Crossfire: Clonetrooper1019 and Loleris Avoid the Light
Creativity and sharing are two qualities that fuel ROBLOX, and it’s in that spirit we created Crossfire, a series where we chat with ROBLOX game developers about their game design choices. For this outing, we interviewed loleris and CloneTrooper1019, creators of Darkness, and The Stalker, respectively. These are two seasoned ROBLOX veterans who have both participated in separate Crossfires in the past, but their two games, which are among the most popular games at the moment, are competing too closely to ignore.
ROBLOX: Thanks for doing this guys. So, on a surface level, both of your games are really similar. What would you say is the biggest difference between your games?
loleris: Global dynamic lighting is the main feature of my game. You have to use lights to detect the beast. The beast is completely invisible in the dark, but very easy to see in the light. It’s all about strategically lighting or not lighting a room, and that strategy is true whether you’re the beast or you’re fighting him. Also, the beast has very little health, so hiding becomes important to stay alive.
CloneTrooper1019: I really like that in Darkness the maps are extremely interactive. The Stalker is based around the opposite idea of this. The maps are mostly larger and more wide open, because there’s no real element of hiding. The Stalker is basically invisible, so he’s always hidden somewhat.
ROBLOX: One similarity we found between your two games is that there are points where you have to wait to play between rounds. What would you say is the best way to handle that sort of thing? We noticed both games have a “Spectate” feature, and we know CloneTrooper1019 has an obstacle course.
CloneTrooper1019: I actually tried to make a Spectate Mode using GUIs but I keep running into problems. I’d like to create a spectate system that’s similar to what loleris is doing. I really like how the camera view gets all static-y when you’re watching.
loleris: To me, you should use the time between rounds to check out the shop. I also leave the leaderboard up for a pretty long time between rounds, so you can see how everyone is doing and get competitive. It’s not that big of a wait, so I didn’t think a lot needed to be done.
ROBLOX: There’s a shop in Darkness? We didn’t see a shop.
loleris: I meant the Game Pass shop.
ROBLOX: Speaking of which, both the Stalker and Darkness sell different Game Passes that do different things. Which Game Pass was most successful for each of you? How do you decide what things to sell?
CloneTrooper1019: Whenever I’m building a game I want to make sure it’s fun, fundamentally, with no VIP treatment. VIP Passes are supplemental to me, and I always want them to improve the experience. Try to give players features that can actually help them win rounds, and improve how they play the game. Presenting your passes can also be extremely tricky–I spent a ton of time trying to make the inventory screen and the menu interface itself very sharp and smooth, and easy to follow.
loleris: The Game Pass that got the most buys was the “Beast Pass”, which basically doubles your chance of becoming the beast in each round. I saw the most profits from that pass. The more expensive passes didn’t sell so well, but I had anticipated that. I’m pleased with the results I’m getting from my Game Pass sales. Everything is going almost exactly as I’d planned.
ROBLOX: Have you guys used DevEx?
CloneTrooper1019: I spent some time figuring out if I wanted to do that. I had over 100,000 ROBUX at the time, and I didn’t want to be broke again. [Laughs] I ended up getting it and blowing all my money on Steam.
ROBLOX: That’s a good place to blow some cash.
loleris: I was concerned that DevEx wasn’t going to be around after a month. You guys are keeping it, right?
ROBLOX: Yes, though it’s in a very experimental stage. Last month we cashed out 10,000 dollars worth of ROBUX, and have been seeing some really interesting behavior. Don’t worry, it’ll be around next month, but we might make some slight changes.
loleris: Good, because I’m planning to cash out next month. I would have so much more, but it just so happens I wasted a million ROBUX right before DevEx came out.
ROBLOX: A million? Wow, what’d you buy?
loleris: [Laughs] You don’t want to know.
ROBLOX: How do you decide how much power a Game Pass can actually give you?
loleris: It depends on the game. In Darkness my Game Passes have very little effect on the game itself. The pass I mentioned earlier that doubles your chance of becoming the beast doesn’t actually change the mechanics of the game. One of my Game Passes actually highlights all the secret areas of the map when you’re the beast, so that alters the game somewhat, I suppose.
