FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(Updated on October, 2013)
The Sandbox Update (Postponed to 2014)
What is Blockade Runner?
Inspired by Zach Barth's Infiniminer and Markus Persson's Minecraft’s voxel engines, Blockade Runner is the beginning of a Multiplayer First Person Space Adventure game that will feature fully destructible, operational, crewable 'living' starships in a massive and procedurally generated galaxy.
Although we're developing the engine to support a larger universe, our development focus for 2013 is on the multiplayer sandbox portion to work out the kinks on ship systems.
Why should I buy the game now?
Blockade Runner is still a work-in-progress and has a long journey ahead. You can follow along with the game's development for free or buy the game to get some extra benefits!
- Less Building Tools
- Symmetry Tool is locked
- Rectangle and Sphere shapes are disabled
- Limited assortment of Design Pieces
- Ship sizes limited to 32 meters
- Limited to public / stable builds
- All Available Design Tools
- Symmetry Tool
- Rectangle and Sphere Shapes
- All available Design Pieces
- Ships can be built to Unlimited Sizes (although less than 255^3 is recommended!)
- Access to Supporter-Only versions of the game (when available)
- Discounts on future expansions and add-ons
How much does Blockade Runner cost?
Currently only $10 to pre-purchase the full game and grant early access features in the game's Alpha.
Will I have to purchase Blockade Runner again?
No, once you purchase Blockade Runner you own it forever.
Do I have to buy it to play it?
No, and we recommend you try the free version of the game before supporting us with your hard earned cash!
What will Blockade Runner’s price be once it is out of Beta?
TBD, however the price of the Alpha will rise as development progresses.
Does Blockade Runner use DRM?
No, Blockade Runner is completely DRM free.
When is Blockade Runner’s Alpha expected to end?
When it's done. The game is a work in progress and involves many entirely new mechanics to prototype, test, and implement. It's entirely up to you if you want to tag along with us on this journey.
When do you see Blockade Runner being 'finished'?
We're very big fans of CCP's EVE: Online1 with its continually evolving universe (over 10 years and going strong!), and would like Blockade Runner to follow in EVE's footsteps with major improvements and expansions to Blockade Runner for years to come.
How long has Blockade Runner been in development?
We started the first version (W2) on March 24, 2011, so almost two years as of 2013!
What are Blockade Runner's system requirements?
Currently you require a PC with a Shader 2.0 videocard, XNA 3.1, Dot NET 3.5, and DirectX 9.0c.
What are some of the core features planned for Blockade Runner?
We're building the game around "living starships" so that every last meter of your ship matters, and can be built or destroyed at a whim while in multiplayer. Below are features that are very important to us with Blockade Runner:
- Build, fly, destroy, crew, commandeer, and have fun with your friends.
- Powerlines, fuel, gravity wells, heat dispersion, turrets, weight -- every part of your ship will make a difference.
- Simulated oxygen using our proprietary Liquid Cubed algorithm.
- Custom engine that enables dynamic destruction, and any style of pieces to be placed on your ship in any direction you like.
- Continual mod support to help flush out mechanics we're not able to get to fast enough.
Down the road the plan is to utilize the engine to enable quests and missions to perform, etc. In 2013 the priority is working out the kinks on the 'living starships' while working from an entirely re-built engine from scratch.
There's potential for an enormous amount of content, how will this all be done?
Blockade Runner is a dream project for us, and so we intend to support it for many years with constant updates and community mod support.
What features does the current public version have?
The current public version (0.71.0c) primarily has the Adv. Editor functionality, enabling you to build a star ship using advanced editor tools. A Solo/Multiplayer prototype is included in this version, but is highly unstable.
This version will soon be replaced by the upcoming sandbox update.
Will Blockade Runner support modding?
Yes, we got our start in game development through modding and plan to support both simple modding in the form of an editor for the Pieces (i.e. blocks) used in the game, as well as more advanced extension libraries so the community can add all-new content.
