Please see my post below on the update. This update is currently on hold in favor of optionality and we will not be force updating as mentioned in the original post.
Over the past six months, we’ve been working to update the built-in materials we provide. We announced this last December and have been continuously releasing stand-alone Studio builds with the improved material library for you to try the past few months. Today, we’re excited to share a stand-alone release candidate build along with release information.
We also want to give you a peek behind the scenes on our process and tell you about the future of Roblox materials.
Let’s start with the future. Our long-term goal is to ensure that it’s easy for you to have the control you need to use materials in everything you build. We want you to use materials because the physical properties associated with them let us provide emergent behavior, such as how different friction per material affects object motion.
The two major things we need to do next to achieve this goal are:
- Expand the built-in material library to have a wider range of common materials. After this release, we’ll soon start continuously releasing new part and terrain materials.
- Provide a system for custom material variants, which will allow you to customize the look and properties of any of the materials in the library. We’re building this now, but don’t have release timing information to share today.
Before we can start delivering those features, we need to update the existing materials to be on par with the standards of fidelity we’re building the new materials with. We also need to update them in order to enable better use of the latest shading and lighting technologies on the platform. And finally, we took this opportunity to fix a range of smaller issues that were present in the existing materials.
In particular, the improved material library:
- Strives for a high level of fidelity with all the lighting and shading technologies Roblox provides, using real world examples to drive our direction.
- Unifies the appearance of similar parts and terrain materials, making them more compatible.
- Unifies the scale of the materials, so that they look more coherent when used next to each other.
- Authors for the most common uses for each material to maximize usefulness and uniqueness of each material.
- Improves blending between terrain materials.
We’ve looked through every piece of feedback you provided about the new materials (including Wood Reviewer’s extensive deep dive of our updated wood material). Thanks to your feedback over the past few months, we have finally arrived at the next generation of Roblox’s built-in materials. We think you’re going to build awesome stuff with them.
Creating the New Materials
To give you some insight into how we made decisions with each material, let’s talk about how we evolved wood. When we started, we looked for real world examples and created the following:
With this first attempt, we wanted to capture the richness of wood with the slight color variations you see in real life. In the first preview build, many of you had feedback around:
- The wood having too much color baked in, restricting your control.
- The wood was too dark, restricting your control and changing the look too much.
- The wood didn’t have “stud alignment” so parts wouldn’t fit together seamlessly.
- Plank arrangement wasn’t regular and didn’t match up with (implied) floor joist location.
- The obvious nails should be aligned to the floor joists, or we should remove them.
Based on your examples and discussion, we specifically addressed the first three points by:
- Removing most of the color, giving you back control.
- Brightening up the default wood to match the previous wood value.
- Making sure the planks were stud aligned, making building easier.
We debated the last two a lot and experimented internally with how different changes looked, and we decided:
- We would keep the staggered plank layout, as it looked more natural than a regular pattern. We felt the material would be more versatile this way and would maintain the same organic look the original had.
- We would keep the nails as it adds to the realism of the wood, but we would make them less obvious. We’d also keep them unaligned as it looked unnatural when the nails were all the same size and space.
Here’s the final version of the new and improved wood material!
Now let’s talk about release plans. After a lot of discussion and careful consideration, we have decided that we are going to completely replace the old materials with the improved ones. The stand-alone build is intended to help you prepare for the migration by providing a way for you to see your places with the new materials and upgrade existing assets if needed before the new materials go live.
We intend to roll the materials out next month, starting first with Studio and Windows clients. There will be a roughly week-long temporary period when experiences look different in Studio/Windows than other platforms, and then we will upgrade all platforms. While the clients are in this temporary state, we will set up Studio to temporarily have both sets of materials, with a beta feature (Improved Materials) to toggle between them. Once we confirm a successful roll out, we will remove the temporary beta feature. And then finally, we will release the new materials to bring parity between part/terrain materials.
We know that this choice means that some of you will have to modify your content to maintain your desired aesthetic, but after considering the implications, we concluded that supporting the old set of materials behind a setting is not viable. For example, authoring marketplace content that looks and acts as intended in a world with two sets of materials is much more challenging. Application download times would also be significantly increased, especially as we expand the material library. From your feedback, we did decide to make the beta switch available in Studio to allow a smoother transition while different platforms temporarily see different materials—but that switch isn’t a robust, long-term solution that we could ship to our players.
Finally, we want to say thank you again to all of you who took the time to try the special builds and provide feedback. It’s because of you that these materials have evolved to best fit your needs.