Comments on Comments: Dynamic Lighting, 2013 Egg Hunt and More


09, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


Many readers pour significant time into writing thoughtful replies to our blog articles, and we want to make sure we address them. Comments on Comments exists so you get answers, straight from a ROBLOX developer, to your questions. For this post, we’ve tapped a handful of ROBLOX’s staff, to answer a wide range of questions about dynamic lighting and our recent removal of bevels, the making of our 2013 ROBLOX Egg Hunt, our recent Spotlight Article featuring a digital recreation of Rome, some camera tweaks and fixes and much more.

Questions from Bye Bye Bevels: The First Step Toward Our New Look

We distilled the following questions from users PAT457, Zach, Art1st, Tabboo111, Luigi, dudedude99, and Robloxrepairer. Senior Rendering Engineer Arseny Kapoulkine responds:

Q: Will this update cause more lag? Will the quality of ROBLOX games suffer even further with the dynamic lighting system turned on?

We’re working to ensure that dynamic lighting introduces as little lag as possible–if your place does not use lighting, then performance will remain the same as it’s always been. If you do choose to use lighting with an under-powered machine, we’ll give you the option to delay all light computation. That way, you’ll see lighting updates, but not in real time. Your gameplay experience will remain stable;, lights may just take a bit to place/move around. 

Q: Why’d you remove bevels entirely, instead of making them optional?

For a much more specific answer to this question, you can always check out the blog article itself. To try and sum it up, the new rendering system we’re transitioning to does not support bevels; they’re a performance burden, and we’ve decided they’re not going to be a part of ROBLOX’s look in the future. Removing bevels gives us the full performance benefit, allows us to release dynamic lighting earlier, and makes a more unified aesthetic between different PC configurations.  

Q: Will this give builders much more to consider, since they’ll have to worry about lighting their places in addition building them?

We’re trying to make sure that if you enable lighting, your place looks good with default settings, unless you’ve done something very unusual. There is a difference between good and great, however. Those who want their places to look great will have to tweak the lighting and place different sources of light. If you want to design your game around lighting (stealth zombie survival horror action, anyone?) then lighting will become a primary concern. 

Dynamic Lighting

Q: Hypothetical: could you leverage dynamic lighting to make a light source break through fog in a foggy map?

Your hypothetical has both gameplay and artistic implications. If you’re using fog to obscure objects in the distance for gameplay purposes, seeing a light would be a dead giveaway. We currently don’t have plans for such complicated lighting-fog interactions–the way our system is now, fog obscures lights, as well as parts. We’re excited to see what users come up with when blending environmental factors with our lighting system. 

Questions from The Success and Making of the 2013 ROBLOX Egg Hunt

These questions were distilled from input we received from users cosmicmario64, Blueyoshi78, SirBeeMan, and dynamicrobloxman2ALT. ROBLOX Content Team Lead Deepak Chandrasekeran addresses them:

Q: Any plans to make a co-op hunt? This would mean hunting and collecting in eggs in group, rather than individually.

We haven’t really thought about making a co-op Egg Hunt, primarily because of the number of design questions doing something like that would raise. While a quest-type Egg Hunt might benefit from such a design, most eggs simply don’t. Even if all the eggs were quest-based, there are too many things we would need to sort out. Who gets to keep an egg a team finds? How do we scale each mission to work with parties of varying sizes?

While this mentality works when making, say, an RPG, it’s too complicated for an Egg Hunt. We decided early on that keeping it simple is the best approach, and the most fun.  

Q: Ever think of incorporating the climate of the level? That way different eggs spawn in different climates?

While we did feature eggs that spawned at different times (the Moon Egg only came out at night, for example), we didn’t quite go deep enough to make eggs that spawn based on climate. We considered the idea, but we were rushed for time and it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do this particular year. I think in the future, when we have nicer climate simulation, we’ll definitely revisit our stance on this. 

Q: What does the Troll Egg hatch into, if anything?

Whatever floats your goat

Q: I saw over 12,000 people online at one point, what was the highest amount of users hunting at the same time?

