Factorio may be considered a building game, but it is also a puzzle game. The goal is to learn how to survive and build machines that enable your success. This gets more and more complex as you progress through the game. You build assembly machines that only build one kind of object, but in … Continue reading “Factorio: Puzzling the Mind”
Factorio may be considered a building game, but it is also a puzzle game. The goal is to learn how to survive and build machines that enable your success. This gets more and more complex as you progress through the game. You build assembly machines that only build one kind of object, but in order to build the desired machine you need 3 others. Therefor you are at least building 4 assembly machines, assuming the machines don’t require other parts to build the items. Confusing right? In order to automate everything, which you have to do, you must manage space, resources and crafting materials or else you will run into blocks within the system that you cannot easily overcome. It is a puzzle, yet that is why it is fun. Puzzles require thought and harder puzzles cannot be completed using simple crafting formulas. You can only finish them through observation care and patience, the same goes for Factorio.
I found a study written on puzzle games and what they show about our brains and processes of problem solving. The study looked at games such as Portal and Braid in order to test our skills and development through practice. The study found that when a player is presented with an obstacle they recognize, they can easily overcome it, even if it has added difficulties. Yet when a player is given a task that they do not recognize or have not done before, they often take longer and show less “skill” at the game. In Factorio these results would most likely be the same. I could build machines in more complex ways as long as I knew the formula, but once I was presented a new task that I hadn’t dealt with I slowed down. I often had to rebuild because of a missed step.
The progress and failures are all part of the fun. I loved Factorio because it was a puzzle. It made me think about my factory and my usage of resources and space. I did not feel as though I was playing a children’s game. Road blocks were part of its complexity, and the complexity was all part of the fun. Puzzles are meant to enable thought and problem solving, and that is exactly what Factorio does just with different pieces.
The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the […]
The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the shovel. This is apparent in Pridemoor Keep when Shovel Knight has to maintain a downward shovel attack and jump over countdown spell books. Once the spell book is opened, it opens various others that form a path and once time runs out, Shovel Knight falls into a pit. Recovering, treasures in these situations is really difficult. In The Lich Yard, as well as in the battle with Specter Knight, the lightning in the background is a sign of ensuing darkness which requires the player to memorize where there are void pits and enemies. Ghosts and frogs are really tricky in these situations.
This connects with Jamie Madigan’s points of “completeness of sensory information” and “cognitively demanding environments” which she uses as a meter of immersion.  The more abstract a game is the less immersive a game becomes. In regards to cognitive demanding environments, when the field including Shovel Knight becomes a silhouette, except for ghosts and dim candles/fires, the level has more of an ominous and haunted vibe due to the fact that the player is immersed in the darkness. The Village area is an example of completeness where the NPCs (non-playable characters) add to the immersion as each one provides a humorous quote or a distinctly different feature (examples in my other post).
The final point Madigan raises about “game characteristics leading to spatial presence”, is “a strong and interesting narrative, plot, or story will suck you in.”  What is unique about the this game is that the Order of No Quarter is a complete mystery, and so far much has not been said about The Enchantress, as well as the damsel in distress is a knight whose power is about equal or possibly greater than Shovel Knight. The sleep sequences make it feel as if though Shield Knight is dead.
Do it. In the dark.
1.Jamie Madigan, “The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games,” http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/, (July 27,2010).