Silicon Foundry

Silicon Foundry is my latest game in the games for engineers series. You play as the new owner of an integrated circuit factory who must produce chips to meet orders from your customers, and use the profit to pay back the loan for the factory. It’s surprisingly complicated, so I’ve forgone written documentation and made a video tutorial instead. I suggest watching the video as you download the game.

Basic gameplay is divided into two components – an economic macrogame, in which you buy machines, lease and research components, and produce devices to sell to customers, and an engineering minigame in which you must place components on the IC dies, ensuring that the proper connections are brought to the pins and that internal requirements, such as CPU speed and memory, are met. Much like with real ICs, simpler chips result in higher yields – by minimizing the area used for each design, you can produce cheaper chips and turn a higher profit, allowing you to meet the economic macrogame’s victory conditions. While the game has a somewhat steep learning curve, the economic conditions are fairly forgiving, making the game very winnable. Just remember not to produce more chips than your customers will buy!

Update: There was a bug in Silicon Foundry involving localization settings that caused it to crash when formatting numbers. I’ve fixed it and uploaded a new installer. Use the link below to download the new, fixed version.

Download Silicon Foundry


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42 Comments to Silicon Foundry

  1. Morphit's Gravatar Morphit
    August 26, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Great game, got to $10m by 2004 :)
    I got here via the Hack-a-Day post on Ruckingenur II and played many of your games. This has tp be my second favorite, just above Manufactoid but not quite as exciting as Ruckingenur (Which I’ll be looking forward to new levels for).
    Great combination of management and puzzle games, some of the devices are quite challanging (MP3 players are a pain to design). I dont think I ever found a use for the A to D converters though, all off chip connections seem to be treated as outputs.
    Anyway, thank you for releasing these games!

  2. August 27, 2008 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    Morphit: in one of my designs, I used an A-D convertor to get another DIO port on a processor; I feel sorry for the programmer that has to write the software for that device..

  3. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    August 27, 2008 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    This link describes the problem in Python. It has to do with international language settings in the OS or keyboard: http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-bugs-list/2007-February/037082.html

  4. pat's Gravatar pat
    August 27, 2008 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    BTW, the crash occurs the moment I click on the “engage fabrication machine”

  5. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    August 27, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you guys managed to track this down pretty quickly. I’ll try to patch it and rebuild soon.

  6. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    August 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve fixed the problem and uploaded a new installer. Use the link above and enjoy!

  7. konrads's Gravatar konrads
    August 29, 2008 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    How to make Pocket Osciallators – the voltage sensors do not appear to have connecting pins, just Vcc?

  8. Kyllan's Gravatar Kyllan
    August 30, 2008 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It works now in new games, but saved games from older version still crash fixed program :(

  9. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    August 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Kyllan: That’s strange, because the fix I made shouldn’t have anything to do with that. If you email me your save file, I’ll attempt to fix it / the bug for you.

  10. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    September 3, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I googled around a bit to try to find a solution to the "No available video device" problem. Try opening up a command prompt (Start > Run > cmd), using the command "set SDL_VIDEODEVICE = windib" (without the quotes, of course), and then, while still in the command prompt, using the cd command to move into the Silicon Foundry folder. Run main.exe, and the game should launch with SDL forced to use the proper video driver. If that doesn’t work for you, try another computer?

  11. Kyllan's Gravatar Kyllan
    September 4, 2008 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    At first I failed, but after some more googling I tried set SDL_VIDEODRIVER = windib and it worked. Thanks a lot :)

  12. October 2, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m having an odd problem with the z/OS Java Co-processor, I know I’m doing something wrong but I can’t figure out what it is. It doesn’t appear to register the third MEM pin even though I have an EEPROM sitting on the pin and the EEPROM is green when I test the device. Any ideas what I might be doing wrong? I think it’s connected to the Microprocessor but I’m not sure.

  13. simsonflieger's Gravatar simsonflieger
    October 3, 2008 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    nice game, but needs an ending!

  14. J.K's Gravatar J.K
    October 5, 2008 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The SaveGame button don’t work any more :(
    The first saving worked. I chose a directory, the file was written. I could load it.
    Now when I press save nothing happens. too bad.
    Does sb know this bug?

  15. Meto's Gravatar Meto
    October 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    This seems really good and I’ve managed the USB and TTL designs but am totally stuck on the KVM design. Is it okay to use DACs to solve this one? I really can’t understand the testing results.

