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Crossfire: Stickmasterluke and Alexnewtron Talk RO-Dodgeball

October 10, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


CrossFireDodgeballsCreativity and sharing are two qualities that fuel ROBLOX, and it’s in that spirit that we created Crossfire, a series where we chat with ROBLOX game developers about their game design choices. For this outing, we interviewed alexnewtron and stickmasterluke, creators of ROBLOX Dodgeball, and ROBLOX Battle’s Dodgeball mode, respectively. This marks the first time we’ve chosen a ROBLOX developer to enter into a Crossfire with another user–and the conversation was totally worth it. Check it out.

ROBLOX: Welcome to Crossfire guys, and thanks for participating! Our first question is simple: why dodgeball?

stickmasterluke: When we were revamping ROBLOX Battle, dodgeball was the first idea that came to mind when we were trying to come up with new game modes. It’s quick, it’s fun. It’s almost like a mini-game that just focuses on straight-up combat. There are no places to go, or areas to explore. You fight as hard and fast as you can, then it’s over.

alexnewtron: I made the original ROBLOX Dodgeball in 2009–I had the idea because a user had taken a gun script and made it shoot a ball rather than a bullet. The idea seemed obvious: I wanted a game that was total chaos. I wanted dodgeballs to fill the screen in a compact environment. What’s strange is that the original ROBLOX Dodgeball went completely viral, with no advertising. I don’t know how it picked up so fast–especially considering it was a very glitchy experience!


In ROBLOX Battle Dodgeball, the knockout blow bounces off of you, collapsing your body mostly in place


In ROBLOX Dodgeball the knockout blow goes through you, sending your limbs flying with the velocity of the ball. See the difference?

ROBLOX: What did we add since 2009 that made you want to update the experience?

alexnewtron: So many things–gosh, where do I start? All the new camera functions. Uploading sounds was a huge thing for me as well, allowing me to make each of the balls sound realistic. The Developer Exchange was hugely persuasive as well.

ROBLOX: Luke, has DevEx had a huge impact on your life as a ROBLOX developer?

stickmasterluke: [Laughs] I’m not allowed to use DevEx, unfortunately.

ROBLOX: Oh man, you’d probably make more money if you stopped working here.

ROBLOX: I know The Games Team put the wraps on all the ROBLOX Battle updates a few months ago–we covered it pretty extensively on the blog. I also know now you guys are working on the new Halloween level–any new capabilities getting you excited about creating new games?

stickmasterluke: I’m not the best at animating, so I’m really stoked about the new animation system coming out. People are going to create some amazing character movements, I know it. Can’t wait to see that.


ROBLOX: Speaking of animation–alexnewtron, I noticed when playing your game that the art work is extremely professional. The logos, the splash screen–it all looks great.

alexnewtron: Oh, I love a good user interface. I like creating art that is simple and original. When you join ROBLOX Dodgeball you get to select a team, each of which has a completely different image. I added full-size images, and dodged compression by having an invisible brick that loads all the decals in the level at once.

stickmasterluke: That’s smart! I heard rumors about trying something like this a long time ago, and that there was a way to do what you did using code. I never looked too far into it.

ROBLOX: Luke, where do you get your art?

stickmasterluke: I try really hard to be my own artist [laughs], I’m just pretty terrible at it. I do the best I can. I’ve found that going for really basic designs helps. I do make all of my own art though.


alexnewtron: I did all the team logos myself in Adobe Flash. It was all inspired by vector art, which I think is totally awesome. Simple designs and colors can really pop if you know what you’re doing. My friend made the thumbnails for the game, and I’m encouraging him to do the art for the badges you can earn. All the assets you see in the game are mine, fonts and everything.

ROBLOX: Alex, you’re number one on the Top Earning sort on the Games Page. That’s impressive. Any stats you’d like to share?

alexnewtron: It was really overwhelming when I launched the game. It didn’t even get to the front page the first day–it was a few pages down. But I had already made 100,000 ROBUX selling the different types of dodgeballs. It’s hard to determine how much I’ve actually earned, because pending sales are confusing. Some of them have been in the queue for over a week. I would estimate I’ve made about 200,000 ROBUX since I launched. I’ve made popular ROBLOX games before, but never really tried selling Game Passes and other supplemental items, which has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve heard rumors about consumable Game Passes in the future–I’m really excited by that prospect. I only noticed today that I was number one on the Top Earning sort.

