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Prototyping the Future Look of ROBLOX Part 2

A few months back, we showed off some prototype videos that detailed what the future look of ROBLOX might be. We discovered a lot of interesting facets of our platform and took many of those tidbits of knowledge with us moving forward. Previous designs have taught us a lot about what we think could make ROBLOX look great in the future (particularly our growing understanding of lighting and shadows). Our previous ideas for our future look featured extremely realistic parts that required some serious computational lifting, and we wanted ensure that mobile devices, like the iPad (or any other mobile device we develop for in the future), would be able to handle the load. These new visual prototypes reflect our efforts to drastically alter the appearance of ROBLOX in way that’s smooth and playable on any device.

After seven iterations between the ROBLOX staff and our Technical Artist, this is a look at what we believe is the best step in the right direction.

[do action=”youtube-iframe” videoid=”R7af5l3Jly8″/]

What you’ll immediately notice is that we’re using a different type of shading. Most of the parts in the video are plastic–we’ve added high frequency noise to each of the parts so they look slightly imperfect and tangible. The parts will also give subtle depth cues as to how far a piece is away from the viewer.

You’ll also notice heavy dark outlines, which we think really changes the look and feel of our parts and vehicles. The lines darken and become more apparent the closer any object gets to your line of site, which was done purposely. The lines seamlessly fade away as objects move away from you.

We're going for a "engineering" type of look--especially with the lines. The noise on plastic is part of our attempt to make plastic beautiful.

We’re taking a lot of the tech behind our previous gaze into the future, and mixing it together differently. We were very happy with our previous experimental lighting system using Voxel lighting technology, for example, and we’re applying the same principles here. Voxel lighting allows you to dynamically light an environment using multiple sources of ambient or artificial light–which means different objects in an environment are lit differently depending on their proximity to the nearest light source. This alters how shadows move in 3D space. You’ll notice the shadows are blurry and light, but also varied depending on the closest light source to them. We’re not 100% sure Voxel lighting will be our definitive lighting method, but it has certainly shown the most promise so far.

It’s important to note that these are renders–prototypes–and are not running in real time. We’re building these demo scenes in 3D StudioMax so we can get a sense of what this would look like before implementing them in C++, which takes much longer to generate results. As stated earlier, we’ve gone through several prototypes before arriving on an overall look that is heading in the right direction. Here is an earlier iteration:

This was an experiment in different types of high frequency noise. You’ll also notice that we experimented with the idea of making the outlines white instead of black. We actually had the outlines rendered in a bevy of different colors before arriving on black.

We’re going to continue exploring avenues of looks as we test this prototype engine with other types of materials and objects. There’s still a long way to go, so we’ll keep you up to date with newer prototypes as we create them. For now, here’s a list that we’re sticking to when imagining our future look. We want:

  1. Everything you build on ROBLOX to look great.
  2. A precise “engineering” or “schematic” look.
  3. Great lighting/shadows.
  4. High definition materials.
  5. A look that will feature high performance on all devices in terms of rendering expense.
About Simon "Gemlocker" Kozlov

Client Engine Lead at ROBLOX.

141 thoughts on “Prototyping the Future Look of ROBLOX Part 2

  1. Nobody

    ROBLOX please dont do this. 3D Building is WWWAAAAYYYY better. Im quiting if this happens anyways m1n3craft is WAY better than r0bl0x

  2. NewRobloxSux

    I’m totally going to quit if this is going to come out. Don’t change it. I like the way it is.

  3. galimi

    I kinda like it. I got one complaint, will there still be materials? And, it looks a little cartoon like and no better graphics.


    I think this will make ROBLOX a much more cartoony/anime styled MMO I really like how it’s looking I also like the slight physics I see like when the trucks are driving I see bobbing tires. i’d say it’s a good upgrade.

  5. Jammerpan

    I like the gradient ideas, but I seriously disagree with adding an outline to the parts… It makes it less realistic…

    1. Starwarsfanguy

      Seriously? You guys complain about the 3.0 being to realistic, and now complaing about this being not realitstic? IT’S LIKE THERE IS NOTHING GOOD FOR YOU GUYS! “NO TO REALISTIC!” NO NOT REALISTIC ENOUGH!”
      It’s like you guys can never be statisfied.

