Understand your factories at a glance with Overlay Mode


Factory automation games like Techtonica are about making things work as well as they possibly can. Efficiency. How do you eke out more efficiency?

These games are also about on-the-fly solving of logistics puzzles that you, the player, create. You create these puzzles as you plan and build your factories.

As makers of a factory automation game, it’s our job to get you info in a quick, digestible fashion. We’re constantly improving the UI that delivers that info.

Today, we’ll showcase Techtonica’s Overlay Mode, which relays critical factory information and enables rapid problem diagnosis in a 3D, massive factory space.

Before we start, remember that a lot of this art is temporary! Techtonica will launch as an Early Access game this year, and elements of the game’s art and UI are regularly changing.

Let’s dig in.

Hello, Overlay Mode!

Activating Overlay Mode is simple: press the Alt key on your keyboard, and boom, it’s there.

You now have an overlay on all machines, from Inserters to Smelters and Assemblers. This overlay contains critical information. On Inserters, for instance, you can immediately tell which way the Inserter is operating. On Assemblers, you can see what the currently selected recipe is at a glance. On Smelters, you can see which ingot the machines are producing.

We also color machines based on their operational status. Green means everything is good. Yellow means the machine is paused and waiting (perhaps an Assembler that’s configured correctly but just waiting for the goods). Red means something is wrong.

With Overlay Mode, even larger factory floors become instantly legible. In the example screenshot above, Overlay Mode immediately tells me which side of my Smelting operation is copper and which is iron.

Some folks at Fire Hose leave Overlay Mode on constantly. I use it whenever I need to rapidly understand my layouts or am returning to an older save, confused and lost. (This happens often.)

Rapid problem diagnostics with big red icons

In the spirit of making sure that Groundbreakers have immediate, highly-visible information about the status of their factories, major problems will show over machines regardless of Overlay Mode being on.

If your machines are out of fuel, if an Inserter is trying to insert the wrong resource type, or if your Crank Generator needs a fresh crankin’, we’ll tell you with a red status icon over the machine.

This means that your factories let you know about problems as soon as they happen. It’s super convenient when you’re working to keep large-scale operations running smoothly and an error shows up that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

Overlay Mode concepts and the future

It’s time for some concept art! …And practically ancient in-game screenshots.

Look closely and you’ll notice old versions of the Assembler and Inserters. You’ll also notice that Overlay Mode has been with us for, literally, years as our team drew on stuff like the Inserter directions.

What about the future? The icons are all changing to be cleaner, easier to read, and to feel like they’re a better fit for the Techtonica universe. Here are some of the new concepts that we’re picking from.

Techtonica drops later this year. Add it to your wishlist!

If you want to chat with some like-minded factory automation fans, join our Discord!

Until next week, Groundbreakers.

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