Emergence in ROBLOX

Emergence in ROBLOX: Hard to Define, Easy to See

Emergence in ROBLOXIn gaming, emergence happens when players use a game’s basic systems in a way that is unexpected, unpredicted and unique. It’s built into the entire ROBLOX platform; users have the freedom to create almost any type of game, experience games, moments and physics that rarely – if ever – play out the same way twice, and even discover emergence in ROBLOX’s social space and virtual economy.

Depth of creativity

One of the beauties of ROBLOX is the creative freedom it gives users. Builders start out with a blank canvas and can build anything, from architectural displays to complex vehicle models to competitive, multi-player arenas. While the sophistication of a game or place depends on its creator’s abilities in both construction and scripting, ROBLOX offers users a free-form tool that lends itself to discovery, what-if scenarios and experimentation.

That experimentation emerged early in ROBLOX’s life, when users took advantage of our Lua scripting framework to create airplanes and, in turn, spark the ever-popular and evolving flight-combat genre on ROBLOX. It was emergence in a classic sense; users created totally new gameplay and content using nothing but our standard tool set.

While most builders start simpler than planes, a little persistence and learning open a lot of doors to emergence.

Personal Build Server "Island" Screenshot

ROBLOX’s Personal Build Servers, too, encourage emergence by allowing up to 30 users to join a single server and collaborate on large-scale building projects. While users can build anything they imagine and even wire up interesting, unique contraptions using customizable triggers, levers and timers, it’s the player interaction occurring in the Personal Build Server that’s especially emergent. For example, ROBLOX users have created sprawling cities, complete with custom houses and towering, decorated buildings, where role-playing and socializing tend to take place during and after the construction.

Real freedom, simulated physics

According to Penny Sweetser, a game designer at 2K Australia and emergence researcher/author, emergent gameplay registers with players because it puts them center-stage. It gives them “the freedom to experiment, greater control over the game, a sense of agency, and less of a feeling of uncovering a path set for them by the designers.” 1

While some ROBLOX games funnel players through a scripted experience or change ROBLOX into a closed-off, single-player experience, ROBLOX games are usually open spaces where users congregate and play within the game’s mechanics and ROBLOX’s systems – our so-called “magic circle”.

ROBLOX Game ScreenshotWe’ve asked ROBLOX players for their interesting in-game experiences and, for the most part, they involve more than one person, open-world freedom and some aspect of our physics simulation. With a formula like that, emergent gameplay is almost inevitable. One ROBLOX user recounted this memory, in response to our recent call for interesting ROBLOX stories:

“Playing Heli-Wars: Desert Attack, a guest got in my jeep. I drove it half way to the other team’s base and jumped out, but the guest and jeep kept rolling into the base. The guest got out and started shooting, but was killed. The jeep came out of the other side of the base so I jumped in as it was moving and drove it back to my base.”

Another had a similar experience on the battlefield:

“I was in a war group; we were in a helicopter flying to a raider base and our boss said, “deploy parachutes but don’t jump!” When we arrived at the raider base he said, “Jump! Go go go!” We parachuted in but were outnumbered by the raiders and the helicopter was shot down. Our next plan was to get in a heavy jeep. It was white and had no windows except in the front. There was a door in the back, our boss was driving. When we arrived again there were only two raiders. We fought them and left for another fort.”

Then there’s ROBLOX user Lucariobeam, who recently played Natural Disaster Survival and “rode a falling building into the ocean, and somehow, miraculously, survived.”

These are bits of the greater narrative a ROBLOX game can tell, driven almost entirely by the player’s freedom and ROBLOX’s flexible engine.

“I just love how ROBLOX’s physics engine can create different scenarios … It makes the game so much more interesting, not to mention addicting,” said ROBLOX user navysealsnake.

Emergence in ROBLOX’s web services

Many massively multiplayer games have virtual economies and social systems that allow players to purchase and sell items using an in-game currency. ROBLOX’s virtual economy, for example, allows users to earn and spend Tickets and ROBUX.

As noted by Sweetser, “virtual economies are emergent systems that change dynamically with supply and demand, based on the trading patterns of the world’s inhabitants.” 1 This is what we’ve seen in ROBLOX’s virtual economy with limited-quantity items. ROBLOX users who are vigilant of newly released gear (or just lucky) can snatch up rare items and sell them for a profit to users who didn’t get them during the original sale. There’s only so many to go around, so users can charge a premium. It’s supply and demand at work.

Emergence in ROBLOX QuoteSince ROBLOX uses its website as a distribution channel for users’ games, we’ve even seen emergence in game promotion. Cunning users have learned to market their content not only through effective game design, but also competition: being the most responsive to user feedback, persuasive in use of text descriptions and screenshots, and successful with on-site advertisements.

Emergence manifests itself in all the major facets of ROBLOX, from creation, to sharing and gameplay, to the economy and community running behind the scenes. From a gameplay perspective, it’s not guaranteed, since our users are capable of creating scripted, linear experiences. But there’s no denying that, from front to back, ROBLOX encourages discovery, experimentation, freedom and, with all that said, emergence.

There’s plenty of room to dig deeper, so stay tuned to our blog for detailed explorations of emergence in ROBLOX.

1. Sweetser, Penny. Emergence in Games. Charles River Media, 2008. Web book.
About Andrew Haak

Sr. Communications Manager. blockhaak on ROBLOX; @andrewjhaak on Twitter; blockhaak on Twitch.

142 thoughts on “Emergence in ROBLOX: Hard to Define, Easy to See

  1. Addey

    Can you post more of these stories from Robloxians in other blog entries please? I find them quite enjoyable to read.

  2. astrogunge555

    Once i was on this earthquake game and tthere was this flying tree! (I was riding it aswell) When it landed, The ground aroud me broke into little bits and i fell into the lava.

  3. i think it's

    Dude, me also, but, i’ve seen guest 0 instead, and i’ve taken a picture for the proof! it was real!

  4. darkbomb

    I watched Roblox evolve over the years. I was friends with SONICTHEHEDGEHOG when we both first joined. I was forgotten long ago bye him lol. Anyways, I have watched what they talked about above happen, and it is amazing. I remember messaging builderman saying Roblox should start making Hair for hats, and I got a reply saying would be way too complicated to happen :3

  5. linkrocker1

    I was recently at a game with my friend. We were flying a ship to an island resort, but when we got there he lost control. The ship hit the island but instead of exploding, it kept going, certainly trying to kill us. He managed to slow it down when it was going off, and me and him jumped up the ship, dodging debris and made it to the island. We were rewarded with a small house in the middle of nowhere! XD

  6. KimYuDori

    I remember one day,that I was playing with a friend “Wild camping”,we two set up pink and purple tents,we got to buy some things together and stuff like that.But just like 10 minutes later,I didn’t know why,they appeared “5” guest at the same time!They didn’t know each other,they just appeared at the same time and at the same place,since they don’t have a free type chat,they just said hi,to each other,and they all got cars.Then,they realize we were there,actually,before they come we were only 2 girls on the server.I don’t know why or what,but they start following us.They killed us with their cars,my friend got to a boat,and sitted there.All of them jumped to the water WITH THEIR CARS!!!They were not giving up,just then,one bumped on the boat,and since we both were sitting,the boat explode,and we two flied out of the MAP!!!!It was kind of funny,at the beggining my friend was angry,but then,we started laughin.We tried to camp with the guest,telling them “Welcome”,they stayed calm for a little while.It was fun,really,it wasthe first time ever that my friend and I shared so directly with guest,they are not dumb,like ROBLOXIANS usually talk.They’re real-life people that they’re playing with us for first time,and they are trying out how it’s roblox.How can they think that ROBLOX is a good place to play,when we treat them bad,how they evr gonna think on buy on BC?I think that acting like that,we contribute to make less the chance to have players to buy BC and share with us on ROBLOX.I’m not telling that all guests are good,cause they’re some guest that O.O,um,they are not so friendly.But not all are the same,so we need to get to know them right before telling things about them.