  16. Vanel's Gravatar Vanel
    November 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I can’t figure out for the life of me how to design these chips. Nothing seems to work for me and I can’t seem to be able to watch the tutorial video above. Any help getting started would be awesome. Thanks

  17. Derek's Gravatar Derek
    January 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    How about a load option in the Design Device screen? When I work on one device and need to wait for a component to research, I can’t easily get back to another saved device I have already built. Would have made things much easier to load my 32MB USB and modify it to be a 64MB, rather than start from scratch.

  18. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    January 4, 2009 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    The subtitles in the tutorial are a little hard to read. Having a lot of fun with this, even though I’m not very electronics-minded :)

  19. Axoren's Gravatar Axoren
    January 17, 2009 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Great game!

  20. Mitchell's Gravatar Mitchell
    March 9, 2009 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    No more orders have been coming in! i keeps skipping weeks and there are no orders! ive done this for about 3 minutes and there has been no orders! im at year 2035 now! help!

  21. InfernoSD's Gravatar InfernoSD
    April 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    So far, loving all your games.
    The biggest flaw I find in Silicon Foundry is that half of the requests require 80 MHz microprocessors whereas all of the microprocessors that provide that much must be licensed. Therefore, to keep costs down, I end up tacking 4 extra microprocessors along the edges to get the additional 64 MHz required. Seems silly.

  22. Ev3r_H4cK_M4rC0's Gravatar Ev3r_H4cK_M4rC0
    April 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    beautiful game, like all your games

  23. Jomil's Gravatar Jomil
    June 15, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I know the usual response is, if you have no idea dont bother with it. But this game has sparked an interest in me, The thing is tho, i have No background on this sort of thing, I do not understand the intricate meanings of each symbol on here, Is there a key that explains each one and what it will do? I tried googling but i have no idea what i am looking for. Any help would be appreciated

  24. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    June 16, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Jomil: Do you want to learn how to play the game, or how to do this in real life?

  25. Jomil's Gravatar Jomil
    June 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    For the game of course, I am assuming it has some Reality Base to it. Another thing that perplexes me Is why can you not Alternate the angle of the Pieces, Like. With The A and the D It all seems To start left and move right but why can it not be rotated so the pieces Work together better, Taking a Vertical Piece and Making it horizontal would be a Whole lot easier. Like rotating Blocks In tetris, Hope you get the meaning. Thanx for responding BTW

  26. wstorm's Gravatar wstorm
    August 21, 2009 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    waitin for on-line economic game with competition and events…
    Somebody knows similar game?
    But game mechanics should be totally reworked…

  27. TJLusco's Gravatar TJLusco
    August 27, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Wow what a fantastic game! :D Most fun I’ve had in a while. For those of you who are stuck, the first couple of designs are the hardest, as in working out what can and can’t be done plus the little tricks to do things.
    @Jomil – The fixed layout of the pieces is almost definitely intentional and well thought out. If it wasn’t a challenge to work out how to put it all together, than it wouldn’t be very satisfying to complete. I can still remember doing the Mp3 player and 128mb flash drive, all I can say is they were ‘very’ satisfying ;)
    Just some feedback, I found that the control schemes at little awkward at first, the constant menu hopping and back and forth clicking isn’t very touchpad friendly. Also, the game lacks a sense of progression and risk. After the first 6 or so designs, you pretty much have all of the components you need researched and at your disposal, and with enough spare change that it is just a race to the finish. If the margins were tighter, and there was a constant need for researching new technology (as in components being released gradually over time) it would greatly enhance the gameplay, especially in the latter parts of the game.
    Keep these awesome games coming! :D

  28. miloss's Gravatar miloss
    September 10, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks for a great game..
    The whole game probably interacts with OS almost exclusively thought pygame…
    I wonder.. Would it be possible to publish Linux version?
    (I hate waiting for "WINE" to load.. and python should run everywhere)
    thanks a lot. (PS: releasing the source code would work too :) )

  29. Siomonte's Gravatar Siomonte
    September 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi there!
    great game, Im just loving it :D
    but if you would make more stuff to build it would be nice. actually many things are pretty challenging for me. but at the 3rd try I got 3.6 millions of Dollars at 2004 :D
    keep up your work

  30. Sukasa's Gravatar Sukasa
    December 10, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Running on vista 32, with Chrome, when I try to download the installer NSIS complains about an integrity check failure. I redownloaded, and got the same problem.

