Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

TG Interview with ZanMgt of Blockade Runner

Collapse
X
Collapse

  • TG Interview with ZanMgt of Blockade Runner


    ZanMgt (officially pronounced "Zan Management") is the "Six Sibling Studio" comprised of the Harris siblings in the order they were born: Zack, Aaron, Nathaniel, Micah, Gabriel and Terah. Blockade Runner is their latest title, the "multiplayer first person space adventure game”. Influenced by the success of Infiniminer and Minecraft, Blockade Runner aims to provide fully destructible 'living' starships in a procedurally generated space environment.

    With the recent release of a new demo of Blockade Runner, I was able to sit down with some of the developers to discuss their studio and latest project on behalf of Tactical Gamer.



    Strait Raider: Can you tell us a bit about how ZanMgt began?

    Aaron: It started with us building our own games from scratch when we were kids, and as each of our younger siblings gained interest we'd teach them what we knew and work together on our homebrew projects.


    SR: So what roles do each of you play in the team?

    A: The roles are based on everyone's individual skills, and luckily for us we're pretty much split down the middle with coders and artists.

    Gabriel: Aaron, Micah, and Terah being the artists, Zack, Nathan, and I [Gabe] being the coders.


    SR: You have a very close connection with your player community. How do you feel this effects the development of your game? How do you see this relationship evolving as your player-base grows?

    A: Everyone in the community gives us great feedback on how we're doing and really help to keep us on track. The community that's grown is really above and beyond what we could have hoped for, and we're especially thankful for their patience, as we've spent the past year building Blockade Runner's engine.

    G: As to the community's evolution, we hope there won't be much of a change! We always want to remain connected to the community. It sounds corny, but the truth is we wouldn't be here without them.


    SR: Alright, time for some heavy hitters. What is Blockade Runner going to do that sets it apart from anything else on the market?

    A: There was a time with Minecraft when Notch would add entirely new mechanics to the game every Friday, and thanks to the freedom of the voxel engine, the game could go nearly anywhere each week.

    That kind of iterative and evolving game had a big impact on us, and we'd like to continue that experience in Blockade Runner, expanding the game's universe one step at a time.


    SR: That's a good segue into my next question: What stage is BR at in development? Where do you hope to be in 6 months? A year?

    A: We just wrapped up the editor to a point where it's stable, so we now have a good opportunity to break the solo/multiplayer with rapid updates while still leaving everyone with something for their hard earned cash in the editor.

    With gameplay now the focus, Blockade Runner should start heading towards a proper game within the coming months. We'll be starting the gameplay from the character alone on an asteroid and work our way up with no instant menus for travel, trading, etc. It's important to us that we maintain persistence with your character.

    G: By next Fall we plan on a stable version of the multiplayer that will include the ability to mine, trade, construct and fight, and will steadily grow the game's features; EVE:Online being a familiar example.


    SR: What have been your biggest challenges thus far in creating Blockade Runner?

    A: Building the custom voxel engine from scratch to work with future capabilities was a huge setback for the gameplay side of things. Instead of adding in fun things like missiles, NPC's, planets, etc, we've been raking the system so it can handle things like hi-def textures and lighting, exterior plating, angles, large custom geometry (furniture, warp cores etc), power lines, glass, ships breaking apart, weapon destruction, thrust, mass, vacuum, heat and liquid simulation.

    That said, we're firm believers in short term loss, long term gain.


    SR: What made you decide to implement multiplayer so early in development?

    A: Implementing multiplayer at an early stage is essential for the game since there's a lot you can do to bottleneck yourself if you're not anticipating netlag and transfer issues. In addition, we're following Notch's good advice with "building the game for multiplayer first".


    SR: What structure are you planning for multiplayer? We've heard comparisons made to Minecraft's survival multiplayer. Do you plan to implement other modes?

    A: We'll retain many familiar building and sandbox mechanics as Minecraft, however over time the gameplay will probably resemble something closer to Borderlands, where you and your friends complete quests together co-operatively, collecting loot, raiding ships etc.

    As for other gameplay modes, we might add a pure deathmatch option in the future, but at present it will be handled in a Diablo II/Borderlands fashion where you simply un-ally with whoever you'd like to spar with.


    SR: Could you tell us about the planned procedurally generated galaxy? Would this function in a similar manner to a Minecraft world, with exploration furthering the boundaries of the galaxy?

    A: In general, it'll probably be closer to EVE when exploring the galaxy, with planets, asteroids and the like being procedurally generated, but yes you will need to explore to reveal more of the game's galaxy map.


    SR: So what would these galaxies be populated with as far as spacey objects and NPCs?

