Human Resource Machine
Human Resource Machine is quite possibly the best Programming Logic Course I have ever taken. This gem of a game from Tomorrow Corporation has a distinct gameplay mechanic, that it does very well. At its core Human Resource Machine is a puzzle game. However in its heart it is an ode to the struggles of aspiring computer programmers everywhere. Readers I am very happy to present to you, Human Resource Machine.
Beautiful Art Style
The developing studio, Tomorrow Corporation, is the studio that brought us Little Inferno. Additionally, a few of the designers and programmers worked on another title called World of Goo. Those two games share a very similar aesthetic with Human Resource Machine, which I thoroughly love. There is something about those slight macabre visuals and haunting scenery that draws me in. Even more importantly, these visuals set the tone and feel for the world of Human Resource Machine, which comes across as bleak. This is perfect as you perform mindless tasks for a faceless conglomerate that looks to suck your very life away.
You Are a Nameless Grunt
You are Employee Number 1 and your job in this game is to perform one task per level. How you complete that task, is up to you. Naturally the tasks start out simple, but they quickly evolve into complex procedures. In the beginning, you start off in the mail room with one simple job: move everything from the inbox to the outbox.
The way you solve these tasks is by dragging commands into what is essentially a coding environment, and having your employee grunt act them out. If you solve the task, you beat the level and are given a promotion to the next floor! If this concept sounds simple to you, you are not wrong. However, these tasks ramp up in difficulty and the novice coder will find themselves appropriately challenged. But that’s just part of the fun of Human Resource Machine and coding in general. If you find that you have made some mistakes, the game features a “debugging” tool. This tool allows you to execute your code line by line until you can see where the mistake is and correct it.
Eventually the game will introduce several new commands for you to add to your toolbox, including add, sub, copy and our good friend jump. All of these are useful to know if you are interested in programming, particularly in assembly language. It takes a special game to make assembly language fun!
Climb the Corporate Ladder
There are over 35 levels in Human Resource Machine, including special bonus levels. As you complete a level, you move up the floors of the building and advance time one year. Short cut-scenes appear every few levels, which reveal details of the story and game world. I have not completed it yet, but am eager to finish. Suffice to say, the things I have seen are depressing and make me want to know more.
Optimize Your Solution
As most programmers know, solving a problem can be pretty easy. It’s optimizing your solution, that can prove to be the challenge. Such is the case with Human Resource Machine. Just solving a level is the bare minimum, to truly master the game you will need to optimize your solution. For those who seek the maximum challenge that this game has to offer, as well as the most fun, I would implore you to try the challenges.
The game offers two methods of optimization in the form of challenges, the size challenge and the speed challenge. The size challenge forces you to complete the level by using less than a certain number of commands. The speed challenge forces you to complete the level using fewer than a certain number of steps. Be warned though, sometimes it is not possible to complete both at the same time.
Each level offers these two optimization challenges, and provide a way for you to get the most out of the game.
I love Human Resource Machine. Personally I am a novice/intermediate programmer, who loves to improve as much as I can. This game definitely allows me to do that. If you are a programmer or curious about programming, this game is worth your attention. It teaches you hard logic principles that will be used throughout your programming career. If you are interested in programming but you feel intimidated, this game will provide you with a solid foundation of the thought processes behind coding. Finally, Human Resource Machine teaches you that it is alright to make mistakes and not find the optimal solution. One of the joys of programming is going back and improving your code with the skills you have learned. If you are not interested in programming, but love tough puzzle games, I am certain that you will enjoy this one as well.
I sincerely hope you give Human Resource a shot and enjoy it as much as I do. If you have purchased it, l would love to hear what you think about it in the comments below!