Gunpoint's designer analyses games
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 »
Listen while running
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 »
Elemental, my dear Reddit
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 »
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 »
Guilty as charged
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 »