I recently finished "There's no spoon" achievement, and it was a bit easy on certain point, and not hard but frustrating on others. The end was a rush because I made several mistakes which costs me around 2 hours at least, even for a modest player like me.
So I found some balancing that can be addressed since they clearly "break" the progression curve ! If you take a look at world's record (human or bot), they all came across the same walls as I did. Making it complicated : yes. Making it insanely difficult just with unlocking a science : no.
Phase 1 :
Some good things first :
- The start of the game is pretty straight-forward and clean
- organizing red soon is quite easy with some wizard-ish techniques ^^
- going full red+green science is quite well balanced
- Since it's pretty easy to clean all red+green science, unlocking blue is trivial but making blue isn't, so get stuck at "waiting" for another useful science
- grey science don't make any sense even if not going for a run, it really cost a leg and it produces more pollution than you can defend yourself ; it's easier to stay with simple research at first, just add more turrets, which doesn't cost anything (compared to science) and don't create pollution
- Side note : Steel furnace are quite useless for their cost. No gain on any plan ... Electrical Furnace is the game changer
- Side note 2 : having rock to collect, especially huge rocks, make the a bit too easy at the beginning, or on the other hand, the game is too slow if you don't have rocks
Phase 2 :
At this point, you have two choices :
- Rush to petroleum to get bots and progress fast
- Secure your space, reduce pollution and only go for modules at first ; even go solar
Really, this part became very complicated with sulfur, even if it doesn't look so. Instead of making everything with petroleum, you have to make intermediates.
In the end, you need more copper than Iron (what an Iron-y )
At this stage, even if setting things in motion for blue science made you cry, you didn't prepared yourself for the worst thing in Factorio : Steel. Freaking Steel.
Even if you reach bots, motors are very light on the recipe so it's negligible.
Phase 3 :
Nearly no recipes needs it as a "commonly used material", so as a normal player, you don't worry about it. The thing is, you need an incredible amount of steel to continue the game. A clear wall stands before you. If you hadn't prepare, you'll get stuck like 2h at least just building the start (speaking for beginner time, faster for us). And you're not even really using it.
When purple science comes, you just wish you were dead.
You want to go yellow first ? Don't worry, you'll need steel too, even if it's small, because you'll need like 4 assemblers dedicate to each yellow science assembler. And for all the assemblers needed for greens and red circuits, you'll need more steel than you think.
And I forgot Blue chips ! What a pleasure to discover if you start that you can't even put 6 assemblers without emptying a full lane of greens !! And a full lane of greens, it's around 40 assemblers.
Phase 4 :
The Rocket !
At this point, you easily made : electrical motors, concrete, battery, modules, and one the ingredient is clearly too easy, Rocket Fuel ! It's insanely easy to produce those in huge quantity, compared to the 20 copper + 1 steal (so 10 Iron) to create a low density module. And don't mention control unit which uses processing units, like yellow science, and speed module which is very costly considering you need green and red circuits everywhere, especially green ones.
So to sum up :
- Silo is easy, even trivial
- Getting to research low density modules and control unit is far too costly compared to rocket fuel
- Rocket fuel is trivial, I did it with 8 assemblers, just storing it
- low density module is easy enough but is used everywhere and need a big throughput of copper : if you don't have copper, it's just no fun
- making control unit is really too expensive due to yellow science usage in processing unit
As I see it, the "early game" (Phase 1 + 2) is pretty enjoyable, for any kind of players at any speed.
Next phases need either preparation or just waiting, and doing "useless" things to kill time. While I was the achievement, sometimes, I had no other choice than to just watch. If I pulled some resources from the chain, I would break it and slow it down, without any rapid gain.
Clearly it doesn't feels right. If you automate too much, you can't correct the curve of progression easily : either you made a mistake or not. It's punitive, and not rewarding to fix your production
I wonder how many people just "watch" their game, even as casual player, because they are short on every resources and trying to increase production will not help it since you can't pollute as you wish ?
Sorry for the long post, which some will find useless, but I had to share what I felt while doing this. I learn other aspects (like the Steel Wall) because I never tried to reach to rocket that fast, and the game shows you many more things you didn't saw before in your 30-40h run.