Blankos Block Party First Look

Author
Ned Jordan
Date
8/3/2020
In Short
You've collected your first Blanko, now what? Here's a first look at some of the things that you'll be able to do when you join the block party.

Blankos Block Party is a game that gives you the chance to play with collectible vinyl toys, but it's not a new entry in the comatose toys-to-life genre as these collectible vinyls are only available within the game. Despite the lack of physical toys, Blankos Block Party is still designed with the collector in mind. The blockchain technology behind the game will make each Blanko that you collect and customize yours to own. This isn't a preview of that aspect of the game, though, this is a look at what you'll do with your Blankos when you bring them into the Block Party. During a hands-off demo driven by one of the game's developers, I was given a look at some of the gameplay aspects of Blankos Block Party and what you can do with your vinyls in the game

The first place that you'll go as a Blanko is the Junction. The Junction is a social space made of vinyl floating in the sky - no one knows where it came from or who built it, but the Blankos have been going there for as long as any of them can remember. The Junction is a space that begs to be explored - if you can see it, you can reach it, although the trick is to figure out how to get there.


Welcome to the Junction

The Junction is home to several important locations, not the least of which is the Bazaar because that's where the Blanko Shop is and where you'll be able to buy new Blankos and accessories. You'll probably spend a lot more time visiting the Depot, though, as that's where you can find challenges to take on, checkout seasonal content, and browse available user-generated content (UGC).

Challenges, known as Gigs in the game, come in both single player and multiplayer varieties, and take place in the Junction. The Gigs are instanced, though, so you won't suddenly find yourself in the middle of a race while you're exploring the Junction or have to worry about griefers sabotaging your speedrun. The demo included a look at a couple of the single player Gigs and one of the multiplayer Gigs.

The first single player Gig was a platforming challenge that took place high above the Junction. Clouds floating above the junction were sucking the colors out of it, and to stop them the Blanko had to pop the clouds by hopping on them. How you go about completing this Gig will depend a lot on your Blanko and the powers it has. The Blanko in the demo had a jump-dash ability to help it cross large gaps, but a Blanko with wings could instead glide between the clouds. And if your Blanko is missing a particular power that you'd like to have you can always train it to learn new skills. No matter what powers, or “vibes” as they are called in the game, your Blanko possesses, you'll need to keep them powered-up to use them. This is done by collecting the little lightning bolt icons you'll find around the Junction, so part of the challenge is keeping your vibes powered while relying on them to complete your goal.

The next Gig demoed involved a shooting gallery which was a way to give a little preview of how guns will work in the game. There will be a variety of weapon types in the game, including rocket launchers, which can all be customized with a variety of skins, and you can choose to fire your weapon from a third-person or an over-the-shoulder perspective. This Gig had a classical carnival feel to it, with targets moving along tracks on a couple different levels.

The multiplayer Gig was a free-for-all race. As players joined the Gig they started appearing and congregating in the starting zone while waiting for the countdown to the start of the race to commence. The race was a platforming-style dash through a series of checkpoints, and if the demo was any indication then anything goes in the game's races. Players were bumping into and pushing each other, and doing anything else they could to move to the front of the pack.


Photo finish

After completing a Gig, your performance will determine if you've earned a bronze, silver, or gold tier reward. To collect your rewards, you'll need to visit the Shaman. Rewards include attachments for your Blankos, some of which are cosmetic vanity attachments while others, like the wings, have a practical use.

The Party Bus will transport your Blanko from the Junction to the user-created levels. You can search and browse through the available UGC, and check out the ratings and game parameters before you decide to jump into one of the levels. The first level demoed was another multiplayer race, but the course was a lot different than the one that was shown taking place in the Junction. The level designer had taken a large surface piece and turned it on its side, transforming it into a giant cliff. The side of the cliff was fitted with numerous small platforms leading from the bottom all the way to the top in a back and forth staircase pattern. This race was even crazier than the previous one we were shown as it was obviously a challenge just getting up the cliff face on your own, let alone with a bunch of other players trying to knock you off of the platforms. The level's creator had mercifully placed respawn points along the route, so if anyone missed a jump or got bumped off of the platform they would just be sent back to the last checkpoint that they passed through rather than having to restart the climb all the way from the bottom. The race ended after the third-place finisher crossed the finish line rather than make everyone wait for the last player to finally make it to the top. UGC levels like this one can also be played solo, either for practice or for you speedrunners out there.

A UGC shooter level was demoed next. In this level all of the players initially spawned into a waiting platform suspended above the level's play area. When the countdown timer reached zero and the gates dropped, the players dropped into the level battle royale style. This was a case in which previous experience with the level would be an advantage, as the players started without weapons and had to grab whatever they could find. The shooter level took the mayhem of the race level and turned it up to eleven. The level's topography featured a varied terrain of hills and valleys, so players were scrambling for the best firing positions while being shot at from all sides. It looked pretty wild and crazy, and like it'd be a lot of fun to play.

When you're ready to try your hand at creating a level, Blankos Block Party is designed to make things as easy as possible for you. First, you won't have to play for a long time to unlock the objects you'll use to build your levels – everything is available to everyone right out of the box. Next, those objects are easy to place and snap together to build levels. The developer demoing the level design toolkit likened it to a LEGO set, the blocks are all there and all fit together, and you're free to snap them together any way you'd like to bring your ideas to life. Some Blankos will also come with blueprints so you can bring pre-configured objects into your levels. The game's level designer also makes it easy to test your creations. You can drop in and out of your level at any time as you're designing it to test things out on the fly. If you think that you may have made a gap too wide to jump, you can immediately try it out and see for yourself. The game developers really wanted the level designer to feel like a game itself rather than a toolkit

Once you've created your level, you can set all of the level's rules and parameters – number of players, victory conditions, team or solo play, prohibited vibes, etc. – and open it up for play. The game will manage the leaderboards, ratings, and everything else for you. The developers plan to have rewards in place for builders whose levels rate highly and attract a lot of players. They wouldn't get into specifics, though, just teasing that if 10,000 gamers play your level then you should get something cool for your effort.


Meet the Blankos

The demo concluded with a visit to the Shelf. This is where you can browse everything that you've collected in the game. You'll be able to see all of your Blankos displayed in their own cubes on the shelf, and when you select one you'll be able to see what you've collected for that Blanko. You can browse all of the attachments, both functional and cosmetic, as well as check out the skills you've assigned to it. This is also where you can assign unused skill points, either to increase the power of existing skills or add new ones.

After the brief visit to the Shelf the demo concluded. So what did we learn? The Blankos Block Party will provide a variety of platform and shooter gameplay that can be enjoyed solo or with other players. There will be plenty of built-in content, but the extensive and easy-to-use level design tools mean that user-generated content will be the primary focus of the game. The collectible Blankos will start out the same, but there are plenty of cosmetic and functional attachments that will help set your personal Blankos apart from the others. You'll also be able to customize your Blanko to your playstyle through the skills that you select and level-up. We'll have more on Blankos Block Party as we approach its planned release date this fall.


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Transmitted: 12/4/2020 5:14:55 PM