun Jan 01, 2017 04:56

Nathan.S wrote:I bet the road I was placing was then the solid node, that makes sense.


I've made an update to how traction works, it's now size-relative. For every 3 nodes of digtron you need to have 1 node of solid ground adjacent to your machine somewhere (there's a configurable setting for this number in init.lua, I'll probably move that into a more convenient config file shortly).

Nathan.S wrote:I built the entire base of my "machine" with the structure nodes, I thought I had to use those to connect the nodes so they would all move.


I guess I documented that poorly, the structure nodes aren't usually necessary. The digtron control node finds all its component nodes by doing a "flood fill" search through node faces so you can build a digtron entirely out of functional parts if you like. I added structure nodes just for those situations where you might want to have a builder component in a location that wouldn't otherwise be reached by that search.

I did a bit of tweaking of structure nodes while I was fiddling just now, making them walkable and climbable like scaffolding. That should make it somewhat easier to navigate around inside a large digtron, you can use them like ladders.

Nathan.S wrote:Taking fuel from the main inventory does seem like a good idea, though you'd need to let people know somehow that the machine needs power. maybe some meta on the control unit that shows on mouse-over?


Have to admit, the existence of mouseover text completely slipped my mind. :) I've added various mouseover messages for existing error states in the most recent update. I haven't done the fuel requirement thing yet, that's going to be a bit more complicated and it's later than I expected today.

But I did do one other tweak. I changed the "sand diggers" into more generic "soft material diggers". This way you can add shoring nodes if your tunnel enters dirt, which isn't strictly necessary but which I found myself doing a lot by hand. And more importantly, it let me build this monstrosity:

+ Spoiler


I call it the LAWNMOWER. For when you want to harvest the contents of an entire ecosystem at once. :)

I'll try to get fuel requirements in tomorrow. Christmas vacation's over on Monday so opportunities will become a bit sparser after that.
Last edited by FaceDeer on Sun Jan 01, 2017 08:44, edited 1 time in total.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by Xudo » Sun Jan 01, 2017 08:20

What will happen if digger head face lava? Will it collect flowing lava and lava sources?
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Sun Jan 01, 2017 08:32

Xudo wrote:What will happen if digger head face lava? Will it collect flowing lava and lava sources?


It destroys the lava as it moves into the lava's node, same behaviour as with water. The digger heads query a node's "drop" parameter to find out what is produced when they are dug and default:lava_source has an empty drop parameter.

I could add a special check to make lava "undiggable", perhaps? I could see a case being made either way, here. Maybe something worth putting in the config.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by DS-minetest » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:13

first i thought the soft material diggers are to place at top, turned upwards to prevent sand & co. falling down by digging everything of it but if i screwdrive the soft material digger upwards then it digs the sand but doesnt update the sand => it doesnt fall down
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Sun Jan 01, 2017 19:09

DS-minetest wrote:first i thought the soft material diggers are to place at top, turned upwards to prevent sand & co. falling down by digging everything of it but if i screwdrive the soft material digger upwards then it digs the sand but doesnt update the sand => it doesnt fall down


This is partly works-as-designed, you're supposed to be able to use a builder right behind a digger so that you can insert a "ceiling" node to keep sand farther up from falling down into the tunnel. Like how real-life tunnel boring machines insert pre-cast concrete panels into the walls of their tunnels as they dig: an example from the Eglington LRT tunnel boring operation

However, sand that was still left unsupported after a dig/build cycle had completed wasn't falling, that part was a bug. I've updated the mod with a post-build-step check that triggers falling sand.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Mon Jan 02, 2017 00:23

Update: I've now added fuel cost for digging and building operations, as suggested by Nathan S.

After due consideration, I decided to create a new fuel storage module separate from the original inventory module. I did this because one might want to have flammable materials (such as wood) in inventory as construction materials to be built with, and it wouldn't do to have the Digtron burning its own building inventory to fuel itself.

That means that every once in a while you might need to manually clean harvested coal and wood out of the regular inventory and move it over to the fuel storage hopper. But on the plus side, should a Digtron ever somehow attain sentience and run amuck it won't be able to fuel itself autonomously by devouring forests and villages.

Let me know what you think of the fuel costs I picked, they were just eyeballed off the top of my head. The values are easy to fiddle with in the init.lua file.
 

