All I’ve posted about so far this year is this one silly game, but hey, before Satisfactory came along I was lucky to manage one post per month. I’ll ride this content train as long as it lasts, absolutely.

Rather than talking about a specific build, today I wanted to share some tips for people who might be interested in the game but feel daunted by what looks like a challenging mountain of highly technical tasks. I am, let’s be clear, an absolute “filthy casual” of a player. This description applies to nearly every game I play, because I’m really just here to relax and amuse myself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being highly competitive or taking a game super-seriously if that’s your thing, mind you, but neither of those mindsets suit me at all.

So, if you’re sort of like me and want to putter around in this game, I’d like to offer some modest advice that might help.

In no particular order, here are some suggestions:

The goal of any new build is to automate something. There’s a workbench in the game. You should, under most circumstances, not be using it once you’re past the early stage of the game. Even if it just means (in the short term) throwing down a bunch of machinery to make each type of available object in an “on demand” sort of way, by all means do that. Standing around with your hand on the spacebar while the workbench goes “tink-tink-tink” to crank out some part you need is an absolute waste of your time if there’s a better way available. It’s also boring as heck. (Also, if you’re in the pre-coal stages, you ought to be out there harvesting plants and trees for fuel… which you should equipment set up to process, of course.)

Prepare to do a certain amount of math. Early on, you can get away with making one or two pieces of production equipment ad-hoc to make this piece or that part, but eventually you’ll be looking at having to cram four items of varying quantities into one machine to accumulate a certain total amount of a specific goal output. Making notes you can refer to on how many of X, Y, Z, and Q you’re going to need (and how many of L and M are needed to make the required Q in advance) will save you tedium and frustration later on.

I’m using a spreadsheet with one tab for noting basic tallies of how many total of various parts I need for the next project build (“I’m building 5 Refineries and 14 Fuel Generators, which means I need…”), and another tab for working out ratios and totals for item production.

Related to this, I recommend having some sort of note-taking interface so you don’t have to remember what you were planning next, what you did last game session, and why. I’m using a wiki, but a simple text file could do the job just as well.

I can almost hear you asking, “How is this being ‘casual’?” Trust me, I’m an absolute lazybones compared to some of the folks putting out YouTube videos and doing Twitch streams about this game. I’m doing what I consider the bare minimum here, and it’s suiting me just fine. A couple of basic Excel formulas (sums and multiplications) and simple breadcrumbs of text notes, that’s all I’m really doing.

Nothing is wasted, and resources are limitless. If you don’t like how your stuff lines up, or if you made a mistake, or you just change your mind for any reason at all, you can simply remove the offending items and get all construction materials back. If the items include construction equipment or conveyor belts, any materials currently in or on them come back to you as well. Should your personal inventory fill up, a little “toolbox” of the excess will appear on the ground nearby for later pickup. (I found this out when I decided to relocate my space elevator…)

You wouldn’t think that you could simply derezz that giant thing, but hey, it’s just a game, you can do what you want to do (within certain limits).

Also, the resource nodes never run out. (There are occasional outcroppings of materials on the ground that you can harvest, but those aren’t actual resource nodes.) Once you’ve tapped that oil node, you have all the oil it can produce available for as long as you continue with your ongoing game session.

Much like how foundation tiles can be made to hover in thin air because gravity only really applies to your player character, it’s important to remember that this is a game, and game mechanics always take priority over realism.

I unlocked pillars in the AWESOME Shop specifically so I could ease the part of my brain that doesn’t like seeing masses of floating concrete by placing meaningless visual geegaws into my build projects like this.

Containers are buffers, and buffers are good. You’ll want containers all over the place anyway, because what’s the point of a production line if there’s nowhere for the products to go? But containers have an interesting secondary function in the production line: They can serve as a buffer for when things go slightly awry.

