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Spotlight: Nytraulics Demos Advanced Game Building and Innovation

December 29, 2012

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


User Nytraulics is on a quest to change the way shooter games both look and play using our platform, as evidenced by Underscore, a recently submitted work in progress that looks unlike anything we’ve ever seen on ROBLOX. Though Underscore is more of a tech demo than an actual game (you can move around, utilize the camera system, fire your weapon, etc.), the possibilities that this sort of advanced system could bring about are endless. The user interface is polished–it looks like something from a triple-A console game. The weapons he’s created feel unique, a combined effect of custom animations and sounds coupled with detailed weapons constructed using individual parts. He’s also intentionally writing “engine” code, meaning he will be able to use it to power additional maps and game play styles in the future. We thought we’d catch up with Nytraulics to discuss how Underscore was created and where he hopes it’ll go.

The Tech 

Nytraulics’ idea to create a game with an over-the-top perspective came from tower defense games, though his vision included another layer of complexity: he wanted the user to be able to move the camera, in real-time and on the go.

“The new GetMouse feature that ROBLOX added last month really helped,” said Nytraulics. “I took the camera, did some math with CFrame and Vector3, and arrived at a way to get the camera to look down on the player.”

Once the angle was right, Nytraulics had to get the camera to move smoothly. He took the math he did to create the proper angle and applied a customizable script over top the camera’s fixed location. This allowed him to control the perspective of the camera at any given time.

When you’re playing Underscore, the camera perspective can be aligned to four different focus points–you switch between these points using the “q” and “e” keys. It’s an interesting system that gives adept players the option of rotating the angle of the camera with on the direction they’re heading.

Once Nytraulics had created the free-flowing camera system, he needed to populate his game world. To do so, he decided to work with friend and scripter Redditor, who he had worked with previously on another game called Bracket. Bracket is a concept game, as well–it’s a first-person shooter that features advanced animations and controls (e.g., the ability to sprint and aim down the sights of your weapon by right clicking).

Aiming down the barrel of a rail gun (left). Andrew Haak narrowly dodging a rail gun blast (right).

Nytraulics ported the weapons featured in Bracket, as well as the sense of speed–Underscore is a noticeably fast-paced game that may be slightly intimidating for first-time players. After playing ROBLOX for a while, you begin to get an overall feeling of pacing in each of the games. In Underscore, thanks to custom movement objects and a custom-made body velocity movement gyro, pacing and movements are totally different than what you’ve come to expect. The game was also built around a custom framework called Tabby–it focuses primarily on objected-oriented programming using Lua.

You don’t need to know all the underlying technical details to realize how unique Bracket and Underscore are–within 10 seconds of running around and firing your gun you’ll notice how much work has gone into customizing the experience. And it’s fast. 

The Experience

“Our system allows players to look freely around the map without changing perspectives,” says Nytraulics. “In the test level we have now, there’s a trampoline that uses our custom movement system. We had to tweak the velocity settings manually to get it to work.”

Hitting "Q" and "E" swings the camera perspective around 90 degrees in either direction

Now that Nytraulics and Redditor have finished building a template of sorts, they’re in the process of figuring out what kind of game Underscore is going to be. Nytraulics wants to create a game that takes facets of many popular shooters, including Counter-Strike and Call of Duty. He explains:

“Underscore is going to be a team-based shooter, and we want to focus on unique objectives that you’ll have to work together on to beat. This isn’t going to be team versus team, this is going to a collaborative game where you have to work together. I’ve also been experimenting with a Counter-Strike-type purchasing system for guns and items. Lastly we want Underscore to have its own aesthetic, so we’re focusing on making the guns and environments look totally unique.”

Both Nytraulics and Redditor have a long path ahead of them, but they’ve created the base foundation for something that is already a first for ROBLOX. We can’t imagine how crazy and frantic the game will become once they add enemies to it. For now, the 14-year-old programmer has lofty ambitions for the future.

“Underscore will have five or six maps, and three or four game modes before we’ll be able to say, ‘done,'” says Nytraulics. “So it depends on how quickly we can do those things. We’re pretty good about coding functional stuff and fixing things quickly. I estimate this will be ready to play in about three months.”

We’ll keep an eye out, and you should too.