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Rendering Changes and Improved Performance Are Coming Soon

March 27, 2013

by Gemlocker


Next week, we’ll be releasing new rendering code that will boost performance by up to 3X, enabling more people to play games that have tens of thousands of parts. Part of the performance boost will stem from turning off bevels, which round the corners of bricks. The rest will come from featherweight parts and fast parts technology applying to ROBLOX parts of all shapes, sizes and materials, and a dynamic quality adjustment sensor that automatically adjusts material quality based on your hardware. The following video demonstrates the performance differences in a place that has over a hundred thousand parts.

When the update takes effect, you will notice immediately that bevels have been removed. We’ve chosen to do so for two reasons: 1. they’re a performance burden and 2. our vision for the future look of ROBLOX does not require them. We are ending support now, rather than pouring time and engineering resources into supporting a feature that will ultimately be deprecated later this year.

The new code we’re shipping offers a significant performance boost in two other key areas. It includes featherweight parts and fast parts support for all ROBLOX parts. In the past, this technology was relegated to a selection of shapes and materials. Now, the performance benefits apply across the board.

Moving Parts Before UpdateMoving Parts After Update
Fast parts technology increases your frame rate — 24 FPS vs. 49 FPS, pictured above — when many parts are moving at once.

Second, we have implemented a more dynamic in-game quality sensor. It will control the quality of materials, as well as the amount of debris and draw distance, based on your performance at any given time. We have also adjusted the Graphics Quality slider in the Game Settings to give you more control over your performance: as you slide it from side to side, you’ll witness material quality changes in real time. This will save you from having to manually change material settings in ROBLOX Studio, something a small percentage of ROBLOX users are already doing. Check out the video below to get an idea of how this will look.

First, see the difference in how ROBLOX renders Chaos Canyon on a low-end video card (GeForce 6150) before and after the automatic quality adjustment update. Then, see how the material quality responds to adjusting the graphics slider.

The purpose of this change is to help users with lower-end hardware experience ROBLOX better by default. A number of popular ROBLOX games and places encourage such behavior to help players achieve better performance. Apocalypse Rising, for example, recommends that users with older machines lower graphics settings in favor of more stable gameplay. This update should make finding the “sweet spot” easier, in terms of graphical improvement. If you have a powerful computer, you will continue to see high-quality material textures.

Performance is of paramount importance to us, and we want to ensure that every player and builder can run ROBLOX on any machine within reason. With the introduction of fast and featherweight parts, we’ve opened a lot of doors. This rendering update will allow us to fully realize the benefits of these systems, while simultaneously prepping for a broader change to ROBLOX’s look. We’re also really excited to get dynamic voxel lighting out the door, and these changes will help us step in that direction.

We’ve always been transparent with our users — feedback plays a significant role in prioritizing what gets done around here. We’ll be releasing these features next week, and will be monitoring and documenting how ROBLOX changes as a result. While things may look a little different with bevels out of the picture, performance will be higher (especially in static environments and on lower-end hardware) and you’ll have better control over how detailed your gaming experience is. This is the beginning of exciting changes that are soon to come. Stay tuned.