Alt-F4 #1 - We Need You!

Written by Therenas on 2020-08-21

Table of Contents

Welcome to the very first edition of the ‘Alternative Factorio Friday Fan Facts’ (also known as Alt-F4), the community-driven follow-on to the venerable Factorio Friday Facts. It aims to fill the void that the discontinuation of the FFF left in all our hearts. To fill the gaping hole in our calendars every Friday, we aim to provide a variety of content, created by the community. Topics like community showcases, mod spotlights, and write-ups about Factorio updates will be frequent subjects, but pretty much anything that’s awesome and Factorio-related is welcome.

As this is supposed to be community-driven, we’ll rely on contributions by, well, the community to keep this going. I wrote this first one on my own due to time constraints (I decided to actually give this a shot less than 48 hours ago), but this can only be truly great if some of you decide to contribute. More on that at the end of this post, let’s get to some actual content first.

Community Showcase: Train JUMP-tions

Alright alright, already breaking my own, self-imposed rules, I know. These jumping trains are of course part of a mod called Renai Transportation. But I think this actually belongs here as a community showcase, because it’s not some serious mod that’s supposed to improve your life, but a silly exercise in what is possible, and it turned out really fun. I’ll let the gif do the talking (listen to the audio as well!):

As you can see, Kiplacon decided to take the matter of making train bridges/tunnels work into his own hands, to great effect. He saw all the technical effort going into trying to make bridges and tunnels work, and thought to himself: No, I know a better way. The result is a really wonky looking situation where trains jump through the air, but the impressive thing to me is that he actually made it work in-game. This isn’t some idea that everyone thinks will never be possible, oh no, it’s actually already there, and you can download it. This is the kind of stuff I love to see from mods. As wheybags, one of the developers, put it: ‘Amazing. This is what modding was meant to be. <3’. I can only agree with that.

Mod Spotlight: Assembly Analyst

Now this, too, is a bit awkward. Assembly Analyst is actually one of my (me, Therenas, hi!) mods. So this may seem like a roundabout way to promote my own mods. But, the truth is that I haven’t actually played Factorio in over a year, so I don’t really know much about the mods that are currently all hot and steamy. Developing mods seems to get in the way it seems (which is why we need volunteers hint hint see below). Either way, let me tell you about Assembly Analyst (AA). First a screenshot:

What AA does is pretty simple: It shows you what your machines have been spending their time on. Are they working, waiting on inputs, low on power, disabled? The mod will show you this using a nice bar with different colors. If this idea seems vaguely familiar to you, it should, because that is similar to what Bottleneck does. What AA provides in addition to it is the historical view, letting you know what a machine does over time. You simply select a certain area of your factory, and see how it performs.

Speaking of performance, it has a not-insignificant impact on your UPS, which is why you should only select certain parts at a time. In a recent update though, I addressed a devious little bug that has hidden from me for quite a while, which made performance much better. If you used this before, and thought it was too slow, give it another try, because it is much improved.

All of this works on all types of assemblers (including refineries, rocket silos, and so on), mining drills, labs, and inserters. Having the historical overview and the details on exactly why a machine is not working can be very valuable in figuring out bottlenecks and other issues with your factory. Give it a try, it’s a nice tool to have on your engineer’s toolbelt, right next to the shark repellent.

Coming full circle: Factorio 1.0

Finally, the reason why we’re all here: Factorio has just been released for real. It’s been a tremendous success story, of the kind that only comes around every so often. I want to commend everyone involved, Wube first and foremost of course, for this incredible achievement. This game is a tour-de-force in optimization and design that will stand the test of time for many decades to come. Bravo!

Contributing

Alright, seems you made it to the end. Did you enjoy what you read? Learned something new and interesting, maybe? No? Then it’s time to fix that, by contributing to next week’s edition yourself! Like I said before, this project will depend on the input of the community. If you fancy yourself a bit of a writer, or are passionate about a certain subject and want to share it with all of Nauvis, we need your help. To that end, I set up a Discord through which this effort will be coordinated; anyone is free to join!

This is all very much cobbled together, and will be refined in the coming weeks and months. There isn’t even a proper website yet. And again, the goal is for this to be a product of the community. This is not going to be my personal blog; instead, I (alongside some other volunteers in the future) will simply try to facilitate the process of consolidating and publishing your contributions every week.

If you are passionate about a mod, or are the developer of one and want to talk about it, you’re the perfect candidate to write up a mod spotlight. If you noticed something great the community did, be it art, gameplay or anything else, you should be the person to write about it. If you don’t fit those criteria, but still have something to share, that’s great too. Don’t be afraid of your topic or writing style not being good enough; it almost certainly is worth writing about. If you need any advice, or have any questions, the Discord is open to you.

So hop on in and let’s get this going!