A Satisfactory discussion
Satisfactory is the latest game under development from Coffee Stain Studios, the same people behind the classic meme-fest game Goat Simulator. The game itself certainly looks interesting—fans of titles like Factorio surely saw something in they liked. Following the game's recent trailer reveal at E3, we were quite keen on following up with the developers and learn some more about this upcoming title. We had the chance to have a chat with the game's Senior Designer Oscar Jilsén and talk about what players can expect to see in this factory-building extravaganza.
We'll start off by talking about something that Factorio is not. No, this will not be a survival crafting game like so many others. "We don't want the player to, you know... they sit there and they're trying to plan out this intricate setup of whatever production they want to make," Mr. Jilsén began. "[They're] sitting there and trying to finalize everything in their head and then, you know, beep beep boop - you gotta eat! And they get sort of tugged out of that mode where they're in the zone thinking where things should be and how to set up stuff." The game's primary focus will largely be on exploiting the hand-crafted playing area for every resource of value.
Satisfactory burst onto the scene with a reveal trailer at E3 showcasing some of the amazing machinery players will be able to build in the game.
That's not to say that players won't have to deal with any combat in Satisfactory. Hostile fauna occupies the planet and will be quite happy to tear you and your friends to shreds if given the opportunity. You'll have weapons to defend yourself and your vehicles might end up getting roughed up a little, but you also won't have to worry about them wrecking your machinery. The threat will largely be to you and your comrades in your adventures. One thing was made clear: the primary feature of Satisfactory will be on building awesome machines.
While alien bugs and the like are an ever-present threat, players need not concern themselves with PvP in Satisfactory. I inquired about the prospect of fighting other players and was met with a straightforward answer on the topic from Oscar Jilsén. "No, there is no PVP at all that we've planned. The game's entirely cooperative." Griefing is certainly a concern, of course, and Coffee Stain Studios already has basic player-management tools in the game. That said, the primary focus will be on a cooperative multiplayer experience and they are operating on the assumption that you are playing with people you trust while also trying to balance the possibility of someone mischievously (or outright maliciously) tearing down your hard work.
"[You've got this goal called Project Assembly.] That's why you're sent to that planet. You [have] to build this thing, you construct this giant space elevator and you funnel resources into it in a few stages. You can finish [Satisfactory] and get to the end and press the 'I Win' button." —Satisfactory Senior Designer Oscar Jilsén on the title's end-game goals
In the grand pool of players who enjoy open-world building games, there are some who enjoy the fight for resources against others and those that don't. Satisfactory is setting itself up firmly in the second category as an experience for people who like to explore a world, dodge crazy aliens, and exploit the land for all of its delicious raw materials. There's even an endgame planned, although when we'll see it and what happens is still a mystery that I haven't yet been able to get out of Mr. Jilsén despite my best efforts.
Anyone who has played this sort of game might have some concerns about how exactly the building will work. If you're familiar with anything in this space, you know that there are all sorts of little things that can make or break a title like Satisfactory. Buildings can be simply plopped down onto the ground or placed atop flat foundations if you're looking for a more organized style of building. The key point in your constructions will be the conveyor belts and other connectors that will carry resources between all of the different machines—you'll be able to place them in a freestyle fashion. While it's always a good idea to plan out your buildings for the future, you'll be able to weave these conduits around obstacles or trash them and reconnect the various parts in order to hook in a newly-developed machine. And if you're a bit more anal about getting things set up just right, worry not, foundations will provide a grid that you can snap your creations to for perfect order.
Another item of concern is whether or not you'll have to actually be near your factory for it to work. Minecraft players are well familiar with the idea of "active chunks"; stray too far from an automated farm or mob grinder, and you'll find that it was left in the same state as when you were last in the area. Though the world in Satisfactory is decently-sized, the machines should keep chugging along even if you're not around.
I presented an absurd scenario to Oscar: if I were to build a machine at either end of the map, could I stretch a conveyor belt across the whole game world and have the machines work? He says it will, though he stated that it would be a pretty serious task to undertake if someone actually tried it. Players will be able to build vertically as well, allowing them to set things up in all the right places. Suffice to say, you won't really have to AFK around your buildings to have them continue to work.
How long would it take to beat Satisfactory from start to finish? "We're estimating about a hundred hours... ish," Mr. Jilsén said. However, that comes with the caveat that players were strongly focused on getting to the end of the game as soon as possible. It can (and probably will) take you and your friends a bit longer to complete the grand project you're working on (whatever mysterious thing it might be).
That's a good chunk of time and getting around is a big part of the gameplay experience in Satisfactory. Players will come equipped with jetpacks to get some verticality when they need it and jump pads will let you soar to even greater heights. Rovers of various sorts will also be in the game (and feature heavily in the trailer), allowing you to move goods and people across the vast expanse of the game world. After all, you wouldn't want to have to try to drag a bunch of alien space crystals across the map in your pocket.
One other item that makes an appearance in the trailer is a sort of dropship that seems to be deploying buildings. I was curious as to what these vehicles were and whether or not players would be able to zip about the map in a shuttlecraft of sorts. "The dropship itself isn't controllable," Oscar responded. That's not to say that we'll never see flying vehicles in Satisfactory. He said that they would love to put it in the game, but for the moment their development resources are focused on getting the most essential elements done first.
Satisfactory already has a Steam page up, so you can go ahead and add it to your wishlist if you'd like to get your hands on this game when it comes out. At the moment, it's a bit too early for Coffee Stain Studios to say for certain whether or not it will be coming to other digital distribution services or what consoles it might end up on. Oscar did express his doubts that the Nintendo Switch would have the horsepower to be able to run the game, but we're still early in the course of development and that's not the sort of thing one can know for certain until some measure of optimization has been done.
Like many developers, Coffee Stain Studios found some measure of success on Steam with their previous title. However, the game market is constantly growing and I asked if they were at all concerned about the shifting landscape of selling games in this market. "[There are] so many games," Oscar began. "It's just increasing all the time, the amount of games coming out every month. And that's really tricky 'cause on one hand it's really nice that everybody gets the opportunity to make stuff and put it out for sale because some of those are these hidden gems that we would never get if they hadn't been able to put it out there freely. On the other hand, [there are] so many games that it's almost impossible to [stand out]."
Mr. Jilsén said that they haven't yet decided if Satisfactory will be going into Early Access or if it will only release once the majority of the game is complete. Modding support is also something that's currently on the list of things that they would like to do but haven't yet created. At the minimum, I've gotten an assurance that they won't be relying on modders to fix any potentially broken aspects of their game.
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly keen on getting my hands on Satisfactory as soon as I can. The game already missed an alpha deadline a ways back and so we'll have a bit longer to wait. If you're like to get in on the game's closed alpha, you can simply sign up on the game's official website and cross your fingers that you'll be one of the people randomly selected to participate.
What do you think of Satisfactory? Are you looking forward to building massive machines with your friends? Does the lack of PvP combat disappoint you or does it make for a welcome reprieve from the constant cycle of base raids and lost resources? Let us know in the comments below!