Fame at 15: CloneTrooper1019’s Rise to Game-Dev Success
CloneTrooper1019 is an eloquent speaker, an ambitious thinker, and a prolific game developer (with a catalog including such successful games as Murder, Spleef, Prop Hunt, and The Stalker). He’s just 15 years old. As with many of ROBLOX’s successful developers, his adventure started at a young age (he was 10), when a child obsessed with LEGO and Star Wars stumbled onto a video of an AT-AT built on a platform called ROBLOX.
“That’s right,” he tells me. “I joined ROBLOX because of an AT-AT. The model, even by today’s standards, is quite impressive. It works completely unanchored, too.”
After linking me to the model he continued on with his story. The beginning stages of his eventual career on ROBLOX were straightforward. He spent several years as a gamer, and started dabbling in development in 2009. For sentimental purposes, he saved the first place he ever built, and he and I took a trip to see what was there. It’s a mash-up of many free models — a seemingly random collection of robots, shirts, and tools.
“This place represents the first time I experimented with Studio,” he tells me as we walk through the zany virtual world. “I realize it’s not pretty,” he says with a laugh. “But hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?”
He goes on to recall his initial foray into the world of scripting, shortly after discovering that one of his real-life best friends, TheOne33 on ROBLOX, was developing games. TheOne33 encouraged CloneTrooper1019 to have a look at a script he was writing for a deathmatch game.
“It was fascinating to look at,” he says. “Eventually, I started tinkering with bits of the code he had written. I began to experiment with every part of the script to really understand how it worked at its core.”
These experiments manifested themselves in CloneTrooper1019’s first original ROBLOX title, KOOL KILLER VI, in 2011. Loosely based on the popular PS3 title Reasons 2 Die, this game was not CloneTrooper1019’s attempt at making a popular ROBLOX title. To the contrary, this was his grandest experiment yet — an attempt to make a working game with enjoyable mechanics.
“A lot of what I’ve made today derived specifically from what I learned making that game,” he recalls.
With the basics under his belt, CloneTrooper1019 wanted to do more experiments. This time, he wanted to build a game that got attention, and he succeeded. Spleef was born, featuring mechanics yet to be seen on ROBLOX at the time. The game features several (and often bizarre) levels where you and competitors battle to knock each other out of the arena by removing blocks beneath their feet. Even now Spleef is a lot of fun, and the updates he’s made since the release are in tune with all of our updates from the last year. Enough of our developers caught notice of the game that they worked directly with CloneTrooper1019 on alpha testing for the 2012 release of ROBLOX Mobile on iOS.
Prop Hunt was another experiment. What CloneTrooper1019 really wanted to determine was whether or not it was possible to script a game in a way that humanoids could transform into models. The result was a very basic game, though he had found an answer to his question. With the right scripting, humanoids could indeed transform into any model.
“Prop Hunt never really took off, but it’s been getting some decent numbers lately because a lot of people are playing it on YouTube,” he tells me.
By 2012, CloneTrooper1019’s experiments had various and mixed results. He was learning a lot about how to not only create games using ROBLOX, but monetize them as well. It was then that he decided the time for experimentation was over. It was time to make the climb to the front of the Games page.
Even today, The Stalker is one of the most polished gaming experiences on ROBLOX. The first-person shooter features a horrifying atmosphere, unique visual aesthetics, custom sounds and music, and addictive gameplay. In it you and a team of survivors (known in his game universe as Combines) must hunt The Stalker, a nearly-invisible beast with special powers that are granted to one lucky player per round. CloneTrooper1019 also created a robust economic infrastructure, including a shop and player inventory to incentivize returning players.
“I developed a brand new strategy with The Stalker,” he tells me. “If you give players multiple reasons to play your game — things to work toward — players will play your game for longer and longer periods of time. Word gets out, traffic increases, and the cycle just continues to repeat itself.”
“I learned a lot about maintaining players with The Stalker,” he adds.
With a smash hit game under his belt, CloneTrooper1019 opted to shift gears back into experimental mode, and actually kick-started the initiative that became the Winter Games. He was the first to ask Sorcus if he could take a shot at making a winter-themed game for the holidays, sparking a game-development competition that resulted in five winter-themed games, all created by the ROBLOX community.
CloneTrooper1019’s wasn’t one of them.
“I began experimenting with collaborative game efforts, and how creating a game as a team works,” he says. “I feel like I did some things right, but plenty wrong. I had a 10-person development team, and let me tell you, it’s impossible to divide a ROBLOX game between that many people,” he says, laughing.
The baseplate of the game became the template for CloneTrooper1019’s latest hit, Murder. It’s the first game CloneTrooper1019 built that has no “lobby” — his big goal was to create a game that plays like current-gen triple-A multiplayer titles, meaning he would have to re-think his familiar methods of coding.
“With Murder I decided to change my style of code into a more client/server divided system,” he tells me. “The client handles all the visual components while the server takes care of the game and communication with the client.”
“Ultimately, Murder is a tech demo of my multiplayer game engine,” he adds. “The code I wrote is modular and will allow me to create dozens of other games very easily.”
Getting there took longer than expected, though. Achieving this new coding system took CloneTrooper1019 three months to perfect — running all game operations from the server produced several complex problems that needed to be solved. He also spent a great deal of time finding ways to reduce join-lag. The entire game has no values, as it is stored entirely inside the server itself. With a solid foundation of code, CloneTrooper1019 is only beginning to update Murder.
“I want to turn Murder into a universe,” he tells me. “The ‘hub’ will be the main menu, where you can select the map you want to play, as well as invite friends to join your hub. I’m also working on a shop where you can buy hats, different clothes, and new skins for the knife itself.”
“I want to give people creative freedom in terms of how they play the game.”
Did we mention this guy is 15? This prolific ROBLOX developer understands the very nature of being fueled by ROBLOX — curiosity, experimentation, collaboration — all facets of his nature that can combine with our platform to produce stunning results. I’m in constant contact with a wide range of developers, and I never get tired of seeing messages like the one I received yesterday from CloneTrooper1019: