ROBLOX is traditionally home to 3D, multiplayer, physics-based games. So, when players discovered that Zeekerss was making narrative-driven, single-player, game in 2.5D – restricting players to a single plane of movement, but built using 3D assets – they quickly took notice. Inspired by the game Choices by GollyGreg, Zeekerss is now one of the top creators of side-scrolling ROBLOX titles. What’s even more stunning than the quality and aesthetic of his games is that Zeekerss is a mere 12 years old (going on 13), and already designing clever levels and puzzles that have stumped even adult players.
Zeekerss’ foray into game development – especially of the 2.5D variety – traces back to not only playing the aforementioned Choices, a user-created game, but also browsing ROBLOX’s public library of user-created models.
“I had no idea 2.5D games were even possible in ROBLOX until I saw ‘Choices’, a 2.5D/3D game created by GollyGreg,” Zeekerss says. “Later, when I got into making ROBLOX games myself, I saw a 2.5D script [by DeviousDeviation] in the models of ROBLOX Studio.”
Zeekerss manipulates DeviousDeviation’s camera to achieve the desired perspective. At key moments, the camera even swings and zooms to show slightly different perspectives, which he accomplishes by scripting changes to the properties of the camera (zoom levels and X and Y positioning) when players touch specific parts and incorporating his own field-of-view scripts. All of these things together create a decidedly flat and two-dimensional look, with dynamic flourishes sprinkled across the games.
The camera is obviously an important technical aspect of a 2.5D game, but the genre is ultimately fueled by aesthetics and level design, for which Zeekerss clearly has a knack. Both Contrast and A Lucid Dream, his first two 2.5D games, have an aesthetic unlike any other. Contrast is nothing but a black-and-white world, where the character moves back and forth between black and white backgrounds in pursuit of color. A Lucid Dream is more vibrant, with plenty of blues and greens in a dream world that sometimes draws itself as the player progresses.
That’s just the visual side of the games. Even more impressive are the mini-puzzles that require players to combine wit and platforming skills to continue forward. A Lucid Dream, in particular, stands out for its level design. Players often have to use buttons to manipulate the level – even turning it upside down in some cases – to reach various goals.
“I mostly make the game as I go,” Zeekerss says in regard to level design. “I have lots of fun just letting my imagination draw the level for me. For more complicated puzzles, I usually have to draw it out first. Making challenging puzzles was much harder than I thought when I began making games!”
Both Contrast and A Lucid Dream have loose stories that unfold through the level design and basic on-screen text. The tale of how Contrast’s story came to be is particularly unique:
I made [Contrast] black and white after I experimented a lot, and found how cool it looked when the player switched color if the background changed. Then I saw a video on YouTube of people trying to explain what color is to a person who was blind since he was born, but he had absolutely no concept of it. (The person’s name is Tommy Edison.) It was kind of mind-blowing to me. Then I realized I could make a really good story out of that. Since the game is only black and white, it worked perfectly!
Zeekerss’ story of becoming a game developer is one that any aspiring creator can follow. In addition to simply playing other games – both on and off ROBLOX – and looking at resources other developers have created, he recommends learning via the tutorials available on our YouTube channel. He specifically references the introductions to building and scripting. They’re dated at this point in time, but the underlying concepts they teach still apply to today’s ROBLOX Studio.
This foundation of knowledge has allowed Zeekerss to create a number of memorable experiences for players. His personal favorite?
“I think my favorite part is, well, I don’t want to spoil anything,” Zeekerss says. “It’s what happens near the ending of A Lucid Dream. My second favorite part in my games is probably when the player walks up the steep hills after running across the bridge in A Lucid Dream. The hills get larger and larger until your character is merely one pixel on the screen!”