    A: We're looking at our old favorites like Sid Meier's Pirates and EV:Nova for inspiration on star system behavior and economies. Through our Solenium “dimensional matter” we'll likely include Metroid-esque creatures to discover on asteroids, and early vessels you might encounter will probably contain Dalek-like machines, or be entire living machines ala the “Shadow” vessels of Babylon 5. That is, until we have AI crew functioning well enough to risk populated ships without losing immersion (people going through walls, etc)!


    SR: Any Eldritch Abominations?

    Nathaniel: Yes, and as many other kinds of aliens as possible!


    SR: Could you explain for us what exactly is meant by "Living Starships"?

    A: In traditional games, a single hit point variable usually defines whether a ship lives or dies. The counter hits zero, and bam its dead. With Blockade Runner we are able to have every bulkhead, every conduit, every part of your ship actually matter and make a difference.

    G: Power lines have to be placed down, and everything relies on power. When you cut that power line the part of the ship that was receiving energy from it will "die". Every piece of equipment that is not on batteries or capacitors will shut off.

    A: Something as simple as a badly placed power-node could explode and cut off access to an important deck or system, or perhaps block personnel from receiving medical attention, etc. A ship might end up “bleeding to death” if the wrong spot is hit.

    A: We'd really love to translate this to biological vessels as well (space Jabu jabu anyone? [Zelda: OOT]) in the future, but that is probably a ways down the road.


    SR: That sounds interesting, but how complex will the ship systems be? Am I going to need to finish my engineering degree before I can build a good ship?

    A: We've got an in-universe "hand wavium" system that will help new builders start with a ship that runs and moves as they'd expect it to. The idea is to make the handicap gradually become a nuisance so the player is weaned into learning more of the engineering behind the ships.

    N: For a proper ship though, yes, there will likely be many intricacies to favor good design.

    A: We'll definitely provide pre-made ships that you can buy/find/steal in the game as early as possible so you can play the game without having to build the ships yourself and leave that to the engineers in the community. So you can always just add “special modifications” ala Han Solo.


    SR: You've already included community-created content in Blockade Runner. How do you think a modding community will effect BR if one develops?

    A: We believe mods are very important for experimenting with ideas, and potentially game-breaking ones at that. With Blockade Runner we're going to slowly open as many areas for the community to access and modify the game as we can and see what they come up with. The results with modding are something you can't predict, and that's part of the fun!


    SR: Tactics and teamplay are a strong part of the community here at TG. Do you think BR will encourage players to work together towards common goals?

    A: The game will be intentionally built with co-operative gameplay in mind, from escaping your first asteroid by scraping together a skiff, to mining rare metals to purchase equipment, etc. However, crewing a ship together is something we're very much looking forward to, with some players on the bridge, some running the engineering room, operating the turrets, or flying star-fighters out of the hanger to protect your mothership.

    A: One mechanic that can very much encourage team-work will be exploring "unmapped" routes between star systems, where your party and your ship will be expected to survive a period of time without any kind of support or backup. It'll just be your crew, your ship, and your wits.


    SR: Well I just want to thank you guys all for taking the time out of your busy schedules. Best of luck in the future!

    A: Thank you, we all appreciate Tactical Gamer's interest in Blockade Runner and hope to play with you guys online with BR soon!



    Blockade Runner is available in its alpha stage from ZanMgt as a free demo from BlockadeRunnerGame.com

    Full version access is available for a contribution of 10 USD or more.

    Tactical Gamer has a contest to win free gift codes for the full version of Blockade Runner here.

    • Scotty
      #1
      Scotty commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: TG Interview with ZanMgt of Blockade Runner

      Looks pretty interesting, Going to give it a go! Thanks
    Posting comments is disabled.

Latest Articles

Collapse

  • Elite Dangerous: Guardians
    BeSiege82
    Elite Dangerous is soon to experience a much anticipated update known as “Guardians.” It is expected to bring many new features and mechanics to the game as a whole. These features include NPC crews, small fighters, equippable hangers, and even a tourism industry.

    During Gamescom, Elite Dangerous fans were given much information relating to the upcoming Guardians update. As a person who has been watching the game change, it is definitely a lot to take in. For the sake of the reading audience, allow me to try to keep this...
    10-15-2016, 01:30 AM
  • TG is going to Tanoa - Apex of ArmA 3 begins July 11
    Unkl
    Apex DLC is Coming To TG Servers

    Get ready for the ride to the pinnacle of ArmA 3. Bohemia Interactive is releasing their latest achievement on July 11th featuring a Pacific jungle island Tanoa, a plethora of new features and a rich and long awaited set of assets in the ArmA tradition. TacticalGamer.com will be hosting this content upon release. We will be churning out missions immediately!

