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Feedback Loop: Sounds & Music, Group Ranks, Badges and More

August 20, 2013

by John Shedletsky


Feedback Loop99% of the content available on ROBLOX is created by our passionate community of builders. In Feedback Loop – the spiritual successor to the long-running Responding to User Feedback series – we respond to builders’ grand ideas for ROBLOX and questions about the past, present and future.

In this issue, John Shedletsky discusses the potential for user-created faces, sounds and music, removing group ranks, game analytics, rendering motion blur, a “badge showcase” section on the profile, building performance questions, and more. All of the feedback featured in this article was collected via a Twitter survey. Follow @ROBLOX for opportunities to submit your feedback in the future!

About Face

Phantomazing: I noticed faces aren’t released very often on ROBLOX. Plus, the community makes some great faces (that beard). I’d say you should try to implement the ability for users to upload their custom faces, since I was told at BLOXcon that one goal was to get the ROBLOX economy 100% community-controlled.

Great points. You might think that faces are among the easiest assets for us to create, especially compared to things like bodies or hats, which require 3D geometry and texturing. Technically, you’d be right. But making faces is a lot like writing poetry: easy to do poorly, difficult to do well. At the same time, faces are so fundamental to the character, that I feel like the ante is raised for face quality. If I’m a new ROBLOX player and I see a couple of characters with ugly hats, I might think they have bad taste in clothing. If I’m a new ROBLOX player and I see a couple of characters with ugly faces, I might think ROBLOX is actually a bad game. So that’s why we’re not cranking them out.

However, we all love the Daring Beard, so clearly there are some community members who would be able to produce faces of suitably high quality. We would like to get a point where 99% of the economy is player-driven. Some things, such as name changes, will necessarily need to be sold by us.

Sounds and music

asimo3089: Any chance ROBLOX will see a “sound update?” I’m not asking for new sounds, but I’m asking for a better “sound engine.” Currently sounds will cut out after so much time playing in your place, making it impossible to have consistent, ambient noise!

Why aren’t you asking for new sounds? Your point about the current flakiness of the Sound object is well-taken, but it seems to me that if we’re going to deliver a sound and music update that will satisfy the building and development community, we need both the ability for users to upload their own sounds, as well as robust control over how they get played.

For me, the most annoying thing about the current Sound object is that the play cursor doesn’t replicate. So if I start playing a looping five-minute sound in my game at time t, and you join at time t + 1, you don’t actually start hearing background music until time t + 5 minutes.

The Wind (Seasonal)

asimo3089’s places beg for ambient sound!

CloneTrooper1019: So I know you guys have been talking about uploadable sounds. Any word on that? Merely has been teasing us on Twitter about it.

ROBLOX employee Tone has most recently been working on this feature. I was talking to him today and here’s what we’ve got so far: a moderation queue for sounds, the ability to charge a variable amount of ROBUX to upload a sound (based on its length), sounds can appear in the catalog, sounds can be played from the catalog (to find the ones you’re looking for). Currently we’re set up to do MP3s. We need to do the analysis and find out how much it will cost ROBLOX in bandwidth fees if every ROBLOX game starts streaming MP3s in the background constantly. We might need to cap the maximum playback length on MP3s and go with a more compact format for music. We’re also kicking around the idea of allowing developers to recoup some of the cost of uploading sounds by letting them sell sound effects they’ve made.

TL;DR version – we’re actively working on it. It is not ready yet. 

Rank Removal

Vaderfreak55: Some groups have been wanting a “rank removal” feature. This would allow the owner of a group to remove an unwanted rank or two if there are too many. If this were to be added to groups, this would be a useful feature.

Users need more control of their groups. We both totally agree.

MetricsGame analytics

TheGamer101: I would like tools for developers to analyze players’ interactions with their games. It would be incredibly useful to have a page that shows graphs with useful statistics, such as players online, average play time and likes/dislikes. This would help in seeing when peak times are and how new updates are performing.

This is high up on our list of priorities, actually. We’re currently designing a new section of our site that is just for ROBLOX game developers. We’re going to launch it with a very small feature set and grow it over time. One of the most useful things you’ll find in this section of the site will be analytics for all of your ROBLOX games. You’ll be able to use the information you find here to make sure your game remains the second-best sword fighting game on ROBLOX!

