Factorio: What’s in the Bottle?

By Shamus
on May 28, 2017
Filed under:
Video Games

In Factorio, you build machines to harvest raw resources like iron ore or crude oil. Those resources are carried by conveyor belt or pipes to other machines that refine the raw materials into production-ready materials like iron plates and petrol. Those are then carried to other machines that turn them into machine parts. Those parts are then carried elsewhere and turned into a final product.

And then things get strange.

You might use that product directly. If the product is something like a conveyor belt or a robotic arm, then maybe you’ll carry that crap around in your inventory and use them to build more stuff. But the other thing that products are used for – and indeed the fate of the vast majority of manufactured products – is to be turned into science bottles.

Science bottles are yet another product. They look like little glass bottles of liquid of varying color. You have your conveyor system deliver them to science labs, and then the bottle is magically turned into research. The bottle vanishes from the world and you gain a little bit of progress towards your next research goal. Once your labs consume enough science bottles, you’ll unlock a new technology.

The early science bottles are fairly simple and can be constructed in just a couple of steps, while the late-game bottles require complex factories and vast quantities of resources.

This idea of turning raw ore into a bottle of colored juice and then turning the juice into knowledge is pretty silly and it’s obviously something you’re not supposed to think about. But we’re going to do it anyway.

What’s in the Bottle?

The buildings on the right pull in iron, and output gears and pipes. The conveyor carries that stuff over to the row of machines in the middle, which makes engines out of them.

The buildings on the right pull in iron, and output gears and pipes. The conveyor carries that stuff over to the row of machines in the middle, which makes engines out of them.

Factories never produce solid waste. They take in raw materials and spit out parts, and as far as we can tell nothing is lost in the process. It’s clear we’re not supposed to take this 100% literally, but… what if we did? How much stuff goes into a bottle of science juice? How much would one weigh?

Let’s start with the most basic bottle.

The red science bottle is made from a copper plate and an iron gear. In turn, one iron gear is made from two iron plates. So the raw materials required to make red science is 2 iron plates and 1 copper.

So how big are these metal plates?

Sadly, the game doesn’t give us any indication. The units page of the Wiki doesn’t really give us anything to go on. So we’re going to have to start approximating as best we can.

If we look at them on conveyor belts they look to be about half a meter square and perhaps a few centimeters thick. According to Wolfram Alpha, a block of iron 50cm × 50cm × 5cm would weigh 98kg, or 216 lbs.

I don’t really like this approximation, because it’s clear we shouldn’t be taking the sizes of things on conveyor belts literally either. Everything on a conveyor belt is the same size, regardless of how large or small it might be. A locomotive, a hand grenade, an oil refinery, and a circuit board all take up exactly the same space on the conveyor, so it’s pretty obvious these are more icons than physical representations of the objects.

Likewise, we can’t really use the player’s inventory as a guide. An assembly machine is roughly the size of a compact car, but they can be carried in stacks of 50 and the player’s starting inventory can hold 60 stacks. Moreover, their inventory can mysteriously expand with research and armor upgrades. So we have to regard the player’s inventory as a magical pocket dimension. It’s not something we can use as a guide for determining the scale or mass of an object.

Perhaps we could use the chests in the game? But then we come back to the questions of scale when we ask “How big are the chests?”

I love trains. They`re not really useful in the resource-rich maps I prefer, but I build them anyway because they`re so cool.

I love trains. They`re not really useful in the resource-rich maps I prefer, but I build them anyway because they`re so cool.


However, there is one container that has properties we should be able to figure out based on appearance: A train. The trains in the game look a lot like real-world trains, and I think it’s not out of line to suggest using real-world trains as a guide for what they can carry. We can then work backwards from this to work out the sizes of the stuff we care about. We still need to do some hand-waving in terms of scale, but I think this is the best we can do.

Consulting various forums for train nerds, it looks like weight capacity can vary quite a bit. But it seems like 100,000lbs (50 tons) is a nice conservative estimate for the payload capacity of a freight car. Let’s assume a fully loaded car in Factorio is carrying that much weight.

A car has 40 inventory slots, and each slot can hold a stack of 100 plates. That’s 4,000 total plates. This means each plate weighs 25lbsAbout 11Kg.. So, picture a good-sized dumbbell.

This means a red science bottle has 25lbs of copper and 50lbs of iron. Total payload: 75 lbs.

The recipe for a green science bottle, which has the boring name "science pack 2".

The recipe for a green science bottle, which has the boring name "science pack 2".

Next up is the green science bottle, which takes a robot armCalled an inserter, because it inserts things into machines. and one segment of the basic conveyor belt. Somehow those two devices are transformed into a glass bottle of green science juice.

So green science contains 37.5lbs of copper and 125lbs of iron. Total payload: 162.5 lbs.

Now things are going to get crazy. A blue science bottle contains a red circuit board, an “engine”, and an electric mining drill.

The problem we’re running into now is that red circuit boards take two units of plastic, and I have no idea how we’re supposed to work out how much mass is in a hunk of plastic. In the previous case we could argue that 100% of the raw materials was being used because there’s no waste. An iron gear must contain the same iron as two plates, or else every gear-making machine would quickly become buried under a mountain of metal shavings. But an oil refinery consumes crude oil and water and spits out petroleum. A chemical plant mixes the petroleum with coal to form plastic. We can’t argue that all of those raw materials wind up in the plastic bar, since the game clearly shows that some of it is burned off and released to the atmosphere in the form of grey smoke. There’s even gameplay consequences for doing this, so we can’t just hand-wave it all away as cosmetic.

We could use the same trick we used with freight trains to work out the weight, but it turns out that the stack size is the same for both metal plates and plastic. So going by weight would force us to conclude that plastic bars and metal plates have the same weight, and therefore it takes 50lbs of plastic to make a single circuit board.

The recipe for a blue science bottle

The recipe for a blue science bottle


But rather than come to that conclusion, let’s try to make this work. Since we’re free to say that plastic bars are any size we wish (since an unknown quantity of the the raw materials are burned off during production) and since we know it takes two of them to make a circuit board, let’s just make assumptions that make sense. We can argue that plastic bars are one pound apieceI’ve always imagined the circuit board in this game to be the size of a motherboard.. If we need a justification for why a train car can only carry 4,000 of them, we can say they’re light but bulky, and thus you can’t fit more on the train even if the train can easily handle the weight.

Now we just have to work out the rest of the inputs. Blue science takes 25 iron plates, 9.5 copper plates, 2 plastic bars, and an engine. If you run up the production chain a bit you can see an engine is another 9 iron plates.

So blue science contains 850 lbs of iron, 238 lbs of copper, and 2 pounds of plastic. Total payload: 1,090 lbs.

The recipe for a purple science bottle

The recipe for a purple science bottle


Purple science takes an assembling machine, an electric furnace, and an electric engine. Now we have a new ingredient to deal with: Stone bricks, which are apparently an important ingredient of the electric furnaceI always have the worst time getting the bricks into my production line. I think it’s because you introduce bricks late in development and I always forget to leave space for the conveyors.. No big deal. They’re bricks. Let’s just assume they’re basically normal bricks. A brick is about 8lbs.

An electric engine is just a regular engine with some circuit boards and lubricant. We can ignore the lubricant since it’s probably negligible in terms of the weight of the engine itself, and you could even argue it’s consumed producing the engine rather than running it. (Since you never add more later to keep the engine going.)

So purple science contains 825lbs of iron, 812lbs of copper, 10lbs of plastic, and 80lbs of bricks. Total payload: 1,727 lbs. Almost a ton!

There’s another bottle of grey science juice that’s used for military stuff, but it’s not very interesting. Not a lot of raw materials go into it and the ingredients are things like bullet magazines and hand grenades, which are of familiar weights. So let’s skip grey science and look at the final bottle.

The recipe for a yellow science bottle

The recipe for a yellow science bottle

Yellow science juice takes a battery, 3 purple circuit boards, a speed module (whatever that is) 30 units of copper cable, and a battery. Unlike the other items in this list, yellow science bottles consume more copper than iron.

The battery looks like your typical D-Cell battery, but it takes an iron plate and a copper plate. If we stick by my rule that we’re supposedly using ALL the raw materials, then the casing for this battery is 50lbs of metal. Inside of that is 20 “units” of acid, and we don’t have a good way to determine how much that might be.

So the battery is made out of 50 lbs of metal, which would suggest it’s enormous. But the icon says it’s very small. And it’s used by your flying robots, which wouldn’t really work if the batteries were really big. Let’s split the difference and say the batteries are like lightweight car batteries.

So yellow science contains 2,200 lbs of iron, 4,225 lbs of copper, 10 lbs of plastic, and 4 lbs of acid. Total payload: 6,439 lbs.

Adding it All Up

Conveyor belts carry all the different SCIENCE(!)  bottles to the dome-shaped labs, where they are consumed.

Conveyor belts carry all the different SCIENCE(!) bottles to the dome-shaped labs, where they are consumed.

Like I said earlier, these bottles are consumed by science labs. I don’t know if there’s a black hole in the center of a science lab, or what the deal is. They just vanish.

Adding up all of the bottles we’ve looked atRemember I’m ignoring grey bottles. their total combined weight comes to 9,493.5 lbs, or just short of 5 tons.

One late-game technology is the logistic network, which lets you set up a system to have flying robots move material around your base according to rules you set up. It lets you move things without needing to run conveyor belts, which is good because this late in the game your base is already blanketed in conveyors and it’s really hard to add more. Logics robots aren’t useful for bulk deliveries (they could never deliver copper and iron plates fast enough to be useful) they’re really useful for transporting rare or exotic things near the end of the supply chain.
To unlock this technology you need 150 of each kind of bottle. This means you’re going to feed 1,424,025 lbs (645,928kg) of stuff into the science labs. That’s about 1.7 times the maximum takeoff mass of a Boeing 747. Even if you don’t buy the idea that that much mass ends up in the bottle, your base still consumes that much, one way or another. Either it ends up in the bottle or it ends up as a waste product never depicted in the game.

