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Hack Week 2016: Part III

February 07, 2017

by Roblox

Product & Tech

Hack Week is an opportunity for all Roblox employees to work on any idea they want. Some of the most innovative Roblox features have been created out of this unique experience. This year has produced many more visionary technologies that we hope to see realized soon.

If you haven’t read our previous Hack Week 2016 blog posts, be sure to check out part 1 and part 2!

Prototype Lava Material by rbadam

At Roblox, we’re always working to provide the community more awesome options for building immersive worlds and experiences. Our smooth terrain technology is a great asset for builders, and we’ve added a lot of interesting materials to the smooth terrain system since its release.

For my Hack Week project, I wanted to heat things up a little by exploring a lava material that looks and behaves authentically. You gotta see it in action. Check out the demonstration video below, which starts off showing some existing Roblox lava alternatives before getting to the new prototype.

If you look closely, you can see smoke plumes and glowing particles rising from the lava that evoke the feeling of heat. It also has a viscous quality that captures the idea of lava flowing and moving around. Not something you want to step in! I hope to continue improving these effects, and one day ship this as an official smooth terrain material.

Studio Context Tools by DreamingMind

When it comes to Studio, we want to make sure that every builder or developer’s experience is not only meaningful, but efficient and user-friendly as well. When we talk about things like usability, you may have heard questions like, “How many clicks does it take to perform this action?” or “How far does the user need to move their mouse or their eyes to see something?” In Studio, for example, if I want to move parts around or scale a certain object, I need to move my cursor all the way to the top of the screen to access my tools. On the other hand, if you’re the ultimate keyboard master and can easily hit all the key bindings and shortcuts in Studio without looking down… I envy you, because I can’t. So, I thought…why don’t we bring the tools closer to the object you’re working on?

For Hack Week, I wanted to devise a better, more accessible method to quickly switch between all the tools that are available to you. From the video above, I can now easily select all the tools that I need from a radial menu that’s displayed around the object. This menu only displays the tools that are relevant to me in that specific context. In addition, the context tool menu automatically scales depending on where the camera is in relation to the object. Developers could also change the attributes—such as color and materials—of multiple highlighted objects by using the context menu.

Ultimately, context tools can help developers and builders save more time by clarifying how they can manipulate the objects. It’s also a great way to let them become more engaged in the building process.

Team Script Editing in Team Create by TheGamer101

When Roblox shipped Team Create back in April, we envisioned an experience that would enable creators to develop and test games together in one environment just like how Google Docs allows you to edit documents with other people at the same time. Friends would be able to work on projects simultaneously, or even chat together, while they built entire experiences from the ground up. Today, Team Create is a great way to accomplish all of these tasks.

The only problem, however, is that our current system does not allow developers to edit scripts if they’re locked by someone else. For Hack Week, I wanted to come up with a way to change that. So, I looked back to our philosophy of Google Docs-style editing and thought it would be cool to invent a way to allow developers to edit scripts together.

This would allow someone to work on a certain function, while another could be editing something else further down the script, for example. Let me know what you think!

As a reminder, Hack Week projects are just demonstrations and are not guaranteed to roll out officially as Roblox features. Still, we hope that they do, and we love to hear which creations you want the most! Now, let’s see what a few members of the Roblox team have been working on!

Do you like what you see here? Let us know! We’ll be looking forward to your feedback on the forums and on social media as we get ready to publish the final post in our Hack Week 2016 series. Stay tuned for more!