Inside Look at Crystal Raider, An Awesome New ROBLOX Title
As you may recall, part of the reason the Games Team created Space Knights was to experience firsthand the process of developing a top-quality game and illustrate the possibilities of ROBLOX game development. With that in mind, we took note when Unclear–known primarily for building environments with enough scale to stress even high-end hardware–launched Crystal Raider, a game that felt curiously similar to Space Knights. Turns out, it wasn’t just a coincidence.
“I remember reading a blog post about how Space Knights was developed at ROBLOX, and I found that to be really interesting,” he recalls. “When I first started playing games on ROBLOX they were primarily PvP (player versus player), and I really liked the idea of players actually cooperating to win.”
Though Unclear is a seasoned ROBLOX builder, Crystal Raider marks his first steps into the world of scripting, which presented a steep and immediate learning curve. Unclear only began to learn the basics of scripting earlier this year, so Crystal Raider continues to change quickly as Unclear continues to learn more about scripting.
“I’d like to think that every creation I make is a stepping stone for the next project,” he tells me. “Various facets of developing this game–scripting, designing GUIs, receiving commentary–are all very new to me.”
While Crystal Raider is Unclear’s first game, it has no shortage of features and content. You choose your look and weapons in a sleek GUI interface then fight off waves of “Spawns” with a group of others. In between rounds you can explore the caves of the map, finding crystals that grant you different types of abilities and perks.
The game features randomly generated terrain maps that are different every time you play–a method Unclear takes great pride in.
“I had always heard of utilizing noise to create terrain using height maps, but I never attempted it. I figured it would be a really interesting feature to have in Crystal Raider, and porting it from C was a fun challenge,” he tells me.
The game features a very distinct visual aesthetic that uses dynamic lighting to illuminate stark shades of color, which is also another first for Unclear. Having spent the last year focusing primarily on learning how to script, he’s just now beginning to experiment with the many features that have been implemented in the last year.
“I spent a lot of time drafting and remaking GUIs, and working on lighting properties. I’m having an enormous amount of fun trying to find ways to implement every new feature that’s come out in the last year,” he says.
We’re always curious about the development process behind such large and ambitious games. Many of the developers we interview have their own unique development methods, ranging from methodical planning to a more spontaneous develop-as-you-go method. To make Crystal Raider, Unclear tells me he had to do a little bit of both.
“It’s important to plan, but I found that once you start developing a lot of new ideas come up. You’ve got to carefully choose which of these ideas to implement. I can be a pretty impulsive builder, so I do lots of things on a whim just to see how they turn out,” he tells me. “Great ideas can come out of nowhere and it is the job of every game developer to make the best of each one,” he adds.
Crystal Raider is currently in beta and is close to 75% complete–Unclear plans on adding a few more core updates before declaring that the game is finished. He’s listening carefully to feedback he’s been receiving from Pentagram, a ROBLOX game-development group that he started with friends and builders from LuaLearners.org.
“Though Crystal Raider is an entirely solo project, members of Pentagram are constantly pointing out imbalances and errors in my game,” he tells me. “A huge amount of bug fixes are attributed to Pentagram.”
So what’s next for Crystal Raider? Unclear has grand plans of features to implement–the biggest being the ability for players to customize each piece of armor they wear.
“You can already customize the color of your character, but that’s not enough. I want to really expand the scope of the armor in Crystal Raider–I want helmets, arms, legs and torsos that players can earn and trade with others,” he says. “I also recently added bosses, which was as very helpful suggestion from my friend Exobyte. The bosses definitely create a smoother transition between rounds.”
Crystal Raider is shaping up to be a hit winter title on ROBLOX, and Unclear has taken a unique journey to arrive at where he is today. It can be daunting to dive into game development and programming, but Unclear embraced the challenge and created a unique and great-looking gaming experience. Here’s his advice for builders who are looking to replicate his success:
When you make a game, be prepared to throw out or recreate most of things you make initially. Making games is all about redrafting and polishing–writing more efficient code, rebuilding existing builds, tweaking the lighting to perfection–you’ve got to keep making iterations until you’re truly satisfied with your game.