Creativity and sharing are two qualities that fuel ROBLOX, and it’s in that spirit that we created Crossfire, a series where we chat with ROBLOX game developers about their game design choices. For our second outing, we interviewed Clonetrooper1019 and Ozzypig to compare and contrast design decisions made in their very similar games: The Stalker and Juggernaut, respectively. Both games are asymmetric–meaning they require players to work in teams to take down one super-powered individual.
Thanks for doing this guys. Let’s start with the very basics. I was gathering stats, and both Juggernaut and Stalker have over 600,000 visits. What’d you do to make your game take off?
Ozzypig: I had a very selective beta, where I sort of teased my audience. I only opened the game periodically, and for only an hour or two a night. I invited some of my friends to come and give me some feedback on the game. Word was getting out, so I started inviting more and more people to play the game, but it was only when I let them. It was like I was teasing them, getting them to the point where they were thinking, “this just needs to come out already, I want to be able to play this whenever I want.”
CloneTrooper1019: I wasn’t expecting my game to become popular at all–it took a while for me to notice that people were really enjoying the game. When it finally made its way to the front page, I decided that it would need to be updated. That’s when I added the shop, and hats and an inventory system. I created a video thumbnail, which I think helped a bunch too.
I didn’t see a video thumbnail on Juggernaut…
Ozzypig: That’s because I didn’t make one. I only wanted simple thumbnails. In fact, Juggernaut’s original thumbnail image was just the word “Juggernaut” on a blank background. I think the mystery made people wonder what kind of game they were looking at.
How important would you guys say thumbnails are in popularizing your games?
CloneTrooper1019: If you create really convincing images, you’ll grab the attention of users, which is hard to do.
Ozzypig: I think thumbnails should be totally transparent. Everyone should be transparent about what their game is. [laughs] I’m so tired of seeing “Skate nine million miles down the hill” on the front page.
At their core, both of these games are asymmetric–one guy has a lot of power, and the regular guys have to bring them down. Was it difficult to determine just how powerful you wanted to make your characters?
CloneTrooper1019: I had to toy with it to get it right. In the first version of Stalker, there were a ton of complaints that all the combines were winning too much, and so forth. Then I’d change it, then the Stalker was winning too much. It was a lot of trial and error.
Ozzypig: I had a trial and error period as well, then I discovered that I could use math to determine the health of the Juggernaut. His health is dependent on the amount of players in the map at any given time. So he gets a base amount of health, plus some extra health per opponent in the map.
CloneTrooper1019: I’ve been considering doing something similar–Scaling down the damage depending on the amount of players in the game. I think that would help balance out my game. I need to make some sort of chart to look at the ratios.
Ozzypig: Another game mechanic I added is that every time the Juggernaut loses 10% of his health, he goes invincible for a short period of time. This gives the Juggernaut time to fight off a ton of attackers, and also gives newer players who happen to be the Juggernaut the satisfaction of at least taking out a few attackers.
CloneTrooper1019: [laughs] The invincibility thing is so frustrating!
Ozzypig: That’s the point! It adds frustration and also some strategy.
Do either of you do anything to balance your game based on the skill level of the players?
CloneTrooper1019: Stalker has upgrades that allow you to change how your combine plays in the game. What makes the game unique is that how a match goes is entirely dependent on the skills of the players in the game. Because different combines behave differently and have different upgrades, something new and different happens every round.
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Teamwork. How important is it in your games?
Ozzypig: This is a good place to mention that even though our games have similar concepts, they’re totally different in this regard. I think we can both agree that teamwork is super important in both games, but in Juggernaut, the enemy is a clear cut foe. The second you’re in the map you’re saying, “there he is.” In Stalker, you can’t see your enemy. He could be anywhere, and there’s this constant fear that you’ll get stabbed in the back. Teamwork is important in both games. Our games are very similar, yet totally different at the same time.
CloneTrooper1019: The key to surviving in Stalker is to stay in groups. In order to take down the Stalker you’ve basically got to have a whole group shooting at him. When you’re in a group it makes the Stalker much more nervous about attacking, because he may take a member out, but the rest will see where he went. You won’t make it long without a group.
Both of you guys made Game Passes for your game. How are those working out for you guys? How did you decide what to sell, and for how much?
Ozzypig: A big rule of mine is never sell “wins” in your game. No user should be able to buy their “wins.” That being said, there are different character classes in Juggernaut, but one class is not better than another. You can unlock access to the classes by getting a Game Pass for 70 Robux, which I think is pretty fair given how much the addition of the classes changes your experience. I’ve found that people always want extra types of gameplay. I make a game that is fair and fun, then offer the pass. That’s how I make my sales.
