I remember being in 4th grade and learning about Gary Indiana. It was part of a video series we watched about the regions of the United States, and it was a bold introduction to the rust belt. It looked awful, and ever since I've been fascinated with the city.
In The Music Man, Gary is the punchline of an entire song. The smoke, the smog, the urban decay are all burned into the public imagination whenever they think of the area. I would love to visit the city someday...granted, as someone who likes going to the annual Mothman Festival and the world's largest ball of twine in Cawker City Kansas. My tastes may be a little strange.
Gary was at the forefront of my mind while playing Factorio, a game in development since 2012. I've been ill with the kind of lovecraftian viral infection that only happens to people who work with middle schoolers, and was desperate for something to take my mind off of my seventeenth bowl of chicken noodle soup.
The game's premise is that you want to build a spaceship to get off of a barren planet with all the trappings of an early Fallout 2 model map. The graphics are pretty bad.
To build the spaceship, you need various types of science. To make "science packs", you need another set of prerequisites for each variety. Red science wasn't so bad...I just needed some gently refined materials that I could do by hand with my character. Green science looked impossible at first: you need to make mechanical tracks and automated arms that carry resources. It was at this point I knew for sure I would have to build a factory to automate everything. I was tired to digging stuff up by hand.
I was not very good at it at first, and needed a sherpa of sorts to help me with the basics. My friend, who got me into the game, admits that the game is a chore at its core. I would agree...but the process of building an ever more efficient machine is satisfying in a way that creeps me out. I sat down, decided I wanted to efficiently create green science, and suddenly it was two hours later. This game is scary in how it sucks you in.
Don't start this game during finals week. The perfectionist in you is going to force you to play for hours on end and be dimly satisfied every time you make a more effective factory complex. When you come up for air, either to hang out with friends or grade some papers, you will be mildly proud of what you created. Mostly, though, you will be horrified that you made Gary, Indiana on a random moon.
Thumbs up for this one. :)