Bureau of Steam Engineering

bureausteam.gifJohnBFighting robots plus brain-taxing logic-style puzzles? Sounds like a winner! Bureau of Steam Engineering, from the author of The Codex of Alchemical Engineering, is a visually stark game of planning, building, testing, tweaking, and building some more. You are an engineer outfitting robots who are about to go into battle with deadly weapons. Using pipes and valves you must connect each mechanical part to an engine and ensure it functions properly before unleashing the machine.

Bureau of Steam Engineering shares a lot with its Alchemical Engineering cousin. Both are difficult to learn and even tougher to master, but the rewards for doing so are so enormous you'll want to invest the time. The contraption filling most of the screen is a top-down view of your robot's innards. Two steam boilers sit at the bottom corners — each one provides power to whatever mechanisms you attach them to. At the top of the screen you'll notice an array of pipes, valves, weapons and more. Simply drag and drop parts, holding the [ctrl] key and clicking to rotate them when necessary. If you want your robot to move or crouch, you also have to connect the mechanisms at the top of the screen to a boiler. Finally, valves that switch when a certain amount of pressure has built up can be tweaked by clicking the wrench icon at the bottom of the screen.

Now comes the first big decision: what do you want your robot to do? The goal is to build a machine that can defeat a specific opponent, so read the hint printed under the "intelligence" tab first. Robots have two basic kinds of attacks: long- and short-range. Your machine has space for two weapons, but attaching them and supplying them with the power they need are two entirely different matters.

To start, try clicking on the "melee weapon" tab and placing a flamethrower on the left side of the robot. Next, attach a series of pipes leading from the left steam engine to the valve on the side of the flamethrower. Assuming you have all open pipes sealed, if you clicked "fight" your robot would face off against its foe with flamethrower a'blazin'. This doesn't do us a lot of good, however, as the enemy is too far away to receive any damage. Now we need to get the robot to walk. Run a series of pipes from the right-side steam engine to both valves under the walking mechanism. On the left side, place a fuse valve so the pressure feeding into the gear will alternate, allowing the robot to move. Now click "fight" and see what happens!

Making everything function in Bureau of Steam Engineering is often a complex engineering feat that can only be arrived at through trial and error coupled with precise planning. Make liberal use of the "help" screen (the ? icon on the left side of the screen) to familiarize yourself with all the parts of the machine.

Analysis: Another deep, heady game, Bureau of Steam Engineering takes some time to get into, but once you do, you're thoroughly hooked. It's rightly called a "game for engineers", as it's all about solving problems and building a machine to your specifications. I'm no engineer, however, so the game does have appeal to the rest of us gamers out there. It doesn't have the near-infinite solution set as The Codex of Alchemical Engineering, allowing you to slide into a more comfortable routine of building pipe configurations to accomplish common tasks.

A keyboard shortcut for removing pieces would be superb, as sometimes you'll find yourself halfway down a failed engineering road and must manually drag every component off the screen to rebuild from scratch. Right now there are only four robots to defeat, making the game last just one (long) afternoon, most of which you'll spend learning how to play. The "ending" hints at further episodes, however, which would be more than grand!

Complex at first, but after you mount the steep learning curve, more rewarding than most puzzle games around. Bureau of Steam Engineering is a true challenge that's worth every minute of head-scratching and valve tweaking.

Play Bureau of Steam Engineering

Walkthrough Guide

(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Here's a quick guide on how to get the weapons to work. They may not be the most elegant solutions, but they'll give you a good starting point:

My basic walking/ducking construction is almost always the same:

A weapon goes on the left, while the right features a control valve with one side hooked to the ducking valve, the other to the right side of the walking gear. Then flip the switch and go forward, flip it again to duck. Great for robots who fire shoulder-mounted cannons at you.

Another nice trick is to connect a flamethrower to the right side and set it to the same side of the control valve as the ducking mechanism. That way, when you duck the flamethrower ignites, but when you walk it's out. Bonus damage.


All this requires is a connection to a boiler. Simple. The trick, however, is to conserve fuel until you're near the enemy. Either use a fuse valve set to a high PSI to delay the flames, or wire it to the control valve so it goes off when you tell it to.

Repeating rifle:

Connect an alternator valve to the rifle's valves, then put a fuse valve between that and the boiler. Set the alternator to 10, the fuse to 30.

Steam cannon:

Stick two joint connectors right next to the cannon, each with a steam vent. Then pop on a fuse valve set to open at 60psi and connect that to a steam tank. Connect the tank to a boiler and you're good to go!


Just connect it to a boiler, let time do the rest.


Connect an alternator valve to the jackhammer's valves, then put a fuse valve between that and the boiler. Set both to open at 50 psi.


