[ChemistryOn!] SpaceChem! Demo on Steam, good for four hours.

Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
edited July 2011 in Games and Technology
spacechem.png

What is SpaceChem?

SpaceChem is a chemistry simulator... in space! It's actually much more exciting than it sounds. SpaceChem is a puzzle game where you build reactors that turn particular input molecules into particular output molecules. It's kind of difficult to explain, but it makes more sense when you just dive in. This video from the game's website does a much better job of introducing it than I ever could, so just watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVDYxYpneag&feature=player_embedded

SpaceChem is one of the few puzzle games I've played where you truly are allowed to design your own solution rather than being forced to figure out the solution the developers intended. As an example, take a look at these screenshots.
2chl10p.jpg

B8A5EE64320D64C80C149D549A3681FDF803F196

Those are examples of a completed reactor. They both solve essentially the same problem in vastly different ways. I'm sure there are a hundred other solutions for that particular level (and those screenshots only show a single reactor, whereas up to three may be used in that particular puzzle).

SpaceChem features integrated YouTube uploading for sharing your solutions, but honestly, it's not that effective. It speeds through the solutions too quickly, and in multi-reactor levels, everything is too small to make out what's going on anyway. Regardless, it's still kind of cool.

The demo is up on Steam, and multiple people (including myself) have gotten four hours or more out of it -- plenty of time to see whether you like the game (you will). The in-game tutorial system leaves a lot to be desired, but most of it can be figured out through trial and error, and I'm sure people here can answer any questions you might have if you get stuck. According to the developer's website, keys purchased from it can be registered on Steam, so feel free to give them all your money.

Player-Created Content

Holy Shit! Stop the Reactors!
Introducing ResearchNet, the official intergalactic-intranet used by SpaceChem for sharing reaction engineering research!

Arriving in the form of a free, not-yet-dated update for SpaceChem, ResearchNet will allow you to create your own research assignments, share them with friends, and submit them to the Journal of Reaction Engineering, an in-game “publication” featuring the best assignments made by both SpaceChem engineers (you guys) and Zachtronics Industries designers (me).

Reviews

These are all pretty much spot on.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun review - "A friend of mine once pointed out to me that good puzzle games make you feel smart, and the best puzzle games provide a sort of double-blow whereby first of all you feel smart, and then you’re filled with a feeling of respect for how smart the puzzle itself was. By this criteria, SpaceChem could be the best puzzle game I’ve ever played. You never stop feeling awed by the game’s design, and when you complete a level you feel like some kind of floating, untouchable genius, not fit to eat the food of mortals."

PC Gamer review 89/100 - "As much mental workout as excellent puzzle game, SpaceChem challenges and entertains, plus it has an engaging story."

Eurogamer review 90/100 - "SpaceChem and Super Meat Boy. One is a game of atomic engineering, the other is about a skinless kid and his hot girlfriend. There's not too much common ground there, except on this essential level: they both nail the "Look what I made!" factor. Overcome a challenge in either of these games, and you get the urge to call someone into the room, point at the screen and proclaim, "Look what I made!"

Tips, Tricks, and Other Useful Information

Spoilered in case you really just want to figure out every little thing on your own. Post any other tips, and I'll add them to this list.
  1. The shape of your output molecules is irrelevant. If you have the correct elements and the correct bonds, you're good.
  2. You can fire bonders remotely, meaning you can drop an element onto a bonder and then hit the bonding command later during the path to fire the bonder.
  3. Paths can be made to U-turn in a single square by using an arrow to turn the path back on itself.
  4. Attempting to bond when the atom you're bonding cannot support any more bonds has no negative consequences (i.e., hydrogen can only be bonded once, no matter what -- learn your periodic tables!).
  5. If the inputs are coming from another reactor you made they will show up where you dropped them. So if you have the red and the blue waldos dropping the same element but on different squares they will show up in different squares on the next reactor.
  6. If you cause a waldo to stop on top of a command (by running it into the edge of the screen, for instance), the command will continually execute.
  7. Sensors can be used to make waldos pause for a time by directing them against the edge of screen as seen in this screenshot:
    ZEdXf.png
  8. Output symbols block a waldo's progress if the output pipe is full and there's something in the output zone. Therefore, you can use an output to pause a waldo's progress until the output pipe is clear -- useful for syncing your various reactors.

Vi Monks on
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Posts

  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    A heads up on some purchase options here.

