In our efforts to optimize and fully support a single, consistent platform, there occasionally comes a time when we must make a decision to discontinue support for lesser-used technology. That time has finally come for our legacy terrain system. As of today, we have officially deprecated old (non-smooth) terrain to prepare for its subsequent removal on January 1, 2017.
Smooth terrain has come a long way since it was launched just over a year ago. Comparatively speaking, it has grown to become superior in every way to the old terrain. We’ve put in a lot of work to ensure that it not only runs better – from both a memory consumption, behavior, and performance perspective – but also that it has a much better look and feel compared to its counterpart. I’d like to take a few moments to share why we felt this change was important and what it means for you as a developer moving forward.
Why is Roblox deprecating old terrain?
After running an analysis on time spent playing on places that use smooth terrain versus old terrain, we found that most users vastly prefer the former. In fact, places that use smooth terrain/water are played approximately eight times more than places that use old terrain/water.
Additionally, maintaining and supporting old terrain comes at a cost to both us and the users:
- For Roblox: There’s extra effort in testing changes to make sure they don’t break old terrain, working with physics/networking/rendering code that supports it, and sometimes refactoring or optimization is made much harder by the presence of old terrain.
- For Players: There’s the extra overhead in downloading old terrain assets, compiling old terrain shaders, etc.
- For Studio: There’s some confusion in the behavior of terrain tools. We have to maintain the “Convert To Smooth” flow, which is the primary reason why you still see the old terrain toolbar during Studio startup.
Between the maintenance burden and the fact that smooth terrain is both superior and much more widely used, we decided to stop supporting old terrain.
What’s going to happen to my place if it’s still using old terrain?
Old terrain will continue to work as intended for the remainder of 2016. Starting this month, we will begin displaying a notification message in Studio informing you of our decision to deprecate old terrain and that you are advised to migrate to smooth terrain as soon as possible. This is to give you enough time to test changes to your place so that everything is still working come January 1, 2017.
On that day, any place that still uses old terrain will automatically be converted to smooth terrain. At that point, you will not be able to return to old terrain. We strongly urge all developers to take these next four months to begin migrating to smooth terrain by using the Convert To Smooth function in Studio. Although you could just wait until January 1, 2017, this conversion process is imperfect and may require tweaks to terrain and/or parts that interact with terrain.
You can find the “Convert To Smooth” function under the Terrain toolbar in Studio.
We are 100% focused on improving smooth terrain further and further. We appreciate your patience and understanding our transition. For more information, please check out our post on the Developer Forum. As always, if you have any further questions or concerns, let us know in the comments.