Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:43 am
Wasn't sure where to post this little story of mine. Felt it fit best either here or on General, and ended up putting it here since I did promote the game to one person. I now bring you the story of Dad-Torio, me introducing Factorio to my retired engineer dad. This story is in quote format because I originally posted this on another forum and the posters there thought I should share this story here so the devs and fans could read this heart-warming story. They have been edited slightly for readability reasons
Upon being asked for more updates:So for Father's day I gave my dad, a retired engineer, a copy of Factorio. My dad who has not played a game since the days of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 that did not include the terms "Civilization" or "Sid Meier" in it.
He's picked up "get stuff from point A to point B" and "automate everything" incredibly well. The hangup is "Use WASD to move" and "no you can't drag click your man/the camera over there" and "hold right click to rip up tree/mine ore/pick up building" (he would tap right click until the bar filled/the building would return to his inventory). Now that I've gotten him to the point where he's automated belts I think he's figuring it out, but when he booted it up for the first time a couple of hours ago he had to come get me because the tutorial on how to use shortcuts to put items in/take items out of chests was stumping him. High level stuff he gets instantly (it took him all of three seconds to understand blueprints once I made a demo) the controls are a mystery he's having to work through and develop muscle memory for. I suspect he's going to get on-board the automation train not because it's how to play the game, but because it's far, far easier to have the inserter automatically put the item in the right slot than it is for him to figure out to put the coal on the item slot that has a gas pump on it. I will never, ever, ever mock a game for having a "Now this is how you move. Now this is how you look up or down." type tutorial ever again because while everyone reading this has long ago internalized those controls, not everyone has.
Also I'd like to say that if someone made an inch-thick instruction book for Factorio my dady, as a guy who was an engineer in the 70's, would be the type to read it all the way through. It's literally how he got into the Civ series: I asked for Civ III for Christmas as a kid and while I was playing it my dad took the inch-thick manual and started reading it until he came up to ask "...hey could I try it?"
So final thoughts: 11/10 father's day gift, had me spending an afternoon working over my dad's shoulder teaching him how to walk while he could immediately figure out how to use an unused channel on a belt to get coal where he needed it in order to avoid making more belt.
Edit: and he's doing a lot better now that I showed him the command to change character color so his old eyes could actually see his little dude. Yellow engineering armor on top of sandy, yellow dirt/grass wasn't helping.
He's still in the stage of using 1-2 stone furnaces per product for everything, most of his "base" proper, all four assemblers (2 for gear->belts and 2 for gear->fruit punch) is on his iron patch. I'm trying to let him figure out stuff on his own as I sit here and he goes "Ah, I see I'm not building bottles fast enough" and I suggest maybe he builds a second assembler for red science (followed by building more production of iron plates because he needs to make more to have underground belts).
It's kind of odd in that most people I introduce the game to are all "Well this is boring" or "I'm building beakers to build more beakers to do...wot exactly? Wot's the point?" but I'd never have to explain WASD to and he gets that stuff immediately (you build stuff for the joy of building) but didn't understand how to move.
Also an inch-thick instruction book/binder be awesome just to have an a nerd thing. Just this engineering manual on how to play the game/"use your Hazardous Environmental Engineering Suit in hostile alien environments."
And the latest, a few days later.Well it's been 5 or so hours and he's finally trying to move onto green science. His base is tiny, partly because he likes to just leave it running and researching something slowly while taking a break to talk to mom...or come downstairs and ask for more help (once he looked like he could move around on his own I told him I was going to give him space because I didn't want to be constantly over his shoulder telling him ideal setups and such, which he appreciated).
Since I gave him room he came down to ask me:
-"How do I set the assembler to make a product again?"
-"What am I doing wrong with these underground belts" He didn't realize he just needed to set a start and endpoint, he was trying to place a line of underground belts piece to make a tunnel
-"How do I make green science?" He had an assembler with a line of belts fed to it, but didn't have any automation making inserters. I had to guide him on using a level 2 assembler to make the inserters, which needed green chips which needed copper wire. Part of this was, again, he just doesn't get the UI and it confuses him...and I'll admit wasn't the best guide until he told me "No, don't do it for me again, even with you showing me it doesn't click. Tell me what to do and I'll do it". Part of it is that his eyesight is horrible: he's got a cataract in one eye and is in the middle of several surgeries because he has a detached retina in the other and can't really get a new prescription for his glasses until both of those are taken care of. He can tell if a belt is horizontally aligned for example but has trouble telling if it's heading left or right. Which means he probably couldn't see where the mouse cursor was when I was showing him things
I thiiiiiink (desperately hope) I have managed to explain the UI/how to figure things out to him a bit better now.
Seriously, I'm sure the Factorio devs would find him an *amazing* case study.
More updates on Dad-torio:
He's restarted a few times, including once where he was jumped by the aliens and had no idea that there was combat, let alone how to fight. He's getting a hang of it, though he still kind of hunts and pecks at WASD to move and is still making his bases very small/fed by burner drills. Again, giving him minimal instruction, only what he asks for. If he's happy making this small base, then I'm more than happy to leave him to have fun.
He needed me to understand how to place pipes, he thought that the underground pipe was a pipe joint and was getting frustrated until I showed him to just place normal pipe segments and they automatically "bend". Since then he's figured out how to make plastics and sulfuric acid on his own. He had his first "waiiiiit" moment in terms of video game logic with sulfur from oil: he's from Oklahoma which is oil country and he was frustrated by the fact that the game makes sulfur from petroleum. In real life you don't turn the hydrocarbons into sulfur: you extract it from the crude. At which point I had to remind him that the belts were driven by perpetual motion devices and that electronics were made out of metal wire on metal plates.
He's also made a car and is teaching himself how to "drive", and he looked visibly relieved when I told him everyone has trouble driving in the game at first. He's also not about to turn off the aliens, now that he understands that they're there and how to fight he properly sees them as an engineering problem (he will leave them on peaceful of course, he's still learning). He's also having to explore alternate sources of power on his own since his coal is running out.