Friday Facts #359 - Crash site: The beginning

Posted by Klonan, V453000 on 2020-08-07

0.18 mods will be loadable in 1.0 Klonan

With 1.0 approaching, we want to ensure that the day of the launch goes as smoothly as possible, and shows the game in the best light. Something that would really work against that would be if the update broke a bunch of mods and disgruntled all of our most dedicated players. So we are making efforts to ensure that mods that work in 0.18, will work without any update needed in 1.0.

Theoretically this isn't so difficult, as the 0.18 release structure has meant that mods have maintained compatibility with all the latest changes, and in essence 1.0 will just be a small update of 0.18. However it does take a bit of special handling:

  • 1.0 will allow mods marked for 0.18 to load.
  • The mod portal will show 0.18 mods when browsing in 1.0.

Avoiding breaking mods also means we need to be very careful with changing anything, even something as simple as renaming a sprite can break dozens of mods. I think we never realised how easy it is to break mods before we started this new release structure. Big apologies and big thanks to all the modders who stuck with us through these breakages.

We hope that what this effort means, is that on the day of 1.0, players new and old alike can login to the mod portal and have a very large catalog of mods they can enjoy right away, and that the modders can relax and enjoy the game instead of worrying about updating all their work. However, we cannot say 100% that all mods will work, it is possible one of the features in 1.0 (like the new nuke or alien decoratives) will break some mods.

Mining drill redesign revisit Ernestas, V453000

In FFF-350 we presented the new electric mining drill graphics, and released them in 0.18.31 shortly after. However, we hadn't realized soon enough that it had some issues...

The most obvious one is the tile overlapping. All of our graphics try to find a balance between overlapping the tile a lot to be aesthetically nicer, and not overlapping the tile at all to be technically correct and readable.

With the electric mining drill we got bolder than with other entities, and overlapped the tile more. This problem got massively strengthened by the fact that the mining drill outputs directly to a belt, so it doesn't even have the typical gap where inserters usually are.

The secondary but related issue would be that the entity is no longer as recognizable as before. We attribute that mostly to the new height that the drill has, as it gets a bit overcomplicated, and not as clear what the shape of the entity is.

Originally the main reason to add the higher structure was because we wanted to create a much more complicated miner movement (both horizontally and vertically), and to fit pipe connections easily. However the miner movement was too complicated so we didn't do it, and the pipe connections are kind of an edge case.

We could have addressed just the issue of overlapping the tile above the mining drill, but that would already cost some amount of time and we felt like we could go one step further.

It was tight in time, which is why we're presenting it now, but we decided to move the whole structure down, so the mining mechanism would move on ground-based rails. After a lot of effort put into moving things, redesigning parts of the drill, and reworking the pipe connections, Ernestas has arrived to the new version.

The electric mining drill is one of few entities that the player sees from the very first stages of the game, all the way to the end. Long story short, it's a really important entity so we wanted to get it right.

We were happy with the concept of the mining drill redesign for the "aggressive ground penetration" against the "gentle harvesting" of the original, but we traded away a few of the good parts about the old mining drill graphics, like clarity and identifiability. This revisit tries to fix that, and we believe now it's good.

The new mining drill graphics have been released with 0.18.44 (today). As it could break some mods, we wanted to push the new graphics as soon as possible to give mod authors a chance to fix their mods for 1.0.

Technology icons update Dominik, V453000

As many graphics have changed over the years, more and more related technology icons became outdated. We didn't have enough time to do a complete rework of the technology icons as we did with the item icons, but we could at least update the clearly outdated ones.

Crash site: The beginning Ernestas, V453000

Even though a simple one, Factorio does have a story - An engineer crashes on a planet and through building a complex factory, becomes capable of launching rockets back into space (...or builds the sickest combinator contraption instead).

This story is quite well represented - building a crazy factory in the process, ending with an epic rocket launch - except the beginning is not. The player character just appears in the middle of the map with nothing showing where they came from.

When we were working on the crash site for the NPE, we created the special assembling machines, a lab, a power generator and chest capsules.

The NPE has been removed, but Albert didn't design just those special ship chunks. The central piece of the composition was always meant to be a large spacecraft - but per usual, we didn't have enough time to finish it, and since it wasn't really gameplay breaking, we released 0.17 without it.

Although the NPE was removed and its custom crash site entities remained only for modding and custom scenario use, we would like to finish the main crashed ship.

The plan always has been that if we're investing a lot of time into designing the crash site entities, then we better use them for Freeplay as well, as that's the main game mode.

Recently Ernestas picked up Albert's 3D model and finished texturing it, bringing it to life, and to the game.

Click to see full resolution.

Klonan has also added a short skippable cutscene at the start of Freeplay, where the crash site is revealed.

The crashed segments are randomly placed, and there's a little bit of resources to be found in each of the ship segments (the 8 combined iron plates that until now just appeared in your inventory).

All of the crash site parts can be mined, but it gives no reward, takes a long time, and the crash site can't be re-built.

The crash site is spawned at the start of the game, so it won't show on pre-1.0 maps. The crash site will be released in 1.0, on 14th August 2020 - at 11am Prague time.