Programming, Automation, Logistics and Optimisation Games

This is just a simple list of nerdy programming games because I like this kind of game and I never seem to be able to find a decent list of other games in the genre (other than abandoned lists on various forums) so I figured I’d just make one. I will most likely have missed some. If you have other suggestions or just find this list useful then please let me know.

Announcements:Untitled Factory Game and Sandship added (10th August). Learning Factory has been added (13th July). Selfless Heroes has been added (8th July). Shapez.io has been added (22nd June). KnotBot has been added (12th May). Good Company and Lumbermill have been added (7th May). Final Upgrade has been added (14th April). Mechanica has been added (6th April 2020). uFactory has been added (19th March 2020). Industrial Petting has been added (18th March 2020).

Game Types:



Platforms:



Include:

MobileHome computers [The Sequence]
[The Sequence]
“The Sequence is a unique puzzle game. Build a sequence using special modules to transfer binary cell. Find solutions to solve 72 levels with simple and complex structure.”

I’m not sure this really is unique. I think it again shares a lot in common with games like The Codex of Alchemical Engineering in that you use little devices to push, pull and rotate objects around each level, but what it is is very nicely (minimally) presented with a decent UI and puzzles which get very challenging toward the end of the game.

Logistics
ConsoleMobileHome computers 7 Billion Humans
7 Billion Humans
Automate swarms of office workers to solve puzzles inside your very own parallel computer made of people….a thrilling followup to the award winning Human Resource Machine. Now with more humans!

If you enjoyed Human Resource Machine then this is more of the same, except with the twist of controlling multiple humans at once with your code.

Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Algo Bot
Algo Bot
“Algo Bot is a coding-based puzzle game that takes place deep inside the Europa, a pan-galactic colonisation ship, where a recycling mission goes horribly wrong.”

This is another programming game in the LightBot vein. Working your way through the story isn’t going to give you too much of a challenge but the graphics, story and sense of humor make the trip worthwhile. There are extra steam achievements if you want more of a challenge.

Programming
Home computers Algotica – Iteration 1
Algotica – Iteration 1
“Algotica is an educational adventure-puzzle game about programming, along with a story that breaks the fourth wall.”

It says it is educational but but it doesn’t seem to be anymore so that other LightBot clones. This game looks really pretty but appears to have quite a few bugs and the developer has said they aren’t supporting it. They did say that they plan to redesign it in the future and port it to mobile, at which point this might become a much more tempting buy. Right now though buyer definitely beware!!

Programming
Mobile Assembly Line
Assembly Line
“Assembly Line combines elements from idle and tycoon games. You need to build the best assembly line in order to have the most profit possible.”

This free, ad-supported game is quite odd because it is part logistics game and part idle/clicker, which means you aren’t really solving problems, you are mostly waiting for money to accrue. You progressively unlock different machines, product and upgrades which in turn produce more money. It’s a bit mindless compared to a lot of the other games on this list but it’s still fun to plan, build and see your little production line ticking away. Worth a look if you prefer your games on the zen side.

Logistics
ConsoleHome computers Automachef
Automachef
Welcome to Automachef, a resource management puzzler where you design kitchens, program machinery and watch your genius come to life! It’s time to engineer tomorrow’s kitchen, today!

A game where you are rewriting bits of machine code in order to solve puzzles. Also looks to have a level editor where you can create your own levels in order to send them to the developer and maybe get them added to the game. There is also a slimmed-down web version you can try.

Automation, Logistics, Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Automation Empire
Automation Empire (In Development)
Build and manage a massive industrial network of factories, mines, and farms. Employ a fleet of trains, trucks, and robotic drones. In the age of automation, efficiency is survival!

Another game which could be described as Factorio in 3D. It’s very grey and industrial and doesn’t show off a huge amount of personality compared to other games on this list, but it definitely looks like you can create huge complex sprawling factories with lots of moving parts.

Automation, Logistics
Home computers Autonauts
Autonauts
The ‘Automationauts’ (to give them their fuller, grander, longerwindeder title) travel the universe with the sole goal of setting worlds in motion through the power of automation.

