As the title says, Factorio is a video game where your character’s mission is to build and maintain a series of factories.
In the main game, you started off crash-landed on an alien planet with the goal of launching a rocket to get you back into space.
You mine resources, build automation plants, route everything with conveyer belts, and can even set up a network of trains with as simple or elaborate connections as you’d like.
Then, when you unlock robot helpers, things really get interesting.
Some of your machines create pollution, which attracts alien bugs. This part can be disabled, or tuned up or down to your liking. Factorio has a “tower defense” type of component if you use the default settings.
Blueprints allow you to save convenient designs for reuse, and can be shared with the online community.
Factorio sounds simple, and it can be, and it can also be very complex. There’s an optional circuit network that lets you program a series of control parameters, such as to sound an alarm when a resource runs low, or to switch a liquid resource pump on or off based on a preset conditions.
There can be math involved, such as to determine how much of a resource is needed to output an automated product with minimal delays. But it’s not needed. For most things, I tend to over-fabricate, with surplus materials boxed up in supply crates, although this tends to back up conveyer belts every so often.
The biters – the hostile alien bugs and worms – are defined by basic behaviors but keep things challenging. I can’t really blame them – my factory defoliated the surrounding trees and turned the blue lake water green.
Problems pop up, with biter attacks, resource shortages, and trains that can run out of fuel if you don’t set them right.
There’s always something to build or fix. And, if or when you do launch that first rocket – something I haven’t gotten up to yet – you can continue playing on the same map or change things up. Each map is procedurally generated, which means it’s new and different every time.
If you ever get bored, there are a slew of mods that change things up.
I don’t recall how I learned about Factorio, but I purchased it soon after, about a week ago. It’s available for $30 on Steam (and apparently never goes on sale), and there’s also a free demo.
It doesn’t sound like the type of game I would play, but I’ve been enjoying it. The trains and rail system surprised me, as this doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy, but they’ve added to the fun.
I should warn you – this game doesn’t play like most real-time strategy or simulator games. Keep a post-it or piece of paper nearby for creating reminders or a task list for next time, or you risk falling into a “I’ve got to do just one more thing before I close it” trap.
Here’s the maker’s trailer for the game:
If you give it a try, here are some tips:
The tutorials are optional, but not really. Ratios are important. For instance, one water pump feeds 20 boilers, and each boiler can supply 2 steam engines. Don’t try to be perfect. Each conveyer belt has two lanes and can have different materials on each side. Rail signals keep trains flowing steadily: chain rail signals go where tracks enter at a crossing or intersection, and regular signals go on the exits and on single tracks in between.
Looks like Sim City and StarCraft or something.
“Nuclear launch detected”
In a game like Starcraft, you build a factory to make tanks. Here, you can also build a factory to make drivable tanks, but you have to build its components (such as engines), and the ammunition its weapons use, and you also can’t forget that it needs fuel (such as coal) in order to drive.
In Starcraft, your workers bring minerals and gas to your command center for your use in army and building production. In Factorio, you’re the command center engineer and foreman.
If you start playing this game, it will likely suck up all your free time and more. Do not start unless you don’t have any projects you need to get done. And 5 more minutes quickly tunes into 2+hours. I have often said to myself at 10pm that I fill finish the build in the next 10 minutes and go to bed. Only to realize it is after midnight.
I find this to be a great game and a huge time killer. You have been warned.
I totally agree. I put a few hours into the demo and was about to buy the full game when I realized I would have trouble limiting myself.
The nature of it isn’t very conducive to playing sporadically, say a couple times a week. You’d spend a lot of time just trying to figure out where you left off last session and what you need to do next.
Post-it’s and a notepad have been helping me.
I have a hard time finishing a lot of video games because I can’t commit the time. A lot of games also aren’t kid friendly.
With this one, there’s definitely a “I must fix this now” impetus. With a game like Doom, you have mostly linear gameplay – get the red key, open door, move on to the next level. With a game like Mass Effect, you have a lot of different missions active at any time, but you usually only play one mission at a time. With a game like Red Dead Redemption 2, you really need solid blocks of time.
With this game, you have a whole lot of parallel tasks and problems to fix.
A lot of games can be hard to put down. “One more race, one more achievement, one last mission.”
I have a hard time closing books or turning games off. This one is especially engaging, but notes help.
