So I donated to the Humble Bundle charity drive and got a couple of indie games with it. Most didn't strike my fancy but there was this unusual one that really struck a nerve and got me addicted as junkie.
Anyway the game is just a chemical reaction simulator, take a couple of feeds and produce the required product. The catch is that you have to do do it several times in a row in a repeatable fashion and usually you have to make one or more chemical bonds along the way. If you remember anything of high school chemistry then it will be at least vaguely familiar not that you need any of that background to play.
The music is really well done and loops really well. The interface is simple but the mechanics start getting tough to manage one you need to start combining molecules via multiple reactors and have to synchronize how things are produced across several reactors.
The other feature that I liked was the feedback they provide showing how well you did compared to all of the other junkies out there. Trying to optimize the cycle count or symbol usage to compete with the other engineers. Still wondering how people were able to cut cycle count by 50% or more on some of the maps I had trouble with. I usually don't care for in-game statistics but that is because they don't aggregate the data and give you feedback as to how you are doing compared to other users in most cases which isn't the case here.
This is the kind of mini-game I'd like to see in a Mass Effect game though I suppose that might just be me. The mining game in ME2 wasn't just challenging or fun.
I suppose its probably because my degree is in ChemE but this is definitely one of the better 'educational' games out there. Not realistic in the slightest as a simulator but then again its a game. (If only Aspen Plus or ChemCad were as easy to use.)
It feels more like a game about programming than chemistry, if you look at the game mechanics. In a way it reminds me a lot more of when I was learning how to program BASIC than Chemistry (and I'm currently studying to become a chemical engineer).
The game is really fun though, and quite challenging. So much so that it is distracting me from my upcoming exam. So today I won't start it.
If I am right, I think SpaceChem is the brainchild of the guy who created Infiniminer … which, of course, became the wonderful behemoth that is now Minecraft. I played the demo awhile back, and also got the humble indie bundle so I could get the full game but have not installed it yet. I saw though how addictive it could be just from the demo. Luckily I've got a tonne of stuff to get through already so thats a bit further down the list so for now SpaceChem will have to wait.
[like an idiot, I've just started a new character in Dungeons of Dredmor, and I'm trying to get my tiny little brain around the joys of Frozen Synapse so I think it may be a while before I get mind grubby hands finally on SpaceChem, and its chemical charms …]
You are correct; it is a lot like programming which is more like my day job than the other chemistry. A little function block programming like LabView or SimuLink I suppose.
That doesn't make it any less addictive for me unfortunately. I dreamt about it last night which hasn't happened for just about anything for the longest time. Guess my brain just wants to solve these puzzles…