Friday Facts #365 - Future plans

Posted by kovarex, Factorio team on 2021-02-05

the 1.1 release is the final release of the vanilla game. It will be maintained, so bugfixes, simple modding interface additions, or minor tweaks can happen, but that's about it.

The future

So, what are we going to do? There are several possibilities. Retiring is not really an option for several reasons, not going insane being one of them. There are some smaller experiments outside the Factorio realm that we want to do, but apart from that, we still want to extend the game. There is a large pool of ideas, so all we have to do is to just pick from the most potent ones. But the question is: How to package them?

There are basically 4 options:

  • Free updates forever
  • Factorio 2
  • Small DLC packs
  • One big expansion pack

Free updates forever

A lot of games do it, notably Minecraft and Terraria. They do really well, so the model works, but I believe that it is not the best way to go for us, as we are a little bit more of a niche game with a smaller but more dedicated audience. This means that the room for expansion in the sense of getting more players is limited.

Factorio 2

The problem with a sequel is that it is expected to be very different in many ways, and technically a different game (Starcraft 1→2). Sequels that mainly just extend the content, but reuse most of the stuff from the previous installment were common in oldschool games (Baldur's gate 1→2, Fallout 1→2, Doom 1→2), but I'm afraid that this is not the expectation today.

The point is, that making a 'New Factorio' is exact opposite of what we want to do. Finally, the base game is in a state that we are happy with, things like Graphics, tutorials, engine, multiplayer etc. Specifically we spent most of the effort in the last year on finalising the GUI, and the last thing we want to do is to throw it all away for the sake of changing stuff.

Small DLC packs

Personally, as a player, I'm not big fan of a lot of small DLC packs. It gets cluttered, it gets harder to keep track of what I have, what features is in which pack, and what do I need to buy in order to play with a friend etc. Not even mentioning the developer pain of having small independent chunks of content that need to be compatible and balanced in every possible combination.

One big expansion pack

This seems to fit the best. We could focus purely on extending what we have and make new content, which we want to do so dearly! It would be one well-defined product that would be significant enough to recapture peoples attention, and it would be compatible with our workflow. Technically, it would be "just" a new version of the game, so all the infrastructure of mods being updated, multiplayer etc. would just work the same as it worked until now.

So, Expansion pack it is!

This immediately creates two main questions: What will it contain and when is it coming.

  • What? It is way too early to show any of the plans, and since we want to keep the iterative process of expanding things that prove to be the most fun, the plan is quite loose anyway.
  • When? All I can say is, that we are starting work on it now, and we don't think that it will take less than a year to develop. I'm personally very curious how the theory of getting more efficient once the engine is solid will hold.

Looking for humans

We don't want to discriminate, so if a talented animal or AI applies, we will happily give it a job.

Since we are finally going to add new content and we are financially doing quite okay, it is the best time to invest into reinforcing our team. One of the steps we have already taken is hiring a concept artist, he might be known to you under the nick of Earendel.

3D artists

We made a job listing, and we have already hired 2 out of the many applicants, please welcome Jerzy and Lucas! However this is still far from enough, so we are looking for more.

The full listing is on the ArtStation page and also on our website.

Operations developer

We have a lot of build servers, deployment processes, web servers, office network storage, etc. We would like someone to reinforce our DevOps team and help us maintain and develop our processes and systems. It will involve working with our CI and deploy scripts, as well as being available in emergencies to put out fires. Our physical servers often need maintenance and repair, so general computer building and repair experience is required.

If you are interested or know someone who is, you can find the full details here.

C++ programmer

We don't need programmers that much at this moment, but someone exceptionally skilled can always find a place here. Bonus points for Linux/macOS specialists, as we are lacking these now.

Final numbers

8 years of Factorio in numbers

The initial Factorio commit was done 31.3.2012, so Factorio was in the development for 8 years 10 months. I did this kind of comparison in FFF-223 and FFF-81, I hope you don't mind if I compare it with the current state.

Our effort in numbers:

  • In development for 1106 → 2099 → 3233 days.
  • 88 → 221 → 411 public releases.
  • 14 082 → 34 686 → 57 932 commits in the master branch.
  • 204 917 → 465 550 → 856 800. lines of code, 546 339 → 1 258 939 → 2 340 804 words and 7 693 483 → 17 517 675 → 35 216 019 characters, this is equivalent to 15 → 35 → 70 average books.
  • 20 791 → 56 947 → 87 703 different sprites with 54 114 147 → 336 907 147 → 945 930 442 non empty pixels.
  • 1492 → 5034 → 8688 resolved bugs (only counting those reported on our forums).
  • 3027 → 7670 → 13 265 lines in the changelog.

Results in:

  • 56 500 → 341 000 → 799 000 Youtube videos
  • 403 000 → 1 900 000 → 2 670 000 Google hits of Factorio.
  • 75 146 → 303 773 → 483 539 forum posts
  • 0 → 11 704 → 38 870 years of combined playtime played on Steam.
  • and finally 74 914 → 1 200 000+ → 2 500 000+ copies sold.

This leads me to different kind of comparisons:

  • 2.7 → 0.42 → 0.34 lines of code per one buyer
  • 12.7 → 16.5 → 17.9 commits per day
  • 2.7 → 6 → 9.2 Youtube videos per one sprite
  • 0 → 2.3 → 4.4 years of playtime per resolved bug report
  • 0 → 4 → 8 months of Steam playtime per one commit
  • 0 → 9.1 → 37 days of Steam play for each line of code
  • 0 → 18.2 → 21.5 minutes for each pixel

I could go on like this for a while :) But mainly, it makes me realize, that making changes, improving things, and fixing even small annoyances in the game is worth it. Also, it seems like we generally doubled everything in 2 years, which sounds like a good progression, lets see where we get in the next 2 years :)

Final words

We are going to stop Friday Facts for a while (again), and there are more reasons:

  • We need to focus on experimenting and iterating design ideas.
  • If we show something that ends up being removed or replaced, it can feel like a broken promise, and we learned that it is generally the worst thing we can do.
  • We don't want to start building hype too early and drive attention away from the finished Factorio.
  • Some of the additions require extending the engine, but some of them could be reproduced with mods to a certain extent. We have experience with people trying to use mods to emulate our future changes before they are released. This has a few problems, people playing with these emulations can have altered expectations for the expansion, and it also wouldn't feel that new anymore.

But still, there are many interesting topics related to designing and implementing the planned features, so as the release approaches, we will be more than happy to present a peek into the process, and discuss some of the content additions. That is to say, Friday Facts will start-up again once the time is right.

Thank you all for being with us on this journey, and we look forward to what the future may bring. As always, let us know what you think at the usual places.