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Spotlight: The RoWars Revival

August 15, 2012

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


At ROBLOX, we continue to take notice of those who are tackling new and different challenges within our platform. On this edition of “Spotlight”, we’re checking out a new project from users Blabvoid and SharpTH, who are using ROBLOX as a platform to develop a full-blown sci-fi mini-series.

In 2008, ROBLOX user Are92 did something with ROBLOX that nobody had ever seen before: he used it to create a full-length mini-series called RoWars that would transcend the machinimas previously seen on the platform.

Well, almost.

“The community was really disappointed that he [Are92] never got around to finishing the series,” recalls ROBLOX user SharpTH. “Many people like me and Blabvoid grew up waiting for a continuation, but we never got one.”

RoWars Original

A screenshot from the original RoWars

So users Blabvoid and SharpTH decided to pick up where Are92 left off, and started developing their own sci-fi mini-series using ROBLOX. The series is massive in scope—Blabvoid and SharpTH have collaborated with dozens of ROBLOX users to craft a fully-fledged script, original soundtrack, and enlisted a wide range of Lua scripters and video effects artists. Collaborating with different users, most of which are half-way around the world (Blabvoid and SharpTH live in the UK), proved to be a daunting task.

Blabvoid and SharpTH acquired their unique team from a gamut of online sources, including SharpTH’s YouTube Channel, our very own ROBLOXiwood forum, and from members of the RoWar:Reboot fan group. For specific jobs (i.e Lua scripters), Blabvoid and SharpTH used utilized ROBLOX’s shout system.

“The biggest issue in these kinds of projects is tackling time-zones,” says SharpTH. “It’s really hard coordinating with so many different areas.”

Without giving too much away, the story of the new RoWars is similar to the source material. 400-years in the future, a deadly meteor shower is rapidly approaching a utopian Earth, where humans decide to ditch the doomed planet and seek refuge in space. One ship is hit by a meteor while escaping, and is forced to land on a strange and dangerous planet.

Blabvoid and SharpTH claim to have drawn inspiration from numerous sources, including, obviously, Are92’s original series, Stanley Kubrick’s quintessential 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the videogame series Halo, borrowing many ideas from the level designs and architectures.

RoWar Ship

Blabvoid describes his level design process as an experimentation in trial and error; utilizing features bundled into CmdUtil, a custom Studio plugin designed by ROBLOX user Anaminus, Blabvoid borrows ideas from games and tries to apply them in unique ways.

But regardless of how complex his level or character creations, the most important aspect, according to Blabvoid, is a compelling story.

“We want to tell an emotional, mature story,” says Blabvoid. “So we’re trying to give the film a more mature atmosphere in order to deeply develop the characters.”

Blabvoid went on to joke that the mini-series may be a little too serious for younger audiences, and that it should receive a “NNU13” or “No Noobs Under 13” rating.

By adding custom effects and doing extensive work with meshes, Blabvoid and SharpTH hope that people who watch their series won’t even be able to tell that they’re looking at something made almost entirely on ROBLOX. Blabvoid boasts that he’s already simulated volumetric lighting using smoke and conical meshes. And though there are certain CGI aspects of the show, Blabvoid noted that creating as many effects as possible within ROBLOX is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the massive project.

RoWar Screenshot

“I want this film to stare people in the face,” says SharpTH. “I hope it inspires them into making ROBLOX videos on their own.”

“We want to see more advanced ROBLOX film works,” adds Blabvoid.

Blabvoid and SharpTH have some big shoes to fill; the original RoWars currently has over a hundred thousand views on YouTube, and is thought of by many ROBLOX as a revolutionary first step in ROBLOX machinima. And though Blabvoid and SharpTH are just zeroing in on wrapping the first chapter, they remained determined to see this project through.

“You have to make sure you’re actually going to follow through,” says Blabvoid. “You can’t just come up with an idea and leave it expecting something to happen.”

For a virtual walk-around from one of the levels that will be featured in RoWars, click here.