Optimizing algorithms has never been so fun

I’m here to talk about a programming game called Human Resource Machine. It was recommended on Coding Horror, so when I found it in the latest Humble Bundle, I grabbed it immediately.


There’s no minimum price to get it, so even if you’re kinda broke you can still grab it.

And dude. It is _so fun._ It’s difficult enough to be kinda confusing and difficult but still doable–the game uses really, really simple commands and the closest thing to recursion/looping are conditional GOTOs. You only get a couple options for the conditions, too. It seems like the best algorithms are either beautiful or mind-bendingly crazy. Readability? Who cares about that stuff? Just stick some masking tape on it. If you’re used to sane code that’s written for humans to read and only incidentally for compilers to execute, prepare to rearrange your priorities in the most fun mad-scientist way possible, pushing the system and making it your plaything.

I’m on level 18 or something after about two hours (according to Steam), and so far I’ve gotten at least one of the optimization challenges on each level that has them. You often can’t get both the speed and size challenges done at once, so they need different approaches, and it’s really difficult to figure out how to change tactics when one solution comes naturally. I seem to get into a mental groove of optimizing for one or the other at a time.

It also has a sense of humor. Instructions from management can get pretty silly. Um, but not sillier than real life–does that still count?

Anyway. Grab the game, support charity, maybe get a game about metro stations along with it (I did, haven’t tried it yet though).

I claim no responsibility for your lost productivity. You have been warned.


2 thoughts on “Optimizing algorithms has never been so fun

  1. Thanks for posting, glad that the humble bundle deal is still on for another 7 or so hours. BTW for those trying to find the name of the game it is called: Human Resource Machine


  2. I never realized there were so many awesome programming games out there. The coding horror post was eye opening and certainly made me fork over some dollars for a few of the titles mebtioned there and in the comments.

    Programming games are especially dangerous to me. While I used to be an avid gamer who spent entirely too much time in the virtual world, I have become much more career oriented and goal focused in my late twenties. I tend to feel guilty playing games when I could/should be using that time to learn [insert programming language here], work on a projectfor my portfolio, or finally move my blog over to github. A programming game though comes with just enough skill development weight to remove all guilt from the guilty pleasure experience.

    You may have just ruined my life ;D

    Liked by 2 people

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