ZACH BARTH
IS IN CYBERSPACE

Educational Tools

ZachLabs Arduino (2021)

This is a constantly evolving Arduino tutorial, along with a list of parts for a corresponding kit, that I created while volunteering with the AP Computer Science Principles course at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, WA. It's sort of structured like a Zachtronics game, with a scaffolded sequence of 16 micro-projects.

Minimalist Game Framework (2020)

This is a minimalist game development framework, written in C#, that I created for a different course at Tesla STEM. It's a lot like the game engine we use at Zachtronics, in that it's very simple and presents a plain immediate-style API for managing input, graphics, and audio.

NetClicker (2020)

Although this is not the first website that allows a teacher to see live responses to multiple-choice questions, it might be the simplest. Create a room, ask a question, and automatically see the responses. It's completely anonymous and free, with no need to sign up for anything.

Game Development

Zachtronics (2011 - Present)

Most of the games I've worked on have been at Zachtronics, the studio I founded and have run as my day job since 2011. We've shipped 11 commercial titles so far, most about programming and automation, a few about war, one about feelings, and many with solitaire minigames.

ZACH-LIKE: A Game Design History (2019)

All of my older games are available in the Steam version of ZACH-LIKE, which also includes my 400 page game design book that covers everything I designed up until about 2018. You can buy a print-on-demand copy of it here.

The Zachtronics Podcast (2015 - 2020)

Over 6 years I managed to record 10 episodes of a podcast where I interviewed indie game developers, and then later interviewed people other than indie game developers. We also tried playing classic AD&D once.

Educational Games (2012 - 2014)

I also designed a few educational games (MetaboSIM, HabiTactics, and FAKTR) while working at Zachtronics for a company called Amplify. The link above goes to an interview where I talk about the experience.

The Lab (2016)

I briefly worked at Valve, the real-life communist space utopia that sometimes makes video games. Most of my time there was spent working on Xortex 26XX, the world's first VR bullet-hell shooter (as far as I know), which is available as a minigame in The Lab.

Projects and Articles

One Weird Trick For Generating Clickbait (2021)

I got access to GPT-3 thinking that I'd use it to generate game content, but the only entertaining thing I've managed to do so far is generate a bunch of chumbox-style clickbait headlines. Here are my 200 favorites combined with random photos from Google Image Search.

HACK*MATCH for the NES (2021)

After the success of porting SHENZHEN SOLITAIRE to MS-DOS, Keith and I ported HACK*MATCH, the action-puzzle minigame from EXAPUNKS, to the NES. It took us almost two years, mostly because Keith wrote a C compiler for the 6502 for us to use. This article covers some of the implementation details. You can buy the game here.

Windows Media Player Skins (2020)

In connection with an episode of the Zachtronics Podcast about early 2000s media player skins, I captured videos of a bunch of Windows Media Player skins in a Windows XP virtual machine. You can see them all in this somewhat horrifying gallery.

SHENZHEN SOLITAIRE for MS-DOS (2017)

Curious about game development technologies that we were slightly too young for, Keith and I ported the solitaire minigame from SHENZHEN I/O to MS-DOS. The link above goes to our write-up. At one point you could buy this on a floppy, but for now you'll have to settle for the disk image and artwork and make your own.

Creating the Alien Writing in Infinifactory (2015)

A short write-up I made ago about creating the alien language for Infinifactory. It didn't mean anything, but that didn't stop our players from trying to figure out what it meant.

The Programmable Typewriter (2015)

When we switched offices years ago I found an old electronic typewriter, which I ended up hacking an Arduino into so that you could type and run BASIC programs on it. This article isn't particularly rigorous, but does walk through my thought process while reverse engineering it.

Project Gibson (2014)

Although it's not widely known, the primary inspiration behind TIS-100 was a mostly unsuccessful attempt to build a self-hosting Z80 computer using period-appropriate components called Project Gibson. Although Keith and I never finished it, the first half is documented here, with some photos and videos of the computer in action.

Reverse Engineering Star Wars: Yoda Stories (2014)

This is probably the most popular article I've ever written, and is about my experiences attempting to reverse engineer some assets out of an old Star Wars video game. I still get emails about it, although it's mostly people who want the sprites, which you can conveniently download here.

Printable Puzzles

Advanced Dungeons & Diagrams (2019)

A much better logic puzzle that I made to go with the AD&D episode of the Zachtronics Podcast. As you solve each puzzle you create a map of a dungeon, complete with corridors, monsters, and treasure rooms!

FOLDCROSS (2013)

Another questionable logic puzzle, this time about Japanese plastic model kits (like Gunpla), which I'm obsessed with despite not having the patience for. I wanted to make a video game about them for years but never succeeded.

CODON (2013)

One of my first attempts at designing a paper logic puzzle. It's themed around the idea of how DNA encodes the instructions for building proteins, something I've always found intriguing. It's not very good, unfortunately...

SpaceChem Puzzle Book (2013)

An adaptation of SpaceChem into a paper logic puzzle. I made an early version of this when we did a small run of SpaceChem discs in 2011, and then later turned it into this booklet for a giveaway at PAX in 2013. When you flip the book over it becomes the "Ironclad Tactics Battle Book", a small two-player print-and-play version of Ironclad Tactics.