Place an alternator valve next to the sledgehammer's valves and set it to switch at 60psi. Connect the piping to a boiler. I'm sure there's a better way to do this one, but it works, so that's a start!

Praise JohnB!
I used your tips to beat the game!

I do have a better way to use the sledge hammer though...

Because you get the sledge hammer on the last level (where there is no need to move)... Use an alternater at 50psi on the joint to the hammer, then attach it to a control valve with the other output on a steam cap, then attach the input of the control valve to a boiler.

Here is how you use it if you set it up my way...

If you can't figure it out, have the hammer go up, switch to the steam cap, get in range, and then switch back to the hammer and it should fall fairly quickly.


how does the repeating rifle work??? can't figure out the combination here.

Interesting game, but it needs more in the way of instructions. There's a lot of trial and error involved in making things work, simply because it isn't clear how to make things work.

@capyash use a combination of fuse valve and alternator valve. Set fuse to go off in 60 and the alternator in 10 psi.

Has anyone found out how to use the Control Valve? I can't seem to be able to activate the valve control. I click on it but nothing happens.

Schmorgluck, you have to click and drag the valve control lever up & down to use it.

It took me a good 15 mins to figure out what the game is about. A quick tutorial would be nice.

The working space isn't large enough. A steam-powered mechanical world-destroyer needs at least twice the space. :)

You have to click and drag the control lever on the lower right. It seems that it could be a simple click since it is a two position switch. Dragging is awkward and slow--seconds count when a Confederate cannon ball is flying at your head.

Easy to win all i did was

Set up a control valve to the crouch and two rifles and ducked under the cannonballs

How do you fire a steam cannon continuously with a long range?

The problem is that the pressure needs to be 0psi for reloading. I've figured out how to fire continuously by adding two vents need the cannon. However, these two vents, which help to release the pressure when reloading, prevent the firing pressure to go above 30PSI.

Any ideas?

This game isn't the easiest to understand off the bat, but with some trial and error you can make it through. I still don't understand really how to get most of the weapons to work, but what JIGuest's spoiler says is true.

Despite how initially confusing and full of careful planning this game is, I can't help but think of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth dueling it out in giant, steam-powered robots instead of one just assassinating the other.

First, to clear up one initial confusion:

I'd thought that both pipes on one side of the alternating chamber would fit into the rifle, but instead it goes the other way around; it can be used to either move or fire the flamethrower, for example.

As for the rifle...

The front valve loads it, while the rear one fires it; two different fuse pipes operating on different schedules seems to be the simplest way to make it work. Having the top fuse set to 20 and the bottom one set to 40 seems to combine speed and power enough for me.

Rather than post a walkthrough, a better idea would be explanations for each weapon you get in each stage, and one or two different ways to get them to work. It would appeal to the creative sense of this game to help people get their ideas to work, rather than telling them how to get the walkthrough poster's ideas to work.

I played this game when Codex of Alchemy came out from a retrolink.

Altough a nice idea in basic I think it gets tedious too fast. At the end there are only 1 or 2 designs that work, and most stuff is useless.

Good idea in principle bad implementation.

Well, past the first tinkering, and once I've understood how to use the control valve (thanks, SvetBeard), I beat the last three robots using always the same design:

Two rifles, and crouch on command.

I think I'll try some other design using different weapons, but not right now.

Argh. I wanted to cancel that submit :( didnt work. No bad implementation is not right and wrong, it's implented fairly okay. It's just yet missing something, the parts dont make much sense, and it's not so fascinating all in all.

I cannot express it correctly. While I loved the codex of alchemy, this is just not it.

I agree with fuzzy face- Codex of Alchemical engineering was very good, easy to understand and difficulty was an easy slope.But this is difficult to understand and gets hard way too quickly. Hopefully episode 2 will be better :)

What do you mean, Fuzzyface, about the components "making no sense"? All giant robot fighting allows for all manner of anachronistic or impractical weaponry; steampunk just plays up the anachronism. A sledgehammer on a robot wouldn't work at all, but in a setting where it would, you have to admit it looks great.

Also, I like the music. It has a good "Grand adventure" feel, seemingly putting the player in the mind of a Civil War Era engineer-lieutenant-mad-scientist. The only problem is that there's almost no need to move forward or backward, turning the robot into an extending or retracting gun or flame turret. That just ends up putting me in mind of a different kind of Engineer, so to speak.

No I mean the machine components.

Maybe to formulate it better, the game is not about creating a marvelous machine, its about creating some machine at all with very strange components.

Ah, that cleared up my quandries... Apparently, I was still confused about how the alternator worked! All of its valves are In/Out, but I didn't know that.

Thats what I ment by "components that make no sense".

