Friday Facts #300 - Special edition

Posted by Factorio Team on 2019-06-21, all posts

Hello,
this is a special edition. We are celebrating that we managed to write something about the game development of Factorio every single Friday and reached the number 300. Since we hopefully won't get to another round number like this before finishing the game, we would like to make this one a little bit different. We will introduce people from the team.

Everyone was asked to answer the following questions:

  • What were your favorite video games growing up?
  • What did you do before Factorio?
  • What do you do in the Team?
  • What's your favorite part of Factorio?
  • Anything else that is important about you.
Here are the answers:



Michal (kovarex) Kovařík
Founder, Game designer, Developer, "Approver"

My favorite games are: Baldur's gate, Starcraft, Civilisation, Xcom, They are billions, Homam III, Half life 2, Fallout 1/2, Supaplex, Baba is you.

I encountered programming when I was 11 and I was instantly hooked for life. I knew that I would do programming job since then. I loved to program things where the result might produce something that couldn't be expected before running it. I tried to do simplistic animal simulation with DNA evolution, GO problem solver, a math equation solver or bwapi - a C++ API for Starcraft . I studied at a university in Prague, but never finished as I started to work as a programmer instead. After 4.5 years, the urge to work on my own terms and make games pushed me to start the Factorio project.

I like to say that Factorio was my first game, but it actually isn't true. We had a very interesting rule in our school. Games weren't allowed unless it was programmed by someone from the school. It gave us a great motivation to create, and several people made content for the rest of the school. I tried to do a text based RPG, Civ like game, Starcraft like game, none of these got to be fully playable games, since I was young and didn't have the patience or understanding of how much work is needed to do these kind of games. But I've certainly learned a lot on the way and it also gave me the will to finish Factorio as I want to finish something for once.

In games, I'm most focused on progression, exploration of the game mechanics, optimizing them to become overpowered, and solving things in a way that is somewhat specific to me. My favorite parts of Factorio are tied to progression, when new tech allows me to progress faster (construction robots, personal transportation) or when old improvised parts of the factory are replaced by specialized and better organized high-production facilities and the products start to flow in much higher numbers.

Factorio is being made for 7 years. I had to do basically everything in the start, but these days, my role is mainly something I would call an "approver". I'm trying to make sure, that only additions/changes that are good enough are pushed to the game. Here comes the "kovarex approved". I don't always feel comfortable in the role of rejecting many things or nitpicking about results of other peoples work, but someone needs to do it... Apart from that, I'm doing a little bit of a project management and trying to answer when people ask about code that I wrote or touched. The rest of the time (which is still the majority, thankfully) I do programming.

Factorio is being made for such a long time, that I managed to get married and have three kids in the meantime. My interests outside the computer world are mainly paragliding, board games, Lego, RC toys, GO, and playing the piano.



Tomáš (slpwnd) Kozelek
Managing Director

My favorite games are Age of Empires 2, Civilization, Warcraft 2, Operation FlashpointQ

Before Factorio I studied Informatics at the Charles University in Prague. During and after studies I went through various freelance jobs and ended up in market making company in Amsterdam for couple of years.

I joined Kovarex very early on as a core developer working on basics of many areas of the game. Working on a new project from scratch and being involved in the software architecture from the beginning was exactly what I was after at that time and I enjoyed it a lot. In the early days we also had to take care of the full scope of game development ourselves - development itself, testing, web, crowdfunding, community and support, etc.

As the company grew I moved to more executive position doing less coding and more organising the work of other people. About three years ago I started to recede from the active position in the company and currently I help with administration, business and important decisions regarding the direction of Factorio and the company.

For me, my favorite part about Factorio has always been the mini-game of trying to fit the production lines into limited, usually uneven area. So in this light I was into the scenario game Tight Spot quite a lot. And obviously going around existing factory and enjoying the view of all the organised movement on the screen. That was what really caught my attention back when Kovarex showed me one of very first prototypes of the game.



Albert (glex) Bertolín Soler
Art Director

When I was a kid I was mesmerized with the graphics of the videogames. To me the fact of controlling a character in the TV was just magic. I played games in order to see the graphics of the next level, whatever game is. I was in the arcades without a coin watching the pros playing games for the joy of the graphics.

