Un-Satisfactory

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 25, 2021

Filed under: Game Reviews 128 comments

I gave Satisfactory my #3 spot in 2019. There were things I loved about the game, and there were things I didn’t. At the time, it was easy to dismiss the things I didn’t like as simple growing pains. The game was in early access and it’s natural to assume that a good game is going to keep getting better as it grows. The things you love will become more polished, the stuff that bugs you will get fixed, and so by the end you’ll have the best version of the game.

But as Satisfactory has grown, I find myself becoming more annoyed and less interested in it. The stuff that bugged me has become more bothersome, and the stuff I liked seems to have gotten lost in the noise. I come back to the game after every major update, and these revival sessions get shorter every time. 

What I Like

There's no Lorax around to speak for these trees. So screw this planet.
There's no Lorax around to speak for these trees. So screw this planet.

To get where I’m coming from: I loved Factorio. According to Steam, I’ve clocked almost 2,000 hours in that game. Now, the defensive fan-boy response here is:

“Satisfactory is not Factorio! If you want to play Factorio, then go play Factorio and don’t criticize this perfect jewel of a game!”

In order to discuss a game we need to start somewhere. I’m not saying that Satisfactory needs to copy Factorio, I’m just explaining what initially drew me to the game. 

I love solving emergent logistical problems. Every game ends up being its own puzzle, and no matter how well I do there’s always that nagging suspicion that I could do it all even better next time. It’s this constant process of visualization, experimentation, and implementation as I work on various optimization problems. I’m always looking to make it a little more efficient, get it working just a little faster, or pack the whole thing into an even smaller space.

The idea of having this style of puzzle-solving in a first-person world sounds almost too good to be true. The world of Satisfactory looks amazing, and watching the sunrise over the vast industrial complex I’ve carved into the face of this otherwise virgin planet fills me with a deep sense of accomplishment. Maybe I’m committing some sort of ecological crime, but damn if this isn’t one fine-looking, well-maintained ecological crime.

The Problem

Satisfactory seems like it offers this same sort of puzzle, but once you’ve spent a few hours with the game you realize that the puzzles are sort of shallow and the whole process is buried under mountains of inconvenience and busywork.

As a programmer, I want to write code that runs fast. I want that code to be beautiful and readable, and I want it to be organized in a way that makes sense and is easy to maintain. In a Factory-building game, I have very similar goals:

  1. Maximum efficiency. I don’t want machine C to be stalled waiting for B, and for B to get backed up because of irregular output from A. Everything should be tuned to flow smoothly.
  2. Neat and tidy. My base shouldn’t look like a big pile of tangled up Christmas lights, with conveyor belts crossing randomly all over the place. 
  3. Good organization. The machines should be packed close together and there should always be some walking space. It should be easy to tell where things are made and where they go. 

I don’t mind if a game makes the first one a challenge. In fact, it would be boring if it didn’t. Sure, make it so that I need 3 of machine A for every machine B, but 2.5 of C for every B. That’s fine. What I don’t like is if a game is designed to make the second two things difficult. It feels like programming with a variable-width font in a language where you can’t leave comments. That’s not making the puzzle more interesting, it’s just making your tools worse.

The Grid of Lies

These floor tiles make an excellent grid. Too bad NOTHING LINES UP WITH THEM.
These floor tiles make an excellent grid. Too bad NOTHING LINES UP WITH THEM.

In Satisfactory, you can slam down these huge 8m floor tiles. They snap together to form floors. The natural thing to want to do next is to treat these tiles like a grid.

Except, nothing fits on this fucking grid. Machines are always 1.125 tiles wide by 1.675 tiles deep, or some similar bullshit.The internal grid is based on meters, which means 1/8ths of a tile. This would be fine if everything was powers-of-two, but no. Everything is 9 meters or 10 meters. I don’t think ANY machine in the game fits neatly into 8m. Worse, the conveyor belts are infuriating analog things that don’t care about your grid. They default to waist level. creating endless blockades for you to bunny hop over, turning even the simplest of factories into a spacebar-destroying obstacle course. 

Earlier I said that having machines operate in odd ratios is fine. And it is! In theory. But since I need 3.5 of A for every 2 B, then I need to take output conveyors, combine them, then split them again to properly balance the load. On Factorio’s grid, this is just a matter of slapping down the right parts. In Satisfactory, you need to surrender enormous amounts of space to this sort of thing and spend endless time trying to get the conveyor inputs and outputs to line up properly. You’ll find yourself deleting three items and rebuilding them again and again, trying to get a stupid conveyor to make a simple 90 degree turn.

Just building a simple conveyor belt T junction winds up being an ordeal. I just need to build a belt. And now a splitter. Now I finish the T with the second belt except… oops that doesn’t quite line up, so let me delete the splitter. Now I’ll crawl over all this bullshit so I can see what I’m doing from the other side. Now I’ll line up the splitter juuust right, even though that’s what grids are for but splitters ignore the grid. Now I just need to build the final belt, except no. The auto-snap won’t let me build from this angle and it wants to snap onto some bullshit in the background. So let me climb back down and back up to where I was earlier and see it from the other side so I can build the final bit of belt. NO WAIT I’M OUT OF FUCKING METAL PLATES AGAIN AND I’M RAGE QUITTING A BUILDING GAME. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT WAS POSSIBLE.

In Factorio, this would be a two-second job. In Satisfactory, it requires a bunch of fussing around and building and re-building crap again and again until you can appease the snap system. This is such a simple and common operation, which makes it all the more mystifying that it needs to take 15 seconds, three position changes, and six trips to the build menu.

This is not a puzzle. Conceptually, I solved this problem ten minutes ago. I know how this needs to work. This “gameplay” isn’t presenting me with interesting logistical problems to solve, but instead creating endless interface headaches for me.

Eventually I’ll just give up on the annoying little conveyor and let it spill into the next tile rather than fight with it all day. And then another. And another. Pretty soon all the parts of my factory exist in these massive warehouses the size of airplane hangars, even though the machinery they contain is conceptually very simple. So now my base covers this massive area. Suddenly I run out of concrete or metal panels and I can’t build anymore. That’s not a big deal when you’re ten seconds away from the nearest refill, but in these gargantuan bases I spend most of my time just running around my base. I actually get hand cramps.

Do you have any idea how crazy that is? I play videogames all day long. I play shooters for hours at a stretch, where you’re constantly mashing W or S as hard as you can. That never bothers me. After three decades, my hands can take it. But running around in Satisfactory is so constant that it actually puts more stress on my hands than DOOM. 

Bounding Boxes of Madness

The room is gargantuan, yet there's no room to move around and I can't see what I'm doing. You can slightly mitigate one of these problems at the expense of making the other two much worse.
The room is gargantuan, yet there's no room to move around and I can't see what I'm doing. You can slightly mitigate one of these problems at the expense of making the other two much worse.

Making things worse is just how enormous all the machines are. They’re so big they obscure your vision of the work you’re trying to do. They tower over you. Even the “small” machines are 5 meters tall! They also have this annoying metal frame around the base, which makes the building’s footprint even larger. I want to build as compact as possible, and all the machines are greedy space hogs that want to practice social distancing. And making it even worse still is the fact that these metal frames don’t create space the player can use. 

I can’t pack the machines together to make them nice and neat because of these obnoxious metal bases. But then the resulting gap is usually too small for the player to fit through. It’s the worst of all worlds. The space is huge and sprawling, and yet there’s never enough space for me to fit through without bunny-hopping all over the place.

The looming machines blot out your view of your surroundings, which is a pretty serious drawback in a game about designing room layouts. The game gives you this enormous watchtower thing. I guess you’re supposed to build that and then run up and down the ladder every time you want a look at what you’re doing. Gosh, I wonder why my hand is cramping so much.

But hey, this game is 3D, right? So why not build up? Just make a vertical factory!

It’s a great idea, but these machines are incredibly greedy with vertical space as well. Their bounding box is enormous. The machine is 5 meters tall, but they have this little antenna on top that pushes the bounding box even taller, and the wall sections you build are only available in 4 meter sections.

So this machine is 5m tall. But then it insists on having all of this empty headroom, so I really need 9 meters. The wall will round it up to the next increment of 4, meaning that even a room with simple machines needs to be a whopping 12 meters tall. Great, more fucking ladders to climb

One design pattern you’ll run into is that you’ll want to provide power to a long string of machines. Each power pole can only connect to 4 things. Except, you’re building a string of them. Connecting to the previous and next items in the string take 2 of those 4 slots, so really you need a power pole for every 2 machines in your base. That gets out of hand very quickly! 

And then there’s trains…

Trains Are Awesome

I love these trains, but the pleasure of having them is ruined by the misery of NOT having them when you REALLY need them.
I love these trains, but the pleasure of having them is ruined by the misery of NOT having them when you REALLY need them.

Okay, maybe train platforms are obnoxiously large and that certainly contributes to the ongoing problem of needing to run a marathon every time you run out of some worthless early-game material and need to hike to the other side of your base to get more. But train rails allow you to cover vast distances, and they carry both cargo and electricity.

The problem – and this is where I really start to hate the game – is that Trains arrive several hours too late in the progression. To unlock trains, you need oil. To get oil, you usuallyIt depends on the starting location. need to build a transport system that reaches a few kilometers. So what you end up doing is building two kilometers of conveyor belts and power poles through the wilderness. If you thought it was annoying to hike back for a fresh stack of metal panels, then just wait until you’re a kilometer and a half into the jungle. Enjoy that 3Km round trip. And the carpal tunnel syndrome!

