Developer hacker training simulator, EXAPUNKS, has exited Steam’sEarly Access program for games that aren’t ready for the spotlight yet.
Typical development courses are about learning “big data” and rust and other modern baloney, Zachtronics’ EXAPUNKS is about pulling off hacking heists to earn a cure for the phage that you were accidentally infected with. Oops!
In the early access process much has changed, Zachtronics added an animated gif recorder to save short clips of your solutions to EXAPUNKS’ programmular puzzles. They’ve also added a bonus 9-level campaign, and released a free TEC Redshift player program on Steam that lets you experience community-made homebrew games on the in-game fantasy console without owning the full EXAPUNKS game. Interestingly enough, the homebrew games are embedded in image files distributed online. It’s not quite clear how to get them, so I’ll explain here that you download the image to your computer and then drag and drop the image file into the TEC Redshift Player. Here’s an example image I found online that plays the original GameboyTetris music in the TEC Redshift Player.
Every time I write about EXAPUNKS, or any other Zachtronics game, I want to mention that I think they’re something special, they each inhabit a little world of their own perfectly and I love that about them even if I’m not always up to their challenge.
EXAPUNKS is $20 on Steam or through the Humble store for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There’s a temporary sale, bringing the game down to $16. The feelies that were available for pre-orders may be available directly from the developer, otherwise you’ll probably get a PDF or something with the game to read Trash World News, the in-universe zine.
The latest programmo-puzzler from Zachtronics, EXAPUNKS, is available in Steam’s Early Access home for wayward and incomplete games. This is another game in the style of TIS-100 and Shenzhen I/O, with this one focusing more on explicitly hacking the system, man.
There’s something wonderful about Zachtronics’ programming games. Each one has a special theme, and unique puzzles to solve.
In this adventure you’re an ex-hacker with a bad case of the phage who made a deal to hack for the cure. You’ll be programming your EXAs, which are the viruses that you’ll use to attack different institutions.
Just like Shenzhen’s take on Solitaire, there are other games buried inside EXAPUNKS, like HACK*MATCH.
EXAPUNKS is $20 on Steam or through the Humble store for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Unfortunately the feelies I mentioned back in July are no-longer available, so you’ll probably get a PDF or something with the game to read Trash World News.
The Zachtronics behind the other programmatical puzzlers like TIS-100 and Shenzhen I/O have announced a new one of those, EXAPUNKS.
I can’t explain how much I love these games, both for their niche and the wonderful aesthetic each game embodies so well. In this adventure you’re an ex-hacker with a bad case of the phage who made a deal to hack for the cure. You’ll be programming your EXAs, which are the viruses that you’ll use to attack different institutions.
EXAPUNKS will be out in Early Access on Steam for $20 on the 21st of August for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There’s a limited edition pre-order for $35 on the Zachtronics website for the game that includes the feelies you’d normally need to print-out to get your instructions for the game. This time it’s a few issues of Trash World News, 3D glasses, and an envelope with secret contents. I’m normally against any kind of pre-ordering for games, but I can’t think of a time when a Zachtronics game was disappointing.
Opus Magnum, the new game from Zachtronics. One look at the trailer and I can tell that this machine designer is probably not for me, even though I very much enjoyed my time with TIS-100 and Shenzhen I/O.
Maybe Opus Magnum is for you. It’s out now on Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux at $20.
Zachtronic’s latest programming game, Shenzhen I/O, has exited Steam’s Early Access program. Vaguely similar to PICO-8’s fantasy console, but Shenzhen should be most familiar to people who played TIS-100. I wrote a little bit about TIShere last year, where I wondered “who the heck writes assembly today unless they’re writing code for embedded systems?” That was a little bit of a premonition, as Zachtronic’s Shenzhen I/O is all about writing assembly code for tiny embedded computers with a light helping of laying out circuits. Those layouts are (so far in my game, I’m still not far in) just connecting inputs and outputs between multiple embedded computers that you’re programming at any time.
The version of solitaire included on the fantasy desktop in Shenzhen is good fun, but maybe one of my favorite parts is getting the feelies together. I don’t have a printer anymore, so I had to get the manual printed out at an office store and order the binder online. Putting something physical together for a game is so strange anymore.
Shenzhen I/O is a ridiculous programming game that is available now for Windows, macOS, and Linux/SteamOS, on Steam for $15. It’s on sale for $13.49 until the 24th.
After trying a bit of Pico-8 I was still craving another fantasy micro-computer. That’s where TIS-100 comes in:
TIS-100 is an open-ended programming game by Zachtronics, the creators of SpaceChem and Infinifactory, in which you rewrite corrupted code segments to repair the TIS-100 and unlock its secrets. It’s the assembly language programming game you never asked for!
The website and all of the other information about TIS-100 are very intimidating at first glance to anyone making a purchasing decision. Doubly so for non-programmers and who the heck writes assembly today unless they’re writing code for embedded systems?
Well it turns out that you don’t even need to know the barest level of programming to get started with TIS-100, the instruction set is so limited that it could fit on a three-by-five card and the way it starts out is kind of similar to that old Pipe Dream game where you’re trying to manage the flow of water by placing pipe parts and junctions. The difference in TIS-100, at the start at least, is that you’re managing a flow of data using written instructions instead of pipe pieces.
TIS-100 ups the challenge fairly quickly by moving on to more difficult puzzles where you have to transform the data in some way while it is moving through the system. Still, I think that anyone who appreciates puzzles could enjoy this game, and shouldn’t be intimidated by the programming and the aesthetic of the website. It’s only $7 to try it out via Steam or Gogand it runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.