Posts Tagged ‘Zachtronics’

What Works And Why: Opus Magnum

what-works-opus-magnum

What Works And Why is a new monthly column where Gunpoint and Heat Signature designer Tom Francis digs into the design of a game and analyses what makes it good.

Opus Magnum is a puzzle game about designing machines that arrange and combine shiny little atoms to turn lead to gold, and other fanciful alchemy. It’s by Zachtronics, whose games follow such a recognised pattern that they’ve become a genre: the Zachlike. SpaceChem, Infinifactory, Shenzhen IO, and now Opus Magnum all involve designing an automated system to process some given input, and produce some desired output. But it’s a particular quirk of this format I want to dive into, and it’s one Opus Magnum does especially well: optimisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum launches on GOG, after initial rejection

The DRM-free digital game store GOG have reversed a baffling curation decision and started selling Opus Magnum, the wonderful machine-building puzzler from the studio behind Spacechem and Shenzhen I/O. GOG had initially declined to stock the game and gave developers Zachtronics a mysterious explanation that it “did not pass our internal curation system”. Given that Opus Magnum is one of the best PC games of 2017 and that GOG already stocked several similar Zachtronics games, y’know, it was weird. With digital stores drawing different lines in the virtuasand over which games they will and won’t stock, this stuck out as an unexpected casualty of curation. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum whirs out of Early Access

Machiiiines

The age of machines has begun. I’m not talking about world conquering, human enslaving robots from the Matrix or what have you, nor the warped logic of paperclip-producing AIs. I’m talking about clunky factory lines producing wizard-viagra (‘stamina’ potions), and cobbled together contraptions that eventually churn out stain-removers. Now that I think about it, those were two unfortunate examples to use next to each other.

What I’m trying to say is that ace puzzler Opus Magnum left early access on Thursday, so you’ve got no excuse not to jump in and start building machines of your own.

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Zach of Zachtronics: “I really like making my dumb little games that don’t matter”

Hubble, bubble, toil and puzzle

The alchemical puzzler Opus Magnum has a few of us at House RPS scratching our heads and shouting “a-ha!” before giddily sharing our twisted contraptions in GIF form. It’s real good, friends. The studio behind it, Zachtronics, is headed by Zach Barth. I spoke to him about the game’s machines, his short stint at Valve, and the reasons he sold his own company. Read the rest of this entry »

Podcast: Into The Breach, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and “running away”

Tactical retreats

Cowardice is a virtue. So says the team on this week’s RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. That’s because our theme is “running away” – games that encourage you to flee from danger, or that give you a choice between fight and flight. Adam will run from the soldiers of Arma or the post-apocalyptic antagonists of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Brendan will scarper from poor odds in For Honor or Overwatch, while Alice only pretends to run away in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, tricking her foes into giving chase before ambushing them like some kind of velociraptor. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum player makes an alchemical computer

Does compute

By the laws of the game-o-sphere, a computer made from the marbles and metal of alchemy-based puzzler Opus Magnum almost seems like an inevitability. Alchemy and code fan Peer Backhaus has built a – ahem – “Brainfuck interpreter”, which is a real computing term and not something I expected to see in my emails when I came into work this morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum’s most monstrous machines

'opeless Magnum

Opus Magnum is Zachtronics’ best game and you’ll have to extricate me from an impossible web of metal talons if you want to argue otherwise. It’s both understandable and open-ended. I spent almost ten hours on a single puzzle last week, not because I couldn’t decipher a solution but because I wanted a better solution. In the end, the stain remover I invented was a terrible, hacky mess. But I was proud of it. Like all of nature’s most wondrous creations, it had 17 arms. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s machina: Our proudest Opus Magnum machines

I'm not even sure what this does. But it works.

The fever of alchemical engineering has descended on the RPS team like a dank fog. Opus Magnum is the new Zachtronics puzzler that asks you to make some hair gel out of salt and a hangover cure out of marbles. It’s really good. We’ve already shown you some mechanical marvels and talked about it on the podcast but since the game includes a “record GIF” button, we wanted to show off three of our own proudest creations. Come see the clockwork beauty of our well-oiled machines. Read the rest of this entry »

Podcast: Guilty pleasures and Opus Magnum

Machiiiines

It’s a simple theme this week with the Electronic Wireless Show. We’re talking about guilty pleasures – the games that make us feel a wee bit embarrassed but not so much that we won’t squirrel away at them while grinning  like idiots. Alec feels a bit sheepish bringing his toy steering wheel to work when planning to play American Truck Simulator. Meanwhile, Matt remembers how he enjoyed the passage of time while picking flax in a Runescape field, and Brendan attempts to explain the relaxing sea-based boredom of Sailaway.

