Run a CPU Company in a Turn-Based Strategy Game

Duty Cycle - CPU Building Video Game
(Image credit: YouTube - Hüseyin Tuğrul BÜYÜKIŞIK)

A video game was being created where players could build and benchmark their own Best CPUs and run an entire microchip processing company in a turn-based style strategy game. The game could have been big among tech enthusiasts but the game was never developed beyond its pre-alpha stage. However, a pre-alpha demo of the game has been published on YouTube showing us the potential this game could have had.

The demo shows us the fundamental portions of the game, including the CPU-building aspects and some of the game's business management aspects as well. At the start, you create the name of your semiconductor company and then choose your CEO. The demo gives you the option to choose one of five of some of the most well-known semiconductor CEOs of all time, including Lisa Su, Jensen Huang, Jim Keller, Dirk Meyer, and even Gordon Moore — the creator of "Moore's Law".

Afterward, the game jumps into a points-based leveling system where you can choose the strengths of your particular company. The demo is limited to 9 different statistical strengths including logical optimization, teamwork, R&D Gain rate, error correction, and more. Players have 47 points in total which can be divided between the 9 categories to change their company's strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, the game enters the CPU-building phase where players can create their own CPU designs by adding, connecting, and moving several different components inside their CPU. In the pre-alpha demo, players have access to 7 components, including a controller, imc-read, decoder, int add, int mul, imc-write, and bus, and can add as many components as they want to the chip.

Chip performance will be dictated by how many components are being used, and how they are wired together. Once the chip is complete, players can choose to benchmark the chip, mass produce it and humorously leak the chip's details to the press if so desired.

The limited CPU building and company management game mechanics was the full extent of the demo, apparently, this game was supposed to go much deeper involving full-blown company management with NPCs, and compete with other corporations to be the best microprocessing manufacturer in the world.

The building portion would be also much bigger, apparently the CPU building aspect of the game is based on the Von Neumann architecture, which encourages adding more ALUs and developing higher timings for the FPUs to improve performance and efficiency. The CPU builder would also have many more abilities, including creating multi-core processors and creating GPUs as well.

It's unfortunate this game never made it out of its pre-alpha development phase. We don't know what happened to the game or the developers behind it, but it's easy to assume that money problems or public attraction were the main issues.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • Metal Messiah.
    Why are you posting this news now after 6 years ? This game never saw the light of the day, and the project was abandoned way long back in 2018. The game didn't even pass the proper beta stage testing.

    There have been no updates since 2017. A group of college students were involved in this unity3d project.
  • USAFRet
    Railroad Tycoon, but vastly more boring.
  • ottersholdhands
    The game Software Inc lets you do all what this game tried to do if you add 1 mod.
  • kano1337
    Nah, so as ChatGPT tells you how to build a CPU, next step in the game is the quantum world-domination.
    In Iran, they already have photo verified playthroughs.
  • IamNotChatGpt
    Metal Messiah. said:
    Why are you posting this news now after 6 years ? This game never saw the light of the day, and the project was abandoned way long back in 2018. The game didn't even pass the proper beta stage testing.

    There have been no updates since 2017. A group of college students were involved in this unity3d project.
    Let me ask this magic ball one second.
    It's insane that you'd even write that, let alone keep it online...

    As for Tomshardware, this is awesome, really hope the influx of people can somewhat add a bit of life back into it.
  • Tugrul_512bit
    Hi, I started development, although with a different name and programming language (C++, Advanced Macro Devices: Deadlock Tycoon, I'm determined to complete it. But not sure how much time it will take. Maybe 1-2 years. I'm doing this on my spare time.

    First one was abandoned because no body kickstarted it as it was very early stage & had no development time.

    This time, C++ performance (multithreading, opencl gpu acceleration, etc) is going to be used for bigger pool of NPCs with even bigger CPU design areas such as a grid of 25 to 10000 (not limited but up to player skills) cells where each cell can be a module like a bus node, cache controller, cache bank, control unit or an alu. When minimal playable state is achieved, I'll add some friends to help development(again, in spare time). Maybe then I can get a kickstart from AMD. Even if no one helps, it will be developed, just at a lower pace. Because I need to play such a game and it won't develop by itself.

    Expecting the simulation (RTS part) to benefit most from multicores & big caches, similar to Factorio. But also be playable on low end systems just with higher running-time per turn. Graphics quality will be limited until some art is added (currently drawing modules on opencv).

    Planning on a more player-friendly CPU design pattern, rather than a 100% realistic one. Players will mainly try to evade deadlocks as much as possible while racing for highest performance in benchmarks to sell more processors. NPCs will have their own compute requirements and budgets, to really run their(or player's) algorithms on cpus bought from vendors. CPUs will be really getting instructions from memory/cache/register and computing. This simulation will exist in both RTS mode NPCs and the design process. Beginning of every month will have a turn-based phase. Buying factories, adjusting hq, initiating r&d, all long-term decisions will be made here.

    To ease the software development part in the game world, there will be a middle layer of compilation driver to convert generic programming codes into player's CPU architecture. So player will just define a loop, then driver skill will handle how well it maps to the designed CPU.