Roblox, the popular platform for users to create their own games, is adding virtual reality support for its PC application today, April 15. The app, available on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox One, boasts 20 million monthly visitors across all platforms with 300,000 users creating new content every month. The VR launch today supports the Oculus Rift only, with plans to add support for multiple VR headsets sometime in the future.
Roblox demoed a few games for me that showed off the potential of virtual reality, such as Bird Simulator, Club Sanity (a social disco hall), Survive the Disasters, Hang Glider, and Super Blocky Ball. I also spoke with David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, about how virtual reality changes how games on Roblox are created and played.
Examiner: How much of a challenge was incorporating VR into Roblox?
Baszucki: It hasn’t been that big of a technical challenge. It has gone a lot more quickly than we ever imagined and part of the reason is the core Roblox app already runs and builds on all of those platforms. We’ve spent most of our time focusing on best of class character control and best of class avatar control, so these 3D immersive experiences feel really natural in virtual reality.
How can users enable VR for their creations?
All Roblox places will be VR enabled out of the box, essentially making Roblox the largest social VR destination the second we ship that. It goes hand in hand with our design philosophy that you build once, and if you’re a Roblox creator you create a 3D immersive environment, push it to our Roblox Cloud, and then that virtual environment can be accessed anywhere: phone, tablet, computer, or virtual reality all together. So if I’m a Roblox developer, the content that I create is already VR enabled. When we launch on April 15 with Roblox VR, we will be able to join all of those other players in one environment.
Since VR is default for all creations, can creators disable VR from their levels?
Very consistent with our design philosophy of “by default enabling all platforms,” if you start using Roblox Studio to create an initial 3D experience, even if it something very simple where you and your friends might just explore an island with a pirate ship and a few zombies, when you push that to our cloud by default you can play it on any device together. We allow you to tailor an experience to be virtual reality only, Xbox One only, or mobile only if you really want to, but the general vision is people are going to want to play an immersive 3D experience from multiple devices and by default whatever you create will run on all of them.
How many creations will be supported when VR support launches on April 15?
The number of titles that will be live on Roblox when we ship VR is essentially the number of live titles on Roblox right now, which is well over 10 million.
Will Roblox be providing help to creators on tweaking VR settings in their creations or is it up to them to figure it out?
We’re doing both. We’re doing a lot of work with the native camera and character control to provide a character control that has less acceleration and less potential for discomfort in VR, so we’re doing that on the Roblox side. We also have a developer relations program that’s working right now with a lot of top Roblox developers to help them tune their creations to VR, just like we worked with them when we launched on Xbox One a month and a half ago.
Will players have their own VR settings to change in a creation if it becomes too sickening or disorienting for them?
We think comfort is really important. The primary setting will be first or third person which can offer different levels of comfort to different players. In addition to those things, we’re looking into providing a comfort rating for our games on Roblox so depending on how much acceleration and movement you have, you can see games that are more or less comfortable based on your desire. Also, we’re giving developers the opportunity to freely explore new types of control schemes that we can see all around us today in the market being explored to optimize comfort. That includes teleporting, snap to look, and other types of movement to reduce acceleration and increase comfort.
Any closing thoughts on VR?
My final takeaway is that the VR life cycle is very new and over time our thesis is that content and social interaction will ultimately be the big drivers and the future of VR as we get used to headsets that perform and are lag-free. The real future for us and all of VR is content and social.