CloneTrooper1019: Both loleris and Ozzypig have passes that make you more likely to become the main bad guy. That’s impossible for me to do with The Stalker because I have an automated queue that chooses who will be The Stalker each round. Maybe I could make a Game Pass that makes it so you have a 1/3 of a chance to be removed from the queue, therefore increasing your chances of becoming the Stalker. I’m experimenting with that idea.
loleris: We have different ways of thinking on this subject matter. I think it’s better to just let the selection be totally random. Keeps everyone on their toes. It also provides players with a sense of relief, because you know that if you’ve been playing for awhile that your time to be the beast is near. I’ve been considering adding a mode where the person who damages the beast the most, becomes the beast in the next round. That would be really straightforward.
ROBLOX: Here’s a crazy idea for you guys to think about. One of the most requested features we’re constantly hearing about are resellable Game Passes.
CloneTrooper1019: The idea of in-game currency really interests me–that way, if you don’t want to spend a bunch of time earning the currency, you can just buy some of it right there inside the game.
loleris: If there were currency in Darkness then people could bid on who becomes the beast. [Laughs] Money!
ROBLOX: We noticed Darkness doesn’t have a video thumbnail yet. CloneTrooper1019, would you say that it’s worth the effort to make a video thumbnail? When you added one, did it make a big difference?
CloneTrooper1019: Adding a video thumbnail definitely helped, but I ran all my ads at the same time. I was running new ads, a new logo, and a video thumbnail, all at the same time. But I do think that people actually want to see what the game plays like before they try it. I made The Stalker video in Windows Movie Maker pretty quickly, so it was worth it for me.
loleris: I’ve requested a friend, dom2d2, to make my video. He was the one who made my video for Intense Sword Fighting–he makes really solid trailers.
CloneTrooper1019: What’s the deal with the new animation system by the way? I think a lot of people are waiting to hear some news about that. I really want to see an easier way to make it so that you can do things like aim down the sights of your gun, and with a system it would be easier to make dynamic 3D movement in ROBLOX.
loleris: Speaking of animations, you guys should check out my game Revolver Fighting Tournament 2. I used my own custom animation creator to build all the guns. My animation creator allows me to hand create extremely detailed gun animations. I’m working on a brand new animation creator that is keyframe-based. Essentially the interface looks like what you’d come to expect when you’re cutting together video in Adobe Premiere. It’s going to be really awesome.
ROBLOX: Another feature we’ve been working on improving in ROBLOX is sound. I know both of you guys have had a chance to mess with adding sounds to your games. How’s that working out?
CloneTrooper1019: Sounds have made The Stalker a way better game. Right now, I’ve given a voice to the Stalker. When you’re playing as him, you can just hit “Z” and get access to list of things you can say, and you can append each of those voices to a key. Now, I’m focusing on giving voices to the Combines. I was thinking like a radio-type, futuristic robot voice would be cool.
ROBLOX: What about you loleris?
CloneTrooper1019: [Laughs] Half-Life everywhere.
loleris: Not a lot for right now. Darkness has 10 or 15 sounds. My personal favorite sound was inspired from another game I played. Basically, every time someone is wiped out, no matter where you are, you hear a distinct noise that alerts you that somewhere on the map, people are dying.
ROBLOX: We agree, it really adds sort of a creepy atmosphere. So are sounds worth the investment? If we made it less expensive to upload sounds, would you use more?
CloneTrooper1019: Cost isn’t a problem for me, but I can see it being a problem for other people. I personally think the price is reasonable because of all the pressure this probably puts on your moderators. The cheaper the sounds, the more will start coming in until it’s eventually impossible to keep track. What I’d really like to see are tracks that can be longer than 15 seconds.
