+59 votes
3.2k views
in Suggestion by (620 points)

TL;DR:

Smart / Programmable Splitters have wrong in-game descriptions, deceptive UI, and they provide little new utility. In a game with relatively few items / buildings etc., it is especially detrimental to the game's experience when two of these items, which are acquired mid-late game, are nearly useless.

Full Explanation:

1. Deceptive Descriptions / UI

   Read the in-game description of both the splitters: 

  •       Smart Splitter: "Splits conveyor belts in three. You can set a rule for which part should go to the left and which part should go to the right"

             This is simply wrong. You can set a rule for left right but also center.

  •     Programmable Splitter: "Splits conveyor belts in three. You can set rules for each output to decide exactly where each part should go."

             Not necessarily false, however this would be a correct description for what the Smart Splitter already does, not the Progammable Splitter. In addition to being able to "set rules for each output to decide exactly where each part should go.", you are also able to have multiple part types set for each output direction.

    Next problem is with the actual interface and info provided in it when using these splitters:

  •     For both of them, nowhere is it specified that you can't pass the same part through two outputs. For example, consider an input belt that is 2/3 resource A and 1/3 resource B, you want to split the outputs such that 2 get A and 1 gets B. Nope can't do that. For both smart and programmable splitters, you can only send one resource type out of one output. 
  •     Also for both, "ANY" really means ANY-OTHER, which follows the previously stated functionality in that you can't pass resource A to two outputs.
2. Only Useful for Sorting... AKA Niche / Useless

    You can use these to sort a "messy" belt, which in my opinion, having mixed belts for the sake of sorting it later is bad practice anyway. Don't mix belts ;). But whatever if you like mixed belts it's your factory not mine, and maybe you've found a situation that it is more efficient to have mixed belts.

    
    Due to the previously mentioned functionality of not being able to send the same resource out of 2 outputs, using these in a production line for attaining desired ratios of parts for assemblers etc. is nigh impossible. Furthermore, if you go through the effort of getting this to work (I have for alternate quickwire), there is never a reason to use the programmable splitter since the smart splitter will be doing the exact same thing and is cheaper to make.
3. Overall Gameplay Impact
  •     Very few items in game as is, and these splitter items being so niche and so late game makes them feel even less impactful. 
  •    Ratio control on production is a major part of this game, and the two items that seem like they should assist in that completely fail to, essentially making optimization mechanics the same from the first assembler all the way to a fully fledged produce-it-all factory.
  • Even if they are intentionally supposed to only be used for sorting, and some unreleased items will provide this "ratio control" functionality in the future, their in game description and UI still completely fail to convey what they are to be used for, and what their limitations are.

by (8.4k points)
+3
You've done a really good job of putting this thread together. You summed it up far better then just about anyone I've seen comment on the subject so far, myself included.
by (10.9k points)
+1
"For both of them, nowhere is it specified that you can't pass the same part through two outputs"

Finally someone agrees with me.


"Only Useful for Sorting"
Yes
"AKA Niche / Useless"
No. Not necessarily useless

I sometimes go chainsawing and it's nice to just fill up the truck with wood, leaves and mycelia, then have a sorting station taking care of producing biofuel, fabric and biomass.
by (2.1k points)
+1
auto sorting is very useful for clearing your inventory when starting a new build project in your base, and saving and collect resources from a source that doesn't affect the efficiency of your base machines, and splitter based on numbers might be a higher tier upgrade that hasn't been made yet
by (1.1k points)
"In addition to being able to set rules for each output to decide exactly where each part should go, you are also able to have multiple part types set for each output direction."

Well that is implicit on "You can set ruleS for each output to decide exactly where each part should go", I get that it's only one word in plural but I think it's quite clear that setting rules means that each output can have more than 1 item.


"having mixed belts for the sake of sorting it later is bad practice anyway"

Agree but you could also leave everything on the same belt for emergency/to handle it later, that happened to me when I had to bring oil and caterium both from far away, instead of building a new belt for miles just for oil I've put it with the caterium to separate it later, I found that building a smart splitter was easier than a 4km belt. I later on then built that belt but it took a long time and the splitter came in handy in the meantime.