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Footnotes:

[1] About 11Kg.

[2] Called an inserter, because it inserts things into machines.

[3] I’ve always imagined the circuit board in this game to be the size of a motherboard.

[4] I always have the worst time getting the bricks into my production line. I think it’s because you introduce bricks late in development and I always forget to leave space for the conveyors.

[5] Remember I’m ignoring grey bottles.


A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. No One says:

    I’ll be honest. Having never encountered Factorio, I thought it was a number puzzle game (some sort of Sudoku like game involving finding factors or whatever) whenever Shamus talked about playing it.

  2. Ermel says:

    According to the usual lore about scientists, the liquid can only either be coffee or something fiercely alcoholic.

    • Philadelphus says:

      I was going to say something similar. Obviously the little icons of different colored flasks are just that, icons, and each “science flask” actually represents that much weight in pure coffee, to be dutifully consumed by all the little researchers in those domes.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      You may laugh, but the Renaissance coincides with the widespread introduction of coffee to Europe. I’m just saying, Leonardo da Vinci was probably buzzing on the stuff when he invented the hidden gunblade.

  3. TmanEd says:

    Is dealing with waste products going to be a thing they add, or is it going to go by the Dwarf Fortress line of thinking (i.e. Dwarves don’t poop because no one wants to deal with that)? Seems complicated enough without having to worry about disposals.

    • Xeorm says:

      No plans, in part because they don’t have an easy way to deal with the waste. Space around each production unit is already at a premium.

    • Primogenitor says:

      I think at this stage of development, adding another “reverse input” to each machine would move managing a factory from “tricky but doable” into “the dark souls of simulation games”

      • Echo Tango says:

        There’s mods that add by-products. Bob’s (set of) mods, and Angel’s (set of) mods both have by-products. They’re tricky, but playable. Technically, that might still count as Dark Soulsian.

    • Arctem says:

      The closest they have is the oil refinement process, which produces far more of a less useful output than of the more useful one, so you need to find some good way to store or get rid of the useless product. I think there’s a similar system for uranium, but I haven’t used that yet.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Yeah, uranium processing produces 0.7% “useful” uranium (U-235), and the rest is the “waste” kind (U-238). Except you still need them in a ratio of 1:19 to make fuel cells. So, it’s not about “useful” and “waste”, but about how different the ratio you need (1:19) is from the ratio you get (about 1:140-ish). There’s a later research that lets you convert U-238 into U-235, so you can set up a system that converts excess.

    • Tom says:

      Well, arguably a major play element of the game, pollution (which makes the indigenous lifeforms more aggressive) is the exact opposite of that. One could argue that the “pollution field” emanating from your bases already adequately represents the diffusion of waste back into the environment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is at some point modified to have more detailed pollution effects – possibly water sources might become contaminated by too much chemical runoff and cause steam boilers to corrode and eventually explode, for example, furnaces might produce slag that needs to be disposed of (possibly reburied?) or it’ll radiate huge amounts of extra pollution, etc.

    • Writiosity says:

      This is why I use the Dubs Bad Hygiene mod for RimWorld, I like the extra management of dealing with water and waste product, plus it’s just nice giving all my prawns en-suite bathrooms :)

    • Geebs says:

      Helm Halfpersson takes a giant dump, rending the toilet seat and cracking the porcelain. Helm is propelled away by the force of the blow!

      …..Yeah, nobody wants to read that.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I don’t know if there’s a black hole in the center of a science lab, or what the deal is

    That kind of makes sense.Black holes are places where information is being stripped out from the universe*.So if there was a black hole-white hole pair inside one of those labs,we can assume that science bottles are being fed into the black hole and the white hole spews out useful data.Its as good an explanation as any other.

    *If we go with a MASSIVE(pun not intended) oversimplification.

    • LCF says:

      I was about to say it’s all about abstracting unfun aspects of a simulation to turn it inside a fun game, that whatever object consumed to make the Science bottles are still there in the Science pack, ready to be unboxed and used in the lab…
      But I like your explaination. Much more fitting the setting.

  5. Retsam says:

    There’s another bottle of grey science juice that’s used for military stuff, but it’s not very interesting. Not a lot of raw materials go into it and the ingredients are things like bullet magazines and hand grenades, which are of familiar weights. So let’s skip grey science and look at the final bottle.

    Isn’t one of the ingredients to grey an entire gun turret? I was expecting that potion to be the most ridiculous in terms of weight.

  6. SADD1 says:

    I for one am proud to live in a society where we can pay Shamus to carry out important scientific work such as this!

    • droid says:

      How many tons of iron and copper does an article like this take to make?

      • Sunshine says:

        Two bottles of computer science.

        Though, over-seriously, you could probably calculate how much human effort and material resources are needed to provide Shamus with everything between “standing in a field with a rock” and “having the means to spend a day over thinking a videogame for an invisible audience”.

  7. evileeyore says:

    “I always have the worst time getting the bricks into my production line. I think it’s because you introduce bricks late in development and I always forget to leave space for the conveyors.”

    This is part of the reason I never got past the initial hurdles of Factorio:

    For me the most fun of these games is the beginning and the end (and a bit in the middle); I love planning out the whole base layout before laying down the first rooms/machines, and then the end result of seeing it all function smoothly.

    Factorio has no real “hurdles” in the middle to overcome. No “middle challenge” (once you’re skilled enough to reliably deal with the aliens and lay a sound engineering plan). So for me it’s just a grind once I get maybe a quarter of the way into the base building part.

    Dwarf Fortress on the other hand still has unknowns and challenges all the way through. That’s the “middle” part I enjoy, trying to figure out how to modify my initial design to cope with caves or an aborted tantrum spiral or losing Master CraftDwarvess to aberrant moods and monsters. And killing Elves. but then everyone loves Elven Christmas, when we paint the halls red and green with the blood of those pesky Elves and their plant-based products.

    • Ivan says:

      I kind of agree with you on that. That’s why my current playthrough is centering more or less entirely around massive, absurdly overcomplicated train networks. The plan is to essentially have mini factory segments arranged in grid units, with 8 lanes of trains running each way, around and between factories. All items are produced using ingedients delivered by trains, then picked up by trains and delivered to wherever they are needed. Additional copies of factories can be added when production of any one item lags behind. Then all the science packs are delivered to approximately 100 Labs (so far). The best challenge is one you create for yourself.

  8. AndrewCC says:

    Can I have the last 10 minutes of my life back?

  9. Echo Tango says:

    Shamus, bricks might be annoying to put into yoru assembly lines / busses, but it’s less annoying than trying to put in stones and fire the bricks on-site! You can fit four times as many bricks in a chest or train, and twice as many on conveyor belts. :)

    • Shamus says:

      What I end up doing is having it dump the bricks into a steel chest, and then every once in a while I carry a load of bricks to the production line where they’re needed. Of course I forget, and then the line stalls.

      Once I have enough logistics robots I let them handle it.

      • Echo Tango says:

        This is pretty much how I handle all of my processes until I get proper belts or trains set up – batch processing by chests. I could technically just put belts and splitters everywhere, but I find that less manageable somehow? I guess I like clicking into and out of chests a lot…

      • LCF says:

        I am no Factorio Pro Gamer (Pro Engineer?) but I try to get rid of chests as much as possible.
        However, I cannot help but feel nostalgia at the sound of wooden chests. They sound so much like Arcanum chests…

  10. DGM says:

    So, Shamus…

    When you first got into Factorio while sick you wondered why you found the game so addictive even though you thought you shouldn’t: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=31475#comment-1023586

    I suggested that maybe it was because you were sick and needed something easy and at the time you agreed. But having read this post I think it’s safe to say that you’ve disproved my theory. In fact I think it’s safe to say that you’ve murdered my theory, dissolved the body in a tub of acid and flushed the remains to ensure it was never found. And then nuked the sewer system just to be sure.

    Have you figured out exactly why Factorio has you hooked this badly? And do we need to stage an intervention?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Probably because its tickling his engineer mind.

      • MichaelG says:

        This is why I never play games like this. It uses the same skills as programming, and so I could be having just as much fun doing something useful.

        • Sunshine says:

          Do you think it would be good for learning programming practices in a visual way?

          • Dev Null says:

            Aspects of it work… and aspects of it fail in the most horrible ways possible – they’d teach you terrible programming habits. And the trick, of course, is that the learner has no way to tell which is which. I wondered the same thing about SpaceChem but finally concluded that it’s a game that _amuses_ programmers, but doesn’t train them.

  11. Heron says:

    Most of the furnaces and assembly machines *do* produce a byproduct: pollution, which annoys the aliens into attacking you and accelerates their evolution. You can hand-wave a lot of excess material away that way ;)

  12. AR+ says:

    Logistics robots can be used for bulk movement if you have enough of them over a short enough distance. Specifically, I use them for moving ore from trains to the lines that feed furnaces. They can keep up with the furnaces and this lets me use the same train depot for all incoming material.

    (Specifically, stack inserters unload the trains into active provider chests, then there are three rows of storage chests, then there are requester chests which request the bulk material for their line, which are emptied by stack inserters onto the belts that lead to the furnaces.)

    • Decius says:

      Why not empty the furnaces into active provider chests and dump all the ore into all the furnaces?

    • Trix2000 says:

      In fact, in the very lategame when resources start to approach massive amounts (this is post-rocket, mind, which most players won’t reach) you basically have to use robots for many things because they’re actually less resource-intensive than belts (their pathfinding is incredibly simple) and can have theoretically unlimited throughput (just add more robots!). The only major cost for them is the massive amount of power required (and the large number of roboports to keep them all charged), but nuclear provides a quite simple solution for handling that.