The ROBLOX Egg Hunt 2013 amassed over 19,000 simultaneous players this year! That’s a record for us. ROBLOX Engineer Dan Healy took a screenshot to mark the occasion, check it out below.

Questions from Removing “Tool Lag” From ROBLOX’s First-Person Camera

These questions were distilled from comments by 65yaman, Vuthakral Darastrix, coolransom12, and xWOWZABOYx. ROBLOX Technical Director of Physics and Distributed Simulation Kevin He responds:

Q: I liked it the way it was before, because it actually made you feel like you were turning your head in real life–like, you look at something, then turn your body to face it. In most third-person games you see the head turn, then the body follow. That’s what it felt like before.

Interesting for you to say that–most feedback we received from users about “turn lag” was negative. A big reason we did this is because we don’t want to penalize people who choose to play from the first-person perspective–we want the camera to work at exactly the same speed, from any perspective. 

Q: Since this update, I’ve noticed some of the tools breaking. For example, when I’m in an FPS game and change tools quickly, the numbers don’t respond. Was this caused by this update?

This particular problem you’re experiencing doesn’t seem to be related to the update. I’ll look into it to try and determine the cause of this problem. 

Q: I thought of this update while I was in-game. Is this a strictly “for looks” update or does it change gameplay?

It actually changes how fast your torso can turn in the first-person view. So the short answer is “yes”, it changes gameplay, in that when you’re sword-fighting in first-person mode you can fend off people who attempt to stab you from the back quicker. 

Q: I’ve come across a specific problem with crouch/prone scripts with guns. You can’t have your torso below two studs with legs, and if you do your pants disappear and you only see skin. Is there a fix for this?

Do the scripts attempt to CFrame the character’s torso directly? That’s not recommended–that will lead to conflict with the character controller running in the engine. 

Q: Are there plans to use partially transparent body parts like the one in the video?

We’ve already done some early prototype testing and have found that there are a lot more things we need to polish if we’re going to render body parts in first person. Here’s a short list of key points we need to consider: 

  • What happens if you’re wearing goggles or a helmet? 
  • What’s the right placement of the arms to ensure they’re not blocking your view? 
  • How do we prevent you from seeing through your own torso? 

Basically, we hope we’ll be able to launch this one day, but it won’t be in the short term. We’ve got a lot more studying to do in order to design it properly.

Questions from Physics Performance Demo: Domino Stress Test

These questions were distilled from users darkggod, kittyjoy67, Shame and Bugor. ROBLOX Technical Director of Physics and Distributed Simulation Kevin He responds:

Q: Have you ever thought of adding inertia? That way it would be possible for players to walk around on moving vehicles like trains and buses.

You mean granting the capability to temporarily increase or decrease the mass properties of your character? That shouldn’t have anything to do with walking on the tops of moving vehicles. Like in real life, when a train is moving at a constant speed you should have no difficulty walking inside of it. When it’s accelerating, braking or turning, you experience Newton’s second law–leaning or stumbling. It’s fun, and a constant challenge for us to make our ROBLOX characters react differently to different forces of physics. There are lots of areas to improve in that regard, and we’re hard at work on it. 

In the video without the fixes, why did the line of dominoes explode instead of just toppling over?

“Penetration” is the short answer. The collision detection code missed detaching some of the contact points between two parts–this lead to one part “penetrating” through the other one. By the time the penetration was actually detected, the object had cut in too deep. This resulted in a massive “correction” force in order to push the part out. As a result, the domino pieces exploded. 

Questions from Beta Testing Now: Own and Trade Multiple Copies of Limited Items

Limited DominusThese questions were distilled from feedback by users skandin, CalebMcGuire, josh50000, AlphaWarrior54 and crazymonkeybananas. Web Team Lead Toby Teel responds:

Q: Couldn’t users with a lot of Robux just buy all the items and sell them for 10x the original price? This idea should only be used for gears that you can sell in a set time frame. That way people can buy as many of the item as they want, sell them, and still others could buy the item inside the time frame.

