• Freejam Chris

World Building - Dev Blog #24

Updated: Apr 14

Today we wanted to talk about our world builder. This is how you will be able to make your very own environments and game modes.


First, let’s talk about our system for creating environments. We will be using a tile based system where players can snap environment pieces together. This is inspired by classic isometric games like Starcraft where tiles would fit together to create a landscape, you can then place props on top of this landscape to create a great looking map!


This tile system is designed to be versatile and allows you to create incredible looking terrain that fits together without seeing the tile set seams. The end result would be landscapes that won’t look much different to AAA landscapes. You would see caves, patches of dirt, bumps and more. Everything you expect to see in a realistic environment can be created using these tiles. Of course, not every tile will fit coherently with every other available tile, but there will eventually be hundreds to choose from to create an incredible and realistic environment.


Some tiles could be huge, up to 300 square meters, others can be as small as 9 square meters. Our largest current race track bend tilepiece is 65 square meters in size.



This is the absolute barebones we felt was necessary to create a simple race track. We’ll be able to expand and add more tiles throughout development


Our first world will be an oval race track which comprises several specific race track tile pieces. Our plan is to expand this set by looking at real world race tracks to find out what kind of tiles and props we need to make incredibly realistic and fun race tracks.



It’s important to note that we have considered other forms of landscape editing. Another technique was a landscape editor where players would use brushes to raise and lower platforms. The problem with this technique is that it is very time consuming and also requires quite an artistic skill to get landscape painted in this way to look natural.


In addition to this neither Unity Landscape or Havok Landscapes offer the ability to have different frictions for different materials on their landscape systems so that's another reason we've adopted the 'tile' approach.


We are not limited to the type of tile sets we can create! We could make dirt tracks, city blocks, mountains or even a volcano tile set. In time there will be hundreds of tiles to choose from!


If you so wish however, it is entirely possible to create whole environments using blocks, but it will be time consuming and have an impact on performance too.


We posted this image (Which uses examples from other games) in our About Techblox channel, but it’s important to note that we are still looking to pursue this level of quality for our environments



Props

We are planning to introduce placeable props to help establish your world's setting. From fire hydrants, bridges, traffic cones, skyscrapers and trees. Some of these will be static, while others will have rigid bodies which will allow them to be moved by the player when they are collided with.


We had considered using blocks to create these props, but we felt that they would not look realistic. Not only would it take a long time to build an entire town using blocks, but the amount of blocks in the environment would affect performance too.


Some props can be freely placed anywhere within the environment, others may still be constrained to the grid. So you could place a bunch of rocks to make a specific shape, or create a very interesting woodland area with just enough space for rally cars to drive through.


You will still be able to construct objects within the game world with blocks if you want to, but because there is a minimum legolike block size in Techblox, it'll be difficult to make an authentic looking fire-hydrant with just the blocks for example.


User generated tiles and props

We are very focused on UGC for all of our games and Techblox is no different. While we will have Freejam developed tile sets and props, we also would like to further investigate user generated tiles and props whereby players with skills in art software can submit their own models into the game. We’re considering a Team Fortress 2 style UGC system where we share revenue with creators. But it won’t be possible for quite a long time, while we establish the core foundations.

Logic

Logic blocks will allow you to place logic within your world to create triggers, track scores, update the UI and more. Combined you can make your own games in Techblox.


For example, when building a race track you want the logic to know when a player has passed a checkpoint, what position they are currently in, how many other players are present, who is in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, time elapsed and how many laps are remaining… This would all then need to be made visible within the UI!


A game mode like this would all need to be wired together and we believe that it will take us quite a long time for us to add all of the blocks required to track all this data AND it will also be very hard for players to create games using these blocks as it might be too complicated.


We don’t feel enough people will want to make games like this. So we may look at a scripting language that will allow those with scripting knowledge to create game modes in combination with the use of these logic blocks.


However, it’s important to note that we do not intend to open up scripting for vehicles. We feel the physicality of building a vehicle and creating logic is important for building machines and vehicles.


A playable Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-Alpha is now available! Make sure to visit our home page at http://www.techblox.com/ to sign up to play it!


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