    You can buy the game directly from Zachtronics and register your key through Steam, if you don't mind PayPal. This is a great way to support Zachtronics. If you don't mind PayPal. I'm sad, because I hate PayPal.

    So I'm going to get this directly though Steam. I just thought I'd throw that out there if anyone wanted to show a little extra support and doesn't have a problem with PayPal.

    Drake on
  • IoloIolo iolo Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    What is SpaceChem? A brilliant puzzler that is making Iolo feel kind of dopey before even leaving the tutorials.

    :)

    Iolo on
    Lt. Iolo's First Day
    Steam profile.
    Getting started with BATTLETECH: Part 1 / Part 2
  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Iolo wrote: »
    What is SpaceChem? A brilliant puzzler that is making Iolo feel kind of dopey before even leaving the tutorials.

    :)

    Yeah, but then once you figure out a tricky puzzle, you feel like a goddamn genius. Can't beat it.

    Vi Monks on
  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The puzzles are pretty tough IO concurrency challenges if you want to solve them quickly or with just a few reactors. Reminds me of my CS classes. It's foremost the space constraints that make them tough for me, when programming you rarely have constraints on the size of your code unless you're designing hardware circuitry.
    I did get some sweet scores that I will post shortly.

    peterdevore on
  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yes my overly complicated reactor got to the op! :)

    I´m now to the point where two different elements can enter the same reactor and so you have to plan for both. This was the last puzzle I solved.
    205s28.jpg

    I stopped playing since the next level is called "No Ordinary Headache", this is what I was getting after playing the game 3 hours straight so I´ll leave this for tommorow...

    Death_Claw on
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  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Here's two nice ones:
    E8C6293A87B0D3BA7386C33CD8912BE583ABC2A9
    9145EA9298205276E32F88C08A469F5F277C4DA1


    C6C254C4C9CD6A9047508D287EC3C4C9FD6AF4B0
    B0A11C09323F54B9A1D2936E04F06C0915C0BABA

    I could have just made the first reactor go slower instead of putting that huge buffer pipeline in between them. If you can't be bothered to slow down a previous reaction they're a quick fix though.
    This is the last reactor in the previous shot:
    0BC2FDBEADC3109CF274507480502792E553DCA0
    You should see this one in motion, it's like a dance.

    peterdevore on
  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    OP updated with reviews. Thanks, Death Claw.

    Peterdevore, those are some nice reactors. :^:

    Vi Monks on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Why aren't any of you using the Youtube upload feature? It's pretty easy to use and all you need is some kind of google account, which I imagine most of us have through one service or another.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C59znE8IvKU

    It's a pretty cool system and way better than screenshots.

    edit: I suddenly have forgotten the trick to embedding youtube vids, apparently?

    edit the 2nd: Ok, I see now. Thanks for the heads up, Claw.

    Drake on
  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Oh I expected it would only show the overview if there were more than 1 reactors? I'm going to try it out now.

    peterdevore on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, that's the case with mulit reactor solutions I think. I see why you did that now.

    Drake on
  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yes you can still kinda see it though:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkv9De8-atE

    The youtube forum embedder does not like the hd=1& inside a youtube link like there is in the one SpaceChem spits at you.

    peterdevore on
  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yes you can still kinda see it though:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkv9De8-atE

    The youtube forum embedder does not like the hd=1& inside a youtube link like there is in the one SpaceChem spits at you.

    Man I feel really dumb right now, everyone is better at this game than me... :?

    Also anyone knows if there is a video for this level done with only one reactor? When I saw that someone had done it I tried to think of a way to do it but came up with nothing.

    Death_Claw on
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  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well don't let yourself down, I've gone to university for this kind of stuff.

    With regards to the 1 reactor solution to that level, it's really hard to fit in all the logic to do the operations, as you can see in this youtube solution:

    peterdevore on
  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well don't let yourself down, I've gone to university for this kind of stuff.

    With regards to the 1 reactor solution to that level, it's really hard to fit in all the logic to do the operations, as you can see in this youtube solution:

    Well I had logics and programming classes in university, but only basic stuff on the first semesters. Well here is hoping for a game were you improve an industry layout in order to increase production and productivity. Yeah, I would totally kick everyone´s ass in that game... :P

    As for the 1 reactor solution it is cluttered but at the same time elegant, awesome! I also really need to remember for some levels that if you bend molecules but don´t change the elements in them it is still the same molecule.

