Game Devs Impress at the USA Science & Engineering Fest
by Andrew Haak
As you most assuredly know by now, we’re changing our annual event format – wherein hundreds of ROBLOXians descend upon a single venue for an all-day celebration of what we’ve built – in favor of something new. We’re sponsoring builder- and developer-hosted booths at Maker Faires and STEM festivals in dozens of cities over the course of the whole year. While we loved our summer of BLOXcon, we want to spread the word, and these types of events are a great opportunity for us, with your help, to show off ROBLOX to tens (even hundreds) of thousands of like-minded individuals. Last weekend, we had three such events; one in Bethlehem, PA, one in Newcastle, UK, and another in Washington, D.C.
Four ROBLOX staff (blockhaak, ReeseMcBlox, ostrichsized, and SphinxShen) made the trip to D.C. for the USA Science and Engineering Festival. This fest is huge (the organizers were projecting around 250,000 attendees…). The venue, the Washington Convention Center, is at least one large city block in size, with expansive halls on multiple levels. There was – probably literally – a ton of things to see and do. In hall A, aisle 900, was the ROBLOX booth.
We were there for both public days of the festival, with somewhere around 15 unique builders and developers taking turns showing off their projects to fascinated eyes. Between exploring games, building projects on the spot, and even developing game prototypes, our volunteers did an awesome job of demonstrating the possibilities of ROBLOX. (In fact, many people wanted to know how they could experiment for themselves right then.) Reflecting on the event, there are a couple of particularly special stories that emerged.
On day one, a developer by the name of Defaultio had the hottest spot in the booth: a standup table at the corner of our space, with a large monitor facing outward and projecting his screen for everyone to see. He had the table locked down for the entire day; his idea, starting at 9 a.m., was to create a zero-gravity jetpack simulator. All in a day’s work, right?
What started as a simple jetpack character build transformed into a working interplanetary transportation device, complete with forward, rear, and rotational thrusters that light up when used, a derelict space station floating through a cluster of asteroids for scenery, and gameplay that quickly forces players to forget the notions of orientation and direction. The game came to life throughout the day as Defaultio (or Josh) coded zero gravity and tweaked flight controls, turned the baseplate into an outer-space environment, and let the event’s attendees demo the controls and give feedback on what they liked and what could be better. Onlookers watched him work in fascination, but he was unfazed.
By the end of the day, he did, in fact, have a working jetpack simulator – fueled by his creativity, ROBLOX’s tools, and a couple sandwiches. It seemed as though everyone who saw it and tried it was equally excited for it to develop into one of the coolest space games on ROBLOX. The foundation is there.
On day two, a similar story emerged. This time, Davidii, the developer best known for his popular Survival 303, had the prime showcase spot. He decided early in the day that he’d start prototyping a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) inspired by League of Legends. He started with a baseplate and a simple test arena, then got to work on spawning minions and coding simple AI path-finding routines, building the turrets (in proud ROBLOXian shape, of course), and implementing custom attack animations.
Again, crowds formed to watch the process. Davidii was so deep into the development zone that he didn’t even notice the occasional crowds of 10 to 20 people, who watched as he flipped between writing scripts, building and integrating animations, and tweaking level design and projectile effects. There were moments of game-dev victory that resulted in fist pumps; if he didn’t actually notice his audiences, he subconsciously fed off the energy of his surroundings. (This, by the way, seems a clear indicator that real-world ROBLOX game jams might be a fantastic idea.)
We showed many people throughout the weekend that ROBLOX is one of the best places to get into game development, prototype ideas, and share them with anyone around the world. Being able to let people see that process – and just how much is possible in a single workday – made what was shown that much more credible.
If you’re interested in participating in a ROBLOX booth at an event near you, there are plenty of opportunities — check out our listing of all upcoming events where we’re hoping to have a presence.
Stay tuned for upcoming news on the granddaddy of Maker events — Maker Faire Bay Area, held in our hometown of San Mateo, California on May 17th and 18th. ROBLOX is a leading sponsor of this year’s event, and the whole staff as well as notable members of our developer community will be on hand to showcase what we’re all about. We hope to come away with more awesome stories of developers demonstrating the possibilities of ROBLOX!