ROBLOX Battle

Tips for a Mobile-Optimized ROBLOX Game

ROBLOX iOS IconWith the release of ROBLOX Mobile, you have the power to distribute your creations – whether character clothing, models, virtual worlds or hardcore games – on a new platform and potentially to a new audience. We’re only a few days into the release and, at the moment, the mobile ROBLOX gaming and game development scene is a bit like the Wild West. Everyone is still observing and learning about what makes a game work on mobile, and there’s an opportunity for you to help define those qualities.

What we do know is that what works on a desktop computer doesn’t necessarily translate one-to-one to a touch screen device. That’s the nature of different screen sizes and input methods. Still, there are a few things you can do today, in addition to your own experimentation, to design your game to adapt to multiple devices.

Consider user interface

We’ve already optimized ROBLOX’s standard in-game user interface (UI) so it’s more space-efficient and lightweight, but many users build their own menus to accommodate their game’s unique features.  For a truly cross-platform game, we recommend you have a similarly light touch and position your UI elements so they don’t impede the gameplay experience. If you can reduce the size of text and buttons, give it a try. Use transparent colors to avoid blocking everything that’s happening behind your menus.

Conquerors

Note the menu position.

One obvious problem we’ve observed is user-made UIs sometimes reside in the lower-left-hand corner of the screen. These menus work fine on desktop displays, but are unusable on mobile because they end up beneath the virtual joystick, which always takes precedence. In this case, we recommend users move their menus to another part of the screen – perhaps the middle-left side, where they’re still easily accessible with the left thumb.

Content Team Lead Deepak Chandrasekaran (aka Sorcus) wants ROBLOX game developers to know that we will eventually offer more flexibility and, in turn, additional space for user-created UIs. In the future, you’ll be able to toggle everything but the playerlist.

Think simple

Our experimentation and intuition tells us that, as of now, simple games and those that naturally lend themselves to touch controls are resonating with mobile players. Simple doesn’t mean inherently boring or bland; it can mean that very complex features and game play are designed in a way that is intuitive for players. Think about mobile games you’ve played in the past; there’s a good chance some of them wrap complex gaming in simple and intuitive mechanics.

iPad Gameplay: Natural Disaster SurvivalFor example, we’ve seen players constantly hanging out in Block Town – not because it offers any objectives, but because it’s a fun place to gather and socialize with friends. Natural Disaster Survival works well because it only requires adept character movement while the world around you is imploding in a different way each time. Obstacle courses and adventure games, the latter of which we don’t see too often but might see more in the future, also lend themselves to play on mobile devices. Regardless of whether you’re shooting to make it big on desktop or mobile (or both), it’s worth thinking about simplicity as a good thing.

Vehicles are not currently supported by touch controls, but will be soon. Creative Director John Shedletsky believes cunning users could find a way to present mobile users with a sort of UI-based throttle to allow driving.

Detecting touch

If you’re a game developer, you can customize the player experience based on their platform by using the RBX.lua.UserInputService method. According to LuckyMaxer, a ROBLOX user and Wiki writer, UserInputService is a service used to detect the user input available on the device being used. It was primarily created to allow scripts to perform specific to the needs of the device. Here’s the most important line for you scripters:

Game:GetService('UserInputService').TouchEnabled

You can attach this “check” to any LocalScript in your game and use it to do a variety of things: give access to section of your game or place, reward players for checking out your game on a mobile device (for instance, by giving them a special hat in game) and even re-assign mouse buttons to tools. For example, if you have a game that relies on right-clicking, you could remap that input to a button or tool on mobile.

ROBLOX Battle

We use this method for our ROBLOX Battle game, which is currently in beta. If you play on an iOS device, you’ll notice there’s an action button next to the jump button. According to Dan Healy, a Software Engineer on the Content Team:

We immediately realized that instead of manipulating a mouse and keyboard, the player would be using their hands, at least partially, to hold the device they’re playing on. With this in mind, we wanted to provide a way for players to use their weapons without having to move their hands all over the screen. By placing a button that fires your weapon within easy reach of your hands, you can comfortably hold the device while aiming and shooting.

The action button allows touch-screen players to fire while panning the camera (and without inadvertently panning the camera), as well. This could be a useful option for other ROBLOX game developers with weapon-heavy games.

Getting started

While we want you to be able to create a game that works across platforms using the tips mentioned above, those of you who already have games might want to consider creating a separate copy as a testing ground for mobile optimization. Dan mentions constant testing as an important part of building out a cross-platform game. While not everyone has every iOS device lying around the house, if you do have access to one you should experience what you’re building from a player’s perspective.

“If you’re spending your time making an awesome GUI, spend a little more and make sure it fits on different size screens,” says Dan. “If you can, it’s always helpful to test your game on different devices. Your players will appreciate it!”