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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by Nathan.S » Mon Jan 02, 2017 02:32

Cool stuff, will need to give it a go in the morning. Sounding very cool.
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by Diamond knight » Mon Jan 02, 2017 06:09

Is there a way to make the dig trim auto drive without you having to spam click the control module, it is kind of annoying and ruins the fun of moving around the machine and looking at the scenery (you have to look at the control module ALL the time)
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Re: [Mod] A modular tunnel boring/construction machine [digt

by FaceDeer » Mon Jan 02, 2017 08:37

Diamond knight wrote:Is there a way to make the dig trim auto drive without you having to spam click the control module, it is kind of annoying and ruins the fun of moving around the machine and looking at the scenery (you have to look at the control module ALL the time)


Not currently, but I'll look into it now that I'm getting comfortable that the core functionality is stable. I'll need to make the controller remember the player that triggered it so that it'll retain the correct protection privileges and such.

Another thing I'm poking around with is some sort of entity markers to show ahead of time where the builder heads are going to place things with various period/offset settings. I've been playing around with staircase-makers and getting the landings to line up with floors is annoyingly trial-and-error. Edit: I had enough spare time to finish this today. The latest version now has markers added that are briefly shown when period and offset are set.

Edit2: having learned how to use the entity hammer, I spotted more nails! I've added item display entities to the builder nodes, now you can visually tell what kind of thing is inside it just at a glance.

I'm going to arbitrarily call this "version 0.5." Going back to work tomorrow, though, so development might slow a bit. :)
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by FaceDeer » Wed Jan 04, 2017 06:10

Got to some additional enhancements.

  • Split the digger heads into intermittent and non-intermittent versions. I got annoyed by constantly getting period/offset formspecs when accidentally right-clicking on digger heads, so I decided to make separate digger head types that don't have those. The two types can be interconverted in the crafting menu at no cost. Seemed a lot less of a hassle.
  • An auto-controller module that can be programmed to run for any number of cycles you want. I offer no warrantee. It should, in theory, remember the player who set it running and retain their protection priviledges and restrictions. It should, in theory, shut down gracefully if it digs to the edge of the loaded area and tries to break into uninitialized regions. Haven't done a whole lot of testing yet, though...

That'll be all for tonight. The only things left on my to-do list now are some minor details (spruce up the marker entity art, add some VFX sparks and dust while it's operating, do some more documentation work, and make digger heads hurt creatures and players when they get in the way of progress). Any bugs or other ideas for enhancements are most welcome, of course.
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by FaceDeer » Wed Jan 04, 2017 07:01

Thanks. :)

Just threw in one more little tweak this evening: Carbone compatibility. Apparently Carbone uses an older version of the "default" mod that doesn't have metal node sounds in it, so the Digtron will fall back to stone default sounds instead rather than crashing. Probably other game worlds out there that are similar.
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by FaceDeer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 05:09

Today's updates didn't warrant a whole version number bump, IMO.

  • Prettier build marker textures, as promised. Also I fixed some wonky math that was putting them in the wrong locations, don't know why I didn't catch that earlier.
  • Builders no longer hold on to an "actual" item, when you place an item into their inventory they make an imaginary copy. So now you can dig away a loaded builder but you have to explicitly put the loaded items into the inventory module. Seemed like a better approach to me.
  • Digger heads generate a particle spray when they've actually dug something. Just a bit of eyecandy. If it's bothersome there's a flag to disable it in init.lua
  • Add a crude "creative mode" flag in init.lua (disabled by default, of course). When set to true, digtrons don't consume fuel or use up items from inventory when they run. They still check to see if there's the correct items actually in inventory, though - I didn't want to hack up the code too badly inserting this since I don't imagine it'll see much use. I just did this so I can kill some time screwing around making ten-kilometer-long rail tunnels and whatnot without as much hassle. :)
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by hajo » Thu Jan 05, 2017 08:57

FaceDeer wrote:Modular Tunnel Boring Machine, aka The Digtron ..
a set of nodes that can be used to construct .. tunnel-boring machines, ..

The basic nodes that can be assembled into a functioning digging machine are:
[*] Digger heads, Builder heads, Inventory modules, Fuel modules, Control node,

So, a basic machine that digs a walkable tunnel straight ahead looks like that:
Image
With 2 normal diggers facing in front, as soft digger on top facing up,
inventory-module at bottom, and fuel-module and controller at back.

But it looks like the softdigger only catches one block of sand/gravel ?

Also, is it possible to rotate such a machine, or push it up/down with the a pusher module ?
Attachments
Digtron-Tunneler2.png
Basic digtron-tunneler
(114.69 KiB) Not downloaded yet
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by FaceDeer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 09:35

The usual pattern I expected the soft digger to be used with is to have a builder located directly behind it to place stone or some other harder material into the hole that it digs out above. That way you can dig a tunnel through sand of any depth and leave a stable ceiling holding it up without causing sinkholes on the surface. I suppose if you *wanted* to suck as much sand as you could out of the ceiling you could have several soft-diggers in a row, sand will settle down onto the next one in line after each cycle. Or you could move the digtron back and forth through the same space. Or I could look into making a special sand-vacuum dig head specifically for this purpose, if that's what's wanted.

