The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits


As my comment to R.R. indicates, I’ve been playing Factorio as my timewaster. It really does start to get obsessive around the time you need to build green science. There’s a lot to hate about the game:

  1. It’s an alpha. I abandoned it during the demo (and almost again after purchasing it) because there are some very subtle interactions that aren’t well explained or tutorialized. It’s on the wiki and online, but it’s frustrating. (In particular, a steam plant flashing a power symbol is working, but not connected to an electrical grid. Also, robotic arm inserters are programmed with automatic queueing and inventory management concepts related to just in time demand, but that makes it look like they work once and then break).
  2. I haven’t mastered the hot-keys and so inventory management is a pain
  3. The games core concept is basically the worst part of Civ III — the grind.

Point #3 is also the selling point.

Factorio is a game of management, and even micro-management. But when you build a logistical chain, if you do it correctly you won’t need to micro-manage it (past the design). Good luck with that.

When you can’t quite figure out how to get the copper wire to your electronics factory (“why did I build them so far apart, and with a steam engine between them?”) you may just do adhoc warehousing of wire into boxes and then hand-move them when the factory needs more.

Surprisingly (not intellectually, but its a shock to learn something you only vaguely knew) you have to manage a lot of non-tangible items like space, transit, time (ugh, time. Stupid Steel mills, be faster!) as well as inventories and resources. And then I get so caught up in optimizing my supply chain that I realize I’ve lost the scenario because I wasted resources on scientific research and depleted my iron stockpiles before I built what I really needed (trains).

All of which is to say, I’ve literally dreamt about conveyor belts the last two nights.

On a more cogent level, there are valid criticisms of the game. Especially early on you can hit real show stoppers when you research something then discover that new Factory Foo needs a pipeline of petroleum, coal, and sea-shells from a foreign coast? (OK, I made the last part up, but you get the idea). I’m sure that people who play it more can pre-plan for supplies. And — of course — you have to deal with the native life-forms, who destroy your equipment. Resiliency is hard, something I’ve barely touched.

Rating — Aiiee, why do you haunt my dreams? Is no moment safe? So — anywhere from enthusiastic to avoid, depending on what I want to be doing.


Written by taogaming

December 27, 2016 at 11:18 am

Posted in Artificial Opponents

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