Goodbye Zachtronics developers of very cool puzzle video games

On July 5, Zachtronics will release BBS last call, a collection of stylish little puzzles inspired by retro PC games. After 11 years in the business (and even longer out of commercial releases) with the studio building a cult following for a near-consummate indie game, this will be the last new game Zachtronics will ever release.

Named after founder Zach Barth, Zachtronics has spent most of those 11 years specializing in puzzle games (or variations on the theme). And almost every one of them was big (or at least interesting). Browse our own archives for Zachtronics games and you’ll find:

Despite this consistent excellence and a deeply committed fan base, Zachtronics has never become what we would call a household name even in this enthusiast space. Which is good, and even by design. Bart, Matthew Burns, and their small team (usually only about five people, depending on the size of the project) were just really good at what they liked, no matter how popular it was, and so they just kept doing it.

The result has been a series of games that may not have been to everyone’s taste, but those that resonated with it have enjoyed it. their shit. It’s not hard to see why: Most of Zachtronics’ games included challenging puzzles, as well as a very cool and interesting presentation surrounding them, be it a dirty hacker aesthetic. Exapunks or Frontline wars-how Mobius Front 83. Given these initial and superficial differences, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a game such a clear Zachtronics product, but like love and art, when you see it, you just Know that.

So it’s sad, but in its own way, it’s wonderful that in 2022 Zachtronics will come to an end. Not because their publisher shut them down, or because they ran out of venture funding, or because Activision forced them to work on Call of Duty, or for a number of other reasons (bankruptcy! scandal!) game developers usually close their doors.

No, Zachtronics is shutting down because… they want to.

“We’re wrapping up!” Bart tells me with much more enthusiasm than one would normally expect under the circumstances. “Zachtronics will release BBS last call next month. We’re also working on a long-awaited solitaire collection that we hope to release by the end of the year. After that, the team will be disbanded. We all have different ideas, interests, risk tolerance and so on, so we’re still figuring out what we want to do next.”

I ask him what it’s like to be in such a privileged position where they can make this decision on their own terms, and Bart says, “Honestly, it’s very nice!” Emphasizing that knowing when to leave is a special skill with which the team already has little experience, he tells me: “We actually closed Zachtronics once, back in 2015, when I went to work at Valve because for what ended is 10 months. This gave us the opportunity to cash out some of our capital, re-engage with the rest of the gaming industry, and rebuild from the ground up.”

“I’m not saying the same thing will happen here because we are indeed shutting down Zachtronics, but when you consciously make those decisions for yourself, rather than letting circumstances dictate them, it’s easier to get the results you want in the long run.”

But Why? Why now, why so? “We felt it was time for a change. It may seem strange, but despite the fact that we have been very good at developing “Zachtronics games” over the past twelve years, we have found it difficult to do anything else. We were lucky enough to fill a special niche and I’m grateful that we were able to fill it and survive in it, but it also forced us to do things that we didn’t want to do forever.”

Appropriately titled studio’s latest game BBS last callwas recently announced, but if you were to view the reaction to its debut trailer online, you would see that along with the usual elation, there was a lot of sadness, something that the team found themselves in a rare position. able to confirm before they close.

Since we have announced that BBS last call this will be our last game. I have received countless emails from fans thanking us for the games we have made,” says Bart. “Many of them cite games as one of the reasons they became professional programmers or engineers. It’s hard to say anything other than “thank you” but that’s really all I want to say. A game that no one plays is hardly a game, and it is only thanks to our players that our games have meaning and a life of their own. We all really appreciate it!”

The decision has been made and announced, what next? For Bart, he hopes to work on something. more, while other team members also want to try their hand at new challenges. “I originally planned to finish my job at Zachtronics and then find a new job as a high school computer science teacher, but the timing wasn’t right,” he says. “I just finished my first year of teaching and Last Call BBS hasn’t even come out yet! I was hoping that I would really enjoy teaching and stay with it for a few years, but I realized that this is definitely not the case and it’s hard for me to imagine anything but games in my future in one form or another. ”

“What we will do next as individuals or as employees is an issue that we are very actively discussing right now. I’m especially interested in freelancing and weird side projects, while other team members are attracted to the idea of ​​a stable job with more growth potential than a small indie studio that makes essentially the same game every year.”

BBS last call will be released on July 5 on Steam and will be the studio’s last game. new the game. You can watch his very cool trailer below. Their official final releasehowever will a kit that combines their various solitaire games into one packageand as mentioned above, it will be released later this year.

Last call BBS from Zachtronics

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