Server List Update

Hello Developers,

Today we released an update that altered how server lists are displayed on the games page. We know many of you have questions and concerns about this update so we wanted to address them here. Starting today users will only see servers that their friends are currently playing in. Developers will still be able to see their games’ servers.

The primary reason behind this change is to prevent bots from scraping server lists and spamming users with friend requests and PMs, and also for scalability concerns since it takes a lot of engineering resources to generate these server lists. We have also removed the endpoint that allows users to see this list at all.

While only a very small portion of game joins originate from the server list, we know that power users like the developers on this forum use the server list in a variety of other ways. This includes organizing clan events, moderating individual game communities and other functions that we are looking at supporting.

Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or other feedback. Please keep it civil – we would really like to discuss with everyone and accommodate the valid use cases brought up in this forum.

Best,
Caelestene.

FAQ:

Why not use captcha?
In the past, bots have found ways to get past captcha, and we found that captcha hurt the overall user experience. This also still doesn’t solve the scalability issue of the server list.

What about group games?
We have shipped an update to give users with the canManageGroupGames permission to view the server list.

I use the server list to find a empty / full server. How can I do this now?
We are working to empower developers by providing more matchmaking tools so they can make these choices themselves.

I used the server list to do (insert action), how do I accomplish (insert action) now?
Please post below or message me directly about this. We’ll add it to the list of functionality to consider.

67 Likes
  1. This may seem odd, but I sometimes used the server list to purposely not play with friends in Jailbreak, simply because they were just way too powerful compared to me.
  2. If I know a server failed, oh say a bug happened in the round loop, I would find a server I wasn’t in to join, and hope for the best. That or to escape exploiters or toxic players.
  3. If I wanted to play in a near full server to socialize, I could pick a server and hope it didn’t get full. If I wanted a near empty server, maybe because of competition, I could do that as well.
    Edit: 4. Joining a server that doesn’t have a full/overpowered team (ex: I just waited about 10 minutes for a police spot to open in Jailbreak, and there was no other server I could join).

This is one interesting approach to cut down on bots, malicious and “you are awesome, join our group” bots. Can’t say I am a fan of it though.

57 Likes

While I understand this isn’t a valid argument against it, I’ve seen people freak out hardcore today over this update. It might have helped if this information was made available before 6:45 at night…

That being said, is this really the best way to go about this? Automatic detection of spam and bots might be a better solution to look into (although I’m sure you guys have looked into it already). This feels like cutting off a symptom, yet again, instead of curing the disease.

26 Likes

The “yet again” part is a pretty good way to sum up this bot problem. They did message spam, comment spam, group wall spam, and now friend request spam. The next probable place, if they haven’t done it already, is probably the forum, or even getting player lists from other sources (such as forum posts, [ removed ]).

Edit: Gone ahead and removed the sources of usernames I haven’t seen used. Forum posts are in fact used for trade bots.

8 Likes

Is there any sort of time frame for this update?
Currently I have a place holder account owning a group with a developers rank in it, all developers have access to edit the game but currently none can see any servers.

This alleviates most of my concerns personally, please do this in some form.

4 Likes

Hi there,
I have a case where the game I’m a developer for is not a group game, but owned by another person - I used the server list to find popular servers to join and let players get a “Meet a developer” badge - which wasn’t neccessarily the server where people on my friend list were in.

8 Likes

Add a button to join a random server (Not join a friend), and i think most people i’ve talked to will be happy.

15 Likes

We may look into a setting you can opt into for not playing with friends. That way you can get into a random server without your friends. We may also look into a way to get into a more or less populated server.

17 Likes

It will be our next priority. Don’t want to promise anything, but we will try to get it out soon!

9 Likes
  • I desperately need a way to give my moderators access to the entire server list so they can, you know, actually do their jobs, but I don’t utilize group games. My games are significantly less safe now than they were before because of this.

  • The game’s page needs to make it clear that there are still people playing the game even when my friends aren’t there.


    If I see this screen, my brain is going to go into autopilot and assume that the game is actually empty.

EDIT: or just go with Echo’s idea because making reactive fixes to these kinds of changes is getting really, really old


I really wish we were told about this change ahead of time so we could work through these inevitable problems before the change was actually made, it would’ve saved everyone the panic of trying to work around the removal of such a core feature.

50 Likes

Hi @Caelestene,

Thank you for making this thread. I will keep this as constructive as possible, as I don’t take staff outreach for granted – you didn’t have to do this. Summed up, I have a suggestion for improvement, and believe change is necessary because while the current change satisfies are large percentage of users, it does not satisfy a large percentage of user types.

##Why this change needs improvement:

By purely looking at % of users, we’ve diminished the value of the statistic. One piece of valuable information we’ve neglected to pay attention to is the types of users this change affects. The largest type – the largest percentage – of players is the standard kind that plays games and little else. A number of other major types (dwarfed only because of the sheer size of ROBLOX’s playerbase) have been neglected.

####Power Users:
While small in percentage, power users are a major driving factor for ROBLOX. To put this into perspective, the subset of these users that have front page games is even smaller, yet both of us would laugh at anyone who insisted that their numbers were so small that they didn’t matter. Power users are the current front page game developers, upcoming developers, and users who have enough brand loyalty that they’ve stuck around long enough to become power users – this group, while small in comparison to ROBLOX’s overwhelming playerbase, is responsible for attracting revenue from the largest group of players and providing a veteran community that can help teach new users.

