When observing different platforms, one cannot forget to take a look at Roblox and the immense capabilities the platform offers, but what can you really do in Roblox? With an estimated 60 million daily active users, it’s good to dig into the creative control Roblox offers its developers.
Like any online platform, Roblox offers a unique set of challenges when it comes to designing and building 3D assets to be used in different applications. Some of these challenges include:
- Object Triangle count limitations: 3D objects are built on Quadrilateral topology, this means that the mesh is constructed using quads that are attached together to form the 3D model, these quads can then be segmented into triangles with each quad being 2 triangles. In Roblox, developers are limited to using 5k triangles per object with an absolute maximum of 10k
- File format: Roblox only supports 3D models that are either OBJ or FBX file formats, industry standards in many different game engines
- Texture sizes: texturing of 3D models is done using flat images that are then mapped onto the 3D form, the maximum resolution Roblox allows for each image is 1k (1024×1024 pixels) giving good fidelity to the textures without overloading ram or gpu usage in local machines.
These are a few of the main restrictions which developers need to be aware of when building on Roblox. Furthermore, building on the Roblox studio client is very close to building within other game engine platforms such as Unity, making it a rather easy transition for those familiar with Unity.
Roblox also borrows from these other platforms in the form of the terrain generation which offers developers an easy way to create large landscapes with a few clicks of a button. Similar to other procedural lang generation games such as minecraft, Roblox allows developers to enter a custom seed to generate landscapes, these landscapes will also include different biomes that can be chosen to the users liking. If a user is a bit more savvy in landscape generation, landscapes can also be generated based on height maps that can be exported from specialized softwares such as the industry standard Gaea, with black and white values determining the hills and valleys that can be generated. This method, while being more time consuming, can offer the 3D artist generating the landscape much finer control over how the landscape will be generated. Roblox even offers a colour map feature with which the landscape will automatically generate different prebuilt textures based on colours given to specific parts of the terrain.
The Roblox library offers creators a list of premade assets that the community has made available making it easy for non 3D artists to still flesh out their game with high quality assets. This library also includes not just 3D assets as you can also find other assets such as premade scripts that do specific functions in game or even change out the lighting of the scene by selecting different skyboxes. Users can also build their own libraries by importing their own 3D models and keeping them segregated based on the game. Libraries just like the games themselves can be accessed by anyone collaborating on the creation of the game.
The collaborative nature of Roblox can be seen in the way that team members can collaborate on a Roblox game with each other’s edits appearing in the game view in real time. This makes collaboration between different creators a breeze, easily having both developers and 3D artists fleshing out a game simultaneously without interfering with each other’s work.
An interesting newer addition to Roblox is their prototyping of motion captured animation using the new in-studio animator. This takes feedback from the creatives webcam and translates this animation to properly set up rigged characters allowing creatives professional looking animations even if they themselves are not professional animators. This also skips the step of creatives needing access to expensive motion capture rigs which are tedious and pricey to set up.
AI does not only come into play with the motion captured animation. For new developers on the platform, Chat GPT can be an extremely useful tool since the LLM is equipped with years of knowledge regarding the platform. Developers transitioning into coding for Roblox can expect their learning to be superpowered thanks to the Chat GPT assisting them in their searches and queries.