A beginner’s guide to some of the terms and concepts you might encounter while playing GearBlocks, when reading the help pages, and so on.
When frozen parts are moved close together, they will be aligned. The position and rotation of one will be “snapped” to line up with the other.
To move a frozen part, select a pivot point and use the manipulators, when it’s near part of another frozen construction, it will be aligned.
Once aligned, the parts can be attached together by deselecting the pivot point.
An attachment connects a pair of parts in a construction together, the type of attachment determines how the connected parts can move.
- Fixed – No relative movement allowed, parts are connected rigidly together.
- Rotary Bearing – Allows for relative rotation around a single axis.
- Linear Bearing – Allows for relative translation along the sliding direction.
- Linear Rotary Bearing – A combination of the previous two types, allows for both translation and rotation.
- Spherical Bearing – Allows for relative rotation in multiple directions, while remaining locked in position, like a “ball and socket”.
- Constant Velocity Joint – Allows for relative rotation in multiple directions, except around the primary axis. For example, useful for transferring torque to a vehicle’s driven wheels while allowing for suspension movement.
- Knuckle Joint – Allows for relative rotation around a single axis, but with a limited range of motion, like a knee or elbow joint.
- Null – Parts are not physically attached, but remain part of the same construction.
Target an attachment and press E to change its type. Which types are available depends on the particular parts being attached together,
Depending on the parts being connected, their attachment can be in one of two locations:
- Surface – On the surface of the parts, e.g. when attaching a beam and plate.
- Interior – Inside the parts, e.g. when attaching an axle and beam.
A construction is made up of one or more parts assembled together.
Target a construction and hold Left Shift + Q to open the construction menu. This has various operations that can be done to a construction such as freezing it, saving it, etc.
When frozen, a construction does not move or interact with other objects. Frozen constructions are highlighted with a blue outline (or orange if selected).
Constructions must be frozen for building, e.g. to attach or remove parts.
A construction can be toggled frozen / unfrozen by using the construction menu, or (depending on which tool is currently active) by targeting it and pressing Left Control + F.
A type of part that can engage with other gear parts, typically to transfer rotational motion and torque from one axle to another.
- Spur – Can engage in parallel with other spur gears, can also engage with crown, rack, worm, and differential gears.
- Bevel – Can engage at right angles with other bevel gears.
- Crown – Can engage at right angles with spur gears.
- Rack – Can engage with spur gears, to convert between rotational and linear motion.
- Worm – Can engage with spur gears, gives a large gear ratio between the worm and spur gear.
- Differential – Requires bevel (or spur and crown) gears internally. Can engage with spur gears.
When gears are located relative to one another at the right position and orientation, they are considered to be engaged, and motion will be transferred from one gear to another.
When targeting a gear in a frozen construction, a green arrow will show to indicate which other gears it’s currently engaged with.
The ratio between the number of teeth of a pair of engaged gears. This affects the relative speed and torque between the two gears.
- Let’s say you have an 8 tooth spur gear driven by a motor, engaged with a 24 tooth gear connected to an axle. In this case the axle will rotate at 1/3 the speed of the motor, but with 3 times the motor’s torque.
- Now suppose you swap the gears around, so that the 24 tooth gear is driven by the motor, and the 8 tooth gear is connected to an axle. Now, the axle will rotate at 3 times the speed of the motor, but only with 1/3 of the motor’s torque.
- Finally, you could substitute in a pair of 12 tooth gears, attached to the motor and axle. In this case the axle would rotate with the same speed and torque as the motor.
A logical connection between two parts (within the same construction).
Some parts have link nodes, and by left clicking and dragging between these nodes using the linker tool, a link can be created.
- Power – Connects power consumers to energy stores, e.g. electric motors to batteries.
- Data – Connects data consumers to data sources.
- Pulley – Connects pulleys together.
Used to transform the current selection, the manipulators are available when a pivot point is selected.
- Move – Always active, drag the circular handle to move the selected part(s) in any direction.
- Translation – Press R to activate, and drag the handles to translate the selected part(s) along the X, Y, and Z axes.
