The Bureau of Steam Engineering

Steam-Powered Mechs in an Alternate History

In Bureau of Steam Engineering, you play as an American steam engineer at the beginning of an alternate civil war who must design and duel steam powered mechs to defend the Union!

A few notes about the game:

  • After completing a level, your progress is saved so long as your Flash “cookies” aren’t deleted. However, your designs are never saved when leaving the workshop to return to the mission select screen.
  • It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where your steam design isn’t working as you’d like. It’s good practice to use gauges to ensure that pressures are building as you expect; things that potentially vent to the outside, such as weapons and control mechanisms. If you’re really stuck, you can always post to the comments with your question.
  • All the music is from, a really great creative commons music site. The song at the title screen is “En retard!” by Evan, while the rest of the music is by Celestial Aeon Project.
  • For the curious: the pressure algorithm works by iterating over all paired connectors, each with a volume estimate and a pressure, and exchanging a “steam amount” (representing n in the equation PV = nRT) to neutralize the pressure between the two components. This is repeated until the pressures between each pair of connectors are neutralized to an acceptable degree (I believe I used a value of around 0.15 PSI). After neutralizing the entire pressure circuit, we advance the simulation by the time delta to flush “steam” from things that “leak”, trigger pressure dependent valves, and advance other time-dependent components.

Requires: Flash

Play The Bureau of Steam Engineering (1024×768)

Play The Bureau of Steam Engineering (512×384)


  1. mman2112 November 2, 2010 11:06 pm

    a lot of people on kongregate wan’t a sequel, are you planning to make one?

  2. mman2112 November 2, 2010 11:09 pm

    sorry, i should have said want

  3. llasram November 26, 2010 4:00 am

    i love this game, its realism strikes me in such a way that i want to keep playing it and discovering more efficiant wasy for it to work

  4. Felix Maxwell November 29, 2010 9:39 pm

    When is part 2 going to come back

  5. compsciguy November 30, 2010 12:43 am

    What part 2? There was never a part 2 of BoSE. There’s a Ruckingenur 2. Maybe you’re thinking of that?

  6. Felix Maxwell November 30, 2010 3:20 am

    When you finish it, it sort of leaves off on a cliff hanger and I think it even says “End of part 1″

  7. Felix Maxwell November 30, 2010 3:21 am

    Oops, I ment come out in my above, above comment

  8. ? December 7, 2010 7:18 pm

    How do you use the repeating rifle?

  9. compsciguy December 8, 2010 2:11 am

    It’s right in the description for the rifle:

    Pressurize one valve (don’t remember which one) to fire, then depressurize it and pressurize the other one to reload. Depressurize the reload valve and repeat to fire again.

  10. Blueation December 8, 2010 5:23 pm

    pressure on the bottom valve fires, pressurizing the top valve reloads.

  11. killer64 December 28, 2010 5:04 am

    when will the next one come out?

  12. discrider January 28, 2011 8:01 am

    The valves don’t work properly in this game
    They should open only when the input side is above a certain pressure, not when either one is.

  13. Awesom February 4, 2011 10:52 pm

    This game is awesome, can’t wait for the sequel (If you are making one, if not, too bad…)

  14. me March 29, 2011 5:57 pm

    i only used the repeating rifle (or two of them) to win, would have liked a bigger challenge. I want a sequel!

  15. Steam engineer April 20, 2011 3:55 am

    Man, what happened to the sequel?!

    This game is awesome man, why did you give up on it… I would love to see a sequel with the ability to jump as well as a larger play area.

    C’mon man, I’ve been playing these same 4 levels forever. The game ends so quick and then it sets you up for a sequel that aparrently didn’t gain enough support.

    I wanna play more games like this!

  16. Pocok May 12, 2011 6:55 pm

    Im so addicted I made a dual operation rifle robot

  17. Death_Role40 May 15, 2011 5:25 pm

    i love this game with a passion, it’s a work of art

  18. IThinkImStupid. June 24, 2011 9:24 pm

    Lolz. An instruction thingy would be nice. I have no idea what the hell I am doing. Ah well. Its fun to randomly have my mech crouch.

