Looking back, there are a lot of Maker Faire stories to tell. I talked with independent game developers about the potential of distributing a game on ROBLOX. I talked with parents who were looking to guide the play habits of their children down productive paths. I talked with former ROBLOX builders who, after witnessing dynamic lighting and other modern features, headed home to revive their dormant accounts. I saw a maker wearing a 3D-printer backpack buy a ROBLOX fedora before striking a pose for me (I was photographing the booth). But probably the most memorable story was that of aperson1890, a longtime ROBLOX builder, 2012 RGC 2012 Hackathon winner, and up-and-coming programmer who was in the booth all weekend.
It was hard not to be intrigued by aperson1890. On Saturday morning, he set up shop at a laptop on the build table. He pulled out a file folder of sketches and notes, thoughts and ideas. He turned on some K-pop via YouTube. He started building, his ultra-patient parents spectating from the booth’s fringe.
Later in the day, I sat down in an open chair next to him. He showed me his progress in translating sketched designs into tangible ROBLOX builds and, only half joking, told me he never finishes anything — and that these projects probably wouldn’t be any different. To my surprise, he did manage to complete a slightly less ambitious project on Sunday: back at what became “his” corner-booth workstation, aperson1890 built the Maker Faire booth in ROBLOX for everyone to see.
“I started playing Sword Fight on the Heights for a little bit but when I lost my connection I started building stuff since ROBLOX Studio doesn’t require an internet connection,” recalls aperson1890. “I didn’t really know what to build at the time, so I decided, ‘why not the booth?’ I worked on that for all the second the day and an hour of the first day.”
He built everything from scratch by surveying the surroundings and translating a couple sketches (one of which was the big, red Maker Faire robot that stood outside our booth with its gorilla-like stature).
The ongoing project caught the attention of just about every ROBLOX staffer who manned the booth. We were impressed not only with his building prowess, but also his sharp, self-taught ability to write Lua scripts, Java and C++. After interacting with aperson1890 — or Dante, as he’s known outside ROBLOX — we even brought up the idea of having the 16-year-old spend some of his summer free time with ROBLOX developers at our downtown San Mateo office.
Right place at the right time? Maybe. But aperson1890 has been self-organizing and developing his technical chops for years. That’s the type of person we like. It all started more than four years ago, when he read a scripting tutorial on the ROBLOX Wiki that introduced what he calls the “dot.”
“Game dot, workspace dot, all that,” he says. “I got really interested in Lua coding, so I learned more. After a few years, I sort of mastered it, and then I went into other languages like Java and C++.”
Now, he’s constantly working on small projects. On the Monday following Maker Faire, it was Minesweeper and an ant farm, which he’s developing as a project for his AP computer science class. The ants randomly move around and respond to food and pheromones, and he’s planning to make it more of a game by allowing players to manipulate the ants and environment, and see how things shake out. He credits ROBLOX for giving him a medium of developing his coding knowledge and launching him into other programming languages.
There were plenty of other sights and sounds to consume at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013. For an inside look at ROBLOX’s “Editors Choice”-winning booth and other exhibitors, check out the photo gallery we published live from the event or watch this quick video of footage we captured in and out of the ROBLOX booth.