So after hacking your way through the godforsaken wilderness, fighting several boss monsters with the jank-ass combat system, and building power poles and conveyor belts all over the place, you finally have some oil. I don’t want to gloss over this point: This process can take hours. I’m here to solve engineering and logistical problems, but suddenly I have to stop for two hours so I can play fucking Lewis and Clark Simulator

Once that oil starts coming in, you’ll unlock trains, which is THE IDEAL TOOL FOR THE JOB YOU JUST FINISHED. It’s like the game asks you to dig out the foundation for a house with a spoon, and once you’re done your reward is a bulldozer.

(You can also setup a truck to auto-drive goods back to your base. Trucks have their own advantages and drawbacks, but the important point is that the setup time is about the same. You can build a 2km conveyor or you can set up a 2km truck route, but when you count land-clearing and bridge-building for the truck it’s about the same. And you still need those power poles either way.)

So what am I supposed to do now? I just spent an entire play session building this ugly, stupid, inadequate conveyor through the wilderness. Do I leave that janky eyesore in place, or do I spend an hour tearing it down and replacing it with a train? I’m likely very sick of that stretch of the wilderness by now, having made the trek several times in the process of building the original delivery system. Doing the trek a couple more times in the process of cleaning up the mess and building a train doesn’t sound fun.And OF COURSE they’re built with different resources, so while you’re switching over you’ll be starved for the newer resources while your pockets overflow with the old.

Is This SUPPOSED to be Annoying?

You don’t get the ability to build a train until long after you’ve had to build conveyors across the world. You don’t get the jetpack until you’ve already built extensive infrastructure for climbing up and down buildings. You don’t get the improved melee weapon until you’ve finished clearing the monsters around your base. You don’t get the improved 7-slot power pole until you’ve built your entire electrical infrastructure around 4-slot poles. 

You don’t have a chainsaw at the start of the game, which means you can’t clear land. So you end up building all your stuff 20m in the air so you won’t have trees and undergrowth in your way. Once you’ve got the foundations built, you finally unlock the chainsaw so now you can clear the undergrowth that has since become irrelevant to your plans. 

Satisfactory is a constant stream of “Gosh, THIS would have come in handy an hour ago!” type moments. 

You can’t see what you’re doing over all the towering machines. Getting around is a pain in the ass. You’re constantly making runs to fill your pockets. Power is endless busywork of building more poles so you can build more poles. Building compact is an unrewarding battle against the UI and a grid that always seems to be 0.01 units off. 

The pipe won’t make this turn. This conveyor is 0.2 units out of alignment and I can’t build it. This power line won’t quite reach. This machine sticks out 0.1 units from the building. Nothing lines up, nothing fits, and my pockets are empty again. 

So little of the player’s time is spent thinking about layouts and production optimizations. Most of your time is spent just enacting decisions you made ages ago. You can’t get to the game because the game is in the way. 

Salt in the Wound

And also, there’s the fact that mouse-invert controls are ignored when you’re in a vehicle. Which means if you’re a mouse-inverter, then the vehicle controls are always backwards. It’s bad enough to have a game with backwards controls, but it’s even worse to have a game change controls on you every time you enter or exit a vehicle. You could excuse this as part of those early access growing pains, but this problem has existed for two years. This is an incredibly simple change to fix a major usability issue that’s been around for ages and that people have been steadfastly complaining about.

IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS. THE FIX FOR THIS BUG IS LESS WORK THAN IT TOOK TO MAKE THIS IMAGE. DO IT ALREADY.
IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS. THE FIX FOR THIS BUG IS LESS WORK THAN IT TOOK TO MAKE THIS IMAGE. DO IT ALREADY.

To the folks at Coffee Stain studios, here is the solution you need:

//The bullshit driving controls
if (CheckGodDamnUserSettings().MouseInvert == true) {
    FuckingMouse.y *= -1;
}

There. I release this code under the MIT license. Feel free to use it. You might need to rename some variables to get it to work, but it’s only three lines of code and one of them is a curly brace. I know you can do it.

Wrapping Up

Factorio gives you good tools to solve complex problems. Satisfactory gives you horrible tools to solve simple problems. Factorio feels like you’re constantly optimizing clean, quality code to make it a little better. Satisfactory is the experience of endlessly refactoring nightmare spaghetti code. 

I want to love this game. It really is pretty, and I’m so burned out on Factorio by now. But what I’m looking for is out of alignment with what the developers are designing by about 0.125 units, and I can’t make it fit.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The internal grid is based on meters, which means 1/8ths of a tile. This would be fine if everything was powers-of-two, but no. Everything is 9 meters or 10 meters. I don’t think ANY machine in the game fits neatly into 8m.

[2] It depends on the starting location.

[3] And OF COURSE they’re built with different resources, so while you’re switching over you’ll be starved for the newer resources while your pockets overflow with the old.



From The Archives:
 

128 thoughts on “Un-Satisfactory

  1. Joe says:

    “In these gargantuan bases I spend most of my time just running around my base. I actually get hand cramps.”

    I know the feeling. Diablo 3 always makes me clench the mouse like my life depends on it. No other games do that. I don’t know why.

    “I’m here to solve engineering and logistical problems, but suddenly I have to stop for two hours so I can play fucking Lewis and Clark Simulator.”

    Be glad you aren’t playing Australian Explorer Simulator. That’s where you venture off into the wilderness and don’t come back. I suppose those open-world crafting/survival games are like that.

    1. ivan says:

      No other games do that.

      Unfortunately, Path of Exile now does that. The last few times I played, there have beeen more and more builds that require one or two, or more, button controls to just be held down, constantly. so, maybe you play with a skill on your left mouse button, that periodically casts to give you some defence, and also you move with it.

      Then you also have several more similarly utilised skills, bound maybe to right mouse button, and some other skill keys. All this you then need to hold down the buttons for, constantly – it became genuinely painful.

      And you cannot just tell the game “I want all these skills to be utilised as soon as they are off their respective cooldowns, always and all the time”. I.E: there is no way to toggle them, you HAVE to hold the various buttons down, clutching your mouse in an ever more painful death grip.

      Surprise surprise I’m not playing that game much anymore.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        There are workarounds for that sort of skills. It depends on what keys you can bind and what input types the game accepts, but what’s most often used in Diablo III, is binding those skills to one of the number keys on your keypad, then pressing them and the NumLock key. It’ll fool the game into thinking the key is continuously pressed. Works for a surprising amount of programs and games. Alternatively, there are plenty of small applets/programs to be found to mimic a pressed button, though using those will get you kicked out in some games as they’re seen as cheating. No idea how they’re regarded in PoE.

        1. ivan says:

          That’s cool. Did not now that actually. I dunno when I’ll try the game again, if ever, but here’s hoping I remember this tip at the time, cos that sounds like a godsend for PoE, ty ty.

      2. EmmEnnEff says:

        It’s even worse in PoE.

        Even if you’re playing a one-button build, you always have 4-5 flasks that you need to be mashing, on cooldown, every 4 seconds – because your flasks provide ~70% of your defense, and between 30% and 70% of your offense.

        It’s a maddening, wrist-destroying mechanic in a game that already requires way too many precise, monotonous clicks for looting, inventory management, etc.

        1. ivan says:

          Yes. I’m, kind of, doomed to always be mediocre at the game, even at the times when I’m actually having fun with it, for the simple reason that I can’t stand the flask buff meta. And that has been the baseline meta for essentially all builds, for years and years.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I know the feeling. Diablo 3 always makes me clench the mouse like my life depends on it. No other games do that. I don’t know why.

      Yeah, I’ve got that with vim; because I can’t remember what every last key does in normal mode I always have to hammer mode-changing keys to make sure I don’t do weird random things. It’s why I’ve stopped using it because it just caused my hands to hurt.

  2. Lino says:

    Typolice:

    feels me with a deep sense of accomplishment

    Should be “fills”.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      You can’t see what you’re doing over all the towing machines. should have a towering, I think.

  3. Turtlebear says:

    Typolice:

    Factorio is spelled Factorito in the next paragraph after the ‘rage quitting a building game’ part.

    1. Shamus says:

      Factorito!

      This is my new favorite typo. It’s the Factorio / Doritios tie-in I’ve been waiting for!

      1. GargamelLeNoir says:

        Uncool Shamus, only Factorio’s mom gets to call it Factorito.

      2. Turtlebear says:

        It’s basically the same game but with a triangular grid and the only thing you can produce is salsa.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Now I just want a mod that makes everything into food-themed items. (The triangle-grid wouldn’t be possible in the game’s engine, though. :)

      3. Amita says:

        “Factoritos” would make for a fun consumable item from the Awesome Shop.

        You could eat them for a temporary player stat boost (speed / jump height / HP recovery / fall damage reduction / radiation damage reduction / charisma etc…), leaving behind an empty plastic bag, which could either be recycled or dropped on the ground as litter.

      4. BlueHorus says:

        Factorito? Isn’t that the Spanish translation of Factorio? Not to be confused with Factoritio, the Italian one…

      5. tmtvl says:

        Doritios? Is that another tie-in?

  4. Crokus Younghand says:

    I count 5 F-bombs. Shamus must really like this game!

    1. Joshua says:

      My first thought after getting halfway through the article: Salty!