  19. Tethran July 30, 2011 6:53 pm

    Much as I love this game there are a few things that I found frustrating. Firstly how short it was.

    However, most frustrating amongst these was components not working in the way that their description suggests or, indeed, as common sense would imply. (Most notably here the alternating fuses.)

    In addition it would be nice to have more than one control stick. It would be far more enjoyable to be able to control the firing, walking back and forwards and the crouching of the mech rather than just one of the four options above.

    I’ve still yet to work out a good way of using some of the weapons because of these shortcomings.

  20. J December 28, 2011 4:45 am

    Still playing this in 2011…

    Anyone else?

  21. ThatTreeOverThere December 31, 2011 3:14 pm

    @J yes!

    Also, Mr. Zach, can you give me the actual lowdown of what you did here?

    I kinda wanna use it as part of a 3D game :D
    You may wanna E-mail me, because I don’t check here often.

  22. ThatTreeOverThere December 31, 2011 3:40 pm

    For anyone who wants it:
    My Optimal Mech Build
    Up on the lever to reload and crouch, down on the lever to fire and stand up (because your bullets miss when you’re crouching, and because the crouch mechanism starts leaking at some pressure amount lower than 50psi.)
    Granted, this one doesn’t work optimally on the last boss, so if you Email me at onewinner2000 [at] gmail {dot} com, I’ll post an optimal build for the last stage.

  23. Blueation January 3, 2012 11:03 pm

    My all-beating-solution was almost like that and IS able to beat the final boss.
    I have no fuse valve on the crouch pipe, but I do have one in front of a steam vent, so you can stand up quicker.
    After you figure what the perfect timing is on the lever, you can defeat the boss.

  24. JS February 22, 2012 11:50 pm

    Please Mr. Zach;

    I think there are many people who would play the sequel to this game if you made it.

    Nothing that would take too much coding probably, if you kept it in the same format and just added levels and new pipes/mechanisms…

    If you’re actually reading this, please think on it. I know Spacechem made you a bunch of money, so there probably isn’t a whole lot of motivation to make us a free game but cmon;

    That was the biggest cliffhanger ever on the last level, and it seems that the second to last mech should be the boss, because the last one(flying) isn’t hard at all.

  25. steambot builder March 28, 2012 2:27 pm

    searched the net over and over looking for a similar game and am unable to find one…

    Really wish this game was more popular, then someone might hack it and maybe add some new levels/pipes/functions…

    I play again and again, trying to come up with new functions out of different combinations of pipes and valves, but after a certain number of games it’s basically just the same things again and again…

    Please consider adding some new stuff to this game if making a whole new one would take too much time/effort…

    Ok; off to build a bot… I think I’m gonna try to kill that hard boss with the saw…

  26. Jason April 2, 2012 8:41 am


    Pretty bummed you don’t answer posts related to this(and others) games any more… I do envy you for possessing the knowhow to code and create awesome games(the bulk of which were free, awesome and available to the public), but lately have become a bit disappointed to see advertisement after advertisement for “spacechem” with not even a reply to the posts on some of these threads(going years back)…


    Wanted to see the continuance of the Steam Engineer sequel.

    I don’t check my email; It’s only for signing up for things, and it tends to fill up with ridiculous amounts of spam… I do however check back to this message board regularly, while playing this game.

    Would love to hear back from you and see if there is any chance at a sequel; Even if it only made 10′s of dollars on “Kongregate”.

    P.S. I don’t have a lot of money, so I am still running the same system I was 12 years ago(windows ME)… I can’t listen to your “podcast” due to my outdated plugins, and I can’t play any games on sites that regularly require updating to the newest version of flash…

    I stuck with what I have for now, as I have been for the last 12 years. Just looking for a response is all.

  27. Zach April 2, 2012 3:25 pm

    @Jason: Sorry that I’ve bummed you out!

    We’re not planning on releasing any new Flash games. Instead, you’ll see more titles like SpaceChem, with way more content and polish than any of my older games.

