Today's steam deal : SpaceChem

This is just a small head's up (I intend to do a larger discussion later) about one of the most awesome and geeky indie-games available at the moment: SpaceChem by Zachatronics Industries.

 

The basic premise behind SpaceChem is chemical engineering: in each assignment, you get some input molecules and you have to turn them into the requested output molecules via bonding and unbonding their atoms, and the occasional nuclear fusion. A simple (and decidedly sub-optimal) example:

 
 

The chemistry part is just a front, though. What the game really is, is a programming simulator. You have a tiny board (10×8) board with input and output zones and two 'waldos' that trace a path on which you place and execute instructions: basically a tiny dual-threaded CPU with a select instruction set. I know it sounds simple, and that's exactly right: it sounds simple. However, working out a workable design hard, VERY hard. Especially when you try to optimize a design for least time or components.

There are in-game leaderboards, showing you how much a design that you have toiled away at for hours actually sucks sweaty donkey balls, and a more detailed scoreboard at spacechem.net. You can also upload your solutions to youtube. Here's one of mine for “Gas Works Park”, where you turn some random carbon strings (C3 / C4) and water (H2O) and turn them into methane (CH4) and carbondioxide (CO2). Solution details can be found in the video description.

 
 
 

If you like programming and games (which probably describes readers here pretty well), you need to give this a try.

2 thoughts on “Today's steam deal : SpaceChem

  1. I just bought it. Soo much fun. But now my brain hurts.
    Concurrency is a bitch.

  2. Trust me, it gets way worse later, when you get random inputs and multiple reactors, and you have to deal with pipeline stalls and such. But it feels so good when a design finally works :)

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