Autonauts is an automation game. You start with nothing but sticks and stones but quickly are able make your own little robots. Once you get to that point the game just takes off. You can automate anything you do either by getting the robots to watch you and directly with a nice visual programming language. Before you know it you have hundreds of the little things working away like bees in a hive. It’s really satisfying to build up little production systems and then watch them go!

Automation, Programming
ConsoleHome computers Big Pharma
Big Pharma
“With a few rusty reconditioned machines, you can progress from knocking out cheap generic treatments for minor ailments, to discovering new active ingredients and hi-tech machines to help refine the next generation of world-changing drugs.”

This game is part conveyor-belt style logistics game and part tycoon game. If you want a pure logistics puzzle game then this may not be for you, the challenge may not be in creating the best or most efficient factory floor, but also in how you sell and market the products you are making.

Logistics
Home computers Blueprint Tycoon
Blueprint Tycoon
Build your settlement, gather goods, ensure maximum efficiency and make a profit!

If you can get past the UI which feel aggressively functional, then it looks like there is a lot going on in this game. I’m not sure if it’s a bit too much of a simulation game for this list but I’ll leave it in for now.

Automation, Logistics
Mobile CargoBot
CargoBot
“Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. Sounds simple, right?”

This game appears to primarily be an advert for a development environment, but actually the game itself is a lot of fun and definitely gets your brain thinking. It has a lot in common with LightBot in that you are giving your robot (arm) a sequence of actions in order to get the crates into the correct order. Even if it wasn’t free it would still be worth a look. But it is free so check it out!

Logistics, Programming
Home computers Colobot
Colobot
“Colobot: Gold Edition is a real-time strategy game, where you can program your units (bots) in a language called CBOT, which is similar to C++ and Java.”

This game is now free as an open source project. The original game was released in 2001 but is no longer available. It is a survival game where you have a group of robots available to you. You can control them directly or program them to do tasks for you. You goal is to colonize nine different planets.

Automation, Programming
MobileHome computers Cyber Sentinel
Cyber Sentinel
“Experience the hacker’s side of cyberpunk in Cyber Sentinel! This design-based puzzle game features a complete visual programming kit for designing your own viruses.”

This game uses a visual programming language to allow you to move your avatars through levels collecting files and avoiding enemies. The programming interface is really nice in the way it lets you wire actions together (and feels really nice on mobile) and the way you interact with (and can change the colour of) coloured floor tiles adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. There are also graphs for optimisation fun and community levels to play!

Optimisation, Programming
Web Elevator Saga
Elevator Saga
“This is a game of programming! Your task is to program the movement of elevators, by writing a program in JavaScript.”

If you are not already pretty familiar with Javascript then you are not going to get anywhere with this one. If you already know Javascript though then this could be interested. It’s very bare bones. You see a representation of a lift (or lifts) and you have a block of code used to control the lift. Incrementally modify and improve your control program based on the requirements for each level.

Programming
Home computers else Heart.Break()
else Heart.Break()
“Else Heart.Break() is a reimagination of the adventure game: a fantastic story set in a fully dynamic and interactive world. Instead of rigid puzzles you will learn (with the help from other characters in the game) how the reality of the game can be changed through programming”

This game is definitely an adventure game first and so I wasn’t sure about including it on the list, but the puzzles are definitely based around programming and that seems to be core to the game so I’ve included it. If you want programming puzzles with a whole load of story with them then this seems ideal.

Programming
Home computers EXAPUNKS
EXAPUNKS
The year is 1997. You used to be a hacker, but now you have the phage. You made a deal: one hack, one dose. There’s nothing left to lose… except your life.

Zachtronics is back with another programming game with a cyberpunky storyline and in-game ‘zines’ for you to print out and play with. If you are new to Zachtronics games then there are probably easier ones to begin with, but if you’ve played all the others then you’ll want to play this too. There is even a separate program on Steam to allow you to run programs written in the in-game language!

Programming
MobileHome computers Exception
Exception
Exception is a game about AI programming. During the game, the player assists the units to defeat their enemies…the player needs to control the units by programming instead of controlling them directly.