I've actually thought about how one might go about rotating a digtron array, and it makes my head hurt. :) I'd need to not only shift all the digtron nodes into the correct new locations (using some particular node as the center pivot, probably a controller node) but I'd have to update their facings and also update the facings of the builder head outputs. It's going to be a lot of coding gruntwork, so I think I'll put it off until after the rest of the digtron feels "finished". For now I'm focusing on polish.

Another long-term goal I've pondered is how to make a digtron capable of digging diagonally, for example to make long staircases. That's going to be pretty tricky too, haven't had any really good ideas for how to pull that off yet.

You can push a digtron in different directions by using a control node oriented in the direction you want the digtron to go. One of my test setups is a tree farm where I've got a "harvester" digtron and a "planter" digtron at opposite ends of a row of tree-planting sites, and after each of those does its run I send it back to its starting point by turning the control node 180 degrees. If you've got plenty of mese you could build multiple control nodes and just pick which one to click on to make it go back and forth.
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by hajo » Thu Jan 05, 2017 17:33

FaceDeer wrote:soft digger .. have a builder located directly behind it to place stone
or some other harder material into the hole that it digs out above.
That way you can dig a tunnel through sand of any depth and leave a stable ceiling

I suppose if you *wanted* to suck as much sand as you could out of the ceiling

Right, I wanted a stable ceiling.
I was just confused about the exact order of events (digging/sand falls/building...)

So, here is my revised 'simple tunneling machine':
Image
2 normal diggers at the front, a soft digger followed by a builder on top facing up,
an inventory-module and a fuel-module at the bottom, and controller at the back.

For now I'm focusing on polish.

I think it would be useful to have an alarm-sound when a digger encounters water.

Also, the logfile has en entry for each time the player digs by hand,
so I suggest to also log each time the digtron digs/builds something.
Attachments
Digtron-Tunneler3s.png
Simple digtron-tunneler v3
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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by FaceDeer » Thu Jan 05, 2017 19:13

hajo wrote:Right, I wanted a stable ceiling.
I was just confused about the exact order of events (digging/sand falls/building...)


You can imagine the outcome of a cycle as this sequence:

  • Dig
  • Move
  • Build
  • Dust settles

The code "under the hood" actually does it in a different order, but the end result is indistinguishable to the user since a lot of stuff happens simultaneously as far as the world simulation is concerned. If you're curious, from an internal code execution perspective the Digtron cycle sequence goes:

  • Various pre-action tests to see whether the cycle can be completed successfully (will there be space to move the Digtron into, is there sufficient fuel and building materials, etc). This set of tests produces a list of nodes that will be dug without actually digging them yet and a list of the products the digging will produce. If any of the tests fail the cycle aborts before anything permanent changes.
  • Move Digtron nodes forward. Digtron nodes "overwrite" nodes that were marked as to-dig.
  • Build, removing materials from inventory. Building operation can "overwrite" any nodes that were marked to-dig during the test phase, so in the case of the sand ceiling being dug and replaced by stone supports there's never actually a cavity even for an instant. The sand is directly replaced by stone.
  • Add digging products to inventory and excavate any remaining to-dig nodes that haven't either been built into or had Digtron components move into them.
  • Trigger nearby falling nodes

hajo wrote:I think it would be useful to have an alarm-sound when a digger encounters water.

Also, the logfile has en entry for each time the player digs by hand,
so I suggest to also log each time the digtron digs/builds something.


I'll add both of those to my to-do list, should be straightforward.

I've also been thinking of adding a special "aquatic" setting to the builder node that makes it only build when the target node is filled with water. I did a bunch of test tunneling last night and I thought something like that would be handy for when I don't want to wall off the caves I pass through but do want to wall off the ocean if I end up accidentally straying into it.
 

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Re: [Mod]Modular tunnel boring/building machine [digtron][0.

by hajo » Thu Jan 05, 2017 19:34

FaceDeer wrote:You can imagine the outcome of a cycle as this sequence:
[*]Dig [*]Move [*]Build [*]Dust settles

If you're curious, from an internal code execution perspective the Digtron cycle sequence goes:
...
Indeed, I'm curious - Thanks for those details !
FaceDeer wrote:
hajo wrote:I think it would be useful to have an alarm-sound when a digger encounters water.

I'll add both of those to my to-do list, should be straightforward.

Maybe you can also add another sound whenever some ore is mined ?

And I made a version of the digger-texture with yellow/black stripes:
Attachments
digtron_digger_yb.png
digger-texture with yellow/black stripes
(1.72 KiB) Not downloaded yet
 

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