Maybe some piece of equipment ran out of power or isn’t getting enough materials fast enough. Now the whole production line behind that equipment is backed up, conveyor belts idle, waiting for that problem to get fixed. But if you have a container in the right place along the line, the container can accept and store the materials bound for that equipment (up to its capacity, obviously) so that the production line behind it can keep doing its thing, and once the problem is solved you have a container full of ready materials to pick up production again going forward down the line. A container will offload as fast as the exit belt and subsequent equipment will take its contents.

On a related note, a fun tip: For storage (not buffer) containers, place a short length of Mk1 conveyor belt coming out of the exit. A few of whatever’s in the container will roll out for display, giving you an easy visual indicator of what’s inside. When you have a building full of various containers, this can be an absolute godsend, especially in a game that doesn’t (in its stock form) provide any form of signage. (There are mods available. I haven’t touched modding yet so I can’t speak to that part of the game experience.)

Build up rather than out as much as you can. The game world is a bumpy, lumpy place full of terrain features as well as several creatures great & small, some docile and most hostile. The best way to deal with almost all of this is to get up above the fray. I mostly do two-floor factory projects but my future plans include a better version of the Iron-and-Copper Works that vertically integrates (as it were) ore processing, production, and storage in a clean and tidy facility that’s easy to get what I need out of (which is to say, storage on the bottom floor, most likely).

Given that there are giant… blob-type creatures on spindly limbs that merrily walk right through your factory walls (early access game!)… building up, and further up, is a good way to avoid dealing with those things, too. (The giraffe-tick-things are docile, but annoying when they get in your way.) Not to mention, the ranged-attack animals can’t do much to you if you’re way up above the ground.

I used this trick to get an Oil Extractor built out near some hostile creatures without risking life or limb. The range of your ability to build out at a distance has limits, but I built the machinery and pipeline you see here from the raised platform I’m standing on:

I actually cleared out the spitters from around that oil node, but there’s an “alpha” spitter prowling around just off to the right of this screenshot and I wasn’t in the mood for a fight.

It’s something to consider, especially if you’re like me and don’t enjoy dealing with hostile fauna.

If you think you know how much space you need for a project, you need more. This weekend I finally got around to building my “Steelworx” site upgrade. Coal and iron making steel, with a bit of “industrial beams” production on the side. I didn’t plan it out in huge detail but figured I had a decent grasp on what it would take to get what I wanted out of the project.

Mostly what I wanted was lots of Steel Pipe, which I certainly did achieve.

It even worked… mostly. But it was horribly inefficient, and then I realized I needed many, many more of the “industrial beams” than the dribs and drabs I was getting from the first layout. So, not even two entire days after building the factory, I knocked out some walls and added another couple rows’ worth of floor tiles to the whole thing, which gave me enough room to do a much better job.

Steel Pipes, check. Encased Industrial Beams, check. Dramatic night-time lighting, check and mate.

And this’ll do just great… right up until the time when I find that I need more and better stuff, of course.

There’s no shame in following a build guide. The Internet, being made up at least partly of absolute nerds who love to put in hard work on this sort of problem and share their findings, will provide you with ways to do certain things in the least amount of space and at the highest level of efficiency, and sometimes that’s what you need. My next build project centers on a fuel-oil power plant designed by the folks at Satisfactory Tips, and I’m glad someone out there did the math and figured out the logistics because I was 100% not looking forward to trying to not screw up an oil power rig all on my own.

I figure I’m honoring the work of industrious and helpful gamer geeks by using their instructions to my own benefit. You can, too.

There’s even less shame in doing things however the heck you want to. Repeat to yourself, “This is just a game, and I should really just relax.”

I’m actually going to modify the fuel-oil power plant guide instructions I just mentioned a tiny meaningless bit, because I want to future-proof it a bit for waste product handling as well as not be bothered running a bunch of Mk3 conveyor belts down the length of the whole site just for the aesthetic when I can make a much shorter run by going the other direction, outside of the “build site.”

Do what you want! Have fun!