Factorio is a game about building and creating automated factories to produce items of increasing complexity, within an infinite 2D world. Use your imagination to design your factory, combine simple elements into ingenious structures, and finally protect it from the creatures who don't really like you.
Recent Reviews:
Overwhelmingly Positive (483) - 95% of the 483 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Overwhelmingly Positive (30,275) - 98% of the 30,275 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Feb 25, 2016
Developer:
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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“We have been working on Factorio for over 5 years. The game is very stable and is highly optimised for prolonged gameplay and creating huge factories. We have sold over 110,000 copies on our website, and we feel now is the right time to release to a wider audience.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“Our plans for release come as part of an ongoing process, and we are constantly adding new features and content. When we feel the game is complete we will release the full version, and our current estimate is that this will take 8-12 months.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“In the full version we hope to have a polished GUI, a multiplayer matching server, integration of mods for players and servers, and a number of other finishing touches and additions to the core gameplay.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The game has a very strong content base, rich with interesting mechanics and features. Many players report they are still having fun on their maps even after hundreds of hours of gameplay, alongside multiplayer support, and a dedicated modding community.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“No, the price now is the final price.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The community is a vital part of our development process. We announce any planned features far in advance so we have time to read peoples' opinions and comments, and for us to discuss the different points of view players may have. Community suggested ideas are commonly brought up in team discussions, and we value highly the input each individual player can have.”
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October 19

Friday Facts #265 - Nomenclature & Steam networking

Factorio Nomenclature
Today I want to discuss some common problems that we see in video games.

Inconsistent Terminology

When I asked out loud "So what is an Intermediate Product anyway?", I got a similar reaction as when someone mentions The Berlin Interpretation at a rougelike convention. So what is an Intermediate Product? Well it is a product that is used only as an ingredient for something else. No, that's not right because Science Packs are not used in any recipe. So what then, Intermediate products are just things that you can use Productivity Modules on? Perhaps they are simply items that can be found in the Intermediate Crafting menu. Then are they not Intermediate Recipes?

To give another example, answer these questions:
  • Name the action a player performs when they add an entity to the world?
  • Name the action a player performs when they remove an entity from the world?
  • Name the action a player performs when they add a ghost entity to the world?
  • Name the action a robot performs when they add an entity to the world?
  • Name the action a robot performs when they remove an entity from the world?
Here are a few situations where the game displays your possible answers:


A player builds.


A player mines entities.


Robots repair and build entities, but wait… the player places buildings and builds ghosts?


But here Robots are constructing machines.


Here the robots are deconstructing items!

This leads into a discussion about what is an item and what are entities, and that discussion leads us into the next point...

Internal nomenclature leaking out

During game development it is very common to use internal names to refer to mechanics, items, or characters. It does not feel like such a big deal, and many early access games simply ignore the problem completely. I'm not going to point any fingers, but if you look you will find some examples. Oh wait, here is some from your favourite early access game!


Internally, things that exist on a surface in the game are called entities.


All these items are capsules internally, but only 5 of them are actually labelled as capsules.

Really, these should be categorised by how players use them, and indeed there is an attempt to do so. Remotes are items used to trigger an effect, Grenades are things you throw... but why is the Poison Capsule not called a gas grenade?

There are more inconsistencies but to keep this article reasonably not-short, I will let you find the others yourself (and to save something for a future FFF about Tooltips).

Why change?

You might be thinking that this is not a big problem. Some others might be thinking that the problem is too pervasive to bother changing. There are a few reasons why it is important, the first, and most important of which is our quality mindset; everyone on the team here wants the game to be as great as possible.

Next we should see this increase the quality of the translations. A translation is only as good as its source, and having a consistent usage of words can go a long way to helping the translators do better work. The effect of this can be increased by providing a dictionary of important words to the translators so they can be sure to always use the same term in all places.

Since we are also working on a guided experience (Campaign), this would also help us give much clearer instructions to the player. An example of confusion here would be if one quest said "Place a chest" and another said "Place the item in the chest". The player needs to read the entire quest caption (probably twice), and can never build up a mental map of our language. This leads to the player spending more mental energy (cognitive load) while playing the game. Changing this to "Build a chest" and being consistent, allows the player to create mental shortcuts, meaning the quest tasks require less effort to understand.

