After recently posting about a modular base-plate design I built as part of a factory game idea, I thought I’d dive a little deeper into the concept and execution. Here are some examples of the plates, their insides, and how they might be used:
As a long-time fan of hard science fiction, I have always maintained that visual representations of machinery and systems in games should be both visually realistic, and functionally plausible. Many games make the choice to eschew accuracy in favor of various advantages such as simpler models, stylised appearance, or maybe they just don’t have the technical knowledge (or research time) in house. As an engineer (of various sorts) I always imagined I’d be a real stickler for technical detail, and so here I am trying to apply that to an idea for a game.
Base-plates will be the foundation (literally) of the game, and serve an important role as they are not just there to physically support the structures built on them, but also to form an infrastructure layer providing various services to all buildings by default. Often a factory game requires you to either a) route all required resources to a building, or b) ignores some of them altogether. For me, it seems that the base essentials would be as follows:
- Energy - powering the physical function of each building (electricity)
- Water - used in many processes, or at least for washing away waste
- Cooling - often overlooked, but actually essential if your factory is in space
- Waste removal - most operations have byproducts, which need removal
- Comms - data network for coordination between buildings
(hot return, coolant supply, comms socket, power socket, water supply, and waste return)
By incorporating the supply (and extraction) of these within all base plates, it removes the headache of a lot of routing (leaving that to more interesting material distribution) and turns a base plate into a more exciting object to look at.