Skip to main content

Blog Archive

Don’t Blink! An Innovative Take on ROBLOX Horror

May 16, 2014

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


Archive

SmoothBlockModel is a long-time developer responsible for games that many seasoned ROBLOX gamers have experienced — namely the smash-hit Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which, with almost four million plays, has been one of the top ROBLOX games of the last year, even overtaking Ozzypig’s popular take on the theme. His latest hit game, Don’t Blink, just released a few days ago and has spread like wildfire up the Popular Games sort. The game features mechanics that yet to be seen on ROBLOX, and is also a refreshing departure from the “murder” craze that has been sweeping ROBLOX the past few months.

Don't-Blink

These angels are no joke.

“The game is based on the popular Doctor Who series. I was re-watching one of the seasons when I came across episodes featuring the Weeping Angels, which had a really interesting dynamic,” he recalls.

“They’re these mythical, mysterious creatures and nobody knows their origin,” he continues. “That would be a killer basis for a game.”

Don’t Blink sprinkles several aspects of different genres to create a unique game experience. Players spawn in a gloomy tomb (complete, of course, with skeleton parts littered throughout), and must work together to survive the Weeping Angels, who are randomly selected (there are usually three angels for every 15 humans). Unlike games such as Darkness and The Stalker, the name of the game here is not avoidance or run for your life. It’s confrontation. Angels aren’t super-powered — to the contrary. They can control the lights throughout the tomb, which is essential for them to hunt. You see, the Weeping Angels can’t move when a human can see them.

DontBlink3

Get a couple of sets of eyes on an angel to keep it frozen in place. Not too many, though! There are other angels roaming the map!

This creates the innovative gameplay we mentioned previously. Humans have to stick together and stay in the light to successfully destroy the angels, who inversely must carefully traverse the caverns shrouded in darkness. When the angels are seen, they freeze in place, rendering them harmless. The game is called Don’t Blink, because each human (who is locked in a first-person perspective) blinks every few seconds. During a blink, the screen goes dark, giving angels a small window to either move in for the kill, or escape into the darkness.

Whereas games like The Mad Murderer and the aforementioned Darkness can be a frustrating wait to finally becoming the super-powered antagonist, Don’t Blink is interesting because being a human and being an angel is an equally fun and engaging experience. Andrew and I discovered first-hand that assuming the role of an angel is no easy experience — it requires an understanding of the map itself, and how and when to dim the lights, not to mention when to move when a human blinks.

With these unique core gameplay mechanics in place, SmoothBlockModel is now in the process of refining the title, which hit the top of the Games Page long before it was finished. This seems to be happening more and more, which is far from a bad thing.

On the flip side, being a human is really engaging as well. Those who attempt to stray out on their own don’t last long — they’re easy targets when they’re alone in the dark. To survive, humans have to stick together. Four sets of eyes locked on a single angel means that, even with occasional blinking, the beast is locked in place long enough to kill it. On the other hand, if a big enough group of humans is focused on one angel, another one may be sneaking around the map and can easily decimate a distracted group.

Balance. An easy word that’s hard to accomplish. It’s not surprising, however, that SmoothBlockModel has crafted yet another title that is built around the concept (Catching Fire doesn’t tip the odds in anyone’s favor). With these unique core gameplay mechanics in place, SmoothBlockModel is now in the process of refining the title, which hit the top of the Games Page long before it was finished. This seems to be happening more and more, which is far from a bad thing.

Going in for the kill

Going in for the kill. As a human, venturing out solo is usually a bad idea.

“The dynamic of deciding whether or not a player is actually ‘looking’ at an angel was a really hard concept to code,” he tells me. “For right now, I start with completely dark maps and add PointLights, then check to see whether an angel is within the radius of each light. I had to do some trigonometry to determine the angle of human stares, and some raycasting to determine proximity to each of the walls.”

“So I didn’t run into too many problems,” he says with a laugh.

He’s got a ton in store for the future of Don’t Blink, including the recently-added Doctor, who stirs up gameplay even more. One Doctor is selected per round and is given a Sonic Screwdriver, which can drain energy from angels. Than he’s on to the monetizing the game, with planned badges, currency, leaderboards, and additional levels, which he’ll be outsourcing to his fans.

“I can’t get enough player feedback,” he says. “So I made a forum post for any ideas people have for Don’t Blink. I’m constantly surprised at the ideas I read from my fans. I also have a ‘Starter Kit’ model for anyone who would like to submit a map for consideration.”

Collaboration, innovation, ambition. SmoothBlockModel, a 16-year-old native of Southern California, gets what it means to be fueled by ROBLOX and will be proving it this weekend by being one of our featured developers at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014. He, in addition to prolific builders TheAmazeMan and litozinnamon, will be demonstrating game development to newcomers and joining us on our live Twitch broadcast from the booth.

“I have always wanted to be a part of Maker Faires; they sound so fun,” he says. “When I was told I was a candidate to be flown out, I got so excited. I’ve been playing ROBLOX for seven years — that’s a large part of my life. Showing it off to new people is a great and exciting opportunity.”

Maker Faire

Check out Don’t Blink at your earliest convenience, and make sure to check out our Twitch.TV channel throughout the weekend as we stream from our booth. To end this particular article, here is SmoothBlockModel’s advice for those looking to make a hit ROBLOX title:

Always consider the things that a large population of people would enjoy. I made a game based on Doctor Who because so many people are interested in the show. Same goes for Catching Fire. If you want to make a hit title, you have to remember that it needs to be interesting to many people, not just you!