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Blockade Runner (new engine being debugged!)
Genre: Simulation
Platforms: PC
Languages: English
Aug 30, 2012 @ 5:40pm
Mar 8 @ 8:21am
Recent Announcements View All (18)
Month of January 2014 in Review
Tidbits from January Week 1

In Brief: Nathan's hard drive goes kaput, so we decide it's time we upgrade his dev PC (loads BR in a split second now!), Zack upgrades our version of SharpDX to latest dev committing, Gabe progresses through textfields despite a nasty cold, the "Founders Club" is added to the forums; accessible to those who purchased Blockade Runner before January 1st 2014. Zack and Nathan resolve an issue with entities disappearing due to 16-bit indexes on the GPU causing 3D surfaces to not draw, and Nathan gets his new slopes to render using our new moddable slope files.

Tidbits from January Week 2

In Brief: Nathan's next step on the slopes is straightening the tangents on the dynamic slopes, and otherwise continues fine tuning the process of making slopes. Gabe discontinued work towards IME keyboard support, and gets the visual portion of textfields for debugging. Michigan freezes over. Zack reduces loading time for BR significantly, fixed SharpDX having switched to right-hand coordinates borked our collisions, and among numerous physics and graphical issues also solves a problem where only single chunks would draw. Micah meanwhile experiments with "mothership" concepts.

We also re-order the way diffuse/specular/normal maps and glass will be modded in BR, Nathan begin a new DDS converter to convert bitmap images into DXT3's in-game, makes sure mirroring geometry will work, and by the end of the week prefabs are working in the game again!

Tidbits from January Week 3

In Brief: Over the weekend Gabe gets mouse selection for textfields done, remarks on how awesome it is to work with UI in BR now, and progresses with the Log-In screen. Nathan's on to the next stage of the dynamic slopes and makes sure slopes and their edges work with each direction and interior directions appropriately. Zack & Nathan resolve a myriad of rendering issues, including gradient shaders and backface culling z-fighting. VengantMjolnir becomes our first "Bounty Hunter" and solves an issue with our specular!

Tidbits from January Week 4

In Brief: Zack sets BR up with SmartAssembly, Gabe and Zack clear the old W71 UI code out entirely of MP since it'll need to be replaced, Gabriel condenses the unneeded UI to only the necessaries, fixes issues with clipping not functioning properly with scrollbars, fixes fonts, and generally cleans up the UI. Zack cleans up character physics to cut its CPU usage in half, fixes issues with Lidgren (problems we'd had since last year!), and re-factored W28 thruster code in the new engine, tracks down huge lag spikes, among other bug fixes. Nathan continues debug issues the dynamic slopes, correcting each direction one-at-a-time. Micah experiments with "hangar" visualization concepts in 3dsmax.

Tidbits from January Week 5

In Brief: Nathan uses a debug corner model to help finalize debug issues with the slopes, Gabe and Aaron work on prettifying parts of the new Login screen, Zack continues debugging issues with the physics in multiplayer. We test the new SmartAssembly error reporter, makes spotting user-submitted bugs much easier since it highlights where in the code the error came from. By the very end of January, the first release in 78 weeks was made available to Founder members! The first release is simply a test of the 2D pipeline, but represents a huge development milestone on our end!

Bullet Points for January

+ The first raw development build is released to Founders!
+ Founder's Club introduced to Forums
+ New dynamic slope system integrated
+ Normals and tangents aligned for new slope system

- All pipelines needs to be debugged for several months before 'gameplay'


In the previous month...
In December we'd finished off the voxel mesh / texture atlas upgrade and decided it'd be for the best if we lumped the dynamic slopes into the schedule before releasing to the Founders. This unfortunately meant that if we were to reach our deadline of "before the end of January 2014", it'd have to launch rough and without the time for polish (/things to do)!

Dynamic slopes
The dynamic slope system took Nathan most of the month to debug and correct for all graphical issues, but by the end of January it was ready to go and is now a powerful piece of BR's feature arsenal. To put it simply, the dynamic slopes allows us (and the community) to very easily add new types of slopes to the game. Need a chamfer edge? No problem. Need a reverse-double-twist pyramid? It can be done! There was a lot of work to make sure it'd operate 100% of the time and properly remove unnecessary polygons (a staple of voxel games), and are very happy with the results.

