Crossfire: SONIC & JulianValerius Build Massive Cities
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 JulianValerius and SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX, creators of Venice and Venezia, respectively. Both games feature spectacularly complex building and detail — Venezia is a steampunk-inspired mecca of the future, while Venice is a highly detailed recreation of the famed city in Italy. We talked with both builders (who were respectfully candid with one another) about creating these cities, managing their massive groups, and a lot more in this edition of Crossfire.
ROBLOX: We’ve seen both of your cities change so much over the past year. When does it ever end? Or does it? What is the grand plan for each of your cities?
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: My ultimate plan for Venezia is to make it an advanced RPG, though I want it to be different than your standard affair. Once I figured out that “Venezia” was actually Italian for “Venice,” [Editor’s note: see this story for more on that] I decided to make a part of the map a futuristic recreation of Venice. I want to have tons of stuff to do in the game. I want it to have player stats, like hunger, energy and fitness, while also allowing players to buy houses, cars and food using my own in-game currency.
JulianValerius: There are a lot of things I want to add to Venice — it’s so different from SONIC’s. He’s created something along the lines of Bioshock Infinite, and is focused on this futuristic aesthetic. I’m trying to make a realistic representation of a real-life place. Some of the updates I have in mind reflect this. There’s already a nightclub in Venice, though it’s really just a stage. The new sound effects system is awesome and I’ll be using that to add music soon.
ROBLOX: Would you consider adding virtual currency like SONIC, or do Game Passes seem to do the trick just fine?
JulianValerius: Any and all sales I make go straight to my Group. The problem then becomes that if I put currency in the game I have nothing really to sell. All the abilities in my game can be unlocked using shirts and Game Passes.
ROBLOX: I noticed when you were giving me a tour that you have a Kestrel store. How successful has the Kestrel store been for your group?
ROBLOX: I think it’s really cool that both of your places have shops and buildings to explore, though the way each of your places handles the interior of these shops and facilities is completely different.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: Venezia uses a different tactic of getting into buildings that involves actually teleporting to a new environment. Teleporting is a good way to decrease lag because you can move the inside of the building far away from the map. The further away it is, the less lag. You can also add way more detail inside the buildings because it’s so far away from the main map.
ROBLOX: Do you guys feel limited by how many parts you’re allowed to have in a level? Would you make bigger levels if you could?
JulianValerius: This has been an ongoing issue for me, especially with Rome. Luckily in this case, Venice is much smaller, meaning I can pack it full of a lot more details.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: Yes, I feel limited. My grand vision of Venezia would require over 100,000 parts.
ROBLOX: [We tell them some exciting news we’ll be sharing with everyone in a couple of weeks.]
JulianValerius: Really?! That’s awesome. Rome currently has 35,000 parts and it’s causing issues.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: I can’t wait! That’s great news.
ROBLOX: How many hours do you think each of you have put into building and maintaining your cities?
JulianValerius: That’s difficult to pinpoint. I’d estimate an entire day, so 24 hours. That would be my best guess.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: I’d estimate 25, 24-hour days. Venezia has gone through a lot of redesigns that got scrapped. It took constant iterations to finally arrive at the look and feel it has today.
JulianValerius: Building a city can be an extremely gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight.
ROBLOX: Both of your cities are strongly affiliated with the groups you guys own — F.E.A.R. and the Italian Republic. How do your groups view these places you’ve built for them?
JulianValerius: Well, Rome is technically the capital of the Italian Republic, and I couldn’t have built Venice without the supporters of the Italian Republic. They’re very supportive and I think they appreciate having a secondary place to just go and hang out or shop.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: F.E.A.R. members had been waiting for a sort of headquarters for about a year. I was constantly getting messages about creating the place in my inbox. When I finally posted it, I figured I’d leave it up for a week than take it down. But F.E.A.R. is at the top of the heap in terms of members, and all the members really seemed to enjoy Venezia. I’m always trying to please members, so I left it up. Maybe Julian and I can team up and make another place!
JulianValerius: [Laughs] Yeah, let’s make an alliance!
ROBLOX: Julian, the members of your group have been the most respectful and disciplined members of a group I’ve seen on ROBLOX. Such discipline, much wow. They seem to really pay strict attention to rules and are really polite to newcomers.
JulianValerius: I try to make my group as realistic as possible, and I’ve split it into differing factions. I have the Military Officers, Police Special Forces, and Intelligence Agencies populated by highly trained men who work really hard to make Italy what it is. Their behavior reflects who we are as a group. You ever consider having a police group, SONIC?
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: We have a Military Police group for F.E.A.R. and Metro Police for Venezia. I’m working on the finishing touches for both of those.
ROBLOX: What would you guys say is easier? Building a massive group, or building a massive level?
JulianValerius: It’s difficult to answer that question. Places are a major aspect of groups.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: What Julian said. Places build members — period. When I started F.E.A.R. I created a recruitment center when I saw that clans like X-101st Legion and RAT were doing it. This made F.E.A.R. extremely popular very quickly.
ROBLOX: Speaking of being popular, we noticed that you are very active about publicizing your YouTube and Twitter presence, SONIC. How useful are these social tools in promoting your game?
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: It’s really helpful to leverage these tools to promote games, especially when they’re a work in progress. With Venezia, I would release small trailers to get people excited to play the game before releasing it. I’m working on a little teaser for an Island Resort game I’m releasing soon that will feature some stop-motion animation, similar to Out of BLOXY Cola.
ROBLOX: What about you Julian?
JulianValerius: I’m actually really excited that you guys are doing things with Twitch. I just started a Twitch channel for Italy and we’re planning to use it a lot. We’re working out the types of things we’ll be able to do with streaming.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: I find it really amazing that you guys are finding so many ways to connect to the community. Constantly posting new blogs, announcing exciting features, streaming — that’s what makes ROBLOX really stand out from other games out there. It’s very unique.
ROBLOX: Speaking to that effect, we’d like to ask you guys this question as valued members of our community: what’s the biggest thing you would change about ROBLOX?
JulianValerius: I think it’d be great if ROBLOX would allow safe, off-site trusted links like Google and other links that cause no harm. I’d also like to see more events held around military groups — what if there was a Winter Games specifically for military groups? I think that would be really cool.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: More parts with less lag. More group features. A YouTube player on a brick, where you can upload short videos to your game for 1,000 ROBUX or something. Then you could watch videos inside your games.
JulianValerius: I also really want to see 100-player servers.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: Yeah, can you imagine 100 players in a game with no lag? The Winter Games ran really smoothly with 50 players, which was cool.
JulianValerius: Imagine what raids would be like with 100 people!
ROBLOX: We always ask this at the end of our Crossfire articles — what’s your favorite aspect of one another’s game?
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: I love the realism of Venice. The overall theme of the level really feels like you’re there. The boats are also really cool, and I love the restaurants with the piano players.
JulianValerius: Most people don’t really think of Venice as being a modern city, which is why Venezia is such an awesome blend of different things. The mix of old and new is really cool. Seriously SONIC, great great job.
SONICTHEHEDGEHOGXX: Thanks, same to you!