Production Line Is Democracy Dev’s New Car Factory Sim

You can have any genre, says Positech, as long as it’s management. Production Line [official site] will be the studio’s new game of building cars on a long assembly line with the penny-pinching efficiency of Henry Ford. “I never used to care about cars,” said Cliffski, the creator of Democracy and Gratuitous Space Battles, in his announcement. “Then I bought a nice hybrid one (Lexus) then I bought a stupidly flash electric one (Tesla). I started to realize cars had become interesting to geeks, not just petrol-heads.” Right so. Here’s what we know so far.

Not much! That’s the answer. We know it will be an isometric management game and by the looks of things it seems to be following all the traditions. Build a factory, plop down items and machines, employ workers, fire them all again when you look at your financial report and realise you have vastly overspent. Make no mistake, this is aimed squarely at the tycoon crowd and is hoping to grab the “efficeincy geek in all of us”, according to the website. Positech also published Big Pharma, a game of mass drug production, which might give you some confidence that they understand the genre. Here’s how they put it:

The main gameplay objective of Production line is implementing the efficiencies discovered by Henry Ford with the original model T car, the system that became the blueprint for the production line revolution, and which still holds fast even today. The principle that dividing a task (such as building a car) up into ever smaller, ever more defined, even simpler tasks will yield higher production performance and thus cheaper cars. To ‘win’ in production line you need to be able to seek out and fix inefficiencies in a vast production line that snakes with carefully planned precision around a collosal car factory.

It is still very early days, however. It won’t be out until the second half of 2017 at the very least, says Cliffski. Although he is toying with the idea of early access and says a Prison Architect style model of that could work. Although nothing has been securely welded together yet. There’s only one type of car so far, wobbly sounds, bugs and placeholder art all over the shop. “Its not in alpha yet,” hes says, “let alone beta.”

In the meantime he is soliciting thoughts. So here is my thought: “Cool. But ‘Production Line’ is a very very very very boring name.” That’s all. That’s all my thoughts. You probably have some of your own though, don’t you commenter? I bet you do. You’re always banging on about cars. Frankly, I wish you’d shut up about it.


  1. klops says:

    Put some soldiers, flying ducks, mindcrabs, blue dicks and lotsa laser beams and explosions all over there and it could be X-Com Apocalypse.

    That’s all my thoughts.

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      Serrit says:

      Now I’m annoyed I can’t remember off the top of my head who the main Mega Primus manufacturing corporation was…

      • klops says:

        I don’t remember there being a main manufacturer. General Metro had car factories, some other made skyships and some other other stuff.

  2. Vintageryan says:

    “Positech also published Big Pharma, a game of mass drug production, which might give you some confidence that they understand the genre. Here’s how they put it:”

    Gives me zero confidence, As I bought Big Pharma expecting a tycoon game only to get a puzzle game.

    • Canadave says:

      Big Pharma was only published by them, they didn’t develop it. So despite the similar genre, it may end up being quite different. We’ll see.

    • PaulV says:

      I had the same issue with Big Pharma. And to boot it was a bad puzzle game since the research tree was random meaning your could have the ingredients you needed from the start or behind a huge research and exploration wall. Also you could get all the loans and just build your factory with that and then end with a billion in debt and still win (unless the goal of the puzzle prevented that, but it didn’t with most of them). That was still in early access, so it may have improved.

      That said, I played some custom games last week and if you set it up right it does actually become a bit more of a management game. The drug-making itself could still be considered a puzzle of course, but the overall goal isn’t. So might be worth a revisit if you own it anyway.

  3. geldonyetich says:

    If this was another developer, I’d say they copied Big Pharma. It’s not, so instead I’ll say they innovatively went back to the drawing board.

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    Serrit says:

    Very much enjoying this article’s opening sentence.

  5. Dev says:

    Does anyone remember or has anyone played Trevor Chan’s Capitalism series?

    This sort of reminds me of that.

  6. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I can’t get over the fact that a modestly successful indie game developer can afford a Lexus and a Tesla. Good job cliffski, I guess?

    • Llewyn says:

      Well, the Lexus could have been one of those Corolla-in-drag things, and at least hypothetically he could be talking about ordering a Model 3 (though it seems unlikely).