This definitely isn’t a 5 minutes at a time game, but maybe 20-30 minute blocks can work.
It can be easy to get drawn into anything these days, such as binging entire seasons of streaming shows.
FYI, check out the mods available in the game. There are a few different “to do” list mods you can pick from to let you keep track of your plans in-game. There are a few other small quality of life mods and planners that can streamline the vanilla game without making major changes to the gameplay. The only big downside is that using mods disables achievements.
If you ever get bored with the vanilla gameplay then there are other mods that can change the game in a number of different directions. More dangerous biters, more complex supply chains, or actually visiting other planets.
I agree with above. I have more than 2500 hours in this game, from right after it was released in beta. Do not play this game unless you have time. Entire days of free time will evaporate. The factory must grow.
If you use trains, you will die to a train. Many times.
Similar game with better graphics is Mindustry. Personally, I prefer Factorio.
Video games will be the downfall of civilization. 🙂
Never thought I’d see a Factorio post here! It’s on my ever growing backlog.
It seemed appropriate.
I posted about Kerbal Space Program previously: https://toolguyd.com/kerbal-space-program/
Building games like this seem to be very thematically on-target for ToolGuyd regulars. And if not, this is only my second video game post in nearly 6 years.
Seems somewhat similar to Mindustry, similar concept of conveyors and resource production through factories. But it is more tower defense-ish focused, and eliminates the math need by constructs like overflow and underflow gates. Lots of logic and planning and design involved though, and a similar timesuck.
I was just coming here to recommend mindustry. I couldn’t get into Factorio because to much of my brain was already given over to mindustry. Once to cruise the threshold into really studying the conveyor logic it gets insane
I wish I didn’t look up Mindustry….
I think your last paragraph mentioning the rail signals needs updating. You want to use chain rail signals before and inside, intersections, and regular signals at the exit of intersections and everywhere else. You don’t want to put a chain signal after a track merge unless that merge happens within an intersection.
Thank you – sorry – I updated the comment.
I think I’ll pass — I already spend too much time IRL dealing with parts (such as servo motors, linear stages, and IC’s) that aren’t available when we need them. In the past, I was involved in an unsuccessful “lights out” factory project – trying to fully automate production isn’t easy.
Games like this have the potential to mislead people when it comes to what skills are really needed when it comes to manufacturing and industrial automation.
In my opinion the average person is already very disconnected from the realities of how and where everything that use in modern life is created. This sort of thing is likely to further that even more.
Personally I do not understand the attraction to games like this. I would much rather actually build something cool and useful. I can’t imagine the feeling of accomplishment from building a fake factory in a game to be anything remote close to the feeling of accomplishment of actually making something.
To each their own I guess, I do however agree with the sentiment that games (and unregulated social media) will eventually lead to our down fall.
Huh. Imagine that. A game that doesn’t accurately portray reality. Good thing I only play for funsies!!
Video games are just another form of entertainment.
Some people like action games, others prefer farm simulators. People sink a ton of money into flight and racing simulator equipment. And some people don’t just don’t like games at all.
The other commentor was being tongue-in-cheek when they said video games would be the downfall of civilization.
I’ve been a long time Factorio fan. Fun to see it mentioned here!
Satisfactory is another good one, but I think Factorio has more interesting high level gameplay.
I was gonna mention Satisfactory as well. Have numerous hours in that one, both for my own factory and several friends. The ability to also build up is amazing. Nothing like a tower factory.
It’s called Cracktorio for a reason.
I played a lot with a friend then put it down for a year. Then discovered it’s the perfect game when you have a baby. I could turn it on and play when she napped, and just pause when she woke up. I could leave it running all day if I wanted. There were times where I needed loads of resources so I would let it run while making dinner.
I come back to it when my backlog feels boring. That normally spans a few major updates and it almost feels like a new game again. It’s been well worth the $30. Actually I think the best deal is If you subscribe to Humble Monthly you can get 20% off on the Humble store. I bought my friend a copy that way. He was going through some medical issues and Factorio was just what he needed to completely occupy his conscious and subconscious mind.
Look up MojoD’s ME (Make Everything) system. :^D
I’ve been playing a Minecraft mod that is somewhat similar – GregTech New Horizons.
There’s also Satisfactory.
Factorio is entirely deterministic and their blog posts detail all sorts of interesting programming things if you’re into that.