Menifee Plugged In: Blockland, 'Game Where You Build Stuff'

By Neil Kristjansson

As a kid, LEGOs were the closest thing one could use to build cities, landscapes, or tiny spaceships. They were the sort of thing to find on the bookshelf of a childhood memory. Albeit, they were more than likely varying in color, never being able to make the whole ship green or the whole house blue. Pieces were hard to get and it was left to the imagination, really.

Fast forward about a decade and the Internet is the biggest thing in the world. From physical to digital, your memories always find a way of manifesting themselves through some sort of image or video. Some kind of spark to trigger a train of reminiscing.

Back in 2005, I had a much similar experience. One night, my friend had mentioned to me that he’d heard of a LEGO-like game from a television show and that I should check it out. So, with the Internet being the Internet, I went on to discover a game that would ultimately change my life.

It turns out this game was called Blockland. Blockland: That game where you build stuff. Simple, right? The concept is simple. Place a brick, and expand. It was just like my early childhood all over again, but now I had the creativity of a few years past and the freedom of a digital recreation of LEGOs. It was great. My houses were the right colors, I could paint the roof a separate color than the walls below it. Anything I wanted to build, I could.

Eventually I discovered a modification (mod) for it. One of the major components of Blockland (early and present) is online play. It’s entirely multiplayer, unless you want to play single player. Anyway, so I find out this mod is filled with so many more players than the version I was on. Return To Blockland, they called it; RTB.

RTB was far more expansive than what I’d been used to. New additions I’d never seen, new blocks I’d never used before even in real life. Building was more complex, but also easier in a way. From stacking bricks to being able to morph and bend them to what I wanted, my previous freedoms had become limitations I wasn’t able to see.

Things were great. It was even better than before. And on top of all that, the community was bustling. Players were on at all hours of the day, all over the world. It was an online forum dedicated to everything I was interested in at the time. Essentially, Blockland/RTB had become the only game I would play.

Fast forward to 2007, and the news that Blockland was being developed into a retail game, available for $20, and it would be something completely new. A new design, new building, new everything. Reactions were mixed for a while, but ultimately this new incarnation of "that game where you build stuff" was a resounding success.

Blockland had gone from a simple copy of LEGO, in both concept and design, to something of its own. Of course, to keep the integrity of what it used to be, it kept the same basic structure and phrase. It was still like LEGO. The game’s idea was to build and build to your heart’s content. But it needed originality, so included were different game modes. Different items, weapons (for said game modes), and even vehicles.

Furthermore, the "wrench" tool had become the main source of altering bricks. Designing, say, a street lamp was easier than building the actual thing itself. With the wrench, for instance, you can whack a brick and set it to be a source light, emitting different colors, smoke trails, etc. Little details like that made buildings even more interesting. Effects really would make a difference.

The community would grow even more. Over 50,000 members, and it’s still growing. The forums that I used to know have grown even more and become mostly dedicated to creating mods, helping newer players, and showing off completed builds. And don’t even get me started on the modding community. Tons, and tons, and tons of add-ons are available for download through the re-imagined RTB mod. RTB is now the almost-necessary mod manager for Blockland, recommended by almost anybody playing. It’s handy and dandy and chock-full of everything from pointless soundbytes to game-changing bricks. Expansive is the best word to describe it.

So what this all boils down to is: If you like LEGOs, if you ever played with LEGOs, you’ll love Blockland. Take any other games you enjoy, from Call of Duty to Read Dead Redemption, Blockland has some way to emulate it. Blockland is one of the best games I’ve ever played and invested time into and anybody who’s interested should definitely check it out. A demo version is available on the website, and Blockland itself is only a cheap $20. If I rated on a scale, this one would be high. Go on and check it out.

Neil Kristjansson's "Menifee Plugged In" column appears each Monday. He writes about two things of interest to most of the younger generation -- music and electronic gaming. He welcomes your comments here or though email at


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