Robots are great, but they’re best when they’re punching one another. I’m sure I’ll regret writing that when it’s brought up at my robo-trial after the machines rise up and overtake us, but it’s just how I feel.
Unfortunately, ever since the demise of the robot-fighting BattleBots television show in 2002, I’ve been woefully without warring androids. That’s where Rawbots steps in to fill the void.
“Rawbots is about a universe where everything is a robot and players get to build robots for battle, for defense, for just about anything they wish,” said Neil Haran, an investor and evangelist for developer Team Rawbots. “It is a sandbox experience like Minecraft, except with a sophisticated robot building experience — minus the engineering degree.”
Rawbots is available now in an early form on the PC. It offers would-be engineers the chance to create their own machines. Right now, this requires piecing together every gear and motor and then providing a bit of programming using Rawbots visual-logic programming language.
“The responses we’ve gotten have mostly been from the technically savvy and it’s been very positive,” said Haran. “Mostly they’re happy to see that the robots they build are very true to physics and engineering.”
Since the creation tools are so difficult, they’re attracting a sophisticated user that is very demanding on the developer. One of the game’s current users is a teacher who was using the game to teach his student about basic robotics. He had a complaint about one of the game’s logical cues in its programming language. The studio went in and fixed it immediately.
Team Rawbots is using this early release period to adjust the game like they did for the teacher, but it is also using this time to build up a database of user-created parts to offer more casual users in the future.
The developer is planning to release the full game in February. By then, users will have filled the game with dozens of their own robot arms, legs, torsos, and more. Builders can give their parts away to the public for free, or they could potentially sell them to others.
This way, less-savvy players can just pick an arm and attach it to their robot instead of having to design the limb themselves. For the completely design-adverse gamer, Team Rawbots will provide a plethora of prefabricated robots.
Those prefabricated machines will also come primarily from the users. While the developer is capable of designing machines on its own, it can’t keep up with the community.
“People are building things we never imagined,” said Haran. “[Our developers are] wondering how is this even possible? How did they get this logic working? It stumped us.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to create my robo-attorney for my crimes against nonhumanity trial.