I do agree that maybe programmable splitters should have a ratio control, it would be easier to do that instead of using 2 normal splitters and 1 merger just to get 25% of the items.
by (790 points)
+1
It is useless for sorting as none of those allows for the overflow to go to the center. This means that when one container fills up, the whole line will stop.
by (2.1k points)
erm then use your resources more carefully if you are using it for self-storage clearance, and its not for splitting items in bulk
by (620 points)
+1
Slight uodate: I mentioned that I successfully used them in alternate quick wire production, but actually the copper got backed up at some point and broke it lol. So I have to go rebuild that production and I won't be using smart / prog splitters ever again
by (620 points)
This is not a permanent solution and for me it won't work at all since most of my storage is completely full. The problem with using it for sorting out your inventory is that eventually you are going to be backed up, and all it has to be is one resource that gets backed up enough and the whole inventory sorter will break.
by (620 points)
If it's not for sorting items in bulk then what is it doing at the end of the unlock tree in a game based on moving around items in bulk?
by (8.4k points)
I finally saw a Youtube video with another valid use of smart splitters... After a truck station, as a way to prevent unwanted items from entering the system by mistake. Let's admit, this is also quite niche, and is probably a case of bad truck station design.
by (2.1k points)
or a case of good flow design, an error can always happen, having things in place to stop cascade failures are good
by (8.4k points)
+1
Yeah, but the Youtube creator that I'm speaking of has a heck of a lot of trucks and no separation anywhere. He's got all of his truck stations in groups along a single road. That makes collisions all but unavoidable along with the resulting contamination of the unloading stations.
by (2.1k points)
hmm, more space between, and a separate road next to it, so trucks turn into their stop rather than drive through them, or have them side by side like a toll both situation if you're worried about collisions
by (8.4k points)
+1
Yeah well, it's not my problem to deal with. With that said, I've got my own plan to deal with that, and it involves making sure that trucks going in opposite direction don't cross each other. That's the root of the problem that I saw in that video.
by (2.1k points)
like a race track, would like to see a pic of your set-up
by (250 points)
+2
Yes! Please add the ability to send a precise percentage out any direction. 5%, 33%, 25%, etc. The same ability on a merger could be useful too. This would greatly enhance feeding a large number of machines!
by (100 points)
+2
Another thing that would make smart/programmable splitters very useful: An overflow option.

It would only send material on that port if it could not be routed on any other port. For one, it would alleviate problems with material backing up (route the overflow to storage). More importantly, it allows us to implement some situational logic to our factories. For instance, I can have my screws go to reinforced plates first and then use them for computers only when reinforced plate production is backed up. Or if I have extra screw production, I can route the overflow to some machines running alternate blueprints to boost production of other products.
by (8.4k points)
Creating an overflow exit could be useful, but ultimately, my guess is that you would want to refeed unsorted materials back into the system so that they can be sorted. Somewhere in there, a container would eventually get full and it would jam regardless. In other words, all it would achieve is to delay the inevitable.
by (100 points)
Ultimately, nothing can stop a system from getting backed up *somewhere* after a while. With an overflow, at least you only have to monitor and clean out the overflow container.

I would never use a mixed conveyor anyway. To me, the more useful case for overflow exits is being able to prioritize the one line over another.
by (110 points)
I was going to raise a question on this but luckily i searched first.  I support this and would like to see these changes!
by (380 points)
edited by
I agree on programmable splitters to regulate ratio, although you can somewhat realise that with the attached belt's capacity (on the outlets). Also, I don't believe in mixed belts - I tried that and if production of one of the ressources on the belt gets backed up, the other ressource(s) on the belt get blocked and their respective production lines aren't fed.

That being said, the smartish splitters are not only useful for sorting messy containers. For example, I used smart splitters on a steel facility, where one smart splitter is directly behind each constructor and sends either steel pipes or steel beams on to their individual collecting belt. So changing the production rate for either pipes or beams of the facility can be done by just changing the recipes in the constructors and no re-belting is required.

But then again - as you descibed there are not many use cases like that where you have one resource that can be processed into multiple products (raw quartz -> silica or quartz crystal, or iron ingots -> metal sheets or iron rods)
by (380 points)
+1
But the descriptions ARE accurate, even if you don't like them: for a smart splitter you can set 1 rule per output, hence the text "set a rule", and for programmable splitters you can set multiple rules per output hence the text "set ruleS for each output", rules with an s.

Your comments about setting rules on the center output are slightly valid, except for the fact that the default behavior is to pass everything thru the center path unless you explicitly change it, but the comment on not being able to program one resource thru multiple outputs is strange because you could just split that one output; allowing it would also likely significantly increase the meta complexity of each programmable splitter since it would now need to internally maintain a (more than 1 bit) counter for which output was last used for each and every resource passing thru it, and all that state would need to be in each save file as well.

Finally, while it would be nice to have some anti-jam support, I use smart splitters to sort incoming truck deliveries, so I find them useful.
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