ROBLOX Battle: Big Picture

Building ROBLOX Battle, Part 3: Metrics and the Big Picture

bigpicturewithblurOur Games Team has been spending significant time making ROBLOX Battle as robust and feature-rich as it can be. We’ve already covered some of the more interesting updates, including the core gameplay mechanics that have been introduced recently and level design. Today, we had the chance to chat with Sorcus, the Games Team Lead, about using metrics to inform and gauge infrastructural changes made to ROBLOX Battle. Oh, and ROBLOX Battle is now open source. Read on for more.

Making the decision to completely overhaul ROBLOX Battle was challenging–as the Lead of the Games Team, I’m tasked with thinking about the big picture. Whereas Dan worked on gameplay specifically, and Luke was tasked with designing levels, my job was overseeing every single update to ROBLOX Battle. Early on during talks about revamping our flagship title, one thing became abundantly clear to me: if we’re going to do this, we want metrics.

You Bet Your Metrics

ROBLOX is unique as a gaming platform because developers can launch their games and test them directly with players who are eager to provide constructive feedback. I decided early on that we have to revise our approach to making Battle. There are so many avenues for builders, developers and gamers to express their opinions–whether that’s in the comments of the blog, in one of our many forums, or on the site. We are constantly listening. But a sort of truth lies within hardcore data that isn’t muddled by bickering or banter. I decided, before we even started implementing new features, that ROBLOX Battle would be data-driven. 

We started with basic metrics that Stravant (an intern who worked on Battle’s data persistence) and Newtrat (an intern who developed the advanced metrics system) had already been collecting. With their custom tools, I could enter any instance of Battle and track telling statistics, such as average play time for each person and average bounce rate (people who leave the game in less than a minute). A solid game has longer average play times and very small bounce rates. Before Battle’s redesign, its average play time was around six minutes, while its average bounce rate was around 25%. My initial goal was to increase average playtime as much as possible.

Metrics became our focus, and we started tracking everything. A new rule arose among the Games Team: no new game mechanic, level, or feature could be implemented without being able to track all of the metrics. We started answering all sorts of questions. What percentage of users play this new map? How often? What’s the return rate? Most importantly: is this map good enough to be in this game?

Metrics

I’ll give you an example: at one point, players pretty much unanimously decided that the rocket launcher was too powerful. We’d heard this dissent before on numerous occasions, though now we had metrics to see if this was a legitimate complaint. We wrote a fairly complex script (just over 3,000 lines long) to track weapon metrics, then plotted a graph using the data we collected. This method of tracking data became a super useful tool, and it’s something we’re going to allow builders to utilize when we release the Developers page (whoops, I think I’ve just said too much).

These graphs told us all sorts of useful things–in this particular case, we were able to see that the rocket launcher was indeed too useful in comparison to other Battle weapons. Rather than nerfing (a gaming term for weakening) the weapon, we decided to make every other weapon more powerful. This reduced the effectiveness of the rocket launcher while encouraging players to experiment with other types of deadly weapons. Metrics allowed us to be sure that we made the right decision.

sword

You don’t have to launch rockets! Get in close with some melee weapons–you’ll be amazed how much carnage you can cause up close.

I’m not afraid to say that more than once I’ve thought, “I don’t like this feature, we should consider removing it.” I’ve learned time and time again that my personal opinion is not always in line with those that belong to the players. Because in more than one instant, I’ve had that exact thought, looked at the metrics and realized, “well, users like it.” We want to make the best decisions possible when designing games–and the most concrete place to start is with solid, indisputable data.

Metric-Based Solutions

Building Battle around a data-driven structure helped us address several issues and hiccups along the way. One of the most important charts we were constantly reviewing was server times–we realized at one point that no server lived longer than eight hours. This number was way too low, so we knew there had to be some sort of bug in the system. Upon investigating, we found that some levels weren’t loading properly, so we fixed them. Once we did that, we went back to the numbers to track the server shelf life after fixing the bug–an average of 21 hours. Now we’re talking.

What’s great about ROBLOX from a game-development perspective is that you are never truly done with a game. We’re a dynamic platform–you get your game out there, and constantly iterate on it. How do we base decisions on the next changes we’re going to make? We have weekly design meetings where talk about all aspects of the game. These meetings are like an open-court–everyone gets the chance to voice their opinion and share what changes they think would be most effective.

battleteam

Members of the Games Team–Stravant, onlytwentycharacters, Newtrat, and Sorcus (left to right)–meet to talk about new features for ROBLOX Battle.

Alas, not every feature we talk about can be implemented immediately. We’ve learned to consider the cost of making changes. If we want to implement a radical new idea, we ask, “how many resources will that cost?” If the idea would cost two team members and take a single day, we say, “go for it.” If the players like the changes, we keep them. Features that take more time and need more effort from more team members are heavily scrutinized by the entire team before deciding to move forward. It’s all about time allocation and work division.