      I commonly reconfigure my train stations to be entirely bot-based because they can have so much faster throughput that way. With inserters and belts, you are limited by the rate at which stack inserters can put/take items on belts from/to (un)loading chests, so you will only get a certain amount of resources in/out of said station in a given amount of time. With robots (and active/requestor chests), you can load or unload the station’s chests within a matter of seconds, meaning you have have a LOT more items go through the station (limited only by the inserters pulling from/putting in the train now, which is lots faster).

      Granted, this is not something that can be done until you have a large number of available logistics bots and a lot of spare power, but that’s just a matter of scaling things up more.

  13. Nessus says:

    I’d be inclined to assume that the reason things like batteries and circuit boards consume so much resources and space is because those units actually represent bulk units instead of individual units. So “1 circuit board” is actually, say, 1 shipping pallet of circuit boards, but they call it “1 circuit board” because anything more complex would beg unnecessary questions and confusion.

    Like if they were actually labeled “1 gross circuit boards”, or “1 pallet circuit boards”, the player might infer that those were stacks, and expect that some jobs would require them to use smaller or unevenly divisible numbers of individual boards. And then when that turned out not be the case, they’d ask “well then why not just call a unit a unit, and avoid the confusion?”. So that’s what the devs did preemptively.

    Though I anticipate that may fall down when it comes to using circuit boards/batteries to craft other things. I haven’t played Factorio, but based on my experience with other games, it wouldn’t surprise me if it takes 50 lbs of steel to make “1” battery, but only 1 battery to make 1 robot arm, or something like that.

    • Echo Tango says:

      Robot arms take zero batteries, but frames for flying robots[1] take two batteries. Massive shed-sized storage units take five batteries. Nothing is balanced according to reality. That would be boring. :P

      [1] Let’s say it’s like a quad-copter, that’s somewhere between a 2-slice toaster and a motorcycle in size.

    • Mintskittle says:

      There’s certainly a lot of hand waving going on when one iron plate and one gear wheel makes two units of transport belt. It makes no logical sense for such a complex piece of technology to be so simply made IRL, but is balanced gamewise by the fact that you will be making these by the tens of thousands.

      Also, the belts are self powered, requiring no external power source.

      • groboclown says:

        The self-powered conveyor belts always bother me. I feel like they should require power, but that would really throw off the early game balance.

      • Dev Null says:

        It always bugs me a tiny bit that I spend so much time building a power infastructure when I have an easily-produceable perpetual motion machine on hand. Conveyor belt plus electrical generator and we’re done, right?

  14. The Rocketeer says:

    If Blue Science Bottles contain Blue Science Juice, is this the same Blue Science Juice Mr. Freeze makes for Batman in Arkham City, and does this correlation explain anything about that whole dumb plot? Maybe the trick of Blue Science Juice in Arkham City is that Freeze and Batman had to figure out how to make a sample without the usual facilities or exorbitant resource cost.

  15. Nessus says:

    Wen it comes to the high material cost of science bottles, and the “black hole” of labs, I assume the “bottle” is an icon representing a BOM for the R&D needed to acquire a given knowledge upgrade. Those materials aren’t being used to make a literal bottle filed with liquid, they’re being used to retool the lab for a new project, or to build R&D prototypes/iterations of the researched tech. The science bottle is just the label stuck on the shipping crate, as it were.

    • groboclown says:

      This is how I pictured it, too.

      However, it brings up a weird issue to me in all the tech tree games. If you know what you’re going to produce, doesn’t that mean that you don’t really need the science for it? Innovation, R&D, and science don’t really work like this.

      Factorio is an odd duck in this way. You set up machines to perform the research for you. At least in the Civ games you have researchers study for innovations. In Factorio, you’re a guy who can build rocket silos in his backpack, and yet needs to research how to make bullets.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        If you know what you’re going to produce, doesn’t that mean that you don’t really need the science for it? Innovation, R&D, and science don’t really work like this.

        Depends on the science in question.For example,once the concept of fission has been thought of,people pretty much knew what they were going to get out of it,and all the research was basically just testing stuff until they could realize their vision.

        • Nessus says:

          This. Given the premise of the game, I imagine a lot of it is “This is a common tech that exists back home, but I only have a broad idea of how it works, not the nitty-gritty math or wee mechanical details”. He (she?) isn’t inventing or discovering things from scratch, he’s trying to recreate stuff he already knows of based on insufficient knowledge/memory.

          Like, if you asked me how an internal combustion engine works, I could give you a rundown of the basic structure and mechanics, maybe draw an exploded “how stuff works” style diagram, but that’s about it. Enough to give an real engineering team a direction, but not enough that they wouldn’t have to spend years figuring out cylinder volumes and alternator wiring and carburetor airflow dynamics and thousands of other things you’d need to actually build a working engine from scratch.

      • Philadelphus says:

        I think this is one of those acceptable abstractions for the sake of gameplay. A more realistic model of scientific research would basically just be a money sink that you shovel money into and randomly get results out of, which I’m willing to bet would be a lot less fun than carefully looking at your available research options and picking the one best suited to the moment (and knowing exactly how long it will take to give a return). I dunno, maybe it could be made to work in a game. It’d just be quite different from how we’re used to things working.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          A more realistic model has been incorporated into plenty of games already(mostly space 4x games).Usually its:”Pick a field to research,then after X turns youll get a Y% chance of researching one tech from that field”.I was never particularly fond of such a model and would usually turn it off if I could.

  16. steves says:

    “a block of iron 50cm × 50cm × 5cm would weigh 394kg”

    394! Are you sure you didn’t type something wrong there?

    That is way more kilograms than anyone could even think about lifting, and yet I have in my kitchen a block of wood bigger than that (I like a heavy-duty chopping board) which I can lift with one hand. I know iron is much denser, but that’s like 4 fat people compressed into a small slab.

    https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=.0125+metres+cubed+iron+weight

    0.5M*0.5M*0.05M = 0.0125M^3

    98kg. Still heavy, but feels a bit more reasonable.

  17. CPhlebas says:

    It’s interesting that you get the need for abstraction in terms of conveyor space, but not for science productions. like, take a look at some picutres of the Superconducting Super Collider. The construction is an engineering superdifficult super-problem. Tools, machined part, structural requirements. The input is a mind-boggling problem. The output is enabling some theoretical physicists who write some papers. A game focused on engineering is going to handwave the other side because other you’d have to simulate building universities, resources required for production of theoretical physicists, etc.

    Your input to scientific research is going to be very difficult engineering problems that require massive amounts of tools, materials, and time. Your output is going to be some theoretical work, some science that can be applied to make better tools, and requests for even more difficult tools in order to get more scientific output. That doesn’t weigh much, but… you need it.

  18. MichaelG says:

    Would this game be less fun if the inputs and processes were realistic? It would then teach kids that an industrial economy is COMPLICATED!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yeah,but then a single guy wouldnt be able to set up even a single of those factories,let alone dozens.

    • Smejki says:

      I don’t know if it would be less fun but it would be a different game.
      Factorio doesn’t try to simulate industrial processes which is a very complex thing indeed.
      Factorio’s focus is on automation, planning (planned growth that is) and efficiency. It’s more closer to creating PCBs than to building an actual plant and all it’s prerequisities.

  19. Exasperation says:

    I choose to believe that science bottles are created in this fashion.

  20. Glad to know you decided to research into this dilemma. I, of course, haven’t got the game yet, but now that I know the weight of science bottles, I can determine the weight that’s pushing on me to get the game (answer: it’s 70:30. 70% wanting to get it, 30% skeptical about whether or not I’d like it).

  21. Nick-B says:

    Robots might not be that good for moving items long distance, but get enough of them and they outperform belts by a large margin. I’d actually encountered a situation where I couldn’t load a train fast enough, since it relied on 8 full belts of items to put their product under inserters to them put into a train car. But since some trains were shorter, and some were the full 4 car length, parts of my factory would shut down if the product for it wasn’t consumed (put onto the train).

    My solution? A local logistics network, not connected to the rest of my base. Every belt feeds into provider belts, and there are 12 requesters per traincar. That way, The limiting factor in loading a wagon will be 12 stack inserters running at once. And with 8 belts worth of product feeding into a source for robots, they can fill those chests faster than the inserters can run.

    Sure, at max load, it can take over 2000 robots running at once, but hey. Stuff is cheap.

    Now I just need more output. Thinking of doubling the number of furnaces for iron from 1024 to 2048

  22. Aitch says:

    Speaking of Dwarf Fortress, like a few comments have mentioned, I’ve wondered probably years now why Shamus never plays it.

    It uses all the same sequential logic supply chains as this, has a fairly constant challenge rate, and even has “cool trains” – at least in the form of programming minecart lines. But so much more simulation, it makes Factorio seem really limited whenever I hear about how it plays.

    DF does so much more than this game seems to. Rough personalities and skillsets, manufacturing that leads not just to more manufacturing but also trade, weighing necessity for survival vs increasing your fort’s overall value because it gradually ratchets up difficulty through increasing migrant waves and invasions, multiple Z-levels so that pathing everything isn’t so claustrophobic…

    Not to mention the actual fun stuff of it, which for me are things like aqueduct systems full of lever controlled sleucegates leading to underground fishing ponds, well cisterns, an epic rococo dining hall with a mist generating waterfall to make everyone happy, waterwheel power generation, a water duct down to the magma sea and a chamber to steam flash it into obsidian and then mine it for all sorts of buffed crafts, arming and training squads of soldiers, the genuine feeling of relief and success at repelling an attack…

    Even reading through event logs to create a D&D “theater of the mind” as an occasional distraction. Seeing what events and people they’ve carved into statues and reliefs, what books they’ve written, it all feels so much more alive even with its very basic content generation.

    And yet it’s constantly mentioned as some kind of joke for its interface, as if it’s some unintelligible arcane sheer cliff of a difficulty curve. Maybe it was true years ago when it first came out and people saw nothing but ASCII controlled by innumerable keyboard shortcuts, but now there’s the Lazy Newb Pack with all the 3rd party additions that make the game as easy to use as any other game of its caliber, and a fully stocked Wiki to explain every facet of every asset. Everything from texture packs to more mouse functionality to checkbox job assignment and even a 3d view modeling application, a launcher with options to tweak maximum population, framerate cap, what tileset you prefer, a console to run .lua scripts…

    It makes all these other simulation games seem like bland and hollow walled gardens, rules and guidelines on a big billboard placard telling you exactly what to do and when to do it with exactly what tools. As annoying as a “no splashing in the pool” sign posted next to a two foot deep lukewarm overchlorinated glorified footbath.

    All while there’s a virtual Great Lake to swim in, for free no less, and open source where it matters. Like, yeah, you’ll have to learn to actually swim, but on the plus side you get to actually swim, not just sit around in some stagnant chemical approximation of water being glowered at by some jerk lifeguard ready to blast their whistle and point to the rule billboard any time you deign to do anything resembling interesting.

    Maybe what I mean to ask isn’t “Why don’t I ever hear about Shamus playing Dwarf Fortress?” – Rather, “How is it that people seem to overwhelmingly choose these kinds of simulation games, like Factorio or Prison Architect etc, when there’s a free option that’s so much more admirable in comparison to nearly every aspect beyond simplicity, right there and ripe for the playing?”

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Simple answer:
      More =/= better

      Longer answer:
      Every game is a simulation of sorts,with different things being cut.You could add a “breath in/breath out” keys to a shooter,but such a thing wouldnt add anything meaningful to the simulaton,therefore the characters dont suffocate because you didnt manually expand and contract their lungs.Thats also the reason why you need to push just a single key in order for your character to move forward,instead of manually controlling each leg*.

      So in order to make a good game,first you need to decide what you want to simulate,and then to find the minimum amount of things to simulate in order for the experience to be compelling for the target audience.For shooters,thats the act of shooting,running around,and managing your health and ammo.For a city simulator,thats the interconnection of buildings.And even dwarf fortress has some stuff it does not simulate(the one I know of is the “no poop” thing).

      Do some people enjoy that?Sure.But for others,its not engaging at all.Not everyone enjoys the same depth of simulation(Im pretty sure there are mods for df that add poo,because some people want it to be even more complex).The graphical presentation is one part of that,sure,but its not the only part.

      *Though such a thing does exist,but only as a joke,in octodad and surgeon simulator.

      • methermeneus says:

        If you do want a game where you need to push a button to inflate the character’s lungs, look no further than Manual Samuel. I don’t think that would work in a game where that kind of control wasn’t the core gameplay conceit, though.

      • silver Harloe says:

        You could add a “breath in/breath out” keys to a shooter

        Sniper Elite is literally a shooter with breathe in/breathe out mechanics :)

        (of course, they only come up when you’re looking down the scope of a sniper rifle. you don’t have to remember to breathe the rest of the time, so your point stands, but it was amusing that you chose this example because I just heard of of Sniper Elite in the last 24 hours (I don’t follow a lot of non-Shamus-related gaming news) and just saw it had a breathing mechanic)

    • Bubble181 says:

      Pretty much what Daemian said. I, for one, plan and coordinate and manage resources as a job. I like strategic/sim games, but there are limits to how much and how far – I like my games to help me unwind, not to make me stressed about what-all I’m doing wrong or missing.
      Different strokes for different folks – I like my racing games very arcade-y, some people want them super-realistic.
      I want to make pretty things and/or make Numbers get Bigger, not have to pull out spreadsheets to calculate the exact combination and balance of 17 different materials to achieve a successful balance between production and consumption.

      It really is an individual thing, though. I like Caesar I through III, but don’t like IV. I like Settlers I-III and VI-VII, but didn’t care for IV and V. Why? To-me less intuitive balances, less seen-at-a-glace imbalances, less tactile feedback as to what to fix,…

      Your comparison between a kiddie pool and the Great Lake is, to a point, even apt (though the way it’s written, also pretty insulting to anyone who doesn’t agree with your point of view): not everybody wants to go swim in the ocean, with sharks and waves and salt water that’ll sting your eyes and no safety net, struggling against the elements not to die. Some people prefer a quiet pool in the shade to relax in an inflatable seat, and some may want a swimming pool with straight lanes and an exactly measured length so they can compete against others in precise circumstances. Is one objectively “better”? No, they’re different things for different needs, even if all of those might say they “go swimming”.

      • Aitch says:

        Maybe I’m playing the game wrong, but I never needed a spreadsheet to calculate anything about resources. The most complex thing to make is I think Steel, and that’s 3 resources and 3 workshops. You usually end up with enough of whatever you need that it’s just a matter of remembering to build the thing to make the thing.

        Also, and more importantly, I didn’t mean to be insulting with my swimming analogy – I will say though, personally I do find the ocean to be more enjoyable than a public pool, that’s just my own preferences.

        Similarly, if someone said they’d never tried swimming in the ocean because it was too much to worry about… Like, I understand if someone’s thing is going down to the pool to swim laps or whatever, but never having been to the ocean if swimming is a hobby? Never having hiked a mountain trail if they enjoy nature walks?

        Not saying if simulation games are your thing you have to always go for the most complex thing and make a job of it, just that once in a while isn’t it enjoyable to have something more? I dunno, maybe I’m thinking of it the wrong way.

        • Philadelphus says:

          Thallasaphobia is a thing. ;) I enjoy a good swim in a swimming pool, but swimming in a body of water I can’t mentally encompass all at the same time (at least, that’s the best analysis of it I’ve been able to make) makes me really anxious. I live in Hawaii and haven’t been in the ocean for at least four or five years now. :)

          • Philadelphus says:

            Shamelessly replying to myself because I thought about this some more:

            Your estimation of Shamus liking Dwarf Fortress seems to hinge on the premise that if someone likes activity A at intensity level X, they will like it even better at intensity level X+N, which may be true of some people, but in my experience is not at all true of all people (counterexample: me). You’re wondering why, if people love hiking and swimming so much, are they limiting themselves to taking walks around the neighborhood and swimming in the swimming pool and not taking into account that perhaps what they actually enjoy is taking light walks and swimming laps and would dislike taking a two-day hike in the mountains or trying to swim the English Channel.

            For the record, I’m not trying to detract from Dwarf Fortress; I’m sure I have well over a hundred hours of play time that I absolutely do not regret (and that’s without any fancy “graphic packs” or “Hacking DF Therapists” or whatever else the kids these days are using ;), and many more reading stories of forts. I’d love to see Shamus write something about it too, and he might very well enjoy it. I’m just trying to point out that by liking one game in a particular genre it doesn’t logically follow that a person will immediately like any particular other game in that genre.

            • Aitch says:

              My line of reasoning was more like “If person likes X, why not at least try X^2?”

              It seemed to share the same concepts of the genre, just with a few more levels of depth. And I know any rational person would get disinterested in playing after hearing the holdover myths from the early days of the game, how it’s beyond awkward to use on top of unnecessary complexity for the sake of pedantry behind a veil of what amounts to learning a new language to even make an attempt at the thing. Maybe trying to clear some of those up would at the least spark a bit of discourse if not interest.

              I guess it was just a shot in the dark to try and find out Shamus’s thoughts on it, just to be pointed towards any remarks he might’ve made in the past.

              I mean, it’s a game where the core thread of the basis was literally “What do they eat?” – thought that would have at least got him curious at some point in time, but hey I got plenty of other people’s thoughts on it as an entertaining consolation prize so it’s all good.

    • evileeyore says:

      “Speaking of Dwarf Fortress, like a few comments have mentioned, I’ve wondered probably years now why Shamus never plays it.”

      You’d have to ask Shamus directly, but my guess is: UI and art style

      Having to read ASCII as interpretational icons and deal with the nested control menu is a massive turn-off for some. I know several people who love Factorio (and other simulation/creation/management style games like RimWorld, Gnomoria, Terraria, Starbound, etc) who just can’t get past DF’s UI and “art-style”.

      Inversely… while I’ll play those games they don’t have the depth and ‘charm’ DF holds for me.

      Possible alternative reason I love DF: I enjoy hurting myself non-physically.

      • Philadelphus says:

        A follow-up on that note is that with Factorio Shamus can show a screen shot pointing out all his science domes and trains and whatnot and people, regardless of whether they’ve played Factorio or not (as in my case), can go “Yup, that’s a science dome/train/whatnot alright.”

        With Dwarf Fortress, the people who’ve played it will go “Oh wow, that is a seriously impressive automated minecart system to deliver raw resources to workshops and the manufactured products to stockpiles, while simultaneously dumping lava on any invaders! And I love what you’ve done with that microcline!” and the people who haven’t played will go, “Why is a there a picture of a bunch of ASCII gibberish in this post?”

        Dwarf Fortress is a great game in a lot of ways, but it isn’t one you can casually show off your accomplishments in to those who aren’t familiar with it.

        • Aitch says:

          I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending, or get blacklisted for having links, but –

          Look at This cause this is what the game usually looks like to play. There’s icons that represent things, just like Factorio (which looks like just as much nonsense having never played it).
          or This which was taken with the IsoWorld addon that allows you to play in isometric 3d.
          or This which shows off a bit of the kind of randomly generated storytelling I was talking about.

          So there’s 3 examples of showing off your game, in 3 totally different ways, just from a brief Google Image search. No ASCII gibberish involved. That a game of DF is equivalent to hacking The Matrix in terms of visual representation is a longstanding myth from the infancy of the game, and I’m tired of hearing it.

          • Philadelphus says:

            Sorry, I guess I’m too oldschool; I keep forgetting those are a thing. I never play with anything other than pure ASCII as I find the mix of little pictures and ASCII more confusing than pure text, personally (and stylistically ugly to boot), and much of the joy of DF for me is imagining what my fortress looks like; it’s like the gaming equivalent of reading a book vs. watching a movie. You are right of course that graphics packs and utilities do exist.

