How small Swedish studio Boldai is bringing elegant interactive 'digital LEGO' to iOS and web

Think Minecraft but for making for engaging objects

How small Swedish studio Boldai is bringing elegant interactive 'digital LEGO' to iOS and web
| Blocksworld

Swedish developer Mohang created one of the phenomenon of recent years with its 'build your own world game' Minecraft.

And fellow Swedish outfit Boldai is looking to make a similar impact with Blocksworld.

In many ways it plays to a similar 'build it' experience, although in this case Blocksworld is more about building individual objects.

Using a drag-and-drop visual programming interface, pretty much anyone can create objects, animating them with simple motors and other power units, which can be controlled by touchscreen (or mouse) taps.

About to enter its beta testing phase - it will be launched on web and iOS, with an Android version to follow - we caught up with Boldai's chairman Tomas Ahlström to find out more about the next big thing from Sweden.

Pocket Gamer: How did you get involved in Boldai, and what was your first impression of Blocksworld?

Tomas Ahlström: The AI-scientist Martin Magnusson and super-hacker Magnus Hallin planned to start a company some years ago.

The idea was to improve artificial intelligence and simplify games development. I was hired by the local university to help the guys set up a solid business plan and to launch their company. Soon I became in love with the technology and the grand vision, so when they asked my to come onboard. I said yes immediately!

From the beginning, Blocksworld was just an experiment by Martin, but as soon as we tried it, we understood that this was something unique.

I showed it to my kids and we build a simple game in five minutes. It was amazing. From that point, it was clear that this was going to be an awesome product.

How did the Brain Builder product feed into the development of Blocksworld?

Brain Builder is a tool that simplify games development in Unity3D by introducing a patent pending visual programming method. It is very cool and available in the Asset Store.

But still it is a bit too complex to make games. Our vision is that 'anyone' should be able to make games! My eight-year-old son couldn't use Brain Builder and Unity, so we continue to experiment with different tools and methods.

We then came up with Blocksworld. The visual programming in Blocksworld is basically the same as in Brain Builder.

How would you describe Blocksworld?

It's an app that makes is incredible easy to develop and share games and interactive toys - just like virtual LEGO. You can combine blocks and shapes, add interactivity and share with your friends. And you can remix others work and release it again.

What sort of people do you think it will appeal to?

Creative people who like to build and share stuff. We are not sure, it is very exciting! If you like LEGO, you will like Blocksworld.

As we can see in terms of activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc, more people like to observe than want to make or create things, so how do you plan to attract and keep such people interested in Blocksworld?

This is very important. In Blocksworld, you can view and play everything made in the community. There will be thousands of games and toys to play around with in the community - for free.

You can also remix others creations and share it back with the community. That way you learn how to build your own stuff and that's how we convert players into developers.

What are your thoughts about bringing more game-style elements to Blocksworld?

I personally would like Blocksworld to be an open creative platform, just like LEGO. But we are experimenting with some game ideas that tie well into the concept.

A game could be about solving a specific problem with a fixed set of building blocks. Or imagine a blocks version of Draw Something - that'd be cool!

You're currently about to enter a beta phase, so what are the key parts of the experience you need to get feedback on before you can commercially release it?

There are many things we'd like to test on a bigger user base.

First of all; the user interface. It is very difficult to handle navigation and creation in 3D for a wide target group. It needs to be super-casual yet powerful. Even though it's super-easy today, we still see people struggling with the camera and general navigation.

We are also very curious on what people will build with Blocksworld? Will it be incredible machines, zombie games, doll houses or things we never thought about?

What are your plans in terms of business model?

In the long run, we are going for a freemium model where the tool is free and you buy theme packs [for new objects, textures and decals etc]. This could be a zombie-pack, the monster truck wheel pack or perhaps the animal-pack. We are working on this at the moment.

At launch we might charge a buck or so for the tool, we haven't decided yet.

Thanks to Tomas for his time.

You can check out Blocksworld at its website.

Subscribe to Pocket Gamer on
Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.