Magnum Opus Challenge!

Lots of people have requested a level editor for The Codex of Alchemical Engineering. I am not going to make one. I will, however, do something better:


Here’s the details – design a level for CoAE in some sort of graphics program using the following sprites: You may not add any new user components, such as manipulators or glyphs, and you may not add any new kinds of atoms, but you may design new things found in the level, such as new kinds of permanent glyphs or a new kind of objective glyph. If I get around 10 or more level designs I will create a MAGNUM OPUS CHALLENGE EDITION of the game and put it places where people can play.

Edit: I’m going to replace the Glyph of Duplication with something that’s a little more useful, so feel free to also submit ideas for a new user-glyph along with your puzzle(s) that encourage it to be used. If no one suggests anything useful I’ll probably go with a Glyph of Reduction that down-converts metals while emitting a Mercury atom in the process.

When submitting a level, make sure you add the creative flavor – your compound should have a name that both fits with the alchemical theme and can be connected to the actual compound that the player will be creating in your level. Feel free to suggest text for notes if you’re introducing anything that needs introduction. And, if you’re making a level with a fantastic compound like Alcahest, the challenge of playing your level should be equally epic. A technical note: as it currently stands, the engine requires that all adjacent atoms in a compound be linked together; while I could rewrite parts of the engine to “fix” this, I’d rather keep working on my new game instead.

Whoever submits the most clever, well thought out, and generally Codex-like level might win a prize, provided I can find my t-shirt stenciling equipment.

Please send all submissions to; if you have a question, ask it in the comments. Entries are due February 1st, 2009.

35 Comments to Magnum Opus Challenge!

  1. January 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    What do you mean by “new permanent glyphs”? Are we talking about an area of floor that has some effect but is not movable or removable?

  2. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    January 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    rikchik: Yup – that’s exactly what I meant.

  3. January 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. Any deadline on this?

  4. Axoren's Gravatar Axoren
    January 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to do this when midyear exams are over.

  5. Axoren's Gravatar Axoren
    January 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I sent you my level. I tried to make it a complicated bond structure to make up for the fact that there is so much empty space to work with. Also, I hope you like my glyph idea. Sent you an explanation along with it.

  6. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    January 16, 2009 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    rikchik: Good catch. The deadline is February 1st; I’ll update the page accordingly.
    Axoren: Looks good!

  7. Axoren's Gravatar Axoren
    January 16, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, I’d like to see how you implement things. Also, I don’t find the Duplication Glyph useless, I just think it would be better if it didn’t take so much space… if it where the size of a Binding Glyph, it may be useful:
    Have a rod of 4 different metals in a level to begin with, and a Spawning of salt.
    A level idea for anyone that wants to take it from me 😀

  8. Mr. Man's Gravatar Mr. Man
    January 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    i dont get how to get to the creater

  9. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    January 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    There is no level editor; to create a submission, create a mock-up in a graphics program using the sprites in the zip file linked to in the article and email it to me.

  10. Drone's Gravatar Drone
    January 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    How about a Glyph of Opposition, which converts one of the base elements into it’s opposite, Ie, moving Earth onto it would turn it into air, while moving water onto it would turn it into fire, and vice versa.
    I haven’t got any puzzle to submit though D:

  11. Kevin's Gravatar Kevin
    January 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Added my level my co-worked and I worked on this afternoon. Hopefully it’s not too difficult.

  12. John's Gravatar John
    January 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    What would you think of a bond breaking glyph or a disappearance glyph?

  13. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    January 21, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    John: Not bad ideas. I’m not sure how useful the bond-breaking glyph would be, but the disappearance glyph could radically alter the game, as it would make it safe to have waste atoms that would typically result in collisions.

  14. Tiralmo's Gravatar Tiralmo
    January 22, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that having a bond-breaking glyph could be quite useful when you take alchemical practices into further account. Not only would alchemists use the pure atoms to create compounds, but they would also use the compounds they already had to create more complex compounds. In light of this, I’d like to see some more permanent glyphs which spawn not single atoms, but entire compounds which are already bound to themselves.
    These compounds could then be manipulated however the alchemist wants, and either included entirely in the goal compound, or be required to be broken down and have their parts added to the goal compound – whatever the alchemist wants, that’s part of the challenge.
    Additionally, even a disappearance glyph could serve as a bond-breaking glyph if it only gets rid of one atom.
    But even without a bond-breaking glyph, I would like to see some levels using compounds as spawns instead of using single atoms, so I would like to know if this would be possible.

  15. John's Gravatar John
    January 22, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    if you have glyphs that spawn compounds, then you could make the plot a bit more complex by allowing different paths through the game. That would also let there be a story to go with the plot.

  16. Adam's Gravatar Adam
    January 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    How bout a teleportation glyph? Place an atom on one glyph and it hops to the other.
    A permanence glyph; an atom lands on it and can no longer be moved, a bit of an obstacle course.
    A glyph of decalcination, a glyph of elemental transmutation, a glyph of necromancy – turns salt into any metal, depending on where it is placed?
    If you widen up the playing field, maybe allow for rotation of the binding glyph or lengthier arms, you could get some really complex machines.
    Can’t wait for the Magnum Opus Challenge; I’m a big fan.

  17. John's Gravatar John
    January 23, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I think Adam’s onto something there. In the Mangum Opus Challenge, the first several levels could belimited to arms with only short and medium, then as you progress longer arms. I’d like to see a conveyor belt too, but I’m not sure how to implement that.

