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Freshly Frosted

Posted on June 14th, 2021

Place conveyor belts to solve puzzles in the world’s most adorable donut factory!

This is a logistics/puzzle game with the emphasis solidly on the puzzle elements. Play through well over 100 levels and complete the factories to generate the required donuts.

Assembly Planter

Posted on June 3rd, 2021

A farming / automation game, that allows you to progress from a poor hard-working farmer with just a few old tools to a lazy rich guy that watches his machines do the work for him while he tries to optimize production.

Classic machine and conveyer belt building blocks applied to a farming setting. This gets really interesting with the ability to minimise a section of your factory into a single block and continue building with that. It also has the compelling nature of a good idle game to boot.

Learning Factory

Posted on July 13th, 2020

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.

Selfless Heroes

Posted on July 8th, 2020

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”

Shapez.io

Posted on June 22nd, 2020

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.

KnotBot

Posted on May 12th, 2020

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.

Lumbermill

Posted on May 7th, 2020

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.

Good Company

Posted on May 6th, 2020

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.

Final Upgrade

Posted on April 14th, 2020

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.

Mechanica

Posted on April 6th, 2020

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.

uFactory

Posted on March 19th, 2020

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.

Industrial Petting

Posted on March 18th, 2020

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.

Survival Vacancy

Posted on December 18th, 2019

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.

Neon Noodles

Posted on December 8th, 2019

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…

MOLEK-SYNTEZ

Posted on November 6th, 2019

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.

Automation Empire

Posted on October 30th, 2019

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.

Robo Instructus

Posted on July 17th, 2019

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.

Exception

Posted on July 12th, 2019

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.

Automachef

Posted on May 29th, 2019

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.

Rogue Bit

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

EXAPUNKS

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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!

Gladiabots

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

Satisfactory

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

Octopticom

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

7 Billion Humans

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

Blueprint Tycoon

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

Factory Town

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

Marvellous Inc.

Posted on March 11th, 2019

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.

MindRover: The Europa Project

Posted on March 10th, 2019

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.

Colobot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Mindustry

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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?

God Is A Cube

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

[The Sequence]

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

MHRD

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Factory Engineer

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Glyphs Apprentice

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Robo Do It

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Algotica – Iteration 1

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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!!

Jump Step Step

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

The Great Permutator

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Algo Bot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Prelogate

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Silicon Zeroes

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

LogicBots

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Screeps

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Hack n Slash

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Prime Mover

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

while True: learn()

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Factorio

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

else Heart.Break()

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Production Line

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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!

Big Pharma

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Cyber Sentinel

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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!

Autonauts

Posted on March 10th, 2019

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!

Human Resource Machine

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Infinifactory

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Shenzen I/O

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

TIS-100

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Opus Magnum

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“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.

Spacechem

Posted on February 26th, 2019

“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.