Preview: Blockade Runner

By: Alehkhs

On: April 24th, 2011

It’s undeniable that Minecraft is currently a large force in the indie gaming world, and while the topic of any new Minecraft-inspired games is a fanatically touchy subject with many gamers, I am always excited to see where developers might expand the gametype to next: It’s an important part of the advancement of game to take some already established ideas and use them in new environments. Last week, Ace of Spades utilized the place/destroy nature of voxels in a trench warfare game of capture-the-flag, and last week the formula began, quite literally, traveling to a new frontier.

Inspired by both the open-source Infiniminer and the wildly popular Minecraft, Blockade Runner aims to have players constructing spacecraft – complete with electronics systems, engines, crew stations, weapons batteries, and more – in a zero-g environment, then using them to explore the universe, either peacefully or struggling against fellow players. The game will also include a fluid algorithm for liquids as well as gasses, so if an enemy weapon happens to breach your ship’s hull, you’d better seal the hole quickly before all your air escapes into the vacuum of space.

Currently little more than an early (very early) prototype, Blockade Runner is being actively developed by ZanMgt, a dev-team comprised of six siblings. Their development schedule is split into 6-month release cycles, with weekly updates in between each major release. The current build (Release 1, Week 2) mainly only allows allows for the placement and removal of blocks of varying texture. Next week’s build plans to add propulsion systems to the ships.

Time will tell if Blockade Runner will soar to its full potential, but I’ll certainly be following the development closely.

Game Site

  • Jonathan Reardon

    Terraria looked pretty sweet imo. This one…not so much.

  • Banana

    This is an exact replica of minecraft

  • Alehkhs

    You just have that on your clipboad don't you? Ctrl+v and voilĂ !

  • Alehkhs

    While Terraria already has footage of its action-oriented gameplay, it'll probably be several months before the development of this game reaches that point.

  • Mark Johns

    It's weird that people are so touchy about riffing on the mechanics of Minecraft when Minecraft itself started out as a clone of another game's mechanics.

  • Alehkhs

    I actually remember playing Infiniminer with Notch, and recall when he first posted video of his own block-based “cave game tech test,” which he describes in the info as “an Infiniminer clone I'm working on.”

    I was – factually, if you dig through 250 pages of YouTube channel comments – the first to support it, even though it was nearly identical to a game both of us enjoyed thoroughly at the time. Why? Because I loved the concepts, the gameplay, not a game's name: why wouldn't I want to see those elements in other games?

  • Joaquim Borges

    I recall a time where all FPS' were called doomlikes.

  • meepmeep

    The 3 spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension is a complete rip-off of reality.

  • Madroc

    croutons… in… spaaaace…

  • akuryo


    Seriously, I mean literally EVERYBODY is so fucking ripping of The Almighty Creator Of The Universe. Be glad he didn't sue you guys already!

    Why don't you guys invent something like the universe for once UGH

  • Sph!nx

    Well, if I recall right, Notch got the idea of block building worlds from an older game. He started it to improve it to his own liking.

    I don't know if it is that new of a concept, but I do know, Minecraft brought the eye of the public on it. Someone has to be the first and all that follows in the first era will be compared with it by the general public.

    I'm always excited to see what direction others can take something like this!

  • Some Guy

    Except better

  • brad newby

    Beyond the very basic concept of controlling and building using a cube based environment, this looks absolutely nothing like minecraft. I mean, this is about as far removed from minecraft in scope, design aesthetics and over all gameplay as you can get while still using terrain destruction/construction and cubes. And really, terrain destruction and building is not new, and using cubes is just an easy way to quantify everything. If anything this is probably more akin to “battleships forever” and it's many pseudospawn. I'm interested to see where this goes and am looking forward to the absolutely ungodly massive ships people eventually build together.

    Also, dick ships. I'll just predict that right now. Giant dick ships.

  • Stij

    On a less Minecraft related note…

    I love sandbox games, but doesn't it seem like a lot of these developers are biting off more than they can chew? For example, Dwarf Fortress is an extremely ambitious and complex game, but despite years of development, it's still very difficult to get into and has plenty of bugs. Similarly, Shores of Hazeron looked like my dream game when I discovered it a few months ago, but I found it impossible to play. Same with Clonk, which is a bit more accessible, but still very annoying to play at times.

    I dunno where I'm going with this… it just seems like some sandbox games get a little TOO ambitious. This game looks like it's heading in the same direction, but I'll withhold my judgment until I actually play it. Interesting concept, at least.

