Hello, long time no talk, we've got some catching up to do...

Almost 1 year ago (FFF-365) we said "we don't think that [the expansion] will take less than a year to develop". Well it has been less than a year and it is not finished, so we kept our word on that :).

But while it might not be finished, there is a still a lot we have done so far.

Expansion news

We still don't want to be specific about many things, not even the expansion name, but we can start by giving you some general idea about the scale of the project. The general goal is to make the expansion feel like as big an addition as the whole vanilla game. This is why we plan to price it at $30.00, and put in enough content to make it well worth the price.

Honestly, making the price (and thus the expected scope) a little bit more concrete in this way, motivates us not only to make enough, but also to not overshoot, so we wouldn't spend another 9 years doing it. Generally the fact that the team size has increased, and there are a lot of things in the engine that we already solved, should hopefully imply that the expansion takes way less time than the base game.

7 step plan

Step 1 - High level plan

We decided and planned the general topics of the expansion. This is comparable to when we were deciding to add trains to the game. We knew that we wanted to control how the intersections work, and that it should act as the largest scale logistics option, but the details weren't laid out yet.

Step 2 - Basic shape

This is the step where we start to make the actual game objects, even when they don't even do anything at that point. For the rail example, this would mean that we make mock objects for rails, trains, train stops and signals, so different people can start implementing the behaviour in parallel, and start making it interact as they go. In this phase, as things stop being as abstract, a lot of the most basic unexpected problems start to show.

Step 3 - Implementation of sub systems

The goal of this part is to get the individual mechanics and their object definitions into place, but they are usually the minimum necessary to test it. It's like implementing biter and spawner mechanics, but having just 1 type of biter, not connecting it to pollution, and having no sense of balancing with the player weapon systems.

Step 4 - Connecting systems into a prototype

Here we put all the sub systems together and try to connect them. A lot of bigger structural problems can be discovered at this point, which might require some wild removals, changes, or additions, required to make it all work together.

This is where we are now in the expansion progress. Big parts of the game are playable, and we are approaching a state where we can playtest from start to finish.

Step 5 - First pass of tweaking

This part should feel much better, as the content is more stable and the chance of removing things is lower. This is where we can actually have the semi-final list of requirements for the graphics department, which allows us to start making reasonable time estimates. At this point, we do more playtesting, and we can start polishing the roughest edges. This polishing is mainly focused on basic balancing, the biggest UX issues, broad pacing improvements, etc.

When I come back to the parallel of the train implementation, this is the phase where the trains are fully functional, but it's cumbersome to control them, so we need to improve the way rails are built, provide the trains overview, improve the schedule editing, etc.

This is kind of a loop, where we implement additional things based on the feedback from the previous loop of playtesting. This step is also waiting on graphics, and we have also learned that UX improvements are not easy, so it will take a long time.

Step 6 - Beta test

At this point, most of the graphics are in place, and the game is fully playable. When the game feels close to finished, we can tweak the final details, like new simulation screens, tips and tricks, achievements, and so on. We can also start to invite a limited number of players to help us find the most obvious bugs. We want to also invite some of the mod makers to help us test the modding API, and let them prepare for the release. Same goes for our top community translators/proofreaders on Crowdin.

Step 7 - Release

The tricky part is, that we want to release basically directly to stable, without an experimental phase, like when we released 1.0. The reason is the obvious problem we would have otherwise: An experimental release is not interesting to many people, but by the time it becomes officially stable, it is old news and nobody cares. Hopefully the focus on automated tests and beta testing should make it smooth enough.

Release strategy

The original plan of just releasing the expansion as a big update sounded very natural. We imagined, that 1.1 would basically become completely stable and we wouldn't have to worry about it, and just focus on the new versions. However, this proved to not actually be possible, and maintaining both versions is just more work. On top of that, the huge refactors we made in our current master branch made the process of merging fixes and changes into 1.1 quite painful. Also, if we wanted to change anything structural, we would have to keep the migrations from 1.1. forever, and we would also need to support the 1.1 map version loading indefinitely.

