The Let's Play Archive

SpaceChem (2012 Tournament)

by GuavaMoment

Part 1: Intro and Tutorial Video 1

SpaceChem is a puzzle game very loosely based on basic chemistry. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ACTUAL CHEMISTRY OR COMPUTER PROGRAMMING LIKE EVERYONE THINKS IT DOES. What makes it great is that while everyone has the same goal in a mission, there are countless ways of actually solving it. Competition is encouraged with online leaderboards that take your solution instead of your results and calculates things itself. This means it's possibly the only online leaderboard ever where dozens of jerks haven't cheated their way to the top via hacking or exploits. There's even a third party website to upload more detailed solutions for everyone to see.

If you've never played SpaceChem before:

You've got three options.

Everything you need to know about SpaceChem is outlined in the embedded video below. It's brief, but gives a quick impression of the game.

Link to Video

Your next best bet is to try the demo on steam. It has a ton of content that might take you days to get through, not because it's difficult, but because there's so much of it. It introduces symbols and concepts as slowly as possible. The first level has you moving a molecule, and that's it. The next level has you do simple bonding. Then simple unbonding. Then moving two different molecules at once. Eventually you're turning water into both hydrogen peroxide and uranium that you feed into a particle accelerator to shoot at an alien (but only when it opens its eye) and it all feels like a natural evolution of the level you did previously.

Third, I made a more in-depth tutorial video that explains the basic commands of inputting a molecule, moving it around and outputting it. Then I move onto bonding, unbonding and production assignments.

Link to Video

If you want to see a more difficult level in action, I slowly deconstruct a previous solution of mine, and then attempt to make it better.

Introduction to SpaceChem - Quantum Decomposition

Link to Video
The solution I end up with in gif form

What I'd like to do is create two or three new custom assignments every week for everyone to play and submit solutions for. I'll give points for the top solutions, and we'll do around 16 or so total assignments of varying difficulty and goals. Points will be per assignment:

1st place: 5 points
2nd place: 4 points
3rd place: 3 points
4th through 16th place: 2 points
None of the above, but a working solution: 1 point

Once we're done the first part of the tournament I'll take the top 16 people from that free-for-all, and do a single elimination bracket - two people get one assignment, and the winner moves on, until we crown a SpaceChem champion.


Grand Champion: Any game on steam! Unless it's like a $1000 railworks pack, be reasonable here.

2nd Place (Red or Blue Champion): A cheaper game on steam(<$20), or a forum upgrade of your choice.

3rd place (α/β/ω/ψ Champion, mini-playoff winner): Forum upgrade of your choice

4th place (α/β/ω/ψ Champion, mini-playoff loser): Insulting custom title of my choice

I'd like to believe I'm one of the best SpaceChem players in the world. Like in the top 10. I'm one of six confirmed people to solve this level. One of four confirmed people who have solved every level in the game. There was a contest to design a thing with the game's sandbox mode that I won. And the videos the other winners made were awful in comparison to mine. So I feel very confident saying that I'm literally the best person in the entire world who can make a SpaceChem LP interesting. I hope. I don't say this to brag, or to smug it up, but to show that I really do love this game, and that I have the dedication and knowledge to make it interesting and see things to the end.

Once people give me solutions for the tournament, I'll show off their solutions in video and gif, maybe show how to make it better, and basically anything I think might be interesting about it. I'm choosing the custom assignments in such a way that there might be actual science in the chemistry behind it, and maybe there will also be a neat gameplay trick I can show off so that I'll have something interesting to talk about.

Did you play the game and get halfway through before giving up? Don't worry, you're in good company. I don't want people giving up, so for the free-for-all phase of the competition, challenges will be simple enough that you don't need days to solve them. I'm hoping this LP can be for everyone, so I'm trying to accommodate for people of varying skill levels.