Fabricators were designed as multi-purpose construction and maintenance tools for high industrial work in advanced societies. Essentially mobile 3D printers, Fabricators store the patterns for various robotic assistants and large-scale construction projects in their memory, and were tasked en masse with work ranging from starship and space platform construction in vacuum, to maintenance tasks in hazardous areas. Using relatively simple artificial intelligence and networking, Fabricators coordinated these construction and repair projects across dozens, hundreds or thousands of individuals.
On worlds and space platforms ravaged by war, Fabricators were often completely disregarded and discarded during evacuations, written off as a minor loss on the balance books of mega-corporations and governments whose purview barely rationalized the expense of deporting human populations, let alone industrial machinery that was fairly ubiquitously used across the galaxy in the first place.
In many cases, Fabricators were left to their own devices, breaking down over years and decades, going about inane tasks and meaningless repairs, finishing or attempting to coordinate pre-determined construction programs that no longer had a population to serve. Going uncorrected, managing and communications programs would break down and introduce more and more errors and random factors into the codebase of these relatively simple machines.
In very few cases, this resulted is behaviors resembling self-preservation instincts in individual Fabricators. Far from sentience or self-awareness in the conventional sense, Fabricators are the cockroaches, or better, the decorator crabs of the urban decay of abandoned planets and space stations. They utilize their one main advantage in this space: the ability to assimilate and re-purpose almost-functional bits of remnant scrap technology to hide and adapt in hostile environments full of breaking down technologies of which even the death throes can level cities and sterilize worlds.
Fabricators are indeed the “decorator crabs” of the dangerous reef of urban decay in abandoned colonies, urban sprawls and space stations abandoned in the mad wars of the future, in which alien races can slag planets and exterminate populations of billions in moments. The few that have developed rudimentary self preservation instincts utilize a hybrid system of bolting a haphazard assortment of technologies onto and into themselves in efforts to avoid detection, escape dangerous situations, and as a last resort to destroy threats they cannot escape. They also have the capability to “print” and program semi-autonomous drones that they use as detection and deterrent (weapons) systems to ensure their survival.
Gameplay as a Fabricator targets the points brought up in the previous paragraphs. Fabricators are mobile harvesting and building machines concerned with their own individual survival. Fabricator units ultimately exist to give would-be technopredators something else to beat on instead of the Fabricator itself, so they have a focus on crowd control, durability, and detection. The Fabricator itself has a number of upgrades, with a focus on mobility, survivability and escape tactics.
Visually, am currently using Terran units and structures to represent the Fabricators faction. This gives them a solid, industrial look in keeping with their general theme. Currently, the Terran unit design makes Fabricators units feel far too militaristic and rounded: an hypothetical stand-alone game based on this mod would draw inspiration from modern day industrial equipment, meaning yellow, boxy, utilitarian and dirty.
Fabricator Units – Tier 1
- The Relay is a utility unit for the Fabricator’s faction. They provide Supply to allow the Fabricator to produce more units, and can switch between two support auras. The first is Response Protocols, which increases the movement speed of nearby units; the second is Defensive Protocols, which causes nearby units to take less damage. While Relays are useful for economy (allowing Scrappers to return resources more quickly) and in combat (closing on enemy units and/or taking less damage from enemy attacks) losing a Relay is a major blow to a Fabricator’s ability to rebuild its army, and can blunt an offensive or make a retreat more costly.
- The Scrapper is a multi-purpose offensive and economic unit. It is both the core of most Fabricator armies due to its relatively high health and solid damage output, and the primary harvester of resources. Like Relays, the challenge in using Scrappers well lies in knowing when to commit them to combat, and when to keep them away. They’re great units, but losing them can cripple a Fabricator’s ability to harvest resources.
Fabricator Units – Tier 2
- Recyclers are the Fabricator’s primary utility unit. They serve as proxies for the Fabricator around the map: Recyclers can build defensive mines and turrets, serve as resource drop-off points, and can build Generators to capture bases and Data Conduits. Later in the game, they can be upgraded to repair nearby units, further reinforcing the Fabricator faction’s combat durability. Also, Recyclers can convert any friendly building or unit back into resources at 100% cost efficiency, allowing the player to sell off captured enemy base structures or to reconfigure their army on the go. If the Fabricator dies, a Recycler can convert itself into a new Fabricator, though at high cost.
- Censors are a scout and combat manipulation unit. They can see Invisible units or structures and can fly, making them valuable information-gathering tools in the otherwise relatively slow Fabricator arsenal. When immobile, Censors generate a dampening field that prevents enemy units from spending Energy. Since many units spend Energy to attack, this can completely shut down portions of an enemy assault. Censors also block a wide range of enemy abilities, buffs, and debuffs. When Censors die, their silence effect persists on enemy units for several seconds.