This lead us to a different plan. We will release the 1.2 update to the base game, and the expansion will be based on the same version, and will also contain the expansion mod. The executables will be slightly different, so you couldn't just install the expansion mod without having the expansion executable, but other than that, the code will be identical.

This has some very nice implications:

  • The expansion content will be just a mod that you can actually turn off, so you can easily play a non-expansion playthrough if you want to.
  • Since the versions are compatible, the expansion version can connect to non-expansion multiplayer games by disabling the expansion mod.
  • All the changes to the game, modding, and scripting API etc. will be done just once, so we don't have to keep 2 versions of Lua docs for example.
  • Lots of the quality of life (and other) improvements we prepared for the expansion will just appear for everyone, so the expansion will be more strictly about the new content and mechanics.

To be clear, the expansion will not be 'just' a mod, the game engine itself will have some significant improvements and technical backing to make many of the new gameplay features possible. These engine capabilities will be available with the expansion build/executable, and we will add a mod info flag like 'uses_expansion_features', that will mean the mod will only try to load in the expansion (and this will also be used for other things, such as mod portal filtering).

Graphics department

The requirements on Factorio graphics are often heavily rooted in the behavior and mechanics of entities. When the gameplay is just getting designed and tested as we outlined in the plan above, changes and even removals are common.

To avoid reworking or scrapping graphics which take a lot of time and care to create, we try to work on things with the most solidified gameplay mechanics first... or improvements that don't change the mechanics at all!

Mp4 playback not supported on your device.

Or concept art of new stuff.

We hope you enjoyed this small update, and you can let us know what you think at the usual places.

about 1 year ago - /u/V453000 - Direct link

Originally posted by RealAmon

They didn't tell us which of the 7 stages they are in. Sneaky.

We did.

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by bobskizzle

StarCraft, etc did that IIRC

Starcraft II was specifically the example I used when this was discussed. And needless to say, I was quite happy to pay for the expansions considering what they contained as it turned out to be on eof the most enjoyable single player campaigns I know.

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by JuneBuggington

Hell Ill i bet they even treat the janitors well.

Our cleaning lady gets yearly bonus.

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by undermark5

They explicitly state "the expansion will not be 'just' a mod" meaning that what they accomplish in the expansion will be impossible if not incredibly difficult/inefficient to implement purely using the modding api.

I was almost certain of this from the initial announcement (edit: i've gone back to look at FFF 365 and they also explicitly state there that some of the new functionality is going to require engine changes), because it was almost certainly going to be something that wasn't just going to be a free addition, and if the additions were capable of being done through the modding api there wouldn't really be that much incentive to buy the expansion vs just adding the "mod version" of it. Though, I have no doubt that there will be some that do try to back port some or all of the expansion as a mod, but in all honesty, I think that many of us here are certainly more than happy to throw another $30+ dollars Wube's way for an expansion regardless of how good any back port mods are.

Well, yea some of the mechanics could be implemented by mods easily, some in a non-user friendly way, but some of them .. I highly doubt it.

We really try to not get affected by this mod situation too much. If we want to do something good, we don't really care if there is a mod that is already doing the same thing, as it is still a different situation when you have the content with official graphics, UI, and in one balanced package.

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by undermark5

I imagine we will get further updates as they progress further into the steps, but I'd guess that the amount of additional information as for what the actual content is will continue to be limited as per their FFF 365 explanation as to why FFF was being put on hold for a while (to prevent people from getting hopes up for features that end up getting scrapped, also to prevent people from trying to features with mods, causing people to get disappointed when the actual functionality ends up being different than the mod author presented it) I don't think we will get weekly FFF until it is in the final phases of beta, where they've kinda already announced everything, and they are just adding the finishing touches before shipping it.

