Anthony Rotondo Ben Garney
|Publisher(s)||Step 1 Games LLC|
|Engine||Torque Game Engine|
|Release date(s)||November 15, 2004 (Freeware)
February 24, 2007 (Retail)
December 16, 2013 (Steam)
|Mode(s)||Single-player, LAN, Multiplayer|
Blockland is a single and multiplayer computer game built on the Torque Game Engine, in which players build using Lego-like building blocks. It was developed by Eric "Badspot" Hartman and was released on February 24, 2007. The game is not endorsed by, or affiliated with the Lego brand. However, at one point, Lego was in talks with Eric about selling Blockland. It was spotlighted on The Screen Savers on February 11, 2005, drastically increasing the user base overnight. As of July 2015, the game's community consists of over 185,000 users who have purchased Blockland. Blockland has also been featured on Shack News. On December 16, 2013, Blockland was released on Steam after spending nearly a year on Steam Greenlight.
Blockland is a non-linear open world game with no set goals, giving players the freedom to design and construct elaborate structures. Styled as a tiny minifigure, players build inside of the virtual world using bricks reminiscent of toy blocks. These structures can be built in either a single-player or multiplayer (either online or through a local area network) setting. Any player who buys the game is able to host a standard server, able to hold up to 100 players, however that depends on internet connectivity. There have been a few instances of servers with over 100 players. Using tools included in the game, a player can change the properties of individual bricks, having the ability to adjust their lighting, particle emitters, specularity, color, and spawned items. Blockland also features destructible vehicles, player controlled npcs, a selection of weapons, saving and loading of player creations, semi-automated construction through macros, and a mini-game system. The minigame system enables users to create configurable and self-contained gameplay modes. These can range from a simple deathmatch to a custom-modded zombie survival game. Implemented in Blockland is a trigger and event-based system to create basic interactive objects. Players can apply input and output operators to bricks to accomplish different things in-game such as operable light switches, missile launchers, collapsing brick structures, or arcade-like games such as Pong or Breakout. In version 11, a new physics feature was included in an attempt to bring a more realistic aspect to the game. This can be seen when a brick structure is blown up using weapons or events. The physics quality can be lowered to work smoother on slower machines, or can be turned off entirely.
Included on the official Blockland website is a free download of the demo version of Blockland. While allowing players to experience many features from the full version of Blockland, players are limited to loading default builds and cannot load any third party add-ons or saves. Included in the demo is a tutorial in which the players can learn the basics of Blockland. You may also jump in to several pre-created maps for you to explore and build in. The demo also does not allow online play, limiting players to single-player games. It is, however, possible to join LAN servers created by owners of the full version. As of August 9, 2012, with the release of shadows and shaders, the brick limit was removed so players can now build with the amount of bricks they want, but are restricted to use add-ons or saves that are in the game by default. The demo version is upgraded to the full version when a unique activation key is purchased from the Blockland website and authenticated through the game.
Included in the game since version 9, there has been a trigger and output eventing system. Users can create their own events through the use of TorqueScript. There are 50–55 events included in the game by default, 25 input and 27–30 output. Outputs can affect the player, player's client, the brick itself, another brick, or the minigame. All interaction with events is done through a GUI. Players can also download more events using the game's Add-On system, allowing them easier ways to perform complicated actions, for example using an Add-On to create a bot "vehicle" instead of creating a horse then eventing it to become a bot.
Shadows and Shaders
Included in the game on August 9, 2012 an update called "Shadows and Shaders" (also known as Version 21 update) removed interiors and terrain and added GLSL shadows and shaders, along with gamemodes, customizable skyboxes, and day/night cycle customization. Additionally, it provided users with coding knowledge the ability to make custom shader files by changing their names from the original files and addressing those via the in-game console instead of the default shaders. Blockland's shaders do not work with Intel HD and Iris Graphics Video Cards, a common card found in Macbook Pro computers, at above level minimum.
A prototype version of Blockland, known as 'Vanilla Blockland', was released on November 15, 2004. The "Globe and Mail" wrote an article on this early version of Blockland in which creator Eric Hartman claimed the game had gained 20,000 users in the 4 years since it "became big". At one point, Lego offered to buy Blockland from Hartman and give him a job working on the game for at least a year. After not hearing back from Lego for some time, Eric went ahead with working on a more complete, retail version of Blockland, having removed all of the copyrighted Lego content. The retail version of Blockland was completed and released on February 24, 2007. On August 8, 2012, a new version was released, removing interiors and terrain but adding more dynamic lighting to builds. The game was greenlit on Steam Greenlight (a user-voting system to promote games onto the Steam gaming platform) on August 28, 2013, causing a lot of excitement for the community. One community server had over 150 players in the server, being a record for Blockland itself. On December 16, 2013, Blockland was released on Steam after spending nearly a year on Steam Greenlight.
Blockland features an add-on system to aid users in managing custom content, such as weapons, vehicles, types of brick effects, player commands and game modes which allows users to write add-ons for the game to share with other players. Add-ons range from new items to total overhaul modifications. These add-ons are packed into a zip file containing the scripts and media required for the add-on. The add-on can then be placed into a folder for Blockland to automatically load into the game (provided it is packaged correctly) as it starts up a server. While Blockland is not open source, all of the default vehicles and weapons in the game use the add-on system so players can examine working examples to help them learn how to modify the game. Types of add-ons created by the Blockland community include weapons, interface additions/modifications, gameplay modes, vehicles, custom event-system inputs/outputs, and building environments. The base game has few vehicles and weapons, and it is so simple to modify that the entire game is almost completely made of custom content. Additional add-ons can be found on the Blockland forums.
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