Alt-F4 #8 - A Love Letter to Factorio

Written by stringweasel, Zirr, Conor_, Therenas, Dexter of Rivia, Recon419A, trupen, ironic toblerone, TheKool, Frank_si_narra, Twisted_Code, Goose, edited by Therenas, nicgarner on 2020-10-09

Table of Contents

For this issue of Alt-F4 we decided to do something special: ask the community why exactly they love this game so much. Everyone was invited to submit a short piece detailing their absolute favourite thing about Factorio, which many promptly did. Here’s to one of the greatest games of all time, and to the dedicated team that made it a reality these last eight years!

Image of Compilatron being handed a love letter by an inserter (Image courtesy of Credne)

I love Factorio because it has no fluff stringweasel

I love Factorio because it has no fluff. Every aspect of it is thoroughly investigated, refined, and questioned. Every item, game mechanic, GUI element, and sound. “Is this truly part of our vision?” and “Yes, but can it be better.” There are no stragglers; no weird, outdated mechanics you need to deal with. Everything has a well-defined purpose towards the singular goal: automation.

And it’s not overdone. There are no flashing lights or happy sounds when a rocket launches, for example. (Although that rumbling noise still gives me goosebumps.) You might even miss it if you’re too far away. But it’s still satisfying because you know what it took to launch that rocket. You know you placed every inserter, every assembler, and you know the path that every piece of iron ore followed to become a satellite.

That is why I will always keep coming back to this game.

I love Factorio because of the community Zirr

When I made the Factorio subreddit on a whim almost eight years ago, after finding a cool-looking game on Indiegogo, I didn’t expect much—certainly not over 200k subscribers. After putting many hundreds of hours into managing it, I can say that it’s been an absolute joy.

There is a trend of subreddits growing and becoming more hostile as a result, mainly to newcomers, but I don’t feel that way at all with /r/factorio. As a community, it’s taken very well to the growth spurts, the biggest of which were the launch on Steam and Factorio 1.0. I mainly attribute this to factors like it being a non-competitive game, its focus on collaboration, and appealing to a mature audience.

Of course, it also helps that the game and developers are absolutely fantastic; I imagine it would be a very different situation otherwise. The community is truly great—this very ALT-F4 is a testament to that. Thanks to everyone who makes the community what it is!

I love Factorio because of trains Conor_

Whenever I play multiplayer Factorio (which is most of my play time), I’m always the one to build the trains. ALWAYS. We usually end up with massive bases all running over a train network that was hastily bodged together, but allows us (in conjunction with TSM) to build simple production areas without having to fit all the parts together manually. Programmers will recognize this scenario as the ‘library effect’; it allows us to say thing like “Why would I care where iron plates are made? I’m just trying to make some damn red science packs.”

Without trains, Factorio would be a mess of spaghetti-belts and chaotic pipes; trains bring order to the game. They are the single most important part of Factorio, as they allow us to build many different products without having to consider where every piece of plastic or iron comes from.

Section of a large, train-based SpaceX base

I love Factorio because of modding Therenas

I have played this game for many hundreds of hours. At some point I got into modding it, spending many more hours on it, replacing most of my play time since then. It’s intoxicating to be able to actively modify one’s favourite game, especially when the interface provided is so solid.

In many games you often have to hack your mod together with duct tape and a prayer, only to have it completely break with a minor update. With Factorio the developers actively fix problems that only mods encounter. They are also very receptive to community feedback. The game and modding interface are different in at least a dozen minor ways, just because I wrote two sentences on the forums asking for them to be.

In addition, the modding community itself is amazing, providing answers to every mod-related question on the Discord, writing guides, and keeping the wiki updated.

I love Factorio because of the attention to detail Dexter of Rivia

I love Factorio because of the love and attention to detail that has been given to it. Every piece of the logistics puzzle fits together in its own way. There are no hard constraints on how I can build my factory, and there is no wrong way to go about it. Factorio is the first game I have played over the decades that truly lets you build your own sandbox from the ground up, without feeling like you lack direction or are given everything without working for it. The first rocket launch in any map is only the beginning, it’s the point where the game truly opens up to me. Watching and experiencing the game grow and blossom over the last eight years has been nothing short of wonderful, and to see it come to fruition is surreal. Thank you for the years of hard work and dedication.

I love Factorio because it grows with me Recon419A

I love Factorio because reaching a goal is always a beginning, and never an end. No matter how high I climb, there is always another summit.

I love Factorio because of the freedom to create trupen

I love Factorio because it makes me feel smart after hours of designing the spaghetti I call a factory. It’s awesome that every single part of my base is made by myself and that all of it has an impact on the whole production. Every time I fix a bottleneck, I feel a few IQ points smarter, ignoring the fact that it was me that created the bottleneck in the first place. The game doesn’t force you to do anything while giving you the ability to do everything, which is the best type of sandbox. There is no other game on the market that’s this good at giving you that feeling of freedom to create.

I, too, love Factorio because of the community ironic toblerone

What do I love most about Factorio? That’s easy: the community! I have been a part of the Factorio community for well over three years already. I started playing way back in 0.14, where nuclear didn’t exist, bots were still overpowered, and because I was terrible at signalling, my trains kept crashing into each other. Sorry about that, trains. I love how the community has grown and come up with many great ideas such as the ray-casting engine, the blood belt, and many other concepts that I could not have thought possible in Factorio. The community has come up with so many amazing things that are incredible to watch and explore, keeping me engaged and blowing my mind on a regular basis.

I love Factorio because of multiplayer TheKool

Most games are better with friends, and Factorio is a perfect example of this. The complexity of any given map and the many different tasks to be done makes it easier than any other game I’ve played for multiple people to contribute meaningfully to a common goal, instead of simply playing next to each other on the same map. This level of engagement is what finally inspired me to start streaming, and I hope it inspires others to connect with friends as well, old or new.

I love Factorio because it’s my escape Frank_si_narra

I love Factorio because it pulls me away from reality for a couple hours, which is just what I need to be able to come back and focus on real-world problems with renewed clarity.

I love Factorio because of optimization Twisted_Code

I love Factorio because of all the optimization opportunities it offers. From circuit networks, to production lines, to base styles like the main bus or city block, to maybe just throwing machines wherever they fit; there’s always something to improve on. Even choosing the right logistic medium can be an extended discussion, leading to many different solutions, some of which are rather… innovative.

I love Factorio because of burner inserters Goose

While Factorio has many aspects that are worthy of love, my hands-down favourite is the unfixed creativity of design, particularly using the burner inserter. It is one of the slowest, least efficient, and most burdensome machines to build with. Most players wouldn’t craft more than a handful of them, while I have built whole factories using exclusively burner inserters. With their low speed and fuel insertion requirements, many burner inserters must be built in conjunction to achieve similar results to faster electric inserters. This becomes claustrophobic and critical thinking is required for each and every design to attain optimal throughput. This restriction has pushed me to build more creatively than I ever have before, and really tested my knowledge of the deeper mechanics of the game.

Beaconed green circuit production using burner inserters

Wordcloud

Stringweasel and pocarski were nice enough to put together a wordcloud with the most frequent words in this letter. It came out really well, reflecting many of the things we associate with the game. Feel free to explore it a bit!

A wordcloud of the most frequent words in this letter