ROBLOX: That’s a pretty common sentiment. The overall plan is to eventually have the cost of moderating sounds depend entirely on how long the sound actually is.The loading of any given sound into the audio buffer actually takes place in the render thread, so if a sound is too long it would cause a stutter that would ruin gameplay. We’re ironing out a fix for this.
CloneTrooper1019: It’d be nice to be able to use entire songs as theme music for your game.
ROBLOX: Is there anything that we should be doing to help you guys make better games?
CloneTrooper1019: More creative freedom and less restrictions in Studio. I’d like to have the option to create my own open API in C++, then be able to publish these templates and ideas. Like proofs of concept that others would be able to use. I think that’d be really cool.
loleris: I’m still waiting for the server data persistence model where data can move globally between servers. And I’ve been waiting a long time for rotatable GUIs.
ROBLOX: We recently changed our mind and are fully committed to bringing rotatable GUIs to ROBLOX. Data persistence is coming out soon as well.
CloneTrooper1019: I want more control over GUIs as well. Like the ability to control their transparency, or the ability to have fine-tune control of their particle effects.
ROBLOX: So more levers, in general?
CloneTrooper1019: Yes. I want to be able to control how everything is displayed. Positioning, all that stuff.
loleris: I wanted to point out a few ideas as well. This is kind of a specific idea, so hear it out. When you program an interface on ROBLOX, the delta position you get is based entirely on the movement of the mouse. I’d like to create a method where the camera becomes scriptable, and the mouse becomes not only unmovable but entirely invisible. Then, I could gather data based on how far the mouse moves in each frame. This would really help me create more realistic animations.
ROBLOX: You guys notice our jump to 60 Hz?
CloneTrooper1019: I was talking with Simon [Kozlov] the other day and he said that he’s working on a new method that will help create much smoother interpolations. I’d also really like to see new shader modifications. Nytraulics is doing some work in this field, though it’s really hacky stuff. I know shaders can be extremely technical, but I think it’s work that needs to be done.
ROBLOX: People are going to want to know your advertising strategy. They’re going to want to know how to make such popular titles.
loleris: It was quite simple, really. I told my friend I wanted a Photoshop advertisement. Here’s the thing: it’s easy to advertise when you have a game that you know will keep people playing. It doesn’t even really require a great ad. Your first-and-foremost focus should be on making a solid game that has replay value. The ads are simple when you know you’ve made a good title.
CloneTrooper1019: You have to make a game that has features that are unique to your game. Make sure to plan objectives that will keep players busy in all aspects of the game. You want to buy this awesome item? You have to put in the work, but the incentive is worth it.
ROBLOX: We’ll close this Crossfire the same way we always do. What’s your favorite aspect of one another’s game?
loleris: The Stalker really took me by surprise. When I first saw it, I thought it was too simple of a game, but people really loved it. It’s amazing how many place visits it’s gotten in the past year.
CloneTrooper1019: I can’t believe it’s already been out for a year, I’ll have to do something for the anniversary. I really want to add some game-changing features, because the core gameplay experience has been the same for quite some time.
loleris: People always ask “how do you become famous?” The bottom line is: to make a great game, you have to gain experience. You have to know how players will react to changes and you absolutely have to listen to feedback if you want to keep players in your game. Track everything. What they buy, what they want to buy. The only way to learn these things is to make lots of games. You might fail, but eventually, you’ll win. That’s the simple answer.
CloneTrooper1019: It’s hard in the beginning, for sure. You’re not going to make a great game out of no where. It takes time. The Stalker has been an interesting journey, and I’ve learned a lot! I’ve also made several mistakes, and I’ve learned from them. The great thing about building games on ROBLOX is that you will constantly get better, and constantly learn new things.
loleris: Anyway, to get back to the original question. My favorite thing about The Stalker is the sounds. When you start a round it’s so spooky [laughs].
CloneTrooper1019: I love the interactive maps in Darkness, and the overall way the beast is made. The way he views the world is really unique. I like that he uses an actual weapon, and I dig the retro Half-Life sounds.
ROBLOX: Guys, this has been a pleasure, thanks so much for doing this.