  5. Fizban says:

    -I don’t mind the machines being big and leaving you cramped impossible to use gaps, that feels appropriate and realistic to me. The ridiculous overhead space limitations that you can’t even run conveyors past can eff right off though.
    -For bonus points, right before I stopped, I had started building a second layer to my coal power plant. Like 100 meters in the sky, directly on top of the old one, because I didn’t feel like cutting down all the trees.
    -Having to rebuild everything six times because the grid is a lie, even with the “you lined it up!” indicators, yeah that’s pretty bullshit.
    -Having the thing build facing the wrong direction so you have to tear it all apart *again*, after you specifically lined it up, also bullshit. And then you go to lay down the next one and it randomly flips the facing to something else again. You have to learn a very specific pattern order to get things to actually build right the first time.
    -I’m not here to solve logistical problems: I found that the moment when I realized I was going to need to build an entire new factory specifically to make some particular component, counting all the required resources from the ground up, and then plot it all out on graph paper, my interested dropped dramatically.
    -I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to go hard on vehicles as fast as possible. Even the basic tractor goes faster than foot until you get the running shoes, and I’d just load that up and drive. Didn’t even figure out how to automate until after I had trains available, which I never got to using.
    -Following from that, I also wonder if the expected playstyle is less building a Satis-factory, and more “build a dozen factories on top of invdidual resource nodes and ship everything to a dozen more factories and so on”.
    -I also get the feeling that maybe the problems are supposed to be glossed over by multiplayer? Apparently people really want their survivaly crafty games to be multiplayer, and thus a bunch of games that are slogs solo aren’t actually supposed to be. Four times as many people, four times as fast of progress.

    -I’m sure you’re aware of the wall sockets for power, which make the power line problem basically moot in my opinion. I didn’t even really care when I got the upgraded pole, aside from it making power station building slightly more convenient.
    -I’m also sure you’re aware they’ve added a new mobility item in the latest update, but I’m guessing it’s at yet an even higher tier.
    -Ladders, yeah ladders would have been nice. They didn’t add ladders until I was like 80 hours in. And they’re only just now adding *arrows* to the stupid hypertube you’re supposed to lol over.

    Still, I do want to give it another go with what I’ve learned. I just don’t neccesarily want to spend another 80 hours just getting back to where I started, or a dozen hours drawing up floorplans to execute. I want to play a game, not work a fake job. Hell, I picked it up half ’cause I wanted to see the world (and the other half because I needed demonstrate basic competence to myself after watching MATN make a fool of himself, as he does).

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      My experience with multiplayer satisfactory:
      Grind is less, but still present: sure, you can hand-craft stuff 4 times as fast, but you should be using the machines instead.
      Construction should be faster, but you’re limited by concrete, esp if people have multiple projects competing for the resources.
      Exploration is faster, as you can cover more ground, but combat can get very glitchy/laggy, making it harder.
      Any extra progress speed you gain by parallel processing is countered with the increase in resource drain; until you hit coal, you need someone to range further & further afield for biomass, and if you try any serious production in that timeframe, it becomes a full-time obligation.
      Finally, once you have sufficient materials for everyone to start building at once, you quickly realize that everyone has different ideas as to what makes a perfect layout; trying to build the mega-fab is like trying to code in a shared document. Usually, you’re better off having people build different “modules” & linking them, which is fine until you have to dig through someone else’s spaget because they aren’t providing enough throughput for your inputs, and they left for the night. Alternatively, you can let one person build the whole system so it’s consistent, but then you’re just playing singleplayer with some spectators.
      It is nice to have long-distance belts & power-slugs generate without distracting from working on the core factory though, and it’s nice to have someone else occupy their computer with the overnight idling, because even with 4 people, some stuff just takes too long to be fun.

      1. Fizban says:

        All of which is about what I’d expect. Having someone else back at base to hammer out research or unclog a jam while I was exploring and searching for new resources would easily save hours, but the required task-dividing means that no one is actually playing “the game,” just part of the game. The usual divide seems to be that there’s one person who likes building things, and one person who likes foraging, and so yay multiplayer! Except that’s only room for two people so any others are stuck in subservient or inferior roles, and you can’t play without your partner. So I just don’t get it.

        1. Decius says:

          Playing multiplayer Satisfactory is really an exercise in collaborative design and action.

          It’s an entirely different genre of game.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I haven’t played the game, but watched NorthernLion (NL) play a while ago. Does it seem like the intended experience is to just wander around gathering extra resources, while you’re trying to gather some main stuff? Like, NL had a task to make some small factory, with 50 steel or whatever, then on the way walking over to the steel mine, gathered a bunch of wood, rocks, etc. After he built the factory, he was part-way to having resources for the next major mile-stone, from his random gatherings.

      That seems somewhat similar to many other survival / crafting games, Minecraft, etc, but is very different from the intent behind games like Factorio. Like, yes you can gather stuff in Factorio, but hand-gathering is already outpaces by even early mines, so mid- to late-game is all about managing your mines, trains, refineries, etc. The UI and UX both nudge the player towards those larger goals, and try to be helpful and out of the way. Maybe the conflict from Satisfactory comes from these competing playstyles? :)

      1. Fizban says:

        It definitely feels like the intended experience includes stretches where you’re waiting for certain parts to be fabricated, so you go exploring to find stuff to trigger new research. Not hand gathering though- there’s definitely times when the obvious thing to do is hand-craft, so you get something unlocked and do your first build “right,” but hand gathering is only for grabbing stuff while you’re exploring. Particularly the little independant rocks you’ll find laying around which can add up to unlocks for the scanner to find proper nodes. But if you find a proper node instead, you just slap down a toolbench and whip up a pocket miner to rip out a whole stack and you’re good.

        It also feels like one of Shamus’s main complaints, that you always get the thing you need just after you could have really used it, is fully intentional: It creates a gameplay effect where every so often you should rebuild everything from the previous tier so it interfaces well with your new stuff and makes your new goals easier, but you get to do so with your mid-game tools and resource piles so it goes faster and easier than the first time. Except trying to get everything lined up right with the grid of lies and capable of the massive throughput you’re going to need and juggling the dozens of mid-tier components that are crossed in different ways is actually harder and takes longer, so it goes from a delightful planned opportunity, to a massive chore.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Damn this grid of lies! ^^;

    3. Nimrandir says:

      . . . I also wonder if the expected playstyle is less building a Satis-factory . . .

      I’ve been reading about this game on Twenty Sided for ages now, and I completely missed the play on words in the title. As a card-carrying member of the Punsters’ Punion (local #10<41), I hang my head in shame.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        So you should!

        Expect some pun-itive action forthwidth; such negligence must indeed be pun-ished.
        I’m a fan of taking such members of the Punion and locking them in the Flightless Bird cage for a while…we call it ‘Ostrich-cization’.

    4. etheric42 says:

      I don’t have a billion hours in the game, but I’ve been playing it off and on since before it was available to buy, and most of the time in three-player multiplayer with my son and my housemate.

      1) Walkways are your friend. I usually have catwalks that allow me to navigate (and build) my more compacted designs.

      2) Don’t try to build a single factory. Resource nodes often appear in small clusters of varying types. While you can import a resource (I’ve stopped building conveyors for imports and switched to trucks even if they are a bit buggy), you generally should explore for the best place to build X facility and then export the more finished goods. Due to the bandwidth of belts, it probably doesn’t make sense to have a central “iron processing facility” until you have trains. I found two pure iron nodes next to a concrete node and with a coal node not too far off and I immediately said “Here will be a 480-worth-of-iron steel factory!” I then encased it in walls, designed the exterior structure to be architecturally somewhat attractive, and called my son over to paint it.

      3) Load balancing by merging/splitting? My housemate tried that for awhile but we’ve generally settled on just building in serial.

      4) A big part of the game is exploration mixed in with building. The world is hand-crafted instead of procedurally generated for a reason. And it’s very pretty. This connects to 2.

      5) The truck is useful to carry large stores of basic materials with you, and for the very basic stuff you can usually make some on-site.

      6) Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t tear down. It’s very common in our games that the “bootstrapping” factory which makes a hodgepodge of unoptimized basics in early game will be abandoned at around the time we’re setting up coal/steel. You can visit it sometimes and watch the ghosts of machines come alive if you want to pick up some basic materials in an array of containers we’ve placed for convenient restocks. The map is massive and there are tons of materials on it. Maybe eventually you’ll have to deal with some framerate hit, but if you’re putting walls around things and building a spread out factory, then it shouldn’t be a huge problem until you’ve blanketed the world in your glory.

      7) Materials start getting more complicated at around the same time you get access to better tools for import/export. Early goods should be built from scratch at the site. Later goods should be when you start hooking your factories together with your transportation network.

      Not an expert by any means, but still really enjoy the game (although I wish they’d take a cue from Subnautica and drop combat altogether as it feels really pointless). Our hard rules for the game are “factories are contained”, “factories have walls” and “factories don’t float”. (And our soft rule is: don’t deconstruct factories.)

  6. thatSeniorGuy says:

    “It feels like programming with a variable-width font …”

    I threw up a little in my mouth when I read this.

    1. Blue+Painted says:

      I’ve seen it done … :(

      1. Retsam says:

        I’ve even seen cursive. At the very least for comments, though I think I’ve seen it for actual code, too.

    2. Chad+Miller says:

      This raises a good point; maybe Shamus’ proposed fix should be in both formats so the developers can choose whichever is most comfortable to them:

      https://imgur.com/a/PHhdhHk

    3. Echo Tango says:

      I mean, if text editors, IDEs, and languages all supported (or at least ignored) tabs, and specifically elastic tabs, variable-width fonts wouldn’t be much of an issue. Everything would be lined up with tabs, so you could use whatever fonts you wanted. But you can see that that link is to a discussion, not the original article. Without wide support, elastic tabs wouldn’t be able to enter as a viable alternative to the current situation with spaces, tabs, lining things up, etc. :)

  7. Alec D. Generic says:

    Satisfactory presents me with another dilemma that Fatorio (mostly) avoids: premature optimization. I know there are alternate recipes or later milestones (like the trains) making life easier, so most of the time I don’t bother with the inferior versions. This leads to my factories being disjointed “temporary” installations and most of my resources being handcrafted, defeating the purpose of the game. And I spend more time hunting hard drives than actually building.
    Factorio has no alternates, and while some setups require the better belts/inserters/smelters/assemblers by that time I most likely have build bots and can just c+p, plan upgrades or plop down from library.