Modding capability is to be continually expanded throughout 2013, stay tuned!
Will I have an "avatar" or character to play as?
Yes, in the upcoming sandbox mode you will be able to choose from an assortment of avatars as they're added to the game.
Will Blockade Runner have "open world" gameplay?
Yes, but this is a ways away on the road map. For now the focus is on the sandbox mode to work out gameplay kinks.
Can I build ships like my grandpa, with a hydro-spanner and my own two hands?
In the upcoming sandbox mode you'll be encouraged to use the 'Builder mode' to design a ship, with the 'Player mode' used primarily to operate the star ships. Constructing a ship in a future 'Story/Adventure' setting will require proper materials and tools, and will be intentionally challenging.
Will ships eventually break apart when sections are not connected?
Yes, this is a very important mechanic to Blockade Runner.
Is Blockade Runner going to support mining of asteroids?
Yes, although we're designing the game to focus on other varieties of gameplay as well. Specifically, simultaneous first person and vehicular combat.
Our focus is on the starships and their systems, however landing your beautiful creation on an alien world should be possible in the future, likely in a dedicated expansion.
Planets are enormous! How will they work?
Essentially when you're orbiting the planet, you'd only be seeing a sphere with a 'snapshot' of the planet's surface wrapped around it. As you approach the planet's surface, the 'snapshot' is swapped out for the real voxel landscape. There's a lot more work to make it all happen smoothly, but that's the gist.
Is Blockade Runner multiplayer?
Version 0.71.0c contains a very rough prototype of the multiplayer, however the new upcoming sandbox mode supports a totally rebuilt engine made for multiplayer.
What will I be able to do in Multiplayer?
In the upcoming sandbox mode, all players can switch between a "Builder", a "Player", and a "Spectator" at any time. 'Builders' have a wide array of tools for working on ships with others, while a 'Player' is a character avatar that physically interacts with the ships.
You may fly, build, shoot, and do what you like in this setting, according to the host's rules.
What are the Single Player prospects in the current stage of development?
We've got to start with the sandbox to make sure the starship code is functioning appropriately before we can work on dedicated story/adventure gameplay. Being able to crew the bridge of your ship at any point with your buddies is very important to us!
Although the sandbox will increasingly have solo activities as mechanics like AI crew and warping are implemented, building and testing starships is all you can do Solo at the moment.
Will I be able to board/crew a ship in Multiplayer?
Yes, we've painstakingly built the engine to provide seamless Player character interaction with starships (regardless of their twisting, banking, and flying), so crewing any and all ships is as easy as finding the nearest airlock to get inside!
How will multiplayer be balanced?
'Balance' is tricky2, and although we'll do as much as we can to prevent obvious gimps, we're relying heavily on our 'everything matters' engine. Everything has a weight, or an energy cost, or a heat cost, etc. that will affect a ship.
We're hoping the upcoming sandbox mode will help us work with the community to fine tune balance as we go, and otherwise provide a testbed for sparring and battle rules.
Can I host my own Blockade Runner server?
Yes, in the upcoming sandbox update you'll simply run "server.exe" or make a private session public to host your own game for friends to join.
Do I need to use Port Forwarding?
No, and while the master server is online your games are automatically added to a multiplayer games listing. The master server is currently down while we work on the new sandbox update, so you will need to use Direct IP for version 0.71.0c.
Will Blockade Runner ever be an MMO?
A single server can only handle a limited number of players in a destructible voxel setting (our ballpark estimate is 4-12), however in the future community modding and server clusters might be capable of creating a facsimile of an MMO.
What engine does Blockade Runner use?
Blockade Runner is being built from scratch using a custom engine coded in C#, using XNA only as a rendering platform.
With XNA being retired by Microsoft, where does that leave Blockade Runner?
From the beginning, everything down to the polygon draw methods has been written by scratch by Nathan so we would not be dependent on XNA.
We've long looked into a move to SharpDX to provide us access to DirectX through C# (with negligible performance loss), and we will be making the transition to SharpDX soon.