This looks similar to Gladiabots (if a little simpler) in that you are using a visual programming editor to define the behaviour for your little units. Instead of the sports arena though, it looks like you have to work your way through a more puzzle-like set of levels.

Programming
Web F.P.S. Frame Protector SYNC
F.P.S. Frame Protector SYNC

This game is again symilar to LightBot in that you are giving your character a set of actions to perform. The difference with this game is that instead of simply turning on floor tiles, in this game you specifically setting different colours and/or characters within a display.

Programming
Home computers Factorio
Factorio
“Factorio is a game in which you build and maintain factories. You will be mining resources, researching technologies, building infrastructure, automating production and fighting enemies.”

This game is about automation on a massive scale. You start out digging rocks and will end up with whole rail networks and miles of stacked up conveyor belts! I personally was a little put off by the combat. I quite like the zen-like quality of many of these games, but if you are OK with being kept on your toes and having to react to attacks then this might be the mother of all automation games! You can even play it multiplayer.

Automation, Logistics
Home computers Factory Engineer
Factory Engineer
“Factory Engineer is a factory simulation game which is about creating a huge automated factory by building production lines to create products and make money.”

A lot of the reviews for this seem to describe it as a cross between Big Pharma and Factorio, but a lot closer to Big Pharma. From what I can tell, it takes Big Pharma, removes the tycoon elements and gives you a larger space to create factories in, so if you just like the factory building (and watching your creations busilly working away) then you might like it.

Logistics
Home computers Factory Town
Factory Town (In Development)
Build, expand, automate, and optimize your own custom village using a variety of worker units, marble-run chutes, railways, logistic blocks, and conveyor belts.

This one starts out looking like a Settlers-style logistics game, but the more you play and unlock the more it becomes about automating and optimising your town.

Automation, Logistics, Optimisation
Home computers Final Upgrade
Final Upgrade (In Development)
Final Upgrade is a factory building sim featuring battles in space.

This is a curious looking one. It’s a sci-fi factory builder but has combat/base defense elements so you have to deal with your factories being destroyed, which may be frustrating for some people. It also has an interesting looking galaxy map which add a big sense of scale.

Logistics
MobileHome computers Gladiabots
Gladiabots
AI COMBAT ARENA – Assemble your robot squad, construct their AI and send them in the battle arena to see your strategy play out.

For those who like there programming a bit more competitive, this game uses a visual programming language and tasks you with designing the AI for a set of robots who must go up against an opposing team.

Programming
Home computers Glyphs Apprentice
Glyphs Apprentice
“Glyphs Apprentice is a puzzle game where you need to take raw magical energy and change it’s outer shape and inner symbol…”

I’m really torn on this one. It is a remake of The Codex for Alchemical Engineering but done by a different company. They have changed just enough so that it isn’t a complete copy but somehow it doesn’t quite have the same spark as the original. Now that Opus Magnum has been released it is even more obvious that the UI in this game is clunky and the progression is awkward. If you have already played all of the Zachtronic games then give this a go. It’s more of the same (just not quite as good), but if you haven’t then start with Zachtronic games every time.

Logistics, Optimisation
Home computers God Is A Cube
God Is A Cube (In Development)
“God is a Cube is a programming puzzle game where you control nanomachines (small robots), by creating powerful Artificial Intelligences made of graphical symbols.”

At first glance this looks like another LightBot-style robot programming game where you give commands to your avatar and set them off but this looks to be made more complicated by introducing things like branching paths in your programming script.

Programming
Home computers Good Company
Good Company (In Development)
Good Company is a tycoon management game about founding a robot manufacturing empire. Grow your business; hire staff; automate production lines and optimize their output; invent new products and profit in an ever-evolving market. Can you build a Good Company?

I hadn’t intended to add this game to the list as it feels more like a tycoon game than a nerdy logistics/automation game. Initially you just hire staff who do most of the thinking themselves, but later on there are a few more in-depth automation/logistics elements so it might be worth a look.

Logistics
Home computers Hack n Slash
Hack n Slash
“Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game about hacking – reprogram object properties, hijack global variables, hack creature behavior, and even rewrite the game’s code.”