- Rotation – Press T to activate, and drag the handles to rotate the selected part(s) around the X, Y, and Z axes.
- Resize – Press Y to activate, and drag the handles to resize the selected part (only available if a single part is selected and it is resizable).
Each manipulator also has keyboard shortcuts, hold Left Shift and use W, S, A, D, Q, and E.
The substance a part is made from, affecting its appearance and physical properties (mass and resistance to damage).
Some parts allow for their material to be changed using the material tool.
A type of part that generates rotational motion.
- Electric – Rotates continuously in either direction.
- Servo – Rotates in either direction to a specified angle.
- Stepper – Rotates in either direction incrementally by a specified angle.
An individual component, such as a beam, wheel, or motor.
The special behaviour that some parts (such as motors) have, which can be configured and / or activated.
To activate an individual part’s behaviour, target it and press E. Alternatively, all part behaviours in a construction can be activated at once using the construction menu.
Some part behaviours can be configured. To do this, target the part and press Left Shift + E to open the part behaviour menu.
A location on a selected part, to be used when aligning it to other parts, and also be the centre of transforms applied by the manipulators (e.g. be the centre of rotation).
A pivot point is selected by left clicking somewhere on a part (must be a selected part, i.e. highlighted orange).
When a pivot point is selected, the selected part(s) are detached from the rest of the construction, and the manipulators will become available to use.
A different pivot point can be chosen by clicking somewhere else on the same part or a different selected part.
To deselect the pivot point, left click somewhere in free space. If the selection is being aligned at this time, it will be attached.
Pulleys are a type of part that can be linked together, to transfer rotational motion and torque from one axle to another.
Pulleys are similar in function to gears, but they don’t need to be directly adjacent to work.
If two pulleys are in line with one another and not too far apart, a link can be created between them using the linker tool. This will connect them with a belt, and rotation will be transferred between them.
A similar principle to gear ratios also applies to pulleys, relative speed and torque will depend on the ratio between the diameter of a pair of pulleys.
Revolutions per minute, a measure of rotational speed.
The current map, and all the parts and constructions currently spawned in it.
As opposed to open ended “creative mode” play, a scenario is more structured. It might have objectives to complete, a limited part selection or tool availability, or some other restrictions.
For example, a scenario could be a tutorial, challenge, mini-game, or even a whole new game mode.
A scenario typically consists of a saved scene, along with a Lua script which gets loaded when the scenario starts, and configures the game and implements the scenario behaviour.
A standalone Lua script that can be loaded at any time, and implement extended features in the game, such as new user interfaces and tools.
Selection (or Selected Parts)
Part of a frozen construction can be selected by left clicking on it.
Multiple parts can be selected, for example by holding Left Control and clicking to add an individual part, or by using Left Control + A to select all parts of a construction. A full range of selection methods are available by holding the right mouse button to open the selection menu.
The parts currently selected are highlighted with an orange outline.
Once selected, a pivot point can be chosen by clicking again somewhere on one of the parts. This will detach them from any unselected parts, and allow the selection to be moved.
To deselect all parts, left click somewhere in free space.
The part, attachment, or construction that is currently aimed at by the crosshair is considered to be targeted.
The currently targeted part is highlighted with a white outline.
The tools are used for building and modifying constructions.
- Builder Tool – Press 1 to activate. Spawn parts and constructions into the scene. Select parts and move them with manipulators. Attach parts together and set attachment types. Delete parts and attachments.
- Material Tool – Press 2 to activate. Change part materials.
- Linker Tool – Press 3 to activate. Create links between part behaviours.
- Painter Tool – Press 4 to activate. Apply or remove paint to / from parts.
- Grabber Tool – Press 5 to activate. Drag or shove unfrozen constructions.
- Scene Tool – Press 0 to activate. Perform operations on any of the constructions in the scene, even if they’re not close to the player.
Hold Q to open a menu which contains options for the currently active tool.
For example, the more torque is applied to a vehicle’s driven wheels, the faster it can accelerate, and the steeper slopes it can climb.
A motor’s torque can be increased using gears or pulleys, trading off against speed.
Be the first to comment