Upcoming puzzle-crafting-programming game Craftomation 101 gives you a frozen planet, some politely agreeable robots, and a bunch of raw materials. From there it’s your job to tell them how to assemble enough heat, power, and industrial materials to bootstrap a terraforming process that’ll make this world a warmer place.
The most appealing bit is obviously the tiny robots, the CraftoMates each of whom can be scripted using a straightforward visual language to go and do what you want them to do. At first it’s easy stuff like make spark with rock to light fuel, place fuel in firepit, but from there you teach them to keep themselves fueled up, then to collect the ingredients you need for further expansion into ever-more-complex ingredients.
You can do a lot of it by hand, of course, but the enjoyment I got from programming the bots—even in just the demo—was enough that I made the bots do almost everything anyways. Craftomation 101 has the bones of yet another good one from Luden.io, an indie outfit that have made some of the first genuinely fun educational games I’ve played in decades.
You may have seen other games from Luden.io, who have for my attention and money basically cornered the market on the niche of games that balance fun with educational principles and learning the basics of new, interesting, and useful skills. Luden.io first got attention for their game about deciphering the language of cats in While True: Learn(), then made an automation and factory game about machine learning in Learning Factory. You know, back before machine learning got aggressively (and, in my opinion, nonsensically) rebranded as AI and people started to hate it.
You can find Craftomation 101 on Steam alongside its free demo, where it will launch into Early Access on February 19, 2024.