    (also dickships are inevitable)

  • Guest

    Thought this was a post about shores of hazeron at first glance. Looks like it'll have a smaller scope, as in you control one person rather than an empire, which I think I'd prefer. Sandbox game do seem to be too ambitious and hard to get into for me when they have huge scopes.

    On minecraft ripoffs:
    It's not that people see minecraft and think how they can rip off the idea and make it into something fun (minecraft is pointless and boring as hell imo), it's that a world made of voxels makes it so much easier to make cellular automatons with different blocks interacting in different ways. Ace of spades takes minecraft and turns it into a shooter with destructible terrain. Red Faction did that 10 years ago. This game will use voxels to allow the player to construct ships with more customization that any other similar game.
    The guys at Unlimited Detail are essentially using voxels just for display, instead of having the world made of voxels displayed with polygons.

  • Beau_JC

    Looking pretty awesome so far! I could see a lot of potential for this if its fully explored. I mean, christ — you could have full minecraft worlds to strip and travel in between as you wage intergalactic warfare! I also like the music. Did you guys compose, or is it pulled from something?

  • Consumatopia

    I like the idea of using voxels to represent objects but letting those objects freely rotate and move. Seems like that combines the advantages of voxel and mesh representations.

    I wonder if it would still make sense if this were a terrestrial game–could one make a Minecraft-type game that would let you build vehicles and other moveable objects one block at a time? Or would people try to build towers of un-aligned voxel boulders and then wonder why they couldn't “weld” the boulders together? Or maybe if the “voxels” were billboarded particles rather than cubes then you could support welding between objects?

    I'm also curious about the decision process that results in making a game based on procedural or user content generation in a sci-fi space setting? Setting this sort of game in the future implies the existence of some sort of backstory–if you have the technology to make spaceships, where did that technology come from? Tacking on a backstory to one of these “building” games strikes me as unfortunate.

  • Consumatopia

    In my fantasy world, Dwarf Fortress is designed with some sort of plugin system or client-server model so Toady can focus on making the simulation ever deeper while all those people who make 3rd party hack tools to make DF easier or prettier could all work on a more usable graphical interface or client.

  • Davioware

    I cannot wait to explore these vast cheese worlds. (Trailer music at 1:09 fades in…)

  • anthonyflack

    The indie scene is undoubtedly very susceptible to memes. Popular themes, styles and mechanics sweep through regularly.

    It's hard to see how this is a bad thing though. A thorough exploration of a concept often yields some surprising results along the way.

  • anthonyflack

    I guess if you tried to weld two unaligned chunks together they could snap into alignment.

  • Cave Johnson

    Now that is one ugly motherfucker of a game. And the typework in the trailer is even worse. I find it always alarming. Sue me, but I can't trust some guys to deliver a decent game when they dont' show any sense of style and look at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this game could be very decent gameplaywise, but they really should get help from a graphic artist.

  • Cave Johnson

    Wow, I'm sorry I postet in the wrong talkback. This was supposed to refer to “Shores of Hazeron” two post below *shame*

  • Vania

    Voxel engines are awesome and they have a lot of potential.
    But can we wait until the games are at least in beta before posting here?

  • ConcernedDragon

    No we can't. Because minecraft went so far, Derek automatically assumes that every other voxel-based game will do just as well and wants to be amongst the first to post about it.

  • Alehkhs

    Well, aside from not being Derek, I also like to post about things I like and am interested in, and as one of the nice things about indie games is the transparent nature of their development, I like to post about projects that are being, well, developed.

  • Brandon McCartin

    Uh oh, ConcernedDragon is catching on to the fact that we're all secretly Derek!

  • Supertalentedmofo

    Kingdom Hearts minigame ripoff

  • Frabs

    YES. This looks amazing. If they start selling this i will throw money at them.
    Oh how i wish i could take back the money i spent on Minecraft.

  • PhasmaFelis

    I think Toady's deal is that his goal in life is to be working on a game. “Finishing a game” or even “releasing a stable, playable, polished beta of a game” isn't anywhere on his to-do list.

    Notch seems to be much better about that. His development does wander around a bit, but he's got realistic goals in mind and he generally works towards them.

    Obviously you want developers to be of the latter type, but it seems the kind of big-idea guys who conceive indie sandbox games are skewed towards the former.

  • PhasmaFelis

    The rule appears to be: first (well-known) game to do something is brilliant, second is a filthy shameless rip-off, 100th is business as usual. When's the last time you heard someone call an FPS a “Doom clone”?

    I can't fucking wait for Minecraft-inspired voxel games to reach that “business as usual” point, so it can just be a regular thing without everybody hissing and spitting about it.