Alt-F4 #36 - The Nauvian Perspective: Bentham and Xisumavoid
This week brings back The Nauvian Perspective for the second time, which involves talking to Factorio personalities about life, the universe, and everything. This time, Bobby had a little chat with Bentham aka. MangledPorkGaming about the very early years of Factorio’s existence.
Like many others, I first came to Factorio from watching other people play it on YouTube. I began all the way back in June of 2014, which was when update 0.10 dropped. The Factorio content creators I watched during this period were Arumba, Steejo, Aavak, …and MangledPorkGaming. But why is the name MangledPork such a mouthful? In our interview, he stated that he wanted to use his name Bentham, but the issue was that it is a common name used by a town in England, by some famous people and so on. So, he split the name down the middle, ending up with “Bent Ham”, which obviously lead him to Mangled Pork.
To let you in on a little secret, the whole thing is a really, really silly pun.
Bentham started off his YouTube channel with videos that were laggy, had terrible audio quality and were recorded on an old laptop. He played FTL, KSP, and quite a few other random assortments of games. Yet, no Factorio until one fateful day in early 2014. In a frantic scramble, having heard of this game called Factorio from Aavak and looking for something easy to play (as the day’s previous recording of another game didn’t quite go to plan), he decided to give the demo a go.
It’s currently yesterday, so I had to quickly scrabble to get something to replace the video, and so what I got was the Factorio demo… I’m sorry.
Like the rest of us, he became hooked, marking the beginning of his Factorio adventures that ended up shaping his YouTube career. What set his single-player series apart is that instead of talking whilst playing, he recorded footage, then later in editing sped it up by a factor of four and put commentary on top of that. This method leads to a unique perspective where he can laugh or react to his own actions along with the audience, whilst explaining what he was doing, but not having to wait very long, due to the speed up, to explain why he was doing something (or even occasionally foreshadow upcoming blunders he made). This led to a fine balance between those short, condensed, high-effort videos and those long, stretched out, slow and relaxing gameplay styles. What lead Bentham to this method was that Sips from Yogscast did a Factorio Let’s Play, but his audience complained that it was too boring because the game at the start was just that slow.
Over the course of 2014, Bentham began a few different Factorio series. In August 2014, he began his popular and his own favourite Factorio Railworld series and the Factorio No Crafting Challenge series. Each video in the Railworld series attracted tens of thousands of views which grew his channel from a few hundred subscribers to many thousands.
It is sometimes thought that Bentham was the first person who properly coined the idea of a “main bus”, although at the time he called it the “tree method”, as the bus was the trunk with production lines on the sides as the branches. He said in the interview that in the forums, the “main bus” phrase started cropping up, and it took him a while to realise that it was the same thing as his tree method. Of course it’s likely that the main bus is just the natural evolution of many Factorio players that wish to leave the spaghetti playstyle.
I just had an epiphany while building a factory and being like “urgh everything’s so messy and all over the place, how can I make this scale”, and I had a think about it and I’m like “oh! oh! you just put everything down the middle and have the assemblers come out the side, this is genuis!”
If you are a long-time Factorio fan, you may have heard of him from his very popular Factorio Rail Tutorials which provided a much-needed handy guide to understanding and using trains and signals. Rails were very annoying to build back then, having the separate curved and straight rail items, and where the rail signal icon had three lights but only actually used two.
Later, in 2015, he began the Living with Biters series. The idea of living amongst biter bases on peaceful mode is fascinating, as it poses multiple challenges you wouldn’t get in any other normal vanilla campaign. This type of run is almost never done, which is partly due to biter logic changing in 0.16 where the idea no longer works, as biters will attack objects that are in the way too much to be viable. This base is so interesting that stringweasel plans to put it into his fantastic Hall of Fame mod.
It was around mid-2015 when he reached the monumental mid-point of his journey around the colossal lake in his Railworld series. Coincidentally, at the same time, the 0.15 update dropped, bringing the Railworld preset with it. Bentham wondered if maybe the idea for the name was taken from his Railworld series, so I asked Klonan (a Factorio developer) about it, who dodged the question by replying: “I want to keep some mystery in the world”.
One day when a developer was telling me about an upcoming update I asked if the railworld preset was inspired from my series. He answered that the name was possibly taken from that.
Since 2015, Bentham has played The Long Dark, Cortex Command, Astroneer, Satisfactory and Dyson Sphere Program. Like Zisteau (covered in our last Nauvian Perspective article), Bentham played Satisfactory extensively, although not with the same playstyle.
Now, busy with real life and being an admin of the tabletop roleplaying game show channel Roll4It, Bentham isn’t as active in Factorio as he once was. But he was a major influence in Factorio’s early years. He brought many players to the game, taught and told many players how to build trains and that biters can be friends. He still has some Factorio content nowadays with his silly Factslowrio April Fools series.
Whilst researching Bentham’s first Factorio series, I came across a lot of comments from Xisumavoid - who is part of the hugely popular Minecraft SMP Hermitcraft server. I thought this was interesting because although I watched his late 2014 Factorio series, I didn’t realise he had played the game all the way back in its very early days in 2013. Xisuma (his diminutive name) told me that he first heard of Factorio over eight years ago! He couldn’t remember where he stumbled upon it, but he remembered being drawn to its visual style, which is a quality that he enjoys in games. I see a lot of similarities in Xisuma and Bentham - they are both down-to-earth and have similar humour (plus are both English!).
In my interview with Bentham, one of the questions I had was if maybe he had first heard of Factorio from Xisuma, which as I’ve covered earlier was not true. However, Bentham gave an interesting story as to how he heard of Xisuma, involving the terrible YouTube messenger service and Steejo finding his personal Facebook account. Xisuma responded to this story:
Having looked up Bentham I totally remember watching his videos! There were not a lot of people playing the game at the time so the search engine and recommendations would churn up the few people that were.
Back in 2019, Xisuma tried a Factorio series again but hit that same problem that many other Factorio content creators have with the game - that it is too slow, so without having to put loads of effort into the editing, the content does not contain the same high entertainment standard than other games he plays like Minecraft.
Minecraft feels endless. This is because your own creativity is what you put into game, you make the experience. Factorio on the other hand has a tech tree, creative direction and path to follow. To step outside of that you need to be really good at math and planning for the advanced mega base concepts which I am not.
The series did end up as a flop and since then he didn’t touch the game again. This is unfortunate because he is known for making relaxed and fun videos and it would have been great to have him an active part of our community. However, it’s only fair since it’s his job to create entertaining content for his target audience and the Factorio series just had no success on his channel.
When I asked if Xisuma might play Factorio again, maybe when the Expansion drops:
I am definitely interested in playing it again. A DLC would be a good excuse to get back into it.
Both Xisumavoid and Bentham contributed significantly to the Factorio’s history. At a time when Factorio was still relatively unknown, they brought new players to the game. They were part of the first generation of Factorio content creators and players, and they might have even brought you to the game.
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