I’ve been getting a quite a few requests lately to either be part of a team as a builder or to teach someone how to build quality models so I finally got around to writing a Tips and Tricks Guide for Builders. This guide is aimed at budding builders and aims to explain some of the basics of commonly asked questions and things that people need help building.
Tips and Tricks Guide for Builders
Building for Hire
(I don’t have any yet)
I know that sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated when building so here are a few tips to help you stay motivated.
First and foremost, when picking a model to build for fun (or a project) it is very important that you choose something that you enjoy a lot so that it doesn’t fell like something you have to do but more like something that you are really excited about doing.
If you find yourself getting bored after working on something for a while it might be a good idea to work on a different part or your project for a bit of variety. Just make sure that you don’t stay away too long and forget to come back and finish your task.
If you find that there is this one little thing part of a model or project that you just really don’t want to do, it’s a good idea to just sit down, focus on that one thing, and get it out of the way so that you can move on to more enjoyable parts of your project. And as an added benefit you might learn something new that will help you the next time you have a similar situation.
Building for Hire
When looking for a job as a builder or any job for that matter, it is very important that you are able to show how good you are at a particular task. This is called your portfolio. Practically, a portfolio is a collection of some of your best work to show your prospective employer what you are able to do. For a builder, this would be quality maps and models that you have built that demonstrate that you are capable of creating what they want. It also isn’t a bad thing to have a bit of scripting experience.
One thing the keep in mind when testing models (your own or free models) is the type of physics solver that your game is using. You can find what solver you are using by checking the Properties of the Workspace. There is a bool value (true, false) that is labeled PSGPhysicsSolverEnabled and this is the newer physics solver. By default, this value is true when you create a new place but it will most likely be false for older places. The reason you want to know what you are using is because BodyForces and objects that use physics react differently with the new and old physics. So if you have a model that uses physics (e.g. vehicles, floating pads, etc.) it will probably be customized for either the new or old solver so you may have to change your solver for your models to work better or you can try and update them to work with the solver you want to use.
For those of you who are curious about the quirks of the different solvers there are a couple of big differences. One main one is BodyForces and objects like that. These forces require force and the amount of force required is different depending on the solver, thus the reason a lot of models work better with a specific solver. The other big difference is with hinges. In the old solver hinges were not as ridged and could be used somewhat like really firm springs in some cases. In the newer solver hinges are very ridged and will not tolerate parts being inside of other parts.
When building detailed models or just building in general it can be very useful for parts to ignore when they collide with each other. When using the ribbon bar you can easily toggle collisions on and off by going to the “Home” tab and just to the right of your rotate tool is a button that will enable and disable collisions.
When you need to insert an object (e.g. a PointLight) into something (e.g. a part) an easy way to do this is to select the part in either the workspace or the explorer > right click on it > go down the popup menu until you get to “Insert Object” > and then select what you would like to insert from the popup menu that comes up.
The command bar is not to be overlooked by a builder as a useless tool. It is actually very powerful and can be especially useful to the builder to insert specific items (e.g. roblox hats, gear, etc.) into the Workspace. This line of code is very useful for getting items especially for their unique mesh id’s:
game:GetService(“InsertService”):LoadAsset(paste item id number here):GetChildren().Parent = workspace
When working with solid modeling it is often best to work on a 1 stud grid and scale down the completed union if necessary, this is especially true when designing small, detailed parts. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a block the size of the part you would like to union and then scale it up by 10x to allow ease of modeling. For example if you were to create a small keyhole in a part that was (0.4,0.6,0.4) studs in size it would be easier to make by scaling the part to (4,6,4) studs, modeling the keyhole, and then scaling the part back down.
The reason this method works better than trying to model using 1/5th stud is because 1/5th stud is not exactly 1/5th and because of that, when you move a part on that scale it causes the part to be ever so slightly off of the position that it displays. You can’t see that it’s not exact but the solid modeling algorithm does and it doesn’t do very well when it has to solve that and often it is unable to union the parts together.
Another great tip has to do with cylinders. When working with solid modeling it is inevitable that you will use cylinders at one time or another. If you haven’t worked a lot in studio you will find that there are two ways of creating a cylinder. You can either set the shape of a part to be a cylinder or you can insert a cylinder mesh into that part. When working with solid modeling, unless you need a really really small cylindrical hole, it is best to set the shape of a part to be a cylinder because I have found that the solid modeling algorithm works a LOT better when using that method. I don’t know why, but it does.