Finally, consistency in terminology will help new players, and I don't just mean sub-1 hour playtime players. Factorio is a 'Big Game' and players are encountering new items, entities, concepts, and text for a long time. How many hours did you play before you discovered this helpful trick, or this one?

How to change?

We could make the vocabulary consistent with what the current player base uses. This option sounds pretty good until I started asking people questions similar to those I asked you at the beginning of the article. Here are another two as a refresher:
  • Where do biters come from?
  • I come in 7 colors, what am I?
The only wrong answer is if you said there was only a single right answer.

Prepare your rotten tomatoes, Ben is about to say something unpopular. The influx of players that are to be expected from 1.0 give us an interesting option. We could theoretically change the vocabulary of the game to be more consistent, reasonable, and generally more helpful to players. Then, as new players join the community, this new language will slowly replace the old.

This would help ease communication between all players; veterans and new addicts alike. Consistency will also help polish the experience to the level that players expect from the game.

Who should change it?

Before Rseding jumps in with some awesome news, I would ask you to have your say in this Google form. It will be fun to see what you come up with, and I will publish the results in a few weeks.

Steam Networking
As many of you might know if you've tried hosting a stand-alone multiplayer game (Factorio or otherwise) from a home internet connection, it's not a very reliable experience. This can be due to multiple different things (bad home routers, company/school firewalls and so on).

I arrived in Prague earlier this week and was given the task of improving that experience through Steam Networking support. The way Steam Networking works is: when you start a multiplayer game, the game can tell Steam that you want to accept connections from other Steam users. The benefit of doing this is if someone can connect to Steam, they can connect to you. Even if your local connection isn't setup to let the multiplayer game work, Steam can route the network data through it's existing connection and get the packets where they need to go.

After a few days of working on it and testing it seems to be working and working reliably. You can just click "start multiplayer game", and anyone on your friends list can click join. You can mix non-steam and steam players on the same server and it "just works". As a bonus while working on this I discovered some issues with the non-steam networking logic that should improve the "Could not establish network communication with server" error that keeps coming up.

As always, let us know what you think on our forum.
17 comments Read more

October 12

Friday Facts #264 - Texture streaming

Hello, it is me, posila, with another technical article. Sorry.

Bitmap Cache
In 0.16, we added graphics option mysteriously called "Low VRAM mode", it enables a basic implementation of texture streaming, but I didn't want to call it that way, because I feared its poor performance would give texture streaming a bad name. How it worked? Every sprite has specified some priority, and the "Video memory usage" option - despite its name - controls which priorities of sprites are included in the sprite atlases. What happens to sprites that don't go to atlas? They are loaded as individual sprites. Normally, these sprites are allocated into texture objects. The reasoning behind this is that graphics driver has chance to decide how it wants to layout these small textures in memory, instead of it being forced to work with huge atlases.



What part of a sprite atlas looks like.

When you enable "Low VRAM mode", non-atlas sprites are loaded only to RAM, and texture is allocated for them only when used during rendering. We called class that handled this BitmapCache and there was maximum limit of how many mega-bytes of texture data the bitmap cache could use at once. When this limit was reached, it failed to convert memory bitmap to video texture, and Allegro's drawing system would fallback to software rendering, which absolutely tanked FPS, but this didn't happen... most of the time.

So apart from the obvious problem of falling back to software renderer (which we don't have any more after the graphics rewrite, so the game would crash or skip a sprite if this happened), there are other performance issues. Most sprites have a unique size, so we can't reuse textures for different sprites. Instead, when a sprite needs to be converted to a texture, a new texture is allocated, and when the sprite is evicted from the cache, its texture is destroyed. Creating and destroying textures considerably slows down rendering. The way we do it also fragments memory, so all of the sudden it may fail allocate new texture because there is no large enough consecutive block of memory left. Also, since our sprites are not in an atlas, sprite batching doesn't work and we get another performance hit from issuing thousands of draw calls instead of just hundreds.

I considered it to be an experiment, and actually was kind of surprised that its performance was not as bad as I expected. Sure, it might cause FPS drop to single digits for a moment from time to time, but overall the game was playable (I have a long history of console gaming, so my standards as player might not be very high :)).

