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Re: Game Reviews

Post by SirMustapha » Tue Nov 28, 2023 4:39 pm

Thought I'd resurrect this thread for more factory sim insanity:

Pyanodon (modpack for Factorio)

Factorio has loads of mods. Loads. Some of them add quality of life (like calculators, factory planners and recipe books), others tweak the gameplay to make things more accessible or more challenging (or both), others add new elements to expand the game a little. And then, there are the overhaul mods, the ones that fundamentally change the gameplay experience, albeit maintaining its core principles.

The most popular ones include Seablock, Krastorio 2, Space Exploration and Industrial Revolution. I was curious to try them out sometime, so last year, I tried to play a combination of three overhaul mods: Space Exploration, Krastorio 2, and 248k. I was having a blast with it, but the actual "space exploration" portion turned out to be a major pain in the ass, and I lost my motivation. But I was aching to try it again, because Factorio is just so goddamn addicting.

And then, there is not a modpack, but the modpack. The most feared, the most dreaded, the biggest and baddest and most monstrous modpack of them all: Pyanodon.

I said, what the hell, and decided to give it a try. At least it doesn't make me deal with cargo rockets.

So, right off the bat, Pyanodon is massive. I'm not kidding when I say the size and complexity of the game gets multiplied by about 100. The tech tree is infinite, the number of natural resources is huge, the amount of recipes is staggering, the amount of buildings is terrifying. When you start it, you're essentially relearning to play Factorio. It's like you never played the game before: as much as you're already familiar with burner miners, stone furnaces, boilers and steam engines, belts and inserters, everything else is different.

Just to give you a basic idea of it: in the base game, the first science pack you get is production science, which uses copper plates and gears. You mine iron ore, smelt it into iron plates, and use it to craft gears. You mine copper ore and smelt it into plates. Then you put those together and make nice little flasks with red sciencey fluid in it. In Pyanodon? You mine and smelt iron and use it to make gears; then you use it to make sticks, which are then used to make bolts; then you mine and smelt copper and use it to make wire. Put those three together and you get small parts. Now, you smelt stone into bricks, harvest wood (and you can automate wood production later) and add iron plates to make empty planter boxes; then add ash and soil to make planter boxes. Now, you harvest native flora with a specialised building. Put the native flora, the planter boxes and the small parts together, and only then you get your first science pack.

Oh, and you have to do all this without splitters. Why? Because splitters not only are locked behind automation science, but you need simple electronic circuits to make it; and said circuits require SEVEN ingredients, each one with a complex production chain of their own (the printed circuit substrate has a production tree that goes up to about 10 steps, no kidding).

And you have to do it all without electric miners, which are locked behind the second science pack. It's all burner miners, which require coal to work. And the assembling machines? They also run on coal, not electricity, so there's another layer of logistics to handle. And did I mention "ash" in one of the recipes above? Yeah, every time a building burns coal, it produces ash; and you have to get rid of it, otherwise the buildings eventually get clogged and stop working, especially the miners and boilers (it's fun to get a blackout because the boilers are loaded with ash). As a bit of a consolation prize, the mechanical inserters don't require electricity, and they're filter inserters, so you can handle mixed belts of iron plates and ash, for example.

Another layer of complexity is that several production steps produce byproducts. To refine raw coal into coal, you end up getting iron oxide (which can be smelted into iron plates), coal gas and tar. The last two of them aren't immediately useful, so you need to do something about them. Converting coal into coke (which is necessary for steel) also results in coal gas and tar. Eventually the tar gets refined into a complex network of fluids and gases, some of which are ingredients for other recipes (creosote for the circuits, for example) or work as fuel for certain buildings. Also, some ores require fluid miners, which need specific types of fluid to run, like acetylene for lead and aromatics for tin. Ah! And stone? Remember mining stone in the base game? Here, stone patches give you stone and kerogen, and it also takes a while before you can do something useful with kerogen, so you have to store it somehow. And the mountains of ash you produce, some of it is used for growing trees and making planter boxes, but the rest is sent off to a separator. You get some iron oxide, which gives you iron plates, and you get soot, which gives you random ores. And it also gets coal dust, which is burned as fuel (I just learnt this as I'm writing this review, and it's a big relief).

The way I'm describing it makes it sound really sadistic and horrible, and yes, the first descriptions of Pyanodon I've seen really did give me that impression, like, "why the hell would I put myself through this??". And this was even before I realised how much you depend on primitive tech in the beginning of the game. But well, consider it more like a warning, to let you know that this modpack is not for the faint of the heart. But for me, this is a goddamn amusement park. It's so immensely fun and gratifying, and it pushes all the potential of the base game to an absurd degree. There's just so much to do, so many things to discover, so many things to try out. Even though the recipes feel monstrous at the start, it's ultimately a matter of breaking it all down into small, discreet steps, and sorting them out one by one. Some require more patience than others, but personally, I haven't become frustrated by the game at all yet. This is giving me the same insane rush that I got with Satisfactory, if not more. I'm obsessed with Factorio again, and I've been spending my days aching to get free from work and sink my teeth into it. It's so damn addictive.

My one big Achilles heel when it comes to this is managing space. So far in the game, I haven't had the need to build massive production lines with dozens of buildings, but there's a large amount of products that are needed, and many belts and pipelines going everywhere. Finding a way to make it organised and scalable is very hard, and it's one of the things I need to work on. But it's all a matter of time and patience. Right now, just after I secured a production of circuits to make my blesses splitters, I'm setting up a brand new outpost for mining and smelting iron, since my starter patch has run dry. After that, I need to churn out some titanium plates to get a smelter, which will process copper and aluminium into duralumin, which will then finally give me regular yellow inserters! Yellow ones are faster, and should stop the brownouts caused by my boilers getting clogged with ash. I can't wait to do that.

Yeah, this game is a crazy rush. I'm loving every second of it so far, even though I'm cautious of recommending it. I guess it's only for the more obsessed.
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
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