I’ve been working on a railroad. Not all the live-long day, mind you, but I did put in a lot of hours over this past weekend on a very silly project in Satisfactory. You see, I just shipped off the third Space Elevator bundle and unlocked Tier 7… but the forthcoming game patch called Update 4 is supposed to do exciting things to the tech at that level so I don’t want to actually build anything from that tier yet. Either I need to shelve the game for the duration (yeah, right) or find something to work on that doesn’t involve new tech.

Spoiler: It involved more trains. Because trains are cool.

I decided, “Oh hey, let’s spend our vacation week doing a silly rail project.” (I’ll have more on that later this week.) Along the way I worked out a couple of useful techniques that I thought I’d share with the group as a sort of follow-up to the previous big post about the game’s monorail tech.

The first big hurdle to building this coastal rail line came in the form of random map scenery elements that are too big to blow up so must be built around (or over). Since one of my goals for this project is to stay low to the waterline (with a couple of specific planned exceptions), “around” is the ideal response. So, how to jog a train line to the side by one foundation tile’s width?

What you need is eight foundation tiles, four along the original path and four along the new path with an overlap of two tiles side-by-side. So, occupying most of a two-by-six grid.

Rather inconsiderate of the game developers to drop that mushroom-flower-stone thing right in my way, wasn’t it?

As with all rail-placement situations, lining up on the foundation tile boundaries is key. Build to the edge of this block of tiles, then place a new section of track that curves just a bit, placing the end right at the “plus” mark in the middle of the four-square set of tiles. (Luckily the game will want to “snap” to that point rather easily.)

If nothing else, hopefully I can help someone avoid having to figure out the correct grid ratios on their own like I did.

Then it’s just a matter of extending the track from that point to the end boundary of the two-by-six block so it’s flush with the tile edge again, and from there onward you should get nice straight track.

My original plan was to go up and over this corner of the map terrain, but that went out the window once I realized it’s covered in poison gas. Not great for tourism, there.

I used this trick several times as I made my way around the north & west coasts of the game map. At one point, however, I decided to build a station rather close to the shore and in tight quarters, map-decoration-wise. I couldn’t do one-tile jogs to the side, and I didn’t have the eight tiles’ worth of space necessary for a full pair of 90-degree turns. What to do, what to do?

I found a way to make a bigger jog-to-the-side, that’s what.

Let’s say (because this is what I needed to do) that you want to continue along your original direction but need to shift to the side by six foundation tiles’ worth to get around a large obstruction. You’ll need tiles spread out across the equivalent of a ten by six grid. It’s the same trick as before, only on a larger scale: Build to the start of the grid space, lay a curved bit of track to the “plus” right in the middle, then build back out again the same way as before.

Yes, I placed all these tiles and painted the key positions and built an observation tower specifically to take this screenshot for this post. The things I do for you people!

(Obviously there’s probably a something-by-four version of this technique but I haven’t needed that yet so I haven’t bothered to find out what it is.)

One last minor tip I want to cover involves elevation changes. A train uses more power (and has a harder time building & maintaining velocity) the steeper of an incline you wish to climb, so my goal is to only use the shallowest of ramp tiles for this project. This gives the additional benefit of introducing the least amount of visual clipping to the track placement.

Remember that two foundation tiles is the minimum track length. Thus, build to one tile boundary ahead of the ramp change. Then place two tiles’ worth of track so you’re pointing up the ramp and continue on from there.

You can simply lay track directly up the ramp from further back on the tiles but you’ll probably end up with a weird-looking “air gap” underneath. This result looks much cleaner, trust me.

When it comes time to return to level track, the same basic principle applies. End at the boundary one tile from the ramp transition, build for two tiles’ worth, then continue onward. It’s still going to clip a little bit but one needs to looks fairly closely to even notice.

It’s possible to build rails on ramps that go from shallow to steeper and back but I haven’t tried making that look “good” yet. Maybe some other time.

Hopefully the next time I post about trains in Satisfactory I’ll have something genuinely fun to share. Stay tuned…