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SpaceChem Dev's TIS-100: A Programming Puzzler

Program an odd old computer

After having folks design molecules in SpaceChem and automated plants in Infinifactory, Zachtronics are back with another puzzle game of complex systems. What comes after atoms and factories, the whole dang universe? The multiverse? Nah, you write assembly code.

Today Zachtronics both announced and (sort of) released TIS-100 [official site], a game about rewriting corrupted code to fix a fictional '80s computer. It's on on Steam Early Access now for £4.49. My prediction: their next game after this will be to literally program SpaceChem.

Armed with a trusty TIS-100 user manual, teach will learn to repair the system and maybe uncover a few of its secrets: who made it, and why? Along with puzzles, where you can compete with your chums to write the most efficient code, the game has a sandbox mode where you can code whatever you want - including your own games. Oh gosh, maybe writing SpaceChem is the final level of TIS-100?

Zachtronics think it's a month or two away from finished, so why release on Early Access rather than wait? Because it worked out well last time. Zach Barth explains:

"I was extremely pleased with our Early Access release of Infinifactory; although the game was largely 'finished' when we released, we were able to make a huge number of improvements and additions to the game based on player feedback and turn a great game into an amazing game. We're choosing to release TIS-100 as an Early Access title for the same reason: to turn a great game into an amazing game."

Like with Infinifactory, he says it's polished and "would be perfectly acceptable to release in a traditional fashion." What he adds over Early Access will largely depend on what people want to see in it. Here, have a trailer showing what's in there now:

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Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.