25 ratings
Contraption Maker Basics
By gorilla nest and 1 collaborators
Need some help with Contraption Maker? This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to start making contraptions in no time.

This guide is a work in progress and will get much better over time. Please leave any questions in the comments section.
Lab Overview

1. Contraption Area
This is where you build your contraptions. You can zoom in/out and pan around to make contraptions any size you want.
2. Play Controls

The play controls are used to run your contraption. Click the green play button to begin the simulation. Once started, hit the stop button to stop the contraption and reset everything. The fast forward button on the right allows you to run your contraption at 2x and 4x normal speed.

The red button on the left will record a video of your contraption running. While recording, the game will not run in real time. This is normal, and when you play your video back it will run at a normal framerate. You can adjust recording settings to record faster, but it will lower the quality of your video output.

Videos will output to .webm format. This video format is small, and can be uploaded directly to YouTube. Evetually, you will be able to upload to YouTube directly from the game.
3. Parts Bin
The parts bin holds all of the parts available for you to use. Drag a part from here to your contraption window to use it. The tabs up at the top separate the parts into different categories for easier browsing.
4. Scenery Bin
Like the parts bin, but for scenery pieces. Drag pieces from here to your contraption window to place them.
5. Layer Panel
This is used to organize choose the different layers of your scenery. This is explained in more detail in the "Background Tool" section.
6. Top Menu

All of the options here are associated with the contraption they are attached to. The options from left to right are:
  • Save: Save your contraption.
  • Share: Share your creation to the Steam Workshop as either a puzzle or a contraption.
  • Contraption Options: A more detailed contraption options dropdown.
  • Undo/Redo: Undo or redo a mistake.
  • Zoom In/Out: Zoom the contraption window in or out. This can also be done with the mouse wheel.
7. Toolbar

The toolbar allows to to access different tools. More options will show up here as more tools are added to the game. The buttons from left to right are:
  • Pan/Select: Switch your cursor from select to pan. This can also be done temporarily by holding down the spacebar.
  • Parts Bin: Brings your parts bin to the front incase you lose it behind other windows.
  • Scenery Bin: Brings your scenery bin to the front incase you lose it behind other windows.
  • Layer Panel: Brings your layer panel to the front incase you lose it behind other windows.
  • Video Options: Opens up the video options window. Here, you can adjust your video resolution and quality.
8. File Bar

From left to right, the file bar options are:
  • Home: Leave the Maker Lab and return to the main menu.
  • Open: Open a saved contraption.
  • New: Create a new contraption.
  • Quit: Quit Contraption Maker and return to the desktop.
Using Parts
Grab a part from the parts bin to put it into your contraption. Once a part is placed, it has a number of different options available. Not every part has all of these options:

Part description: This brings up a window showing and explaining what the selected part does.
Flip: Flip the part through different set orientations.
Rotate: Rotate the part by grabbing and moving the handle.
Goal: Assign a goal to a part in order to make a solvable puzzle. This is explained more in depth in the "Making a Puzzle" section.
Lock/Unlock: Lock or unlock a part for puzzle creation.
State Editor: Some parts can have their starting state edited. For example, a candle can be set to already be lit when a contraption starts.
Trash: Throw the part away and remove it from your contraption.
Handles: There are a few different handles for parts. These allow you to rotate, scale, and detach certain parts.
Background Tool
Background pieces are different from contraption parts. They are purely decorative, and do not affect anything in the simulation. These pieces must be placed on scenery layers, and they can't be placed on the parts layer of your contraption.

The layer panel allows you to select the different layers, add or remove new layers, and move their position. Background layers above your parts layer will show up in front of your contraption, and layers underneath will show up behind it.

The slider on the left is used to adjust the opacity of your different layers. The eyeball is used to turn the visibility of a layer on and off. Next to the eyeball is a toggle that allows you to lock a layer. A locked layer can't be edited or adjusted.

Once a background piece is placed, it can be moved around, sized, flipped, rotated, or thrown away.
Making a Puzzle
Want to show off how much of a genius you are? Make your own custom puzzle for everyone to solve. Once you have gone through the simple creation process, you can share it on the Steam Workshop to try and stump the world. Follow this guide to create your first puzzle:

