Tech by VICE

Create a Game Within a Game Using 'Shenzhen I/O'

Behold the power of Zachtronics’ latest coding puzzle game.

by Daniel Oberhaus
Oct 20 2016, 10:00am

Image: Zachtronics

Earlier this month, the indie game developer Zachtronics released Shenzhen I/O, a puzzle solving game that requires players to use an original programming language to build devices for a Chinese company called Longteng Electronics Co. Ltd.

In many ways, Shenzhen I/O is a descendent of an earlier Zachtronics title, 'TIS-100.' Both games are based around solving engineering/coding puzzles, but Shenzhen I/O feels much more like an actual game thanks to an accompanying narrative arc that revolves around the construction of actual devices, rather than just solving abstract coding challenges.

But the real power of the new Zachtronics release can only be appreciated outside of the prescribed succession of puzzles which constitutes the main game. When you take Shenzhen I/O to the sandbox, amazing things can happen: someone built a bomb to defuse and another player built a machine to generate Collatz sequences, which begins with an arbitrary number and following an algorithm postulated in the Collatz conjecture always reduces this number to 1.

Yet by far the most impressive use of Shenzhen I/O belongs to ShadowTheAge, who created a playable 3D maze, essentially creating a game within a game.

According to ShadowTheAge, who had an early access version of Shenzhen I/O, figuring out how to leverage the game to create the 3D maze you see in the video took him about 40 hours. To make this happen, ShadowTheAge first had to create an extensive and confusing circuitry network.

"The wiring is crazy," he comments in the video. "The connectivity is off the charts."

This is what the 3D maze navigated by ShadowTheAge in the video looks like mapped out. Image: Shadowtheage/Imgur

The circuitry connects 7 microcontrollers to 11 other components which combine to randomly generate a playable, 3D maze. The player can navigate the maze using a virtual controller that allows them to move forward, backward, left, and right. When the player has found the ladder to escape the maze, they can change the seed number to quickly generate an entirely new maze.

If you want to give ShadowTheAge's creation a shot, he's uploaded a save game here.

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