I love a good survival/building game. Played a lot of Ark when it first came out (even ran a server for half a year), I’m constantly going back to Minecraft, I’ve gotten a lot of fun out of Raft, and Valheim was a great diversion for a while and continues to be with each major update they put out. These days, I’ve started getting into SatisFactory which seems less focused on the survival thing and more focused on the endless production thing. I don’t need to gather food (though food-like things can be used to make stuff that isn’t food), monitor my energy, or even be too wary of natural predators. I can just endlessly pursue production and efficiency.
There’s a part of me that thinks about the game with horror, given my job is manufacturing adjacent, my employer makes most of its money from manufacturing, and I’m all too aware of how this game is basically “pillage the land in the name of capitalism: the game,” but it definitely scratches a lot of itches for me. I love monitoring systems and finding ways to improve them, and that seems to be almost the entire point of this game, given the info it provides about production rates, power usage, and the quantities you’ll need to continue to unlock better and greater production capabilities. I spent an entire hour last night monitoring a power grid for deficiencies and determining how many power producers I’d need to keep running in order to keep my current production requirements going.
There’s a lot of manageable optimization you can do involving turning machines on or off, cutting power when raw materials are low, and improving your basic resources to acquire things that are more fuel efficient, but that all overlooks the opportunity cost involved with you closely managing those things. While it might seem less efficient on the surface to run all your generators and production machines at the same time, those costs are generally offset by your ability to pursue other tasks, like obtaining additional resources, improving the power grid, or increasing production capacity. Truly, it is a grand example of running a manufacturing company without all of the logistics that come into the equation when other people are involved. Truly, a horrible experience I can’t wait to repeat.
I mean, I’d rate the game well and it does a good job of riding that great satirical line of making fun of itself and maintaining just enough plausibility that the only reason we can be sure it is making fun of capitalism is because any other answer would make me break down and weep. It’s does such a great job of presenting the “corporate wants you to have fun and be a good little worker drone so you can earn a larger bag to carry things that make us money” information that I enjoy it every time, even despite the fact that I have, in my desk at work, two vouchers for the swag store/cafetaria I earned by correctly marking phishing emails as scams, thereby winning a contest the company has produced to help encourage people to take information security more seriously.
Truly, the only thing that separates this game from reality is that companies haven’t figured out how to ship people to strange planets with no means of getting them off said planet and still turn a profit. Once they figure that out, I’ll definitely be able to go to space and be shipped to a strange new planet so I can strip it of its natural resources in a cozy dorm style studio apartment I made using the ship I landed in. You know, I’ve kinda made myself sad writing all of this, but I’ve also made myself want to go play more SatisFactory. Strange, isn’t it?