    Death_Claw on
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  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Death_Claw wrote: »
    Well don't let yourself down, I've gone to university for this kind of stuff.

    With regards to the 1 reactor solution to that level, it's really hard to fit in all the logic to do the operations, as you can see in this youtube solution:

    Well I had logics and programming classes in university, but only basic stuff on the first semesters. Well here is hoping for a game were you improve an industry layout in order to increase production and productivity. Yeah, I would totally kick everyone´s ass in that game... :P

    As for the 1 reactor solution it is cluttered but at the same time elegant, awesome! I also really need to remember for some levels that if you bend molecules but don´t change the elements in them it is still the same molecule.

    Wow, I just realized that you don't have to match the output's shape, only the number of atoms and types of bonds. That would have been handy to know earlier.

    Vi Monks on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, it's one of the places where the game fudges reality in favor of gameplay.

    Aaaand I just bought this. Expensive Steam week for me. Oh well. I guess that's what income tax returns are for. :P

    Drake on
  • ZedarZedar Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Ugh, I just realised why my reactors look so much more complicated than everyone else's. I was thinking that you had to have the Bond element on top of the Bonder, which made all of my diagrams hideously complex and the levels really really hard. Observe my monstrosity:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8o3PASSyXI&feature=channel_video_title

    At least it looks really impressive when it's running :)

    Zedar on
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  • TeeManTeeMan BrainSpoon Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    This game and that RPS write-up have cranked up my hype-meter, can't wait to put this on the netbook and give the demo a spin!

    TeeMan on
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  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Zedar wrote: »
    Ugh, I just realised why my reactors look so much more complicated than everyone else's. I was thinking that you had to have the Bond element on top of the Bonder, which made all of my diagrams hideously complex and the levels really really hard. Observe my monstrosity:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8o3PASSyXI&feature=channel_video_title

    At least it looks really impressive when it's running :)

    Heh, I also tought that about the bonders, just look at the mess I made (that worked tough!) that is in the op...

    Death_Claw on
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  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Added a tips and tricks section to the OP. Post any others you guys think are useful and I'll add them to the list.

    Vi Monks on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    It's impressive in it's own way though. I love the variety of solutions available.

    Here's mine for that same level.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5Lwu8vCcyU

    Also, I've burned dinner two different nights because of this game. :shock:

    Drake on
  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Throwing in my solution for that level too. Lots of spinning. I love spinning.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6M_6bZsjLY

    Vi Monks on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    See, I think all of these are just awesome solutions. I dig them all, and they serve to demonstrate just how amazing this game is. I love a No True Path To Victory design philosophy and also that there are no random elements. It's all about how you use the tools at your disposal, how you envision a solution and then achieve it. That's incredibly satisfying.

    Drake on
  • amnesiasoftamnesiasoft Thick Creamy Furry Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Vi Monks wrote: »
    Throwing in my solution for that level too. Lots of spinning. I love spinning.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6M_6bZsjLY
    Oh, wow. I really like that solution.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBZKSJD8qvA&hd=1
    Was mine.

    amnesiasoft on
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  • WoggleWoggle Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Behold the madness, and despair.
    O7H3e.png

    Youtube to prove it actually functions. :P Fullscreen 720 and you can make it out relatively well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aacGJgNlPds

    Woggle on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    This may be the first puzzle game to scare the shit out of me.

    jothki on
  • AyulinAyulin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    So, could anyone help me figure out why this keeps crashing my computer? Playing the Steam demo here, and it keeps on completely locking up during Production levels.

    Symptoms: everything (the game, Windows, keyboard + mouse, etc.) stops working. The screen image just freezes and nothing works (toggling Num/Caps Lock doesn't do anything, for instance.) The sound continues for a second or two, then the same millisecond or two loops repeatedly. Only way to fix it is to reboot the computer using the physical power button on the front.

    Causes/when it happens: First happened when I first got to the very first production stage. Rebooted, and was able to place a generator and partly drag a pipe out to connect before it crashed again. Next reboot revealed that it did save my progress, but it crashed when I tried to edit the generator. Newest crash: trying to fill out an output note.

    All the stages before the production levels (i.e. where you just have to solve the base puzzle) worked without a hitch.

    Event viewer doesn't show anything, other than "the previous shutdown was unexpected". So yeah :?

    Ayulin on
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  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Have you verified the files? Could be some corruption going on. If that doesn't work, I'd grab the .net Framework package and try the repair option.

