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Feedback Loop: Dynamic Lighting Advances, Studio Tips and More

July 3, 2013

by John Shedletsky


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 issue, John Shedletsky discusses updates to dynamic lighting and shadows, offers advice for ROBLOX Studio builders, talks about the specularity of parts, considers the idea of place subscriptions, reflects on the rise of ROBLOX, and a whole lot more. Check it out.

Basic building

asimo3089: Hey, I had a quick Studio improvement idea. I’d love to be able to double click a part that is in a model to access that part. Right now, you click a model part, you get the whole model. I’d love to pick out individual parts in a model easily. Thanks!

This is a great idea. It would also be consistent with how selecting decals works–one click selects the parent part, and the second click drills down to select the decal.

According to Tyler Berg, one of our ROBLOX Studio developers, we already have the ability to drill down into a model and select an individual part. To use the feature, just hold down the Alt key and select the part.


bill52600: Will more starter templates be added to the ROBLOX Studio Project Creator? And will more Genre categories be added to it, as well? As in, the Baseplate one is in “Basic,” the CTF in “Strategy,” etc.

“Yes” is the short answer. This is our long answer: our vision for ROBLOX Studio templates is that users will eventually be able to create them, meaning there will be infinite templates for any type of game you can imagine. The trick will be finding the best ones.

Walk AnimationGaIlium: Will ROBLOX ever have a different character walking animation?

I don’t know about a walking animation, specifically, but I know we have some announcements to make at BLOXcon this year that will answer this question more fully. Stay tuned!

cooldude56345: Will there be more physics added to bricks, vehicles and the ROBLOX character?

Yes, yes and yes. We have an awesome physics developer who has been hard at work on implementing a new physics system. We don’t want to give too much away in this article–we’ll be showing off some prototype physics demos at BLOXcon this summer.

The technical corner

McVisibility: Something I’m interested in is whether dynamic lighting will be updated to cast shadows of objects in front of a light source, depending on the light’s direction. I really do understand this would probably not run perfectly on older PCs, etc.

Right now, the sun is the only shadow-caster in our dynamic lighting solution. If you’ve read about how our dynamic lighting system works, you know that non-moving lights are basically free to render–the light grid requires no updates. Moving lights create light grid updates, so there’s a limit as how many of these can happen before shadows cause lag. Now, moving parts require no light grid updates. If we turn all lights into shadow-casters, we’ll have to update the light grid when lights move and parts, since both have an effect on where shadows are drawn.



This is something our engineers need to play with a little bit more–to find the right level of implementation compromise without incurring a crippling performance slow on the rendering side.

From Arseny Kapoulkine, part of the ROBLOX Rendering Team: is “watch this space” too brief of an answer? We have a solid plan for this feature and we’ve started working on it. It will be enabled per-light with an extra property.

arbirator: Would it be possible to remove specularity from ROBLOX characters and their hats/gear/packages? I am currently running the ROBLOX client with a mod that removes all specularity because it ruins a lot of items, as details are obscured.

We have a weird specularity on Decal objects (of all things), but we’re backing away from per-part rendering customization. Ultimately, we want properties like reflectance, specularity, and specific gravity to inherit from the materials parts are made of.

I believe we already determine the specularity of parts based on their material. It’s possible that if you make the parent part of a mesh a non-specular material (like wood), you won’t see specular highlights on the mesh. I  haven’t tried that–give it a whirl, and let us know what happens in the comments.

keyboardWoot3: I would like the ability to copy and paste text into and out of the textbox GUI object. This is because I want to be able to give users the ability to save something of theirs via a code. It’s a simple idea, and easy enough to add.

Simple idea and very easy to add. Thanks for the suggestion.

TechTeam911: Server-side data persistence. Concept: storing saved data (instances, strings, numbers) specific to a place, not specific to a player. Saved data can be recalled from any server specific to the place it was saved at. Caching data would be disabled, but excessive requests would be throttled to prevent stress on the servers.

Data persistence is going to be reworked in the near-future, according to our internal product roadmap. You may see some things announced at BLOXcon this summer that hint at the direction data persistence is going to go. We continually hear, “why hasn’t ROBLOX thought about data persistence improvements?” We have. They’re coming.

Idea 2: Data persistence panel. Concept: control panel under the configuration tab of a place that can be used to recall a key that is saved to a specific player. Loaded key can be modified and saved, or deleted.”

Yes. Debugging and analytics tools for data persistence. No-brainer in version 2.0.

Express yourself

manfaceMcVisibility: Something I’d love to see on ROBLOX is emotion animations or poses. Emotion animations would be ones like being able to wave, sit, clap, moonwalk, shake your head to “yes” and “no,” etc. Poses would be viewable on your profile, and let you do such things as flex your muscles, do a “superhero” pose, stroke your beard, etc. These would bring something new and enjoyable on ROBLOX. Of course these could also be purchasable with Robux and Tickets.

This is an idea that bubbles up occasionally; I think it would be very popular. People love anything that involves additional character customization. This would also add some depth to some of the role-playing games on ROBLOX.


TheGamer101: It would be nice if you could “subscribe” to a place (or this could just work off players favorite games) and see updates appear on your ROBLOX feed. These updates could include a message from the creator of the place about new updates or just alert you if the place has been updated. These messages would have to be limited to maybe one a day to prevent players spamming the feed.

Genius. What if you got these updates for any place that you have favorited? That way, if place creators get spammy, you can un-favorite their place.

ybmul1380: How big could you see ROBLOX going, and how much has it affected your daily life?

We’re going all the way, and it’s been a crazy ride. When I joined, you could log in on a Friday afternoon and there would be zero people playing. Zero. 150,000 people are playing ROBLOX as I respond to this question. The biggest game on Steam, DOTA 2, has 141,000 players online. We’re getting pretty huge.

cardboardsidekick601: How do you guys do it? How do you moderate every single image on ROBLOX? It’s a question I’ve been holding for so long. I mean, there are millions of players on ROBLOX. Is it a bot?

A human looks at each one before it goes live on the site. If you could write an image-moderating bot that was at least as good as our human moderators, we would like to buy it from you, and so would many other companies.