Praise JohnB!
I used your tips to beat the game!

I do have a better way to use the sledge hammer though...

Because you get the sledge hammer on the last level (where there is no need to move)... Use an alternater at 50psi on the joint to the hammer, then attach it to a control valve with the other output on a steam cap, then attach the input of the control valve to a boiler.

Here is how you use it if you set it up my way...

If you can't figure it out, have the hammer go up, switch to the steam cap, get in range, and then switch back to the hammer and it should fall fairly quickly.

Fantastic game idea, but I think it's a bit too difficult. Simpler objectives might really help.

I loved Codex. These are a great style of game. Keep them coming!

Why oh why would you build a game like this without clear instructions? It's not an escape the room game for god's sake! Moving on to something a little more fun...

My solution for the sledgehammer:

Feed the steam through a Control Valve so you can pump steam into the top pipe, and then toggle it exactly when you need to into the bottom pipe. Make sure to put a steam vent in the piping to the bottom connection, though.

I also used a steam tank before the control valve, but I don't think it really matters

Works beautifully :)

The rifle works much better like this:

Put a fuse on the lower input. Place a gauge on the other (for convenient readout). Connect both to the boiler. Set the fuse to at least 30.

I had a different way of using the rifle, and can even use the boiler it's connected to for other things, but duck and move lower the max pressure.

use a steam tank (stores up pressure) then a valve on lower spot, then using a T piece, connect the boiler to this contraption and directly to the top pipe. you can set the valve to whatever pressure you want, and don't have worry about timing the reload.

My solution is more convenient, and you can choose any pressure, but it takes up more room

[Edit: Spoiler added ~ Kayleigh]

I didn't like this one as much as Alchemy--I think that gave better explanations of what was going on. Still, I like the idea of it even though you could, as some have pointed out, just find one design that works well and never have to use the new weapons.

That said, I wanted to see if I could beat the fourth robot using TWO sledgehammers, and eventually came up with this:

Hook both boilers up to a control valve. Using lots of branches and overlap pipes, I set it so that ON = top pipe for both sledgehammers (i.e. raise them), and OFF = bottom pipe for both sledgehammers (drop) PLUS crouch.

I also threw in a pressure gauge just so I could see when the hammers were about to be raised.

I'd stay standing until the gauge was almost full, and then duck until the cannon went over. Stand and the hammers should raise the second time the robot approaches. When it's close, duck and both hammers drop for a satisfying amount of damage. I think two of these double-hits killed him.

It wasn't the most efficient (or self-running) solution, but it was pretty fun to handle two of the sledgehammers at once.

I feel like the game is... missing something. Something in the execution is flawed. It's hard to approach the game, to put together a contraption that does what you want, and I feel that there are extra rules at play beyond what I'm told.
For example, I have no idea what's triggering the steam cannon to fire. It says that a new shell is loaded when the pressure drops, and that the firing pressure determines damage... but no indication on what actually causes it to fire in the first place.
I also was under the impression that a steam vent would set pressure to 0 instantly, but apparently this isn't the case (looking at example solutions here).
I also only just worked out how the pressure valve works. I have no idea what my cannon was doing in the second-last level... it certainly only fired once, that's for sure.

I think that the problem here is that I was able to "beat" the game - quickly - without fully understanding what I was doing.
My final level solution:

All I needed was two circular saws. Then supply constant power to them and the crouch. The enemy will continue to approach into your "charged" blades, then retreat for a fruitless shot.

interesting game, but i'm kind of annoyed that two flamethrowers, using all their fuel to full effect won't take out the training enemy. i spent a bunch of time rigging up a system so that my bot was either walking forward or firing the flamethrower so that i could move it to withing flamethrower range but out of the range of its spear before starting to use flamethrower fuel. Almost killed it, but not quite. It seems kind of stupid that there's only one good strategy for the training enemy and it's using the rifle, the most complicated of the starting weapons to figure out.

Can someone link me somewhere with an image of a configuration that works? I'm on the first mission and have no clue on how to get anything to work. I've tried several suggestions from spoilers here and still no results. All my robot does is stand there.

fnord3125: It's possible to take out the training enemy with two flame throwers. See this pic for an example:

Shawn: You can use the design above to complete the training level.

Actually, for the training bot, I

set the switch to both left and right and would walk back and forth while charging my buzz saws until I had enough power. Then I would ram him when he retracted his spear and would run back before he hit me :P

I didn't use the gun the entire game :D

For the training robot you can simply use two saws.

If you want to use flamethrower, put constant power on forward and control switch for both flamethrowers. Once in range, let er rip.

Perhaps, instead of fighting another steam-mech, there should be contests of efficiency - maximised DPS at long range, maximised DPS at short range, inflicted damage divided by received damage...