I started my career destroying my hand playing with the old Atari 2600 , Pacman, Pitfall, Space Invaders. I got blind playing anything in my beloved MSX 8bit computer with special love to Batman and Head over Heels, Penguin adventure, La abadia del Crimen, Nemesis, R-type. I peeled my thumbs with the buttons of the NES playing Super Mario bros 1 and 3, Blades of Steel, Skate or die, Double bubble and many others. When the PC came to my place, my wrist bones were slowly getting out of place due the use of the mouse playing Maniac Mansion, Dune 2000, Syndicate, Alone in the dark, Quake, Doom (chiquito wad), Carmaggedon, Half life, Flashback to say some. To me one of the best games ever is ICO for the PS2

Before getting to Factorio I was in the studio Glaznost, creating experimental audiovisuals in real-time with “gLanzoL”, our own mod of Counter Strike -When it was a mod of Half Life- We played in clubs and festivals all around Europe and a bit beyond.
Composed electronic music for concerts, experimented a lot with interactives and videogames, making commercial and experimental projects for lots of clients.
We also made lots of exhibitions with my artwork in galleries and published illustrations for several editorials.

Now in Wube I'm in charge of the art department, responsible of the aesthetics of Factorio, designing sprites, conceptualizing, 3d modeling, animating, coordinating artists, balancing look, style and usability. Designing GUI, making icons, graphic design and drinking lots of coffees.



Asaftei (Twinsen) Robert
Programming, Game Design, UX, Project Management
http://twinsen.info/

Quite your typical nerd. I graduated Computer Science in Romania back in 2013. After graduating there was no shortage of job opportunities, so being a gamer I chose to start working in a small company making video games in Unity. There I worked on many small games. During that time, I not only took game programming seriously but also game design, learning quite a bit on the subject, from Gamasutra articles to dev blogs, to GDC talks to even taking an online university course in Gamification. I would talk about video games at work, often mentioning games like OpenTTD. So one of my co-workers mentioned I should check out this Early-Access game called Factorio. So I went home and downloaded the demo for what was probably version 0.10. This was at 10pm so I thinking I'll play the demo and then go to sleep. As you would guess I got the demo, then immediately got the full game which I ended up playing until 5am. So I started reading Friday Facts. In one of the posts they mentioned how they are hiring. Even though I had never used C++ outside university and never touched lua, I decided to re-learn C++ over the course of a week and then applied for the job. Some interviews and test weeks later, I moved to Prague to work on Factorio and I have been doing that for the past 4 years.

My most notable contribution to the game was the Circuit Network, for which I'm the main designer and coder. Apart from that, I worked on many other small things, from the trailers, to UI, to Project Management to help organize the team.

Outside of Factorio I do everything you would expect a nerdy guy to do: 3D printing, I fly quadcopters and even build my own racing drones, I film and edit drone videos. My latest project is a 5kW electric mountain board. I also manufactured my own skateboard remote by doing everything from PCB etching to soldering to 3D printing.

Electronics is one hobby but of course the other one is video games. I play quite a lot of them actually, across all platforms. I also like to hang around gamers, so you will find me at Gamescom almost every year.

These days I'm going outside of my bubble and socializing in hopes of finding that special someone. So if you know someone, send her my way ;)

That's all for now, I'm back to fixing a serious multiplayer issue (what we call "the megapacket"). Something I'll no doubt write about in a future FFF once I figure everything out.



Michal (posila) Pavelčík
Developer

The first video game I was obsessed with was Sonic The Hedgehog on Sega Master System II. Later on PC, I liked 90's strategy games, city builders and tycoons, and Czech point & click adventure games.

I started to learn programming because I wanted to make my own games. Unfortunately, first I learned Pascal and Delphi and was stubbornly trying to prove to the world games don't need to be made in C or C++. These attempts ended up with me making an editor or framework to make a game with, and never actually making any game (besides some mini-games that we played on computers in my school's library with class mates). Later I switched to C# and when I went to university, I got very excited about functional programming paradigm. However, gradually I started to be interested in high performance computing and my interests circled back to programming in C++ and partially even assembly.

When I couldn't bring myself to finish my degree in computer science and decided to leave university, I felt like I'm not good enough to work on big games, so instead I took a job in a company building business applications. The first time I heard of Factorio was from a coworker who said her friends were making a factory building game and launching an IndieGoGo campaign. I couldn't tell what is going on in the campaign trailer and didn't participate.