Again, this one I wasn’t sure about because, at least initially this is just an adventure game where you appear to just be changing variable values, which isn’t the same as actually building logic, but it looks like that may be something available later in the game. Might be worth a look if you like adventure games and don’t mind a slow start.

Programming
Mobile Hacked
Hacked [Archived]
“Until today, coding on a smartphone was painful and boring. We wanted to change that. So we created a powerful yet simple language – H – along with a mobile friendly code editor – the Hackpad”

This is an odd one. It has a whole set of puzzles in it, but up front they seem to be more interested in pushing the language/IDE that they have made. To be fair, it is pretty much usable even on a phone (although my phone had serious slow-down issues) but it seems weird that you can then only use it within the game itself and they limit you on save slots unless you buy blocks of in-app currency. Definitely worth a look if you are very into the programming, but might end up alienating you a little.

Programming
ConsoleMobileHome computers Human Resource Machine
Human Resource Machine
“Program little office workers to solve puzzles. Be a good employee! The machines are coming… for your job.”

Use a visual programming language to solve which involve taking one set of inputs and generating a set of outputs. Puzzles can get very challenging towards the end especially if you are trying to achieve the optional goals for speed and number of operations! On top of a really nice UI and solid puzzles, the visual style is also really quirky and fun. If this sounds interesting, don’t forget that the sequel, 7 Billion Humans is also available.

Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Industrial Petting
Industrial Petting (In Development)
Industrial Petting is the chance for you and your friends to explore an alien world, find new pets, get them to love you, and sell them on the galactic market. Build factories to make more creatures, farms to feed them, and gadgets to entertain them.

I’ve seen this described as Satisfactory crossed with Slime Rancher. Seems about right. And unusually for this list, it’s also playable in VR.

Automation, Logistics
ConsoleHome computers Infinifactory
Infinifactory
“Build factories that assemble products for your alien overlords, and try not to die in the process.”

There have been lots of little web games where you put down conveyor belts to manipulate items. This game takes that concept and brings it into 3D. It’s got a fun side-story but the main draw is just how much depth the third dimension adds to the standard conveyor-belt gameplay. It’s hugely satisfying and again comes with the usual Zachtronics options for optimisation.

Logistics, Optimisation
Web Jahooma’s LogicBox
Jahooma’s LogicBox
“Play and experiment with colorful little machines, called logic boxes! Combine them in a grid using drag-and-drop operations to build powerful new logic boxes.”

I wasn’t initially going to include this one on the list based on the first few levels, but the thing I liked about this was that the levels you build initially become the building blocks for you to use later. It was really difficult to categorise because it is almost exactly between a programming and logistics game, but I think the programming side is the main focus of the puzzles.

Programming
ConsoleHome computers Jump Step Step
Jump Step Step
“Jump Step Step is a gorgeous and funny programming game with bonsai trees, a crazy robot and a broken rocket.”

This is a LightBot style programming game where you decide what actions your little robot should take and then let them go. The presentation is really bright and colourful. It’s also pretty cheap.

Programming
Home computers KnotBot
KnotBot
From collecting buttons to solving tangled mazes, automate KnotBot on a quest of handcrafted puzzles.

This is a programming game with an interesting programming interface and a cute design but difficulty wise it appears to skew very young and doesn’t have a whole lot of content, which is a shame.

Programming
Web Kohctpyktop – Engineer of the people
Kohctpyktop – Engineer of the people
“In KOHCTPYKTOP: Engineer of the People, you play as an engineer working in a semiconductor factory designing integrated circuits based on specifications provided to you.”

I can’t think of any way you could possibly create a lower-level programming game than this. You are manipulating different materials in order to build basic logic functionality which you then add all together to solve logic problems. It’s so low level that you may actually have to deal with race-conditions across the circuitry in your solution! Not easy but if you want a challenge…

Programming
Home computers Learning Factory
Learning Factory (In Development)
In this automation sim, you are a data scientist who is trying to understand what your cat wants. How do you do it? By rebuilding and automating an old Learning Factory, a place designed for collecting data from thousands of cats and analyzing it with Machine Learning.

A factory builder with a cute theme in which information and machine learning become part of the overall system.