  31. compsciguy's Gravatar compsciguy
    December 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    During the download, or when you try to run the downloaded installer?

  32. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    December 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The installer is bad; the recent upload (when removing Uninstallers) must have failed. I’ll re-upload sometime in the next few days.

  33. Sukasa's Gravatar Sukasa
    January 7, 2010 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Okay, the installer works, but when I go to save a chip and hit “enter”, instead of changing the chip’s name / saving it, I just get a wierd square character and it acts like I never hit enter. Is there something else I’m supposed to hit in order to save?

    For the record, I’m using a Toshiba P300-011 with a Canadian keyboard, not a US keyboard.

  34. Matthew's Gravatar Matthew
    February 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I have the same problem as Sukasa, tried every key on my keyboard and clicked multiple locations on the screen, doesn’t work.

    Using an Acer Aspire 6930 running windows 7.

  35. James Cooper's Gravatar James Cooper
    March 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I just want to say thank you for such an excellent game. I played this through from beginning to end in one sitting and absolutely loved it.

    I think there are a few small changes that could make it better. I realize you are no longer making games, but if you ever decide to, here are some things to keep in mind.
    – It took me a long time to figure out that symbols with boxes were supposed to be connected to symbols without boxes. It doesn’t say this within the game, nor does it mention it in the tutorial video. This really made things difficult at first.
    – The fact that wires couldn’t go around corners was confusing. It took awhile to figure out what the signal couplers were for.
    – It’s hard to compare your current design to the product request you are trying to fill. It would be better if you could select a request, go into design mode, and see the request’s specifications while you are designing.
    – I had to refer to the video several times before I could figure out how to test my design and how to sell it. It seems unintuitive so click the link, because it looks like the rest of the text. It would be better if this were a button.
    – I didn’t like having to wait for my design to be tested before I could sell it. It would be better if the design just had to be tested once, or if this test didn’t step through the testing procedure. It takes too long when you just want to sell something you’ve already tested.
    – It’s hard to tell how much of something you have on hand. You either have to change what the machine is making, or go to a request and select a design for it, before you can see the list of designs with the number next to it. I’m not sure where to put this to make it more visible, but it’s very important to know when you are skipping weeks waiting to get enough supply.

    All in all, this is a very fun, engaging game. It’s too bad you aren’t making games anymore, because I would really look forward to (and would even pay for) more games like this.

  36. Allan's Gravatar Allan
    March 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    This is such a great idea for a game — do you mind if I create my own based off this idea? Credit for inspiration will be given, of course.

  37. LestatV3's Gravatar LestatV3
    April 9, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Awesome game! Damn… Where are the MODs? D:
    A game like this should have many mods! Alienware MODS!! \o/
    Take a look at the game’s folder. The files are very open in /data/ and /images/. Easily modificable :D

    WHY AREN’T THERE ANY MODS?!?! T__T

  38. Josh's Gravatar Josh
    May 8, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I found it confusing at first, but then I got the hang of it. Alot of these designs seemed impossible.

  39. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    May 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    This game is a hoot! Would you ever consider going back and redoing it?

  40. RPI EE's Gravatar RPI EE
    May 26, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I second Joe’s comment. As an EE grad from RPI this game was pretty sweet. I think a few improvements to the game could consist of the following:

    -Ability to recall saved designs a la the flash drive(32MB to 64MB).
    -Ability to rotate components but rotations could cost more, or reduce yield.
    -Ability to scale batches so you don’t over produce lots.
    -Perhaps an even larger scope including designing chips and then using chips to create devices.

    I realize that’s a lot to ask, but I think those would create an awesome experience that could grab a lot more interest in the game.

    Keep up the good work!

  41. RPI EE's Gravatar RPI EE
    May 27, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Actually, If you could combine this with Engineer of the People and Ruckingenur that’d be the ultimate game.

    You could design components, design devices, and reverse engineer competitors devices and steal their tech. That’d be sweet!

    You could be like Ben Affleck in Paycheck.

  42. Sukasa's Gravatar Sukasa
    October 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Found a solution for my issue – disabling numlock. looks like my keyboard manufacturer took a shortcut and connected both enter keys (mine’s got a numpad) together, leading to this stupid little caveat. enjoying the game now!