After some time I regained a confidence in my professional capabilities and started thinking about switching to video game industry. The coworker mentioned Factorio again, and at around that time a friend from university told me Factorio is hiring. I downloaded the demo (0.10 at the time), but played it only for about 10 minutes. Instead I sent my CV to a new big studio working on a AAA game in Prague. They didn't respond.

I figured I became too confident without anything to show for it, so I quit my job with a plan to make a jaw dropping graphical demo that I could attach to my CV. I became Rank 68 Monk in Greater Rift Seasonal Hardcore leaderboards.

I started to play Factorio again (0.11 this time), and progressed through campaign a started to like the game. It was much more than top-down Minecraft what I thought it was when I played it the first time. In the end things worked out very well for me and I am happy kovarex and Tomáš allowed me to join the team.

When playing Factorio I like the progression, where from nothing I built a huge factory (of spaghetti design preferably) and if something doesn't work I can blame only myself. I don't like when other humans mess with my stuff, though.



Ondřej (Oxyd) Majerech
Developer

I've been unreasonably drawn toward computers since I was a kid. At first I'd spend most of my time playing games, like Dune 2, Supaplex or F-19 Stealth Fighter. I still have a thing for simulation and puzzle style games.

Soon after, I discovered programming, and it was perhaps even more fun than video games. I tried making my own simulation-style game back then when I was around 13 or so, which obviously didn't work out too well, but I kept dreaming about being able to make a game one day.

I discovered Factorio whilst still working toward my computer science master's degree. Sinking time into the game didn't exactly help my education, but then I noticed there was a programming position open, and it was right here in Prague! Applying was the natural choice.

Over the years with the team I got to work on some interesting problems. I've spent a lot of my time working on the biter AI, multiplayer and networking code, and I wrote the code for rendering the technology tree. I'm also one of the Linux developers on the team, so I take care of Linux-specific issues with the game.

When playing RTS games, I'd always spend way too much time working on my base, and not focus enough on doing much actual battling. When playing Factorio for the first time, I was really excited when I realised that focusing on my 'base' was exactly what I was supposed to do. That's what really drew me toward the game in the beginning.



Robert (Rseding) Eding
Developer

I first saw Factorio when one of the people I watched on Twitch was streaming it. The guy was using several mods and was talking about how one the mods was having performance problems. I ended up buying the game just so I could try to fix the performance problem with the mods he was using and in the process found the game was a lot of fun. A short time after that (and several minor mods aimed at improving performance) I heard from the other modders that Wube let some of the more active mod developers have read access to the source code. That sounded like a lot of fun to try an implement the performance fixes in the core game so I sent Kovarex a message on the forums. A few messages later (and I assume Kovarex's shared love for optimizations) I was in. After quickly learning my way around the code (and in the process starting to learn about C++) I was submitting pull requests for things and was eventually offered a job.

The power to do (almost) exactly what I want through C++ is amazing. Every time I need to use other languages I find them lacking and it brings be back to wanting what C++ offers. Every time I play other games and experience the inevitable performance problems they have my mind goes over just what they might have done wrong, or what the language they're using is doing wrong that's causing the performance problems. At some level it has reduced how much I can enjoy other games because I want to go fix their problems. However, it also gives me a better appreciation when I find a game that "does it right". I've even tried to contact some other indie-style games to see if they would let me attempt performance improvements on their games, but so far I have only had luck with Factorio.

4 years and 304 days after Kovarex gave me a chance to prove myself I still love working on optimizations. It's what got me into working on Factorio, it's what I love doing, and it benefits the game by improving the experience for those that play it. When someone asks what I do for fun I get to tell them that what I do for fun is what I do for work: both are the same thing and I get paid to do what I love. I can't think of a better job than that.



Vaclav (V453000) Benc
Technical artist (and a bit of game design)

Played a lot of games since childhood, the most memorable one being Transport Tycoon. In the more recent years I enjoyed Age of Empires 2 HD, Borderlands 2, DOOM (2016), They Are Billions or the iPad version of Rollercoaster Tycoon.

I discovered OpenTTD around 2007, spent a lot of time in a community of crazy people. Eventually I started creating mods for it which really hooked me into creating game graphics and basic coding.

