Shenzhen I/O, circuit building and programming by Zachtronics

New Zachtronics game incoming! Seems to be a successor to TIS-100, in that you write assembly code for a bunch of networked devices based on facsimile datasheets. Just with a higher variety of devices, with circuit design thrown in, and prettier graphics.

Out in Early Access on October 6th.

Looks cool. I wonder how creative the game will allow you to get in the sandbox?

really? Writing assembler code is now a game ?? (1)

(1) I don’t think so!

Zachtronics’ motto should be “by engineers, for engineers”.

I’m in. ;)

I am an engineer, that’s why I never went too far in Spacechem, too much like work… and no pay check ;))

I am an engineer myself, and I love the Zachtronics games, even if I don’t play them as much as I should for pretty much the reasons you just mentioned. Still, they mesmerize me. :)

This is part of the clever masterplan to take real design problems, code them into a game, and let gamers solve them for free.

As someone who writes software all some of the day long, this seems way too much like work to me.

I graduated in Electrical Engineering. That video reminds me of the “fun” times messing with FPGAs and microprocessors in some of my classes. ;)

Still, I’m intrigued by the game. I’m such a nerd.

Same here. Although it is all day long for me. And I already didn’t enjoy writing Assembler back in the 90ies either (though part of it might be related to having to submit your code one day and getting a printed memory dump back after a crash the next day).

I don’t think anything can sell me on the final product.


I’m very excited for this. I’m an software engineer too, but I get to do far less coding than I would like at this point. I feel like the Zachtronics games have such an interesting way of making constraints that are totally normal problems in a professional environment feel instead like weird puzzles.

This is starting to sound like a Monty Python joke.

Ok, If somebody is not a software engineer here, please raise your arm. crickets.

I am not interest in this game, but theres other Zachtronics games in my todo list. Except, you know, I never find the moment to start.

Zachtronics went downhill with TIS-100. The UI sucked. You were limited by the amount of white space etc you could enter. It drove me mad that I couldn’t put newlines where I wanted etc as I would run out of “space”. I’m an embedded developer, so it’s not like I’m not used to harsh requirements, but things like that are pointless and artificial ones explicitly put in the game to make it “hard”. It’s like just adding more HP to enemies in FPS games – it’s shit design.

From the looks of that video, it too had lots of little boxes with limits of line-count. aka no sale, from my pov!

SpaceChem was a fab game though. And I remember playing their CMOS flash ‘game’. (It was identical to my CMOS course at University, just with a crappy flash interface. Lots of fun)

And it’s out, and of course I bought it. I’ll try to post some impressions when I can, but that will probably not happen for a couple weeks. ;)

So, I downloaded the game and just booted it up to check and to share some first impressions. Here they are in no particular order.

  • The opening and the overall “feel” of the game are much closer to SpaceChem than TIS-100. The UI is made to resemble a computer interface. There’s an email program, reference manuals, control panels and cameras. It’s really well done and quite immersive. It makes for a pretty strong first impression.
  • Printing the PDF manual is required for a variety of reasons - there’s a lot of information, and there are a lot more parts than TIS-100. There’s also an effort to make the printed manual a part of the “immersion” experience - so it includes a Chinese visa requirement page, assorted emails and messages, and ads (the kind you’d find in some technical manuals), along with the info. It even has instructions on how to put the manual in a binder (and even which binders are recommended to buy!). It’s pretty well done and it makes me want to print the whole thing and not just the “info” parts.

So, until I print the manual (which I’ll probably do this weekend), no actual gameplay for me, but first impressions are very good. After the relatively sterile presentation/interaction in TIS-100, it’s quite interesting to see Zachtronics apparently going back to the “side” things that made SpaceChem so good and memorable for me.

Scott Manley going through the manual of the deluxe edition and into. I don’t think this is my kind of game, but it looks pretty neat.

I’m enjoying this. Definitely very much like TIS-100, but more polished. I’m on the 10th puzzle; the first nine weren’t too difficult (although I’m sure my solutions for the last few are terrible), but this one is kicking my butt (it’s the “Cool Dad Color-Changing Vape Pen”).

A deluxe edition of an early access game I’d insane. It doesn’t even make sense. When the game evolves and changes radically, as is meant to happen, do you get a new folder full of emails and printouts, or must you buy it again?

Did you watch the video? All it is a red notebook with all the stuff printed and organized to make it look like your new job provided it to you. If something changed, you could just print it out and put it in the notebook easily enough. Just a neat touch.

Also, when Zachtronics puts a game into EA, it is 95% done. They may add convenience features, add more puzzles, and fix bugs, but the structure of the game isn’t going to change.