It is actually planned to have much more specific and deeper FFFs about most of the subjects, that will be published as the release date gets close enough.

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by FellaVentura

The fact you're using the term "expansion" and not "DLC" in 2022 warms my heart. There is no other developer in the industry I hold in as high regard as I hold Wube. I trust your work, dedication and more importantly your word, because you've cemented it's value with your actions ever since I heard about you, and that was way over 5 years ago. The latest years have been a letdown for gaming industry in general, amidst half-assed games, workplace harassments, and the sense that games in general became a service for investors to exploit rather than for creators to work on something that players enjoy. You're one of the little fish that's been swimming against this trend, and I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you.

Thanks, this is appriciated. Big part of it is, that our (or at least mine) approach to money is, that once you have enough to live comfortably, and enough to financially support the ongoing (and future) projects you want to do, you don't really need more. There is no reason to squeeze the extra $ just to get yacht bigger then the next millionare, or to buy the overprised expensive stuff when you buy it just to show off. And this has some deep implications, because once you feel that you have enough, you can safely ignore all these people trying to buy % of your company for big cash. I actually reply to these kind of offers with the sentence "Thanks, but I have no use for the extra money". This feels very different to the culture I sense to be prevelant, where big amount of startups is created with the goal of "big exit" in mind.

So the implication of my approach is that we have no investors and shareholders pressuring us into the "service for investors to exploit", which would be very understandable demand once they invested big.

So in the end, we can feel smug about it, and you can't put a pricetag on that :)

about 1 year ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by Rikki-Tikki-Tavi-12

Well, I have 30 bucks with your name on them.

It will be only the second time I buy a new game without looking at any reviews.

I live in Japan, and playing Factorio with my cousin is a major way for me to stay connected to my family in Germany.

Edit: Wow, interesting time stamp on that post. Around 5am. I'm curious: are you an early riser or a night owl?

One of these days when I just fall asleep together with the kids at 8pm ... :)

about 1 year ago - /u/Klonan - Direct link

Originally posted by kovarex

Our cleaning lady gets yearly bonus.

Happy cakeday!

2 months ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by dougdimmadabber

This aged well!

It did, I like to see how consistent we are. Thanks!

about 2 months ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by FirstOrderKylo

I've never seen a fully released game retroactively increase its price because of "inflation". CoD 4 should be selling for $97 now.

I've also never seen such a tone deaf reply from a developer except maybe Blizzard.

As you write inflation in quotes, I would like to ask. Are you inflation denier, and you think it doesn't exist or something?

about 2 months ago - /u/kovarex - Direct link

Originally posted by FirstOrderKylo

I’m fully aware inflation exists, it’s a fairly basic concept.

I don’t believe however retroactively applying inflation to the price of your released and finished product is the real reason you hiked the cost up.

So it is just about you not believing, and I probably can't do much about it.
Just note, that inflation is kind of a bigger deal here in Czech, as it is around double of what the dollar has, and we are just used to think about it and consider it more. I don't find it reasonable for the rate of inflation to be dictating the rate of products getting cheaper.
Also, it is not a finished product, Factorio is developed full time by the whole team, and there are quite a lot of things already fully implemented that will improve the game for everyone, not just buyers of the expansion (features), we just don't write the FFF at these days (although, several are already written, and just waiting for the right time).
The reason we don't write FFF is not that we wouldn't have what to show, we just don't want to tease people with so many cool things too long before the actual release, so there is a good intention again. I would guess, that you will choose to not believe again, but maybe you could consider the long history of us delivering what was promised.

Also, I would like to comment on your example with COD4 (call of duty I guess). First of all, they can set up the price to whatever they want, it is their sacred right, and we as customers can just decide whether we find the price reasonable or not. Secondly, from what I understand, this is a long series of games, and COD4 is not their, latest game by far. So I find it reasonable to make the older games to get cheaper, as it their main "thing" is the newer version of the game.