Can we make it good enough, so it wouldn't be an experimental option any more, but something that could be enabled by default? Let's see. The problem is texture allocations, so let's allocate one texture for the entire bitmap cache - it would be a sprite atlas that we would dynamically update. That would also improve sprite batching, but when I started to think how to implement it, I quickly ran into a problem dealing with the fragmentation of space. I considered doing "defragmentation" from time to time, but it started to seem like an overwhelming problem, with a very uncertain result.

Virtual texture mapping
As I mentioned in FFF-251, it is very important for our rendering performance to batch sprite draw commands. If multiple consecutive draw commands use the same texture, we can batch them into a single draw call. That's why we build large sprite atlases. Virtual texture mapping - a texture streaming technique popularized by id Software as Mega Textures, seems like a perfect fit for us. All sprites are put into a single virtual atlas, the size of which is not restricted by hardware limits. You still have to be able to store the atlas somewhere, but it doesn't have to be a consecutive chunk of memory. The idea behind it is the same as in virtual memory - memory allocations assign a virtual address that maps to some physical location that can change under the hood (RAM, page file, etc.), sprites are assigned virtual texture coordinates that are mapped to some physical location.

The virtual atlas is divided into tiles or pages (in our case 128x128 pixels), and when rendering we will figure out which tiles are needed, and upload them to a physical texture of much smaller dimensions than the virtual one. In the pixel shader, we then transform virtual texture coordinates to physical ones. To do that, we need an indirection table that says where to find the tiles from the virtual texture in the physical one. It is quite a challenge for 3D engines to figure out which virtual texture pages are needed, but since we go through the game state to determine which sprites should be rendered, we already have this information readily available.

That solves the problem of frequent allocations - we have one texture and just update it. Also, since all the sprites share the same texture coordinate space, we can batch draw calls that use them. Great!

However we could still run out of space in the physical texture. This is more likely if player zooms out a lot, as lot more different sprites can be visible at once. Well, if you zoom out, sprites are scaled down, and we don't need to render sprites in their full resolution. To exploit this, the virtual atlas has a couple levels of details (mipmaps), which are the same texture scaled down to 0.5 size, 0.25 size, etc. and we can stream-in only the mipmap levels that are needed for the current zoom level. We can use lower mipmap levels also if you are zoomed in and there are just too many sprites on the screen. We can also utilize the lower details to limit how much time is spent for streaming per frame to prevent stalls in rendering when a big update is required.

The Virtual atlas technique is big improvement over the old "Low VRAM mode" option, but it is still not good enough. In the ideal case, I would like it to work so well, we could remove low and very-low sprite quality options, and everyone would be able to play the game on normal. What prevents that from happening is that the entire virtual atlas needs to be in RAM. Streaming from HDD has very high latency, and we are not sure yet if it will be feasible for us to do without introducing bad sprite pop-ins, etc.

If you'd like to learn how virtual texture mapping works in more detail, you can read the paper Advanced Virtual Texture Topics, or possibly even more in-depth Software Virtual Textures.

GPU rendering performance
The main motivation behind texture streaming, is to make sure the game is able to run with limited resources, without having to reduce visual quality too much. According to the Steam hardware survey, almost 60% of our players (who have dedicated GPU), have at least 4GB of VRAM and this number grows as people upgrade their computers:



We have received quite a lot of bug reports about rendering performance issues from people with decent GPUs, especially since we started adding high-resolution sprites. Our assumption was that the problems were caused by the game wanting to use more video memory than available (the game is not the only application that wants to use video memory) and the graphics driver has to spend a lot of time to optimize accesses to the textures.

During the graphics rewrite, we learned a lot about how contemporary GPUs work (and are still learning), and we were able to utilize the new APIs to measure how much time rendering takes on a GPU.

To simply draw a 1920x1080 image to a render target of the same size, it takes:
  • ~0.1ms ~0.07ms on GeForce GTX 1060.
  • ~0.15ms ~0.04 on Radeon Vega 64.
  • ~0.2ms on GeForce GTX 750Ti or Radeon R7 360.
  • ~0.75ms on GeForce GT 330M.
  • ~1ms on Intel HD Graphics 5500.
  • ~2ms on Radeon HD 6450.
This seems to scale linearly with the number of pixels written, so it would take ~0.4ms for the GTX 1060 to render the same thing in 4K.

