Unearthed #5: Factories

In each post of Unearthed we expose and closely examine a single aspect of Project Automata. Not everything mentioned in this series will necessarily show up in the final game, but we wanted to share our development process with you as we ramp up to Alpha and the eventual release of Project Automata. Feel free to share any of your ideas or concerns with us in the comments!

This time around we talking manufacturing. Much of the resources you collect eventually end up in factories which turn those raw materials into wonderful new items.

Production

A factory’s sole purpose is to turn resources into goods and, indeed, they do that very well. All you need to do is open the factory’s menu, select the good to be manufactured and it’s ready to go. As the logistics expert, the real job is getting those resources into the building and the goods out.

Each factory has three connections: one conveyor belt input, one belt output, and one pipe output.

For simple processing of materials, like turning wood into planks, it’s easy enough to bring the wood in let the factory do it’s thing and then it on a belt to send to the next factory in the production line. It starts getting interesting when a production recipe asks for two or three items. For example, construction materials might take five units of concrete, two pipes and three planks for each unit produced. Now it may be necessary to build an elaborate filter and belt system that carefully funnels everything the factory needs into the single belt input.

The current work-in-progress factory interface showing the production of planks.

The current work-in-progress factory interface showing the production of planks.

Waste

All factories will produce waste products while in operation. Some of it will waft out of the chimney on the roof, and some of it will be pumped out in liquid form via the pipe output.

If no pipeline is connected to the output all those chemicals will dump right on to the ground next to the factory. Your hardy employees might not mind, but the people living down the road might have a thing or two to say about that. Your best option is to build a series of tubes (no, not the internet), and dump all that ugly pollution somewhere else. Say, a small lake behind behind that mountain over there…

There are additional ways waste can be produced beyond normal production. Factories have an internal storage that can hold about ten items worth of raw material based on the final product. Once that storage is full, any additional materials shipped to the factory is directly dumped out as waste product! So if you’re bringing in resources on belts like previously explained, you’ll need to ensure the raw materials are brought in the right quantities. You could simply dump everything on the belt and hope for the best, but you might end up with a bit of a mess on your hands.

As well, if the output overflows for any reason, those finished products will also be disposed of.

If something does go wrong, don’t worry as you will be alerted and can simply turn off the factory until you sort out the issue.

Note that reassigning a factory from one production type to another will convert the entire internal inventory to waste. It’s best to cut off the supply, finish production, and clear out the factory before retooling.

Modules

Many buildings will eventually accept modules which will alter their properties or function in various ways. Factories will potentially be highly modular in later revisions of the game. Modules might change the speed of production, expand the internal storage, or maybe scrub away some of the pollution. But that’s a big topic for later…

Till next time!

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