This update is problematic for power users because this group of users has complex needs and may need to take advantage of more features to meet those needs. For instance, a power user may opt to play a building game with more people instead of a smaller server that’s closer to their region, as socialization is more important than ping for this genre. A power user may also decide to join a smaller server at the end of the list to ensure they join a new version of the game instead of an older, more-broken version that hasn’t phased out yet. Perhaps the most important of all is joining a game an acquaintance or friend of a friend is playing. I’m not friends with everyone in the Discord servers I’m in, but if they say “Anyone want to play X?”, I may decide to join in, and if they have their follow settings set to friends-only, I need to find them in the server list.

####Users in small, but dedicated, communities:
There are some niches that aren’t too large, but the users who do like that niche are amazingly passionate. As such, while the games they play may not amount to a large percentage of players, these games are still heavily utilized.

This update is problematic for small, dedicated communities because of the small amount of servers they have. For instance, if I play Survival 303 and land in a server with a toxic user who is ruining the experience for me, I’d want to join another server. If there are only two servers, and no one is my friend in the other server, I have to rely on matchmaking and a 50% chance of not landing in the same server again. This is even worse if one of my friends is in the toxic server, as ROBLOX will force me into that server to play with my friend.

####Users in groups:
I’m not sure how large the group community is, but I would imagine it would have to be pretty big. In addition to that, users in groups have very strong ties to their community and by extent to ROBLOX. To add onto that, half of the ads I see are for groups, so they have to be a large revenue source. This user type is probably almost as impactful as power users.

I believe the concerns for this group are known because of your comment on adding a permission, but this still does not alleviate all the needs of groups. Something @Polymorphic forgot was that it’s not only group members who use group places – in country, war, and miscellaneous roleplay groups, there is usually some form of allies/enemies (so much so that groups officially support these). These groups’ members may not be in the owning group and will not have permissions to view servers.

####All users:
I’m unsure if this would make an impact on the PM botting problem even. If I were a botter, I’d have my legion of bots friend as many people as possible, so if I had a meager 1000 friends (which is very small in comparision to ROBLOX’s total playerbase) across these bot accounts, I could PM bot 1000 servers. The bots would likely target users on the forums, groups, and the users in their friends lists to still have plenty of people to PM bot and plenty of people to send friend requests to in order to grow their contact network like that “Shared with Google Drive” worm that started off small and then went on to affect people worldwide by recursively sending itself to its victims’ contacts.

##How this change could be improved:
I think there are better ways of approaching this issue. Individually patching the issues with per-game permissions and an option to join a game without a friend aren’t a good approach because you’re just duct-taping hole after hole at that point on a sinking ship. The feature’s core should be designed well enough that multiple use cases don’t need to be patched in.

As I posted here, ROBLOX could serve the list of servers without account PII. It would provide a rbxcdn headshot without username/userId, which couldn’t be traced back to the user, as well as the complete list of servers so the existing benefits of the server list are preserved. The only existing functionality we’d lose is mouseover names (though would still be able to identify acquaintances), but this could be remedied by allowing mouseovers on servers friends are in and highlighting their portaits with green so it’s obvious why mouseover works on some but not others, in addition to providing nice functionality. This only requires a single change to the core of the approach, instead of multiple reactive fixes. Even if there are some problems with this (e.g. would use up to many web requests to find users’ friends), this core idea should go to show that it’s reasonably possible to design a better solution.

111 Likes

Would it be possible to show the images of the players in the servers still but without giving people the ability to see or click on their names?

This allows for nearly everything the old version had except you now cannot click on random players to see their accounts, which no one really did besides maybe at Trade Hangout.

Looking at games now just looks so empty.

21 Likes

The simplest middle ground I think is just to not include username/userid in the data, and only show the avatar icons. Bots won’t be able to do anything with that information, and usually nobody really cares who specifically is playing in each server. If they do care then they can probably recognize their avatar anyway.

33 Likes

I would use servers a lot whenever I wanted to play a game that requires a lot of people in it, like apoc or phantom forces or other team based games for ex.

The other reason why we removed the list is because our matchmaking tries to optimise your gaming experience by choosing the best server for you e.g. closest server / lowest ping. The risk with selecting a random server from the list is that the random server may have high ping, and we won’t be able to provide a good gameplay experience. If there are any issues with selecting a good server, I think we should improve our overall matchmaking. I’ll add this into the FAQ!

In terms of a solution, I’m thinking we could try to provide a way for users to choose a smaller or larger server.

3 Likes

Not a good reason. Just show ping on the server list if you are concerned about this and let the user decide like every other game with servers. It’s standard, people will know what to do.

34 Likes

How many individual patches for all the various use cases are we going to develop? You’re already at 3 (picking larger/smaller, avoiding friends, group permissions) and can only go up from there. I would imagine it would be more appropriate to change the core design (as suggested in post #13) so it addresses all/most of the issues and requires minimal changes (makes the website less complicated for its target audience, and less work for the web team).

23 Likes

Hello everyone,

Our main goal is to provide all users with an overall better experience when playing Roblox games. We understand there are multiple ways to continue on expanding these options and in order to do this, we have decided to create this thread to open a discussion with all of our developers to see how we can benefit everyone in our community when we release future updates. Please make sure to keep it civil and keep your posts professional since this thread has been moved to the public section of the Developer Forum.

Thank you,
Developer Relations Team

2 Likes