Human Resource Machine – The Brief

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Programming is becoming an increasingly popular subject for schools to teach. However, in many cases, computer programming is not the central focus of the lessons. Instead this crown, the fundamental premise, is logic.

Computers and programs exist entirely on the back of simple logic; ‘if’, ‘then’, ‘and’, ‘or’. It is the 1’s and 0’s, together these make everything digital. When a game comes along that manages to grasp the premise of logic, and communicate it to the player, it is a grand achievement indeed. The Human Resource Machine has managed to do just that, and it is glorious.

Human Resource Machine has players sorting mail. While this may initially sound like a poor setting for a game, it is actually a fantastic base for playing with logic.


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Sort ALL the boxes


As you can see, each incoming package has a number (or a letter) which you must send out according to a specific goal. In the case above you have to add each pair of boxes together and output the resulting sum. The challenge is created by pushing the player to write the commands in as few lines as possible to then run in as few steps as possible. On the whole, the simplest path often gives players the best results.

Occasionally these two tasks will not align. There is never a requirement that both the challenges are completed within the same run, you can just complete one, then move to the other. This switching of outcomes will sometimes require that players change the way they apply their logic, look beyond the obvious and into the slightly more abstract.

It is this constant evaluation of what is important, what is efficient, and how to best stretch what seems sensible, that makes this game a great challenge for everyone. It is genuinely a ‘My first code’ style of game, even so, it still carries enough depth to appeal to all players young and old, coders or not.

Human Resource Machine is a charming title and is well worth a pick-up for the few dollars it costs. Go on, sort those boxes.


Julian has been involved in the games industry for more than a couple of years now, from working in retail to developing board games to judging Magic: the Gathering tournaments Australia wide. Now as a writer for OK Games he likes to explore niche titles that try to approach gaming from a different perspective. Now all he needs to do is start finishing all those games in his Steam Library...