Hack Week: Implementing Rotatable GUIs


01, 2012

by Sorcus


During our annual Hack Week, ROBLOX developers shifted gears, working tirelessly to devise and present ideas fueled more by creativity than priority. This week, we’ll be featuring some of the most innovative ideas to come out of Hack Week. Our second story is about some changes that will be implemented to ROBLOX’s robust GUIs (graphical user interfaces), by Software Engineers Deepak Chandrasekaran and Tyler Mullen.

GUI text boxes

GUIs are the biggest small part of ROBLOX, and for good reason. From text buttons, to text labels, to image buttons, to frames, these 2D bits can add high-impact nuances to your games. Many of the smaller facets of ROBLOX, like our leaderboards, backpacks and our chat system, are powered by GUIs as well.

As it stands now, ROBLOX allows users to utilize two types of GUIs: screen GUIs, and billboard GUIs. Before getting into some changes we’ll be making to both, let’s describe how they work.

A screen GUI is essentially a 2D overlay—users can implant text on top of a 3D game running in the background (like a title of a game). Billboard GUIs, on the other hand, are placed directly into 3D worlds, like the chat bubbles that appear when Robloxians are having conversations. It’s important to understand that both of these GUIs exist in 2D space only¸ and that we’re not planning on adding new types of GUIs. Rather, we’re adding an ability to the existing types.

Though ROBLOX GUIs can be cut, resized, and translated, power users have longed for GUIs that can be rotated. Any user who has tried to create this effect in ROBLOX knows the pain associated with such a task—basically, to make something appear to move or rotate in real-time, you have to flash different images, each rotated outside of ROBLOX just a little bit more than the last. It’s a work-around that we feel is unnecessary, so we addressed it.

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We’re eager to see how our users take advantage of rotating GUIs. We think they will help  with a myriad of things, from producing mini maps, to creating more polished and unique-looking title screens.

This project is well underway, and we’re planning to implement it in the near future. We’d like to hear from you, so feel free to sound off in the comments below. What would you do with rotatable GUIs?

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