Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Designing the QA system in Production Line

This is a big feature in my car factory game Production Line that I have been putting off until I could really set aside some time to think about the design seriously. I think I’ve finally reached that point in Early Access where I need to flesh out the design for this part of the game, and also importantly, to listen to feedback from current PL players about how they think this should work.

The current system is pretty simple. cars have work done to them on the production line, and then at the very end of the line, just before export, they go through a pre-export QA process that is broken down into emissions test, visual inspection and performance tests. All cars are assumed to be thoroughly free of defects, and are sold on the basis of their features and their price relative to the perceived value of those features.

Obviously in the real world, defects and car quality is a thing. You wouldn’t expect any defects on a $150,000 car, you would expect very few on a $70,000 car (unless its panel gaps on a tesla…dig dig…), and probably be more tolerant of minor things on a cheaper car. High end car companies (Rolls Royce etc) probably go overboard on quality assurance to ensure a reputation for zero problems (Lexus are also good at this), whereas at the lower end, its probably less of a concern. How to best represent this in the game in a way that both feels reasonable, and makes intuitive sense, and also works within the existing game design, and above all feels interesting and fun?

For a while, I have wanted to combine the idea of defects with the introduction of an area-of effect mechanic. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the designing the layout of your factory, and at the moment, apart from making sure importers and exporters are in the right place, and ensuring that you only place office slots (like research) in office zones, there is not that much *positional* decision making involved in the game. I thought I could introduce this with the advent of new QA slots, that had a radius effect.

The system would work by generating defects at every point along the line. there would be a base level of defects that would be generated each time a task was carried out on a vehicle, including tasks generated through upgraded slots. For example, adding the rear axle = 1% chance of a defect. Adding a tire pressure sensor… 1% chance of a defect… and so on. Some cars would go through the line entirely free of defects, but many would not. Eventually, if ‘untreated’, those defects would make their way into the final cars which would be sold.

For every car sold with defects (depending how many), there would be a negative impact on the reputation of your brand, a new, lagging indicator which would affect the purchase enthusiasm of your customers. Obviously this would be something you would want to keep an eye on, so as to ensure customers were not turned away, so how do you prevent defects? and how do you treat them?

To prevent defects, you can place down QA stations, which would be area-of-effect based, and would essentially reduce the percentage chance of a defect occurring at any specific point on the line. Covering the entire production line with regular QA slots would be a way to keep production quality high and defects low, but obviously would have a cost in terms of employee pay and the floor-space required to add those QA stations. This would be a ‘prevent defects from ever happening’ approach to QA. The second approach would be to introduce a new ‘re-work’ slot right at the very end of the line (maybe just before the current QA section) which would examine each car, and take whatever time is needed (maybe 2 minutes per defect?) to fix the problem and allow a perfect car to travel beyond that point. Clever players would eventually use smart junctions (which would need defect-based rules added to them) to ensure that cars that randomly seemed to be defect-heavy did not cause a major slowdown. As I understand it, in real factories, cars that need re-work are immediately taken off the line and dealt with separately so as not to cause any real bottleneck.

This is my first attempt at designing a QA/Quality system for the game. I’m very interested to know what existing (or potential) players of the game think. Essentially it boils down to this:

  • Defects are randomly generated on cars as they are constructed
  • Area-of-effect QA stations reduce the likelihood of those defects when placed on the line
  • A re-work area can optionally be placed to fix defects at the end of the line
  • Defects will affect the brand image of the company, and thus customer eagerness to buy.



16 thoughts on Designing the QA system in Production Line

  1. all these updates are great!

    could we get mega stockpiles or ones that link together… or have a zone we can sent all manufactured bits to for distribution thru the factory… caus local only will only make them sit there and very rarely send parts out. no matter how close the production block is… (would also like to have my parts production not merged in with the actual production line… could then have maybe an artery of super speed conveyors or lines to carry bulk items…

    i love the game!

    1. We are adding mini-stockpiles to the next patch. It sounds like I may need to work on the logic behind the ‘local’ settings so it is more useful.