    • Drathnoxis says:

      “How is it that people seem to overwhelmingly choose these kinds of simulation games, like Factorio or Prison Architect etc, when there’s a free option that’s so much more admirable in comparison to nearly every aspect beyond simplicity, right there and ripe for the playing?”

      Because Dwarf Fortress is a badly designed game. Factorio is a better designed one.

      The UI is terrible and inconsistent, there are no less than 3 different sets of keys to resize your selection zone depending on what you are doing and what menu you are in. There is absolutely no reason for that, and it’s a flaw that runs through the entirety of the UI. When I first tried DF I never actually managed to do anything before I had to consult a guide. I wasn’t even able to dig a hole in the ground because I wasn’t able to find the right option that let me dig down.

      *Factorio on the other hand, is immediately comprehensible, you click on a thing to build a thing. Simple, effective, intuitive. There’s an in game tutorial, and tooltips on everything so you don’t need to keep running to the wiki to figure out which of the rocks you’ve mined has iron ore in it.*

      The lack of graphics really hurts DF as well as lack of sound design. This isn’t an elitist “4k or the game sucks!” statement, Visual representations convey a lot of information quickly and ignoring them means the player needs to spend a lot more time selecting the object they want to know about and reading through badly laid out descriptions. Yes there are third party texture packs, but the game simply hasn’t been designed around them and they aren’t enough. If you want to know what’s going on in your fort there’s far, far too much clicking and scrolling and it becomes incredibly tedious. Multiple Z levels are just very messy too.

      *In Factorio the function of most things is communicated by their design, and you can get a good idea of what’s going on in your factory just by taking a quick look around. You’ll know where the choke points are in your production and if you are being destroyed by ravenous bug monsters. You know, basic visual and sound design.*

      DF is broken in terms of balance. You can simply build a drawbridge and become impervious to anything the game can throw at you since nothing can break it down. Dwarves don’t actually need to go outside for anything. Farms don’t need light and grow a huge amount of food with a paltry space and workforce. This really kills my motivation to do anything, since the best defense is available within a couple minutes of starting. Yes, you could have self imposed challenges, but I like my challenges to be in stone so I can try my best to overcome them without having to worry about if I’m technically breaking the rules I set out. Also it takes far too long for something to invade, I waited for years before I finally quit out of boredom.

      *Factorio basically has a challenge that isn’t completely trivial to overcome. That is all*

      Then there’s the worst part: the randomly generated content. Normally I enjoy RGC in games, but Dwarf Fortress tries to drown you in a sea of gibberish at all times. Even on a small world you have hundreds of locations, and groups and thousands of historical figures. I wanted to be interested in my world and understand what was going on, but when the liaison comes and spews stuff like this I don’t see how anybody can bother. Then you have 5 pages of combat logs generated for every 10 seconds of battle against a dilapidated evil cloud husk emu. And the Dwarves, oh the Dwarves, for each one you get an entire biography, 20 likes/dislikes, 20 personality traits, several dreams, thoughts, relationships, memberships, and AAGHGHGHH. I have a hard enough time remembering which of my dwarves Kadol Kilrudroldeth is, let alone the life story of the 70 Dwarves living in my mountain hall. There’s a reason that minor characters in fiction generally only have a couple of defining traits, it makes them more memorable to have a couple of exaggerated features than to overload the audience with a bazillion irrelevant things to remember. It’s all just too much, too random, and I can’t force myself to care about any of it, and I’ve tried many times.

      *Randomly Generated Content is pretty weak in Factorio, but even it’s absence is better than the bloat of gobbledygook that is in Dwarf Fortress*

      In DF things are added for the sake of having more things, not because they make interesting choices. Sometimes that happens, but it’s not the goal. DF just wants realism for the sake of realism. Why do there need to be 50 different types of rock when most of them are functionally identical? That’s just extra baggage for the player to remember without adding anything to the gameplay. If I remember correctly Toady spent quite a while determining the correct weights and densities for everything in the game. There is no way that will ever have interesting ramifications for gameplay, even if it ever has a purpose at all. A large amount of the things in the game are basically filler and only obfuscate the important things the player should be doing.

      *Factorio eschews realism completely, as I think the article shows by Shamus’s inability to find anything actually concrete to base his suppositions on. Instead they focus on making everything functional. They don’t needlessly over complicate things with dozens of items that do the same thing in the same way, but with a slightly different look and name. If there are two things that do the same task they do it in unique ways that offer an interesting choice or option to the player. The game avoids necessary bloat.*

      That’s all I can write for now, because I’m starting to make typos and need to go to bed.

      • Aitch says:

        First off, I appreciate the response.
        Just to be clear, I’m not a DF uber alles fanatic, just saying that having something more is nice once in a while.

        As for the criticisms, they’re totally valid, though some are understandable but diverge from my own opinion. To touch on a few of them –

        The UI of a keyboard is terrible. It’s not even in alphabetical order, and just to get a capital letter I have to somehow hold one key while I press another? And what the hell is “Scroll Lock” anyway? But you use it for a bit and you get used to it, all the same.

        Not having tooltips in-game never bothered me. It runs as a window, and if you wonder about anything you just check the wiki. Would having an in game tutorial help? Sure, but you can just as easily find a tutorial in a web browser.

        And yes, Factorio is simpler to use. Like I said, Apart from Simplicity, DF has more to offer. If you want to get Iron, you mine for Magnetite, Hematite, or Limonite. You learn what they look like, if you’re not sure you click on the tile, and if it’s available you’ll have the option to smelt it. Is it too complex? Is Factorio too simple?

        I think the graphics of the texture packs convey enough info. As much as Factorio, anyway. Each dwarf gets it’s own avatar based on profession, groups of rocks get their own tile depending on what they are, etc.

        Always with the ASCII argument. DF hasn’t been an ASCII game since shortly after its inception. And this goes to you and also the gripe in the other comment that you can’t show it off to people and have them admire your work –

        Looking at the pictures in the article, no Factorio is not immediately recognizable as to what’s going on. To me it looks like a lot of nondescript grey buildings with a mess of conveyor belts full of a lot of repeating icons that I have no idea what they are. One picture has a train on a rail line, I can recognize that. Is a minecart much different? Is a workshop different than a Factorio factory, visually?

        You think having Z levels are messy, and I think having to squeeze everything onto a 2d plane is claustrophobic and absurd. Can you even have conveyor belts go over and under each other? And if you want to in DF, you can totally just build all your workshops on one level. But the option is there to optimize production paths by modeling a 3d space.

        As for balance, no, a drawbridge will not solve all of your problems. Unless you want to never have trade, have new migrant dwarves (and good luck getting much done late game with just the original 7), have grazing animals, grow outdoor plants or gather wild plants for food and drink variety, go hunting for meat and leather, go fishing, cut down trees for wood (and wood is a necessary resource), etc. And the dwarves do get sick of eating and drinking the same things over time and it will have a significant effect on their happiness.

        And not all enemies are stopped by a simple drawbridge, either. Apart from flying enemies, they can climb, they can swim, they can break down doors. A drawbridge will help, but not nearly forever.

        If you never had an invasion, maybe your fort didn’t produce enough wealth to attract them. Invasions are caused by how much stuff your fort has produced and traded. Also, if you embark on an island where there aren’t any other settlements you’re not going to see much of anyone.

        The only trivial challenges are the very early game ones, and even those can be a challenge depending on where you embark.

        As to the randomly generated content – I’ve never had a liaison spout off an entire page of that stuff, but seeing that did make me laugh out loud. It’s irrelevant to the gameplay, and like I said, an occasional distraction if you’re in to that sort of thing. Personally I find it kinda cool when you face off a massive horde, and a guy carves a statue of the Hero of the Battle Whoever crushing the skull of a gobbo in memorium. That sort of thing.

        You don’t have to remember a dwarf’s name, or their likes and dislikes, or read their bio. If you want to keep track of one you give them a nickname. If you want to maximize their happiness, you can do a cursory check of their likes and assign them a job where they’ll be exposed to that thing. But it’s only as necessary as you want it to be.

        Like let’s say you get a dwarf that becomes a Legendary Swordsman, he saves your fort by kicking major ass in a battle, you make him the sheriff, name him “Grandar the Grandest” and want to give him a nice room. Maybe check out his bio page and “Hey, he’s fond of this thing, let’s deck out his digs with it.” Or not.

        As to the addition of things for the sake of having things. Weights and densities matter when you need to haul it. Various ores give various metals. Some are magma-proof, which helps when you’re trying to work with magma. There’s different domesticated animals that eat different amounts, grow at different rates, give different amounts and types of resources. Different plants used for different things. Different weapons that have different attributes. Et cetera.

        If you think variety is bad, that’s fine. I think if you just had “rock” and “ore” it would be boring. If you don’t want to get invested in a world, that’s cool too, but every game has things to remember. Some more than others.

        Factorio does eschew realism completely, which bothered Shamus enough to write an entire article about it. And he’s mentioned in the past about having to restart over and over because a new tier of tech needed factories where there wasn’t space for them, or the system couldn’t be modified in a way to make it work.

        Point being, it obviously has its own problems from its reductionist stance on realism, just like every game has problems from trying to approximate whatever it’s trying to do. It’s just a matter of what brand of nonsense you prefer to put up with, and which bothers you the least.

        Just opinions. I dig swimming laps at a pool, but I really enjoy swimming in the ocean more. I still don’t get why someone wouldn’t at least try both, but I get why you’d prefer one or the other.

        It’s just that I see a lot of misconceptions about DF from people who either never played, or tried it and misunderstood what was going on.

        Like I said before, it’s like hearing someone loves hiking as a hobby, but never tried going anywhere but their next door manicured and walled off public park cause they tried to hike around a mountain once but there weren’t any water fountains, so for the rest of their life they go “It’s impossible!” instead of learning to bring a bottle of water along. And if that’s too much hassle, no worries. But at least give it a shot, right?