  18. Rohn's Gravatar Rohn
    January 24, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t I run the .zip file? Everytime I try to run it, I get directed to a new page of Windows stuff. Any help?

  19. John's Gravatar John
    January 24, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    The zip file only has little pictures in it. I used powerpoint to put together pictures. Open a blank page, then insert picture from file.

  20. catpurr's Gravatar catpurr
    January 25, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Just a random idea: How about a glyph of swapping? Allows to swap atoms, even if one or both are already binded.

  21. catpurr's Gravatar catpurr
    January 28, 2009 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    also for designing user created levels, a sandboxmode would a real bliss, if it doesnt use the dispensers as in any of the existing levels, making sure there is at least a solution to your design is very difficult.

  22. payjack's Gravatar payjack
    January 28, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to contribute too but I am to lazy to mock it up, sorry ^_^;
    I have two more or less simple Ideas:
    #1 Player first has to place the Mount for Manipulators, then attaches Clamp Arms later (only one per Wind-Direction (N,S,E,W), tho), allowing for some sweet Dispenser Action
    #2 Slings, shooting Atoms across the Board (but they should Stick to Glyph they come across, i.e. a Binder – sliding till the End of the Glyph, so two Atoms shot from the same Sling don’t collide but Bind)
    And, of course, the Ability to rotate Binders.
    (Conveyor Belts would make this Game to easy, imo. The Game would degenerate into an Assembly Hall similar to Ford’s or something)

  23. payjack's Gravatar payjack
    January 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    also… combining two binders sounds good to me…

  24. bigred's Gravatar bigred
    January 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I not sure how your engine runs, but it would be cool to see you have to make multiple compounds for one level. like one that is two atoms and one that is three. This would require us to make a more complex level in which both compounds need to be made 5 times and placed in their own smaller circles or both placed in the same larger circle at different times. (Like i said I dont know how you engine works so I am not sure if you could drop two different compounds in the same circle and have it except it and reduce their count downs)

  25. Jen's Gravatar Jen
    January 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to make a couple suggestions for replacements for the Glyph of Duplication (which I failed to find any good use for…).
    What I would really like is a glyph with two slots that can accept two Primes, and depending on the pairing of primes, can turn them into any Element. That leaves two leftover pairings, and if I had my wish, one of them would result in Lead.
    I would actually also suggest a small change to the Glyph of Projection. I would suggest allowing another prime (Sulfur maybe?) to be used instead of Mercury to de-project and reverse the cycle, going from Gold down to Lead.

  26. Ian's Gravatar Ian
    January 30, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Seriously ( I may have mentioned this before) , I would LOVE a mass production function.
    Just the thought of a 8 instead of the 5 makes me go wobbly 🙂

  27. Tyler's Gravatar Tyler
    February 5, 2009 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was a very interesting game, though the way my mind works is more mechanical/industrial than puzzle. My main limitation was the number of moves that could be assigned to a modifier, especially when i need to use so many blank spots for timing such as not commencing until this point or as a spacer when i wait for the other modifiers to reset, lock in position alpha, and commence the action again.
    I havent fully beaten the original game yet, though another sequel this time with a sandbox mode as previously described (if the engine gets that far, even a custom glyph maker) and a code system for sharing like you have.
    Very interesting, while i realize that conveyor belts would ruin it, is i was occasionally angry i can only rotate the modifiers. I constantly wished for some kind of sliding system. Done wrong, it ruins the puzzle aspect of the game. Done right, it is another specialized tool. A rail clamp type thing would work, replacing the ability to rotate with the ability to slide. Essentially you are limited to a liner movement on one direction (N/W/E/S) instend of a (different) linear movement in all four directions. It would work good if you did it right.
    Thats all i have to say. Great job on the game.

  28. Gunnlaugur Lárusson's Gravatar Gunnlaugur Lárusson
    February 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I know this is probably rude’n’off-topic but can someone please tell me why in God’s name whatever that is – this isn’t working (In Codex/Haematite):
    looks like a bug to me 🙁
    btw great game, even if it’s pushing me off the edge…

  29. Gunnlaugur Lárusson's Gravatar Gunnlaugur Lárusson
    February 8, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Holy hell! Sorry for destroying your website 🙁 I’m going to bed now.

  30. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    February 9, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Gunnlaugur: You can’t have stray atoms in the target glyph when you’re trying to get it to accept your compound.

  31. Lymojo's Gravatar Lymojo
    February 20, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    To all the people who have been talking about adding conveyor belts, you should know that a series of overlapping arms that push/pull in tandem can function like a conveyor belt.
    See this example (load into Cinnabar)
    If you’re asking to have conveyor belts, you’re sort of missing the entire point of the game, and are essentially asking him to remove one of the most interesting and unique challenges that Codex presents.

  32. dopamine's Gravatar dopamine
    April 5, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been looking for this game for a long time now. I didn’t know what it would be till I found it, but this is it! Hats off to you. I’m too addicted now tho.
    No conveyor belts! A crazy idea.
    Maybe a pause function?
    It can be frustating but the number of programmable moves should be limited, it adds to the game.
    But maybe have numbers on each arm so as we know which move is which/when???(so I dont need to keep counting them!)
    And of course the best suggestion…3 dimensions!
    Great game.

  33. April 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
  34. Zach's Gravatar Zach
    April 14, 2009 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    KriegDagger: That’s quite a ridiculous machine – good job!

  35. compsciguy's Gravatar compsciguy
    April 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else notice that the screen had been horizontally flipped?
    And did anyone happen to get the level name?