Roblox Updating Its Potato Graphics To Look Mildly More Realistic

·2-min read
Roblox promotional art shows rip-off Lego posing for the graphical upgrade.
Roblox promotional art shows rip-off Lego posing for the graphical upgrade.

Roblox is one of the most popular games in the world, and now it’s getting a graphical overhaul to bring its fidelity slightly more in line with its reach. It’s not quite gaming in ray-traced 4K, but it will no doubt go a long way toward helping the surprisingly shady, social “not-a game” platform insinuate itself into the lives of yet more minors.

“With this release, we’ve enhanced the visual quality of our entire existing library of materials, which includes brick, glass, metal, and many other common materials, to make them look and feel even more realistic than before,” the Roblox Company wrote on its blog this week. The material upgrades will be the new defaults going forward, and while creators can upgrade their existing games to use them, they’ll also have the option to stick with the older stuff.

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Notably, Roblox’s building materials combine aesthetics with physical properties. Rubber has high friction. Combine it with a piece of concrete and you’ll create the kind of effect you’d expect from a car trying to grip the road. It’s supposed to be simple and intuitive. Now it’ll also default to being a little prettier. Roblox used the following comparison shot to show improvements in detail and shading:

A comparison screenshot shows a less-detailed version of a castle gate on the left and a better-looking version on the right.
A comparison screenshot shows a less-detailed version of a castle gate on the left and a better-looking version on the right.

The modest graphical upgrade is part of the company’s long-term plan to make itself a more appealing platform to create and play on. It summed up its broader philosophy on amateur game design at the end of the blog:

An object made out of wood should catch on fire when it’s exposed to a flame. Rainfall should pool on the ground and gradually seep into porous materials like dirt. Sounds should be muffled when passing through walls. These are the types of things we will enable by default so creators can focus on building engaging experiences rather than worrying about the nitty-gritty technical complexities.

Despite these rosy ambitions, the company’s revenue and stock value have dropped by double digits this year. The platform’s image also continues to take hits. Recent reports have pointed to lapses in content moderation and allegations of an exploitative business model. Earlier this week a chat moderation exploit led to the accidental banning of a bunch of accounts. Meanwhile, one user’s data was reportedly leaked online after a failed extortion attempt.

Still, Roblox marches on. It recently reached nearly 55 million daily active users, and a year after its $45 billion initial public offering, CEO David Baszucki hit a then-$233 million jackpot in long-term stock bonuses.

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