    Thank you ROBLOX


    1. dylanbuider

      Lol! Same thing happened here a year ago or so. Yeh, I wish guests could free-chat like players, we could help them with Roblox alot more…

  7. Chucktheganster

    I was playing a game when Guest 6593 entered he everyone thought he was a actual Guest until he freechatted then everyone started calling him a hacker I lol’ed after i realized he had made his account when spaces were allowed

  8. Villi

    I love how he’s talking about real experiences yet the picture above it is completely fake.

    1. MrX4353

      Creating pictures which are never real, but really cool is part of the fun. Who doesn’t like animated pictures by pros?

  9. kulkinz

    i played Natural Disaster Survival and on the city park map i love to sell hot dogs in the stand and i still sold hot dogs when it was hit by lightning and then i was hit

  10. grimy12

    Stop focusing on Graphics and updates that aren’t an issue right now and fix the exploiter ussue. If you make it so easy for these exploiters, jsut make a tutorial cause every where I go, I find a exploiter.

    1. Pinky2002(Add me)

      I Was a Guest 0 Once.XD Only Cause I Wanted To Know What It Was Like to be A Guest And I Randomly Got That number.

  11. cc2563

    This is what a happened to me once: I was at a random place when i saw a teleporter. I went in the teleporter and i was teleported to this place where there was a guest model that was loopkilling everybody. 0_0

  12. Prehistoricman

    I like how some users take Roblox to the max and do everything possible with the resources to make a great game. I think that Roblox should include a feature where games that had been updated recently but hadn’t got many visits. Some sort of filter needed to see how much effort the maker put in to the game.

  13. Macaroniwolf

    That is exactly the way I was trying to explain ROBLOX to my friend the other day. In most other 3D games, you click on your target to select them, then click somewhere on your HUD to select a spell or type of attack to use on them. In ROBLOX, I can grab my sword and click to swing it, but I am free to jump, and when I dodge an enemy’s attack, I actually dodge it, rather than it just being a stat in my armour.

  14. iamontda

    I’ve loved roblox for years. What’s funny is, I lost BC on Christmas, meaning that I lost it a while after BC-type games came out. I wish i’d had lifetime, so I can enjoy all the extras again that I had a small glimpse of. And I wish there would actually be more ways to earn tix and robux… maybe.

  15. snipergrey123

    At school another kid keeps argueing with me about ROBLOX vs. Minecraft. I just said “On ROBLOX, you can build anything that you can think of.” then he said “NOT TRUE! YOU ONLY MOVE BLOCKS AROUND AND DELETE THEM!”. He was so wrong.

      1. rayblon

        minecraft has a pre-impliedgoal, while roblox is very open ended, and sometimes buggy. with minecraft your pretty limited with redstone, and its hard to install mods(in 1.3 its going to be loads easier! :D).

        if you want a game where you can know how to survive everything play minecraft.

        if you want a game where you can do anything, play roblox. :>

  16. legokendall

    Once on new years at 12:00 i got on (befor i had a account) an i was Guest 1 ! I Was so happy lolz

  17. Anonymous

    Once, I Built An Obby On Sandbox And only One Person Out Of The Entire Server Could Beat It And Everyone Kept Trying :P

  18. Anonymous

    roblox is a very goos building platform, for evryone to build evrything, but the personal server is a *BC only feature* and items selling is also a *BC only feature*.I think that personal servers should be for evryone. because most of the roblox`s best games are made by NBCs, and also because most of the roblox`s players are NBCs(NBC=non builders club)

  19. docselmo

    well a great time was when i was playing as my alt lagtest (because docselmo got hacked) and i used my stamper tool got a c4 explosive and a school bus and blew of the front of the school bus

  20. Theamazeman

    I love ROBLOX because of its graphical desighn and the ability to literly make ANYTHING you want.

  21. TheRainbow34

    The most interesting experience I ever had on Roblox didn’t have to do with whatever this blog post is about, but I’ll tell you anyhow.
    I was playing Build a House or Live as a pet and I was in the back of a truck, and a guest jumped in the back, (and I was morphed into a little girl) and I started yelling (in the game) Daddy! Dad! Aaaah! It’s a guest!!!
    It was hilarious.

    1. agr0n

      Lol the thing I love to do on that game is morph into a turkey equip a pistol and then ride around on a skateboard. Gotta love doing that. §

    1. Avery Walker

      Discovering the Economies of Roblox, Read the bottum part; It was like: “Dig deeper, fly higher”?? I forgot..

