How To Become A Factorio Hobbyist

I’m a Minecraft hobbyist.

And I would say that I’m still a Factorio gamer.

But I’m on the brink of becoming a Factorio hobbyist: someone who uses Factorio as a medium for expressing creativity, for developing skills, and for honing a craft.

Not all video games have the potential for supporting hobbyists. I recently played through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Despite being an open world game, with a decent number of interesting game mechanics that can be combined in unique ways, there just isn’t enough freedom, enough of a sandbox, enough skill development, to support a true hobby.

Minecraft has those things in spades. And I believe Factorio does too. I think one key that allows a game to transcend just being a game is that it has to be interesting and worthwhile after all of the built in achievements have been accomplished. And the fact is that once you’ve found all the Koroks, Shrines, Fairies, etc. in Breath of Wild, there just isn’t much left to do.

But in Minecraft, and Factorio, there is so much that can be done once the main gameplay has been completed. You can build worlds. You can build computers. You can build entire games, within the game. And that completely ignores the possibilities that both games offer of modding to create entirely new games, built on the same mechanics.

And now that I’ve “completed” Factorio a couple of times, I’m interested in seeing if it’s a hobby that I could take up. Which means it’s time to finish exploring the basic mechanics, and start learning how to combine them in new and interesting ways.

I remember when I did something similar in Minecraft a few years ago. I had beaten the game a couple times then as well. And for me, taking it to the next level was all about hardcore mode. So I did a few playthroughs in hardcore until I had beaten it again, including defeating a wither. I even built myself a nice tree farm and an attractive mineshaft.

It’s when I started thinking beyond beating the game to building a beautiful world. It was a turning point. Shortly after that I created Iberia, based on my enjoyment of making the game harder. And I went on to build New Lusitania: The Pigman Empire, Strait (a second Minecraft mod), contribute to Quark, and my favorite creation, the city of Navarre in a Biome Bundle hardcore world.

I feel like I’m on that same cusp when it comes to Factorio. I suspect that in the near future, I’ll play through the game a few times, working on improving my gameplay, getting a few more achievements, and exploring enough of the optional mechanics to really be able to have some fun as a Factorio hobbyist.

As of right now, I just launched my second rocket. I did this one in a brand new world, it took 40 hours, and I did it “lazy bastard” style, only crafting about 100 items by hand. It was a fun challenge, and it actually led to a quicker completion than my first run through. And yet I have to play the whole thing five times faster to earn the No Spoon achievement.

But I’m not going to start another playthrough just yet. Instead, now that I have most of the tech researched, and a decent base, I want to do at least some exploring of the different game mechanics. I made up quite a long list of things to consider. We’ll see how far I get in it. For now, I’m going to start by maxing out my armor. Finish all the research related to armor, build a couple suits of power armor Mk 2, and deck them out with the best setup for two different scenarios. First, a combat suit with lasers, shields, power, exoskeletons, and night vision. Second, a building suit with roboports, more exoskeletons, night vision, and belt immunity.

After that, I’ll pick something else off the list, and keep working through things until I’m bored enough to start another world. When I do that, I’ll likely pick another achievement or two to aim for, or maybe try a different building style.

Navarre: Village Tour

Navarre is done.

That felt good to write.

Check it out:

And here’s an imgur album with all kinds of goodness packed in.

For all the posts about Navarre, see the page.


Why be done?

I’m trying to get better at finishing things. That requires deciding what “done” means. Then getting there. Then stopping.

At that point, it’s fine if I want to do another project that builds on the first one, like a season 2. I did that with Iberia. And there may be a 3rd season of Iberia, once Forge for 1.13/1.14 becomes stable enough.

But the point is that finishing projects is an important habit to get into. It allows you to change direction, without being directionless. Finish a project, wrap it up, tie it in a bow, and then move on to the next project.

What more would you do?

If I were to do a season 2 of Navarre, I would add at least one more district to the village. In addition, there are things I would add to each existing district: an archery range to the university district, a meat and fish market in the market district, separate armor and weapon stores, automated farms in the industrial district, etc. For the new district, I could go with a royal district and add a castle/keep for the political class, or maybe an entertainment district with a playhouse, tavern, and music store.

Overall, I don’t think I’ll do a season 2. This is one of those projects that I’m really happy with on the first pass. Like any project, it didn’t end up being quite what I envisioned at the beginning. It’s both more and less. And that’s ok and normal.

What’s next?

