Introversion Software, the company behind Prison Architect, has been making a video series about all the projects they’ve developed and abandoned over the last few years. The prototype for this month is ‘Minecraft Factory’ or ‘Voxel Factory,’ a 2017 attempt to create a Factorio-like game using Minecraft-style blocks.
You can watch a video in which they show the prototype and explain why they scrapped the concept, and then buy and play it if you like, with all proceeds going to charity.
“I think we make life difficult for ourselves sometimes,” designer Chris Delay says near the beginning of the video. “I’ve always wanted to make games that are different and special, and that don’t play like something else.” In our business, we’ve never said, “Let’s just make Factorio, or let’s just make Command & Conquer but better, or let’s just make roguelike.” We frequently have games on hand that are fantastic but are too close to another title, so we delete them.
“So this time, I decided to give myself a pass. I decided I needed to exorcise the Factorio demon in me. I decided I was going to give myself a pass to make some sort of Factorio-style game straight-up. Not in space, not with programmable robots, not at nanoscale, just Factorio.”
He reasoned that if he worked on the prototype for a month, it would eventually diverge from its inspiration and evolve into an Introversion game. “I’m trying to figure out how to make myself enjoy playing games again,” Delay says. “Because I used to adore it, and it’s been extremely difficult for me to rediscover it.”
Mark Morris, a co-founder of Delay and Introversion, then shows off a game that is similar to Factorio but uses 3D blocks, in which players mine resources, create conveyor belts and furnaces, and shape production chains to build more complex objects and equipment.
To be frank, it seems to be a lot of fun. “It’s not a setback. It’s a lovely game, and I have a lot of fun with it “After a half-hour, Delay says. The issue is that it’s too similar to Factorio, a game Delay claims he enjoys, and he got bored making it.
Delay shows some intended tower defense elements near the end of the video by dropping hundreds of ant-like enemies onto the map, who goop themselves around your machinery to stop it from functioning. The way they travel around the landscape and navigate around your defenses is straightforward, but it looks fantastic.
This is the fifth installment of Introversion’s Fail Masterclass, and three of the previous four games were Factorio-like – as described by Delay above. Order Of Magnitude was a space colony simulator, Spacebots was a programmable bot colony simulator, Megaprocessor was an electronics puzzle game, and Nanotech was a petri dish simulator. At the Introversion site, you can purchase any of these games – as well as any potential prototypes in the series – for a $5 minimum donation, with all proceeds going to the charity War Child.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the video opens with Delay revealing that he plays bass in Powderhead, a heavy metal band. That’s odd.