Dyson Sphere Program

February 5, 2023

I recently started playing the game: Dyson Sphere Program. It felt fairly close to a Factorio clone at the beginning, but in some ways, it has a little more depth to it. At this stage in early access, there is no multiplayer mode and enemies. I appreciate having no enemies as I can leave the game running without worrying about something killing my base (even though it’s optional in Factorio–it feels sort of like cheating to turn it off). Not having multiplayer mode is too bad, but there is a lot to like in single player mode. I’d say it’s a must-buy to anyone that likes the genre.

The first major difference between the games is Factorio is 2D whereas DSP is 3D. DSP has a cool multi-planet mechanic where you need to travel to other planets to collect different resources to progress through the game. You pilot a mech with builder robots that you need to keep powered with fuel attached to your mech. The solar system is pretty beautiful to fly around in. I find the 3D aspect makes it more challenging to remember where I have built things.

I’m in mid to late game, having recently unlocked graviton lenses/space warpers/strange matter, it does feel like it’s a little stretched out compared to factorio, and it’s gotten to the point where some of the new items require a laundry list of resources. Even in early to mid-game, you quickly get to the point where a lot of your production becomes logistic station-based instead of belt-fed. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t find things easily on my home planet anymore, which is frustrating. I probably should have set up counters and alarms to track everything. I guess that wouldn’t be hard to retrofit.

Some people say a “factorio interview” is just as good as a regular coding interview to evaluate software engineers. In some ways, software development is similar to playing Factorio. I think DSP qualifies for a Factorio equivalent. You’re testing someone’s ability to automate, which is sort of the purpose of computers in the first place.

Yesterday, I watched a video of Gerald Sussman, one of the authors of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, explain their decision to retire SICP. I had to watch it twice to get the gist of it, but let me come up with my own interpretation: Computer science has gone through a Physics/Chemistry/Biology evolution. In the beginning, it was physics, where you had simple building blocks that could conceivably be fully understood and the simple interactions could be understood. Actual physics is not like this but lets just pretend to follow the metaphor. Then we moved to Chemistry, where people might not have understood everything under the covers (reading man pages, programs too big for a single person to understand), but were able to put pieces together to create bigger programs. Now we are in the Biology age, where we “poke” at things too complicated to examine in detail like large AI models. I’m no science major but that’s my take. I guess they are trying to figure out how to teach the Biology version of CS.

I grew up in the age where a single person couldn’t understand the whole system. I enjoy writing small programs from scratch (really they are just building on libraries and compilers others have made) and connecting larger pieces in large programs. But this “end-phase” where we poke at things is not as interesting to me. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves.