The aim of Production Line is to design, build and run a modern automated car factory. The player is the factory owner and play starts with a large pile of money to invest and a vacant factory space (the exact situation depends on which mission is selected). The aim of the game is to build as profitable and efficient a factory as possible. Currently the game is a pure sandbox, although there are achievements to strive for!
Production Line is a single-player game, played in real time, on an isometric map. You can pause the game (pause button at the top left/right of the screen) and adjust the speed of time (shortcuts are P,1,2,3,). You can take a screenshot with the PrintScreen key at any time.
The game autosaves every five minutes, but we recommend naming and saving your game from time to time because bankruptcy comes FAST in this business, and the game ends if you run out of money. Luckily loans are available :D
Your First Production Line
A car factory production line is made from a series of production slots connected by conveyor belts. Each production slot has an associated tiles which act as a stockpile where car parts and other resources are kept ready to be used during production. The supply of these are connected to a separate overhead conveyor system which ferries in resources from import locations.
The construction of cars must follow a logical order. You can start your production line from anywhere on the map although it must end at one of the 'eEport' locations. To begin laying out a production line you need to launch the slot-picker from the icon at the top right of the screen:
then select the option to place down 'Chassis assembly':
Place the Chassis Assembly slot on the map of the factory floor on the map (use 'r' or the middle mouse button to rotate the slot).
Next, add 'Fit Body', 'Paint', 'Fit Engine' 'Fit Accessories' 'QA' and then finally place down an 'Export' slot. This can ONLY be placed on one of the pre-existing export locations at the edges of the factory. When this is done you should have something that looks like this:
Next, select the conveyor tool, to lay down a moving conveyor to connect the production slots by clicking and dragging between the slots to join them like this (make sure you drag in the direction you want production to flow!):
Once you have done this you will have a complete production line looking something like this:
But wait! Nothing is happening! Why? Because none of the components required to build the car are available yet. You need to 'import' these by placing down a resource importer from the slot picker. Just as with export slots, these have to go somewhere on the edge of the map that has a socket. When placed they should look like this:
Next, click and drag an overhead resource conveyor to connect all of the slot stockpiles with the import slot. Eventually you will have a layout something like this:
This represents a 'complete' but basic production line, where resources will be bought into the factory, cars will be built, checked and then sold to the public. This is a fully functional factory producing cars... ... ...in a very inefficient way :D
Researching a more efficient production process
To make your production line more efficient you need to break down those tasks into smaller and smaller tasks. For example the task to 'fit body' on our current production line is far too big. You can see how much time it takes by clicking on the slot itself (not the bit with the car on...) and that will bring up the following dialog box:
The data that concerns us is at the top. It shows that although this production slot is described as 'fit body', it actually carries out a whole list of smaller sub-tasks (the top row of progress bars). Plus it takes 31 minutes (of game time) to do this! If these tasks are split into more slots car production flows much faster, and the overall processing time will be much shorter. How do we go about doing that?
Return to the slot picker and expand the fit body option. A bunch more options break down this task into smaller ones. Currently all of these are locked! We cannot employ them until they are fully researched!
To research upgrades at least one research office, which also employs scientific researchers, is required. The research office is inside the folder called 'facilities' on the slot picker:
Place the research facility icon on the factory floor. Note that facilities can be placed anywhere, they don't have to be anywhere close to, or connect to, the production line:
Once you have a research office, either click on it, or use the icon at the top left of the screen to take you to the research and development screen. Select the 'Body Specialization' item, and begin the research. This will take some time, depending how many research offices you have. Be warned, they are not cheap.
Eventually, you will have access to those unlocked new production slots from the slot picker. In this case we have 3 new slots, Fit Bodyframe, Fit Roof and Fit Doors. Note that together (and in that order) these new slots will REPLACE the existing fit body slot. (You don't necessarily have to delete the old one, you can branch out and have one fast, and one slow production line). By replacing the single slot with 3 different slots, the production line will get longer, but will actually move much faster. In time, you may have to demolish old slots to make room for a more complex line. Eventually, you can research every process tech and have a VERY long but VERY efficient car production line.
Car body styles and features
Once a car rolls off the production line it goes to the showroom to be sold. The first time this happens with each body style, a pop-up window will appear that invites you to name the car design and shows the price and the features on this car. At the start of the game, cars have very few features. You can access this window again later from the top left menu.