Logistics
Mobile Lightbot
Lightbot
“LightBot is a puzzle game based on coding; it secretly teaches you programming logic as you play!”

One of the most well-known of the programming style of game. You have a little robot and you want to light up various tiles on each level. Give them a series of actions and make use of sub routines to complete the level. LightBot has a very simple clean UI.

Programming
Home computers LogicBots
LogicBots
“LogicBots is a puzzle game, however it is not your usual puzzle game as in this game you don’t complete the puzzles directly, instead you build a robot to complete the puzzle for you.”

Based on MindRover, in this game you create a robot from a selection of components, attach sensors and then wire up the behaviour in order to solve various tasks. The programming is logic based and will see you dragging various logic gates onto your circuit board and then wiring them all together so that your little robot can do things like follow a line on the floor or navigate through a maze.

Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Lumbermill
Lumbermill (In Development)
Build, Manage and Maintain a Lumber Mill deep in the Forest!

This is a factory building logistics game with tycoon elements to manage employees and products. Build a lumber mill in order to create and sell various wooden objects, all within a procedurally generated forest.

Logistics
Web Manufactoria
Manufactoria
“Manufactoria is a game about putting robots in their place.”

This is a conveyor-belt game where you are dealing with little robots that have data associated with them (a sequence of coloured dots). You must shuffle them around depending on their programming and later on change the programming. This game has a nice progression, has a decent challenge and have more depth than a standard conveyor-belt type of game.

Logistics
Home computers Marvellous Inc.
Marvellous Inc.
Marvellous Inc. is a programming puzzle game, where you program robots to solve tasks.

This one may put a lot of people off as it really doesn’t do a lot to make itself a ‘game’. You have a code editor and a programming goal and you have to figure it out.Marvellous Inc.

Programming
Home computers Mechanica
Mechanica (In Development)
Mechanica is an open-world survival game with a heavy focus on building and programming. Create your own bases, defenses, manufacturing systems and more. Explore the map and expand the scope and complexity of your creations.

Quite and interesting and unusual game for the programming category. It’s a survival/building game with programming and wiring elements.

Programming
Home computers MHRD
MHRD
“MHRD is a hardware design game, in which you design various hardware circuits in a hardware description language. The hardware circuits you design get more complex as you go until you create a fully functional CPU design.”

This seems to be one of the most intentionally unapproachable games I’ve seen in a while. It appears to be a game of wiring up various logic gates in order to get the required output, but instead of a visual interface, the game is presented as if though through a ascii-only terminal where you have type out the various components you want to use and how they are assigned to other elements.

Programming
Home computers MindRover: The Europa Project
MindRover: The Europa Project [Archived]

Originally released in 2000. This game involved building a robot by taking a body, adding wheels/tracks/hover, steering, motors and sensors and then wiring them all together using various logic components in order to acheive various goals from simply following a line or going through a maze, to racing through coridors and locating and shooting other robots. Before the age of online multiplayer (and way before youTube), people used to have tournaments where everyone would email their robot save file to the person running the tournament. That person would run all the robots against each other two at a time and then post the results up on a website. I have a lot of nostalgia for this one. 🙂 For a recent version, try LogicBots.

Programming
MobileHome computersWeb Mindustry
Mindustry
“A sandbox tower defense game– Create elaborate supply chains of conveyor belts to feed ammo into your turrets, produce materials to use for building, and defend your structures from waves of enemies.”

This one is very Factorio-lite. Enemies attack in waves and destroy your base so the game becomes a hectic combination of maintaining your factory and building new stuff in order to upgrade it. If you like time to think in your games then it may not be for you (although you can pause whilst building). The controls can also be a little awkward but it is getting regular updates and improvements and it appears to be free so why wouldn’t you try it?

Logistics
Home computers MOLEK-SYNTEZ
MOLEK-SYNTEZ
Use the MOLEK-SYNTEZ to create small molecules with various pharmacological effects from the comfort of your small Romanian apartment.

If you are familiar with Zachtronics games then you’ll know what to expect. If you’re not then this probably isn’t going to be the most easily assessable one to start with but it appears to be somewhere between SpaceChem, Opus Magnum and TIS-100.