    Drake on
  • AyulinAyulin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Drake wrote: »
    Have you verified the files? Could be some corruption going on. If that doesn't work, I'd grab the .net Framework package and try the repair option.

    Had already uninstalled and reinstalled it, but tried verifying again just in case: nothing out of the ordinary. Tried repairing .Net 4.0 which worked, but launching the .Net 3.5 SP1 installer didn't seem to cause anything to happen.

    The game just crashed again when I dragged one of the pipes back to it's starting storage silo. Hmph :(

    Ayulin on
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  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I guess you could always fire an email off to Zach. I've found that most indie devs are eager to offer support for their games.

    Drake on
  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011

    We think alike, but since at the time I didn´t know you could put the bond+ outside the bonders I came up with this overly complicated solution. But I still like it, specially the dance they do to bond everything when all the elements are in place... :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW2xH-IvfV8

    Death_Claw on
    steam_sig.png
  • ConnoQuicksilverConnoQuicksilver Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    This is definitely the kind of game you should play for only one stage at a time. Also definitely not the kind of game to play just before bedtime... and not just because it can keep you stuck at you desk until 3 am, but because a fresh mind works wonders for finding a good solution.

    I've quit a stage frustrated and with my head buzzing, and the next day I look at it again and go "Crap! There it is, why didn't I see that before?!" and solve it in 10 minutes.

    Almost finished the demo, definitely buying this, but should I wait for a Steam sale? Hmmmm...

    ConnoQuicksilver on
  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Anyone found a way to clear a reactor or a single color from a reactor? Sometimes I get so messed up, I just need to start over.

    Vi Monks on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    You can shift-click to select multiple symbols or drag-select a group of them, then hit the delete key and the selected symbols go away.

    Drake on
  • DrakeDrake Edgelord Trash Below the ecliptic plane.Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    This is definitely the kind of game you should play for only one stage at a time. Also definitely not the kind of game to play just before bedtime... and not just because it can keep you stuck at you desk until 3 am, but because a fresh mind works wonders for finding a good solution.

    I've quit a stage frustrated and with my head buzzing, and the next day I look at it again and go "Crap! There it is, why didn't I see that before?!" and solve it in 10 minutes.

    Almost finished the demo, definitely buying this, but should I wait for a Steam sale? Hmmmm...

    Yeah. Look at this cluster of crazy I came up with at four in the morning. It's not pretty, but it's mine, so I love it anyway. :P

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmaohiXo5ac

    I spent way to long coming up with that, but it's not like I was going to sleep anyway, and I needed something to keep my mind occupied. This game does that so well.

    edit: Wow, sorry for the double post. I'm still not very with it at the moment.

    Drake on
  • peterdevorepeterdevore Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    You can also lock or toggle the visibility of the red and blue layers with the buttons under the instruction color switching button. That also makes it easier to just work on 1 color when they start to overlap.

    peterdevore on
  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, that should do the trick. Thanks.

    Vi Monks on
  • LednehLedneh shinesquawk Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I think the thing I like most about this is how utterly unique the solutions can be. I came up with this one because, like so many here, I forgot you can move the bonders. I DID remember that rotation of individual atoms in a molecule doesn't matter so long as the bonds are right:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe6obh7GcmM

    Ledneh on
    Kadith wrote: »
    how do i get off [the bus], do i just start screaming
    well that'll get me off at least.
  • Death_ClawDeath_Claw Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    So this is my latest creation...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krneH_JkILI

    On the top left you get N2 25% of the time and O2 75%, on the bottom left you get H2O 67% of the time and NaCl the other 33%. With this you need to make both HNO3 and NaNO3. I had to restart this level from scratch 3 times, one of them I was doing the last reactor when I realized it wouldn´t be possible to do it the way I was thinking. The second reactor is the bottleneck, I tried to improve it´s design to improve it´s speed but haven´t been able so far. Still the sense of accomplishment when finally finishing a puzzle like this is something amazing... <3

    Death_Claw on
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  • VThornheartVThornheart Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    This one was my "Every Day is the First Day" solution... I seem to have a tendency to assign one start point as the "worker thread" and one as the "molecule spawner thread", which works well in this particular puzzle but has been killing me in the later ones. I think it was a bad habit on my part... but anyways, here's mine:

    Red = spawner, Blue = worker

    VThornheart on
    3DS Friend Code: 1950-8938-9095
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