This Thoughts On contains some minor spoilery things on the beginnings of the game. If you're the kind of person who likes to go into a game blind, then skip the "What is it?" section.


#Table of Contents

#So what is it?

When I get asked that, I respond with another question: "Have you played modded Minecraft?" Minecraft mods change that game massively, especially with tech mods. It changes from an explore/dig/build game into an automation game. If people have played modded Minecraft, then I'll continue with

Factorio is modded Minecraft, without the Minecraft

Factorio takes that automation urge, and refines it to a point. You're dropped into a near-empty world, gather some wood, coal, iron, and copper, and craft things. Place down a burner drill, feed it some of the coal you mined, and it'll do the mining for you. Craft a few more of those, craft some belts to carry the mined resources to some furnaces you've set up, and use inserters to put the resources in. Great, you've automated smelting!

All this coal consumption is getting tedious, time to look into electricity. Before long, you've got some boilers hooked up to steam engines, producing power to run fancy electric inserters. However, you're still crafting things in your hand. It takes time, time you could spend setting up more mining and furnaces.

Time for some research. Plop down some labs, make some science packs, pop them in the labs, give them power, and before you know it you have an assembler chain that is producing all of the green circuit boards you'll ever need, or so you think.


I won't go into more detail than this. The first playthough of Factorio should always be done alone, without getting advice from others. You learn why when playing it.

#Early Access

Right at the top of this, I said that Factorio is an example of Early Access done right.

Every Friday, the developers make a new Friday Factorio Facts (FFF) post. These aren't short "we're still workign on the game" posts, either. As of writing this, the latest one, #165, goes into the optimizations they were making that week. #163 is about redesigning the rails to prevent weird overlapping. This communication, combined with their activity on the official forums and other forums, is essential.

It's not just developer updates that make this a success, it's game updates too. Who knew that people liked playing games? Updates to Factorio come whenever they are ready. They contain bug fixes from reports given on the forums. They contain things talked about in the FFFs. Every once in a while, they contain surprises that weren't talked about.

Bugs in this game, apart from Biters and Spitters, are rare. I, in my many hours of play, have only encountered one bug that affected gameplay. It was that switching hotbars would crash the server if playing multiplayer. It was fixed in the next couple of days when a bug fixing update came out. That's the kind of actions all game developers should take, Early Access or not.

#Pros/Cons

Pros Neutral Cons
Engaging
* Factorio can keep you occupied for 1 hour, or 12.
Not going to go on sale
* Some like this, because it will stay the same price because it won't go on sale a day after they buy it.
* Some don't like it because $20 is too much for them right now.
Self-control
* You'll need it, otherwise you may not sleep tonight.
Polished gameplay
* The gameplay loop is solid
Bug-free
* If you do find a bug (of the software variety), you can be sure it'll be fixed in the next update.
* Biters, I can't help you with.
Mods
* Huge modding scene, if your factory doesn't have enough spaghetti in it already