- Upon reaching the winning condition, all the work I've done gets discarded. All accumulated resources and items are deleted.
- Attempting to continue playing after a rocket launch feel empty, since there is no official objective to work towards.
- The achievements feel vain, I only hold myself back from enjoying the game's features fully if I choose to pursue them.
- Having to start a new game from scratch means all research requires re-doing, this time feeling like a chore than a path of gradual discovery and surprise.
It does not have to be like that.
I have need for persistence and meaning in the things I do. This is a suggestion on how I would see this issue solved.
I can offer two suggestions to solve it. They revolve around the biters as the central element of the metagame.
One centers around peace, with the goal of taming the biters and coexisting with them, recruiting them to work in my factories to create bonsai-tree like sculpted utopias together, bringing a harmony to the galaxy, one planet at a time. The aliens are quirky with evolution and mutations, so each encounter will present a unique challenge in taming them on each planet.
The other centers around war, where the biters/aliens are a cosmic menace looking to consume all and everything, like bugs from Starship Troopers, xenomorphs from Alien, tyranids from Warhammer 40k or zerg from Starcraft. My mission is to fight the biter infestation and wipe them out of the galaxy, one planet at a time, using factories and defences to set up footholds on infested worlds and using the produced weapons and resources to fund the war against an overwhelming and unpredictable foe.
In both cases, aliens are mostly just animals, not intelligent being that can think or hold a conversation.
Common things shared by both solutions:
The idea of a "playthrough" is no longer applicable. The game is divided into a metagame (which is infinite) and a play session (finite).
The metagame will randomly generate a new play session, which will include:
- A map with a limited size that respects average computer performance limitations and acceptable save/load times.
- Random parameters for what is on the map, in what quantities, frequencies and density.
- A unique randomized surprise per-planet factor that will either affect the player, the aliens or both.
After that, the research system is only used as information gathering to uncover the nature of the unique randomized surprise factor of each play session.
Unique randomized surprise factor is a per-planet phenomenon that is different for each individual planet the player visits. It takes form as a special element on the map, such as weather/environmental conditions, ultra-limited special resources, a temporary technology advantage/disadvantage, altered recipe costs or presence of hazardous/beneficial native flora that interacts both with the player and the aliens, be it negatively or positively.
The surprise factor can also take form as a unique per-planet evolution/mutation on the part of the aliens, spawning a tinted version of enemy types, either just one species or all species (biters, spitters and worms) that has randomized stats and unique abilities or passive effects that make it distinctly different, either making it harder or easier to tame/kill, depending on which solution is selected for the metagame.
The main point is that the game is infinitely playable, forever.
The player hops from one planet to another, completing the task of taming, conquering it or just issuing an exterminatus in the event of an impossible situation where the place is just doomed, with no way of completing that planet. An exterminatus is not a desirable outcome as the resources are lost, as well as denying myself and humanity from being able to colonize the planet ourselves.
The player will have a home planet which is safe and peaceful with insignificant starting resources, but lots of space. This planet is persistant and always accessible. Other planets are discardable and temporary. The player merely goes to them, completes them, takes the resources and moves on the next challenge, gradually conquering the galaxy (which is not achievable in a human lifespan, since galaxies are way too big with way too many planets for a player to complete the task of conquering it all, hence why the game is infinite).
There are some persistent elements that stay with the player indefinitely. Things like the player character's inventory always remains the same from one planet to another. The player may have a headquarters planet where they can build their a safe megabase and return to it to use its facilities once a while with the resources gained from other planets. The player can also take large transport ships from the previously completed planet to the next one, loaded with resources to jumpstart the operation on a new planet and already have some equipment to defend and build with.
The player's total progress of conquered/tamed planets is kept track off, showing a clear path of persistent history of the player's progress, stats and achievements. All these things bring meaning to the game, that everything that the player does matters and is not deleted.
The reasoning behind the unique randomized surprise factor, which is different for each planet, is that this keeps things interesting and surprising, so that there is always something unpredictable to look for in the next play session as the player goes from one planet to another. Without it, each game would feel samey and dull, making the persistent elements meaningless.
Its also performance conscious. While there are infinite planets to explore with infinite random possibilies in terms of environments, alien evolutions and surprises, only the player's inventory, their home planet and the list of completed planets and stats are saved, keeping the footprint of memory usage and storage minimal.
Differences between the two solutions:
With the peace version of the game, more focus is directed towards the game having green-technologies that reduce or absorb pollutions, as well as technologies to approach aliens safely and befriend them to work for me. Weapons as they are in 0.16.x are still in for self-defence purposes, but using them is only applicable to prevent player death in failed attempts to tame the aliens.
The unique per-planet surprise factor can alter the aliens to feature some units that can alter their AI, making them more or less shy, twitchy, curious or stubborn, while giving them passive or active abilities that can make them akward to work with, requiring specialized solutions to tame them and accomodate their wierdnesses and quirks.
With the war version of the game, more focus is directed towards offensive weapons, like automated robot soldiers, remote controller robotank squadrons, attack vehicles with AI controlled doll-units that follow the player's commanding vehicle, more exotic weapons that cover a wide range of damage types (acid, fire, kinetic, electric, etc), mechs, aircraft and super weapons.
The aliens are also more fierce and diverse in their evolutions and mutations, having different hives, fortresses, tactics, unit types, unit variations and interactions with player's tactics and the environment.
Again, the unique per-planet surprise factor can give the aliens dangerous unique evolutions or mutations that alter their stats for the better or worse, giving them abilities or other synergies that make them an unpredictable foe from session to session. The surprise factor may also offer the player some unique elements, phenomenon or resources that they can take advantage to as weapons or tools to aid them in battle, construction or defence.
In effect, this would remove the feeling of hollowness from playing a game of Factorio. I'd be more of an ongoing lifestyle to play it infinitely, having progress, resources, player inventory and gradually conquering or taming the galaxy with a clear footprint of progress to show for it, giving a sense of accomplishment.
Players can share blueprints, share moments, share mods, share footage of their homeworlds and have a good time being surprised with each new planet they understake to tame or conquer.
-Thank you for reading.