Roblox isn’t what I expected. On first inspection, its polygons and primitive textures provide an impression of Minecraft meets Lego — but Roblox is. This is not a game, it’s a platform; and its elements more closelyresemble “Steam meets Unity” than some variant on the creative games currently sweeping the industry.
What is ROBLOX
In actuality, Roblox has been ushering in the era of user-generated content for much longer than Mojang’s cube builder. Since 2006 it’s been growing and evolving, now boasting an enormous consumer base of 30 million unique monthly users.
That would be a staggering achievement for many online services; World of Warcraft has existed fractionally longer, but has experienced consistent decline recently. Roblox isn’t declining, it is going from strength to strength.
So comes the inevitable question: what on earth is it? Fire up the online client of Roblox and a legion of gambling experiences open up before you. First-person shooters, murder mysteries, platformers, as well as some games that defy generic convention. The huge majority, if not all these are user-generated, or produced by small studios dedicated to the stage — a bewildering 15 million of them to be exact.
Power of the ROBLOX
Each and every one is hosted at the cloud from the Roblox game engine, and listed on the shop for the community to sample and enjoy. It’s an enormous library of creativity that is free to eat, and also free to contribute to.
Deciding which of the smorgasbord to devour first is intimidating. It seemed pertinent for me to choose some of the platform’s most popular titles as an introduction into what makes Roblox unique.
My first selection from the vast menu has been “Assassin!” , a game that has been favourited by 192,000 users. Small groups of players are each assigned a target (another player) to assassinate. By successfully dispatching their prey, players then inherit their victim’s target, etc, until there’s only 1 person standing. It’s a perfect illustration of what Roblox has to offer: not pretty, far from responsive, and game-lite — but also compelling, and totally free.
Hopping around, madly waving a knife in a person who, due to the platform’s inherent latency, often proves a tricky target, was occasionally frustrating. However, I immediately found myself looking around and thinking about how pleasant the game’s minimalist design actually was, and that somebody in the community — rather than in all likelihood a expert programmer — had put it together.
There are scores of similar experiences to be had on Roblox. Speed Run 4 is a simple platformer where the participant runs ahead and jumps over a series of obstacles, in a kind of no-frills Mirror’s Edge. In Prison Life, players occupy the role of inmates and guards within the boundaries of a prison. It’s a kind of emergent simulator where everyone is invited to get into this spirit of things: in this case, guards offering inmates the occasional beating while inmates discover the bounds mischief.