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      I’ve basically given up on the game thanks to this, though I’m not concerned about the hard-drives: instead, its the 2 port tall storages that I crave. All my plans rely on using it to help balance loads, as it is so much easier than trying to splice together splitters & mergers, while also providing a buffer. When I first played, it was one of the earlier research options, before you even unlocked the space elevator. Now, it’s gated after the elevator, behind steel.
      It’s tempting to rush steel anyway, because coal is the first power where you can let the game idle & then not be stuck in the grind, but it takes a lot to get there, even in multiplayer.

      1. Shas'Ui says:

        Also doors/windows & catwalks: they try to fix some of the in-building belt weirdness by having dedicated wall mounting options for belts, and then they decide to lock them behind the same over elaborate mechanic used for getting the cybertruck?

        1. Fizban says:

          I kinda like the “Awesome Shop” having all the incredibly important organizational tools as part of the statirical megacorp thing: you get the bare minimum needed to do the thing, but if you want to avoid the headache, you have to pay extra to unlock basic floors and wall sockets etc. It actually does the thing mechanically that a lot of games try to present as a face. And shoveling stuff into the grinder is fine when you’re going to have to wait for other stuff to build anyway.

          Dunno about a “cybertruck”- there’s a tiny useless factory cart in there for messing around with, but the power vehicle (a high speed moon buggy with the same inventory as the trucks) is under the research tree, unless I remember horribly wrong.

          1. Alec D. Generic says:

            I kinda disagree, at least in the early game, in a similar vein as Shamus argues: To get at important functions like stairs and ramps, you have to sink resources you probably can’t spare at the moment and by the time you can you made do with what you have.

            The cybertruck is added to the shop when you put a coupon into the sink.

    2. Toad says:

      Premature optimization is definitely a temptation in this game, especially on subsequent playthroughs. My hunch is that Shamus is very deep into premature optimization and winds up building complex and elaborate factories each tier — it sounds like he maximizes a lot of resources over a very wide area even before tractors. I’m pretty sure the developers are tuning the game with the assumption that premature optimization is not the primary playstyle, and use an outer gameplay loop like this:

      1. Game: Introduce baseline complexity recipes and requirements.
      2. Player: Builds the minimum set necessary to fulfill requirements.
      3. Game: Introduce higher complexity recipes and larger requirements.
      4. Player: Builds minimum set necessary to fulfill requirements, including some rework of part 2 to improve throughput.
      5. Player: Goes to explore the world while the space elevator fills up, finding new stuff and getting alternate recipes.
      6. Game: Raise baseline complexity level, dangle carrot in the form of convenience tools to motivate new implementations.
      7. GOTO 1.

      This happens pretty much verbatim at each space elevator unlock, and happens for both factory-centric and exploration-centric mechanics.

      I suspect Shamus’ main disagreements with the developers are that he a) doesn’t want to rework things once he knows what he’s doing, and b) doesn’t enjoy step 5. To the former: the game feels pretty natural the first time through. You’re learning what’s possible as the game presents it to you, and you have the “ah-ha!” moment at each phase unlock when they dangle the new carrot and you scramble to unlock the chainsaw / übersword / better conveyor / tractor / train / etc. My second time through, I got hit hard by premature optimization and wound up really bogging down at step “4” in my list above. I would spend hours and hours building a huge, neat factory with the limited tools available, and it wound up beating me up and I lost interest before the third elevator unlock.

      I took a couple months off and started a third playthrough for update four. I’m deliberately following the “minimum set” mindset indicated in my gameplay loop above, and the game feels a lot more forgiving that way. Shamus wants the “creative mode” that people in the community frequently request: he doesn’t care about exploring or progressing, he just wants to build neat-looking factories that elegantly solve the problems posed by the rules. That’s a fine thing to want, but it’s not the product that Coffee Stain is currently selling.

      Final thought: my main strike against the game is that it is 100% deterministic and better solved by computers than humans. Because the world never changes, the recipes are always the same, and the goals are always the same, there is a calculable “best solution” to the game, which cheapens its replay value, I think.

  8. You may like Dyson Sphere Program. It’s 3D, but works more like Factorio, and starts with the usability helpers.

    1. Adam says:

      Also try shapez.io – more abstract, and more about working out how to build the new thing and less about maintaining the old.

    2. Veylon says:

      I’ll second Dyson Sphere.

      My one pet peeve with that game, though, is the lack of blueprints. What I wouldn’t give for them when setting up the fifth three-input twenty-four-fabricator planetary logistics factory this session or slapping down another fifty solar panels.

      Though, to be fair, it took quite a while for Factorio to have blueprints and Dyson Sphere is still in Early Access.

      1. Decius says:

        Blueprints in DSP would harder because there are so many areas that don’t map to a grid.

  9. John Q. Commenter says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I was scared off Factorio due to how open ended and massive it was – I’m generally time-poor and need a goal. So that one completely passed me by. Satisfactory looks nice, and I love the sense of scale with first person, but it really does seem like that scale just gets in the way.

    Anyway, Dyson Sphere Program was recommended to me – and boy is it good! It sits in between Factorio and Satisfactory in terms of scale I guess, but despite the small dev team it is one solid game. The systems are all incredibly streamlined and all of the inevitable rebuilds are really easy (and recent updates have made things even easier).

    I’d recommend you give that a try – would love to hear what you think of it!

    Edit: Tino Didriksen bet me to the punch!

  10. bobbert says:

    Since Factorio is so good, why not play a campaign for the blog? Play as normal and every 75min take some screen shots and write a brief ‘state of the factory’ report. I would be fun for everyone. :)

    1. Adam says:

      Bonus if you include Bob’s and Angel’s and you’ve never played with them before.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Or he could do a LP. It’s been some time since he’s done that.

    3. Nimrandir says:

      I mean, Shamus said at the end of the article that he was burned out on Factorio. Playing even more of it for our amusement might not be the right move?

  11. Dmitri says:

    I’m with you Shamus. I love factory games, I’ve played Satisfactory for 150 hours, researched all tiers. But for someone who hates spaghetti and likes to keep things organised, Satisfactory building process is too messy. Building such big machines in 3D is a pain. And my biggest personal gripe is absence of terraforming. If you don’t want to build thing on sky-high platforms (which kills all immersion for me), then you have to fit things into the landscape, and you always, always run out of space and have to rebuild huge parts of your factory from the ground.
    I’ve played Dyson Sphere for a few hours, and it looks like a nice compromise between Factorio and Satisfactory, pretty 3D visuals with an isometric view and a lot of empty, flat space to build.

  12. Joshua says:

    Some of this “set up ease-of-use after you no longer need it”may just be inherent to the genre. I don’t play this kind of game nearly enough, but I remember in Minecraft that I would wonder at the nature of people putting together nice rail systems and OSHA-compliant platforms to access mines that were already depleted of all valuable minerals by the time you get these structures in place.

    In real life, the structure has to be there first because your miners can’t haul around 20 tons of ore while traversing 6” ledges with 2,000′ drops and no handrails.

    1. Fizban says:

      Heck, it takes multiple mines worth of metal to put rails in a single mine in minecraft.

    2. Rick says:

      For late game stuff I think it’s fine… like the elytra in Minecraft that requires you to build across the void… do it once the hard way to unlock the easy way.

      I haven’t played Satisfactory, but would this be more palatable if conveyors could be reassembled into rails?

      The chainsaw and power pole upgrades are indeed just salt in the wound though.

  13. ydant says:

    We tried to play Satisfactory in my family, and it ended up being a dud for a couple of reasons –

    For one, I really wish we could disable fighting. Fighting isn’t fun. The monsters are just obnoxious and in the way. There’s no “peaceful” option, and it seems like the developers aren’t interested in one. And listening to the most recent Diecast I just learned that there are boss monsters we haven’t encountered yet. Yay.

    Building isn’t fun. Every building problem becomes a bit of what Shamus mentioned with trying to line things up and fit things together. It’s also a game of juggling inventory. I really wish they’d just use a base/radius inventory system where I can build (manual building) and have the supplies auto-pull from nearby containers.

    Material production seems to often end up in a hurry-up-and-wait scenario where you want to build something, but you have to wait for your factories to churn out a lot of product. Multiple sessions I felt tempted to just leave the game running overnight so I could actually play with the materials needed.

    The world is beautiful, but we stopped wanting to explore because it felt like we were constantly having to deal with annoying mobs that weren’t fun to fight – just time consuming and sometimes difficult.

    I think I was looking more for a “Minecraft” style experience, but with Satisfactory level graphics.

    None of these problems happen in Oxygen Not Included (the only similar game I’ve played) (although that has its own set of frustrations), so I think (for me), this comes down to some balance issues with Satisfactory, not fundamental issues with the genre.

    1. ydant says:

      Also, I felt like power is tiered wrong (or I missed something or took the wrong approach). I wanted to stop feeding bio into a generator, so I pushed hard for Coal – including building a really long coal conveyor belt from a node up on top of a high hill guarded by cat-like-assholes.

      And then when I made the coal plant I realized that I can’t even use it properly. It puts out more power than my power poles can handle – and the coal plant only has a single power hookup. It doesn’t make sense.

      That might be when I rage-quit and never went back.

