Techblox – interview with developer FreeJam Games

Techblox is a machine-building game in which you can build your own creations from scratch. We talked to FreeJam Games on their dev experience.

Techblox is a free, in-development driving game driven by user-generated content. You build your own machines (or play machines built by other players) using a vast library of parts, which means you can build everything from cars and trucks to planes and just about all kinds of contraptions you can imagine.

We talked to developers FreeJam Games about their experience developing TechBlox, as well as the bizarre things they’ve seen get made in it.

For more information on the game and to try it out yourself, check out the official website here.

TechBlox logo

Tell us about the origins of Freejam Games and why you focus exclusively on UGC (User Generated Content) games

Originally the team were working with Disney about ten years ago on a title called Qbotics. This was a really exciting UGC game where players constructed machines out of a variety of parts. Unfortunately, this project was cancelled and we as a team quickly tried to transition to another game, scaling it back a little and releasing it as an independent developer. This became Robocraft.

Ever since Robocraft, the kind of blocks that would be in Qbotics was always in the back of our mind and we feel Techblox is a pretty strong spiritual successor to a game that unfortunately, never saw the light of day.

We’ve always wanted to make games that are far bigger than we can physically create. There are millions of players out there who don’t have a platform to exercise their creativity. Some may be engineers, designers, artists without even knowing it! UGC lets players discover their own hidden potential.

It also makes our games super exciting to talk about internally as players are creating magnificent things that even we did not think were possible. Our internal slack channels are filled with photos of creations that players have made!

Techblox lets you build your own machine from scratch and then drive it. What do players need to know going into building their own machine? Is there a tutorial for novice builders?

The inventory menu of Techblox is quite overwhelming when you load it up for the first time, but you don’t need to learn about every single block to have fun!

There are a lot of parts that you may never even touch! To create a simple car you need only:

  • A frame (Built from cubes)

  • Two non-steering wheel rigs (for the back)

  • Two steering wheel rigs (for the front)

  • Four wheels

  • An engine

  • A driver’s seat

It can be daunting, But the biggest thing we recommend players to do is to share their progress on our Discord and get tips from our community.

TechBlox screenshot

Given that players may build vastly different machines to compete with, how do you ensure that players will compete with appropriate competitors? What’s stopping a player from building the fastest machine possible and winning every time?

At the moment we can restrict the size of a vehicle and the power limits. This levels the playing field just a little bit. However, we expect that there will be players who construct interesting contraptions that counter fast vehicles.

We will be watching how the community build very closely. But honestly, we do want to see a fun level of chaos! There will be plenty of other game modes in the future that require co-operation too!

TechBlox screenshot

Freejam has worked on UGC games for close to a decade now. Are there any new or unique obstacles you have encountered as you developed Techblox?

Our biggest obstacle has been server-side technology. This handles all game physics and whilst it has allowed us to make some really unique collisions and interactions, it took a long time and it was time spent away from creating new features.

We’re at a pretty good stage right now where things feel good. So we’re working on new features now!

Freejam’s games are all about the community they build around them. How has the community’s feedback affected the development of Techblox?

Our community have a really interesting talent to look beyond the parts and engineer something that we never really expected. It’s really exciting waking up and then checking the Discord to see photos of all of their creations.

We have a huge list on our Discord channel where players can suggest quality of life features and other members on the discord can give it a thumbs up if they think the idea is good.

Recently a number of players were concerned with the steering sensitivity, so we’ve made some adjustments to how the wheels turn and that will be part of the update next week.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve built (or seen built) so far in Techblox?

One of our community members built this tank-like creation which had arms that unfold from the sides and was powerful enough to pick up and throw other vehicles. It’s terrifying but the sheer engineering required to make that function is really impressive.

I’ve built a Ferris wheel and just put it in the middle of a racetrack. Everyone on the server stopped racing and just spent several minutes riding this ferris wheel together. It was great!

When do you expect for the game to hit 1.0 release?

The core foundations are:

  • Online Multiplayer

  • Game modes

  • Damage and destruction

  • Weapons

We need to have all of these features in a really polished state before we even think about 1.0…. We have a lot of work to do!

Will the full, 1.0 version have a premium version or in-app purchases?

Techblox is being designed as a Free-to-Play game. Our objective is to create a title that will give players a lot of content and creativity without ever needing to spend a single cent, but at the same time, monetising players enough to maintain servers and allow us to continue to add new features and gameplay.

Our objective is to create a monetisation system that is fair and NOT pay to win… This is really important for us.

Stay updated on Techblox’s development on the development Twitter here.

For more previews of upcoming games, check out the Previews section here!

This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke

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