Logistics, Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Neon Noodles
Neon Noodles
You are in charge of a futuristic kitchen operating in a mysterious cyberpunk world. Automate your robot chefs to cook recipes in perfectly elegant loops to create well oiled machines that churn out dish after dish. It’s a zach-like!

Their own description says it’s a Zach-like and that should tell you everything you need to know. Program robots (forward/back/turn/use etc) in order to make food. Optimise your solutions for speed, space, etc…

Logistics, Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Octopticom
Octopticom
Use lasers, mirrors, filters and other components to read, transform and write sequences of colored squares.

This is “light redirection” style puzzle game where you are given a set of inputs, outputs, a grid and components you can place. The presentation looks pretty basic, but the puzzles seem solid and challenging.

Programming
Home computers Opus Magnum
Opus Magnum
“Master the intricate, physical machinery of the transmutation engine, the alchemical engineer’s most advanced tool, and use it to create vital remedies, precious gemstones, deadly weapons, and more.”

This is a spiritual successor to one of Zachtronics earliest games called The Codex of Alchemical Engineering. In this game you set up and program an assortment of grabbers and little machines to pick up, combine and manipulate elements. The interface is really slick and it is as satisfying as ever to see little molecules being put together. Again you have graphs for things like speed, cost and footprint which keeps you coming back to fiddle.

Logistics, Optimisation, Programming
Mobile Perfect Paths
Perfect Paths
“Perfect Paths is puzzle solving game where you create paths and add other instructions to move blocks to their designated positions.”

This is a pure logistics puzzle game, really nicely presented and with a decent challenge. The thing which makes this game really interesting is that each type of action happens in sequence, so objects aren’t all moving at once, but rather things moving up with move, then those moving left, then down etc. It doesn’t seem like much but it can add real depth puzzle solutions.

Logistics
Home computers Prelogate
Prelogate
“Prelogate is a logic puzzle game. Solve puzzles by redirecting laser beams, mixing them and controlling them with logic gates.”

This one is a little difficult to categorize. I think it is closest to programming because the complexity in this game comes from the use of logic gates. The lasers are kind of a stand-in for electric wires, but because they are using light instead it means they can do interesting things like mixing colours.

Programming
Home computers Prime Mover
Prime Mover
“Prime Mover is an open-ended puzzle game about designing circuit boards. Work your way from transistor to processor, uncover the story of the Byte of Burden!”

A retro themed visual programming game with a sci-fi story where you are building ‘circuits’ which act as pathways for data packets to travel along. Use the various components to affects the data as required. Comes with the graphs usually associated with Zachtronic games to encourage optimisation.

Logistics, Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Production Line
Production Line
“A modern car factory is a near-perfect example of efficiency, process-management and flow. A massive army of precision-controlled robots dance to a millimetre-perfect ballet of engineering excellence with perfect timing.”

This game is part conveyor-belt style logistics game and part tycoon game. Unlike Big Pharma this seems to be focused more on the logistics side of the game rather than the tycoon side. You also have a lot more floor space to play with in Production Line so you really can create huge sprawling factory floors!

Logistics
Home computers Robo Do It
Robo Do It
“Robo Do It is a funny game to learn logic programming without writing code by building scripts to program robots in each level.”

Very much like Jump Step Step, this is a LightBot style programming game where you decide what actions your little robot should take and then let them go. The presentation isn’t as bold as Jump Step Step, but again it’s also pretty cheap.

Programming
Home computers Robo Instructus
Robo Instructus
Robo Instructus is a puzzle game in which players manoeuvre a robot by issuing instructions via a simple programming language.

Program a robot in order to solve puzzles. This one might be a bit difficult to get into just because it uses a code interface instead of any kind of visual language, but outside of the code window things look pretty and the triangle game board looks like an interesting twist.

Programming
Mobile RoboLogic 2
RoboLogic 2
“You have to program a robot’s movements by dragging commands to the memory of the bot.”

Very very similar to LightBot, but if you like that style of game then this is more of the same.

Programming
Home computersWeb Rogue Bit
Rogue Bit
A single bit of computer memory became sentient and decided to escape from digital into the real world. Explore RAM, modify bytes and hack machine code and CPU registers to set it free.