  • 1. Make a working contraption
    The first step in making any puzzle is to make a working contraption. The contraption should end with something that can be done as a goal. Something like having a ball end up off the screen or in a box, or turning on a blender.
  • 2. Program a goal
    Once you have your contraption created, you can program a goal to your "goal part". Parts in the game that have this button can have a goal assigned to them. Goals can relate to the location and state of a part. Location goals are things like "get the ball off of the screen", or "Get Tim into the box." State refers to the actual state of the object. This allows you to make puzzles like "blow up the bomb", or "light the candle". Once you have a solution programmed, you can run your contraption to see if it runs successfully.
  • 3. Lock all of your parts
    In the "contraption options" drop down menu, there is an option to lock & unlock all of the parts. A locked part can't be moved by the player who is trying to solve the puzzle.
  • 4. Unlock key parts
    Unlocked parts go into the parts bin and must be placed by the player. Try to choose parts that are key to solving the puzzle. Try to avoid unlocking parts that will break your puzzle. For example, if you want the player to flip a switch and you unlock a ball, they could just place the ball right above your switch.
  • 5. Add a few red herrings
    Add decoy parts that are meant to confuse the player or throw them off track of the real solution. Decoy parts are added by just placing a few parts and keeping them unlocked.
  • 6. Add a description
    Add a description for your puzzle in the contraption options menu. The description will come up when a player loads your puzzle so they know what to do. You can also add a little story or setting, but be sure you include the goal of the puzzle.
  • 7. Test your puzzle
    Enter "test mode" from the contraption options. This will run your puzzle like it will for everyone who plays it. All of your unlocked parts will go into the parts bin, and you won't be able to move the locked parts. You can then try to solve your puzzle and make sure it works.
  • 8. Share to the Workshop
    Share your puzzle to the Workshop so everyone can play it! This is explained in detail in the next section.

This is the goal editor. All goals applied to a part must be met in order to have a successful solution. In this example, the candle must be off the screen and lit to be successful. If the candle gets off the screen but is not lit, the puzzle will not solve.

The contraption options are mostly involved with helping you make puzzles.
  • Description: Enter a description of your puzzle so that the player knows what they have to do to solve it.
  • Background Color: Change the background color of your contraption.
  • Test Mode: Enter into test mode. This will lock down all of your locked parts, and put all of your unlocked parts into the parts bin. You can then try to solve your puzzle like everyone else will have to.
  • Music: This is where you will set the music for your contraption.There is no music to select from at the moment (coming very soon!). If you wish to add your own music, you can add a .ogg music file into your local Contraption Maker music folder.
  • Resize Puzzle: This sets the playable area for your puzzle. You can place things outside of the boundary, but the player will not be able to see or place anything outside of it. This helps set the bounds of your puzzle without having to box in your whole contraption with walls.

    Try not to place parts of your puzzle beyond the bounds, because that makes for a frustrating puzzle. You can place some scenery pieces partially out of bounds to make your background look more complete. Soon, we will have an animation tool that will let you start scenery pieces out of bounds and have them move into view.
Sharing to the Workshop
Click the "share" icon on a contraption to share it to the Steam Workshop. You can choose to share it as either a puzzle or a contraption. Puzzles have a goal and only specific parts in the parts bin. Contraptions are for just showing something cool. They don't have a goal, and aren't meant to be solved by a player.
Puzzle/Contraption Browser
The play browser is separated into three main sections: Official, Community, and My Stash.

This is where you play and solve official puzzles for Contraption Maker. Because this is the Alpha, there are only a few test puzzles for examples. The main focus of the game right now is in making your own creations in the Maker Lab. As the game gets closer to the final release version, expect to find over 100 official puzzles here to solve.
This is where you browse everything uploaded by other players in the Steam community. Right now, there are two types of uploads to browse: puzzles and contraptions. Puzzles have a set goal, and you are given specific parts to try and solve that goal. Contraptions are just cool things that people made and want to share. These don't have goals, and they have no limitations on what parts you can use.
My Stash
Your stash holds puzzles and contraptions that you have uploaded to and downloaded from the stash. If you subscribe to a puzzle from the workshop, you can come here later to play it.
Keyboard Shortcuts
Contraption Maker has a few keyboard shortcuts. As more are added, you can find them here. Eventually, you will be able to assign your own custom key bindings.

  • Alt + Enter: Switch between fullscreen & windowed mode
  • Spacebar: Hold spacebar to temporarily switch between the selection and pan tools
  • Shift: To make placing parts easier, many are placed on a grid and will automatically line up with other parts. Hold shift to disable this if you want to fine tune your part placement.
  • Alt + F: Put your currently active contraption into fullscreen mode. This is helpful if you want to take a large screenshot or video. Press Esc to exit fullscreen mode.
  • Right click: Clone a part.
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sr. Hache Dec 27, 2013 @ 9:28pm 
Can't wait for this!!!
Pig Wizard Nov 13, 2013 @ 5:58pm 
Loved these games growing up and love this one! Please make a PLAY shortcut :)
TheNerdbilly Aug 31, 2013 @ 9:54am 
Great guide!! It helped me a lot in the designing, testing and publishing to workshop of my first simple puzzle.
Artem Aug 31, 2013 @ 8:51am 
Also middle mouse click (scroll click) to move contraption canvas.
Relys Aug 31, 2013 @ 1:06am 
Quality documentation from a SE standpoint. You guys seem deticated and know what you're doing. You now have my $10.
­class101 Aug 28, 2013 @ 3:25am 
I wonder how you can do a guide the game does not even have the Add to cart button on the store page

Anyway +fav +vote guys