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If you’ve ever wondered about inspiring sci-fi tech in real life, look no further than Roblox. Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki and CTO Dan Sturman today kicked off an official Tech Talk podcast with a discussion of the rise of the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, as in novels such as Snow accident and Loan Player One.
Sturman recalled how he interviewed for his job many years ago and discovered Roblox’s long-term vision, which has always been to create a metaverse for kids. Today, in April alone, Roblox had 43.3 million users, up 37% from the previous year. Those kinds of numbers got Roblox going public in March worth $ 41.9 billion. Over 1.25 million creators have made money making games on Roblox, and players have played the best games billions of times. Arguably, alongside Epic Games, Roblox is the main contender to build the Metaverse.
“We had this vision of the metaverse in the 2000s, when we made our first business plan,” Baszucki said in the podcast. “This new category had elements of social immersion and 3D from games and media, and we think more and more of these principles of a metaverse: persistence, identity, avatar, shared cloud fabric, universal accessibility, fast jump from one place to another. , and an incredible variety of experiences.
While Roblox doesn’t create games itself, it does create the platform and tools that allow players to create their own games, all within the confines of Roblox’s virtual blocky world. This technical work is a huge burden, said Sturman.
The technology of the future
“[We have] a game engine, c ++, lots of graphics experience and lots of back-end applications – the majority of our engineers are probably working on back-end systems, ”Sturman said. “Whether you’re trying to build the platform software, the translation app, or the content management app, what works best at Roblox is when people come in because of technical challenges, and not because you want to specialize in a specific technology. Much of what we do here is quite personalized to us due to the uniqueness of the issues. “
Sturman said that ultimately the way the company could take its platform to the highest level is to jointly design hardware and software. This might scare the console and phone makers a bit.
“As we think about how we massively scale out the game engine, it’s really going to end up being a hardware-to-software code design,” Sturman said. “And the accessibility of custom hardware has exploded across the industry, and I expect us to take full advantage of those trends and use those trends. But to do it in a way where we think of this vertical design of the whole game engine.
But Sturman also highlighted the challenge of digital security and using sentiment analysis and AI to monitor it.
“There’s more and more work on what security looks like … with sentiment analysis, sentiment analysis and AI,” he said. “But not many people put it all together and say, ‘We’ve got 100 milliseconds to make a good decision about what you’re saying right now before we make you beep or something. “I think this is an example of where things are Roblox uniquely and particularly exciting, and I am very confident that we are going to address these issues in truly revolutionary ways.
About the creators
Baszucki said it was clear from the start that Roblox shouldn’t be doing the experiments himself.
“We learned early on that our community of creators is much better than us at creating just about anything about experiences, avatars, content,” he said. “The more we looked into it, the more we were successful and humbled at the same time, which was really wonderful for us.”
The business of the company becomes to remove the barriers for the creators. (I wrote about one of these 16-year-old designers last weekend.)
“The way we think about scale: we don’t know exactly what a 50,000 player experience might look like, but we think people are going to come up with some really unique ideas,” Sturman said. “One of the real benefits of Roblox is, we have a community of over a million strong developers, and they’re going to have their great ideas, and what we need to do is just unblock the barriers. For us, innovation is about unlocking, not achieving a specific delivery vision in what we do.
Baszucki added, “One of the things that excites me as we develop our own platform layer is the possibility that one day we will be running Roblox on some of the same things that our developers use, as this. either a back-end persistence, or analytical event capture system, or lambda functions in the cloud. I know it’s still early days, I just loved the idea.
Roblox was recently named one of the best places to work for millennials in 2021, with 80% of the team in engineering and products.
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