Spacecraft: Blockade Runner

I miss my childhood lego

It seems like everywhere I look there are games springing up with procedurally generated worlds and fully destructible environments. That’s partly because I spend most of my waking hours looking at websites for in development, ambitious indie projects, but I’m still surprised by how many of the things there are. There are 3D and 2D choices, there are more complex iterations and this one here is set in space. It’s called Blockade Runner, which is the headline gag I would have used if it had been called literally anything else. Although in pre-release at the moment, it is possible to preorder and play around with the ship designer while waiting for a more functional version next year. Video and more details below.

It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but then who among us can claim to be? The moment in the video that made me realise what I wanted from this was seeing a laser tear through a ship, from the perspective of a crew member inside that ship. Imagine watching as an entire subsection is ripped away, drifting off into space with your friends spilling out into the void. OK, now stop imagining it because it’s potentially depressing, depending on how vivid your imagination and how much you care for your friends.

They will be real friends in most cases, from what I understand. The game is being designed to support multiple players, either crewing the same ship or fighting against each other. Sometimes both, depending on their numbers. I do wonder how exciting different jobs on board ship will be but manning guns and rushing around to fix breaches in the hull both seem like they’d be good times. For more specifics, check out the very helpful FAQ right here.

One potential snag at the moment is the pricing model. There are plenty of games looking for players eager to see early release versions, using that to fund their development. Everyone’s opinion on that structure will vary; personally, I think it’s a great way to support ambitious projects. However, in the case of Blockade Runner, the current plan is to have those who pay now pay again for each major milestone release, which are planned annually. They’ll get a discount but their early support won’t give them lifetime subscription.

I don’t mind paying what is essentially an annual subscription if the game becomes what it promises to be, but this model makes me much more hesitant to pay for anything right now. Why buy the first early release when you’ll have to pay again for something better? It may encourage people to wait rather than doing what is presumably intended, which is getting people on board the blockship as soon as possible.

Discussion already suggests this might change. In the meantime, who is already imagining a galaxy of Minecraft planets in a persistent online universe, with people piloting spaceships between them? YES.


  1. Biscuitry says:

    “I don’t mind paying what is essentially an annual subscription if the game becomes what it promises to be”

    This sums up my opinion completely, without the following caveat. I’ve already paid for the first release.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Likewise. I’m interested in seeing what this could become.

    • Lev Astov says:

      Hear, hear!

      I’m already furiously building my first ship hull, to be filled with equipment and systems when they eventually add them.

    • JarinArenos says:

      Same here. Consider it something more akin to a Kickstarter. You’re supporting the development of something potentially awesome, and you get a glimpse of it in-progress.

  2. simonh says:

    Here is an interesting dev blog about a Minecraftlike MMO that also has procedurally generated cube-asteroids.

  3. Moni says:

    Captain Forever FPS.

    Not my Captain Forever, etc.

    • godgoo says:

      Not my Captain, Forever.

    • Wulf says:

      Captain Forever was the first thing I thought of when I saw this. And, really, CF is really very fun. It already has the ship building aspect and ship to ship combat.

      So I went to play Captain Forever instead. Well, Captain Successor, actually. I played quite a bit of that, and had fun.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    I do wonder how exciting different jobs on board ship will be but manning guns and rushing around to fix breaches in the hull both seem like they’d be good times.

    Very Space Station 13.

    In the meantime, who is already imagining a galaxy of Minecraft planets in a persistent online universe, with people piloting spaceships between them? YES.

    It seems a long, long way from that.

  5. HeavyHarris says:

    WELP, I’m makin the Death Star

  6. DainIronfoot says:

    I’m not a graphics snob by any means, but all the art style does is make me wish that more had come of Spore’s creation tools.

  7. JackDandy says:

    It sounds interesting, but I’m getting tired of the entire “Pay us before it’s ready, and maybe you’ll get a game”. Minecraft betrayed a lot of people using that formula.

    • LionsPhil says:

      …and there I was thinking that Minecraft might be the one counterexample.

      No, wait, Overgrowth. Overgrowth is the other one counterexample.

    • FCA says:

      Off-topic: I paid for Minecraft and got a fun sandbox game. If that doesn’t satisfy you, Notch is still developing it, right? You might find development going too slow, but don’t all games suffer from delays and feature cuts?

      On-topic: The idea behind this is something from my dreams, I’ll try the free version to see if the implementation is something I can get behind. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of joysticks though, hopefully “seats of the pants”-flying will be possible.

    • DainIronfoot says:

      Mount and Blade did it ages before minecraft. Worked very well.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think the model for Minecraft has worked well. I’ve enjoyed experiencing the new features as they come in. My only gripe about it is that Mojang seem more interested in adding new features than fixing the ones that are already there. For example, adding persistent animals with no way of spawning new ones (chickens aside) was dumb. If they’re going to do that, I’d rather they add fully-formed features. Sure, community feedback has probably helped Minecraft immensely, but breaking existing features or adding something like experience that does nothing at all is a bad idea.

