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How to Run a Successful Personal Build Server

September 20, 2012

by Andrew Haak


Personal Build Server Screenshot - Magic of Land

Personal Build Servers launched just under a year ago and, since then, have spawned creations impressive for their colors, senses of place and especially scale – many are home to tens of thousands of parts. At the time of this writing, there are 283,000 servers anyone can join and, at the least, explore.

Personal Build Servers can be the work of one person, but that misses one of their primary purposes: cooperative building. The biggest, best creations often result from the owner allowing other ROBLOX users to contribute to the building effort. The key, then, to a successful server, where multiple users collaborate to build something great, is control.

What’s out there?

I browsed some public Personal Build Servers yesterday (they’re separated into their own tab on the Games page) to try to get a feel for how they’re used. I entered servers as either a “Visitor,” which allowed me to explore the world but not contribute to the building effort, and as a “Member,” which gave me access to building tools and the freedom to start stamping out parts.

I even entered a couple servers where the owner was present and happy to dole out building privileges to anyone who asked.

Lesson learned: liberally giving out building privileges to anyone who visits your server leads to chaos. I saw a blown-up house floating in a gravity-defying column of water (wrap your head around that), single-voxel-wide towers that pierced the sky, and layers of terrain stacked on top of one another. These servers were a fun diversion, but not exactly time well spent.

Terrain-based ROBLOX Island

How to run a successful Personal Build Server

Personal Build Servers are a Builders Club feature. You can read up on how to create a personal server here.

If you spend any time at all working on your Personal Build Server, it’s worth your while to have control over it. We save server data automatically, every 15 minutes, so giving privileges to one bad apple can quickly ruin any building progress you may have already made. (That C4 is pretty powerful.)

1. Do some social networking

If you want to build something cooperatively with ROBLOX friends, you need to meet some fellow ROBLOXians and establish some friendships. You can start on the ROBLOX forums – let people know, specifically, what kind of project you have in mind. Rather than announce your intention to create a cool place, let people know you’re looking for builders to help construct a medieval city. Get to know respondents and create a small team.

You can also reach out to other social networks. If you’re a Twitter user, for example, put out a call for experienced builders to your followers.

Personal Build Server Screenshot - IndoorsROBLOX’s Creative Director, John Shedletsky, has some experience running Personal Build Servers. He believes the “magic number” is 20. If you can create a circle of 20 friends, there will likely be two or three people online at any given time, ready to join you in building.

2. Give privileges to people you trust

Once you network with enough ROBLOX users, you’ll need to decide who can do what. This is a key to a successful Personal Build Server. You should only give building privileges to people you know and trust to contribute, not work against you.

Set Access and Privileges

To set privileges, click “Configure” from the dropdown gear on the Build page. You can give building privileges to individuals by adding them as admins or members.

3. Multiple servers? Use group-based privileges

If you run multiple Personal Build Servers, you can create a ROBLOX group and use its settings to give privileges across servers. This is much easier than setting individual privileges for each server.

4. Create something that’s fun for visitors, too

If your server is interesting – even if it’s just nice to look at – visitors will be less likely to beg and plead to have access to building tools. They’ll be content to explore your world and see the sights.

You can take this a step further, though, by adding customization to your Personal Build Server. To do these things, you need to create a new place first as a standard game, edit it in ROBLOX Studio, then upload and configure the place to turn it into a personal server.

Set Place Type

To change between game and personal server, click “Configure” from the dropdown gear on the Build page then adjust the settings using the menu shown above.

You could, for example, add a script to your workspace (Insert > Object > Script) that damages players when they’re exposed to sunlight. When you change your game into a Personal Build Server, players will be encouraged to go underground and group-build a subterranean city. Here’s a sample script, which checks that it’s daytime, then uses raycastingto determine whether there are any objects above the player blocking the light. Click the script to download a text file containing the raw code.

Script: Exposed to Daylight?

You can also give yourself (and other administrators) access to special commands. Okay, this might not inherently make things interesting for other users, but it does help maintain order and let you create excitement. The below script shows how you can let admins change the time of day by chatting “time/XX”, where XX is the hour of day. Click the script to download a text file containing the raw code.

Admin Command - Time of Day

Personal Build Server Screenshot - Magic of Land

Magic of Land, by Tiranin

What would make Personal Build Servers better?

There are things we’d like to do to make Personal Build Servers better. The process above, where you have to start with a standard game and later turn it into a personal server to add custom scripts. It would be great to let users enter someone else’s personal servers and save/export something they built in it. What ideas do you have?