      1. Nick-B says:

        Power poles/lines hold infinite amount of power. I’m not sure what issue you had with the coal plant, but too much power in a power line is not an issue.

      2. Erik says:

        Power pole/line capacity is infinite, so you must be misunderstanding something. Either you mistook a full pole (too many connections) for too small (too much power), or you mistook power for water, or something I can’t even think of.

        Doesn’t much matter – the takeaway is, you weren’t doing it wrong, you just need(ed) to solve a small glitch. Once you have coal and you no longer need to scavenge for biomass and hand-feed the burners, life improves significantly.

  14. Matt` says:

    If you like building compact efficient well-functioning factories, avert your eyes from this series of monstrosities:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrBjj4brdIRwRkGTLKqH5hlS_mlMYn_J0

    1. Orillion says:

      Shamus couldn’t be playing the game more wrong, imo

    2. Philadelphus says:

      That’s actually the series that got me into the game. :D

    3. Attercap says:

      I just want to say thank you for posting this. Never heard of the channel before and I’ve fallen deep into the Let’s Game it Out rabbithole and enjoying it immensely over the last two weeks.

  15. Ninety-Three says:

    You don’t have a chainsaw at the start of the game, which means you can’t clear land. So you end up building all your stuff 20m in the air so you won’t have trees and undergrowth in your way.

    That’s how you play? I just found myself a nice open area to slap down my factory and built it all at ground level, I unlocked the jetpack long before I felt any push to go vertical. It’s been ages since I went through the tutorial, but I could swear it encourages you to do exactly that, find somewhere open to build.

  16. Piflik says:

    Haven’t player either game, but whenever I read if(bool == true) instead of if(bool) I get irrationally irritated.

    1. Geebs says:

      mouse.y *= (!UserSettings.mouseinvert * 2 – 1)

      (I’m so sorry)

  17. Biggus Rickus says:

    This kind of game seems way too tedious for me to begin with, but combining it with bad mechanics? I want to shoot myself just reading about it.

  18. Tektotherriggen says:

    Did you ever play Infinifactory? It’s by the guy who made SpaceChem* (who is the guy who inspired Minecraft). It is a lot like Satisfactory in style, but with small goal-oriented levels rather than an open-world buildathon.

    I loved SpaceChem, and I started out loving Infinfactory. But by about the 3/4 point, the 3-D-ness was putting me off. To optimise a machine might need shifting everything a couple of spaces, and even with undo and block-selection commands, it got a bit tedious. And if you ever get bored with optimisation, what’s the point?

    Though Infinifactory gives you a jetpack right at the start, and all the machinery is free. I can’t imagine how annoying it would have been if you were stuck to the floor.

    *

    1. Retsam says:

      I was thinking of Infinifactory when Shamus mentioned his “three goals” which largely map over to the three scores from infinifactory, which gives you a score based on how fast your solution works, how many blocks it takes, and how much physical space it takes.

      It’s a different beast than Factorio and SF, and definitely not as “infinitely replayable” but it does a really good job of distilling the “belts as a series of puzzles” into a solid game.

    2. CloverMan-88 says:

      The 3D aspect of Infinifactory was way too annoying for me, but I absolutely loved Opus Magnum, that game is straight up mesmerising

  19. Asdasd says:

    You don’t get the ability to build a train until long after you’ve had to build conveyors across the world. You don’t get the jetpack until you’ve already built extensive infrastructure for climbing up and down buildings. You don’t get the improved melee weapon until you’ve finished clearing the monsters around your base. You don’t get the improved 7-slot power pole until you’ve built your entire electrical infrastructure around 4-slot poles.

    This is an interesting paragraph in an interesting article. I’ve always assumed this was a staple of all systems games – to get the rewards that reduce tedium, you have to endure the very tedium said rewards will alleviate. Is that not the case? If you wanted to be reductive about it, I guess you could say RPGs have the same dynamic – this 5 sword sure would have been handy for all the enemies I had to fight to reach the chest it was in..

    1. Matt` says:

      The alternative mode would be a game that doesn’t build in tedium to begin with. So it expands the scope/complexity of the task at the same time as giving you the tool you’ll need to deal with the new complications. You still have to cope with more things so that there’s a feeling of progression and growth, but you’re not left bashing nails with the back of a screwdriver for want of a hammer.

      Can’t think of great examples. First thing to mind is how Plants vs Zombies will introduce new threats (like zombies that can tunnel to the back row of your garden and eat your plants from behind) at the same time as introducing the plants you needed to answer that threat (things that shoot backwards, and extra protection to put on your back row). Rather than first forcing you through a few levels of struggling to deal with the new thing, imperfectly, with the previous set of options.

    2. Shas'Ui says:

      It’s a staple, but some games, including Satisfactory, are particularly bad about dangling it for far too long. A good video game will throw you back against those early enemies so you can see how much your new kit helps, but in Satisfactory, you probably have everything already hooked up by trains (aka beating everything & the boss before unlocking the sword, with no newgame+ option).
      The idea is that you will want to replace your existing layout with this new, more efficient tech, but unlike the belt upgrades, this requires shutting down your entire economic engine until you complete the process; better plan ahead, because if you run out part-way through, you’ll be stuck at square one until you can get the whole thing running again; think of it as switching weapon types in an RPG with weapon-specific skills.

    3. Daimbert says:

      I don’t play systems games, but it seems to me that Shamus’ complaint here is not that you have had to endure at least some tedium before you can build or use them, but that you can only get them after you’ve built the tedious infrastructure that makes them mostly useless. In short, in order to get them you need to build things that mean that you already have enough things in place that you don’t really need them. The main goal would be that you see that you will need something in the future that would be overly tedious without that new infrastructure, but that infrastructure can be achieved with only minor tedium with what you have now, and more importantly doesn’t require you to build infrastructure that you would want to completely tear down after you achieve it. So ideally it would be the case that you’d really like to get at or do something but need something else first, and so you push to build that thing with what you have and then get the overwhelming happy feeling of achieving that goal and now being able to do that new thing, which then will eventually reveal something ELSE that you’d like to do, and so on and so forth. So, in other words, you set a goal, achieve it, and then simply move on using that to the next one. Shamus’ complaint is that once you achieve that goal it turns out that for the most part you’ve already built the infrastructure in the most tedious way to achieve what that goal was supposed to get for you, at which point you no longer get a sense of accomplishment for having achieved that goal and so now could start using it. It might still be useful, but only if you tear down whatever you already have and replace it with the new stuff, which is annoying.

      As a bit of an aside, that “set a goal, achieve it, set a new goal, achieve it, and so on” is pretty much the hallmark of the most addictive gameplay you can have. The game that really hit that for me is Star Wars: Rebellion, because you are always doing multiple things that lead to being able to do other things. You start building some ships, and then while that’s running do some missions on a planet, and then when the ships are built you send them off to attack your enemy, and then prepare another fleet to attack somewhere else, while running diplomacy missions and other things. So you’re always waiting for something to happen and then once it does you set off to do something else that you might have to wait for, and so on and so forth. Civilization has the same sort of dynamic in a turn-based game.

      As for RPGs, the same principle applies. You should want to get the +5 sword because you will need it later, even if attacking monsters now would be far less tedious if you already had it. What you WOULDN’T want is to fight through the monsters and need to upgrade the sword’s properties so that it will work on the bosses that you wanted the +5 sword for in the first place, because then it feels less special and more pointless doing all that work to get the +5 sword that is maybe letting you kill things easier but that you actually could have gotten along without.

      1. Fizban says:

        I feel that Satisfactory’s response to this is that the production requirements get huge. You can get all the way up to trains from just a couple little resource pockets just by overclocking your miners and letting stockpiles form on various things while you’re working on something else, but eventually the raw ore costs of the final products you’re trying to make down the chain will get so high that you simply can’t supply them from your original base. Which means that even if you never tear down that base, you will eventually have the opportunity/requirement to build a new base with all the new toys you didn’t have at the start (in what for a single player will be a very long game).

        But if you expanded early and tied everything together with belts, that’s going to be a much bigger issue. There’s definitely a transition point where you should stay small early, then expand once you can ship resources better, and I expect for the final tier stuff you should need to exploit quite a large number of resource nodes. While I don’t like the logistical problem of trying to make X machines +Y machines fuel Z machines without waste, I do like the concept of when it’s time to expand and by what methods you wish to reach those goals. The problem is that, IIRC, even the “smartest” splitter will never actually let you just send X apples and Y oranges in those exact proportions down to the depot for export.

        Which is essentially how I want to play: get sufficient production going, come back and upgrade or expand it as neccesary, and then send the correct amount of stuff where it needs to go. But the most basic and obvious thing to have a conveyor machine do, isn’t even available, so that’s another reason I stalled out.

        1. etheric42 says:

          The fact that nodes are infinite and belts are tiny means you don’t have to worry too hard about waste. If it’s fun to get 100% efficiency, do so. But most of the time a (for example) Mk2 belt holds 5.33 makers of Y, so I just build 6 and underclock the last one (or not if I don’t care that much).

    4. Syal says:

      I’ve always assumed this was a staple of all systems games – to get the rewards that reduce tedium, you have to endure the very tedium said rewards will alleviate. Is that not the case?

      That is not the case. Usually you get a tool right before you start to need it, with the game progressively making you master it more and more. In an RPG, you might get a single boss with a status effect like poison before you get a good cure, to show off why you need it, but you’re not going to have to clear an entire dungeon of poison without it. Because if you found a way to make it through without the cure, you’ll use that strategy even after you have it, so might as well not give you one at all. It’s like giving you a 5 sword after you’ve had to switch to pure magic to get through the previous enemy’s defenses. My all-mage team has no use for this sword. But if only I’d gotten it earlier, I might not have needed to make an all-mage team.

