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Behind the Scenes with the Games Team: The Making of Gear

September 17, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


The ROBLOX Games Team is in a constant race against time–it’s their job to ensure that our builders have more gear to browse through in the Catalog each and every week, among other things. This is an extremely organized, frantic, and often fun process that is constantly in motion. We thought we’d spend some time with the Games Team to watch and document how gear is made–from planning and brainstorming, to animating and scripting, to release.


FusROBLOX, stickmasterluke and Visual Artist Tarabyte line up the proposed gear for the coming month

The start of the gear-creation process begins as most projects do–in a ROBLOX meeting room. Inside, all of the Games Team gathers around a large whiteboard, and throws out creative (and sometimes whacky) ideas. I would tell you some of their suggestions, but don’t want to ruin the surprise to upcoming gear. As you can no doubt tell from some of the gear that is currently available, they’re saying some pretty bizarre combinations of words.

“Just because one of us has a cool idea, there’s still a lot to consider,” says Zachary Lindblad, ROBLOX Games Team member (FusROBLOX). “It’s a fine line to walk each month. We have to ensure that our ideas are entirely new, and don’t resemble something we’ve already released. There’s also got to be a ‘cool’ factor involved. Like, we tried releasing food three times at this point. Then we finally said, ‘OK we get it. Food is not cool.'”

The Games Team has these meetings on a per-month basis where they sit down and determine every single gear item that will come out that month. This is a process that can take hours, but it’s necessary. Several factors have to be considered–holidays, school breaks, sometimes even world news–as time of year and current events can all factor into a month’s gear. The Games Team also spends time tracking data–they observe what worked in previous months and what didn’t.

The Games Team emerges from this meeting with a large list of items to create and script for the month. They then begin the methodical process of designing and releasing them to gamers. Tara Byars (you probably know her as Tarabyte) works with a huge team of digital artists–each one specializing in different types of ROBLOX styles. Each week, Tara considers the items that need to be created, then contacts the right artist for each item.




This initiates a back-and-forth dialogue between Tara and her team of artists, who construct  the 3D objects and send them out as meshes and textures. The Games Team also generates reference images for the 3D artists to communicate a general idea of the look they seek. Tara reviews each piece of gear to approve then makes a decision: approve it, make minor changes, or scrap it entirely and start from scratch. Once all the items for that week are approved, they are shipped over to Megan Brannon (coatp0cketninja), a 3D artist whose job it is to “shape” the gear to properly fit the character models inside ROBLOX.

You see, each piece of gear that is made does not magically scale to fit your ROBLOX character–to the contrary. When you buy a hat and wear it, it’s Megan who chooses the angle at which it sits atop your head, how big or small it is physically (and in proportion to your body type), and where exactly on your body the item goes. She also smooths out fine-grain details on each item–like logos and handle patterns.

“Megan is like a touch-up artist,” says Tara. “People don’t think about it, but someone has to physically go into ROBLOX and place each and every item just so. That’s Megan.”


Megan places every single new item that comes out–this isn’t a drag and drop scenario, either. She’s got to enter the exact 3D coordinates using the circled part of Studio.

Once each item has the desired look (and is properly placed), each is shipped to our engineers to be scripted with gameplay actions. We talked with members of the Games Team about some of their favorite gear creations.

“I remember we really wanted to create a patriotic gun for the Fourth of July–and it absolutely had to have dynamic lighting,” recalls Games Team member Kip Turner (SolarCrane). “A lot of thought went into that, which is funny because it’s such a silly item. We had the idea for it to shoot three separate lasers–though once we implemented, we noticed it still didn’t remind of us the flag (and I also remembered that several other countries have the colors red white and blue in their flag).”

“So we added stars that accumulate as the weapon charges the blast,” he says with a laugh. “There’s a lot of tiny things you have to consider, and a lot of it happens as we script.”


America! We can’t say the rest.

Zachary has made hundreds of virtual gear items since he began last fall. Before asking him about his favorite gear, I asked him if he had any advice to give for builders who work on lots of models and virtual items for their games.

“Two things stand out immediately. One, make reusable code. I have a database loaded with snippets of code I use all the time. Each one of us on the Games Team tracks the code that he or she has uses and indexes it for use again later,” says Zachary. “Two, always test what you’ve made online. You never know whether something truly works until you’ve taken it out of Studio and put it on the internet.”

As for Zachary’s favorite gear item?

“Kip actually made it. It’s called the Orbital Piano–basically, you click once to sit on this grand piano, and it plays this epic orchestra. While it’s playing the piano catches fire, and other pianos begin raining from the sky like meteors and start exploding all around you. As if that’s not enough, the initial piano explodes too,” he says with a laugh.


When Kip told me about this item, I had to see it for myself. Holy piano, it’s epic.

“A girl approached me at BLOXcon Chicago and was like, ‘you’re the guy who made the Orbital Piano! That’s my favorite gear item of all time,'” Kip recalls with a laugh. “I still can’t believe we made that into a gear item.”