ROBLOX: You and Luke have known each other for some time, right?

alexnewtron: Luke and I have known each other for the last two years–he helped me develop my dodgeball game! He worked on some of the MVP parts of it, and wrote some code. Luke is really good at math. He also helped me with the sounds that the dodgeballs make. He had recently published a beach ball gear item and I was like, “how did you make it sound like that?” He’s always around as a useful guide with suggestions and feedback, it’s great.


The first page of alexnewtron’s Audio inventory is quite revealing.

ROBLOX: [Laughs] I think users are going to want to know how to enlist the help of stickmasterluke. How’d you guys end up meeting?

stickmasterluke: To be honest, I just met Alex in a game. He was making cool stuff and we starting talking. Now we bounce ideas off one another about games we’re creating, or plan on making in the future.

ROBLOX: I was playing ROBLOX Battle today, and I noticed on the game profile there’s a link to YouTube for tutorials. I clicked it and the page was empty! What’s the deal there?

stickmasterluke: We’re in the process of uploading a bunch of tutorial videos about ROBLOX Battle. They were created by several members of the Games Team and should be up and running by the time this article hits the blog. I actually did one of the tutorials myself.

ROBLOX: Speaking of learning, how did you guys even get started on ROBLOX? If I’m a new builder, where should I start?

alexnewtron: Gosh, that’s a tough question. I mean, I personally just started messing around with existing scripts. It was fascinating to me to see how they react when you make even the most minor changes. This interest lead to properties, then functions, then variables. It all just kind of happened. I ran into a lot of griefers on ROBLOX and just sort of learned to avoid their negativity. Once I had the basics down, I started trying to recreate popular games to see how they were made. In 2009 I made the original ROBLOX Dodgeball and it went insanely viral, even though it was a really broken and glitch-ridden game. I decided to revamp ROBLOX Dodgeball two weeks ago, and really took a solid run at it. Because you guys made ROBLOX Battle open-source, I got to have a look at your camera library. It was so organized and polished. I used that as a baseplate and rewrote a bunch of lines to achieve my vision.


Source Code

ROBLOX: I believe the term is “loosely inspired.”

alexnewtron: [Laughs] Exactly.

ROBLOX: Luke, how’d you get started?

stickmasterluke: I started building games before I even knew what I was actually doing. In the early days, Build N’ Battle games were out there–but that was absolute madness. I got to thinking that in order to learn how to build and script I would need to do so in a less hostile environment. I started looking at free models and dissecting them–that’s when I really started to tinker. It starts as something as simple as changing the color of a gun. Then you start changing the color of the projectile. Then the velocity. It’s this logical progression that’s really intuitive.

ROBLOX: You both talk about scripting as a big part of the ROBLOX experience. ROBLOX Dodgeball has an extremely nuanced and detailed map. What contributes more to a great build? Great building or great scripting?

stickmasterluke: That depends entirely on the type of build you’re attempting. Aesthetics are extremely important when you’re making a game that people want to play, and Alex’s dodgeball game is a perfect example of that. Just look at the map. It’s beautiful.

alexnewtron: I should mention here that asimo3089 put that map together for me. He’s an extremely talented builder who has made some really wonderful ROBLOX creations. He built my Dodgeball map in a day, and it gave me a ton of inspiration to make the game as awesome as his map.

It's easy to forget about when the balls start flying, but the ROBLOX Dodgeball map is really beautiful and detailed.

It’s easy to forget about when the balls start flying, but the ROBLOX Dodgeball map is really beautiful and detailed.

stickmasterluke: Your game doesn’t have to be gorgeous to be successful, but it has to look decent. The environment has to be built in a way that the gameplay mechanics make sense immediately. There are all these pieces that have to be in place for a game to be successful. It’s got to be solid, across the board. It can’t look bad, but it doesn’t have to look great either! But it has to have interesting gameplay mechanics.

alexnewtron: It’s all about the aesthetic. You have to come up with one, be sure of it, then stick to it. If you’re lucky enough to have a great build, you owe it to yourself to match it with great gameplay. Write the cleanest code you can. It’s a mix and match, but one isn’t more important than the other.

