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Author Topic: Zachtronics Games  (Read 461 times)

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Qvist

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Zachtronics Games
« on: January 08, 2018, 03:51:15 am »
+3

Who else is playing Zachtronics games? For those who don't know. They are all puzzle games from one company with the target audience of programmers or those who want to learn programming.

I recently discovered Opus Magnum and the puzzles are so awesome. Optimizing and getting better scores is really a lot of fun. Now I reached the point where solving the puzzles is already quite a feat, let alone optimizing them. I avoided spoilers so far, but would love to compare scores with you guys. PM me if you play it so we can add each other as a friend on steam.

Which other games from Zachtronics would you guys recommend next? Shenzhen I/O is maybe a bit too programmy for my taste on first look. Can anyone confirm? What about the other ones?
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Titandrake

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 04:36:01 am »
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I like Zachtronics games a lot. I have finished SpaceChem, TIS-100, and Shenzhen I/O. I own Infinifactory but haven't tried it yet, and I have Opus Magnum on my wish list.

All of the Zachtronics games are programmy, Shenzhen I/O (and TIS-100) just happen to be more explicit about it. I would describe them as "programming, but only the good parts." Your actual programming ability matters very little because the instructions you get are just so limited, but your ability to do programming-like logical reasoning will help a lot. For context, one of the trickier puzzles in TIS-100 is "sort a list of numbers", which is wildly easy in any reasonable programming language.

I think they're fun, but if you're wary of the premise of writing assembly, I would recommend SpaceChem next. Note that SpaceChem doesn't teach itself very well IMO - there are a lot of tricks / details that are important to beating the later levels. If you do end up getting into SpaceChem, consider checking out the SpaceChem videos from GuavaMoment's YouTube channel.

Shenzhen I/O is in the current Humble Bundle if you're interested...
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blueblimp

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 05:03:31 am »
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The Zachtronics games I've tried are SpaceChem, Infinifactory, TIS-100, Shenzhen I/O. (I wasn't paying attention enough to realize Opus Magnum exists, but it looks fun to try.)

Of those, I only really liked SpaceChem & Infinifactory. What I like in them is that you're manipulating grid-aligned objects. I suppose that makes it resemble physical engineering, except discrete. There's raw enjoyment in moving stuff around, plus it creates a two-step solve process where first I figure out how I want the objects to move, then I figure out how to create a machine that moves them that way.

I didn't finish either, because despite liking the mechanics, I'm not a fan of the level design, which increases difficulty by making the puzzles large and annoying. I more prefer difficulty increases that keep puzzles small but more tricky and intricate. If you end up trying Infinifactory, there's a workshop series "Way Too Fast" that I enjoyed a lot and features many difficult small puzzles.

TIS-100 and Shenzhen I/O are more based around just awkward programming, with not much spatial element, and I don't enjoy that as much.
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trivialknot

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 03:30:08 pm »
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I used to follow browser-based flash games back when those were a thing, and Zachtronics was a real standout.  So I played a bunch of the freeware games, including Codex of Alchemical Engineering (which I believe is the precursor to Opus Magnum), KOHCTPYKTOP (pronounced "constructor"), the Bureau of Steam Engineering, and Ruckingenur.  I never played Infiniminer, though my understanding is that it was the direct inspiration of Minecraft.  Among the freeware games, I would most recommend KOHCTPYKTOP, which allowed for some truly complex low-level programming.  I also liked The Codex, but was less fond of The Bureau.  Ruckingenur was IIRC fine but not really a programming puzzle game of the sort that Zachtronics is known for.

I've also played a few of the later games, including SpaceChem, Infinifactory, and TIS-100.  Infinifactory is my favorite of those, because it's the least cramped.  Personally I find it less stressful that the main constraints are scores and aesthetics, rather than hard walls and crashing chemicals.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to make really big objects.  I was considering getting Opus Magnum, but while I often enjoy these games as I play them, I feel hesitant about getting into a new one.
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Kirian

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 11:25:05 pm »
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I love Zachtronics.  Like trivilaknot, I started out with his games on Kongregate, Codex of Alchemical Engineering and KOHCTPYTOP, not finishing either.  The latter is pretty impressive, you're literally building circuits out of logic gates that you build with virtual metal and doped silicon.

I got about 80% through SpaceChem before I hit a wall, then lost the save (this was before cloud saving on Steam).  I tried Inifinifactory, but I just couldn't get a hold of it enough to make it work for me.  I finished Opus Magnum a couple weeks ago, I think?  He has said it's one of his easiest ones.

I haven't played any of the coding ones because, well, if I'm going to learn to code it's going to be to do something useful with it.
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Accatitippi

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 07:51:03 am »
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Reading the first posts I thought, "this really reminds me of Codex of Alchemical Engineering", and it turns out it was an apt connection.  ;D

I loved it, and I think I also tried KOHCTPYKTOP but didn't get very far with it...

I'll look into their new games, thanks for the suggestion!
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blueblimp

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Re: Zachtronics Games
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 03:18:40 pm »
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At first try, Opus Magnum felt like an addition to the SpaceChem/Infinifactory family, just with a new grid (hex grid, after having done square grid and cube grid). After playing a bit more though, I rank it below those games.

The biggest difference is the use of a separate instruction tape for control. This means actions are time-triggered rather than position-triggered. Time-triggering is more flexible than position-triggering, because you can make different actions happen at the same location. This can make optimization smoother.

The problem is, for me, time-triggering is less fun. Part of what makes these games fun to me is being different than real-life programming by having a spatial aspect. After all, if I want to write code, I can just go do that. The instruction tape feels a lot like just a normal program.

By contrast, the position-triggering of SpaceChem/Infinifactory isn't like normal programming at all. Infinifactory even doubles-down on the spatial element by making everything a block, so even your factory parts you can manipulate with other factory parts, which is amazing.
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