Founders Club
After being recommended by some folks on the forums, we've introduced the "Founder's Club" where we can keep the original community together, give back to those who supported us since the beginning, and not lose sight of those who helped us get where we are. Anyone who'd purchased BR before January 1st 2014 is eligible, and you can access the Founder's Board on the forums:

The first build is released to Founders!
Squeezing its way in (and barely making our target estimate from November), we make our first release since W71 to the Founders in the Founders Club! The new engine is still in a bubbling primitive state however, so our first build is just a (successful!) test of application dependencies and the log-in screen to make sure everything's working on other machines.

What's Next?

Now that we're able to release raw private builds to the Founder members, next month is continued debugging by the Founders of the engine's pipelines; 2D, 3D, UI (command buttons, scroll bars, etc). The plan for the next few months is to hit each of the game's pipelines one at a time until everything is running A-OK.

Stand by for February in Review!

To follow the daily development resource postings, head to the forum, sign up for the newsletter, follow the Twitter, or check out the Facebook page! We're also on the Dev Chat from 9:00am-5:00pm (EST) almost every day, so if you've got a question or comment fire away!

- Aaron

December 2013 in Review
Tidbits from December Week 1

In Brief: Nathan finishes his new dynamic shader system to allow us to externally pull shaders easy-peasy into BR. Zack adds some debug coloration effects to the server console window so we can spot specific messages in the log easier. Gabe repairs issues with the state manager for UI and animations, and for the first time in a long time Gabe's back on his rapid-fire TODO list (70 committings in a day!). By the end of the week Zack and Nathan get the new voxelmesh/textureatlas system functioning together, Zack refactors a bunch of outdated code, and after a looking at the schedule we re-plan for the first builds to be released in Q1 2014.

Tidbits from December Week 2

In Brief: Zack transitions BR out of the Jitter physics library into the BEPU physics library, while also switching us out of TortoiseSVN into Atlassian's SourceTree to make committing to the same source more conducive. Gabe adds serialization to many of the old UI options (laughing at his old code), integrates our fancy shmancy scrollbar into options menu and builds the Input Editor. Nathan begins worked on the all new dynamic slopes system - a major upgrade to how angles will be handled - but first has to re-write the SharpDX .OBJ loader so it better understands how we're using the geometry (mostly to understand weapon hardpoints and other 'special' data).

We also re-order the way diffuse/specular/normal maps and glass will be modded in BR, Nathan begin a new DDS converter to convert bitmap images into DXT3's in-game, makes sure mirroring geometry will work, and by the end of the week prefabs are working in the game again!

Tidbits from November Week 3

In Brief: Zack works on aligning specular and normals for the meshes (a change in .obj loading screwed up the tangents), as well as the different angles, Nathan and Aaron make more progress on slope system, Gabe combs through controls to make sure joystick, mouse, keyboard are working appropriately while also fixing resolution and mouse input issues. Silly mipmap problem mid-week turns out to be a matter of normal maps favoring directions at low mipmap levels.

Tidbits from December Week 4

In Brief: Big winter storm in Michigan knocks out our office's power, Gabe begins textfield cleanup (old out of date code), Zack finishes up aligning the normals and tangents on prefabs, Nathan has the new slopes to technically functioning but not yet drawing in-game. After a brief (but welcome) Christmas vacation with friends and family, we're right back to work again!

Bullet Points for November

+ New voxel mesh / texture atlas system completed!
+ New dynamic slope system begins implementation
+ Transitioned physics from Jitter to BEPU
+ UI preparation for upcoming release
+ Added capability for mirrored prefabs/geometry

- Normals & Tangents for prefabs and slopes have to be re-aligned
- Dynamic slope system was planned for "Spring" but moved to December


December was a busy month as we worked to meet our target deadline of "between end of December and end of January". Even with the massive voxelmesh/textureatlas upgrade (which will be coming in quite handy for modders in the future), we still managed to catch up on some of the critical issues for release.

However, our priority is always with trading potential "months of work" down the road for what would be only a month of work if we did it now, which meant rather than releasing with the same limitations as W28/W71 we decided to appropriate an overhaul for making slopes more dynamic done now instead of Spring, and before we did our first release. This ended up putting strain on our deadline, but is another one of those trades that are looking at the longrun rather than the short term.

It'll take many months before we all reap the fruits of these early labors, but we're confident it'll be worth it. ^^

What's Next?

Next month's workload is in repairing the 3D pipeline for voxels so the normals and tangents are aligned properly, as well as preparing the new engine for its first raw releases to folks outside of ZanMgt.

Stand by for January in Review!