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Processing power is lower on mobile devices, so for now we recommend limiting physics objects unless they’re crucial to game play. John Shedletsky cited decorative windmills in Sword Fight on the Heights as something expendable. The game’s physics-based, wobbling platforms, on the other hand, are game play-driven and worth keeping in place.
  • iPads can handle about 10,000 parts. iPhones and iPods are limited to about 4,000 parts. If you want true cross compatibility, keep those numbers in mind.
  • A single game that feels good across platforms is not easy to design, so keep tweaking and testing.
About Andrew "blockhaak" Haak

Communications Manager at ROBLOX. blockhaak on ROBLOX; @andrewjhaak on Twitter.

82 thoughts on “Tips for a Mobile-Optimized ROBLOX Game

  1. AnthonyTech88

    Is it possible to change rendering and etc? I feel as if that is really needed for the mobile version. I lag on my iPad…

  2. kingtailsmuchow

    What you SHOULD do ROBLOX: Make this also for iPad 1’s!!

    What you COULD do (just some idea’s): Make ROBLOX for Playstation 3/Vita and Xbox 360. Just like Rovio did with Angry Birds :D (if it’s even possible with it)

    Only when this comes out for iPad 1, I will be happy enough and give Roblox 5 Stars (now I give it 4 stars because ROBLOX is doing even more stuff not everybody can get).

  3. TheAmazingMacintosh

    Thats quite sad mobile games for iPod touch 4th gen don’t work yet mobile games for iPhone 4 work, does that make any sense?
    They have identical specs:
    A4 CPU’s, about 512MB of RAM, Retina Displays. However one has Cellular radios+WiFi radios and one just has WiFi radios.
    And one has a 5MP rear facing camera and one has like a 1.2MP camera, but how does a camera affect how well it would play ROBLOX?

  4. Jo6622hn

    I’m working on an FPS game centered around warfare in the near-future. going to make a separate version designed exclusively for iOS. going to implement mw3’s point streak system and BO2’s pick 10 system.

  5. LilyPotter123

    This is cool. But, have you not made the mobile edition on the iPod Touch 4th Generation because it can’t handle it, or you never got around to doing it?

    You also never did the in-game character customizer.

  6. lukethebest12

    This mobile App is amazing but there a few problems with it.
    I found on the iPod touch 5th generation does not have chat system on it.
    When the iPhone 4 has the chat system on it.

    The other thing is that is games keep getting a not saying “Lost Connection”. The ROBLOX app wont upload some games and I have BC.

    I think when game builders are building their games they should be able have an icon on the configure page to say “Do you want to make this game iOS compatible”. When they click it all the icons will shrink to mobile eligible size.

  7. 6dawg34

    Make it for Ipod5g! please all of my friends can but I cant I want to play it with them but I cant. If you make it for Ipod4g then lots more will play on 4g because no parents want to spend more money on something that is more money so 4g! O_O

  8. pokeCamaroo

    i know apps can be downloaded onto kindle through computer.. so i’m gonna get mobile ON MAI KINDLE!

  9. Armoarmman64

    For the problem with Conquerors, is it possible for the UI to detect for a position that no GUI is and go the closest to its original position? For example, in the Conquerors the GUI is on the bottom, the UI will detect the frame and go to a different position as close as possible its original position without touching the GUI. I’m not really sure about this.

  10. Johncena1923

    Ok this is good but how do you chat in roblox mobile on iphone?and if you know how please tell me

    1. emporerfire

      Well i suspect there was something wrong with it. But now it has updated you can Play all games that are active and chat.

  11. FluffPuff100

    The iPad gaming is very good, but I do hope that the limitations get fixed. For example, hot keys like pressing ‘r’ to regen or zoom on a gun would not work on the iPad. I’m really looking forward to this issue being fixed.

  12. EpicTT

    One major thing that I am waiting for ROBLOX to patch is the constant crashing. It kind of ruins the games without saving, because when I’m on the middle of surviving disasters, it crashes and I have to start all over again.

  13. Zapdroid

    I think the two best and non-laggy games to play on a IOS devive are natural disater survival and Sword FIGHT ON THE HEIGHTS. Me and my brother always play them together, one on a Iphone and one on a labtop, and the phone works pretty well, but the Iphone screen, when I ove on the labtop, on the other screen it takes 3 second for me to move. So its like he’s playing a few seconds in the past.

  14. JosephJ198

    I promise if roblox graphics were like that in 2013 and 2014 I would think of it best building game ever made even though I find it already is.

    1. kirkyturky12

      Nope. They meant to say UIs. UI is short for user interface. GUI is graphical user interface. So, it could be either one.

    2. Samaxis

      UI and GUI is pretty much the same thing. UI stands for “User Interface”, which is pretty much the same thing as a GUI, which is a “Graphical User Interface.” They assumed that we, being smart, knew what they were talking about. Same thing, either way.

  15. @RapidfirebulletRBLX

    Add an app either in-game or separate so you can design t-shirts, pants, shirts, and rextexture hats!

    Also add Studio to iOS.

  16. Thunderflame55

    I know that menus and everything were made optimized for iOS, but on the computer it’s giving me a hard time navigating the new UIs. Maybe there could be either different UIs for each device, or it could be balanced for BOTH platforms.

  17. Bensbrother

    Good job Roblox. Looks like you care about having people make some good places and want to share it with the world! :D

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