    • Flakfizer says:


      You paid a tiny amount of money for massive amounts of sandbox fun so now Notch is your Arch Nemesis?

    • LTK says:

      That’s not how the formula works. It’s ‘pay us for an unfinished game, and we’ll give you (discounts on) updates as they come along’. You can’t betray people by giving them more than what they paid for.

  8. Consumatopia says:

    I guess if you make players pay for new versions, maybe they won’t be loudly insisting that new versions are released faster, like Minecraft? I mean, Mojang can say “subsequent updates are only an added bonus and not a guarantee”, but that’s like when Q-tips cotton swabs say “don’t put this in your inner ear”–you know dang well that’s how most Q-tips are used and, at least in earlier days, most Minecraft purchases were made based on expectations of future Minecraft development.

    • jplayer01 says:

      Really? I bought Minecraft for what it was at the time, not what it would become. Everything else afterwards was just one bonus after another. But then I’m not what you would call a religious or dedicated Minecraft player. I played it for a month, messed around with mods, played online for a while and generally had my fun. Best 10 Euros I spent all year.

    • godgoo says:

      I have to second that. I bought Minecraft just for the sandbox legoesqueness of the alpha, I wasn’t particularly aware of anything it was ‘supposed’ to become. Besides I sank hours into it and really enjoyed what I got for only a few pounds.

    • jonfitt says:

      The main problem was the weekly Friday updates. it was great that Notch would hammer out (an often horribly buggy) new feature each week, but people came to expect that forever more.
      Things slowed down around the same time he formed Mojang which lead some people (not I) to complain that he had taken their money and let them down.
      Personally I see it that updates take longer but they are far more significant, biomes, the Nether, the map features like towns.
      Perhaps they should employ someone just to jam in fun but hopelessly buggy features each week?

  9. jplayer01 says:

    Don’t know what you’re talking about. To me, this game looks incredibly sexy. It may not have bumpmapping, SSOA, soft shadowing, tesselation or any other newfangled graphics technology which has pretty much zero impact on gameplay. You know what it will have? Spaceships (no, make that *livable spaceships*), lasers, space battles and procedurally generated galaxies.

    One word: Sold.

    • Wulf says:

      Captain Forever also has these things, and is definitely worth a look if that’s your sort of thing. (It is mine.)

  10. Kernkraftritter says:

    You picked the absolutely worst time possible to report on this. W23 is supposed to come out today, and with it a new free trial version that (fingers crossed on this) includes LAZORS! I’ve following BR since W4 (way before they even had propulsion) but still haven’t bought it, since I was quite afraid that the project might go nowhere. Now that’s hardly an issue anymore.

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  12. jonfitt says:

    Here’s the one sticky point for me with the “Minecraft” funding system. I am not sure how I feel about Minecraft money being used for other projects (Scrolls) at this stage.
    A company of course invests its profits into future games, but with this “Pay us to finish the game” model, can they really be called profits yet until they’ve finished the game?
    Of course there is zero legal complaint, you bough Minecraft and were guaranteed the final game when it was done. However initially it was very much sold as a “help me fund this game”.
    I think you need to stick a fork in your first project before formally swapping from beggar to company.

    • Danny252 says:

      Though when do you define “finished”?
      When Notch sticks a “1.0” on the front? (He could happily do that today and claim it’s done)
      When Notch stops making updates for the game? (Which would just be dumb – very few companies don’t add something to the game after “release”)
      When some person (you, me, others) “think” it’s finished? (“I can build a massive stone fortress, and that’s what I was after, so it must be done!” “But there’s no $feature yet!”)

    • LTK says:

      I find it amusing that developers with transparent business practices often get the most flak for what they do with their time and money. You may be wishing that the money you paid for Minecraft is directed to develop Minecraft, but you never hear anyone wishing that EA didn’t spend the money they made from Battlefield 3 on, hell I dunno, what do EA execs buy? Crack and whores?

      Besides, Mojang literally has more money than they know what to do with, so it’s not like Minecraft development is financially inconvenienced by any other projects they start.

  13. LTK says:

    This looks like it can turn into something really interesting! Though, like Minecraft (we’re not gonna be able to get away from Minecraft comparisons, are we?), it’s hard to judge the content of the game when the only available trailers are showcasing additional features rather than giving an overview of what the game essentially is. I know, I know, in the olden days we had nothing but the box cover and the instruction booklet to judge a game, so maybe I should stop complaining and just try it.

    The destruction physics are really something that tickle me. I was just reading the tvtropes page of Ramming Always Works (I will spare you the link) and I’m really interested in exactly how violently things are going to come apart in this game.

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  15. MrBRAD! says:

    I think everyone KNEW this game was going to exist as soon as they saw minecraft come onto the radar. I even threw together a barebones design doc for something like it.

    Cubes are a boring shape.

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  17. TomEllinson says:

    Reminds me of Shores of Hazeron, sort of. That has, probably, one of the best ship-building systems ever.

    Now that in a cuboid environment would be awesome.

  18. JiminyJickers says:

    They lost me at multiplayer only.