The Biz – E3 2018 – Satisfactory: PC E3 Recap and Post-E3 Updates

E3 2018 Recaps and Analysis
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Fans of the tower defense genre might remember a fairly successful pair of shooters known as Sanctum and Sanctum 2. Personally I have very good memories playing as the protagonist Skye until the wee hours of the morning.

Or maybe you remember watching countless Twitch and Youtube personalities cashing in on the equally infamous and ridiculous stream bait title “Goat Simulator”.

Both of these franchises were made by a studio known as “Coffee Stain Studios”, and during the PC E3 conference their next big title was revealed.

Satisfactory Reveal Trailer – E3 2018

So we didn’t really get a whole lot from that trailer. Evidently Satisfactory is a game about collecting resources, building factories, and… not really much else. As much as I want to poo-poo a game that is literally just about building, I could see the game being a pretty zen way to spend a quiet weeknight if it is executed right.

Fortunately for us, a the game director from Coffee Stain Studios was available to speak to their factory farming game, and gave us some additional information.

Satisfactory E3 Press Conference

Unfortunately Coffee Stain didn’t really help clarify things much during the speaking portion. He starts off by explaining that you are an engineer sent to an alien planet from Earth who is tasked with creating a giant machine. The motive or purpose behind the creation of this machine is not explained, but it also sounds like it isn’t really important.

He then goes into some detail about how the crafting system works, and I’m not going to lie is sounds complicated. Depending on your personality this might not be a bad thing. Personally I am a big fan of the crafting focus of a lot of modern games, so I could see myself sinking my teeth into a robust crafting system. However, I have a feeling this systemic focus will alienate a lot of gamers unless there is sufficient supporting content around it.

The good news is that the game is co-op. As long as there is more to the game than farming and building, there is a chance that more adventurous gamer archetypes could find some enjoyment.

Another detail that is worth noting is that Oscar kept referring to the map as well… “the map”. This seems to indicate that it will be a hand-crafted map and not a procedurally generated map like so many sandboxes before it.

There was a very brief clip in the trailer featuring what appeared to be a tiny rhino charging the oddly complacent engineer. This seems to indicate that there are some active threats in the environment that will challenge the player. This has me at least a little bit optimistic that there will be more to this game than mining and crafting, however their lack of additional content at E3 has me worried that the occasional encounter will be little more than a diversion.

Lastly Oscar did mention that there was a closed Alpha coming up, but didn’t really offer any details around it beyond a signup link on screen. You can go to to sign up for the Alpha and follow the game.

Satisfactory Q&A After E3: Mods, Combat, and Multiplayer

I was originally planning on releasing this article the day the game was revealed, but work and major life events are actively trying to kill me so that didn’t end up happening.

The good news is, the day before I wrote this article Coffee Stain actually released a fairly in-depth Q and A video that gave us quite a bit of information.

Satisfactory Reveal Trailer – E3 2018

The community manager Jace starts off by stating that they will not be launching with mod support. I’m actually pretty disappointed in this decision. While I understand the need to tighten up the core game, the sandbox nature of Satisfactory would mesh well with robust modding integrations. I am hopeful that long-term mod support will become a priority, but early on it looks like we are going to have to settle for the base game.

Post launch it sounds like they are going to ensure the core game for a fair amount of time post launch. As a studio they have a fairly good track record of this. Furthermore, we were able to confirm that the map itself is hand-crafted and not procedurally generated. Jace did mention the idea of creating new maps post launch, however he seemed pretty non-committal to the idea at this stage. My assumption is that if the player base is large and active enough, Coffee Stain will invest in additional maps moving forward.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Jace addressed the question asking if “you would need to defend your base”. He let us know that while you wouldn’t have to defend your base, the hostile wilderness outside of the base would be fairly threatening. This paradigm could create some real opportunities on the multiplayer front, allowing both the adventuring and industrious player archetypes to work in tandem.

He briefly touched on the who/what/when/where/why of Alpha keys, and proceeded to tell us… absolutely nothing. Thank you for that.

After talking about plushies for a second, he confirmed that there are currently no procedurally generated map elements. I actually appreciate this approach because procedural generation has gotten a bit out of hand lately, and I appreciate it when game devs decide to take an artisanal approach.

Jace was able to confirm that there will be strong support for localization(aka multiple languages). This is always welcome and encouraged. Afterwards he did confirm that there would be a variety of drive-able and autonomous vehicles, however there would be no water vehicles.

The last few segments of the Q&A speak to the size constraints of the game. He starts off by stating that verticality will be a very important aspect of the game. Players can and should build their factories to the sky. He briefly perpetuated the lie that the game would be 30 x 30 kilometers(900 km^2), but a tweet on screen clarified the fact that in reality the game would only be 30km^2(~5.5 x 5.5 km). In my opinion as long as the map has enough interesting areas this is more than enough space for the game.

Lastly he confirms that the trailer footage is in fact shoot with in-engine footage. He does state that there is a cinematic mode that some shots used, but this cinematic feature would be available in game for players to use.

Final Thoughts

I’m actually very optimistic that this game will hit the mark. I am a big fan of the Sanctum series, and it looks like this game will be a great step in a different direction.

While the game is construction focused, my biggest concern is that the combat will fall short. Using Sanctum as a barometer, Coffee Stain Studios is pretty unproven on the combat front. Now I want to be clear I don’t mean they are bad at developing combat focused games, they simply have yet to produce a game that requires a robust combat system.

I hope that Coffee Stain can continue to improve their combat concepts with Satisfactory. The jump in combat quality between Sanctum and Sanctum 2 was significant. Although I’m bummed out there won’t be mod support initially, their focus on the core game could pay major dividends over time if they can create a tight mechanical core.

All in all the game seems to have a lot of heart. However, it is clear that quite a few of the core features of the game are still deep in development.

The good news is, Coffee Stain Studios has a pretty good track record thus far. I’m not going to view their transparent approach to game design as a point against them.

It sounds like they are very open to community interaction. I encourage anybody who has a vested interest in this game to connect with the company of social media, and leave your mark on what appears to be a promising game.

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