    You sound like someone who hasn’t played SpaceChem yet. If you loved BSE there’s a really good chance you’ll love SpaceChem! That said, I have no idea if it runs on Windows ME…

  28. Jason April 4, 2012 4:55 am

    Ouch, an auto-response huh?


    I came here just now to play one of my old favorite games, but thought I might check the message board for a response.

    What I get instead, is some unrelated comment about spacechem(which is nothing like BSE), telling me that only the first sentence was typed as a reply and the rest is just mindless filler.

    Bummed. Guess I should have played before reading the comments, because I don’t much feel like playing now.

    Good luck with your more profitable enterprises; They sound important.

    Hope they all make you loads more than this game, which truly had potential… That’s cool, let someone grab it from you like they did infiniminer.

    P.S. Back when I originally saw people talking about “spacechem” I downloaded a version with a cracked password to see what the big fuss was about…

    Wow, a different looking codex of alch eng! Cool… For a fee? Seriously…

    I played like a quarter of the way through the game and then deleted the whole folder from my hard drive.

  29. JumBoo August 22, 2012 7:28 am

    I totally love this game, I remember playing it for about a week some years ago, making all the possible combinations of weapons and making up challenges for myself to complete.

    I will miss ye olden games greatly (specifically this one and the rusky engineer one), but dont worry fellow basement dwellers! I will become a great programmorer myself and create a game similiar to this and I will add lasers, so all will be well.

  30. * anonymous* December 22, 2012 12:11 am

    A way to beat all of the levels except level 2 is to use 2 repeating rifles. also, when is the 2nd part going to come out?

  31. Bob January 21, 2013 10:33 pm

    Ironclad Tactics has been announced for 2013. As far as I can tell it is a sort of spiritual successor, as SpaceChem is to the Codex of Alchemical Engineering. Find out more at

    Bob, hoping Zach does one of these for Infinitron.

  32. Death_Role40 March 23, 2013 5:40 pm

    it saddens me to see this crevice of the internet, it seems to be grief ridden about the same thing i’ve been for a long time. i love the aesthetics of Ironclad Tactics. but i truly think a TRUE sequel would’ve been much better. if i ever do excel with coding as i one day dream too, i’ll always source this simplistic yet amazing game as the source of my inspiration.

  33. deisie April 7, 2013 12:17 pm

    Hei kan jeg starte her…!?

  34. Niloc August 7, 2013 7:54 am

    Zach, with all due respect I have no interest in spacechem or “content and polish” I play your games because they are simple but challenging.

7 Trackbacks

  1. [...] defense missions are very similar to the battles in The Bureau of Steam Engineering, as they both require players to build a mechanism to power massive weapons with timing and [...]

  2. By SpaceChem – Más que un juego « Darkhogg on July 28, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    [...] Estoy hablando de The Codex of Alchemical Engineering y SpaceChem (y un poco en menor medida, de The Bureau of Steam Engineering). SpaceChem es, en realidad, la evolución lógica de The Codex, tintado de química en lugar de [...]

  3. [...] Estoy hablando de The Codex of Alchemical Engineering y SpaceChem (y un poco en menor medida, de The Bureau of Steam Engineering). SpaceChem es, en realidad, la evolución lógica de The Codex, tintado de química en lugar de [...]

  4. By Play it now – SpaceChem on May 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    [...] non-free game. Their other games include The Codex of Alchemical Engineering,  Rukingenur II, The Bureau of Steam Engineering,  and KOHCTPYKTOP: Engineer of the People. Heck, they’ve got cooler titles than most studios [...]

  5. […] it or not, Ironclad Tactics started as a puzzle game; specifically, as a sequel to The Bureau of Steam Engineering. The more we played it, though, the more we realized it wasn’t shaping up to be a fun game, so we […]

  6. […] начиналась как пазл. Мы планировали сделать сиквел к The Bureau of Steam Engineering (не самая известная из игр Zachtronics, что не делает ее […]

  7. […] be SpaceChem, but it’s not trying to be.  Instead it reaches back to Zachtronics’ earlier Bureau of Steam Engineering for thematic inspiration around which to base a sort of deck-building card game set in an alternate […]

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