  22. ~spitfire1111111

    I met Guest 7331 before… Not much of a fighter though.
    Also, on the morning of New Year’s Eve. I met Guest 2012.

  23. MahPizzaIsHere

    I guess that you guys do, in fact, sit back every once in a while and wonder just what sort of marvelous contraption you preside over. Ordinary Roblox players have designed levels that trump even the best efforts of college-trained employees. You may provide the platform, but the player makes the game shine.

  24. Anonymous

    I remember playing Heli-Wars: Desert Attack, both teams where at the green base, all of a sudden everyone gets blown up, and when I respawned, there was this guy, he survived the blast and he was arm-less, and he was just sliding past us while he was stuck on sit. LOL! It was too funny.

  25. obenta5

    Post a dramatic scene as one of your pictures of a place, that always works for me! Don’t forget dramatic videos! X3 i love the blog!

  26. Trololo

    I do know some Guests are good but… this is my first one to encounter this guest named as Guest 2657 a was a fighting with a sniper on base war then the last bullet of his shotgun is really aimed to me … he pull the trigger and Guest killed it with a rifle on the head and catches those bullets…

  27. sirmentio

    i love roblox for the social aspect, i get to talk to people and make friends! i had a time where i was driving a little bus and a guest got in it, in fact,a whole handful of guests just wanted to be on the SAME bus! i was like “its the guest Armageddon!”

  28. Anonymous

    I enjoy Roblox because it allows me to build and program my games in an easy to use environment while allowing me to build practically anything and even rid all standardizations. It’s a perfect combination because I can program practically anything and yet it’s extremely easy to use! Thankyou Roblox!

  29. hacker1leo

    Yeah. Roblox is like that! It’s what got me addicted to it. The fun, random experiences ROBLOX offers is something you don’t find in many other games.

  30. EPIC9236

    In Heli Wars Desert Attack I happened to walk to the other base for some reason and when I got there a team mate got out of their heli and it hit the fence, surprisingly it bounced off and hit me, and THEN it exploded, killing me. I will never forget that moment.

  31. NoisyCaptain

    This so-called “discovery” may also be linked to users having to start over because, the
    script all have malfunctoining times which would lead glith called hacking.This is because the glitch may bring down the computerized firewall allowing hackers to start!A soloution may be for
    creator of ROBLOX, ROBLOX to bring an enternal
    super firewall to every script made.this would creat an enternal, AutoControl, computerized, ultra firewall.This would let users resume their discovery WITHOUT hacking.

    P.S, this may also be impossible.

    P.P.S, just info for ROBLOX.

    P.P.P.S, just my thinking.

  32. navysealsnake

    Woah im actually on the ROBLOX blog … WOW THIS IS AMAZING :D keep up the great work ROBLOX. You guys really do know how to keep users entertained. Also I’d like to say im amazed at how fast admins reply to your request whenever I’ve asked them a question or for help they always reply in less than 24 hours

  33. uzziah007

    when is water coming out? and that happend to me to at disaster survival *by stickmasterluke* yeh i was in the top of the tower on the map with the heli and tanks it fell i jumped out with no tools i hit ground had 2 percent health got 2 badges 1 be in heli copter on a lightning round and the have 10 percent health or less

  34. Redycine

    Make us able to see our limbs in multiplayer. Its more realistic if an explosion happened and we,d be pushed back. plus shooter games will be more realistic as well.

  35. MetaRyan

    Emergence. The best example I can think of is when I discovered how to force vehicles into remote control in Solar Conquest with nothing but the original standard building tools, then deploy the RC vehicles onto enemy planets and do some recon.

  36. Mr Liz., the dragon

    Well, I’ve been waiting for there to be an option for 1 player only games, without uncopylocking. I have a great place that is meant to be 1 player, and the other players in a server break it…

      1. VastSniper

        This might work. Untested though.

        if game.Players.NumPlayers > 1 then
        player.Parent = nil

  37. Coltera

    I think keeping the work, both in roblox normal, studio and personal server`s will enhance the ROBLOX experience.

    Keep the hard work admins!


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