EXAPUNKS – Hack-all-the-things programming game by Zachtronics

I am loving this game as well. I usually get a decent score but seeing my friends list scores being better usually makes me take a second look for more efficient solutions. Great presentation and the puzzles always push the boundary of learning how to do more with a simple instruction set.

I do know I will be Day 1 buying the limited edition of every Zachtronics game going forward. That was definitely worth the money (for me)

Really enjoying this so far. I ran through a few puzzles to get the hang of it, now I’ve gone back to do some optimising.

Did anyone make anything cool on the game console? I got part of a rudimentary shmup working, and was thinking of trying a text adventure next.

Hit kind of a wall with the “Equity First Bank” level. A lot more stuff to keep track of than in previous levels. The way the EXAs communicate with each other is maddening. Hopefully I can break through eventually.

Don’t think you are the only one, nobody else on my friends list has reported in on that either.

Which one? I’m on my second task for the bank now. Also anyone who is playing this please send me a friend request!

Has to be the 2nd one because he has beaten the first.

Ditto for me on friending for Exapunks

Oh yeah, I guess it was the second one (not the ATM one). Finally sat down and solved it. My scores are terrible as always (215 cycles… wavey got 53!), but whatever I solved it.

Wanna know how all these Zachtronics games get made? They’re Kickstarting a book that includes the design documents for all their games, even early pre-Space Chem games and unreleased games!

The books are shipping now. I just received my tracking email, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Thanks for mentioning this - I somehow missed the Kickstarter, so was wondering if there was any other way to get it:

They did have copies left when I emailed them earlier today: $25 for US / $40 Canada / $50 everywhere else.

You can “play” it for free on Steam!

I got the physical book recently. It’s a fascinating look into Zach’s brain. Need to spend more time with it.

Ah, marvellous! I’ve been reading the book, and enjoying it a lot, but then again it couldn’t have been more laser-targeted at me if it had tried.

A year or two ago I tried making a Zach-like. (Not for anything commercial, of course, purely as a hobby - recreational, literally!) I’d got an HTC Vive, and after trying the various games and demos I wondered what the support in Unity was like. With tutorials, it was pretty easy to get something basic up and running, like a physics sandbox you could walk around, throw things, etc.

I wondered what kind of game I could make in VR - and I’d like it to be something that would somehow need to be in VR. I’m no kind of artist, so anything visually stunning was off the menu. The most interesting thing for me was the control scheme with the wands - for player input, you could quickly and precisely specify a 3D position and rotation in a way I’d never seen done through a monitor-based game.

At the time, I’d also been watching Youtube videos of elaborate marble-run sculptures - marbles cascading down and through these machines, going through various mechanisms to e.g. play a tune, or just look cool. So my intuition was that maybe you could model some kind of interesting computation using these kinds of things. Maybe you would get a sequence of marbles, and need them to leave the machine in size or weight order, or work out a way of, say, counting the marbles in two different input chutes A and B, and letting through exactly A * B marbles from a different chute. (In my mind it was a lot more fun than this sounds!)

I had a quick and dirty prototype, where you could drag out V-shaped gutters throughout the room for marbles to roll along, and thought I’d sit down and work out what the actual game could be - what mechanisms would be available, and what problems would be interesting to solve with them. And OH MY GOODNESS that part is difficult, much more than I thought it would be. I banged my head against it for a spare hour here and there for a couple of weeks, and didn’t come up with anything I thought would be anywhere near good enough. At which point I was rather dispirited and gave up.

But it does make me appreciate the work and creativity that obviously goes into the real Zach-like games even more than I used to.

Ooooo Turing Tumble looks great.

I pre-ordered a copy when it was just a concept, and I’ve had it now for about a year. My kids love it; they still pull it out and play with it. The accompanying comic/puzzle book is pretty awesome. They only got about 2/3 of the way through–it starts to get somewhat abstract and kids aren’t predisposed to learn binary. But I solved most of the late-book puzzles and it really does a pretty good job at showing how you can make a working computing machine with those parts. The main limitation is the space you have.

Thanks for posting this! I’m going to get this for the store I think.

That looks really interesting, thanks - I might order a copy to play with. Er, I mean, to give to my kids.

I like how it’s all modelled purely physically - looking back over the couple of puzzles I’d tried to design for my game, I kind of defaulted to adding in sensors and switches, which you could connect to gizmos which moved or turned other parts of the machine. The problem being that whatever extra system I added as an extra layer over the physical stuff soon became too powerful, to the point where you hardly needed the marbles at all.

I think that’s what I enjoy most about Zachtronics games - whatever you are “programming” in is limited in some kind of natural but interesting way, and the joy for me is figuring out how to work round (or rather, with) the limitations. (Contrasted with something like Human Resource Machine, which I remember as just being an exercise in programming in assembler, so you could solve problems using the same techniques you would use in the real world.)

Yeah, HRM was a little bit of a trifle, but Tomorrow Corporation’s more recent game, 7 Billion Humans, is something different: a really good puzzle programming game that is much more Zach-like (and loads more difficult) than HRM.