Who is working on Blockade Runner's engine?
Nathan built almost all of the engine for the first year and a half (W2-W71) from scratch, and since then we've added Gabe and Zack as additional engine coders while overhauling older code.
Why not use an engine like Unity/UDK/Crytek?
To have many of the features we've planned for Blockade Runner requires very low level code access, as well as the knowledge that if something goes wrong, it's our own fault and not the manufacturer of the engine's.
We could have had some cool looking visuals pretty quick by using a pre-made engine, but it would have ultimately bottlenecked the game's development.
Will there be Mac and Linux support?
Hopefully we will be able to provide a Mac and Linux solution through community assistance with OpenGL. Priority is on PC for now.
Any plans for a Blockade Runner port to consoles?
We feel the concentration should be on the PC for the time being.
How do you pronounce "ZanMgt"?
Zan M.G.T. or Zan Management [zan man-ij-muhnt] will do!
Why is it called "Zan Mgt."?
We thought it was cute that the order the six of us were born ending up spelling out "Z-A-N-M-G-T" and sounded like "Zan Management". So we just rolled with it!
Where is ZanMgt located?
Traverse City, Michigan.
Can I make videos of Blockade Runner on YouTube?
For any public non-indev version (we'll alert you when its "indev"), of course! Just be sure to credit ZanMgt "the six sibling studio" and mention that the game is still early in development.
Who does the music for Blockade Runner's YouTube videos?
Samuel "SMH" Huse, you can see more of his work at the 8-bit collective or by visiting his website (currently under construction as of June 2011): http://shelobs.com/
Who's making Blockade Runner?
The six siblings of the studio, ZanMgt.
Are you all really siblings?
Yes we are, which gave us the benefit of having a shared childhood building LEGO® starships together. Which of course, makes the common vision for Blockade Runner much easier to communicate among the team!
Q and A / Interviews From the Beginning of BR's Development
The Sandbox Update (Postponed to 2014)
Since version 0.71.0c (August 2012) we've been hard at work on a major overhaul to Blockade Runner's engine so the entire foundation is built off of a stable multiplayer code base. There have been significant changes to the game internally, and so naturally there will be some questions on this forthcoming update!
When will it be out?
When it's done. No firm ETA yet due to high risk (schedule-wise) meticulous debugging.
When we've determined that we have a stable enough build for testing, a development build will be released privately to Founder Members in the Founder's Club Forums for testing by the community first. From there it will be released to the standard supporters, and then a return to Blockade Runner's public bi-weekly release schedule.
What's in the update?
Most notably (as it has been the primary concern) a solid and reliable multiplayer, but there are also over 200 items on the changelog (last we took the time to count), below being a few highlights:
- All Adv. Editor functionality possible in multiplayer. (order of full-integration (i.e. Undo, Mirror) subject to community prioritization)
- Sandbox as primary Multiplayer/Solo setting. In Sandbox, you can switch between Builder, Player, or Spectator seamlessly.
- All controls fully customizable in-game, including editable Builder mode controls.
- Seamlessly take a private building/testing session online and have your friends join in.
- Improved lighting and multiplayer physics.
- Much, much more!
No, we won't be able to get to it in time for the Sandbox update.
Will Power-lines be in the Sandbox update?
No, however Power-lines are first on the list after the Sandbox update is made public since ship systems are the priority this year.
Will my creations work in the new version?
Yes, although you will need to run the old .BRD ship file through a special converter application to convert it to the newer .BRS file format.
- Note that interior wall textures and plating will not be preserved during conversion, and will have to be re-placed.
Will I be able upgrade using wyUpdate?
You should be able to, however we'll probably recommend a fresh installation of the game.
How can I be alerted when its nearing release?
Follow us on Twitter for day-to-day progress, sign up for the Newsletter for general updates, or just poke us in the IRC.
Got a question not on this page?
Send us an e-mail or a Tweet! @ZanMgt