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Spotlight: REDALERT2, Creator of Sandbox

August 24, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


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RedAlert2SpotlightSandbox is a truly unique title on ROBLOX–and as evidenced by its over 10 million plays, gamers and builders alike tend to agree. The goal of the game runs parallel to our foundation: build awesome things, and share them with your friends. REDALERT2‘s original idea was to create an environment where builders could create and be social with others, and even developed his own building tools tailor-made to be accessible by people of any skill level.

“It all started back in 2010. I remember ‘Blazing Man’, which was like the codename for the Welcome to ROBLOX Building game,” says REDALERT2. “I really got into the idea of putting basic blocks together to create things.”

REDALERT2 wanted all builders, even those who weren’t experienced with Studio, to be able to create anything they could imagine. Initially, Sandbox was meant to be an environment for beginners who were eager to build but not ready to learn the ins and outs of ROBLOX Studio.

Each game instance of Sandbox offers six plots of land. Find yours and start building!

Each game instance of Sandbox offers eight plots of land. Find yours and start building!

“The idea was to make a program easier to use than Studio–and we believe it is. But it’s also not nearly as precise. It was an interesting give-and-take, but we were pleased with the results,” says REDALERT2. “That being said, I’m still continually impressed with what people are able to create.”

Sandbox has spawned an entire community of builders who share their creations all over the internet. It’s exciting and refreshing because you never know what you’re going to see each and every time you load the game–you’re watching other builders create things in real time. REDALERT2 believes this, coupled with constant updates, has kept people coming back for years.

“It’s important to add new things for players to experiment with every so often,” says REDALERT2. “Our biggest addition was when we added gave players the ability to color blocks. There was a huge jump in mind-blowing builds after that.”

“Pixel art has been picking up popularity as well,” he added.

To get a general idea of how Sandbox works, I jumped in and out of a few running instances before I talked with REDALERT2, and was taken aback by what I saw. Unmitigated, complete creativity–and not just structures either. Robots, carousels, moats, submarines, tree houses hundreds of feet in the air–it’s overwhelming in the best possible way. Don’t take my word for it.

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sandbox6tWhat’s equally awesome is REDALERT2’s saving and loading system, which lets you load your work in-game with the press of a button. I was curious as to how he was able to implement this in his game. He tells me that he developed a system that tracks keys, values and numbers to determine where each block is placed.

“Then the system takes each block on the construction plate, records its number, position, size and all other properties into string form,” he continues. “The system pieces all of that together into a single string/text value, and saves using the SaveString method of the player object.”

The fact that all of this can be done simply by joining a ROBLOX game makes it even more impressive. Needless to say, REDALERT2 is always looking for ways to cut down on saving and loading times. He mentioned he had read something on the blog about our binary files format a couple of months ago, and as if the stars were aligned, we had some exciting news to tell him. With our binary file format we released just a few days ago, Sandbox is loading faster than ever.

“Sandbox loads faster. Before, it would freeze while loading at a couple of numbers like 901. Now it loads totally consistently, brick after brick. Great improvement,” says REDALERT2.

As for the future? REDALERT2 has always wanted to completely recreate Sandbox (he even attempted it in 2011, but gave up for lack of time). Now, he’s determined to overhaul and redo every single facet of Sandbox, and rebuild it from the ground up to be a more robust building experience.

“I’ve had all these ideas stored in my head for years,” he tells me.

Per our usual concluding Spotlight paragraph, we asked REDALERT2 what advice he would give to builders looking to make a popular game. He paused for a moment to think, then said this:

Don’t stop building. Keep being creative, and never give up.

And don’t forget to have fun, too.