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CloneTrooper1019: I wanted to use Game Passes to simply give users a better experience. They let you earn two times the points every round, and I made a pack that allows users to gain access to certain power ups. These power ups are give-and-take. For example, if you want to be faster, you can use a speed power up, but that will make you weaker. You can also use a Spectate Tool if you get my Game Pass, which is tremendously helpful. This basically allows you to continue watching the match after you’ve died. This helps newcomers watch how people play the game and develop strategies.
We noticed that both games also featured rotating maps. Both of your games feature maps made from other people, right? How easy is it to get people to build maps for your game, and how did you find people to do it?
CloneTrooper1019: I did actually borrow a few maps. I used the Haunted Mansion map that Shedletsky made, but everyone uses that map. Basically, I provided a map kit for users who want to try and create maps for the game. Unfortunately, most entries I get don’t meet my standards. A lot of the times they’re too small, or poorly constructed.
Ozzypig: I actually have 15 maps, and I didn’t make all of them. I think a grand total of four other users contributed them. Basically, I have maps that I’ve built myself and I use them as examples when someone wants to build a level for Juggernaut. I send out my criteria on my ROBLOX profile page. This allows me to crowd source maps to other users, and reduces my work load. If a person makes a map that fits my criteria, I’ll edit it, put in power ups and spawn points, and implement the map. I think it’s easier to make a map for my game, because visually my maps are a lot simpler looking. CloneTrooper’s maps focus much more on detail.
CloneTrooper1019: I was going for a sort of eerie look. I want that to be the theme for all my maps.
Ozzypig: I basically just left the color of my maps open. Each of the maps you can play on Juggernaut looks like the same person built them. Consistency is very important to me.
CloneTrooper1019: I like the idea of setting a fixed criteria. Some of the maps I’ve received were totally off topic.
Ozzypig: [Laughs] I got a submission for a map that looked like a giant birthday cake once. Other people just take existing maps, color them gray, and submit them to me. My maps have to be made from scratch, and have to be creative and unique.
Of course we just have to ask. You guys play with dynamic lighting yet?
Ozzypig: I’ve experimented with dynamic lighting in Juggernaut using the latest copy of Studio. I’ve actually implemented light in the new version. It looks like a totally different game, and it really adds another dimension of graphics.
CloneTrooper1019: I put some screenshots up. I actually created a flash light that works just like the one in Half Life 2–it starts dying out if you use it too long. I’m experimenting with implementing the flashlight into the game. Like, maybe you can’t see the Stalker like, at all, unless you shine your flashlight on him. That might make the game too hard for the combines though.
In Apocalypse Rising, the sounds of footsteps really help people gauge how close a person is. Maybe you could do something like that in Stalker?
CloneTrooper1019: That’s actually not a bad idea! Maybe Stalker should have footsteps. I’m also thinking of making a gear item called “The Stalker Detector” where teams can gather around it and try to find the Stalker. I’m experimenting with a lot of new things, it’s exciting.
Ozzypig: Dynamic lighting is going to be such an awesome addition both for graphics and for gameplay. Like the example of using a flashlight in Stalker? That’ll add so much believability to it. It’ll also add a lot to the theme of games. Like, Juggernaut is pretty much all gray. This new version I’m working on, everything is dark except things on the map that count. The Juggernaut has a ton of light on him. Hiding is even less of an issue. You’ll always know where the Juggernaut is, because you’ll always be able to see him.
Wrapping things up, what is the coolest part of the other guy’s game?
CloneTrooper1019: Juggernaut is straight-up entertainment to the max, and it’s incredible how long it keeps players in the game. I also really dig the medieval genre weapons. It’s a great game, and I’d recommend anyone to jump in and try it out.
Ozzypig: I highly recommend Stalker, without question. If you like that thrill of wondering where the next danger is, if you like staying alert, this is the game for you. It’s really high-tension stuff–you don’t know who’s going to be eliminated next. There’s this whole mystery around in Stalker, and I really envy that. In Juggernaut, you know which way it’s going to go. In Stalker, the amount of possibilities is endless, and I totally commend CloneTrooper for managing to do that. Oh, and the balls he added in his lobby satisfy my ADD [laughs]. I decided if he’s going to add balls, I am too! So now Juggernaut has balls in the lobby as well [laughs].
This has been an awesome experience, thank you guys so much for taking the time.
Ozzypig: Thank you so much for working hard on ROBLOX. I’d be a different person if I had never clicked that ad.
CloneTrooper1019: ROBLOX changed my life, so thank you. [Laughs] I went from being really dumb to being really intelligent.