One awesome about unions is that fact that you can select their type of collision box. If you select a union you can change it’s hitbox in its properties. By default the collision box is as precise as possible, However this is resource intensive especially when you have a lot of unions. However, in the unions properties you can easily change the hitbox to either a hull (the general shape of the object), or a box which is a lot less resource intensive and is the perfect option for purely aesthetic unions.
Most of the time, you won’t have to use meshes, but there are some instances where they can be extremely useful to you.
Special meshes allow you to put awesome meshes into your game (e.g. your character’s hats or gear) See Inserting Objects for how to insert specific meshes.
Cylinder meshes are useful for turning blocks into cylinders. Note that when stretched sideways they will not stretch into ovals but will be a cylinder as large in diameter as the parts smallest diameter along the X and Z axis.
Block meshes main use is to create very thin blocks. See next paragraph for mesh scaling.
The main advantage of a mesh is its scale. If you select the mesh in your explorer you can set it’s scale which can allow you to stretch the mesh’s size to larger, smaller, shorter, taller, and/or wider that what it was originally. This can allow you to create parts that are smaller or much thinner than they really are which is useful for more detailed building.
One of my favorite uses of math in building is a the Pythagorean Theorem triangle. Simply put, if one leg (side) of the triangle is a multiple of three, and the other leg (side) is a multiple of four, then the hypotenuse (the long side) will always be a multiple of five. This is really awesome because it means that if you create on of these triangles you can perfectly fit a part across the hypotenuse. Let me give an example: You have a triangle that’s size is (1,3,4) or (1,4,3) you will be able to take a part that is five studs long and it will fit perfectly along the slope. This allows the creation of perfect corners and is especially useful when making hexagons that do not have to be exact.
Smooth terrain can be intimidating to new people, especially with the number of tools available, but it doesn’t have to be. These are a few tricks I’ve learned through experience to help improve your smooth terrain skills and some basic explanations of commonly used tools.
The Generate tool allows you to quickly and easily generate a random chunk of terrain with some predefined biomes that you can choose to generate. This is really useful for quickly creating some terrain to test one of your models on.
The Add and Subtract tools allow you to quickly add or subtract large chunks of terrain. I find this very useful for creating high rock walls around the edge of maps to keep players from escaping as well as blocking in the general shape of the landscape.
Touchup is very important when hand-crafting terrain and the Paint tool allows you to easily ouch up the terrain material in a specific location. This makes it easy to turn the side of a large hill into a rock face and then you can use the small paint size to touch up the edges to make it look more natural.
Once you have the general shape of your landscape laid out the Grow and Subtract tools are very useful for refining it. The Grow tool lets you do just what it says, grow some terrain so you can easily make mounds and hills. The Subtract tool does just the opposite and is useful for hollowing out gullies and streams.
The Smooth tool works to smooth out terrain but I found a better way to do it. If you set the diameter of your grow tool to be very large and set the strength to very low it will grow a very thin and smooth layer of terrain that looks a lot better than what the smoothing tool creates. If the smoothed area is too high you can use the Subtract tool with low strength to erode just a little bit of the terrain to bring it to the correct height.
Finally, the Regions tool allows you to copy sections of your terrain to be reused in other parts of your map.
One tip for making two types of terrain flow into each other is to use the grow tool. If you set the strength to be very low you can easily mesh them together since it will make the terrain kind of dotted before it starts to make a lump.
For realistic building, I would suggest that you start by using a 1 stud grid for your main structures (e.g. house frames) and then use 1/5th stud grid for the more detailed work (e.g. the furniture or appliances in your house).
Another great tip that I use is to build my models with evenly numbered side lengths that are based on multiples of 4,8,16,32,64,126, etc. The even numbered side lengths allows for rotation of the model while still maintaining alignment with a 1 stud grid. Also, once you get used to those multiples it makes it easier to build a lot of models that are sized to easily work together.
Before you can make a destructible model you will need some way of welding parts together (I would suggest using the welder plugin by DermonDarble who is a very reliable source).
To make something destructible but stay in one place until it is destroyed I create a part that I use as the base part for the model. This base part can be anywhere in the model and I make it invisible and CanCollide equal to False but I leave it Anchored so it won’t move. Then I weld all the parts together while they are still anchored and then I un-anchor all the parts except for the base part. Viola! You should now have yourself a destructible model