Why yes, I do intend to post about as many of Introversion’s Fail Masterclasses as they make. This is the developers of Prison Architect, Darwinia, DEFCON and Uplink making videos showing prototypes they created and cancelled, and then making those prototypes available to buy with all profits going to charity. What’s not to like?
This month it’s failure number three: Megaprocessor, which is basically Introversion’s attempt at making a Zachlike.
Here’s the video, if you’d rather watch it yourself than reading to my summary.
As alluded to above, the video begins with designer Chris Delay talking about his love of Zachtronics games such as TIS-100 and SHENZHEN I/O. These are puzzle games in which the solutions involve writing assembly code and creating microprocessors.
Introversion’s attempt at a similar idea is superficially fancier, swapping Zachtronics’ sparse (but stylish!) interfaces for a first-person world. The puzzles sit on panels within that environment, and you solve them by dragging cables between logic gates to correctly process inputs into outputs. Where it gets really clever is that you can solve a board, then place a miniaturised version of that board onto the next to construct a more complicated machine, and so on.
Yep, that sure sounds like a Zachlike to me. I’m more into Zachtronics’ ‘big machine’ games, such as Opus Magnum, than their games which involve actual programming, but Megaprocessor captures the raw logic of the latter with some of the scale and visual flair of the former. The issue, Delay says, was that he couldn’t see a smooth difficulty curve for the game given the inherent complexity of computer electronics.
Delay also explains that he only worked on this prototype for around a month, and as a reuslt, what you see in the video is all there is to see. That’s in contrast to the previous two prototypes, Spacebots and Order Of Magnitude, both of which were worked on for a year or more and are considerably more substantial.
If Megaprocessor and the others sound like something you’d like to try yourself, you can buy access to this prototype and all previous and future prototypes at Introversion’s site for a minimum donation of $5. All the money goes to War Child, a charity dedicated to helping children affected by armed conflicts.