        • Decius says:

          You’re both arguing wrong. No comparisons to reviled figures, no personal attacks, no questioning motives or insulting demographics.

          DF simulates lots of meaningless stuff so that occasionally it all works out properly and cats die of alchohol poisoning as an emergent behavior of oversimulating meaningless things.

          Factories simplifies things and the player picks up a bunch of trains and factories out of a chest, gets onto a train, sets the factory down next to the train, and tells the factory to make a stack of chests to go into the chest. In the mid game you end up having a factory that takes a stack of factories like it as part of its ingredient and makes better factories as the output.

          Combat in DF is complex and hard to figure out why things happened- those adamantine hammers weren’t very effective. Combat in Factorio is simple and hard to figure out what to do differently (other than “have more towers”, which works well enough basically all the time).

          • Droid says:

            The very thought of someone wasting their adamantine on war hammers bothers me. It’s the least effective hammer you can make, out of the most expensive material you can get your hands on. Still, it does make sense that such a lightweight material as adamantine would be horrible as a hammer.

        • Falcon02 says:

          I played DF years ago (don’t think mine carts were much of a thing), and I was obsessed with it for a while… Though I did find the learning curve (especially more advanced constructs) to be quite steep.

          I’ve also played Factorio, and loved it, I find it much more approachable. But I do feel like it’s a separate thing even if there are some high level overlap in… Procedural maps, “building stuff,” and a risk for attacks.

          DF feels like it’s gameplay focuses more on a “colony management simulation”

          While Factorio focuses more on the automated systems you’re putting in place. Despite all the focus Toady has put into “accuracy” of his systems it’s easy to get lost in the presentation, and I’m not talking about the ASCII icons.

          Factorio has no one else, you have one character and you control him directly.

          – I don’t have to worry about Dwarfs not doing what I tell them to do in a timely fashion… [how dare they eat or sleep!] or at all because no one is allowed to do it and now I’m rushing to even allow one of my dwarfs to do whatever it is that’s necessary to ensure they all don’t die… (Honestly I think lever pull/pushing is allowed by default, but there’s been so many times I’ve had difficulty understanding why job “x” isn’t getting done in DF, even if it’s critical)

          – I don’t have to worry about a Dwarf going into a Fey mood and then going on an insane killing spree of my other Dwarfs(or just letting himself die) because I can’t find Spider Silk for whatever masterpiece he’s trying to create… (This ruined more DF games that I can remember and I basically had to learn if a dwarf got in a Fey mood and I didn’t have the ingredient, either get it quick, or prep for their eventual death to minimize losses.)

          – I don’t have to worry about micromanaging the Dwarf Warrior structure and patrols (which I never fully got the hang of)

          – I don’t have to worry about a wave of depression crippling my base because of heavy losses in battle

          So much time gets poured into managing the individual needs of fickle dwarfs to ensure they don’t get themselves killed. The Mechanical systems in Factorio feel more predictable in their rules and ways they work. Certainly there’s tons of other stuff to worry about Factorio (production bottle necks, poor defenses, exhausting of resources), many things applicable to DF as well, but the increased focus makes it a bit more relaxed.

          Also, to answer your question, yes belts can go underground and allowed to cross… but that’s as detailed as it’s modeled… In the Green Science Bottle Image Shamus took, the Blue/Red trapezoid that the belts go into are entrance/exits to underground belts. This allows you to build another belt on top. Generally 2 underground belts can cross (1 vertical, 1 horizontal), but you can’t have 2 horizontal (or 2 Vertical) belts over the same tiles (though using different belt types [yellow, red, blue] seems to allow it).

          So what you can do in some cases is limited (no multi level underground paths), and in some ways breaks its own rules (you can have multi-level underground paths if they cross paths or are differing types on the same path).

          That said… I agree with your original point where I might be interested to see what (if anything) Shamus might have to say on DF. However, I disagree with the initial implication since the design of DF attempts more “realism” in it’s models it is therefore obviously superior to Factorio.

          The fact of the matter is DF is by it’s nature more difficult to approach, and while the mods greatly help that usability the underlining systems are still not that straight forward. Factorio’s presentation on the other hand is more “polished” to make it easier to approach. I’m not sure DF has ever gotten a proper “polish” to address usability and learning curves (third party mods/tools/tutorials don’t count as polish).

          This doesn’t make Factorio better than DF, just more approachable and laid back. Both have their place, they scratch different (but somewhat related) itches. And neither one is for everyone.

          • Aitch says:

            Yeah, the unpredictability of dwarves can get to be a bit much in certain situations. It can get to feel less like you’re directly controlling things and more like strongly suggesting them and crossing your fingers. Dwarf Therapist does help a lot with this, though. And knowing to bring along a few of the weird rare items that might be required for a fey mood. Never had much of an issue with “individual needs” though, it all seems to me to be general requirements like food variety and decent living spaces, etc.

            I do find it kind of charming, regardless, that there is that element of unpredictability, but likewise it’s all down to personal taste.

            That’s one thing I can really appreciate with Factorio, and for that matter Total Annihilation – Having that in-game avatar to control and manipulate the world with. It’s an idea I’ve loved since playing a lot of Herzog Zwei as a kid, and still wish an RTS would come along that used any of the fantastic ideas from that game.

            But yeah, I learned early on to do backup saves every once in a while just in case something went a bit too janky beyond recovery. Also it’s a real effort saver to have a nice spot picked out in a pregenerated world all ready to go, or likewise the first tick of an embark backed up – for those times you just want to get to the game of it without all the prep work.

            Gotta say though, I disagree that the third party addons don’t count as polish. The game was always free and semi-opensource in acknowledgement of its limitations being designed by one guy (sort of two) as a hobby practically.

            It feels to me like saying Firefox addons don’t count towards comparing browser usability because they don’t come built in or something. And nowadays with the Lazy Newb Pack launcher app it’s not even really a hassle to use them.

            And I’ve always seen it as a Multi-Window experience – having the Main Game, DF Hack, Dwarf Therapist, the Wiki, the file folder all opened at once to alt-tab through as needed. Having it all within the main game window feels more like an aesthetic choice more so than increasing usability or convenience.

            I never intended to say DF was better than Factorio, just that apart from simplicity, each feature taken in comparison seemed to me to be a richer more satisfying and interesting experience. Again, just a matter of taste.

            But yeah, where in the christcrackers is Shamus to opinionate on DF when I’d guess at it being totally his style, at least in a game logic sense?

            • Falcon02 says:

              Gotta say though, I disagree that the third party add-ons don’t count as polish. The game was always free and semi-opensource in acknowledgement of its limitations being designed by one guy (sort of two) as a hobby practically.

              It feels to me like saying Firefox add-ons don’t count towards comparing browser usability because they don’t come built in or something.

              As far as the “Polish” comment… I think this comes down to how each of us defines “polish” in regards to games/programs. UI improvements by mods are allowed to improve usability… but I don’t consider them “polish” just because the idea of polish to me is focused on the core “Vanilla” software. “Polish” is the responsibility of the developer, not the users.

              So I don’t consider Firefox Add-on’s to count as “Firefox Polish” But they do count in improving upon Firefox, and the easy of modding Firefox is bonus points to the core Firefox design.

              Bethesda isn’t off the hook for bugs and UI issues in Elder Scrolls or Fallout just because the fans have made mods that fix some of the bugs or address the UI issues. Those items show a lack of “polish” on Bethesda’s part.

              This is not to say Mods and Add-ons are not valid, or important (I doubt I would ever play Oblivion again without installing about a dozen Mods to address issues in the core game). Ideally, if “polished” the core game should work well on it’s own without needing any of this. Mods can improve that experience.

              I’m not trying to criticize Toady… he’s not Bethesda and he doesn’t have their resources… as you said, DF is really the passion project of one person. And as such Toady only has so much time and energy, and he directs it into the parts of DF that he is most interested in. DF is in perpetual alpha/beta and no money is being demanded to play it… so while I don’t feel the game is well “polished” I don’t hold it against Toady that much, especially since in bigger games “polish” is one of the last/later steps in the development processing.

              If Toady one day started charging $50 – $60 for it, I might have a more harsh opinion of the lack of polish in the base DF game… but since I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, I’m fine with Toady focusing on the core mechanics and letting modders bridge some of the polish gap, so long as he doesn’t end up fighting against those critical UI mods. And Toady deserves some credit for the design decisions that allow such mods to exist.

              I also agree, the day I found the Lazy Newb Pack, Dwarf Therapist and DF Hack made things a heck of a lot easier and approachable. There was still quite a bit of a learning curve, but things were much better. These are great improvements to the game, and if I introduced anyone to DF is exactly the starting point I’d direct them to. It makes what’s great in DF so much more approachable and easier to understand/interact with.

              I never intended to say DF was better than Factorio, just that apart from simplicity, each feature taken in comparison seemed to me to be a richer more satisfying and interesting experience. Again, just a matter of taste.

              I’m fine with the “matter of taste”. Not everyone will be interested in Factorio, and not everyone will be interested in DF. And I certainly understand if the abstractions in Factorio make you unsure if you’d appreciate the lack of depth compared to DF. And being hesitant to try it given there’s a “cost to entry” to try Factorio, and DF is at the low low price of Free…

              Similarly I like the idea/concept of TIS-100 and what they’re trying to do… but looking at it, it feels like it is so “accurate”/”Non-abstract” that I’m wary to buy it and try it just to find out I won’t find the presentation compelling.

              But yeah, where in the christcrackers is Shamus to opinionate on DF when I’d guess at it being totally his style, at least in a game logic sense?

              I wonder if given the long comment thread you started Shamus might be considering just such a post. It’s also possible Shamus (like others) had difficulty getting into DF and as such doesn’t have much of an opinion to provide other than perhaps “Sounds interesting in concept but not his cup of tea” and as such feels he doesn’t have anything worth saying on the topic.