So, if I don’t do Navarre season 2, what is next? Well, I have a few things I’m thinking of doing. The first is a break from Minecraft. I love it, and know I’ll come back. But I’d like to try a play through of Factorio, especially if the devs can get version 0.17 out in time. When I do come back to Minecraft, I’m leaning towards doing something more creative than survival. One approach I’ve considered is creating an OTG preset to work those creative muscles. I love what the OTG guys have done with BiomeBundle and the new realistic preset they’re making. I enjoy these city/village projects, so I’ve considered working to create an alternate preset that includes large cities that I design. Not sure that will be next, but the idea intrigues me.

Navarre: University

The University District of Navarre is complete. The goal for this district was to give the clerics, librarians, and cartographers a proper place to work. This district did not need easy access to water, and so it is built up on the hill, overlooking the rest of the city.

There are two roads that lead to the university. One is an extension of Market street, and the other is a new road coming from the agricultural district.


Along each approach, the visitor is first greeted by gardens. On the market street approach, there are two circular gardens to either side.

On the agricultural district approach, there is a flower garden to the left and hedge maze to the right. The hedge maze is not lit up, so avoid it at night.

Birch Orchard

Around the backside, there is a birch orchard perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Covered Walkways

Before entering the university, there are covered walkways around it on three sides. These provide easy access to the different parts of the university, and are paved with gray glazed terracotta.


Inside the first floor of the university is a large foyer area, with standing tables where people can gather. There is also a helpful cleric to answer visitors questions.


On the same floor is the university classroom, staffed by a professor, complete with a chalkboard.


The courtyard contains more cared-for gardens, and a small pool.


The centerpiece of the university is the cathedral. The cathedral has rows of seating, chapels on either side, an altar at the front, and a nether portal behind it. At the back of the cathedral are stairs up to the map room and down to the university basement.


Within the cathedral are small chapels lining each side.


Below the south end of the cathedral is the basement, where storage for the whole village currently lives.

Map room

Above the south end of the cathedral is the map room. A cartographer is here to show visitors around. A fully zoomed in 2×2 map shows the village area, and a 4×4 fully zoomed out map shows the whole world. In a smaller, lower room there is a 3×3 map that shows the greater area around Navarre.


The library houses a full enchanting setup, and is staffed by two librarians. There is another staircase in the southwest corner leading down to the foyer.

Upper Walkways and Watchtowers

Around the library and cathedral are upper walkways, covered again. These walkways give great views of the surrounding gardens and the rest of the village. At the west end, these walkways provide access to the two watchtowers of the university.

The Excitement of Finishing

I’ve been working on Navarre for about eight months now, maybe nine. It’s a big project, by my standards: a full city, with a farming district, a market district, an industrial district, and a university district. All of that with a unifying theme, proper roads for travel between the different areas, placed into the terrain in a way that feels natural and makes sense. And villagers. Which are a pain to breed and move around.

I’ve completed three of the districts, and I’m wrapping up work on the university district now.

I almost quit a couple months ago.

Not in an obvious way. I wasn’t going to just drop the project. But I almost wrapped it up quickly by dropping my quality standards and moving the goalposts.

Why? Well, finishing is hard. Starting is fun, exciting, full of promise. Finishing properly means making hard decisions, maintaining your standards, and taking the time to do it right.

And because starting is fun, exciting, and full of promise, it’s easy to be lured away by the next new idea you have. I had two big ones, when it comes to my hobbies. And I’ve got a list a mile long of other projects to tackle at some point.

Meanwhile, I’m plugging away at Navarre. And as you do that, compromises are made, inevitably. I realized my full and complete vision was big, and would take time. Some of the work is a slog: collecting resources, mindless building, clearing land. It’s nowhere near as exciting as the vision I’ve built up of the next project I’ll tackle.

And that’s the point. My vision of the next project is just the cool stuff that will be done at the start. Not the hard slog that I’ll put off till the end.

And so it takes dedication and discipline to really finish.

That’s actually how I got through the slump.


I stuck with my daily work on Navarre. Sometimes I’d only spend a couple minutes, just to keep the momentum going. Sometimes I’d work on ideas in creative mode, other times I would mindlessly gather resources.

Watching progress happen, even slowly, sometimes at a snail’s pace, gradually brings back the excitement of starting.

No, scratch that.

The excitement of finishing.

It’s a different excitement. It’s not rushed, or overly passionate. It’s calmer, more purposeful, more directed and focused. It sees the goal line more and more clearly.

The excitement of finishing is more deliberate. Work slows, in part because the excitement isn’t as fiery. It also feels slower, even if it isn’t, because the work to finish is often the less interesting work. You may actually be going faster, but the work isn’t what attracted you to the project in the first place. If it had been, you would have done it first.

Sticking with it, without making it a slog, will bring back the excitement.

Because it actually is exciting to finish something. Way more exciting than fizzling out, dropping it to work on the next shiny project that has caught your fancy, and then looking back in six months with regret that you didn’t finish.

