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Feedback Loop: Particle Effects, Script Editing, Gear Stats and more

April 29, 2013

by John Shedletsky


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Feedback Loop99% of the content available on ROBLOX is created by our passionate community of builders. In Feedback Loop — the spiritual successor to the long running Responding to User Feedback series — we respond to builders’ grand ideas for ROBLOX and questions about the past, present and future.

In this, the inaugural issue, John Shedletsky discusses the ideas of custom particle-effect creation, improved humanoid manipulation, smart/auto-complete script editing, credits for builder-created catalog assets, individual gear statistics and leaderboards, and more.

Builder-created particle effects

gkku: How about a “Particle Emitter” object? It’d be an object that lets advanced builders make almost 100% custom particles effects. It’d have a variety of settings: Gravity, FadeDistance, Min/Max Speed, Trail, Image, etc.

Say I want to create a spark emitter, and I perform the following steps to make it:

  • Set gravity to 1
  • Set FadeDistance to 6
  • Set Min Speed to 0.5
  • Set Max Speed to 4.0
  • Enable “Trail” and customize the color
  • Set Direction to any number

Then bam! I’ve got a nice little particle effect for welding or maybe a downed powerline.

We’ve occasionally talked about giving builders the ability to create custom particle systems. One super easy way to this would be to expose our graphic engine’s underlying particle system scripting language; however, this has some serious downsides (big two: makes it hard for us to ever change engines in the future; and makes it harder for us to throttle slow particle systems). The best solution would probably be to include some sort of graphical particle system editor in Studio. Something like this.

More flexible humanoids

ROBLOX HumanoidWhoBloxedWho: Better humanoids. These seem to have been neglected in recent updates. The majority of people I know and talk to are resorting to custom movement systems and camera tricks to create “true” third-person shooters and smoother first-person games, and to have the ability to control every aspect of players’ movement. If the standard humanoid could do this then it would not only save time in development, but I’m sure some lag from all the cut body propulsion objects and the rays being created to solve movement issues. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

The most advanced ROBLOX games do some really nasty stuff (such as making the character invisible and creating a new “character” on top of that one for the purposes of making it possible to use custom character animations). From a networking perspective, this is about the most inefficient way to have animated characters in a multiplayer game. We’d like to give power users better ways to control their characters. It’s a matter of prioritizing this above other things we want to work on.

Cooperative building

crazyman32: We need a GitHub, but for Roblox stuff. Cooperatively developing games would be practical then and pretty fun.

I’m trying to imagine what a merge tool for a .rbxl file would look like. A cursory search reveals at least 50 existing ROBLOX-related GitHub repositoriesIf someone wants to build a ROBLOX-specific group-building site, drop us a line when you have something up and running. We’d love to cover it in the blog.

Scripting corner

BAUER102: Add a method ‘CloseConnection’ to the player. It’d allow us scripters to smoothly disconnect a player from a game and we wouldn’t have to use ugly crash methods (e.g infinite loops).

Agreed. Also, a clean way to shut down a server.

TheGamer101: Many integrated development environments I have come across use a auto-complete feature when coding, which saves your previous function names and variables, and comes up with suggestions as you type. One of these for ROBLOX Studio would be great, as I find they improve speed and decrease typos.

Yeah. Intellisense (or CodeComplete, or whatever you want to call it) would be a huge feature for ROBLOX Studio. It’s a little tricky to do it right for weakly-typed scripting languages (you can’t always guarantee the code completion choices are correct), but even mostly-correct intellisense would make writing code easier to learn, faster to write, less error-prone, and more fun.

Block Town Bridge

Bevels and the future aesthetic of ROBLOX

cj10127: Considering you removed bevels from ROBLOX places, I can tell you that this has affected a number of ROBLOX builders. Therefore, I would like to suggest a new Mesh: BevelMesh. This will very simply add bevels onto the brick. Instead of having an entirely new Instance, why not do it as a simple Boolean property of BaseParts?

Our ultimate goal is to allow builders to create million part levels that will run on both a high-end desktop PC, but also on mobile hardware and older machines with legacy parts. Bevels incurred a 30% performance penalty that we were no longer willing to pay. It’s safe to say that they are gone forever.

At the moment, ROBLOX is in an intermediate state with regard to its look and feel. When we finish dynamic lighting, we’re going to move onto revamping how we render materials. When this work is completed, ROBLOX will have a much more unified aesthetic and hopefully no one will care about bevels anymore.

Credits for builder-created catalog assets

DarkGenex: In the description for builder-created assets that are published by ROBLOX (retextures, advertisements, etc.), why not give credit for the builder who made it in the description of the item? It would influence people to make their own items and increase the amount of models created by them, as well as showcase ROBLOX’s idea that you can build anything.

It’s a nice idea. There are only two reasons why we don’t. First, putting the retexture credits in the description of the item seems a little hacky – it would be better to have a “credits” field on all models. The second reason is that we get thousands of retextures. One person puts good ones into the system and then another person adds a name and description to the item, sometimes months later. Tracking the extra bit of information regarding who originally made the retexture is arduous, especially since only 0.1% of retextures ever get published.

Gear leaderboards

Phantomazing: May I suggest gear weapons that keep track of their kill count? This would be similar to the “strange weapon” system found in Team Fortress 2. The number of kills would be displayed above the gear’s thumbnail, or just below the serial number if the gear is a limited item. I would also add a “leaderboard” on the gear’s page, displaying the people who killed the most people with the gear.

Love this idea. It’s just a matter of prioritizing this feature vs. other features that would take similar development time.

Zing!

@IsraelZarceno: Bro, do you even build?

No, but I lift.

Participate in Feedback Loop

All of the questions and ideas featured in this edition of Feedback Loop were collected on April 29th via the ROBLOX Twitter. Follow us there to participate in future editions of this series!