How brands and creators are using Roblox’s new Materials tool to boost the realism of their virtual worlds

Roblox has overhauled its Materials feature, allowing creators to upload their own realistic block textures and exert greater control over the game physics of their virtual worlds. It’s the latest effort to improve the verisimilitude of Roblox’s proto-metaverse, and Roblox brands and developers have already started to look into it.

Roblox has been beta testing its new Material Tools for several months, but officially rolled out the update at the end of July. Users now have the ability to build with materials and textures that more accurately represent the physical world, including realistic brick, glass, and metal. For the first time, Roblox creators can also download fully custom textures for their experiences.

Brands such as cosmetics and skincare company NARS have already begun to take advantage of these increased visual details through activations such as its NARS Color Quest experience. “NARS is a brand with a distinct and iconic creative identity,” said Dina Fierro, NARS vice president of global digital innovation and strategy, in a written statement. “To authentically translate her style to Roblox, we developed a visually sophisticated beauty adventure experience deeply rooted in the brand’s history and creative landmarks.”

To ensure the activation accurately represents the brand’s visual aesthetic, NARS worked closely with Roblox development studio Supersocial to create the experience, providing reference images and color palettes that creators of Supersocial have translated them into makeup-inspired textures.

“A lot of the concept of NARS Color Quest was really about mimicking the gradients, the material, the surfaces of the makeup products themselves and really turning them into those global surfaces that you see in experiences,” the CEO said. by Supersocial, Yonatan Raz-Friman. “The material variants, the technology – that’s what really enabled us.”

Developers have long been able to use various hacks and workarounds to create more realistic textures and game physics inside Roblox, but the release of the revised Materials Tool opens up this detailed building type to creators of all days that form the bulk of Roblox. community. This is an example of Roblox taking note of the work done by independent developers and applying updates to make that work easier and more accessible.

“For us, it mainly opens up visual and aesthetic perspectives,” said Alex Balfanz, one of the creators of the popular Roblox Jailbreak experience. “But for a lot of players, I think it’s going to open up a lot of freedom in functionality and physics interactions.”

Ultimately, updates to make Roblox more realistic are needed if the platform is to maintain its leadership position in the metaverse.

Currently, Roblox has the largest and most active ecosystem of brand creators among early metaverse platforms, but Epic Games’ Fortnite Creative has been gaining traction over the past year. Epic’s biggest advantage is its ownership of Unreal Engine, the increasingly hyper-realistic game engine that some observers have described as a building block of the metaverse, and as brands have become familiar with Unreal, they have started claiming the same kinds of visuals in their Roblox experiences.

“A lot of people come with this preconceived idea of ​​game engines. They know what games are, but they don’t know what Roblox is,” said Patrick Mead, CTO of metaverse development studio Dubit. That’s why material changes, while not necessarily a critical time for us, are certainly a welcome thing because it allows us to start creating things that are more true to what customers want.”

Roblox can’t afford to stop here. As the metaverse takes shape, the company is constantly looking for new ways to make its virtual world more realistic. Roblox Product Manager Josh Anon’s blog post announcing the material updates ended with a paragraph of speculation about what those updates might look like – wooden objects should catch fire when are exposed to flames, and precipitation is expected to collect on the ground and seep into porous materials. Roblox developers want all of these features and more.

“Of course, Roblox would always have the ability to toggle these features on and off,” Balfanz said. “But for smaller creators to get them for free and enjoy them, that’s great.”

Back To Top