We’ve also been tinkering with alchemical puzzler Opus Magnum from Zachtronics, fiddling with small machines to produce precious metals, hangover cures and the kinds of “stamina potions” you might find spamming up your junk folder. Come listen, guilt-free. Read the rest of this entry »

Opus Magnum’s alchemy machines are gorgeous

Machiiiines

I am raising my head from the alchemy desk to tell you: Opus Magnum is out now and it is good. It’s the new puzzle game from Zachtronics which crept up on us this week. This studio’s puzzlers have a definite flavour to them. They’re about fiddling with machines, hacking together a solution out of strange gadgets and mental duct tape before revealing a loudly-ticking device and feeling impossibly proud of yourself. This is no different, except that your end results are flipping gorgeous.
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Opus Magnum: a new puzzler from Infinifactory creator

Hubble, bubble, toil and puzzle

Is there any joy like the humble Zachlike? Don’t answer that. Zach Barth, creator of head-scratchers like Spacechem and SHENZHEN I/O, continues his slow march towards filling the planet earth with intricately complex puzzle games. His development studio has just announced Opus Magnum [official site] a game of dark machinery and darker alchemy in which you must use a “transmutation engine” to create “vital remedies, precious gemstones, deadly weapons, and more”. You will be pleased to learn that it too has a built-in solitaire game. Read the rest of this entry »

Clickuorice Allsorts: Shenzhen Solitaire on MS-DOS

Shenzhen Solitaire

When I saw that Shenzhen Solitaire – the solitaire minigame spun off from Shenzhen I/O – was out for MS-DOS on floppy disks I’ll admit I nearly consigned it to the novelty promo pile along with emails about cassette mix tapes or my friend whose response to new music is always “Yes, but can I listen to it on my Discman?”. HOWEVER! It gets more interesting because developers Zachtronics have written up the project as a blog post. I didn’t follow all the technicalities, but it was super interesting to know more about the choices the pair made, and the quirks of the systems involved under the hood. I find optimisation techniques fascinating so dirty rectangles discussion was a lovely accompaniment to my cup of tea!

The DOS release is available through a Kickstarter running until September 11th.

Shenzhen I/O’s solitaire now available standalone

If you’ve heard folks talk about Shenzhen I/O, you’ve likely heard them celebrate the fiendish and delightful puzzles of building and programming hardware. You were likely a bit blindsided when they went on to praise its in-universe solitaire game. Well! If Zachlikes are a bit much for you but you do enjoy a nice bit of solitaire, good news: Zachtronics have now released Shenzhen I/O’s solitaire separately as a cheap standalone game. Read the rest of this entry »

TIS-100 dev’s Shenzhen I/O launches out of early access

SHENZHEN I/O [official site], the latest Zachlike from the creator of TIS-100 and SpaceChem, today properly launched after six weeks in early access. It’s a puzzle game about assembling circuits from components then writing code to drive them, while poring over a manual for help and getting to know your new co-workers a little. SHENZHEN I/O was already a cracking game when Brendan prematurely evaluated it in October but Zachtronics have given it a nice bit of polish since. Along with the usual bug fixes and balance tweaks you’d expect, they’ve also added new components, including a synthesiser, and oh, a bonus campaign of extra puzzles. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Infiniminer?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

No, neither have I. Infiniminer was a team-based game in which players competed to collect more minerals than their opponents in a blocky, randomly-generated cavern. But during development in 2009 the source code was leaked by hackers. In the wake of new modified versions, the small community of players that had formed around the game dissolved. The developer made the game open source and shelved the project. Not long afterwards, a man called Notch started work on a little somethin’ somethin’. And it looked a wee bit like Infiniminer…

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Premature Evaluation: SHENZHEN I/O

Every Monday we send Brendan to the special economic zone of early access and task him with increasing the productivity of the people’s republic of videogames. This week, the brain-breaking electronics of SHENZHEN I/O [official site]. Some spoilers included.

Zach Barth of Zachtronics, who is previously responsible for games like SpaceChem and Infinifactory and who is also definitely a robot, unfurled his new electronics-em-ep this month. In SHENZHEN I/O you play an expert who emigrates to China to work for Longteng Electronics Co. Ltd. That means you’ll be building circuits, wiring microprocessors and writing bits of code for a range of increasingly unusual and complicated devices. But you’ll also be learning about your co-workers and delving into an unnerving industrial future that probably already exists.

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Boot Up: TIS-100 Dev’s SHENZEN I/O Hits Early Access

The creator of SpaceChem, TIS-100, and Infinifactory is back with another making-things-work puzzle game. Zachtronics last night launched SHENZHEN I/O [official site] onto Steam Early Access, letting people have a crack at building circuits from electronic components then program them by writing in an assembly language. Easy peasy! Zachtronics say Shenzhen I/O is already “highly polished and would be perfectly acceptable to release in a traditional fashion” but they’re again turning to early access for feedback to make it even better – maybe from you?

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SpaceChem & TIS-100 Creator Announces SHENZEN I/O

A proposal: puzzles games focused on assembling or programming – or both – should be called Zachlikes. Following the atom-assembling SpaceChem, production line ’em up Infinifactory, and the computer-programming TIS-100, Zach Barth and his Zachtronics have announced a new Zachlike. SHENZHEN I/O [official site] will combine assembling and programming to build circuits from components and then write code for them. It’s due to hit Steam Early Access in October and, for now, you can check it out in this wee announcement trailer:

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New Zachtronics Puzzler TIS-100 Out Of Early Access

What even is a computer?

SpaceChem and Infinifactory creator Zach Barth has released his latest thing-making puzzle game, which sits somewhere between fiddling with chemistry and building automated factories. TIS-100 [official site] is an assembly programming puzzler, having you literally learn and write code to fix up corrupted code in the mysterious eponymous ’80s computer. Yes, you do need to learn and write the TIS-100’s assembly code. Computers are puzzles!

After a seven-week stretch in Steam Early Access, TIS-100 properly launched yesterday.

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