OpenTTD friends got me into Factorio. I discovered that it’s exactly the type of game I would enjoy, that the graphics are created in a very similar same way as I was trying to do for OpenTTD, and also that the development is happening only 100km away from me. It was clear what I needed to do.

As an artist I enjoy automating as much of the pipeline as possible. I love writing Python scripts so I like it best when I have a task that can utilize it a lot, like tilesets (rails, transport belts, resources) or things with many outputs like the player character animations, or combinators with all their offsets for circuit wire connections. Usually the outputs of my work come from Albert’s models, like most of the entities converted into high resolution.

I also play Factorio a lot and I contribute to gameplay/balancing discussions and the design of the new campaign and introduction. I’m especially happy with the introduction of Space science packs in 0.15, the science pack and technology changes for 0.17 and the worm/spitter attacks added in 0.17.



Scott (Klonan) Woodhouse
Press, Community, and Support manager

When I was a young lad, I spent a lot of time playing Age of Empires 1 and 2, mostly in the scenario editor, trying to build the biggest and most defended base possible. I also fondly remember playing Red alert 1 on my Playstation 1, just spending hours building turrets and impenetrable bases.

After studying Economics at university, I got a job doing Stock management for a large British department store. During this time, I discovered Factorio from watching a Youtube video from Zisteau. I was instantly hooked. I became involved in writing some mods and scenarios, discussing the game on the forum and the Subreddit. When a position for a Community manager opened at the end of 2015, I applied for the job, and that’s how I ended up here.

When I joined the team at the start of 2016, all my focus was on the preparation for the Steam launch in February. I was responsible for setting up the Steam store page, distributing review keys, as well as handling all the support emails. Over time I have assumed a lot of other non-development work, most notably producing the weekly FFF post. If you send an email to the team, I will be your first point of contact.

My favorite part of Factorio can be divided in 2. As a player, I really enjoy the base building part of the game, especially as in Factorio, it has a ‘purpose’. Having a massive industrial machine with walls as thick as mountains brings a certain joy to my heart. I also do a lot of modding, and the Factorio modding system is really nice to work with, so that is my second favorite part of the game.



Jitka Řihova
Office Manager

My favorite games growing up were all those 90's DOS games on floppy discs! This question brought me back, hard to pick one, so there is a list: Prince of Persia, Prehistoric, Winter and Summer challenge... and the multiplayer ones like Bubble Bubble and Tunneler! Later Civilization I. and Transport Tycoon. Oh, and Supaplex! The obsession with this game came back when I discovered there is a mobile version — still loving it.

Whats my place in the team? Heh, taking care of quite a broad range of stuff really... Let's say I am the Team mummy, does that make sense? That's probably the best description I can think of.

My favorite thing about Factorio is the team behind it. So many great people, so many different personalities! And the biters, of course. I still consider them being cute :wink:

Outside of work I spend my time traveling and being out in nature in general. Shame the world is too big to cover everything in a single lifetime. Spending time abroad (mostly backpacking) makes me understand the world better.



Ernestas Norvaišas
3D Generalist

Growing up I had many favorite games, but the best of them would be Stronghold Crusader, Age of Empires, Cossacks, American Conquest, Red Alert 2, C&C Generals. Mainly I was interested in creating my own scenarios and simulating stories, but crushing bots was fun too!

Before working at Factorio I was studying at a maritime academy to be an engineer. After 3 years I decided it was not for me, so I dropped out with high hopes to turn my hobby into work, and a nice cheque for the academy to return some of the money they invested in me. Or how I saw it, as motivation to find a job faster. Not long after playing some Factorio I wrote to the team, and ended up working and learning with amazing people.

From the beginning, I was mainly responsible for all of the environment, decorations, and background for the game. If by any chance you have seen an enemy, maybe some tile with decoratives, or a tree, then you probably saw what I work on. But my work is not limited to that, I also work on entities, and applications to (for example) prototype new ideas.

Before working at Wube my favorite part of the game was adventure. Exploring, finding new resource patches, finding a better or more compact way to build something. But after understanding mechanics, seeing countless Reddit posts of various bases and seeing Vaclav create and explain these beautiful monstrosities, the adventure was lost, because almost everything was known. So now the favorite part is seeing reactions from people on projects I work on, for example, the reaction to cliffs, how cute and cuddly the biters are, etc.



