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Space, Cubed: Blockade Runner

My ship is going to have arms that are holding guns

Much has changed in the world of crafty space sim Blockade Runner since I last took a look so it seems only correct to don my fishbowl and head once more into the void. The game receives a lot of updates, many of which are only truly appreciable from within, and the free version now reflects the latest additions in stripped-back form so if you have the slightest interest in building and crewing a cuboid starship, it is advisable to download the trial immediately. Or perhaps read on to learn more.

Before actually moving on to the business of blocks, the most important change since I last wrote about the game is a rejigging of the pricing model. I didn’t think the original model was unfair, structured around payments for each major release, but I worried it may confuse people and dissuade them from purchasing an early version of a game they were otherwise interested in. With alpha releases, there’s a strong temptation to wait for the next version, with increased stability and fancy new features. If buying one version gives access to the next, there’s a greater incentive to buy in early, thereby funding development of those fancy new features.

Under the new model, $10 gives instant access to all versions of the game, with updates occurring approximately bi-weekly until release in mid-late 2012. Early adopters will also receive a discount on any expansion packs produced after that date.

I would totally turn this into a minimalist lounge with a cocktail bar in the corner

The crafts that glide through the dark and silent abyss are becoming easier to shape. Here is the latest:

Metal frames are the foundation for spacecraft in Blockade Runner. After placing down frame, you can armor any part of the frame with a variety of hull platings, decorate the hallways within and soon you’ll be able to rope powerlines and utilities right through the frames.

All this is progress along the path to ships with fully functioning systems that can be broken by severed power lines as corridors are shredded by incoming fire. Much like the ships, the game is being built to support more and more complex interactions between components as it expands. In the coming weeks the game will receive non-blocks in the shape of computer consoles, doors and weaponry, as well as point and click design for interiors.

There will even be furniture, hopefully allowing me to fulfill my dream of easing back into the faux-leather comfort of my captain’s armchair on the bridge of the Valiant Brandy-Snifter Of Gregarious Gentry, the corridors lined with antiquated book cases containing the knowledge of cultures long dead. I want an interstellar library-vault, which happens to bristle with lasers.

This is also the rare post in which I can say ‘procedurally generated voxel asteroids’ in a sentence that isn’t angrily demanding their existence in a genre where they are far from appropriate. They really would spice up the majority of racing games though. I’m not wrong. Blockade Runner will be clogging its space with them though and here’s one that it made earlier.

pretzel-face-asteroid. we meet again

Marvelous.

Plenty of other changes have taken place, including the addition of a new lighting system, which will eventually provide dynamic lights inside and outside ships. It does appear that there’s plenty of work going into the visual appeal of the game, which is certainly something I approve of. Building things, especially giant space things, is more enjoyable when it’s possible to give them character and individuality.

This video contains visual approximations of all the words above, which means you could probably have skipped them and gone straight to this. And maybe you did. Well done you.

Have any of you actually tried Blockade Runner yet? It seems like the kind of thing that practically demands an intrepid crew of RPS folk explore it in a ramshackle construction. Perhaps in the future, once I can captain my library-vault, I’ll lead some brave souls to distant stars. Expect a recruitment drive later this year and, in the meantime, train yourself to survive the heat of a thousand suns. I only want the best.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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