That’s why we were able to develop ROBLOX Battle so methodically–we tracked metrics after each change was made, whether it was the implementation of new weapons, game types or levels. At the same time, this process took place in enough separate phases as to not scare away our core audience. This method of game development allowed for a nice, easy transition into what actually turned out to be a substantially different experience.

While this series of articles should provide some useful insight for up-and-coming game developers, there’s a lot more knowledge to be gained: ROBLOX Battle is now open source! Feel free to take a copy, and examine the architecture behind it. Create your very own levels, weapons, game modes, and see what works. Try tracking the statistics of players in your game. The possibilities are endless. From a coding perspective, Battle is one of the most complex games on ROBLOX. Please have a look, and find ways to expand the horizons even further–we’re always hanging in and out of the Games Design Forum, so that would be a great place to post your creations!

About Sorcus

Deepak Chandrasekaran . Resident Troll Lord of ROBLOX. @Canavus on Twitter

86 thoughts on “Building ROBLOX Battle, Part 3: Metrics and the Big Picture

  1. sam

    Sam likes it man please do more games!!! If you do I will give you a girl friend and a t-shirt of my name sam-buscus the colors for the t-shirts are blue,green,yellow,tan,white, and every colors in the rainbow

  2. Bockhead

    Developer’s Page? I believe that is the true big announcement of this blog post. I would like to hear more about it.

  3. titanickid1234

    I love the new ROBLOX BATTLE updates exept I DONT like the one that makes everyone look like a noob its just kinda wierd

      1. IMaCartman888

        Bugor your right, the armor looks great because if you had a lot of hats of clothes then the armor wouldn’t fit.. LOl

    1. 123lps

      Okay, okay, but couldn’t we color ourselves? You know having a selection of colors so we could personalize ourselves a bit? Then the armor would work, and we wouldn’t looks so dumb.

  4. GTKendro

    I like that its open source. But what if robloxians that copied the place and claimed that the place was theirs?

  5. Velibor

    Thank you for releasing this, Game Development Team.

    I must say that I like the way how you guys code and make this stuff happen. You have built a stunning API that works with Simple Bindableevents and Methods.

    Bravo !

  6. Empoleoninfernape1

    I agree, the core mechanic of the RPG is nerfed compared to everything else still. You can reflect it or dodge it or throw a ball at it. Guest always use it even though they just get killed and ragequit.

  7. Zeekerss

    Are you finally done with this game? I don’t hate it or anything, but I want updates! I’m thirsty for something new..

    1. mrpricetoyou

      There is no such thing as a 3D Gui, that’s an oxymoron. They did the only thing they could do, unless they want to add a GUI object that has camera-like abilities.

  8. Capcakes

    I agree, the core mechanic of the RPG is nerfed compared to everything else still. You can reflec it or dodge it or throw a ball at it. Guest always use it even though they jst get killed and ragequit.

  9. Anonymous

    I read this intently… until I saw ROBLOX Battle was open source, in which case I jumped to check it out! :p

  10. mlpearsall

    I’m so excited for ROBLOX Battle to finally be open source! This will be an excellent game to look into the new metric system and some of the other unique coding that can only be found in a game like this.

  11. Dreapster

    Roblox studio is not working properly for me. whenever I edit a map all it does is show an empty baseplate with no content in the game and the undo/redo tools do not work.

    1. Firestorm122

      Number 1: you obviously opened a new map with a baseplate starter kit
      Number 2: you have to insert your toolbars you want to use (insert»toolbox object (or roblox object) and then insert items you want)

      If you want to use a map you’ve already built on, first, sign in to your account, then click ”switch to normal view” and go to home»Places»active places»(your place)»edit. Then it should come up with the place you were building.

      1. Mimi16556

        If your in roblox studio and you open in build mode (with your player standing in the game along with all the roblox studio options) you wont be able to use undo and redo. hope that helps, don’t know whats wrong with your maps unless the above post is right and you were not logged in or started editing a new map. Also check your internet connection, that might be causing it too.

  12. BlackKyurem23

    I just wanted to say that ROBLOX Battle is one of those games on Roblox I play 24/7. It’s pretty amazing on how you guys build this game. I do like reading these notifications to see what’s up with new updates. :)

  13. Polodna5

    No way. I’m going to grab a copy and try to add more maps, VIP weapons, etc. I’m not a coder, but I’m going to look at the scripts ROBLOX Battle has and see if I can see how it works and try to copy the scripts and edit them. Thanks ROBLOX Battle Team for making this game and making it open source!

    1. TheReplier

      I think the point in open-sourcing it was not so that other users could take it and add a couple of things to get visits, but to help you understand more complex scripts and more efficient ways to run games.

  14. Random User

    Sounds great and I love the inspiration.
    Please fix the edit mode problem Ive tried all the options I could but nothing helped

Comments are closed.