- The Junkslinger is a glass cannon: slow and fragile, but with the best DPS per cost in the Fabricator arsenal. Also, Junkslingers can spend resources and Energy to throw a glob of molten Scrap at enemy armies, dealing area damage to anything it hits. Junkslingers spend Energy to attack, and when their Energy reserves are exhausted, their range and attack speed are reduced.
- The Absorber is a damage soak and combat manipulation unit. Their Cascade Inhibitor cannon slows enemy units in an area and interrupts enemy ability usage, and their high armor shrugs off small arms fire, making them a protective bulwark against incoming swarms of enemy units. Its energy shield protects it from enemy fire: while the energy field persists, it deals considerable bonus damage.
- Generator: powers Fabricator bases. Each Generator increases Fabricator movement, attack, and build speed slightly.
- Survival Module: houses offensive upgrades for the Fabricator. Allows the Fabricator to switch its primary weapon
- Engineering Module: heals nearby allies. Houses defensive and economic upgrades for the Fabricator
- Pattern Co-Processor: houses specialty upgrades for Fabricator units. Allows the Fabricator to build 2 units at once.
- Memory Module: improves Relay Auras. Houses high tech upgrades for the Fabricator.
- Tier 3
- Scrap Foundry: improves Recycler build speed and defensive options. Houses Metallics tech branch upgrades. Allows Recyclers to eat enemy or allied units for a quick burst of resources and health.
- Battery: allows Recyclers to provide allies with limited Energy regen. Houses Magnetics tech branch upgrades. Can share Energy with nearby allies. Provides Recyclers with an anti-air weapon.
- Observation Module: has a huge vision range. Upgrades itself to other turret types.
- Impact Driver. Deals tremendous damage to Armored units, solid range. Can attack ground and air targets.
- Laser Array: deals tremendous damage to clumps of Light ground units. Tremendous range.
- Cascade Arc. Medium range, can attack groups of ground and air targets. Slows enemy units. Deals little damage to units of Electric type.
Tier 3 Units – Metallics
Metallics focuses on consistency and versatility: it is filled with powerful and consistent units that are not highly Energy reliant. Metallics units tend to be slow, and their armies few in number.
- The Switcher is a highly versatile unit in the Fabricator’s arsenal, and is accessed via upgrading a Scrapper. The Fabricator is able to reconfigure its weapon between a couple of different options, and all Switchers also change their weapon to match that of their parent Fabricator. This allows the Fabricator player to instantly get firepower suited to the situation at hand, a solid response to Dendrite Drone Controllers switching out what units they provide.
- The Flechette is a powerful harassment unit and is upgraded from a Censor. It’s fast, and manufactures Flechette Missiles within itself while moving. These Flechette Missiles are all launched in a group at its attack target, dealing massive damage all at once but requiring time for each missile to be rebuilt to deal additional damage. Missiles can be fired individually, but are built fairly slowly, making it more sensible to unleash their payload and retreat to fire a new salvo later.
- The Grinder is the ultimate embodiment of the ‘Metallics’ branch sensibility. It is upgraded from an Absorber. Almost immune to small-arms fire, the Grinder is a lumbering powerhouse that utterly crushes anything that’s unfortunate enough to get close to it. Completely immune to mind control effects, this unit destroys buildings devastatingly quickly, can harvest resources, deals massive area damage to nearby enemies, and can instantly destroy nearby enemy units with it’s “processing” ability. Grinders are highly vulnerable to being shut down with silence effects like those produced by the Censor or Vesper, and their close range and low speed makes it difficult to engage mobile forces.
Tier 3 Units – Magnetics
Magnetics focuses on Energy mangement: keeping Fabricator armies topped up while limiting enemy Energy reserves. Magnetics armies tend to be more mobile and higher in number than Metallics armies.
- The Dynamo is a flying Energy support unit that is accessed via upgrading a Censor. It steals Energy from enemy units and shares it with allies. The Censor passively removes debuffs from allies and buffs from enemies, while preventing new status effects from being applied for a short time. Additionally, Dynamos EMP enemies when they die, removing all of their energy.
- The Inverter is the ultimate Glass Cannon for the Fabricators, dealing immense damage in a line, at a tremendous distance, with its railgun, though unable to attack if it has no Energy. It is accessed via upgrading an Absorber. Also, it can stun enemy Energy-dependent units in an area.
- The Ampere is a flying combat support unit that is build by upgrading a Junkslinger. While it has Energy, its attack chains to multiple enemies and applies a debuff that reduces Armor.