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Guncraft: A game of blasting and blocks that looks oddly familiar

If you’re bored of building things, then the latest Minecraft-inspired game gives you a chance to tear everything apart again.

I’ve got to say, there’s a spark of genius in the idea behind Guncraft.
Imagine teams of soldiers charging back and forth across a blocky vista
of voxels not too dissimilar to Minecraft, but as well as weapons in one
hand, the soldiers are waving tools in the other. They’re frantically,
haphazardly building and blowing apart buildings and defenses, trying to
throw up more prefab structures to replace those blown apart by their
enemy’s rockets. By the end of a game of capture the flag (or any of the
other game types), you can expect the map to be strewn with wreckage
and dotted with craters.

Want to see it in action? Developers Exato Games, whose previous project was the MOBA clone Progenitor, have put together this parody trailer, using the audio from Modern Warfare 3’s famous The Vet & The n00b ad.


As
well as machine guns, shotguns and sniper rifles, the game features
Just Cause-style grappling hooks, tools that double as melee weapons,
explosive charges and different character bonuses which make you a more
effective soldier or engineer. If that’s not enough for you, even more
is planned.

“We
have to add ground vehicles. A big ol' tank,” says Lead Designer John
Getty. “Ground vehicles are very hard to do in an ever-changing-boxes
world, so that'll be quite the task. We also have several game modes in
the works and then there's leaderboards, friends lists, and clan
support. I'm sure some new class customization options will squeeze in
too. Vehicles are one of our greatest features, so we really want to
incorporate them as much as possible.”

That’s
quite a task list, but Guncraft is still at an early stage and it’s
very rickety indeed. I was frequently booted off servers and the game
crashed twice in the first twenty minutes of play, but I’ve had
tremendous fun blowing great chunks out of levels and players alike. Lag
is also something of an issue, and high on Getty’s priority list. “We
have a lot going on, so we need to optimize the hell out of the game to
make sure people aren't getting tremendous lag,” he says. “We've
recently put out a patch to alleviate some, but it still needs work. It
doesn't help that you might have 16 people from 16 different countries
playing together sometimes.”

When
it comes to getting creative, however, the construction mechanics
aren’t very well implimented yet and those spoiled by Minecraft’s many
options aren’t likely to be inspired by the free building mode either, though that hasn’t stopped some players from getting creative. Right
now, Guncraft doesn’t offer much for the lone player, but Getty’s team
plan to add a singleplayer or possibly co-op campaign.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year the game is now in open beta here. At the moment there’s a distinct lack of European servers and,
unfortunately, if there’s one thing Guncraft doesn’t handle too well,
its lag.

One
final point: it’s interesting to note that at no point do Exatogames
mention Minecraft, nowhere in their Kickstarter, nor on their webpage or
in their promotional media. Nevertheless, Guncraft had a stand at PAX that placed them directly opposite Mojang,
on level six of the venue, exactly the right spot to capture passing
Minecraft fans.

“We
primarily got the booth as a way to prove to people we aren't just a
Minecraft clone,” says Getty. “We get first impressions, based on our
graphics, that we are just ripping off Minecraft, but it's not true! Our
games are totally different and we want to prove it to people. We also
want to meet the Mojang crew. Come on Notch, come have a beer with us!”

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