Logistics games teach you about tech debt

Last edited August 2021
Backlinks: Logistics games can teach you engineering

In my Factorio and Satisfactory play-throughs, I almost always end up building factories that are a spaghetti of conveyor belts, with no overarching clear structure. I get better at it every single play-through though, but there nonetheless will be a point where everything breaks down.

I have a good strategy for early- to mid-game. The factories I build there are clean, neat, organized, efficient, modular, extensible. At the late-game stage, however, I don’t have a good strategy, and the factories I’ve built aren’t sufficient anymore, and I start hacking around to fit new production lines in.

This is eerily similar to how tech debt in software development is created.

There are two reasons why good Factorio intentions can lead to a chaotic factory nonethless:

Once the chaos is too big, you have two choices:

Refactoring is the only sustainable choice. If you start a new game every time you have created a mess, you’ll likely end up abandoning Factorio altogether.

Refactoring in Factorio is generally easy. There usually is little preventing you from wiping out an entire part of a factory and starting over. The only exception is the infrastructure that keeps the hostile alien lifeforms at bay — you’ll have to be more careful to keep that running.

As for how to refactor… that’s another story.