Mind-Machine Interface is a Zachlike with a demo

The creator of Mind-Machine Interface [official site] says his puzzle game is inspired by the games of Zachtronics. It’s a programming puzzler about laying down blocks and wires on a grid to make a computer do… something. Do stuff. Do the good stuff that you want. Having played the demo, I can confirm that it feels a lot like playing TIS-100 or SpaceChem – in that I had no idea what I was doing because I’m a big ol’ goofhead oh god let’s cut to a trailer to do the explaining for me:

Ah yes, that certainly is computer.

Mind-Machine Interface is set up as an aptitude test in some futuristic world, where computer interfaces are very colourful and confusing and have funny squiggly language which I’m sure is a translation puzzle in itself. The developer explains:

“Puzzles are hard and open ended. The programming part is figurative, since you don’t need any programming knowledge to complete the game. Sometimes you have to duplicate an image, create a bouncing ball program, path finding algorithm, repair a corrupt image, etc.”

The interface seems kind of awful to me, with no elegance and subtlety, but hey, if you want a new Zachlike this might do it for you? The demo is up on Dropbox.

Mind-Machine Interface is having a crack at Steam Greenlight. That page says it’s due to launch this March.


  1. Otterley says:

    I’ve played the demo quite far and I definitely have to agree with the claim that it is hard. ^^ There is very little in the way of explanation/tutorial, so there’s a lot you’ll need to figure out yourself (there is a decent overview of the symbols and their functionality, though). And the challenges themselve are pretty difficult, with the difficulty ramping up quite quickly.

    There’s enough similiarity to SpaceChem/TIS-100 for MMI to scratch the same itch I contracted from Zachtronics. But the symbolic language is sufficiently different, making the solution process feel quite unique.

    The biggest difference up to now: with SpaceChem and TIS-100 the challenge (to me) was always the optimisation, not finding a solution. With MMI it’s all been about finding even a single solution (from puzzle 5 or 6 onwards). There’s a list of optimisation records on Reddit with incredible results. I couldn’t even imagine how to go about optimising stuff so far :p

    Oh yes, the interface is quite hideous, but it works well enough when you’re building stuff. The demo is definitely worth checking out :)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    These are the kinds of games I tend to buy (I have all the ones listed in the article for instance) but then never play because I’m a stupid lump of dumb and I can’t work out how to win the tutorials, when there is one.

    Still neat ideas, though.

  3. Retne says:

    “Ohh”, I thought, having enjoyed Human Resource Machine and a few other bits and pieces (SpaceChem, for example).

    And I’ve got through the first level but my mouse cursor has gone AWOL (restarted, both full & windowed), so I can’t click to continue!

    The obscure characters / buttons were a little annoying though. I didn’t find they added much to the experience, but perhaps a little later on they would in context.

    I am also reminded that I want to learn F#, so despite happily spending time with other video games I end up feeling a little guilty about spending time in a fake programming language.

    I don’t dislike the concept, though. The image manipulation and bouncing balls from the trailer seems a little more fun / exciting than some of the more abstract character-based challenges these games can present (but the story was fun in that)

    • Otterley says:

      Not sure if it is applicable, but the mouse cursor is hidden during program execution. Perhaps you were in step-by-step mode at the time.

  4. je says:

    is “zachlike” a thing now as a genre? I love this <3

    • MajorLag says:

      RPS coined the term a while back, and yeah, everyone seemed to think it was good idea, so it’s a genre now.

    • LogicalDash says:

      I think they’d be more informatively termed “esoteric programming games” but, if Procedural Death Labyrinth didn’t catch on, I guess we’re stuck with Roguelike and Zachlike.

      I wonder why we don’t say “Doom clone” anymore.

  5. DantronLesotho says:

    This looks really interesting; I hope they make improvements based on feedback, because… whatever this is, I want to play it.

  6. Rainshine says:

    Same; while I’m pretty trash at these games — I make it about six puzzles in then stonewall — I love that they’re becoming an awesome thing with devoted followers