              Only other reference I could find on Shamus’ blog (based on a single lazy Google Search) is a post where he rejected the idea of using it for a web comic. He didn’t give much opinion on the game itself at that time by the looks of it.

        • Drathnoxis says:

          One bad design doesn’t excuse another bad design, and since DF is entirely reliant on the keyboard I’m not sure how that’s supposed to prove anything anyway. The mouse integration that (I think) DF hack implements really sucks too. I just found it never stopped being tedious using the in game UI to keep track of what’s going on in my fort, especially since the game is so inconsistent over what it deems important enough to pause my game about. Sure, pause it every time that evil fog cloud passes through the bottom corner, but when my dwarves are being massacred by the evil fog cloud husk thralls just display a little tiny combat notification in the corner, thanks. Then you also have to check several different sources if you want to know everything about a single dwarf, since if you look at them through the unit list you get different information than if you are looking at them with the (k)look key. Oh an there’s also the fact that the game will sometimes refer to things by their name in Dwarvish and other times the English name or the nickname you made, gets confusing.

          Tooltips are great because they give you a little hint about what something does without having to pause the game, switch to the browser, type your question in google, open the wiki, find the thing you wanted to know about, switch back to the game, resume.

          It’s not just that Factorio is simpler to use, it’s that it’s more elegantly designed. It doesn’t have 11 years of partially implemented design ideas cluttering things up. It does what it does well, and I’d rather play something well put together than an “interesting” mess.

          I don’t think it even comes close to being enough, I wasn’t even talking about ASCII. I used Spacefox because it was the only pack that looked decent. There’s just so much going on in DF that the tile based system just can’t convey enough information. They are too small for one thing, and no animations, flashing between layers is messy. Then there’s the dwarves, yeah they have sprites based on profession, but that’s just not enough. They should all look unique, I mean, we have an entire book’s worth of detail on each one, you should be able to tell who’s who.

          Obviously looking at the pictures of Factorio isn’t going to be great, but I was talking about actually playing the game. There are animations, actually…

          I didn’t find trading to be useful at all, animals were a waste of space, drawbridge can be opened for migrants, didn’t need outdoor plants, meat, or leather. Don’t you only need wood for beds? And my dwarves never became unhappy at all. And what can break a drawbridge? Has he added tunneling enemies yet? Because last I checked there wasn’t any way for mobs to destroy a closed drawbridge that is the only access to a fort carved into a mountain (as true dwarven forts should be!)

          I wasn’t on an island, gobbos weren’t extinct, I played for 6 years I think, and I was creating plenty of wealth

          But, it’s all relevant to how they do their job, and I want to know what’s going on in my fort and feel obligated to since it’s there, but it’s just too much and overlaps so much that it’s impossible.

          All that crap being relevant to gameplay is even worse, because then if I don’t know the weights and densities I’m not playing efficiently, and if I have a spreadsheet open to keep track of it all I’m not having fun. I just don’t think realism is really relevant at all to making fun game mechanics. And I’m fairly sure that Shamus wasn’t actually bothered at all by the lack of realism in Factorio. I mean, I’m not him, but I got the feeling that he was just doing this in a tongue in cheek way to get a serious answer to a silly question.

          And as I said below, I gave DF a shot. Multiple shots. And I just could never get into it.

          • Aitch says:

            Maybe it was an earlier version, but any time I’ve played, the game will Pause on any of your dwarves spotting an enemy.

            The thing about all the info for each dwarf – the randomly generated stuff is largely just fluff for fun. If it was important, I don’t think the midgame would involve having dozens of dwarves running around. I think the info is intended for a select few of your guys like the Mayor or Militia Commander or Legendary Crafter or whoever, not that you’re supposed to nickname and memorize everyone’s bio.

            Not to sound like a jerk, but for such an “elegantly designed, uncluttered” game, it sure looks and sounds like a hot mess when you have to delete and replan entire sections, if not restart altogether, to get all the conveyor belts to fit or whatever the problem may be. Granted, I’m just going from the few articles I’ve read from Shamus, and the comments on them along with seeing some gameplay videos.

            If the tileset looks too small for you, mousewheel zooms in and out by default. That each dwarf should look unique is just… beyond profession it really doesn’t serve much of a purpose. Dwarves are aplenty and come and go like a tide, they’re not each one some precious thing. But if you want to play it like that, the option is always there.

            If you didn’t find trading useful, man you must’ve gotten a lucky embark to have every resource right there. Or for example, I find it great to be able to just buy a case of clothing rather than have to do up a whole textile industry. Or buying weapons and armor when you’re just starting out and don’t want to get into metalwork quite so fast.

            Grazing animals and animals in general are great sources of food and leather. Outdoor plants can be turned into a bunch of stuff from fiber for cloth to alcohol to food and seeds to start aboveground farm plots. Hunting meat and fish are great to add variety to the food stocks, and the leather is great for making waterskins, quivers, and some great armor for your archer squads.

            You need wood for beds, but also barrels which are easier to port around than rock pots, and more importantly the bowyer and fletcher which gives you the quickest easiest early game weaponry.

            I’m not sure about drawbridges nowadays but they may be invulnerable. Still, like I said there’s flying enemies, climbing enemies, guys that will break through walls… A drawbridge is a great thing to have, but not near a cure all.

            And you can put a drawbridge down for migrants, but what do you do when a giant raid has camped itself outside your fort? Or someone has broken bones that require a cast and you don’t have a source of gypsum for plaster until the trader comes?

            Not sure what to say about the lack of raids, it could be a few things, just a bug being one of them. If you’re really itching for a fight, there’s always attacking the trade caravans, or deforesting the map. Nothing like waking up one morning to an army of elves on war unicorns knocking at the door.

            Like I said, the personal info stuff is largely extraneous and just there for flavor and entertaining distraction. It’s not job performance that’s affected by likes and dislikes, just happy thought occurrences.

            You don’t need to know the weights and densities of stuff for the most part, other than things like “a bin made of lead will weigh a crapton” or “an untrained dwarf fully decked out in plate iron will move like a sloth in cold molasses” or “a bow made of pine will make a lousy club when they run out of bolts” type of common sense stuff.

            There is a bit of fun to be had with that, in that materials with high density made into a floor will effect how hard a creature hits the ground – just a bit of a tweak for trapdoor death drops if you’re into that sort of thing.

            But it sounds like you just don’t dig DF for what it is, or have hangups on the generated content, and that’s alright. I totally get why it’s a niche game that not everyone will enjoy.

            I’ve just been trying to clear up some common misconceptions in the hope that people (*cough*Shamus) would try it out, or retry it from a different angle, and maybe find some enjoyment in a game that I feel gets unduly criticized and goes underappreciated.

            • Drathnoxis says:

              I’m not saying that Factorio is the most elegantly designed game ever, just far more than DF. And I never really had a problem with needing to delete large parts of my factory, I just left myself lots of space to begin with. Even if you do need to, there are systems in place to make it easier. You can mark everything for destruction and your robots will remove them for you. You can also make blueprints for configurations of structures and use them to make your robots build large sections of your factory for you without needing to place everything individually.

              The thing that frustrates me the most about DF is I think I really could get into the game if there was a greater focus on usability and refining and balancing what’s already there, but those things are so low on the priority list they may well never happen. It’s obvious that Toady’s sensibilities, and those of the DF community, don’t overlap with mine.

              “But saying it’s flat out Badly Designed and something like Factorio is objectively better just isn’t the way it is.”

              Dwarf Fortress is badly designed, it’s far too janky to be called anything else, but I didn’t say that Factorio is necessarily “better”. Something that is well designed is easy to use, accomplishes it’s purpose cleanly and effectively, and basically all fits together nicely. Dwarf Fortress is more like the Weasley house, you can’t say it’s well designed, but to people who can get past it’s awkward presentation and difficulty of use it may be more interesting than a better designed house.

              As much as I hate playing the game, and find it tedious and time consuming, I don’t mind reading about it and would also be interested in seeing what Shamus would have to say about it.

          • Philadelphus says:

            And what can break a drawbridge?

            Nothing, and that’s why I love Dwarf Fortress. It’d be all too easy to take DF down the rabbit hole of being “balanced” and making it so that you can never be 100% secure (like RimWorld has done, one of the few things I dislike about it), but sometimes I just wanna make a simple fort somewhere it never snows, block out the outside world, and focus on building an impervious self-contained dwarven utopia for a few decades and maybe a giant dwarf statue with magma eyes.

            Everyone has their own tolerance level of what challenges they want enforced by the game, and what challenges they want to set for themselves, and DF leans very much towards the latter. It sounds like you’d prefer a game to enforce the challenge level for you, and that’s fine; DF may simply not be a game for you.

      • evileeyore says:

        Drathnoxis everything you wrote was completely correct for someone who spent only a few minutes, maybe 15 at most trying to play DF and who generally requires the comfort of a tutorial.

        For anyone who craves the challenge of zero tutorials* and having to figure everything out on their own** and who managed to actually build a fort… everything you said was completely false.

        * Captain Duck’s DF Tutorial Videos are most excellent, though a bit out of date as there were no minecart’s when he did them, but they’re still good for learning the basics.
        ** The forum is also a most excellent place for getting answers. As is the wiki.

        • Drathnoxis says:

          No. You don’t get to say that! That doesn’t apply to a fraction of the points that I made. I’ve probably spent 30-40 hours playing Dwarf Fortress across several attempts to get into the game, and a good deal of time reading threads on the Bay12 forums to boot. I wanted to like this game, I really did, I read Boatmurdered and wanted to get into a game that allowed for that kind of experience. I just found it simply impossible to actually enjoy playing the game.

