Contest: Playing in the sandbox

The SpaceChem sandbox mode is now live on Steam! (along with Japanese and Italian translations) To celebrate, we want you to build the most awesome sandbox pipeline imaginable, and are giving away free physical copies of SpaceChem as a prize.

What should you build? I have no idea. I suspect that some people will be building molecular computers, but that certainly doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we’re looking for. Whatever it is, it should push the limits of the fake-science of reaction engineering and should accomplish something that most SpaceChem players would be able to understand.

Since there’s no official way to export a specific solution to a puzzle (don’t worry – the irony isn’t lost on me) you’ll need to send in your save file, along with a description of what you built and what it accomplishes, for your entry. I’ll capture nice videos of the winners and post them when the contest is over, although I won’t stop you from recording a video yourself and saving me the work.

Questions go in the comments. TL/DR below:

TASK: Build the most awesome SpaceChem sandbox pipeline
SUBMIT: Email your save file and an explanation of your pipeline to
RULES: One entry per person; explanations must be in English and under 500 words long
DEADLINE: January 1st, 2012
REWARD: A free physical copy of SpaceChem!

EDIT: Here are the save file locations for SpaceChem:

Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Zachtronics Industries\SpaceChem
Windows Vista / 7: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Zachtronics Industries\SpaceChem
Linux / Mac: ~/.local/share/Zachtronics Industries/SpaceChem


  1. John Evans November 24, 2011 7:57 am

    That is…wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this…

  2. Tortsein November 24, 2011 1:41 pm

    its says that this game is not avalible. what is that supposed to mean!im runing the steam version

  3. Zach November 24, 2011 7:28 pm

    @Tortsein: What OS is this on? Have you tried restarting Steam and/or your computer?

  4. Greeny November 24, 2011 11:29 pm

    i have uninstall and reinstall the game on steam, and now is perfect!
    And perfect is the italian translation too :))..
    Great work!! Thank you very much 10+

  5. payjack November 25, 2011 9:53 pm

    where is the button for sandbox mode?

    Steam, Windows XP.

  6. CaitSith2 November 26, 2011 3:43 am

    From the main screen, click the Research NET signon button.

    Next screen depends on whether you have completed Atropos Station – The Blue Danube, or not. If you haven’t, you will get an “ACCESS DENIED” screen. If that is the case, then hit the “Hack into the system!” button.

    From there, hit “Create or Import an Assignment”.

    From there, Hit “New Sandbox”, then hit Edit, to Edit your input molecules. You WILL need to add at least one input source. You get an Input R, which is a random input, that can be defined with up to three molecules. You get an Input A, which can be defined with one molecule, and you get a programmable input, which can be defined with up to 8 different molecules, and with a starting sequence up to 18 steps, and a repeating sequence up to 18 steps.

    And one last thing, I uncovered a hard crash bug. Don’t put a storage tank between the programmable input and a sandbox reactor. Instead, connect the reactor directly to the programmable input. If you need a storage tank on the input side, do it after the programming, and never edit with it connected, till the bug is fixed.

  7. Zach November 27, 2011 5:30 am

    @CaitSith2: Thanks for the bug report! We’ll be uploading a new build to Steam in the next week or so that will contain a fix for this.

  8. Darkhogg November 28, 2011 9:35 pm

    Is this coming to Linux any time soon?

  9. compsciguy November 28, 2011 9:52 pm

    @Darkhogg: Is the update coming to Linux soon or is SpaceChem coming to Linux soon? Because I’m pretty sure there’s already an RPM package for it somewhere!

  10. Zach November 29, 2011 4:21 am

    @Darkhogg: Soon. Deploying a build to not-Steam takes tons more work than deploying a build to Steam, so we use Steam to test the new builds before deploying them more broadly.

  11. Darkhogg November 30, 2011 1:16 am

    @compsciguy The update, of course.
    @Zach OK, thanks. I really want to try sandbox mode out.

  12. Tortsein November 30, 2011 8:08 pm


  13. Zach November 30, 2011 8:21 pm

    @Tortsein: Email us ( and we’ll figure it out!

  14. Tortsein November 30, 2011 8:55 pm

    @Zach:well i sure can email u but wat kind of information du u need?

  15. Zach December 1, 2011 5:44 am

    @Tortsein: Send us an email describing the problem you are having and we will help you fix it.

  16. Jeff December 2, 2011 2:09 am


  17. R30hedron December 2, 2011 5:21 am

    I would like to take part in this, but I don’t know where to find the save file for steam’s distribution of SpaceChem. Not only would that help for the contest, but also so I can swap my save file from my old laptop to my new one. Thanks!

  18. Zach December 3, 2011 6:38 pm

    @R30hedron: I’ve edited this post to include the save file locations, which are the same regardless of whether or not you’re using a Steam version of the game.

  19. Greeny December 4, 2011 11:47 pm

    @R30hedron : spacechem save files to :
    ->C/users/appdata/local/zachtronics industries/spacechem/save..

  20. Greeny December 4, 2011 11:50 pm

    sry ..C/users/u name/appdata/local ………

3 Trackbacks

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    [...] we launched the v1012 update for SpaceChem two months ago we announced a challenge to create crazy designs using the new sandbox mode. It is now time to announce the [...]

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