Basic Aim of the Game
Production Line is a game about designing and running a large, sprawling modern car factory. The player takes on the role of factory owner, starting with a large pile of money and a factory already available (the exact situation depends on which mission is selected). The aim of the game is to build as large and as profitable 9and efficient) a factory as possible. Currently the game is a pure sandbox, although there are achievements to strive for!
Production Line is a singleplayer game, played in real time, on an isometric map. You can pause the game (there is a pause button at the top of the screen) and adjust the speed (shortcuts are P,1,2,3,). you can take a screenshot with the PrintScreen key at any time.
The game autosaves every five minutes, but we recommend naming and saving your game from time to time anyway. Bankruptcy comes FAST in the game, and the game ends if you run out of money. Luckily loans are available :D
Your First Production Line
A production line is made from a series of production slots, which are connected by conveyor belts. Each slot has a tile which acts as a stockpile where resources are kept to be used during production, and these need to be connected to the overhead conveyor system in order for resources to arrive.
Cars have to be built in a specific order, and you can start your production line from anywhere on the map (although it must end on one of the 'export' locations.
To begin laying out your production line you need to launch the slot-picker from the icon at the top right of the screen:
Then select the option to place down 'chassis assemble':
And place that on the map. (you can use 'r' or the middle mouse button to rotate the slot).
You then need to add 'fit body', 'paint', 'fit engine' 'fit accessories' 'qa' and then finally place down an 'export' slot. This can ONLY be placed on one of the export sockets at the edges of the factory. When this is done you should have something that looks like this:
(Make sure you drag in the direction you want the cars to flow!) You then need to select the conveyor tool, to lay down a moving conveyor by clicking and dragging between the slots to join them like this:
Once you have done this you will have a full, complete production line looking something like this:
But wait! nothing is happening! Why? Because none of the components required to build the car are actually available yet. You need to 'import' these by placing down a resource importer from the slot picker. Just as with export slots, these have to go somewhere on the edge of the map that has a socket. when placed they should look like this:
Once this is placed, you need to click and drag a resource conveyor to connect all of the slot stockpiles with the import slot. Eventually you will have a layout something like this:
This represents a 'complete' production line, where resources will be bought in, cars will be built, checked and then sold to the public. This is then a fully working factory producing cars... ... ...in a very inefficient way :D
Researching a More Efficient Production Process
To make your production line more efficient you will need to break down those tasks into smaller and smaller tasks. For example the task to 'fit body' on our current production line is far too big. You can see how much time it takes by clicking on the slot itself (not the bit with the car on...) and that will bring up the following dialog box:
The bit that concerns us is the bit at the top. It shows that although this slot is claiming to just 'fit body', it actually carries out a whole list of smaller sub-tasks (the top row of progress bars). Plus it takes 31 minutes to do this! (game time).
If we split those tasks out into more slots, we can get the cars flowing much faster, and the overall processing time will be much shorter. How do we go about doing that?
If you go back to the slot picker and expand the fit body option you will see a bunch more options that break down this task into smaller ones. Sadly, that icon shows all of these are locked! we cannot place them until we research them!
To research anything, we will need to place down at least one research office (which also employees some scientific researchers), You will find the research office inside the folder called 'facilities' on the slot picker:
This allows us to place down the facility. Note that facilities can be placed anywhere, they don't have to be anywhere close to the actual production line:
Once you have a research office, either clicking on it, or the icon at the top left of the screen will take you to the research and development screen. From here, you need to select the 'Body Specialization' item, and begin researching it. This will take some time, depending how many research offices you build. Be warned, they are not cheap.
Eventually, you will have access to those unlocked new slots from the slot picker. In this case we have 3 new slots, Fit Bodyframe, Fit Roof and Fit Doors. Note that together (and in that order) these new slots will REPLACE the existing fit body slot. (You don't necessarily have to delete the old one, you can branch out and have one fast, and one slow production line). By replacing the single slot with 3 different slots, the production line will get bigger, and longer, but will actually move much faster. You may find yourself having to demolish old slots to make room for a more complex line. Eventually, you can research every process tech and have a VERY long but VERY efficient line.
Car Body Styles and Features
Once a car makes it to the end of the production line it goes into the showroom to be sold. The first time this happens with each body style, you will get a pop-up window that invites you to name the car design,m and shows the price and the features on this car. At the start of the game, cars have very few features. You can access this window again later from the top left menu.