          I don’t mind not having a tutorial if a game is sensibly laid out. But Dwarf Fortress is a game about navigating nested menus and frankly I don’t think it’s fun to waste hours clicking every button to figure out where the one to make a blacksmith shop is (it’s hidden inside a menu that is within another menu that contains things that you can actually build but also more menus but no indication which are which.) Nor is it fun using the scientific method trying every option to see which is the one that will actually let you dig DOWN, because you sure as heck can’t just simply use the one labeled “mine.” No what you need to do is make a channel then go down a z level and THEN you can dig a cave, why anybody would conclude that a channel is what is required to let them start to dig downwards is beyond me. You can also use stairs and if you do you have to make “down” stairs, then go down a z level and make either “up” stairs or “u/d” stairs because apparently stairs that can only be traversed one way are a thing that actually exists. It’s needlessly complicated and inelegant, i.e. badly designed.

          Sure you can learn to use it jumping back and forth between the wiki or a guide or whatever. But even after I know what I’m doing I just find the entire interface tedious to use for dozens of different reasons.

          • Shamus says:

            “No. You don’t get to say that!”

            Whoa. Easy man. It’s just a conversation about a videogame, not a court case.

          • Aitch says:

            Putting down a smith workshop goes :
            [B] (build) > [W] (workshop) > [F] (forge)

            It’s one of those things you learn once and it becomes natural to interface with, being a common command to build workshops. No, there’s no big colorful button to click, but it’s not nearly as arcane as you’re making it out to be.

            And spending all that time and effort trying to figure how to dig down or build stairs seems like an odd sticking point when you could just read a simple tutorial instead.

            Also, there’s always the option to just dig into the side of a hill. Or just build walls around the embark.

            When I first started playing, I had a tutorial on another window to Alt-Tab to. It was literally step by step on how to get a basic functioning fort started. It’s not even like switching between windows is any more cumbersome than switching between windows of a browser, either. For something like PUBG, yeah it’d be a real issue if you had to constantly flip to a wiki, but this isn’t that at all.

            I understand that there isn’t a tutorial built into the game, but that’s why it runs in an any size window and has such a helpful community behind it.

            Sure, you *can* learn to play a game, but that means having to learn something. And if the interface is really that difficult or annoying to you, no worries, man. No sense in playing a game that you don’t enjoy, and it’s not like you lost money on it.

            It’s not like I said DF is the only sim game out there, or the best. Just that beyond simplicity, I find it has richer and more detailed (and, for me, more satisfying) systems in place than most other games of its ilk, and I find it a refreshingly different approach. But saying it’s flat out Badly Designed and something like Factorio is objectively better just isn’t the way it is. They’re not clones, and it’s just a matter of taste – not a superiority competition.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              It’s one of those things you learn once and it becomes natural to interface with, being a common command to build workshops. No, there’s no big colorful button to click, but it’s not nearly as arcane as you’re making it out to be.

              Actually,it is.If not exactly arcane,its needlessly archaic.What youve described is how starcraft 1 had its keyboard shortcuts,and people just accepted it because no one was doing it better.But now,starcraft 2 DOES do it better.WAY better.And plethora of other games have great interfaces.People often dismiss the improvements made to the ui over time,but it is often an important factor for getting into and staying with the game.

              And spending all that time and effort trying to figure how to dig down or build stairs seems like an odd sticking point when you could just read a simple tutorial instead.
              .
              .
              .

              You keep repeating this like finding and reading through a wiki or a fan tutorial is the same as having an in game one.But its not.There are a few games that have gone the route of putting video tutorials inside them,and each and every one of them was called lazy for this.Because having a proper in game tutorial,or at least a hint system,is objectively more convenient.Now this does not mean that a game without an in game tutorial is bad,but its a fact that sticking a (well implemented) tutorial in it would make it better.

              • Philadelphus says:

                Well, when Dwarf Fortress finally hits version 1.0.0.0a around 2035 or so I’m sure Toady will do a UI overhaul…and break absolutely everyone’s three decades of muscle memory in the process, heh.

              • Aitch says:

                Well I’ll certainly agree with you on the Starcraft UI being a garbage fire, and I’ll go further to say I don’t think SC2 went nearly far enough with its optimizations. It still felt held back by the original. Man, you can’t even zoom out or rotate the view. And would it really ruin the game to be able to set a base to manufacture X number of workers, and maintain that number if any are destroyed? And a hundred other nitpicks.

                Also agree that DF might be better with an in-game tutorial. It would be better with a lot of stuff, as would many other games. Though I do like being able to choose which tutorial and what format suits what I’m trying to learn at the time.

                Where I don’t get the big deal of “in-game tutorial vs in a browser tutorial” is that it’s not like Starcraft where time is of the essence and Alt-Tabbing takes a chugging going from fullscreen with intense cpu usage back to the desktop – with DF you can pause, easily switch windows, peruse info, try things out, reload saves, etc. It’s the same info you’d get, just on a wiki instead of a hover-over tooltip or whatever your preference would be.

                So it’s not in the main game window, and you have to actively get the info for yourself – it doesn’t matter to me. I’d prefer it to a Microsoft Clippy telling me what to do the whole time.

                It just seems more an aesthetic choice than functionally different to me. And I guess keyboard commands don’t bother me as much as they seem to get to you. Would an icon interface be easier or faster? Maybe, it depends on the implementation.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Clunky ui does not bother me so much that I would skip a game because of it.But it still plays a role in my enjoyment.Since Ive already mentioned starcrafts,Ill continue with that analogy:I still maintain that sc1 is the best game ever made,bar none.But Id be lying if I said that once I got my hands on the mass recall mod* my enjoyment wasnt improved immensely.

                  *By the way,mass recall mod allows everyone to play the original and brood war campaigns for free,but with the updated interface and graphics of starcraft 2.Everyone should definitely try it.Its free,after all.Completely free,because it works with the free starter edition of sc2.

          • Kyte says:

            You can also use stairs and if you do you have to make “down” stairs, then go down a z level and make either “up” stairs or “u/d” stairs because apparently stairs that can only be traversed one way are a thing that actually exists.

            Well, of course. A set of stairs is two things: the stairs themselves and the hole in the floor/ceiling. The up stairs are the former, the down stairs are the latter. Admittedly, it sounds weird because we usually think of stairs as a single entity, but by splitting the two concepts you can control whether you’re digging a hole on the floor or ceiling.
            Otherwise, digging a set of stairs would need you to ask whether you want it to lead up (carve out the ceiling), down (carve out the floor) or both (carve out both), and you haven’t reduced the complexity at all.
            Or making stairs would mean making holes both up and down, effectively making all stairs up/down stairs, which can be quite undesirable when, for example, you’re doing a 4×4 staircase layout.
            If you look at other building games, like The Sims, the concept is there too. You can put stairs, but you still need to poke a hole in the upper floor’s… floor to complete them. It’s just more intuitive because it’s a 3D visualization of a 3D space.

            Channeling is a similar deal. “Mining” means digging on the same level. “Channeling” is digging on the level below you (and leaving the top open, so you get a hole on your current level). It’s perfectly sensible. When you have a 2D interface modeling a 3D environment, how else are you going to do it? You need two different commands for “dig this square on this level” and “dig this square on the level below” either way.

            The controls are complex because it’s designed to support complex constructions in a suboptimal representation. But 3D is expensive, the feature set is still in flux and Toady is only one person.

      • Alex says:

        This isn’t an elitist “4k or the game sucks!” statement.

        Wow. There was a time, when elitist in combination with 4k meant that the executable fitted into 4k bytes. I was really confused there for a moment. So I take it, nowadays 4k refers to screen resolution. Intersting how such things change.

  23. methermeneus says:

    This post, more than any other, makes me want to play Factorio. This is the kind of thought I put into playing a video game, like the time I figured out how much most blocks in Minecraft ought to weigh and be worth (which, incidentally, is very different depending on whether you think of a block as nine ingots/gems or an actual cubic meter block).

    EDIT: A wild accent escaped into my post. For some reason, when you have more than one language using the same base character set, (ie: English, French, and German all use the Latin alphabet) Gboard just uses one keyboard and adds the swipe dictionaries together, which gets annoying when it starts suggesting “verre”instead of “very” or “différent” instead of “different.”

  24. Smejki says:

    Is it weird that I’m picturing Se7ven’s Brad Pitt reading the headline?

  25. Sunshine says:

    Grey science is a interesting field for research, but more vibrant colours get all the funding.

    The silliness of science bottles reminds me of this, about the movie Vampire Academy:

    ” At the beginning of the movie the main character describes the class schedule at Vampire Academy and there is a roughly three-second shot of a bunch of vampire teens in a laboratory holding up beakers of differently-colored Science Liquids in like, the best and most generic portrayal of Science I have ever seen. No one is doing anything other than holding up a beaker of bright blue or green fluid and looking at it intently. “Ah, yes. There’s the Science we were looking for, right here in this beaker. Tremendous,” and then taking notes. “

  26. Misamoto says:

    You’ve probably been up for a long time before writing this…

    • Shamus says:

      True story: Most of this post was written in the goofy feverish run-up to an illness. I was feeling strange, but not yet feeling sick in a way that prevented me from working. So you may have been kidding, but you were basically right.

      I’m on the mend now.

  27. Duoae says:

    I’m guessing these pics are of the latest update? Those icons on the manufactories are just amazing! Is that a mod?

    I need to get back to this game at some point but I’m bingeing on Breath of the Wild at the moment after taking a break from The Witcher 3 to play both that and Skyward Sword.

  28. Lord_Bryon says:

    Sweet!a post about Factorio my current addiction, in fact I alt-tabbed out of my current factory to read Shamus’s post :)

  29. Trix2000 says:

    3 purple circuit boards

    But… they’re BLUE circuits. :(

  30. Sven says:

    This reminds me of the time my friends and I were trying to estimate how fast the train (a TGV) we were in was going (this was before cell phones with GPS) by how fast the poles for the overhead power lines were passing by. Except, we didn’t know how far those poles were apart so we estimated that by how fast we thought the train was going.

    The results probably weren’t terribly accurate.

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