And then looking back in six years, realizing you haven’t finished anything and you’re stuck in the same place.

If you make finishing projects a habit, there’s no telling where you’ll be in six years.

Navarre: Market Street

All of market street is small shops that each sell just a few things. Each of them could be much larger, but my goal here was just to create a market, not a full service, detailed store for each product area.


The armory has some complete sets of armor on display, as well as various weapons hung around the walls.

Dye Shop

The dye shop is the smallest shop.

Produce Stand

The produce stand is open air, but covered, and has separate stalls for the many different types of produce that are available in the town.

Hardware Store

The hardware store is where you can by tools and redstone components. I went with a diagonal design for the store that worked out reasonably well.

In addition to the street itself, I’ve spent some time better connecting it to the farming district and reworking the crop farms to make that possible.

Navarre: Mushroom Hill Inn and Restaurant

The Mushroom Hill Inn and Restaurant is having its grand opening.

On the main floor are the kitchens, the restaurant, and the bar.

Above are four rooms providing comfortable lodging for visitors who are traveling through, with a shared bathroom. Three of them have small balconies, and one of the rooms is a suite with access to the large open air deck.

In the basement is a brewing station for drinks of all types. These are all created using the natural spring water that was originally found underneath mushroom hill. This water is said to give the drinks their unique taste and restoratory powers.

Outside, the inn has a small stable for traveler’s horses. It faces market street, giving visitors easy access to the shops of Navarre.

Navarre: Mill and Bakery

Navarre has the first building in it’s Market District: a bakery and mill.

The market district will be south of the agricultural district, between the lake and the stony hills that rise up further east.

The mill is placed down at the level of the river, and has a waterwheel that powers two mill wheels inside the building. These grind the wheat into flour for the bakery housed above the mill.

Because the bakery and mill are set on a hill, the mill open up on the river side, like a daylight basement.

Above the mill, on the main floor, is the bakery, with ovens, storage, a counter for display and sale of baked goods, as well as some produce available for customers. The bakery has a small amount of seating for customers, both on the main floor, as well as on a small raised area above the kitchen.

The bakery is decorated with paintings and has plants in the windows, as well as shutters.

On the south side of the building is a fence between the bakery and Market street. Beyond the bakery to the north, you can see the rest of Navarre.

Navarre: Industrial District

Originally, my plan for the industrial district was just two structures: a foundry for ore processing and the mine entrance itself.

The foundry has a forge, loose storage as well as chests, and a small furnace array for smelting.

Despite my original plan, the district already had two side projects that form a natural boundary between the agricultural district and the industrial district: a nether portal watchtower and a fishing shack.

And even with those, I felt there was something missing. So, I repurposed a stonecutter’s workshop from a previous world and built it across the road from the foundry.

I also added some natural decoration, with a grass path to the docks, and a small pond near the mine entrance.

Finally, my mineshaft has a simple design for now, though I do plan to improve it over time. I love building nice mineshafts.

Navarre: Nether Portal

Once I started on the industrial district, I realized I needed a place for my nether portal to move to, at least until I can build a proper portal room in the university district, later on.

Fortunately, there was some natural space between the agricultural district and the industrial district that needed to be filled to make the city feel natural.

Because I see the portal as something “otherworldly” in nature, it made sense to have it associated with the mystic/religious buildings in the university district.

I’ve started fleshing out what I want those to look like in my creative world, and decided to take some of the building idea to create a small “holy site” for the nether portal. I like to think of it as a roadside chapel, but it also doubles as a watchtower.

So, the nether portal chapel/tower is owned by the church, and for now it’s the only site of worship.

There is a simple piscina for washing of travelers, and an attractive glazed terracotta floor.

Above it is a lookout. While Navarre is not a fortified city, it does have lookouts so that wanderers can be seen and helped and to keep watch at night.

Navarre: Fishing Shack

This was a little bonus build I worked on while populating the farm and surrounding agricultural district. It’s quite simple. Just a shack housing two fishermen and a simple automatic fish farm. It sits on the edge of the lake, with a dock jutting into the water where fishing can be done, and with a few small boats nearby. The dock has a small covered section where you can fish while it’s raining or shaded from the heat of the sun. There is also a small yard where fishing poles and tackle are kept.

One challenge I gave myself was to use the acacia log blocks without letting any of the orange acacia wood show anywhere. The acacia bark is an awesome gray wood with a nice texture that really feels like weathered wood that would be used near water. But the orange doesn’t really fit with the style of my village. The roof is a little simpler than my other roofs – the same pattern but without any brick blocks, except the chimney, to give it a humbler feel. The foundation is stone brick with some mossy and cracked stone brick thrown in to give it that damp feel of stone near water.