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Even in 2014, Creativity and Gameplay Trump Graphics

January

24, 2014

by Andrew Haak


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A Town in Casual AdventureIn the last few months, Sony and Microsoft launched the latest versions of their consoles. As expected, the games look fantastic and will only continue to get prettier. But, while next-gen consoles amp up the horsepower and triple-A game studios create stunning works of visual design, there are two things that remain of paramount importance: creativity and fun gameplay. That begs the question: do looks really matter?

Well, yes. They do – a lot. But looks aren’t all that matter.

ROBLOX, at its core, lets everyone design worlds and games using primitive parts – all of which are physically simulated. We scale these creations to a huge range of hardware, meaning what runs on a desktop PC also needs to, in theory, run on a tablet. While we have established a fantastic unified aesthetic via dynamic lighting, new materials, outlines, and new water, physically simulated environments and a high-scale engine ultimately require that we keep the visual presentation of ROBLOX games on the simple-but-stylized side.

The Island House by AgentTechBut what’s lost in cinematics is more than made up for with depth of creative expression, a foundation on which ROBLOX is built. Everyone has the powerful tools – and an open invitation – they need to create and publish their own world, whether that turns out to be a dream home or a horror game or a competitive FPS. This trade-off also emphasizes the importance of good gameplay. Good gameplay doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as character movement and jumping.

We’ve seen quirky genres take shape on ROBLOX that you won’t find anywhere else. “Disaster survival” has grown to be one of the themes you come to ROBLOX to experience. Teenagers have made hugely successful games amassing millions of play sessions in this genre by leveraging ROBLOX’s physics and designing good foundational gameplay. Natural Disaster Survival is endlessly entertaining to play – especially with 29 other people alongside you – as tornadoes and sandstorms and quakes and fires wreak havoc on an unlucky island in the middle of the ocean.

Natural-Disaster-Survival-Tornado

Flood Escape, a perennial ROBLOX favorite with more than 6 million plays, involves running and jumping through obstacle courses as the levels fill up with deadly water. Another mainstay, Sword Fighting Tournament, is all about nimble movement and slash timing – nothing more, nothing less – within a tournament framework. It has logged well over 23 million play sessions. Apocalypse Rising features complex systems that result in interesting life-and-death scenarios, but the game is ultimately powered by solid level design and simple mechanics.

“The creative process and good gameplay are king.”

These are all experiences created by individuals, and developed within the context of a high-scale platform. They were fun to create and, as the millions of play sessions would say, are unarguably fun to play. With ROBLOXians logging 1 billion hours of playtime since 2008 and creating 15 million games, we’re not alone in believing the creative process and good gameplay are king.