BitCraft Design Blog #4

Clockwork Labs
6 min readNov 27, 2023


Claiming your slice of the world

Since its inception the vision for BitCraft has been one where players shape, own, and run the game world. With that in mind, it is important for us that players have both a physical space in the world which they own and control, and also that that space isn’t phased in some way.

Because of this, we set out to make it so players could stake a claim just about anywhere in the world and have that physical space of the world be theirs. In early prototypes and playtests of BitCraft, this meant most players were setting up a claimed area in the wilderness to act as their personal camp; building buildings and storing items in a way that was protected from other players. Given that buildings were an essential part of crafting and progression, setting up a claimed area of this sort was necessary for progressing any amount into the game’s content.

This was sufficient for the earliest versions of the game, but it quickly became apparent that the effect of this was a wide distribution of players all trying to make their way in the world alone with little interaction with each other.

Concept art exploration for small early game village (Subject to change)

What we want to end up with is a world where players cooperate and join forces to rebuild civilization together. With that north star in mind, we dramatically altered the game’s content to better motivate players to team up and specialize. This was primarily done by making most crafting involve an interconnected dependency chain that spans across all core skills while providing players a way to build and collaborate in the same space. Initially, players needed to trust each other and share everything, which meant that they had to give up the satisfaction of building their own personal space in the world. What we saw in this playtest was some players formed small trusted groups of 2–6 players and made small villages with specialization, but the group size didn’t get much bigger especially with strangers in the playtest due to inability to manage the trust of so many strangers.

In our current design, we’ve addressed this issue by adding private player-owned housing to the existing shared player-run settlements. Although this is a complicated feature to add, we believe this will give players the ability to build and create with dozens of players in the same town, while still providing a personal space for each player to customize. We think you’re going to love it. Ultimately we want the populations of large player-run settlements to reach hundreds of players, which may require even more changes. We believe the key to reaching that kind of scale in a single town is to introduce “trustless” mechanics and systems into the game, which we talked about in the most recent BitCraft video. A trustless system is one in which players do not need to personally know or trust other players for it to function properly. The simplest example, which already exists in the game, would be a trade system. A trade system gives the opportunity for both players to exchange goods without having to trust the other player. Without a trade system you’d have to do something like drop your items on the ground and hope the other person doesn’t steal them. In the Alpha version of the game, we will be introducing a new trustless system to allow settlement owners to sell personal housing to players in a contractual way. With the ultimate goal of making sure each player has their own personal space that is theirs, whether in a large town of strangers, a small town of friends or your own homestead in the wilderness.

Concept art exploration for house interior wall and flooring designs (Subject to change)

Many MMORPGs approach player housing as being in a world separate from the main world. Often this will take the form of a phased or instanced area (e.g. neighborhood) with some pre-built houses on fixed plots. The same plot might be owned by many different players in their own phased neighborhood. Game developers have a very good reason to do this: they don’t want their worlds to be endless suburbs. Some very basic napkin math will show that the game world would have to be 99%+ player-owned housing areas to accommodate the entire playerbase. You’d be walking for hours just to get to the end of your town, as in the real world, particularly if most of the housing has been abandoned by players who have left the game.

In BitCraft, we’ve very carefully designed systems that allow players to reclaim land or housing that has been abandoned by players to mitigate this issue, but the napkin math shows that even that is not enough. Our solution to this problem is to allow the interiors of buildings to take up much more space than the exterior of the building takes up in the world. We call these spaces “pocket dimensions”. These kinds of buildings are familiar to players who have played games like Link’s Awakening, Pokémon, or Animal Crossing.

Concept art exploration showing example exterior and interior of an early player house (Subject to change)

As you can see in the images, the interiors are much larger than the exteriors would indicate, though these are showing the lowest tier, smallest interiors. In this way we are able to give players a single physical location in the world without taking up an enormous amount of physical space in the world. There is no magic phasing where many players live in the same house, if you want to visit your friend’s in-game house you need to walk over to their house in the town and go in the right door.

These new systems still allow for the communal shared spaces of settlements while giving players private spaces where they have full control over the layout and item storage. You’ll even be able to share your house with a friend or whomever else you trust. We’re so excited to see what players will create!

The settlement owner doesn’t need to trust the new member to share all settlement supplies with them and the new member can still have a place (inside their house) for their own privately owned things and they have full control over who has access to that. Even with these systems however you can still run a settlement in a trusted communal way (by having the houses remain public and giving all members full claim access), and it will allow you to share a house with a trusted friend.

It is worth mentioning that this isn’t where our design plans end, but we’re excited to finish development of this next iteration and see how players adjust to these new systems and incentives. We’re already dreaming of housing for skill guilds within a settlement, where for example, a master farmer might be given an interior to store all farming supplies and they can add all trusted farmers in the town to the permissions of this interior. Where do you want to live in the world of BitCraft: a bustling town, a quiet village, or maybe as a hermit in the wilderness?

— Carter (Minch)