    5. Dreadjaws says:

      Sorry for doing this, but I’m going to put a link to TV Tropes that discusses this very subject.

      The usual dynamic in games is that problems and enemies get progressively harder and you get progressively better tools and weapons to deal with them. Problems escalate in difficulty/cumbersomeness and every once in a while you get rewards that alleviate them so when you start feeling that you have to work too hard the game gives you a new tool that makes the job easier and less frustrating, until the obstacles start escalating again, until the point where you’re given a new reward that’ll make the upcoming trouble easier.

      The problem in Satisfactory seems to be one of balance progression, whereas you get all the problems first and then once you’ve solved them all you get the rewards. Instead of alleviating the difficulty and frustration every once in a while with a better tool, you’re only given the tool once you don’t need it anymore. This is the equivalent of being given several promotions at your job and being forced to still work from a cubicle, only being given a new personal office once you’ve proven you absolutely have no need for it.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Quite the spectrum of responses (and analogies!)

        I can agree that it’s primarily a question of balance. Though I do find it striking sometimes how slender the line between gameplay and grind can be.

    6. Xeorm says:

      Normally the loop I see with games is that you deal with some of the tedium, and then you get tools to mostly mitigate the tedium as they move to other mechanics. So something like you need a lot of wood, but you can’t chop down trees until you harvest some sticks and stones to make an axe, and then you can more easily harvest from trees instead of picking up sticks. And then have further axe upgrades to further make things easier. That’s normal and helps stretch out the gameplay, while also making the player feel good about the upgrades.

      The Satisfactory equivalent is that you use small and medium length conveyor belts to get resources, and that tediousness lets you harvest items further away with less hassle. Satisfactory is forgetting that the future rewards can’t be for solved problems. Though I’d argue that the melee weapon doesn’t mostly count in this setup – you need to do a lot of hunting well after the sword comes out.

      I will argue any day of the week that trains should come out sooner and be cheaper. Preferably too with a size reduction. There’s no good reason for them not to be steel tech considering trains go hand in hand with the industrial revolution.

  20. Freddo says:

    Exactly my feelings on Satisfactory.

    Outer Wilds (not to be confused with Outer Worlds) is another game where I spend too much time fighting the controls of the game to persist with it.

  21. The Big Brzezinski says:

    The worst part is that you can play the best parts of Satisfactory entirely in the air without ever buying it. You just need one of the GOOD online planning tools, the online map (which is static), and the wiki. You can plan out an entire construction schedule in Wordpad and Firefox. This turns out to be the superior experience because you get all the satisfaction of seeing your math play out, you don’t have to do any of the shitty grunt work, and you don’t have to spend any money.

    Speaking of online tools, why are they so wrongheaded? I’m used to tools for X-franchise space sim games. You plug in space station modules and check the input/output figures until you get the numbers you want. Then you go have a space adventure to get the thing constructed (a mostly automated process). Satisfactory tools, on the other hand, almost all ask me what production rate I want, then spits out a list of machines and raw materials rates I need to supply. Who’s talking about a production rate? I have a one-time order of parts to deliver, not a daily quota. It’s like going through the Walmart checkout and being asked how many plastic bags I want them to use. I don’t fucking care! That value isn’t the priority! I need slightly more iron rod production than later machines are using, bit they won’t let me figure out that value first? So I open up Notepad and Calculator and the wiki to do it myself, and at that point WTF do I need this planner for? I just want to setup an ironworks that makes all the rods, plates, screws, reinforced plates, rotors, and modular frames I need, and never think about it again. How much more than I actually end up needing can go in the Sink. The rest can sit in catchment boxes until they either get used further in the production line or I come grab them myself. It feels like I’m not playing the game as intended when I make the effort to maintain this flexibility, though. It’s like, not only do the machines not fit the foundation grid, they also don’t even fit the math they’re supposed to be running on.

    1. Dmitri says:

      Yeah, my best times with Satisfactory was sketching designs on a piece of graph paper. Cramming all this designs between some rocks in game… not so fun.

  22. Jay says:

    I picked up Satisfactory myself a while ago because I’d watched a video series of someone playing, and went “Wow, this looks really neat! These factories look so awesome, and I love stuff whirring away Working Properly once you’ve figured out all your requirements”. It turns out I had wildly underestimated how much judicious editing went into my appreciation for that series, because as you’ve pointed out the mechanics of putting a base together and fighting the grid and snap systems are very painful.

    Thirding some of the recommendations for Dyson Sphere Program, though. I was surprised how easy it was to pick up, considering it’s kind of a complicated genre and a lot of the technical writing isn’t particularly well translated, but it made a lot of sense and I really dug zooping around on the little spherical planets.

  23. Usually Insane says:

    I’m Looking forward to see your opinion on Dyson Sphere Project, I usually don’t like these kind of games but that one just spoke to me somehow *cough*dyson sphere*cough*

  24. MithrilGear says:

    In the light of the above frustrations, how is Minecraft fun, since you also do tedious things for hours, and then don’t even get any automation at the end of it?

    1. Vernal_ancient says:

      You technically can automate some things in Minecraft (mostly farming and transporting resources), but to answer your actual question: Minecraft has a pretty simple core gameplay loop that doesn’t get in the way too much. Look for the blocks you need -> hit the blocks until they break -> put the blocks somewhere else to make a house or storage shed or high-altitude monster farm or what have you. It’s not exciting, but it can be pretty relaxing and the actual building is pretty simple. Everything fits on a grid, most blocks don’t need to be rotated a certain way, and the ones that do generally aren’t too fiddly (you might have to go a little slower with placing them than other blocks, but you usually don’t have to break and replace them). It can definitely get tedious, but you’re not constantly fighting the interface to do it and it’s mostly a tedium born from simple repetition. It sounds like Satisfactory has an interface that directly gets in the way of the primary loop, which is tedious in a more frustrating way

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Minecraft is a sandbox game, though. It has mechanics, but doesn’t really have an explicit goal. You make your own fun by only focusing on the parts of the gameplay that you enjoy. Furthermore, even if you don’t get automation (though you can), it’s not important because the core gameplay is simplicity itself. It doesn’t require fiddling around with bad controls or bothersome interfaces. Plus, everything fits neatly into a grid, as the game is designed with that in mind.

      I’m sorry, I have to ask, did you actually read the article or did you just skim through it?

      1. Moridin says:

        “Minecraft is a sandbox game, though. It has mechanics, but doesn’t really have an explicit goal. ”

        Isn’t the goal, technically, to kill an Ender Dragon?

  25. Hal says:

    Not having played the game, why does your character run around with a handful of grapes?

    Does all that running back and forth require snacks?

    1. Shas'Ui says:

      You equip healing items (berries/nuts), weapons, paint tool, a scanner, or beacons in your “hand” slots. This frees up slots from your primary inventory (important). You can then switch between hand slots, but there’s no empty option, unless you remove everything from all hand slots. Using the build/remove mode temporarily brings out a tool, but once done, you go back to whatever you were holding.

      Tldr: no hunger system, just weirdness of the inventory leaves you holding something, and berries are less distracting in than electrobasher (see screencap under “Is this Supposed to be annoying”)

      1. Avatar says:

        The game added a “coffee mug” item specifically so you could have something you could hold in your screen shots that left most of the screen empty. On the other hand, who wants to dedicate an inventory space to a coffee mug?

        1. Fizban says:

          Oh, so that’s what that’s for! I dunno, by the time you’re really going hog on building you can probably afford an inventory slot if the screen coverage is getting annoying. I didn’t like having healing items waiting to be mis-clicked or a beacon or something dropped all over, so I’m pretty sure I usually just had the basher in front of my face.

  26. GreyDuck says:

    I feel like there’s a very particular sweet spot where if you’re in a certain range of intensity of enjoyment of certain specific elements, this game is very much Your Kind Of Thing, and if you’re outside that range (either above or below) then you will bounce off of the game very hard. Do you like optimizing workflow, but not TOO much? Do you like doing math, but not TOO much? Do you like making things neat and tidy, but not TOO much? And so on.

    So far I’m in that sweet spot; I wholly agree about a lot of the “now that you did it the hard way, you’ve unlocked a better way” in the game being… moderately frustrating, yeah. In other words, I wholly agree with this post while still enjoying the game, if that makes any sense. (Also I really, REALLY want a no-hostile-fauna option. I am NOT looking forward to new “boss monsters.” At. All.)

    (And no, I’m not interested in relying on mods that will probably be broken by future updates to the game.)

    As for multiplayer: My son and I recently started a weekly stream session on his Twitch channel, and between our first trial run a couple months ago and the “live” stream sessions we’ve determined that multiplayer is a great way to go for this game as long as you clearly divide up the workload and don’t try to (for instance) both build on the same factory chain at once. So the coalpower and steelworks projects have been his domain, while I handle the iron and copper works. He subdues hostile fauna and brings back research goodies, I handle storage improvements and other boring-process stuff, and so on. It’s going well so far. (We’re a bit tired of hard drives yielding three fancy new ways to make copper ingots at once, though. Ugh.)

    1. Fizban says:

      I seem to be in a minority in liking the amount of hostile mobs: just enough that you can’t wander around willy nilly, but no so much that you can’t just plow through them if you equip yourself properly for an excursion, and simple enough they don’t take up an unwarranted amount of attention. I actually kinda goozled myself on the exploration run where I took so many bombs I could just fight for days and spoiled myself on a huge amount of map space I probably would have had more fun exploring in pieces.