I successfully defeated the fourth bot with two cannons, and figured out how to use the cannons at full power.

Put a steam tank on a boiler, and a fuse valve at 60 after the boiler. Then connect one of the exits of your control valve to the fuse valve, with the other exit connected to a steam vent (or more if you want a fast reload)and the entrance to the control valve connected to the cannon(s)

beat the fourth one using a single cannon using this method, pic here

For the final level, I just used

two steam cannons on either side. Talk about damage!

Can someone tell me some more games that use a similar type of system for control? (other then the alchemy game.)

What's missing is a pressure controlled valve. Where a side pipe's pressure opens or closes a valve going through a main pipe. This would operate somewhat like a transistor. It would open up the possibilities to some really awesome machines.

For using two sledgehammers on last level, I find it MUCH more convenient (and easier to build) if you:

Connect both steam tanks to a control valve, then connect the control valve so that one side provides pressure to the bottom valve on each sledgehammer (passing through the horizontal part of a cross connector to do so).

Connect the other side of the control valve through the vertical part of the cross connector, and from there to both top valves and a 60PSI pressure valve. Connect the pressure valve to the croucher.

Once you have it set up like this, leave the control valve so that the 'bot is always crouching and charging hammers (avoiding bullets) until ready to hit the enemy. Then simply flip the control valve rapidly once each way, and you'll be crouching before the next bullet.

Can someone please post a tutorial/walkthrough for the uninitiated (aka people like me) who don't really get what each component does, how the pressure is affected by them, how to use valves and stuff, when would you actually need the vent, etc.

Automatic rifles:

Just put 2 fuse valves on the pipes of the rifle, top one on 10 PSI, bottom one on 20 PSI, connect this to a steam tank and it will shoot automaticly (and fast)

the easiest way to beat the last robot is

1 use two buzz saws on either side

2 connect one directly to a boiler

3 for the other one use a control valve between it and the crouch mechanism.

4 fight

5 use the buzz saws when he charges and crouch when he moves away.

when he hits you with his axe you will only get a small amount of damage so he will die first.
make sure you get up straight after the cannon ball passes your head to get the saws going.

i cant beleive its that easy

the easiest way to beat the last robot is

1 use two buzz saws on either side

2 connect one directly to a boiler

3 for the other one use a control valve between it and the crouch mechanism.

4 fight

5 use the buzz saws when he charges and crouch when he moves away.

when he hits you with his axe you will only get a small amount of damage so he will die first.
make sure you get up straight after the cannon ball passes your head to get the saws going.

i cant beleive its that easy

Thank you Rifleman for your extremely helpful rifle tips :P. I beat all 4 robots with dual rifles.

Ha, this is a great game. I'd get it if it was bigger and would come out for Wii or PC... it's creative, it's new, and you use your brain. And the results are just fun!

I'm using a single repeating rifle, and a control value to control the flow of steam into either the front or rear pipes of the rifle. I put gauges on each side to ensure nothing is wrong. I enter the fight and the gun does absolutely nothing regardless of which pipe I'm feeding into. Both pipes are at full pressure. What am I doing wrong?

the fourth robot was easy.
i used the information from the Steam Cannon gave by JohnB but i put 2 cannons.

Can you give me some help with level two I have tried pretty much every combination I can think of and nothing works. SO if you could post a pic or something I would be greatly happy.

Dual guns + ducking. No need to move. Kills everything.

I have noticed that the Zachtronics site has mysteriously shut down recently. the WHOIS entry is still valid, but I think we need an alternate mirror until the server returns to operation.

[I'm not having any trouble accessing the site or the game. What happens when you try, and where in the world are you located? -Jay]

I get the "Server Not Found" when trying with Firefox, "Cannot display the website" from IE. I just ran Traceroute, both from my command prompt and from my router's config, both stated that they are "unable to resolve the target....". Based on this information, the fact that this changed rather suddenly when I used to be able to access the entire website, and the fact that you are still able to access the website, I believe that the likely culprit is a messed up DNS in my area. I am quite near the Iowa/Illinois border, where the Mississippi river flows west. I checked to confirm I was correctly using the traceroute by resolving google.com, and I noticed that the request only made as far as, presumably my ISP's system, so I'm at the conclusion that my local DNS is indeed at fault.

me again! i absolutly love these kinds of games and how it gives you the happy feeling that you getting down to the grit and actually make these machines.

when i first played i thought the two boilers were wheels before i checked the mini manual. it still beat the first robot tho @.@

i had a nice solution to lvl 3... but i didnt know how to post it... D:

maybe ill post a guide

gems 1 out of 13..... :D

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