Tom (wheybags) Mason
Developer

My favourite games from my childhood are probably the original Spyro trilogy (especially 3), and later RPGs like Fable and Oblivion.

The Elder Scrolls series has been a major influence for me, the first hint of "I want to make games" was a vague idea that it would have been amazing to be on the Oblivion team working on miscellaneous quests.

Before moving to Prague to work with Wube on Factorio, I lived in my native Dublin, Ireland, and worked for a company making tools for texture authoring in video games. I also contributed to some open source projects like OpenMW, and ran my own, freeablo, an ongoing open source re-implementation of the Diablo 1 game engine. I studied Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin, but I still feel that it was my work on OpenMW that really taught me how to program in the real world. It was only there that I learned how to read and understand other people's code, how to use Git, and write C++. This was compounded afterwards by professional work and my own open source projects, but I still consider it the original core of my experience.

I've been at Wube since August 2017, and I'm currently working on the campaigns, both the Introduction and the main campaign. The "campaign team" is quite inter-disciplinary, with three main contributors; one each from programming, level design and art. I mostly work on programming, so whenever we need a new engine feature implemented for the campaign, it usually falls to me. We do blur the lines quite a lot though, so I end up working a lot on design and level scripting too. I think this mix of tech and design suits me quite well, which is surprising to me as I had always focused on a pure technical position before. I'm also responsible for a collection of other small bits around the codebase, like the deploy process for releasing new versions of the game, and the text renderer/rich text engine.

My favourite part about Factorio is probably the ability the game has to induce a state of flow. People often joke about how they sit down to play for an hour or two in the evening, and suddenly it's 2am, and I think the main reason for this is how easy it is to slip into a flow state when you're playing. It is quite like programming in this way, except much easier to get into and maintain your flow, because, after all, it is optimised for fun.



Dominik Met Franek
Developer

The first game I ever played was Commander Keen 4, it was on my grandmothers beefed up PC which was rare at the time, as it was shortly after the fall of communism, but she worked at the technical university. The "golden age" was high school with a lot of Starcraft and insane Doom 2 tournaments, where I was already learning from Kovarex. But the games that really grew to my heart were Might and Magic 6 and Baldur's gate 1.

I like to be versatile so I was jumping between place to get experience. I got MSc in AI and from there I went to work on startups to learn business. Few years later, fed up by all the BS, I went back to program neural networks, work on space technologies and also did a bit of math teaching at a business university.

As a developer I do the same as everybody, a bit of everything (bug fixing), but two areas I focus on more are the fluids and GUIs. Also I am fighting on behalf of capitalism in our lunch economical/political discussions.

I like seeing how everything, all the layers, come together to create the game. You see all those things moving and interacting on the screen, but that is a result of layers of very complicated mechanisms underneath. Honestly, it amazes me that it works, seeing how complicated and fragile it is inside, especially with all the mods.



Ben (Abregado) Buckton
Player experience and Level Design

My version of growing up with video games took place in the 90's. Most games were one-time affairs so when there was a title which had massive replayability, it really stuck. Master of Orion 1 and 2, Populous and Wing Commander: Privateer would be at the top. I also remember a lot of Quake mods at LAN parties.

I am a massive advocate for using games in education. In 2014 I helped found an Australian education company that provides holiday and after-school programs using games as a tool for motivation. Factorio was one of those games. When the team posted an opening for a level designer to make a new tutorial experience, a friend said "Ben, you'd be crazy not to apply". So, here I am.

I started with the team early 2018 to build a new scenario that would act as both a Demo and a Tutorial. Plans for a campaign of larger scope came together shortly thereafter. I try to get involved in any discussion about player experience that will affect new players. Removing the pickaxe item was the first suggestion I offered to the team to help new players (sorry, not sorry).

My favorite part of the game has to be how scriptable the game is. There is a crazy amount of things you can do, a lot of which you probably shouldn't! We have seen Dota, MMOs, RPGs and Survival games all made from the humble Factorio engine. As a level designer, it is great to work with a product that is very expandable and a team that value it being so.



