I picked up the beta key at PAX. I downloaded it, and was quickly entertained. I even bought the super in game pack to support it. It reminded me of my operations class from my MBA, which ended up being my surprise favorite. If made more complex on the assembly line side, it would actually be a good teaching tool. I would recommend reading the book (which is educational fiction), "The Goal", which is about optimizing an assembly line, to see how you could make it more complex.
Bugs I encountered were minimal (Alpha.1811), mostly I found the buy buttons finicky, and sometimes I would think I switched from tin to copper, and find I had not. This was made much worse by the fact that the boxes look identical, and that you cannot pause the game, so I do a mad dash to prime the system for complex multi item assemblies.
I don't quite understand what levels are for at this point, but that might be due to lack of implemented ideas. I have gotten to level 5, and nothing seems different, except I can accrue Nat'l spirit.
Features I wish for:
- Pause! Getting a complex assembly line up and running is currently frustrating.
- Instead, per machine pause might work.
- I like the auto-sell box, and would like the inverse, an auto-buy box, that kept reordering a part. Constantly feeding new boxes is annoying.
- Split buy into machines and inputs. Right now it works, but if you add any more, it will break.
- Mac version (I know it is coming)
- More stuff to do! I think I "beat" the alpha for now.
Suggestion, in the mode of operations management, and how to make it more complex:
- Make machines more diverse, and more expensive. Right now the inventory is the pricy part, but mostly so that you can buy it in bulk and forget about it. If you had a reorder system, then money should be used on different machines, to improve things. Machines are currently basically free. If they were not, then you would need to be more clever, and figure out how to reuse them. It would also make challenge levels possible, where you might get only 3 machines, and you have to make 100 of something that normally requires 8 machines, but if you used conveyors and pushers, you could reuse the machines for multiple steps.
- Make machines have variable rates. For instance, the 2 input could go half as fast. Then, one could use alternating pushers, or implement rate controls on box feeders. If you combine this with the above expensive machines, then you would have to work to optimize the machine flow for bottlenecks, like in a real production line.
- Have some machines work in batches. This can really mess up the nice clean flow, which then leads to needing to build buffering systems, and more challenges. The way someone might fix that is either: alternating flow, or if box flow could be regulated, have one machine fill boxes at full flow, and another unbox at a nice regulated rate.
- A lot of these thoughts come from the fact that I (due to ingrained assumptions) started out acting like machines were expensive, and conveyors were cheap. That lead to me building clever loopbacks that looped the product through the machine a few times, and using the machine rejection as a key feature. Then, I realized that machines were cheap, and just built simple machines with exactly one machine per step. More effective, but less entertaining. I think if you assume that conveyors, pushers, and other flow control is cheap (which it is, comparatively), but that machines are expensive, players will have to be a lot more creative, and gives room for more scenarios.
So, sorry for the large data dump, but I hope these thoughts are useful. If there is any particular avenue of feedback that has been particularly helpful, and you would like more, I am happy to give you some more thoughts.