A game where you are rewriting bits of machine code in order to solve puzzles. Also looks to have a level editor where you can create your own levels in order to send them to the developer and maybe get them added to the game. There is also a slimmed-down web version you can try.

Programming
Mobile Sandship
Sandship
Sandship is an upcoming title by Rockbite Games, featuring a gigantic mega-factory that slowly drives itself over dry, hot, endless desert.

This is a mobile factory game with free-to-play mobile mechanics so you have to open timed loot boxes in order to get the resources you need to progress.

Logistics
Home computers Satisfactory
Satisfactory (In Development)
Satisfactory is a first-person open-world factory building game with a dash of exploration and combat.

Most people seem happy to describe this as Factorio in 3D, which you can understand looking at it. It is currently in development so we shall have to see how it turns out.

Automation, Logistics
Home computers Screeps
Screeps
“Screeps means ‘scripting creeps.’ It’s an open-source sandbox MMO RTS game for programmers, wherein the core mechanic is programming your units’ AI.”

This may be one of the most intimidating games on the list. I love programming puzzle games but I don’t kid myself that I’m a super genius at them. The idea of playing against other people has made me hold off on this one so far, but if you fancy a challenge then this is unarguably one of the most unique games on the list.

Programming
Home computersWeb Selfless Heroes
Selfless Heroes
Solve puzzles by designing an AI for a team of selfless heroes. Test your algorithm, optimize it, and emerge victorious from the dungeon!

You are controlling multiple knights with a single program. Each character uses the same logic so you need to program in a way that will work for all instances. Optimise for “steps” and/or “lines of code”. Nice visual programming interface. It is very “7 Billion Humans”

Optimisation, Programming
Home computersWeb Shapez.io
Shapez.io
shapez.io is a game about building factories to automate the creation and combination of increasingly complex shapes within an infinite map.

Heavily inspired by Factorio, but actually this really strongly reminds me of an old Flash puzzle game series called Factory Balls by Bert Bonte. Mine, split, colour, rotate and layer together various resources from an infinite map in order to mass product increasingly complicated symbols.

Automation, Logistics
Home computers Shenzen I/O
Shenzen I/O
“SHENZHEN I/O: BUILD CIRCUITS. WRITE CODE. RTFM.”

This game is kind of an evolution of TIS-100 in that you are still writing low-level code but there is also an electronics element involved so you are also building circuit boards with various components from simple logic gates and memory blocks, to different types of programmable processor. Again you have the usual options for optimisation and there is a sandbox mode to play with.

Optimisation, Programming
Home computers Silicon Zeroes
Silicon Zeroes
“Build hardware. Solve puzzles. From the creator of Manufactoria, a new open-ended puzzle game set in Silicon Valley’s first startup.”

This is a programming game in the circuitry style. You are using simple components (adders, timers, latches etc) and the game revolves around figuring out the logic and figuring out where to route the various signals from your components. The UI uses a simple circuit diagram/blueprint kinda of look which seems appropriate and allows you to see what’s going on.

Programming
ConsoleHome computers Spacechem
Spacechem
“Take on the role of a Reactor Engineer working for SpaceChem, the leading chemical synthesizer for frontier colonies. Construct elaborate factories to transform raw materials into valuable chemical products!”

In SpaceChem you place instructions on the floor which form routes for two little ‘waldos’ to follow in order to pick up combine and manipulate elements. You can do some really clever things syncing up the two paths and if you are reading this list and haven’t played this game then you need to go get it right the hell now. Lots to keep you busy and really satisfying. You can also see graphs for things like speed/cost which keeps you coming back to tweak.

Automation, Optimisation
Home computers Survival Vacancy
Survival Vacancy (In Development)
In a nuclear apocalypse, you have to use your engineering skills to save as many survivors as possible. Defending, mining, crafting, automation, and building an underground city for survivors is your purpose in life.

A factory simulation crossed with Terarria? This is a side scrolling factory/colony builder with some base defence elements on top as well.

