• Freejam Chris

Powered Joints, Logic and Math Blocks Now Live!

Hello everyone!


The latest Techblox update is now live! With new parts and an introduction to the Build Rules system.


If you have not yet downloaded the Techblox Launcher (it’s completely free!), you can do so via Techblox.com


If you already have the launcher installed, you’ll be prompted to download the latest update.


New Parts

In this update We’ve added blocks and joints that Gamecraft players will be familiar with. But don’t worry, we’ll give you a rundown of these new additions below.


Logic and Math Blocks

First on the list are the Logic and Math blocks. These parts perform basic functions such as AND, OR, Addition and Averaging inputs. We won’t cover exactly how each one works but you can check out the descriptions of each part by hovering over them in the Inventory.


By connecting various outputs from the seat (as well as controllers like buttons or levers in future) you can change their behavior and create advanced logic systems for your creations.


Motors, Servo Axles, Servo Hinges and Pistons

These handy joints can move your creations in different ways. With the Motor you can add spinning platforms that are controlled by inputs.

Hinges bend up to 90 degrees in either direction and can be used to create car doors, dump trucks and a whole range of things!

Axles will rotate up to 180 degrees clockwise/anti-clockwise from their starting position and can be used to create objects that rotate to a fixed point, like this turret.

Finally, Pistons will extend outwards, up to a certain distance. You can use these to raise your creations or push things out of the way.

The Motor has a few tweakable stats such as top speed, torque and which direction they spin by default. A negative signal (such as ‘Left’ on the seat) will spin this anti-clockwise while a positive signal will spin it clockwise. The same applies to the Axle and Hinge Servos. The Axle, Hinge and Piston have a few extra stats such as min/max angle (or extension), speed and a toggle that can change the behavior altogether!


This “Input is Angle” toggle is on by default and will convert the input received to a target angle. This means that a signal of +1 from pressing ‘Right’ on the seat will cause these parts to rotate the full 180 degrees in one direction, at the defined speed, and will return to the starting position when no input is received. With this toggle set to “No” the joint will instead rotate in either direction, towards the maximum angle when it receives a signal and will remain in the same position when it stops taking a signal.


Build Rules

We are starting to implement a Build Rules system which players will need to pay attention to when building machines for various games. This will help keep the game modes competitive and fair.


The idea is that you’ll join the server for a game mode and build something specifically for that game mode (or bring in your existing creations). Some game modes may be quite restrictive, like a formula E race may restrict your choice of engine, material and impose a weight limit while other games can be much more flexible.


For this update builders must pay attention to two stats initially:

  • CPU

  • Power

CPU

Every single part has a CPU value attached to it, based on its computational complexity. If you want ultra complicated machines that have thousands of parts, it will be very CPU intensive on the server which could cause issues. Cubes will cost much less than joints or engines, for example. This will typically be decided by the game mode, so a 1v1 race could allow for more CPU than 20 players racing around at once.


To save CPU you can make small optimizations in your builds, like stretching or scaling blocks instead of placing them individually, or using less joints.


Power

Power is the combined total of all powered parts, such as various engines, electric motors or Servos. While individual parts won’t “consume” power at this stage, this limit can be used to prevent low powered machines from taking on something like a fighter jet into a Go-Kart racing game mode.


There will likely be a number of game modes that don’t set build rules and instead give players freedom to fill up their workshop with the chunkiest and most powerful vehicle ever made.


To help communicate these limits you’ll see a couple of bars at the top of the screen that show the current complexity and power consumption. If either of these go above the limit you’ll see a notification on the right with more info. If you try to take this creation into a game (or the test track for now) you’ll be prevented from entering until the build rules are met.

The current limits are a guideline on what we're expecting the first iteration of multiplayer gameplay to support. This will likely change over time as we balance values and get a better understanding of what's possible!


Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a couple of issues where parts and blueprints could be placed inside other parts - There are still a few ways to do this that we're looking into but we recommend you avoid this where possible as it creates all kinds of physics bugs.

  • Fixed an issue with the camera jittering while the “Follow Camera” stat was enabled

  • Fixed an issue with the “LMB” input on the seat not sending a constant signal

  • Fixed an issue with the menu animations continuing to play while in other screens

  • Fixed some issues with clipboard thumbnail generation when animated parts (such as engines) were present

  • Improved the lighting used for the clipboard thumbnails to avoid washed out colors - This mainly helps smaller creations, so if you still experience poor looking thumbnails please send us any info/saves for the blueprints you're making.

  • Fixed a bug that caused the garage lighting to be disabled after creating a blueprint

  • Fixed a bug that caused the ‘scale’ label to remain on screen if you start time while scaling

  • Tweaked the volume of the Go-Kart engine further

  • Tweaked the volume of the gear change audio

  • Tweaked the collision audio between objects

  • Fixed inconsistent control order in the Controls screen

Other Changes

  • The Windscreens and Frames that were removed in the previous update have now been made obsolete. If any of these were still present in your creations then they will have been replaced with their new version where possible, or spheres in cases where the shapes are no longer available.

  • The Inventory has been reorganized a little, with a few new categories


That’s it for this update. We’re still working our way through the features outlined in our roadmap and we’ll aim to release frequent updates as these goals are met. We’re making good progress on improving the behavior of wheels and identifying areas for optimization but these aren't quite ready to be released yet. Any improvements we make will be included in these future updates too!


Thank you everyone for your continued support, please share your thoughts on this update, along with any amazing creations you make on any of the social channels below.


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