Responding to User Feedback, Mobile Edition
by John Shedletsky
Every so often, we ask our users to let us know what they’d like to see in ROBLOX, then respond to some of the most insightful comments and pertinent questions. This time, John Shedletsky, ROBLOX’s Creative Director, focuses on our upcoming mobile release. He responds to questions about mobile optimization, a future where ROBLOX and Android can play together, and security concerns, to name a few. The topics for this User Feedback session were submitted to us from users at LuaLearners, a ROBLOX scripting group/website.
Mobile Game Play
Orca101: Will games need to be as optimized as possible to run well on mobile?
Our goal is to create a platform where you publish once, run anywhere. That means if I’m building Sword Fight on the Heights V, and I publish it from ROBLOX Studio, that the game is immediately available to play on all devices that ROBLOX supports, with no modification. In practice, this is likely to be a negotiation between ease of use on mobile and ease of use on desktop. For example, mobile controls want to be mainly touch-input based: tapping, dragging, pinching etc. Games that support these types of input are likely to be popular with mobile users. Other types of ROBLOX games make extensive use of the keyboard for controlling vehicles or manipulating object in-game. These games are likely to be much less successful on mobile.
Right now, our strategy is to show mobile players games that are popular on mobile. We will show desktop players games that are popular on desktop. There will doubtlessly be games that are great on both. Can’t wait to see what pops up. We’ll run a more in-depth “How to design games for mobile” article next week.
Causticity: Is mobile always in first person?
No, just as in desktop ROBLOX, the place builder has the option to control which camera mode players use. It’s possible that mandatory 1st person games will be easier to control on mobile and thus become more popular there. We’ll see.
McVisibility: Will ROBLOX eventually come out for Androids too? Or is it iOS exclusive?
Depending on whose numbers you look at, Android makes up 50-60% of the mobile market. Anecdotally, I can tell you that there is a huge audience of ROBLOX players who want to play ROBLOX on their Android devices. It’s definitely going to happen.
dr01d3k4: When is the Android release date? What are the minimum Android specs, and what’s the pricing going to be?
We have one mobile development team here at ROBLOX. Let’s let them wrap up the iOS version first before announcing an Android release date, eh? Android is a very different environment from iOS and the team is starting from scratch, so I would imagine that it’s going to be a couple of months before we have anything to share.
Minimum specs are likely to be hardware similar to the iPhone 4S. It was difficult to find comparative processor benchmarks online, but I imagine any Android smartphone produced in the last 2 years would be very likely to be able to run some form of ROBLOX.
Mobile ROBLOX Studio
Cookie2900: Will there ever be a mobile version of Studio? Just something to test scripts with?
There will definitely be a building experience on mobile. We don’t yet know if this can be full-blown ROBLOX Studio, or if it is a series of custom-purpose building apps that allow you to create and save specific types of ROBLOX models (such as cars, buildings, monsters), or if it is a multiplayer building game that allows you to save your creations to ROBLOX.com.
Scripting is a task that seems specifically suited to the desktop, where you have a keyboard. We want to nail simple building experiences before we venture into unknown territory.
ScratchCrow: Hardball question coming in: Will the mobile version of ROBLOX Studio allow server tests?
Like I said, we don’t know what “mobile Studio” looks like yet. It’s very possible that ROBLOX will build an analytics package for place builders that will allow them to check on the health and popularity of their games on the go, including crash dumps from Lua scripts collected in-game by a logging service. Further than that, all I can say is that our goal is to build whatever tools the ROBLOX game development community wants or needs.
SCS: What measures will be taken to prevent exploitation of the ROBLOX mobile Studio software?
We’re attacking mobile security on several levels. First of all, account security is 100% assured on mobile devices. “Account security” is all about the integrity of your account: can people login as you, can people spend your ROBUX, can people impersonate you in-game. The answers to all of these questions is no. We use the same techniques your online bank uses to protect your account – SSL for logins, certificates, salted hashed passwords in the backend DB, etc etc.
As far as people attempting to exploit the ROBLOX code in-game to cheat or steal other player’s levels, we’ve been dealing with these bad actors for the past seven years on the desktop. The desktop, especially the PC, is a much more open platform and as a result, the hacker toolset is much more developed there than on iOS. As a result, we expect that exploits on mobile will be a relative non-issue.