Factorio (2012, PC)

By Jack Bright & Orbie / December 3, 2017

STORY TIME by Jack Bright

I started a co-op factory with a close friend. After a day of work, I stepped back, looked at what we'd built, and came to some realizations.

1) I have no fucking idea what's going on in this factory
2) Half the components that directly interact with each other aren't even near one another; one of the machines producing copper cable for another machine to assemble into circuit boards is halfway across the god damn refinery
3) 90% of the conveyor belts are underground, and the rest are going so many directions this thing looks like a ball of yarn
4) There is coal fucking EVERYWHERE
5) I maintain enough sanity to count to five
6) Staring at this thing makes my eyes itch
7) Looking away makes my brain itch

   The scariest part is that it keeps getting bigger, and every time it gets bigger it somehow becomes MORE labyrinthine. One of those fucking conveyor belts goes all the way around the entire factory to deliver steel plates to a single assembler that's making bloody gears, and it's right next to the refinery itself!
   Sometimes the factory breaks. We don't usually notice because of how much of a mess this thing is, and the breaks we do spot are often half an hour old and are a recurring problem. Rather than fix it, we simply unjam the machine and ignore it until it breaks again. The biggest problem to fixing it comes from our production lines. Normal production lines look like a grid. Ours looks like you threw a bunch of squares into a bowl of spaghetti noodles and gave the bowl to a five-year-old for a period of one to five minutes. This process results in either an empty bowl and a full five-year-old, a floor covered in noodles, or spaghetti all over the walls and ceiling with the squares nowhere to be found. Knowing the trend in increasing chaos and complexity the factory exhibits, probably all three.
   The factory is an embodiment of madness incomprehensible even to the men who built it, laid every unholy circuit of conveyor belt, a thousand arms madly spinning every second, countless plates of copper and iron in a complex dance the likes of which is unseen in the realm of mere mortals. There are sections that I have no idea how they work, and I BUILT THEM.
   The factory grows more complex with each passing second and more convoluted every millisecond. Perhaps the reason is in part due to each segment being constructed with no plans for future additions, then the future additions being constructed by forcibly adapting the existing segments, usually by shoving more tubes into them rather than actually redesigning them, and these future additions also not planned for expansion. The end result is a clusterfuck so large in magnitude, the last time a clusterfuck rivaled it in size, God smote the town and turned its inhabitants into salt. Unfortunately no god can save us from this... thing.
   Having expanded it further it's almost as if the factory has a mind of its own, an ever hungry consciousness burning with dark malevolence and the need to grow. It infects all who stand in its presence, compelling them to add to it. A hundred furnaces belch smoke and the black blood of the earth is torn from its cradle to fuel the fires of industry. The ecosystem is demolished and the skin of the planet is rent and shattered for its glittering treasures, tossed into the inferno of a thousand stone and metal prisons to be transformed, used to expand the malignant blight upon the world that we brought. Ten thousand steel cogs turn and steam fills the air as the never-ending fires boil the oceans away to power the sprawling spiderweb of mechanised mayhem, ordered chaos at its purest, a hundred thousand plates of steel and copper cycling and swirling in patterns barely knowable by the very people that created them.
   Each day, the red and green fluids are pumped into glowing crystalline globes, each sparking and burning, discovering new knowledge and new machines. The factory grows. Each advance in technology only complicates matters. The factory grows. The new advances create a need for new resources. The factory grows. The new resources require new means of transportation. The factory grows. The new transportation feeds new machines that burn the new resources to produce blue fluids to discover new technology. The factory grows. The blue fluids feed the globes to reveal new truths, beginning the vicious cycle anew, a never-ending circle of destruction and growth that will only end when every corner of the planet is scoured clean. The factory grows. The planet will never be scoured clean. The factory grows. The planet is infinite in size. The factory grows. The ordeal will never be over.
   The factory grows.

REAL TALK with Orbie

The game is a never-ending stream of satisfaction, while still getting you to use your brain to its fullest with mechanics that never get old, ever.
   It's an endless pursuit of building, unlocking, crafting, improving, and always trying to make your productions more efficient/faster/bigger/higher-yielding, all while having to constantly protect yourself and all your carefully crafted constructions and manufacturing lines from the zerg whose numbers seem to keep increasing. You can never, ever forget to continue to keep up with defense and weapon tech or you'll slowly become overwhelmed over time.
   You've played many games with systems that sound like this, but honestly nothing compares to this game. It's on another level entirely.
   You'll always want to be more efficient with your building and manufacturing not for the sake of being efficient because who really cares honestly, but because you need MORE THINGS FASTER! EVERYTHING, MORE! NOW! When your inefficient hastily thrown together setup is becoming bottlenecked in various places and thus isn't making your flying robots nearly fast enough to satisfy your deep, angry hunger to see what the robots actually look like in action, it'll send you on a quest to improve each step of your manufacturing setup over several hours where you'll forget you were even making robots to begin with. From the outside it may seem "tedious", but when you're on the inside, it's fascinating. You discover yourself what you need to do to fix problems, one at a time, without even meaning to. Endless discovery.
   Highly recommend playing with a group of friends. After 15 hours or so you really start to get a sense of what it must be like to run a company or manufacturing plant with so many moving parts. Get enough people together in a server (the limit is 65535 lol) and I'm sure you could simulate the insanity that is managing the Large Hadron Collider.
   You make a server with three-four friends. One friend decides to set up Iron Plate production and mining while everyone is off doing other things. After ten hours, you realize you've always had a steady supply of Iron Plates, Steel Plates, and Copper Plates coming in to help you build your chemical plants and batteries, but you really have no idea how the plates are being made or are even getting to you. All you know is your friend would occasionally ask if you needed some, so he would bring you materials in the form of a conveyor belt whose path you would modify to fit into the automation you're working on, and it's working very well! You're well on your way to making robots... But never mind how all these materials are getting to you from your friend. How did you learn to make robots in the first place?


   You realize your other friend has been unlocking new technology all this time with a lab setup, so you go to check it out and discover he has spent all this time setting up an automated lab researching process with three different products all being automatically manufactured and poured into the labs... And guess what's being fed down there as well? Your other friend's Plates, and your own Batteries and other things (since he needed some and you were like, oh I won't just give you some batteries, I'm going to give you an entire endless line of batteries), all the while another friend has been managing a conveyor belt full of coal that circles every piece of equipment that uses coal, thus keeping all the machines operational, and loops back around for excess, where it is periodically stored into containers. And managing electricity grids. And turrets. Defenses. Exploring when you need more materials (stones, jfc). Killin zerg any way you can... Or constantly trying to run away.
   This is just the best. That's all it is. The best.
   As far as Early Access goes, haven't had it crash once. Haven't run into any weird bugs yet.
   Only one. In multiplayer, the entire game pauses and waits for the person joining to download the map before resuming. If the person joining has a very low download speed, this usually equates to having enough time to make a sandwich and some coffee for the group. A smoke break if that's your thing. Not too much of a bad thing really, but it would be great if the game could continue to function while the new player downloaded the map.
   We are... 20 hours in or so into our latest map? And I still don't think we're anywhere near being able to build a rocketship. But we do finally have little flying robots repairing our base now!

Factorio is Insomnia's 2012 Game of the Year.