Erik (Bilka) Wellmann
Wiki Administrator

I remember sinking hours of my childhood into developing my cities in Die Siedler: Aufbruch der Kulturen, a German part of the Settlers game series. Minecraft was another game that caught my attention growing up, I still occasionally play it, nowadays heavily modded.

I found Factorio just after Steam release and played the game on and off for about a year until I graduated high school. After that, I spent more time playing the game and became wiki admin. Over the next year, I got involved in modding and was granted access to the source code of the game. This increase in involvement ended in me getting hired as a wiki admin and I became part of the team.

When I first joined the team, I just kept doing the wiki admin work that I had already been doing. As time went on, I became interested in programming the game. I started working on small modding interface requests to get to know C++. I like to challenge my skills, so since then my programming projects have become bigger and more complicated, and I have created features like the script rendering.

Factorio is a great game but the best part of it is the community that grew around it. I like helping beginners, following the planning behind megabases, learning from experienced modders and racing against the time together with speedrunners. All this is only possible due to the awesome community.



Sanqui
Dev-ops
https://sanqui.net

My favorite games include a variety of titles like Cave Story, Doom, or The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. I did enjoy Minecraft quite a lot when that was the new thing, too. I'm also a fan of more obscure games like Keitai Denjuu Telefang, a Japan-only monster collecting game which I help make an English translation patch for. A special place in my heart is held by the original Pokémon games. Charming, timeless and revolutionary RPGs.

I enjoy tinkering and seeing how things work behind the scenes, so a big hobby of mine is reverse-engineering old video games. In particular I have numerous disassembly and homebrew projects for the venerable Game Boy. I'm a founding member of RetroHerna, a Czech videogame museum project. I'm also an administrator over at The Cutting Room Floor, a site dedicated to documenting unused content in video games.

I'm also a bit of a digital historian and archivist. I take part in Archive Team, where we work hard to preserve websites which are at risk.

Basically, I like to pretend I'm some sort of digital archeologist. Outside of computers, though, I've been growing my interest in nature conservation and birds, in particular real work with birds of prey.

I joined the Factorio team a bit over a year ago by now and my responsibility is the technical side of the website, the mod portal, the forums, the wiki, the matching server... and a lot of internal stuff. I don't work on the game itself, I leave that to the C++ pros. But occasionally I help playtest. I make a good guinea pig because I haven't played Factorio all that much. But I do love the game! The aspect of factory creation, growth, and long-term maintenance is what I really enjoy. Making and exploring worlds will never get old.



Ales (Zopa) Navratil
Graphic Designer
http://zopa-design.cz

When I was a child, there was not many of video games in Czech Republic, but one of the first games I have played and I remember was Wolf & Eggs.

I played some Wolfenstein 3D with friends when it was new, and recently I am trying to cut my way through a playthrough of Factorio, but it is very time consuming.

I have studied high school of graphics and Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague. I have been working in graphical design for 30 years (you can find my website here). I specialize in creating visual identity of companies and brand design. My work on Factorio started by creating a logotype for Wube Software, and fluently continued by cooperating on the new GUI for Factorio.




Dominik Schmaderer
VFX Artist

Growing up, my favorite games were probably the games I played with my brother. This includes a ton of Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario for the SNES. I loved the look and feel of pre-rendered sprites in Donkey Kong Country, understandable why I love the Factorio art style so much. As the younger sibling I was always player number 2 and more or less here to warm the second controller, but I learned to observe the game and the style instead of playing it. I also liked playing the Sonic series, especially the Sega Mega Drive ones as well as Sonic adventure 1 and 2 (yes I said that fight me I love em).

I went to Art school in Vienna, in my graduation year a friend of mine and I got heavily invested in Factorio and we would spend more time playing the game instead actually working on our grad film. We set up meetings to work on our project and worked a bit and would then spend the whole evening playing Factorio.

I joined Factorio in late 2018 so I'm quite new to the team. I work here as an VFX artist alongside some other things, but primarily if it needs to be bleeding, oozing, vomiting, or exploding, that's basically my bit in the team.

For me personally my favorite part of the game is the artstyle! It reminds me of 90s games and it gives me a very nostalgic feeling. Another great aspect of the game for me is the teamwork, when a friend and I had play sessions we would draw up plans and ideas in photoshop and send it to each other, it was quite a lot of fun.



As always, let us know what you think on our forum.