It’s rare that we have the opportunity to spotlight a user who lives in our immediate area. So we jumped at the opportunity to meet TakeoverTom, who lives only minutes from our offices in San Mateo, CA. He swung by our offices with a green box in tow. This was inside.
Since he was a kid, TakeoverTom wanted nothing more than to be an inventor. This particular model, which he created as a teenager, is one of hundreds of designs, sketches, and prototypes that he’s created throughout his lifetime.
It makes sense, then, that when he discovered ROBLOX, a place where he could seamlessly create pretty much anything, Tom developed an addiction. But it wasn’t games that Tom was initially interested in creating, it was models. Utilizing our physics and joint systems, Tom has since created some of the most complex contraptions ever to hit ROBLOX, all of which he makes available to users, 100% free of charge.
“Everything I build revolves around suspension and steering,” says Tom. “I’ve been working on developing shock absorber technology as well.”
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In real life, Tom has worked in various mills and factories, fabricating mechanical creations to help expedite factory work. Tom says that he loves creating new things, but hates the messy nature of invention. ROBLOX solved that problem.
“Building machinery can be dirty, cold, really hot, totally messy,” says Tom. “But in ROBLOX, I can do all these things and it’s clean and comfortable.”
Tom discovered ROBLOX in 2008, while searching for a game-creation service he could utilize to make a 2D game he had been thinking about creating.
“I immediately ditched that idea and got all wrapped up in the blocks” recalls Tom. “It seemed like anything could be done, so I started setting challenges for myself.”
But they weren’t the types of challenges most users would strive to meet–Tom comes from a background of machine building, and had developed a very detailed and complex understanding of machinery and how hundreds, if not thousands of moving parts can work together to create something beautifully complex. Now, he could build his ideas in a virtual world.
Tom started by building a massive tank that featured a full-blown suspension system, but in order to understand how to build it in ROBLOX, he created a challenge for himself.
“I built a massive hill,” says Tom. “I built every type of tank I could imagine, but I just couldn’t get up the hill. I just couldn’t, no matter what. So I thought, ‘this needs suspension'”.
“I don’t know if I was the first person on ROBLOX to introduce suspension, but I’m pretty sure I was the first one to do it successfully,” adds Tom.
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To understand how our physics engine worked, he drove his massive tank into various structures he had built, to see how they reacted to collisions in real-time. Tom’s Tank also introduced him to scripting–his tank wouldn’t move unless he could produce a script that would direct all four wheels to turn.
Once Tom had a firm grasp on the mechanics of ROBLOX, as well as a basic understanding of Lua scripting, the sky became the limit. He began crafting all sorts of vehicles–cars, motorcycles, huge trucks–all of which he allowed gamers to actually use in his place, “Suspension + Steering + Fast = Race“. The place has been visited over 170,000 times.
“All of my models are engineered to function on the flexibility that ROBLOX hinges have,” says Tom. “They really rely on the fact that they can bend.”
Takeover Tom keeps a constant dialogue between him and users of his machines–he takes a lot of time to help them out, as well. He says that many people utilize his machines, but can’t understand their complexities, especially in regard to the suspension parts he’s scripted which “stick out far beyond the actual machine.”
“People have tried to build on my models, but they can’t build on them because there are so many invisible parts that they can’t see,” says Tom. “But helping other people is a big part. I’ve helped everyone who’s asked me for help, and I’ll put as much into other peoples models as they’re willing to put in.”
Keeping an open dialogue between his followers has lead Tom to develop some of his favorite creations.
“A random user once asked me if I could build a motorcycle,” recalls Tom. “Two days later I had built one.”
Always exploring new paths to create more elaborate and complex machines, TakeoverTom tackled his hugest hurdle this year, after a random user posited the idea that Tom should build a mech.
“The mech was the most intensive scripting I’ve ever done on anything,” says Tom. “The guns, the controls, the scripts I needed to make all the parts move–it was crazy.”
Mech Mountain allows you to summon the massive creation and take it for a spin. The mech is marvelously detailed–it looks kind of like a diet version of the AT/AT four-legged behemoths of Star Wars fame. Tom hopes to turn Mech Mountain into a team-based deathmatch arena, where users could pilot mechs and battle for control of bases.
That’s the thing–talking to TakeoverTom, you get the immediate sense that he is constantly thinking about the next challenge. He wants to build a chassis framework to help users build their own machinery utilizing buttons. He wants to build a space game, a highway demolition game. He’s built a fully working V8 mechanical engine by duplicating some of the machinery he saw in shops throughout his lifetime. And to help users understand the complexities of his creations, he’s documented build-processes for many machines he’s created on YouTube.
“I’ve always aspired to be an inventor,” says Tom. “My focus has always been on what was most fascinating to me. If you’re personally interested in what you’re doing, then other people will naturally be interested as well.”