The car design screen allows you to edit the current price mark-up for this model. By default, your sales staff will set the price of the car in accordance with market expectations of its value. If you are manufacturing a LOT of cars, and cannot sell them quickly enough, you may need to discount the cars. If you are only manufacturing a few, for example at the start of the game, you can probably get away with marking up the showroom price your cars quite a lot.
Note that some of the features added to your car will be shown as red, some grey, some light or dark green. This corresponds to how common those features are. If you are the first car company to research a new feature they are 'very rare' (and you get a bonus to their value), if you have some competition they become 'common' and eventually 'universal' which means they become worthless, and all cars are expected to include them in the basic price. If you carry on producing cars without universal features, they become difficult to sell.
Note that each new car body style in the factory range (Sports, SUV, Compact, Offroad) needs to be researched.. you need to research them to unlock a special new button at the start of each production line like this:
Which then opens a new window which lets you schedule how each production line swaps between different body styles.
Different car body styles can be built on the same production line. Currently the only difference is that the compact and sports cars uses less doors and windows because they are 3 door cars.
By default, cars are given a random color when they get painted. The color does not have any impact on their sales. If you wish to restrict a car model to only a specific color or colors, you can select them on the design screen. Note that some special colors have to be unlocked by completing achievements.
Loans, finances and expansion
Building a car factory is extremely expensive and you may need to take out a loan to finance the expansion of your company. Luckily loans are available from the finance screen! To see the loans available hit the icon at the top right to launch the finance dialog, then select the loans tab:
Note that the loan term duration is very short and the daily interest is very high, but that's because the game is running in a hybrid approximation of real time (with real-processing times for car construction) and long-term time (for stuff like researching tech, which should really take years). Try not to overthink it :D Currently loans CANNOT be repaid early. The interest rate will vary between loans. You can see how much a loan repayment is costing from the expenses tab of the same window:
If you are looking to expand the business, you may wish to expand outside the confines of your current factory floor. To take over one of the vacant factory lots adjacent to your building, simply click on it, assuming you have researched the appropriate upgrade for factory expansion. Note that the number of import/export slots and rent per-tile varies depending which factory lot you choose.
Efficiency and Upgrades
If there is one guiding principle for making money in the car production business.... it’s efficiency! All your vehicles should be worked on as much of the time as possible, all your production slots should be working as much of the time.... but it is not that easy. There are a number of tools to help optimize the flow of your factory.
First, zooming out displays a bunch of vehicle icons. These show if a car is being worked on (green), in a queue waiting to be worked on (yellow) or waiting for something like resources (red). Just remember in terms of efficiency, green is good, yellow is bad. red is really bad :D
Clicking on an individual production slot will display a pie chart of its recent activity. You can use this to see whether the slot is busy, whether its blocked because there is no room for the current car to be 'exported' or whether its waiting for resources:
Clicking the Efficiency icon will open a window that shows you a veritable smorgasbord of efficiency stats. The key one here is slot efficiency. You don't want those expensive robots doing nothing...
To improve the efficiency of your factory upgrade the production slots and the factory itself. The R&D screen lists upgrades to individual slots. One of the most popular upgrades is extra robots: Once these are researched, select individual slots in the production line and apply them as needed. Note, robots cost money (and drain power), so only add them where you need them.
Production Line includes a very simple (and not particularly polished) level editor. You can access it from the edit button on each mission on the choose mission screen:
The editor lets you set up various 'zones' which are effectively the factory lots on each map. You can also place the import and export slots for each zone, and set the names and rent (per tile) for each of the slots.
The editor has buttons which let you select which 'mode' you are in. They are:
Create Zone, where you click and drag on the 'map' to create a new zone. (right clicking deletes a zone).
Import Slots, where you click to place down dots to represent where resource import slots appear on the map (these can only be on exterior walls).
Export Slots, where you click to place export slots, which also have to be external walls.
In zone mode, you can also click to select an existing zone, which lets you edit its properties using the controls on the right hand side. Do not forget to SAVE and name your map! It gets saved into a new folder inside my documents\my games\production line The new map will show up along with all the others when you click ‘New Game’ from the main menu. You can delete these maps but not the default ones.