7 Billion Humans is World of Goo dev’s new programming game


The robots are coming, and they’re coming for YOUR JOB – so proclaims the trailer for Tomorrow Corporation’s new game 7 Billion Humans. You might know Tomorrow Corporation as the studio behind Little Inferno or World of Goo, but they’ve just announced a follow-up to their 2015 programming game Human Resource Machine.

HRM was all about automating a single office worker’s tasks using simple(ish) programming commands, but 7 Billion Humans kicks things up a notch and enters the wonderful and intimidating world of parallel computing. Not sure what that means? Me neither! Let’s try and figure it out together.

Details are thin on the ground at the moment, with only one line of description on the game’s announcement post: “Automate swarms of office workers to solve puzzles inside your very own parallel computer made of people.”

What we do have are GIFs. Terrifying, brain-melting GIFs. I mean, what is… what’s happening here?

What’s happening HERE?

Ok, so I just had a quick browse of the relevant Wikipedia page, and can now tell you that parallel computing is closely related to concurrent computing, though it’s possible to have parallelism without concurrency, and while parallelism can be transparent to the programmer with bit-level or instruction-level parallelism, parallel algorithms are much more difficult to write than sequential ones.

I can’t, however, tell you what any of those words mean. Or how they relate, in any way, to the GIFs above.

I have to admit I’ll be mightily impressed if Tomorrow Corporation can turn those concepts into something that’s both understandable and fun. When Matt Sayer took a look at games teaching programming, he thought Human Resource Machine did succeed on both counts. If you’ve a budding interest in learning how to code, then that’s well worth a read.

Here’s the trailer for 7 Billion Humans, which is fun but reveals very little more.


  1. MiniMatt says:

    “their coming for your job”

    I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I’m off to yell at supermarkets for their ten items or less signs.

    • Don Reba says:

      Fight the good fight of grammar, my man!

      • MiniMatt says:

        Ooooh! They changed it! (RPS, not Sainsbury’s).

        Future generations will doubtless write movies about the valiant grammar warriors of the early 21st century. They certainly won’t roll their eyes as they tuck us in to our hospital beds at the care home.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Their their. There doing they’re best.

  2. Relenzo says:

    Instruction-level parallelism is something else together, and totally unrelated to the game.

    What the game appears to be trying to teach–based on the GIFs–is the logic of solving problems using a bunch of agents given the same instructions operating at the same time. Like how a colony of ants can build a nest with each one running a simple set of instructions, only less impressive. A ‘human’ in the GIF above is like a ‘thread’ in parallel programming.

    That might not have made lots of sense–let me try again. A few years back we started running into trouble making computers faster and faster. But everyone still wanted them faster and faster. So we started replacing one big computer with lots of little computers, and they share the work. But as you know, when a bunch of people are trying to share a job, they can step on each other’s toes. You have to figure out how to make the little computers work together as an effective team.

  3. futabot says:

    Hey, it’s They are 7 Billions.

  4. GernauMorat says:

    Assume South Park voice-



  5. KDR_11k says:

    The key words are “much more difficult” but then again HRM was fairly simple for a programming game so it might not end up breaking your mind like real parallel programming does.

    Silicon Zeroes has a parallel computing chapter as an extra hard bonus after you finish the story. Enjoy a practical demonstration of every problem parallel computing has encountered in the decades that engineers worked on making it usable without losing your sanity.

    • phlebas says:

      Dangit, now I feel even worse about not having the free time to play Silicon Zeroes.

  6. rubmon says:

    Robot: I’m coming for your job!
    Me: Hell, it’s about time!

  7. Saul says:

    World of Goo was technically developed by 2D Boy /pedant

  8. bonuswavepilot says:

    I enjoyed Human Resource Machine for a while, and a harder, more involved version sounds good, but from the screenshots it looks to me like it suffers from the same problem: having big friendly blocks as the language you program with is nice, but you can only fit 20 lines on screen.

    When things get complicated, this means far, far too much scrolling up and down. (Especially if you’re trying to get the speed achievements by unrolling loops and the like).

    Possibly I am just too set in my ways from years of coding stuff in a nice editor which I have spent cumulative months setting up *just so*…

    • phlebas says:

      I agree about HRM! I still enjoyed it a lot, though, and the ability to export a program as an editable text file and then import it back in was helpful (especially for things like loop unrolling).

      I’m hoping that with a parallelism theme the individual agents’ programs will be smaller and more of the challenge will be around how they interact – that could make the limited window more bearable.

      Failing that, how about a mod for the PC version to improve visibility in the same way as the inventory mods for the last couple of Elder Scrolls games?

  9. Nixitur says:

    That robo-president in the trailer looks familiar, but I can’t quite put my very tiny finger on it.

  10. Raoul Duke says:

    It’s not that complicated. Taking big tasks and identifying bits of them that can be split up and done simultaneously by different workers to speed up the overall job.

  11. Carra says:

    I’m currently playing the programming game Opus Magnum. You’re also making multiple arms (threads) work at the same time.

    This seems to be similar. Might be fun!

  12. percydaman says:

    I know game ideas are a dime a dozen, but I’ve been riffing on this game idea for awhile:

    It stems from me having more fun tinkering with a bot when I got super bored with WoW, than actually playing WoW itself. It was exhilarating watching the lil guy go and do his thing and wake up in the morning to see how far he got before he he failed in some pathing or something.

    Anyways, the game is you live in a post apocalyptic world where you live in a bunker and need to send out bots to go foraging for food and other stuffs. So you’re actually programming a bot to more or less play the game for you. You level up and get better capabilities like better screen resolution for your bot, better pathing, better weapons and defenses etc etc. You send out the bot and can watch it fail or succeed at whatever job it’s supposed to do. If the bot fails or gets destroyed you tinker with the code until it succeeds.

    The story progresses and whatnot and through out you get better capabilities to deal with what the game throws at you. I think it could be a neat game that teaches some coding. Of course I’m not a coder, so I’ll probably never make it.