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Spotlight: Incredible Level Detail With Asimo3089

April 10, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


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When we announced last week that we’re turning off bevels, Andrew and I were curious to see how this change could affect the appearance of places on ROBLOX. We found it humorous that we both ended up in the same virtual place, right after the bevels were turned off. We both ended up in The Wind, one of the most beautiful places on ROBLOX.

I’ve been using “The Wind” as a benchmark of sorts to gauge changes we make to ROBLOX graphics, because it’s one of the most detailed place I’ve ever seen on our platform. Fire, detailed textures, foliage, moving parts, water—it’s got everything. Deciding to write a Spotlight about the creator of “Wind” (and another awesome place called Roadrunner Canyon, in addition to other games) seemed like a no-brainer.

“I live in southern Arizona, which was a huge environmental inspiration for me,” says Asimo3089, when describing the creation of Roadrunner Canyon. “I also recently played Dear Esther for the first time, and that really encouraged me to create a game with choices,” he adds.

Both of these points are clearly illustrated in Roadrunner Canyon—you can definitely see the Arizona-influence by just having a look around the place. Brown jagged rocks surround you, yellow and green tufted grass shoots up from the ground in batches of six or eight individually modeled blades, creeks and waterbeds (some of which you have to figure out how to cross!) are tucked away between the surrounding rocks. It really is a sight to behold, and you may find yourself asking while in awe of the place, “did I just see a roadrunner?” Yes, everyone’s favorite animated roadrunner even makes an appearance, running along the walls of the cliffs. You almost expect to hear the trademarked “Meep Meep!” as the bird zips by.

The environmental influence is obvious, as is the fact that Asimo3089 recently played Dear Esther, a title where you navigate your environment by solving environmental challenges and asking the right questions. Alas, this core mechanic powers the “game” side of Roadrunner Canyon, where you and a group of friends have to explore the environment to figure out how to progress. This involves talking to certain townspeople, building bridges to cross bodies of water, exploring hidden tunnels and caves, and a whole lot more. This game also stands in stark contrast to the place that came before it, the aforementioned “Wind”. Wind, however, is not a game; it is simultaneously an insanely detailed place, and a testament to the power of our platform and the power users have to creatively leverage it.

“It’s important to me that my places are very atmospheric,” says Asimo3089. “That’s what I love about really good games.”

He goes on to tell me that, surprisingly, despite the beauty and detail of some of the places he’s created, Asimo3089 strives to create worlds that any user, with any machine, can experience. He tells me that the recent performance boost ROBLOX has experienced by losing bevels has helped him get much closer to achieving that goal.

“Losing bevels made a few of my bricks flicker, because they occupy the same space,” says Asimo3089. “But the game runs so much faster now, and it’s an easy trade-off to make to enable dynamic lighting.”

Dynamic lighting has been a hot set of words around these parts as of late, because we’re close to not only testing it with users, but shipping it out across ROBLOX. This will mark the pivotal first step in the revamp of the overall look of our platform. Asimo3089 knows this is coming, and has already begun thinking of ways to leverage our new system to create games and places that are not only easy on the eyes, but incorporate facets of gameplay that take advantage of dynamic light.

“I have a few half-built games built for dynamic lighting specifically,” Asimo3089 tells me. “With dynamic lighting, I can create entirely new genres of games now—stuff you haven’t seen before on ROBLOX. I don’t want to let any secrets out yet, I want it to be a surprise.”

Grander plans aside, Asimo3089 is also looking to leverage dynamic light in his existing places–he plans on adding torches to The Wind and Roadrunner Canyon to encourage exploration of caves and tunnels, which he’ll now be able to darken.

Asimo3089 discovered ROBLOX while searching for, what he called, “a game that lets you make games.” Once he stumbled upon ROBLOX in 2008, “gaming” was his last priority. He was eager to build.

Pulling some G's in Gold Rush 2, one of Asimo3089's many other games

“I pretty much completely ignored the Play button,” recalls Asimo3089. “I started looking at all the free models, just to get an understanding of how their scripts worked.”

Having done a lot of “Spotlight” articles at this point, I’ve come to understand that how users teach themselves to script is always a unique and different experience, and Asimo3089’s method was no different. He learned to script by working with free models, and modifying them to appear the way he intended. Before he started building places and games, he was teaching himself how to script by making tweaks to, and sometime entirely rebuilding, free ROBLOX models.

“I make everything from scratch now,” says Asimo3089, reflecting on his starter days on a different account. “It was something I did because I had very little experience in Studio. I realized that just modifying free models, with enough patience, could lead to the creation of a really sweet game. I started small, and worked my way up.”

“For new users, I really suggest starting there. Take existing models, and add or take things away from them. Make them your own. Learn from them,” he added.