Automation
Web The Codex of Alchemical Engineering
The Codex of Alchemical Engineering
“The Codex of Alchemical Engineering is a puzzle game about programming ‘manipulators’ to move, transmute, and bind alchemical ‘atoms’ into complex compounds.”

The game that inspired SpaceChem. You can place down various little machines and robot arms and then give each arm a set of actions which it should perform. Use the arms to move, combine and modify various elements. Starts pretty simple. Gets pretty complicated and if you finish it, there is the Magnum Opus challenge which gives you a whole new set of levels.

Logistics, Programming
Home computers The Great Permutator
The Great Permutator
“Great Permutator is a puzzle. Hard and tricky. One in which you will have to build a complex system of conveyors and various devices so that the colored boxes can travel across the factory and arrive at right places and in right order”

This is a very traditional conveyor-belt style logistics game. Move boxes from their starting locations to various different machines and then out. The only downside is that the presentation is pretty simple, but if that doesn’t bother you then this should keep you busy for a little while.

Logistics
Mobile The Sequence[2]
The Sequence[2]
Think out of the box!

The follow up to [the Sequence]. This is more of the same, but instead of being set on a squared grid you are on a hex grid which adds to the complication. As with the first game things start simple and as more types of component are added, the challenge increases.

Logistics
MobileHome computers TIS-100
TIS-100
“TIS-100 is an open-ended programming game 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 blurb for this game pretty much says it all. If you like pretty low-level programming puzzles then you are in luck. The interesting part of this game is the way you have multiple modules all running in parallel which can make for some really interesting solutions. Again, you have optimisations for number of modules and speed etc.

Optimisation, Programming
Home computers uFactory
uFactory (In Development)
uFactory is the ultimate in finely-tuned logistics challenges. Navigate the complexities of manufacturing processes inspired by real industrial methods.

This appears to be a pretty traditional factory-style game with a clean isometric visual style and a strong focus on mechanics over story.

Logistics
Mobile Untitled Factory Game
Untitled Factory Game
Untitled Factory Game is a mobile game, currently based on “Assembly Line”, however with plans to develop in quite a different direction once the basic controls and mechanics are fully working.

A factory building game which looks to have a lot of promise. Still in development but it’s solid so far and has a really nice clean art style.

Logistics
Web Untrusted
Untrusted

This is a curious little game which initally appears to be an ASCII rogue-like, but you quickly gain access to code blocks which build the levels and then it becomes an exercise in modifying the code to pass each level. Again, much like Elevator Saga, you have a vary paired down interface and they don’t hold your hand when it comes to already knowing how to program, but for people who already can, this looks like a fun way to use that skill.

Programming
MobileHome computers while True: learn()
while True: learn()
“while True: learn() is a simulator of a machine learning specialist who uses visual programming to make his and his cat’s living. Make money as a machine learning developer.”

This is a visual programming game but also feels a bit like a logistics game because you are moving data around from location to location, filtering and sorting them as you go. Your solutions will earn you money which you can use to buy hats for your cat! Optimise your solutions to make more money.

Logistics, Optimisation, Programming

I applied the tags based of the following vague definitions with the knowledge that these categories often cross over:
Programming: The game uses either written code or a visual language to enable to you define behaviors.
Automation: The game encourages you to build up systems which then can work autonomously and then become building blocks for further progress.
Optimization: The game gives you multiple objectives which require you to engineer solutions differently such as for speed or efficiency.
Logistics: The game focuses on movement of elements around the game area and acting on those elements (joining, separating, modifying) those elements in synchronization to achieve a goal.

The recommendations are based solely on what I enjoyed the most. It doesn’t mean the others aren’t good, I may just not have played them yet. A lot of these I haven’t played. The ordering is pretty arbitrary I’m afraid and isn’t necessarily any indication of how good a game it. I may have an unhealthy attachment to Zachtronics games though! 🙂

Full disclosure: I backed both Autonauts and LogicBots on KickStarter.

Lastly, this list is primarily intended for puzzle games and whilst a lot of other games have the ability to build logic or use wiring to solve problems, they won’t be included on the list just because they are primarily platform or survival games, so no Little Big Planet, Minecraft or Terraria I’m afraid.

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