  6. Shadowsniper555

    Ahh, i’m a ROBLOX veteran, and I disagree with this change, iv’e been here since about 2007 and I don’t like this change, it’s not ROBLOX like, make it look like ROBLOX not lego land. This isn’t good, honestly it might drive me away as an old member. New members wouldn’t understand.

  7. Bugor

    Yes, it looks nice and all, but no. If ROBLOX made everything look like this, all plasticy and simple, we would lose hundreds of extremely detaield games. ROBLOX looks fine to me, maybe just make the plastic material we already have like this, but leave everything else as is. The shadows were nice too, I guess.

  8. superultrasonic45

    I think this needs more work, the graphics dont look roblox like and they dont fit with roblox very well. Well this is a prototype so roblox HQ will work on this moreto make it more roblox like :/

  9. 5jupiteralt

    Looks very basic, it would run much more smoothly on old computers. It actually looks very neat.

  10. klaq2

    I like the changes, but what if we want the blocks to ALWAYS be seamless, not just with distance. Will there be an option to not have black lines? Or is it a feature only present when building and won’t be there while playing?

  11. discreetairsoft

    Looks overly real and kinda plasticy. Imagine the lag from that! ROBLOX can you keep roblox how it is and add this step by step but not all at once. I’m happy with how it is. Its a cool idea anyway!

  12. hedwig23

    Honestly, I think these look great. I only have one problem… Being a child game and trying to make it safe and friendly you do not have to put so much work into the bricks, but more about ROBLOX itself. Like it being safe and kid friendly. So I like the bricks and shading and the whole new look, but I think that ROBLOX itself needs to be a better place.

  13. fbiguy321

    ROBLOX, think about the outcome problems you will face. Personally, I think the lag will be a problem.

  14. mckinney15649

    It looks good but i think roblox should leave this idea and just make the roblox now and add new shadows and more lighting

  15. 31pricehockeyNHL

    I love it! I can’t wait for the new version to come out! Please put the new version out quick, no rush.

  16. Unglitch

    YES, JUST YES. These are the things I’ve always imagined that would make Roblox nearly perfect.

  17. GeckoGuy456

    A lot of people are complaining that the new aesthetics will “drive all older members away”. That’s not entirely true; I’ve been on Roblox since 2008, and I consider this an upgrade. I can see that Roblox has devoted exorbitant effort into these new graphics. People are entitled to their own opinions, but they can’t establish a universal viewpoint for all veteran players; those people don’t speak for everyone. So don’t let their criticism discourage you!

  18. spiralknight12

    This is AWESOME! Did you see the prototype image of roblox for the iOS? Roblox might look like that image soon, with higher quality and ultra-shaders.

  19. johnalec38 (add me)

    I definitely like the outline. It reminds me of how they did that in Borderlands 2. It will look awesome :) Keep up the good work!

  20. TechWorks

    As long as this better rendering prformance is delivered, I could care less how they deign to do things. And finally dynamic lighting?

  21. livinarock

    this looks really stupid! I get roblox has been behind graphic-wise for a long time but this isn’t even an improvement

  22. TrayBerry

    I know you have big ideas, but I personally think this one is bad. I like the style of ROBLOX now – it allows us to build how we want, not how YOU want us to. I don’t want to be offensive, but I honestly think you should give up on this project – you’re just driving members away.

  23. Nathan7090

    I like the way Roblox is!
    There should be a day with everrything set back to like 2006+ So new players see how Roblox evolved.

  24. RubiksCubix

    I love this new look! This will take away the childish look Roblox has so long possessed. I honestly don’t care what the “bring back old Roblox”ers think, I am an 09er, and I believe this is a step in the right direction. Thank you.

  25. WPM

    This is turning into a C.A.D. program with the aesthetics of what the staff have in mind rather than a game where the creators can get their own desired aesthetics.

    1. szychobob

      Better actually, Already easier too use, and if they improve there physics and materials enough it will be WAY better.

  26. ptmptmbuilder

    I believe what they are trying to say with the outlines, is that they will only be there when you build.

  27. YoshiDino123

    Really Roblox? This should not be an update at all. Stop trying to update these looks, and if you keep making things look more real (Except the outlines.) more adults will come on here and you don’t want that.

  28. Wizard

    If we can have multiple sources of light, maybe you guys should add a light object. So we could place visible light sources in the Workspace.

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