InterviewMatt Finick of Roblox Corp.

  • May 22, 2012
  • A growing MMO community built one block at a time
  • by: Psychphan
  • available on: Browser

Roblox

Developer: Roblox Corp.
Publisher: Roblox Corp.

Release Date: 2006

ESRB: RP

Genre: MMO
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I admit I’m not on the uptake on massively multiplayer online games or why they’re so popular. They do fascinate me as a medium to play and interact with people. Here’s an opportunity for people to socialize, regardless of social skills, and have fun. Matt Finick of the Roblox Corp. was kind enough to talk to me about his company’s game, Roblox.

Roblox is essentially a multiplayer game that uses a realistic physics engine based on blocks. According to Finick, each player brings 1 million blocks to a game, and there are no in-game goals as the gameplay is completely self-directed. So if you want to re-create your favorite city, your home, favorite YouTuber, a game of capture the flag, an element of World War II or anything else you can imagine, it’s all there for you to fiddle with. In other words, it’s a gravity-based 3-D sandbox. This is actually the inspiration for the game back in 2007. Island2-1024x522

As such, the games are user-generated. Finick said that they (Roblox Corp.) use a “Darwinian selection” to the games available: those that are “good,” are at the top of the search list while those that are unknown or possibly “bad” are at the bottom. So if a player wants his game to gain popularity, the player needs to recruit friends and spread the word about his particular game.

Interestingly, the game is popular with boys ages 8 to 14 and makes up 85 percent of the player population. There are more than 8 million players with a slow growing female population as well. Content generated to draw in female players include fashion catwalks, apparel and a female avatar choice. That all happened about nine months ago. Pirateship-1024x509

The vision for Roblox is to keep increasing the scale of the game. They want players to have not 1 million blocks at their disposal, but 16 million. Furthermore, only 35 players are allowed to play once as of right now. The plan is to get 200 players together at once so they can create more complex creations.

This theme of expansion is also a theme for its goals. Besides expanding its community, they want to add different bricks, refine the physics and add elements (water and fire). Furthermore, they are currently working on a method for players to create more complex items, such as tractors and elevators. They are also working toward a manner for players to share and trade creations. Spaceship-1024x614

This idea came from its active community. In fact, the staff can be found interacting with its members on the forums (as of this writing, 30 moderators), Twitter page and staff blogs. They seem to try their best to listen and understand Roblox’s players wants and desires. Ultimately, they empower and engage their players so they can create a strong future together. Interestingly, two of their “power players” have become interns there. They’ve even gone so far as to hire one of their players, Luke Weber, on staff due to his knowledge of the game. Furthermore, they’ve done little advertising as most of their members visit the site due to word-of-mouth.

Overall, the concept behind Roblox intrigues me. As I reflect over what Matt Finick and I talked about, this seems like a game I can get behind. I like the themes of creativity, expansion and togetherness. For more information, visit the game’s website, www.roblox.com, Twitter account, www.twitter.com/roblox, and its blog, http://blog.roblox.com/. So ... anyone up for building a haunted Scottish Castle?

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About the Author, Evan Csir (A.K.A Psychphan)

Hi, my name is Evan. I’m an RPGaholic and hard core gamer. I graduated from college in 2007 with a BA in English (Gasp!) and psychology. I’ve been playing video games since the age of three. My first game, ever, was Super Mario Bros. So yeah, I’m pretty darn good at this video game stuff. And persistant. I like RPGs the best because I can look at it as literature. This is especially true for the Shin Megami Tensei games and The Digital Devil Saga. I enjoy horror games due to their psychological nature, like Silent Hill 3. I don’t like FPS or anything that relies too much on the first-person perspective; they make me dizzy and nauseous. Ironically, I love Metroid Prime and Half-Life 2. Hmm... Where’s Alanis Morissette when you need her? I really like it when games are creative and technically pull everything off. In this case, my favorite game is Ico. I loved it due to the presentation and the way the characters interacted with each other. Yorda and Ico didn’t speak the same language, so they had to rely on gestures and other forms of communication. I also occasionally enjoy bouts of Mario Kart: Double Dash and Smash Bros. Melee. Overall, I’m rather boring. I stay home, read my homework, occasionally write, fool around on the computer, eat, and sleep. Except for those days that I travel to school. I sometimes am inspired to write poetry (if you really want to read it, just ask). I play piano from time to time. And my favorite book genres are psychology books, occasionally poetry, and most of all, mysteries. And I’m “addicted” to herbal teas and Starbucks coffee.