Zach Barth is perhaps the first developer to have a genre named after him, but we all know by now that a “Zach-like” is going to be a brilliant, head-scratching game about programming, manufacturing or – most likely – some combination thereof.
ZACH-LIKE is also the name of the forthcoming detailing the history of games produced by Barth’s company, Zachtronics.
Subtitled “A Game Design History,” the 400-page book will emphasize art over text and include design documents from all of the major Zachtronics releases, including nearly all of the design sheets for individual puzzles.
That’s not all, though. ZACH-LIKE will also feature Barth’s sketches and notes from unreleased and abandoned projects going as far back as his elementary school days.
Get with the Programming
As I mentioned during our inaugural podcast, I’ve got a mixed history with Zachtronics games. Games like TIS-100 are so similar to real programming that they can leave me feeling baffled and more than a little stupid, but pushing through and managing to figure out how a puzzle works brings an unparalleled – if uncommon – sense of satisfaction.
Scaling difficulty levels aside, his framing devices are evocative and immersive, from the Civil War steampunk of Ironclad Tactics to the science fiction manufacturing of SpaceChem and Infinifactory, and I’m excited to get a closer look at a mind that can jump so nimbly from assembly language to alchemy and back again.
Barth also has a fondness for hard copy, as evidenced by the punk ‘zine instruction manual, meant to be printed and stapled, for retro cyberpunk programming game EXAPUNKS – which also made our Top 10 Indie Games of 2018 list – so a book is an obvious next step.
Kickstart My Art
Barth is releasing ZACH-LIKE: A Game Design History through Kickstarter, and as of today has raised more than six times his initial $5,000 goal.
He states, however, that the book is not meant to be a money-maker. In fact, he plans to eventually release a PDF version for free.
If you’re after a hard copy, though, head to the ZACH-LIKE Kickstarter page and make your pledge. The campaign has a month left to go, and books are expected to ship in June of this year.