    Tanoa alone is impressive, with 5 airports, its single main island, four minor islands and a bunch of “mini” islands it’s set to expand the ArmA empire to include much more land/sea battle capabilities and add elements of small island south pacific tropical exotic-ness to the ArmA franchise.

    Covering over 100 square Kilometers (about one third of the original ArmA Altis map) it is a tropical island paradise. Set in an idyllic setting it’s not militarized like Stratis, Altis or many other maps and this one is truly a clear slate for scenarios. With that said it’s not without its history, exploited for its rich mining productivity the island has been industrialized and ravaged for what looks like decades. There is a new faction, "The Syndikat", a local criminal organization with deep roots on Tanoa. This initial primary faction is made up of armed thugs and ex-paramilitaries, and is involved in many illicit operations throughout the region. Armed with mostly ‘classic’ weaponry such as AKs, RPGs, and 9 mm pistols their knowledge of the island and local hiding spots will make them a formidable enemy when the DLC is released.
    ...
    07-11-2016, 07:00 AM
  • Exciting CitizenCon Reveals and How Trolls Helped Push the Community Over 1M Backers
    Randy_Shughart_ClwFL

    Some People Live Under Bridges

    There has long been a small but ongoing undercurrent of Star Citizen criticism in some corners of the internet, mostly consisting of (IMO, baseless) accusations of "vaporware", "scam", etc. Apparently, in at least one case (Derek Smart) they have gotten so bad recently that Chris Roberts felt the need to publicly reply. Prior to this, I had never even heard of Derek Smart, but it didn't take me much research to find out that the guy is basically a professional troll. Apparently, once upon a time he had developed a couple games, that many people panned as unfinished and pretty bad in general. So, unable to achieve success on his own, he has apparently turned to latching onto more successful projects in a sad attempt at keeping his own name relevant. And seeing as how I had never heard of him prior to this drama, I suppose successful troll is successful. Although I really can't get my head around why anyone would set out to make that sort of name for themselves.
    ...
    10-19-2015, 07:41 AM
  • Elite: Dangerous - Horizons
    ScratchnSniff0

    Frontier Developments released Elite: Dangerous last year and is now getting ready to release a new season of updates entitled Horizons. That’s right, I said season, not expansion. Frontier has been releasing new features and updates to the game on a periodic basis over a long window of time that they refer to as a "season". The base game released as a single season and we saw a few new features, ships, and other items added to the game.

    If you have been paying attention to the game, you might have seen that some of these updates included the ability to form wings with other players (Wings Update), the ability to pledge with and support a minor power (Powerplay Update), the upcoming area combat (CQC Update), and eventually the Ships update which will bring the current total number of ships up to 30; or 31 depending on if you have Horizons coming to you in some fashion. This will bring Season One (or up to patch 1.5) to an end. Don’t worry if you did not buy Horizons, they will still patch and update the base game and you will still be able to play. You will just not get to enjoy some of the newer features that this new season will bring.
    ...
    10-15-2015, 11:37 AM
  • ArmA Insurgency New Life and New Blood on Altis
    MadSoloSniper
    "Pandora: The Insurgency" Unique version hosted at TG


    Keen on tactics and strong team based play? Stop by TacticalGamer.com’s Insurgency server for ArmA 3 and join the team as we take on the insurgents on Altis. It’s a 24/7 job. No MODs and no requirements to get in on some amazing ArmA 3 action. Join us today!!

    Built on a persistent framework it calls troops to join in the fight to clear the island of Altis of a scourge of insurgents. These aren’t your average insurgents; they possess skills and weaponry that keeps the best squads on their toes. Their flanking tactics and relentless aggression are legendary. Anti-armor capabilities that keep the armor in the rear and, squads need to take special note that “noise” in a region with other enemy cells nearby may cause those cells to activate and respond to the threat. So small cells that seem “easy” to clear suddenly become beehives of insurgents attacking and flanking a small expeditionary force....
    09-24-2015, 03:47 PM
  • Project Reality Server is Back!
    disposableHero
    As some of you saw today, the PR server is back online!

    We will be running the server on a part-time basis, most likely 3 days/nights a week, possibly 4. It is our opinion that this will work best in lieu of running the server 24/7 and having it sit empty most of the day. Additionally, the last time we tried to re-boot the server, we had big issues with getting people to help the seed the server. It is our hope that with a schedule that is known for the week, everyone will look forward to the days that server is up (much like we all looked forward to Thursday password nights) and the server will be full very quickly.

    So, what's the schedule? Great question! We don't know yet. The admin team will make a post later this week with specific dates and times, but the weekend is a pretty safe bet for right now.

    In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions, please get a hold of the admin team in the Contact An Admin forum.

    Look forward to seeing everyone on the battlefield!
    07-20-2015, 10:39 AM
Working...
X