      But Cliff’s a moderately prolific dev with a solid core customer base, and also a reasonably bold publisher. I’d hope we don’t begrudge people like him a decent amount of success – it’s not like he’s buying gold-plated ocean-going yachts (as far as I know). There are a lot of people with less merit (subjectively to me!) making a lot more money out there.

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        MajorLag says:

        It is hard not to feel envious while you toil away at your dead end desk job because all the games you’ve produced in your own spare time have been complete garbage. Add to that we’re not even talking about the likes Toby Fox, Notch, or McMillen and their well known and beloved works.

        I may be projecting on OP a little bit here.

    • trjp says:

      He once bragged about owning a Citroen C1 (or it’s Peugeot/Toyota rebrand) so, frankly, ANYTHING would be a step-up from that (including a pedal car)

      They aren’t quite so pricey as you might imagine either – leasing makes these things WAY more practical and I doubt his Tesla is a P100D with Ludicrous because he’s WAY too uptight for that ;0

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      Democracy 3 sold like gangbusters (I think he wrote that he made a 1200% return on that or something) and I think most of his other games (including the ones he published) have done pretty solidly, on the whole.

      • Hobbes says:

        Only one big flop, and that was Gratuitous Space Battles 2, and that was largely because Cliffy cut development short to save on losses. A crying shame, because I think with more work it could have become something special, but as it is, it’s not got anywhere near as much as GSB1 had.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I can’t get over the fact that based on a sample size of one person, he concluded that cars are interesting to an entire subculture.

      • inspiredhandle says:

        I don’t get the mutual exclusivity of being a geek or petrolhead. Not only that, but I don’t get what makes a hybrid or an electric car have more geek appeal.
        The engineering solutions utilised in petrol powered cars are more interesting than flat torque delivering, single geared electric motors. Weird.

        • inspiredhandle says:

          Variable timing, exhaust geometry, gear ratios, inter coolers, turbo/superchargers… *drool*

  7. KDR_11k says:

    Can you install a defeat device to improve your test results?

    • trjp says:

      Car Geek Alert!!

      There was never a ‘defeat device’ in any car – that’s something the media invented to make things sound spicy.

      The various (mostly VW) scandals revolve around a feature of the car’s ECU (which they don’t make – it’s bought-in from another company) being left enabled when it’s only for engineering/testing purposes.

      Essentially they sold cars with ‘cheat mode’ enabled

      Ironically, if it was a ‘defeat device’ it would be a fuck of a lot easier to rectify ;0

      • KDR_11k says:

        It wasn’t an accident, they found that they couldn’t deliver the required specs with their engine design so they had Bosch make that defeat device (yes, it’s an ECU with a program, not a mechanical device…). It was obscured as an “Audiofunction” in their databases, they were trying to get away with it. The problem they have now is that while disabling it is easy they advertised/sold those cars with a certain performance and NOx output but it cannot actually attain those values without cheating. So patching the cars to fall within NOx rules lowers their performance a lot and consumers find themselves owning cars that are much weaker than advertised/sold. Either solution leaves VW as a fraudster which is where those big class action lawsuits are coming from.

  8. P.Funk says:

    After playing Factorio they better learn all the lessons from that game or else this won’t be very much fun for me.

    • trjp says:

      Possibly one of the things which would help is explaining what you think the problems ARE rather than expecting them to guess…

      Factorio is in the Top 20 reviewed games on Steam too – so it’s hard to imagine it being a great example of “what not to do”

      • tranchera says:

        I’m assuming the commenter means learn from the things Factorio did well.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I think he means the delta between Factorio and Big Pharma. It certainly feels more complex yet interesting to build a factory in Factorio, in part because your intermediate products are used in multiple production chains so you’ve got interlocking systems instead of 1-2 long conveyors with machines dotted on them for each product. With BP it feels like there’s very little room for expression, you’re mostly just squeezing one long line into a small space.

  9. Raiyne says:

    Capitalism Simulator 1908

  10. Wilco1985 says:

    I wonder how full on tycoon they are going with this. Are you just designing the production plant or also the cars, handling marketing, dealing with competition etc? I’m always up for more good tycoon games so I’ll definitely keep my eye on this one.