  2. Hi mate been following game for a while,
    I won’t say what company but I work in very high end company( luxourious cars £70k -200k ) it is actually more cost effective to take them out at the end of production due to stopping the track would cost far more,
    There fore we run every ting down and fix at the end.
    It seams wrong but sure it not only factory that does it.
    You would also be surprised if you look on internet to find real world data and some times 1 in 5 cars end up going back to dealership due to faults.

    Have a paint rework station,
    And depending on issue maybe higher time frame? Eg if a beginning component or even body shell issue would have to strip down fully? Maybe have option to scrap car or would cost too much to repair?

    Love game and keep up work :)

    1. Hey thats a really good point. Presumably a defect right at the start like an axle or drive shaft becomes a total nightmare if only spotted during rework.I should definitely model that.

      1. Thanks for reply.
        I try set my factory like one at work, but then try solve issues.
        Maybe have rework stat in car stat bit that way even if selling at 20% premium you may still loose money depending on Fix.

        Would eventually it be possible to have multiple buildings in factory for mega factory? For example and engine build hall, which then sends multiple lines into the body shop, then into a mega paint shop, ect then you could even have a building dedicated to reworks
        Maybe even carpark to store rework cars of stations full ( some times we have over 2000 rework cars at any one time)

        Also different subject but workers revolts? Wanting pay rises? Strikes that impact factory?
        I just love how there hasn’t been game like this that I know of

  3. As my dad actually worked in a ford assembly plant and i took tourals multiple times i can give you some real word input. After a vehicle was painted when the body was seperate from the chassis there wasrobots that measured the paint thinkness and if the paint was not uniform or out of tolerance the whole body was scrapped. At the end of the production line they went thru qa and if the truck was finished and had say a scratch or dent from the robot the teuck was sent to the body shop to get fixed. Most od the qa on the wis inspecting that the robots are working correctly and performing their task within tolerance and then ocasionally checking the vehilce for tolerance as well. Most electronics wouldnt be checked on the line as its not built in house and typically are checked before arriving to the plant. So most of the issue would mabifest itself as recall. Per the game qa should be done after the item has been manufactured in house before it reaches the line. And if you have qa on the line it should be done randomly and not on every vehicles as in real life it wouodnt be cost effective. Per the game qa should be done after paint and at the end of the line and if therea a defect the vehixle should be acapped for loss in paint or fixed at the end of the line

    1. actually, that explains why Fords seem to always have trouble with their electronics ;)

  4. I’ve worked for a few car company’s.

    You would generally have a QA station to check vehicles after each stage of the process.
    For example the body shop, would be checked to make sure each car had the required amount of spot welds placed by the robot’s in the all and correct locations.
    The paint shop would check the quality of the paint.
    The Trim Shop would check the interior fit out and if mistakes were made sent to a rework area.
    The engine / brakes and mechanics would be put through a rolling road test rig to check all is working to the standard required.
    There would also be a place on the line before the car leaves the factory where cars are checked for dents and scratches, So in theory you should have a rework area after each process, where you have set them out in block and are colour coded.

    I will give an example. If a car was waiting for lights to be fitted, and the importer took too long to get them to the location. The car would move on to the next location and sent for rework at a rework station at the end

  5. Could we have an option in settings to make the defects optional? Choice is often what makes a great game. Personally I like the final re-work option.

    1. I definitely agree that player options are a good thing. I’ll add it to my todo list to make this system optional, it shouldn’t be difficult to just prevent any defects ever getting added if thats what the player prefers.

  6. I will give an example. If a car was waiting for lights to be fitted, and the importer took too long to get them to the location. The car would move on to the next location and sent for rework at a rework station at the end

    1. Is that really a thing? I know it was with really bad UK car factories in the 1970s, but surely fixing a missing component at the end of the line is horrendously inefficient?

      1. Unfortunately it costs more to hold the whole line up, if Car is produced ever min, then a 10 min delay to produce a defect is loss of cars, best to push them all down the end and then worrie about rework later volume produced is what they tend to work put more

  7. It would be good if cars moved on from a location if they wait too long for there parts to be imported that way defects would be set by they way you lay out the factory, and have the rework bays so you can put them any where before they leave the factory.

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