ROBLOX: [Laughs] So basically you’re unwilling to compromise and need both? Balance is good, I suppose. Speaking to that effect, how do you balance luck versus skill in a game like dodgeball? That seems tricky.

stickmasterluke: Dodgeball is chaos, and with chaos comes a lot of luck. I would say ROBLOX Battle’s dodgeball is a 50/50 luck-to-skill ratio. The fact that you could hit at any time, from anywhere, means there’s a ton of luck involved. But I think that makes it fun for everybody, regardless of skill level.


I got so used to dodgeballs when writing this article that I started using them as weapons in other modes of ROBLOX Battle. Pwned!

alexnewtron: I totally agree, ROBLOX Dodgeball walks the line at 50/50. That isn’t to say this won’t be different in the future–I believe as your physics system continues to improve, we can lean that line towards skill. Laggy players throw extremely slow dodgeballs in my game, which throws off the skill factor a whole lot.

ROBLOX: So you want your game to lean more towards skill, you’re just technically limited at the moment?

alexnewtron: Absolutely. When I was developing ROBLOX Dodgeball and invited Luke to try it out, the first thing he said was, “Each round I just totally hope I don’t get hit.”

stickmasterluke: I didn’t feel like I had enough control over that. There was just too much chance.

ROBLOX: What features could we add that would help you make your games better?

alexnewtron: Tracking earnings. It’s extremely difficult to track how much ROBUX you’ve made in a day or a week. Also, I would love larger decal sizes–though I recognize this could be a burden for players and builders with slower machines. But man, HD graphics for decals would be amazing.

ROBLOX: Decals are a funny story. When we first started ROBLOX our minimum spec was a machine running 32 megabytes of graphics memory. We clamped our decals at 256 x 256 because we didn’t want to selectively unload decals that aren’t visible. Now that graphics hardware is way more capable, we should definitely think about raising those limits.

stickmasterluke: [Laughs] I totally cheat and use my admin powers to upload full-size images. But I totally agree with Alex, users should be able to upload full-size decals, with no compression. Even now you can see the limits of the clamp on the edges of tiles and things like that.

ROBLOX: We noticed that even in Alex’s game you can see some slight “tiling” because of the way we clamp the image sizes.

stickmasterluke: Exactly.

ROBLOX: Any fun tips in either of your games that people might want to know about?

alexnewtron: I don’t know if I want to share this. There’s a glitch in ROBLOX Dodgeball where if you hit the right buttons in the right order, you can fly. I don’t want to say how, because it’s a bug I don’t know how to fix [laughs].

He actually told us the glitch, but we're sworn to secrecy.

He actually told us the glitch, but we’re sworn to secrecy.

stickmasterluke: I mean, there’s not a lot of room in the dodgeball level to start with. Just always remember, if you really want to be good, shoot where your opponent is going to be, not directly at them. I’ve also found that if you’ve got the skill, bounce the balls off the walls behind your opponent. They don’t even see what hit them. It’s awesome.

I took Luke's advice about anticipating enemy location, then this happened for the first time.

I took Luke’s advice about anticipating enemy location, then this happened for the first time. Notice my favorite weapon? Aw yeah.

ROBLOX: How valuable is user feedback?

stickmasterluke: I love listening to what people have to say for ideas, or things I haven’t thought of. I design games exactly as I want them to be, for the most part, so I don’t typically need feedback on the core concept of the game. I need refinements.

ROBLOX: In our last Crossfire we talked to TheGamer101 and he told us that people suggest he adds guns to Sword Fighting Tournament.

alexnewtron: [Laughs] Yeah, I read that. Like Luke said, don’t compromise on your core concept. But feedback is great for suggestions. I read comments on my games all the time, and it’s usually really positive stuff. I also go in-game a lot and talk to people playing.

ROBLOX: Guys, this has been a blast. Thank you so much for talking with us.