Monday, May 26, 2014

PSA: Play Factorio

I don't usually recommend games as for most part I feel like they're a waste of time. I still love games and the concept of it as an entertainment and art platform, but the problem is how stale they are nowadays. As once young avid gamer I saw games becoming stagnant over the years with the same rehashed gameplay that made no departure from Pac-Man mentality. Once what was a new, fresh gameplay got slowly replaced by QTE prompts and old unimproved mechanics. That eventually drove me to nearly stop playing games entirely. You play one, and you've played them all. Few games came around that was worthy of my audience, but then those games could be 'watched' from youtube gamers and that provided me with enough information I didn't have to waste trying to trudge through the boring, awful gameplay. Even with massive backlogs of Steam library I was almost all done with gaming altogether.

And all of a sudden this goddamn game appears out of nowhere. Still relatively unknown with only handful of people with their hands on it.

Factorio is it's name.

A small portion of my work after 10 hours. Click to enlarge.

The game's still in Alpha, but graphically and functionally the game's incredibly and completely playable. Of course, since I'm writing this, I highly recommend everyone to give it a try. It's dirt cheap too at 13 bucks. The game's not a problem for people with crappy old laptops either. It's a 2d game and probably will run on a potato if you tried.

So what's this game about?

You are a lone space frontiersman sent by your people to find a suitable planet and ready it for your people's arrival. Your job is to create chains of resources and process them for advanced production of items and goods. In essence, you are tasked with logistics of resource production.

First thing you'll notice off the bat is the game's INSANE scale. You start small with few furnaces and boxes, but the game quickly escalates to a massive scale full industrial production of goods and items of every kind.

And every single resource is visually represented as seen in the screenshots above. There will be literally hundreds and thousands of moving objects in any given time and while it looks complicated and daunting, it is absolutely intuitive.

At first, your character starts off with nothing but few metals, a mining drill and a furnace. You must harvest resources, craft buildings and items to expand your chains of supplies and factories. Your lone driller and furnace soon become dozens of them. After running around getting fuels and collecting resources you soon acquire the power of electricity that in conjunction with conveyor belts it automates the whole process you've been doing manually. Your operation ultimately ends up looking like a full scale production of Toyota manufacturing in the end. You can literally build cars and trains and flying robots from resource you gather from the ground - of course, after processing them into iron plate, copper wire, steel, simple circuits, iron gears, inserters, electric engine, robot frames and whatever the precursor you may be required to produce.

This game nails the one thing all the other games in the history of gaming never got right: The logistics. No "Industry Points", no "more gold/cash" and no bullshit. Every resource is accounted for and the efficiency of your operation is completely up to your wit and intelligence. If you are incapable, there will be production bottleneck which cripples the flow. If you play it smart, everything will run smoothly. You must balance between efficiently harvesting your current resource and seeking for new resources for further exploitation. It's a constant battle between exploring and exploitation.

The game's logistics mechanic is a huge departure from other builder games that we've all grown to accept as norm. It is this difference that drove me to get a near addiction to the game.

Oh, and also there's hostile native creatures that will attack you as you produce more pollution from all those gas-guzzling factories. Yes. Pollution is a factor in this game and you are also in direct control over it.

It's difficult to explain why putting down conveyor belts to specify the flow of resources and robot arms to pick them up for processing is so appealing, but just the fact that the game doesn't automatically do things for me and that I am tasked with creating complex of network of conveyor logics and inserters to "make" the automation happen is extremely satisfying and downright orgasmic.

As a closer, I'm gonna leave you with this playlist of gaming youtuber Arumba who's been religiously doing his Factorio let's plays which convinced me to buy the game.

If I didn't do enough to convince you, give this let's play a watch. It certainly got a sale out of me and it might do you too.