Indie Dev Interview: Blockade Runner

By Lo-Ping - Mon May 30, 2:00 pm

By my watch, there aren’t many vehicle construction games out there at the moment that are actually fun, and those that DO exist don’t have the added bonus of building a spaceship in the process! Indie developer Zanmgt has gotcha covered though, their game dubbed “Blockade Runner” is a first person building game using the 3-D blocky voxel look we’ve grown to love from that one game… not alot of people played it… Craftmine or something like that.

Now now children, before you get ready to post the words “Minecraft clone” let me be the first to assure you this game is in no way ripping off ‘ole MC.

Anyway, in Blockade Runner the player is tasked with creating their own spaceship in a dry-dock situation before ejecting their creation out into space to do whatever the hell you feel like doing. Some of the big selling points on this project are the inclusion of liquids and gasses (hull breaches actually mean something!) and mass. I’ve been infatuated with the concept from the moment I found it one late night surfing the web and managed to take a few moments of the developer’s time to ask a few questions! Read on for the  interview!

Q: What Inspired you to start making this game.
Oh, a lot of things; this really is a game we wanted to see since we were kids – we even made a pen and paper lego game back then where you’d calculate the mass of a lego starship on some grid paper to balance exactly what everybody’s ship could really do. So in some ways, it feels like an old familiar territory.
From an engine perspective, the initial inspiration came from modding Zach Barth’s Infiniminer back in April 2009. Although the voxel engine concept blew us away, it was Zach’s infamous lava that really got us thinking about how you could utilize more advanced cellular automata. Eventually we concluded that with a voxel engine and an algorithm to simulate liquids and gasses, we could build the space sim we’ve always dreamed about. A game where you could work together with other players to operate a “living starship”, where every power line, fuel tank, corridor and bulkhead actually existed and made a difference.

Q: What features do you want to put in place by the time you finish the game?
With this first release, our focus is on getting the majority of the starship systems in place along with getting a grasp for the overall look and feel of the game. Building starships and their interiors needs to be as painless as possible, the ships must rely on real operations for behavior, and you need to be able to move your character cleanly about the worldspace, even when the gravity is knocked out.
The larger portion of work on the starships will be having all of the internal components in place: power lines, fluids (fuel/water), gravity plating/systems, oxygen, heat, shields running across the hull, weapons, computer consoles, and ship severance. By the end of R1, we aim for you to be able to build a decent replica of your favorite sci-fi starship and see it come alive.

Later releases will focus on your vessel within solar systems (think Pirates/Elite/EV Nova), the ability to land your starship on procedurally generated planets, as well as an improved “poxel” rendering so we can have rounded pieces to construct the hull of your ship out of (this may come sooner rather than later).

Q: Will there be online functionality? If so will it be possible for a few friends to make a huge ship requiring multiple people to keep in running order?
Yes there will be on-line play, with game being specifically designed around having crews of human players, the amount depending on whether your ship is the “Millennium Falcon” or the “Enterprise”. The on-line portions are being designed to be more along the lines of Diablo rather then EVE, where you host a game and complete.
Altough multiplayer is extremely important for Blockade Runner – we wouldn’t make the game otherwise – we only plan to have a rough foundation of the netcode built until “Release 2” so we can focus our attention on the starship’s internal systems first.

Q: Are you guys going to take the popular route of a long-running Unfinished-Ware release with constant updates or will you go old school and release it when it’s done (a shocking option but an option nonetheless.
The game is obviously beginning as a “protoform”, but the plan is to develop Blockade Runner similarly to EVE, which generally releases expansion packs every six months to expand the game. We’re using these six month releases to ensure everyone can have a stable working product for their money, while allowing us a leaping point to integrate “high risk” features (landing on planetoids, solar system mechanics, etc).

I don’t know about you readers out there in the big NetWeberspace but my money is on this game being badass.

No seriously, I’m buying it when it comes out, my money really is on the line here.

-Gavin G.

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    Nice interview!

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