Update: Several people wondered how come Vega 64 ended up slower than GTX 1060. I originally ran the tests with 60 FPS cap, so I re-ran the tests without the cap and got ~0.04ms on Vega, and ~0.07ms on GTX 1060. So the cards were probably operating in some kind of low-power mode, since they were idle for huge part of the frame. You should still take my measurements with big grain of salt, I didn't attempt to be scientific about it, I just wanted to illustrate huge performance difference between different GPUs people might want to use to play the game.

That's pretty fast, but our sprites have a lot of semi-transparent pixels. We also utilize transparency in other ways - from drawing ghosts and applying color masks, to drawing visualizations like logistic area or turret ranges. This results in large amount of overdraw - pixels being written to multiple times. We knew overdraw was something to avoid, but we didn't have any good data on how much it happens in Factorio, until we added the Overdraw visualisation:



The game scene being rendered.


Overdraw visualisation (cyan = 1 draw, green = 2, red >= 10).


Overdraw visualisation when we discard transparent pixels.

Interestingly, discarding completely transparent pixels didn't seem to make any performance difference on modern GPUs, including the Intel HD. Drawing sprites with a lot of completely transparent pixels is faster than an opaque sprite without having to explicitly discard transparent pixels with shaders. However, it did make difference on Radeon HD 6450 and GeForce GT 330M, so perhaps modern GPUs throw away pixels that wouldn't have any effect on the result automatically?

Anyway, a GTX 1060 renders a game scene like this in 1080p in 1ms. That's fast, but it means in 4K it would take 4ms, 10ms on integrated GPUs, and more that a single frame worth of time (16.66ms) on old, non-gaming GPUs. No wonder, scenes heavy on smoke or trees can tank FPS, especially in 4K. Maybe we should do something about that...

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

Factorio is a game in which you build and maintain factories. You will be mining resources, researching technologies, building infrastructure, automating production and fighting enemies. In the beginning you will find yourself chopping trees, mining ores and crafting mechanical arms and transport belts by hand, but in short time you can become an industrial powerhouse, with huge solar fields, oil refining and cracking, manufacture and deployment of construction and logistic robots, all for your resource needs. However this heavy exploitation of the planet's resources does not sit nicely with the locals, so you will have to be prepared to defend yourself and your machine empire.

Join forces with other players in cooperative Multiplayer, create huge factories, collaborate and delegate tasks between you and your friends. Add mods to increase your enjoyment, from small tweak and helper mods to complete game overhauls, Factorio's ground-up Modding support has allowed content creators from around the world to design interesting and innovative features. While the core gameplay is in the form of the freeplay scenario, there are a range of interesting challenges in the form of Scenarios. If you don't find any maps or scenarios you enjoy, you can create your own with the in-game Map Editor, place down entities, enemies, and terrain in any way you like, and even add your own custom script to make for interesting gameplay.

Discount Disclaimer: We don't have any plans to take part in a sale or to reduce the price for the foreseeable future.

What people say about Factorio


  • No other game in the history of gaming handles the logistics side of management simulator so perfectly. - Reddit
  • I see conveyor belts when I close my eyes. I may have been binging Factorio lately. - Notch, Mojang
  • Factorio is a super duper awesome game where we use conveyor belts to shoot aliens. - Zisteau, Youtube

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista (64 Bit)
    • Processor: Dual core 3Ghz+
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB Video Memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Low sprite resolution and Low VRAM usage.
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 10, 8, 7 (64 Bit)
    • Processor: Quad core 3Ghz+
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 2GB Video memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: macOS High Sierra, Sierra, OSX El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks
    • Processor: Dual core 3Ghz+
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB Video Memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Low sprite resolution and Low VRAM usage
    Recommended:
    • OS: macOS High Sierra, Sierra, OSX El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks
    • Processor: Quad core 3GHz+
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 2GB Video memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Linux (tarball installation)
    • Processor: Dual core 3Ghz+
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB Video Memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Low sprite resolution and Low VRAM usage
    Recommended:
    • OS: Linux (tarball installation)
    • Processor: Quad core 3GHz+
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 2GB Video memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space

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