Closing Comments

This Month in Review was written in March of 2014 so it's interesting to be able to look back at this month with some hindsight. A few extra (powerful) overhauls right up against a release deadline is a tad foolish, but hey, we're willing to look the fool if it means making a better game! Had we left these items on their Spring schedule we might have had a couple more sales, but BR and its engine would've had a lot less potential in its future. =D

And if you're wondering why we'd even bother with such out of date info, it's because we like to keep records of our work. :P

To follow the daily development resource postings, head to the forum, sign up for the newsletter, follow the Twitter, or check out the Facebook page! We're also on the Dev Chat from 9:00am-5:00pm (EST) almost every day, so if you've got a question or comment fire away!

- Aaron

Release date: New engine released Jan 2014 and being debugged by Founder members!
The Blockade Runner project is a from-scratch space voxel prototype designed by a six sibling family of developers! A true labor of love, our continued goal is to make Blockade Runner a fun, quality, community-oriented game by taking an iterative approach and evolving it as it goes.

Rather than rush together the "Minecraft in Space" bullet points, we've been steadily designing a solid workspace that could easily support an evolving game universe with its own vivid atmosphere and style. A game where a hybrid of genres, from trading, to mining, to combat, could function together in a tight and clean multiplayer environment, and where community modifications could lead the way into expanding the game's capability.

There's only six of us at ZanMgt though, which means our task is to get the core of the game down, and otherwise be a shepherd for its growth! ^^

  • Hand-made Engine
    The all-new SharpDX rebuild is currently undergoing testing by the Founders!
  • Hybrid Voxels
    We're attempting to strike a balance between supporting both cubes and higher poly geometry cohesively.
  • Multiplayer-centric
    The new engine has been re-built to efficiently allow you to go from Solo to Multiplayer at any point in the game!
  • Highly Moddable
    We learned to develop games through modding, and so we want to give back to an all new generation with strong modding support!
  • Community Funded
    Over 5,500 Founder members as of January 2014!

Developing BR certainly has not been an easy process (especially after discovering it really can take upwards to three years to build a new engine from scratch!), but thanks to the steadfast support of the "Founder Members" who supported us in the beginning, Blockade Runner has seen a great evolution over the past three years, with a complete rebuild of the game's engine starting last year and having finally reached a reasonable point of testing for the various new pipelines by January 2014.

We'd like to thank both Zach Barth for inspiring us with Infiniminer, and Markus Notch Persson for proving to us that indies can follow their own path and succeed. Without either of these guys, Blockade Runner would not exist!

Old XNA Demo::
Liquid Cubed: (algorithm that'll be used for vacuum of space!)
Popular Discussions View All (4)
Mar 2 @ 12:54pm
[MUST READ] This Game is NOT a copy of Starmade.
Mr. Nugget
Jul 28, 2013 @ 4:50pm
Jul 15 @ 5:29pm
If I buy the game on thier website...
Ghost X
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[ZanMgt]Aaron  [author] Jul 25 @ 7:06am 
@(UMB) We're still working on the new SharpDX engine, so there's no new public demo available yet. You can check out the old XNA demo from 2012 if you like from the game's download page, but it's kind of a pain to get to work and is definitely out of date!
(UMB) Creeper Demolition Jul 24 @ 7:03pm 
Is there a demo, or is it out yet?
Lelouch Jul 20 @ 11:56am 
i see alot going in the game i like it i have only seen vodeos though it looks like it has alot of stuff coming good job to the creators
FleKsO Jul 16 @ 12:33pm 
фиииииигня из игры robocraft украли
МИШГАН May 17 @ 4:04am 
[ZanMgt]Aaron  [author] May 15 @ 3:59pm 
@talondrake02 While we appreciate your plug, we have to advise folks to take a "wait and see" approach considering the game is still being prototyped! Do your research first and download the available 2011 / 2012 XNA Prototypes or watch some of the old let's plays before financially supporting Blockade Runner's development.

Until the new engine is ready to go we'll just graciously accept y'alls patient observation. ^^
TheWalrusOverlord May 13 @ 10:04pm 
i recomend all to support this game although it may take a while to release. Ive played the game and it is incredbly addictive and fun
[ZanMgt]Aaron  [author] Apr 17 @ 1:08pm 
@Chris23399 We're all pursuing our own visions for the genre. =]

We're just a little bit behind considering we're still building our engine from scratch, whereas both Star-Made and Space Engineers were using their previously developed engines.

Personally I believe there's room for everyone in the end as long as everyone's attempting to innovate. ^^
chris23399 Apr 13 @ 8:03am 
starmade is way better. but i go for space engineers
[96th]Blade Mar 16 @ 7:04pm 
+1 Supported this game