(this post will largely only make sense to players of Factory Town)
Thoughts on Balance
- Terrain modification feels cheap/overpowered. It’s possible this is deliberate until some future revamp of terrain generation, but at the moment it’s crazy cheap. Apart from the earliest part of the game my red coin count has always been strong enough to just let me change any part of the terrain into a flat plain to build on.
- Apart from the very early game the farmable natural resources don’t matter. Farm tiles and planting your own is incredibly easy and efficient. It feels like there should be some reward in working with what’s already on the land.
- Trains feel underpowered. The carts consume population units, and require some effort to set up. Falling back on conveyor belts (which don’t consume population units) seems like the right answer every time.
- The global build inventory feels really powerful. Having fertilizer in a barn in one corner of the map lets me drop farm tiles on an otherwise empty island in the opposite corner. I don’t even need a road to get there.
Things I’ve had a hard time with
- In general I have a hard time understanding what the output of a production building is, and what bonuses have applied to that. Production is at 190%. Great! Why?
- I have no idea how asking a production building to build more than one thing (e.g. make jam and fruit juice) affects the output rate of anything.
- I’ve never been able to build a great mental model on what’s happening at my farm. Do I need more farm tiles? Do I need to fertilize? Understanding bottlenecks is challenging. Watching production race along fully filling a conveyor belt, to screech to a halt when it exhausts ripe fruit is frustrating.
- Debugging problems in setting up compute blocks is hard.
- I wish it was easier to understand compute blocks your first time through. I’ve got ~20 years of software development experience and I still end up at youtube tutorials half the time I try to do something new. I wonder if there’s some UI options around interlocking shapes that would help make things more intuitive.
- Compute blocks should refuse to connect if they’re done in a way that accomplishes nothing. E.g. Number to inventory sensor.
- Understanding my economy. At some point in the mid game my red coins crashed. I built more things to generate red coins and solved the issue. But it’s hard to see what ended up hurting me.
- I don’t have a clear idea of how to improve the throughput of my mining facilities for similar reasons to farms. Trying to keep even one work shop working on polished stones is a challenge.
- Unit pathfinding. I realize this is a big job, but it’s caused me no end of problems. Boat way finding seems to have trouble with long distances where the “follow the shore on the right side” solution works out poorly. I’ve also had several caravans end up stuck at once on a 2 tile wide road. It’s also not uncommon to watch a unit see a road blocked for a second and head off across the country to re-route.
- Production rate details. Let me look at a detailed breakdown on production details. I’d love to see Output/minute as a key figure. Maybe gate this behind research.
Base Production: 20/min
Worker 2: +10/min
Worker 3: +10/min
- Production history. If something stopped producing for 3 minutes and just started again, I’d love to know why (e.g. output blocked, lacked resource)
- Some sort of UI around stuck units
- Some sort of UI around buildings unable to create output for any reason. Could be a building add-on.
- If I’ve recently clicked on a worker, give it a glow/sparkles/whatever for several seconds so I can follow them/find them again.
- Display layer options at the top of the screen in grid view. Offer short links to the thing you might want to build on that view (e.g. steam pipe on the steam grid).
- Well + Trough = water supplied.
- Let me start building something without opening up the build menu. E.g. <shift> b brings up a text box with auto complete, start typing, select, enter
New Features + Units
- Conveyor belt teleporter - Transmits items going through the building # tiles in a straight line to a receiver. Incredibly helpful when dealing with a rats nest of conveyor belts, and saves countless ramps. Research to extend reach.
- A way to give units multiple jobs. E.g. Check each of these silos for stuff, if you find any bring it to the general store.
- Select -> Copy -> Paste :)
- An easy way to see a breakdown on how goods are made. E.g. Veggie Stew.
Tips for new players:
- Houses hold an interesting dual role in your town. They provide population and money. It’s houses that buy the goods you bring to the general store, food market, etc. If you stop building houses because you’ve automated everything you’re actually crippling your economy.
- Make your roads at least two squares wide. Consider placing buildings that may have workers coming to and from one back from the road, so stopped workers don’t block the road.
- Universal inventory is super powerful. Abuse it! Stick something off to the side that feeds a barn with things like wood, planks, stone, etc.
- If you're storing multiple things in barns, filter the slots so every item type gets at least one slot. Items tend to flip back and forth between feast and famine in the game, and it's easy to end up at zero of one item and have something else fill that slot in the barn.
- If a worker is doing something they don’t need to do anymore, selecting them and deleting them may be easier than attempting to stop and re-task.
- Belts that carry more than one item are prone to problems. Consider a belt that brings both fuel and fruit to make jam. Should a glut of fruit arrive the kitchen will stop accepting them. The blocked fruit will block the fuel behind it from coming in. Keep an eye on it. I've tried to split things into silos at the end with mixed results. If the imbalance is long running the silo will fill up. A void obelisk would solve this nicely.