Little Big Workshop - Sandbox Production Game

I don’t usually create threads, preferring instead to shit all over other people’s, but I’ve been enjoying this little game and have seen no meaningful mention of it here (or really, anywhere else).

It’s an open-ended production game in the same vein as Factorio or Autonauts, but with the overall stress level dialed way back. I think it came out in Early Access last year, but 1.0 was just recently released.

The basic gist is that you manage a workshop. You pick a product to manufacture from a large list, you make that product, and then you sell it. Your workers are all autonomous little people, and the products range from very simple, with one or two materials and a few steps, to very complicated, consisting of multiple different types of materials and dozens of steps.

The thing that really works for me is the planning of the products. Here’s an example of a complicated product from the game’s store page:

The square nodes represent things, like raw materials and parts. Raw materials contribute to your product’s various scores (durability, weight, etc), so you need to mix and match to find the cheapest materials that will meet your target scores. The circular nodes represent actions, like cutting a board, molding plastic, or sewing fabric. Each one of those actions needs to be linked to a workstation before you can execute on the plan, and workstations range from general-purpose (which can handle lots of different actions but aren’t efficient) to specialized (which can only handle one action but can do it very quickly).

Once you commit to a plan, your raw materials get delivered and your people spring into action. You can leave it on the default (very slow) speed and watch them run around like a little ant farm, or you can speed it up if you’re confident in your plan and just want to get paid. You can fiddle with job queues and prioritization to try and maximize your efficiency. Some products have tight deadlines you need to meet, but most don’t - in most cases, your only penalty for taking a long time is making less money when you finish your products.

Efficiency can be improved in many ways. You can improve the plan itself, by staggering actions across multiple workstations and splitting queues so that there’s as little downtime as possible. You can improve your layout - clustered workstations make workers move less quickly. You can improve rooms with decorations to increase the amount of time workers can work before they need a break.

One of the things I like about the game is its totally sandbox nature. There’s no campaign. Each game has progression - doing special jobs for different retailers will give you extra money and experience, which is spent on unlocking new machine types, which allow you to do new actions, which allow you to make new products. But there’s no campaign, no scenarios. You just tweak your workshop at your own pace, making your own decisions about how to maximize your profit and what you want to do next.

The other thing I like about the game is that it has (almost) no failure state. Your game is over when you fall below -5000 dollars. But it’s kind of hard to actually do that - you can sell workstations and fire employees to recoup some cash almost any time. So as long as you aren’t overextending like crazy, it’s hard to lose.

It’s not a deep game, but I’ve grown to appreciate that about it. I like that I can fire it up for five or ten minutes and knock out some easy products, or I can sit down for an hour and add on to the workshop or tweak my layout. I also appreciate the aesthetic - the factory is built on top of a drafting table, and the cutesy people and low-poly workstations give it kind of a model railroad vibe.

Wishlisted! Thanks for putting it on my radar @SadleyBradley

Yep, same!