Rendering motion blur

Zakary99: Have you ever thought of implementing motion blur, and allowing developers to manipulate it?

It wouldn’t be technically difficult for us to do, but it is the kind of thing that only some games would ever use. Our graphics team still has a list of things to do that will make all ROBLOX places look better, so we’ve prioritized those.

Badges of honor

TheAmazeman: If a user has a badge favorited AND has achieved it, it should be displayed on their profile in a separate place from PLAYER BADGES.  For example, a new display box could be put on everyone’s profile, named FAVORITE BADGES and it would contain the badges which that user has, and has favorited.

A trophy case. We’ve thrown around this idea in the past. You could pick 3-6 badges that you were the most proud of and they would display on your profile and possibly next to your forum posts (as a kind of forum signature).

BadgesRedlips42: What if there was a separate section of user-made badges where you could pick from any badge you have and display it? Let’s say I have a rare secret badge from a game and I’m very happy I got it. I could display it (and a maximum of four others). I’d love to see this in ROBLOX!

Another vote for a trophy case. I actually think there are a lot of interesting things that we could do with the current badge system. Here are a couple:

  • Give group owners the capability to auto rank-up anyone who possesses a specific badge.
  • Make badges more socially interesting. Have a way to see which badges are the most rare among my friends.
  • Have daily player challenges where anyone who can win a specific badge gets a prize.

Custom cursors

HylianLegend: It would be great to have the option to set the icon of the PlayerMouse. Many users are making impressive ROBLOX places that abandon the traditional use of Tools and Hopperbin objects in exchange for the more streamlined GetMouse() function. The ability to change the PlayerMouse’s icon has been discussed in the forums, and tagged with the word “eventually.” While I’m glad to see that this feature is in the update queue, I’d love to see it brought to, or near, the top.

It would be nice if plugins and in-game tools used the same API to talk to the mouse. I’m not sure whether there is a good reason to have two different APIs. The obvious downside to doing so is that, as you point out, one API will almost always be lagging the other in terms of development.

I can tell you that Gemlocker, our new Studio team lead, is very interested in getting serious about plugins and extending their capabilities.

Many parts, one simulation

Immi: Could it be possible to merge different parts together into a single physics object? If you combine that with a single collision mesh, it would yield big performance improvements. This could be very useful in detailed objects that should not fall apart, like boats, airplanes or trains!

We’re interested in exploring the possibilities of giving users addition and subtraction operations that they can apply to parts to create new parts.

Survive the 93-Disasters by TheFurryFox

Cleanin’ up

SmoothBlockModel: One of my games makes a randomly generated arena each instance to vary the player experience. The downfall to this is obviously when I want to make a new one I need to remove the old one. ROBLOX can easily create 10,000 parts in a few seconds but when I start trying to delete them just as quickly it’s a near-crash event with LOTS of lag. How can I remove parts as fast as I can create them?

Hmm. I don’t know exactly what is going on there, but I can venture a theory. It’s possible that when you create parts, a fair amount of data needs to go from the server to all the clients, and this data gets buffered server-side and goes over the wire at a stately pace. Deletion, on the other hand, should have a fairly compact network representation, and so the server can probably send deletion events faster than it can send creation events. Both types of events require geometry to be created/destroyed in the rendering and physics pipelines, so it’s possible deletion is thrashing the clients harder.

One thing you could try is to delete your arena in batches instead of all at once. Write a loop that deletes 1,000 parts and then waits half a second before deleting the next batch. It’s possible that this won’t slow your game down at all and that your clients won’t thrash as much.

This is all a guess, however.

Another thing to try is to put your entire level in a single Model and then delete that.

One final thing to try is to anchor all your bricks before you delete them. This would help if the order you were deleting blocks in requires the physics engine to recomputed a significant portion of the joint-spanning tree (for instance, if your blocks are in a tower).

Finished product

ybmul1380: Do you think there will ever be a “final” ROBLOX? A version of the game that has been completely perfected?

No. The current ROBLOX represents less than 10% of our total vision for what ROBLOX could be.

We received more thoughts and questions than we could realistically cover in one edition of Feedback Loop, so if yours wasn’t included this time, it could still appear in the future. Thanks again for the great, thoughtful submissions!