When it comes to new limited items, we’ve set up a rule so that you’re only permitted to buy one of the same item until ROBLOX has finished selling it. This should prevent a user from swooping in early and buying the entire run of the limited item, then selling it at 10x the price. I like the idea of letting users by multiples of a time-limited item during the initial sale, however. I’ll have to think about that a bit. 

The question arises, however: what about after the initial sale? Hoarding or cornering the market will be very difficult (not to mention hugely expensive) to do. Users can’t hoard at the initial sale, they can only do so in the aftermarket, where they’re dependent on the price at which other users are willing to sell their items. The more someone tries to hoard, the more likely it is that prices will rises dramatically, because the last few items are always way more expensive than the first few. 

Also, you can’t hoard an item that others don’t want to sell. Once the hoarder tries to sell the hoarded items at a presumably inflated price, he might find that there are far too few takers, because of the price inflation. So when he tries to unload hoarded items, the price will naturally be deflated. 

Q: Won’t this just lead to rich users hording all the best items?

I think this will make existing items more valuable, since they will become more desirable–a user who wants to own more than one of a limited item could now purchase it. At the same time, there’s less utility in owning more than one of a certain item, since you can only wear one of them at a time. This means a user might be willing to pay 1000 Robux for an item he doesn’t already own, but probably not 1000 Robux for a second one (unless he/she thinks they will both be worth much more someday). Typically, loosening economy restrictions leads to more trades and sales overall, not less. Also, keep in mind that we constantly release new items–we’ll be releasing much larger counts of every item moving forward–so there will always be more opportunities to get your hands on cool limited items. 

Q: Non-Builders Club users should be able to sell shirts, pants, and limited items too, but only for a certain price that’s different from Builders Club members.

Right now, you can make t-shirts as a non-BC user, but you can only wear them yourself, or give them away for free. The idea is to add a third option, like allowing you to sell your item for up to ten tickets or so. I go back and forth on this idea–letting users get paid for their creations is awesome and is exactly what ROBLOX is all about, but being able to participate in the economy is a compelling reason to get Builders Club. 

Questions from Spotlight: Juliane14 and Group ITA Recreate Rome

These questions were distilled from users EliteHunter9632, Austrias, and returnofdeath. Communications Specialist Alan Fackler responds:

Q: This has become one of my favorite places. It’s just enormous, and you feel like you can breathe the air. It feels totally real. Thanks for sharing.

Immersion is one of the biggest reasons we chose this particular user to Spotlight, because fully immersing someone in a gaming world is extremely hard to do in a video game. But when I was in there, hanging out at pubs and watching the sun come up at the capitol, I was totally blown away. It really felt like a living, breathing town.

Q: ITA has reached a level of respect not known anywhere else on ROBLOX. It’s not every day that you’re treated with this kind of respect.

The ITA is the most highly organized and respectful bunch I’ve ever run into on ROBLOX. Because enemies are always attacking the level, every “high level” person who enters the game (like a ROBLOX admin) gets extra protection. Everywhere I went on the map I was escorted by their military, and they were totally helpful and polite. I mentioned it in the article, but I kept grinning every time they called me “sir.”

Suggestions from Crossfire: Gusmanak and DeadzoneZack Talk Game Design

We debuted a brand new type of game development article called Crossfire late last week, where we talk to rival developers about shaping their games on ROBLOX. Our first article brought the developers of two popular zombie survival games on ROBLOX, Deadzone and Apocalypse Rising. We asked users to sound off in the comments as to which two developers they’d like to see in the next iteration of the article. Here were some popular choices:

  • Call of ROBLOXia 5 (litozinnamon) vs Authority (Spookyfox) 
  • New Blockers City (bobhero) vs ROBLOXity (1dev3) 
  • Sword Fighting Tournament (TheGamer101) vs Catalog Heaven (Seranok)
  • Call of ROBLOXia 5 (litozinnamon) vs Paintball (Daxter33)
  • Colourtheory (Spectrum Enginr) vs Silent Sword (BiB)