The car design screen allows you to edit the current price mark-up for this model. By default, your sales staff will set the price of the car in accordance with market expectations of its worth. if you are selling a LOT of cars, and cannot sell them quickly enough, you may need to discount the cars. If you are only selling a few, like at the start of the game, you can probably get away with marking up your cars quite a lot.
Note that some of the features on your car (once you have started adding them) will be shown as red, some grey, some light or dark green. This corresponds to how common those features are. If you are the first car company to research them they are 'very rare' (and you get a bonus to their value), if you have some competition they become 'rare', then 'common' and eventually 'universal' which means they become worthless, and all cars are expected to include them in the basic price. if you carry on producing cars without universal features, then you will have a real problem trying to sell them.
Note that car body styles (Sedan, SUV, Compact) are researchable items. you need to research them to unlock a special new button at the start of each production line like this:
Which then gives you access to this new window which lets you schedule how each production line swaps between different body styles.
You can happily have different car body styles exist on the same production line. Currently the only difference is that the compact car uses less doors and windows because its a 3 door car.
Loans, Finances and Expansion
Building a car factory is extremely expensive. You may from time to time need to take out a loan to finance the expansion of your company. Luckily loans are available from the finance screen! To get to this screen hit the icon at the top right to launch the finance dialog, then select the loans tab:
You will see what loans are available, the term, and the daily interest. Note that these values seem very short term and very high, but that's because the game is running in a hybrid approximation of real time (with real-processing times for car construction) and long-term time (for stuff like researching tech, which should really take years). Try not to overthink it :D
Currently loans CANNOT be repaid early. The interest rate will vary between loans. You can see how much a loan repayment is costing from the expenses tab of the same window:
If you are looking to make even bigger factories, you may wish to expand outside the confines of your current factory floor. You can do this by taking over one of the vacant factory lots adjacent to your building, simply by clicking on it, assuming you have researched the appropriate upgrade for factory expansion. Note that the number of import/export slots vary, and that rent per-tile also varies, depending which factory lot you take over.
Efficiency and Upgrades
If there is one guiding principle for making money in the car production business.... its efficiency! All your vehicles should be worked on as much of the time as possible, all your production slots should be working as much of the time.... but it is not that easy. Luckily there are a number of tools to help you optimize the flow of your factory.
First, when zooming out you see a bunch of vehicle icons. These show you if a car is being worked on (green), in a queue waiting to be worked on (yellow) or actively waiting for something like resources (red). Just remember green is good, yellow is bad. red is really bad :D
Clicking on an individual slot will give you a pie chart of its recent status. You can use this to see whether the slot is busy, whether its blocked because there is no room for the current car to be 'exported' or whether its waiting for resources:
Clicking the Efficiency icon will open a window that shows you a veritable smorgasbord of efficiency stats. The key one here is slot efficiency. You don't want those expensive robots doing nothing...
One way to improve the efficiency of your factory is through upgrades to slots (and to the factory itself). Check out the R&D screen to see a bunch of cool upgrades to individual slots. One of the most popular upgrades is extra robots for each slot:
Once these are researched, you will then need to go to individual slots and apply them as needed. note that those robots cost money (and drain power), so only add them where you need them.
Production Line includes a very simple (and not particularly polished) level editor. You can access it from the edit button on each mission on the choose mission screen:
The editor lets you set up various 'zones' which are effectively the factory lots on each map. You can also place the import and export slots for each zone, and set the names and rent (per tile) for each of the slots.
The editor has buttons which let you select which 'mode' you are in. They are:
- Create Zone, where you click and drag on the 'map' to create a new zone. (right clicking deletes a zone).
- Import Slots, where you click to place down dots to represent where resource importer slots appear on the map (these can only be on zone exterior walls).
- Export Slots, where you click to place export slots, which also have to be external walls...
When you are in zone mode, you can also click to select an existing zone, which lets you edit its properties using the controls on the right hand side.
Do not forget to SAVE you map! This will ask you for a new map name, and it gets saved into a new folder inside my documents\my games\production line.
The new map will show up along with all the others when you click new game from the main menu. You can delete these maps (but not the default ones).
Written by Cliffski.