      Similarly, if they’re adding some new “boss” monsters (as opposed to the existing extra large/tough monsters), I don’t mind that, as it would presumably give a reason to actually use the final tier stuff. The rifle and jetpack sound god-tier for combat, but once again, by the time you’ve got them you don’t need them, because bombs are easier to make and you’ve already learned how to dodge. But some big boss monsters that give the world just a little more bite in the endgame, and maybe another interesting weapon or two, would be nice.

      The main thing I don’t like about the mobs is their respawn rate, which is probably deliberately short for supplying free biomass fuel, but also means that even if you clear an area, by the time you come back to build there it’s probably full of enemies again. Which wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to fight everything on the way there, and that’s where the vehicles come in again, because even though they have hit points and thus look destructible, you can drive right past or through creatures and they just don’t care (probably because this is required to have any sort of automated vehicle shipping).

  27. Nick-B says:

    I agree 100% with all of Shamus’ issues with the game, including FREAKING INVERT MOUSE VEHICLE CONTROLS PLEASE!

    *cough*

    I do want to bring up an alternative start location that fix some of the issues he has. If you choose the third start location, the forest, then head northwest. If you hit the ravine, follow that west. Right before the land starts sloping down to the Northwest desert, there is a tiny slot between two hills with the giant ravine on the third side. This spot has 4 pure iron nodes, 2 copper nodes 50m away, 2 pure stone nodes, 2 pure quartz nodes, 2 normal caterium nodes a short distance away with 1 pure slightly further, a normal sulfur node not too far off, 1 pure coal node close-by, 4 normal coal nodes next to a nice perfectly straight ocean inlet for building a coal plant with 30 coal generators on the water so no need for pumps, 3 oil nodes at the bottom of the ravine next to you which total the output of a pure node, and oh yeah the GIANT ravine which is perfect for building a large floating factory of multiple levels up and down. You’re next to the jungle so plenty of biomass to collect for power until you can jump to coal, while the starting slot area is enough to jumpstart production of concrete for building over the ravine immediately.

    If you do need more oil, you can take a short walk down to the inlet and make a rail line above the water there north to the ocean, and east a kilometer to the northern oil fields for more, but in the few games i’ve played up to Bauxite, the starter oil has been more than enough.

    https://satisfactory-calculator.com/en/interactive-map#6;-41389;-140123

    My biggest gripe with the game now is the need for hard drives for any remotely-decent base setup. Having to explore the world with X materials every freakin time I restart ticks me off. So what I usually do is use this map/save editor to gift myself 50 free hard drives at the start of a game (I have collected nearly every drive before in another game) and ignore the crash sites unless I want a few free early items.

  28. Tohron says:

    I’ve heard it said that Factorio is a game about automation, while Satisfactory is a game about building factories. I seem to enjoy playing Satisfactory more than Shamus (and I seem to enjoy playing it more than Factorio), and I think it’s because I enjoy the construction element of making big, sprawling factories and watching them spread across the landscape. Having to re-place things due to conveyers being slightly obstructed is something of an annoyance, but the rest hasn’t bothered me too much.

    1. Rho says:

      Absolutely not here to criticize Shamus, but it does feel as though he is trying to play the game in a different way than the developers intended (don’t have it myself). That is, he is trying to do some very specific things and ends up frustrated that the game is designed in the opposite direction. I.E.: when Shamus is reaching for a new tier, he builds an entire production chain and hooks everything in. Watching people who play the game (again, not myself) they don’t. They often split things up, use verticality often, grab a new tech tier and then use the new tools.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I mean, Shamus is claiming that the game originally was fun to him, so you can’t fault him for being attracted to a game for some stuff that was then changed to make things more frustrating to him. Plus, there are things (like the inverted controls problem) that is clearly something no one likes since there have been several complaints about it.

  29. Armarren says:

    You don’t get the improved 7-slot power pole until you’ve built your entire electrical infrastructure around 4-slot poles.

    Is that true? I have just restarted with the new update, but according to the wiki power pole mkII comes from MAM research and needs just a few hundred caterium ore, so you can unlock it as soon as you build the MAM, if you find a caterium node. You can mine things before they get added to the scanner.

    About the oil, I have a suspicion that the way you are meant to do this is not to build the power line and belts all the the way to the oil node, but rather build a small plastic fab onsite powered by biomass burners. And then wander around collecting collectibles and leaves to fuel the burners until it makes enough plastic to invent trains, which should be just a few stacks unless I’m missing something, then carry those back to the main base.

    This is of course very much contrary to the Factorio way of automating as early as possible, but at least that sort of makes sense from design perspective.

    1. Nick-B says:

      The big issue with upgrades to certain things like stackable conveyor/pipe/transport poles, is that they are not the default structure for under said devices. For example, if you want to stretch out a long line of stackable conveyors from a remote site to somewhere, you can’t just start constructing using the belt, because it uses the standard one-pole conveyor base. So you must place the stackable poles first. You want to put them at the furthest limits of the belts, but to do that you must build the belt, which uses the single poles for the ends. Cart before the horse kind of situation. You need to build with belts to figure out the max range of belts, so you can place a stackable pole at this reach, THEN delete the old belts AND poles and rebuild them in the stackable conveyor tower you built.

      Similarly, power lines will automatically build a pole when you stretch a line from a pole/building to open air. Even if you have improved poles researched, the game does not default to the upgraded pole. This essentially requires you to build using the old poles, then upgrade them to the next size up manually one at a time.

      Both of these issues could be fixed by allowing you to change the default structure that is used when you use a stretchable resource like pipes, tubes, power lines, and belts.

    2. Shamus says:

      IIRC, the improved pole is at the end of a chain of research. I suppose if you go out and hand-mine a few hundred cat (to complete the earlier research goals) and you’re willing to idle for a while then you can unlock it early. But I just take it when it comes during normal progression.

      1. Erik says:

        That’s kind of the key. Changing from things being unlocked in the normal progression (tier research) to being unlocked in the MAM is exactly meant to let you rush the things *you* want to work with (I personally rush caterium for bladerunners and smart splitters, others rush inhalers for health or fabric for parachutes) while not forcing you to unlock steel to get a convenience item. Getting specialized blueprints from the Awesome Shop is a similar meme – sink some materials, get some tickets, unlock the convenience items *you* want instead of what a dev thought you should want at this tier. Nothing in the shop is needed to finish the game (almost true of the MAM too), but lots of it makes your life easier.

        Complaining that it takes too long to unlock something when you could have unlocked it any time you wanted to make the effort is really a critique of your playstyle, not the game itself.

        That said, I do understand the frustration of learning the placement rules and the serious labor of building. As someone else said, Factorio is about automating production, Satisfactory is about building the factory that automates production. If you want the former, the latter will absolutely be less satisfying.

        And I also second/third/whatever-we’re-up-to the suggestion of Dyson Sphere Program as neatly fitting between the other two games. I’m enjoying all of these a lot right now.

  30. EmmEnnEff says:

    I’ve initially hated Satisfactory, compared to Factorio, but three things changed my opinion on it.

    1. Leaving 1/2/3m gaps between buildings. They still look great if they aren’t packed like sardine cans, but make building a lot easier.

    2. Installing the SMART mod, which lets you put down an X by Y grid of buildings/splitters/etc, with a spacing of Z. It makes building way less finicky.

    3. Instead of working on my target factory from the start, treating everything I use to climb the technology tree, and bootstrap the actual factory as a placeholder. This doesn’t mean I don’t optimize any parts that I find annoying, but it does mean that I don’t feel the need to, say, tear out my steel production and replace it just because I unlocked new recipes. I just use those recipes in my *next* build.

    Also, I will note that setting up a truck line to bring a remote resource, as long as you are following natural ‘roads’ does not take very much time at all – just the time to run a power line, build two truck stations, and to drive a truck there and back. As long as you have coal, or oil near either end, that you can fuel the truck station with, life is fine. Truck throughput is excellent for the resources invested.

    1. Erik says:

      Every game, I tell myself I’m going to leave more space between buildings.
      Every game, I find myself excited to optimize a new way to pack the buildings even more tightly together.

      Yes, I am aware of the fundamental tension here, but… dammit, look how CLEAN that production line looks now!

    2. Fizban says:

      Once I figured out how to automate vehicles, I was like “hell yeah let’s truck this route!”. It then took hours for me to actually get it working-

      Because I was running all the way from the big plains arch, over the hill/mountain through the edge of the jungle, down to the beach, and to automate you have to drive the route down and back yourself. So every time I made the trip I’d make some little error and have to redo the whole thing, going back to place visual markers and memorize every turn, and eventually just building a bridge over that pit near the arch so I could avoid one last series of turns. It would have been very sastisfying if it hadn’t taken so damn many tries.

      And then of course, there’s the fuel problem. Except it’s not the fuel that’s the problem: it’s the power grid. Every time you just barely exceed your power limit, the whole grid shuts down, and you have to disconnect/build more power production to compensate. Which means that all of your vehicles stop getting fuel and run dry in the middle of nowhere. Which is actually kindof a cool thing to add to the rest of the “get the grid running again” sub-game, but it happens so damn often it becomes tedious.

      Which is one of the reasons I want to give it another go, since this newest update finally adds power storage (hey Subnautica, you listening?). Geothermal I’m sure is still way to far down the research tree to seriously matter (you need how much plastic? but if you’ve got oil you don’t need geothermal), but being able to just build a giant bank of batteries and then check up on the grid regularly instead of having it fall apart constantly, sounds pretty nice.

      Except the update isn’t actually a main update, it’s on the experimental branch, which means they’ll be changing it constantly and who knows when it’ll be out properly. So argh.

  31. Dreadjaws says:

    So after hacking your way through the godforsaken wilderness, fighting several boss monsters with the jank-ass combat system…

    I haven’t played this game, so I’m surprised to hear it has combat. It doesn’t necessarily feel out of place, but to this day I have yet to see a screenshot of the game featuring anything but building.

    I really liked Factorio, but I haven’t tried Satisfactory because I try to avoid Early Access titles, for the reasons listed here. My problem isn’t necessarily that the game will not feel good enough until it’s ready, but that it will feel good until the developers decide to change it by focusing on improving all the wrong things (or, at the very least, the things that I personally feel are wrong).

    And yes, Factorio was an Early Access title when I got it, but I lucked out on that one. I certainly don’t want to push my luck.

    1. EmmEnnEff says:

      I think the pre-placed enemies are there to stop you from expanding and exploring too quickly. Enemies don’t respawn in areas where you have powered machines, and they only defend areas that you encroach on.

      They also act as a motivator for players to pursue non-building utility upgrades/researches/production.

      Unlike in Factorio, they are not supposed to be a long-term production challenge.

  32. SeeWhatSticks says:

    Been reading for over a decade but felt the need to comment today.

    “Once that oil starts coming in, you’ll unlock trains, which is THE IDEAL TOOL FOR THE JOB YOU JUST FINISHED. It’s like the game asks you to dig out the foundation for a house with a spoon, and once you’re done your reward is a bulldozer.”

    A backhoe, surely?

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, a backhoe. And don’t call me Shirley.

      1. Erik says:

        Roger, Roger.

    2. Leviathan902 says:

      I find it hilarious that SeeWhatSticks has been reading for over a decade, has had nothing to say the whole time. But this. THIS is what forced them speak, to find their voice :D :D :D

      It’s not a criticism or anything. I just find it funny.

  33. Frank says:

    What are you holding in those screenshots? Brains?

    1. Fizban says:

      It’s a berry. Found fairly plentifully on bushes, and restoring a mere 1/2 block of health. Quite hilarious when an animal is chasing you and you’re just cramming berry after berry down your throat to try and survive the next hit. As mentioned above, you basically always have something in your hand, and the melee weapons take up a bunch of screen space.

  34. Steve C says:

    This is how I felt playing Oxygen Not Included. Not with research (I really liked how ONI handled research) but with the trains. IE incremental goals feeling not worth implementing. Where I find an inelegant solution to a problem. It works but it’s not the best. Then trying to expand or do things a different or better way. Then finding it not be worth the trouble of fixing something that is good enough.

    I remember it with electricity in particular. Where I could make some new types of power generation (like coal). Which had a whole set of logistical and waste issues to solve. Or I could just have more dudes run on hamster wheels. Both output waste CO2 and heat which was solved. Inputs were food (solved) or coal (not solved). But more power meant beefier wires and a redo of the power grid. All to get back to the point I already was at. Pfft, I’ll make another dude and he can run. That’s when I noticed so many other gameplay elements were like that. I could upgrade my outhouses to running water. But then that would break my farms. Etc. Unsolving a problem to solve a problem created by unsolving a problem. So I lost interest.

    BTW this was more than a year ago and I’m sure it has changed. No need to fill me in on what it is currently like. I don’t return to games I’ve lost interest in.

  35. Grabulon says:

    I have an obscene amount of hours in Factorio. I thought Satisfactory would provide me with more factory goodness. I agree with absolutely everything in this article. The game fights you instead of providing tools to solve interesting problems.

  36. RFS-81 says:

    Sounds like they’re putting style over convenience. And damn, it works! The screenshots make me want to get the game, no matter what the wall of text says. I’ll probably buy it at some point but I told myself to wait until 1.0. Those sandbox games don’t usually grab me for a very long time, and I want to see the final product.

  37. Scerro says:

    A friend tried to get me into Satisfactory, but seeing him play for 10-15 minutes, I decided that 3D factorio is a lot more of a pain than fun. Seeing the jank ramps to pipe items from machine to machine was enough for me to just not be interested.

    Factorio may have a dimension limitation, but it presents the gameplay in such a straightforward manner. 3D is terrible for understanding layouts, there’s a reason why designs get thrown onto a 2D diagram.

  38. Mersadeon says:

    I absolutely get it. I don’t really enjoyed these games for various reasons – Factoria is too complex for me. Satisfactory I tried, really hard, to like, but the exact things you complain about here just killed it for me. Even the absolute joy of seeing your factory from first person could not save it.

    I’m playing Dyson Sphere Program now – very different “3D factorio joy”, but it really works for me.

  39. Richard H Sanford says:

    Dang, dude. I don’t think I’ve ever read you dropping as many f-bombs as in this article.

  40. Smosh says:

    When I played Satisfactory just around Update 3’s launch, I concluded the following: Most of the game’s problems stem from one basic issue.

    The fact that you need to carry around so much crap to craft factories, and you never have the inventory space for it. Having to walk back to a chest, and fetch 400 iron plates, and 200 steel bars, and 300 concrete, only to then run out again after building a couple oil-related buildings, forcing you to walk or drive back to base (2 km away, of course) is maddening.

    This issue causes the frustration at jumping around so much, the frustration at having to walk so far (because you need to repeat the trip fifteen times), the frustration of creating a second base: good luck ferrying over the materials to build an oil plant. You can make five buildings per trip before you run out, and don’t you dare think about concrete floors for it.

    Also you can’t just restock easily. You need to visit at least a dozen containers distributed over your base, one per item you need. Plates, rods, screws, engines, chips, rotors, shafts, concrete, and often of more than one variety. This repetitive task easily takes up half your play time. The best way to fix it I found was to install a mod to increase stack sizes in the inventory to insane levels. At least then you don’t need to do it quite so often.

    Satisfactory could fix all these issues by auto-paying for building construction from dedicated containers. You just plonk the building down, possibly burn a drone-like item from your inventory, and it is contructed from materials you have created in your base, without you having to ferry it here. Because the only way to ferry around construction material is doing it by hand, which is utterly tedious. Or at least let me access all my construction material from any train station or hypertube exit. Just don’t make me run 20 minutes to grab 1 steel plate because the belt with which I’m trying to connect my new chip factory to the train network is too short by ten centimeters.

    The other thing one must do to enjoy satisfactory is giving up on neat grids. The game doesn’t care that the belts don’t align, and the time sink cost of doing it in a pretty way is enormous. Just connect the belts, ignore any janky look, and move on. Though the splitters and mergers really could be smaller, or not quite as necessary all the time because none of the ratios work out. But yes, it would be nice if machines automatically came with a little more room at the sides to walk through. You end up leaving a lot of empty space which you have to resist the urge of filling.

  41. Paul Spooner says:

    Clearly you need to learn to stop worrying and love the spaghetti. I’ve got to do a video of my latest base, but it’s even crazier than ever.

  42. DaveMc says:

    I read the whole article hoping that you would answer my *actual* burning question, as a non-player of Satisfactory: what is that in your *hand*, in the screenshots? A pile of precious gems? Some sort of high-octane goo?

    1. DaveMc says:

      Whoops, just belatedly found the answer in another comment, above. Berries, apparently?

  43. Jon says:

    I started a new map in update 4, and am generally enjoying it. Couple of points:

    — In update 4, concrete stacks to 500 (instead of 100), and iron rods/plates stack to 200 (instead of 100). This is HUGE, and makes early-game building a lot less tedious.

    — Copper and Caterium probably aren’t your bottleneck in the early game. I’m feeding 1/3 of all production into the sink (100% once my storage bins are full) and got the utility upgrades pretty quickly.

    — As at the current experimental version, it’s VERY dark inside factory buildings at night. Not a fan. (And I can’t build lights yet.) It’d be nice to be able to sleep through the night, a la Minecraft or Valheim.

    — In the early game at least, underclocking is your friend. Buildings become MUCH more power-efficient when underclocked (important for reducing tedium while you’re totally reliant on biomass); and the space issues of large underclocked factories aren’t so bad if it’s part of your design from the start.

    — If you’re restarting (in update 3 or 4), there’s a particular spot that is really nice:
    ImKibitz explaining why it’s good: https://youtu.be/uEJ3iC2bXaU?t=259
    Qedhup explaining how to find it in practice (lol!): https://youtu.be/rTDYlE6JTLk?t=105

    1. Fizban says:

      I thought I was taking weirdly long times resupplying on concrete despite building a massive platform over the desert (went and started a new run myself).

      Watch out with the lights if you haven’t got there already- the “Indoor Lighting” is a huge ceiling panel that might not fit above your production depending on how you built your ceiling. It’s also really not useful at all for lighting up the room, just a narrow spot beneath- and all the glinting metal makes it hard to look at the belts and mergers even if all you want to see is whether the goods are flowing. It feels like they designed it for like 40 meter tall rooms or something.

      The street light seemed functional enough, and acts as a narrow power pole. Haven’t had the tickets to spare for the floodlights yet. But presuming they have to keep the lights narrow so the lighting engine doesn’t fry on all the parts, I’m skeptical the indoor lighting will ever be very good.

      The big bottleneck with Caterium is that, while I don’t know if this is a universal constant, every node I recall finding has been covered by a rock. Which means you need bombs. Which means you need to get together a pile of sulphur, and unlock steel production and make a pile of steel pipes, and work through a whole extra tech tree before you can actually do that Caterium tree.

      Someone mentioned hand mining- eh, just plop down a dozen portable miners and go explore for a minute: they’ll be full by the time you’ve scouted the surrounding area, and every time you make a trip back there will be that many full stacks already waiting, no power lines or infrastructure required. I haven’t bothered building anything for caterium, sulphur, or crystal yet (of course, I haven’t even hit oil yet either).

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