Introduction to AMA #8
HairyManLegs: Hey, how is it going, guys? My name is HairyManLegs and we're here with the latest AMA. I have a special guest here.
Radiant Blur: My name is Radiant Blur. I'm the director for UGC [User-Generated Content] and games team at Rec Room.
HairyManLegs: It's such an honor to have him here because he's such an really amazing guy behind the scenes, and he's one of the co-founders of Rec Room. So, guys, give it up. Radiant here. Radiant blur will be helping answering the latest AMA questions.
Radiant Blur: Attempting to.
HairyManLegs: "Attempting to." That's the key word there.
Radiant Blur: Let's go for it.
HairyManLegs: Let's do it. All right.
More Shapes in the Palette
HairyManLegs: First question (reddit thread) comes from Spookatz: Will there ever be more shape options in the palette? We're really limited with our current shape options and would really enjoy something like a half-circle.
Radiant Blur: Yeah, I definitely feel the pain there. Something I see in a lot of these cool rooms that people put together is they seem what looks like whole new shapes but really it's just a whole bunch of our primitives kind of meshed together to create their own shapes; which is awesome but it's also a shame because it uses so much for their ink budget. So, we've had similar requests for, hey, can I carve shapes to make my own? All that stuff is really interesting but probably farther down the horizon, but I think something that is coming up pretty soon is we do want to add in some more primitive shapes that are just different from the ones - I think the example in the question was a half circle; something like a pyramid and a sliced pyramid. I think reasonably soon before we add any big new shape features would be - we just want to expand the amount of primitives to work with.
Improvements to [Maker Pen] Ink Costs
HairyManLegs: All right and next question comes from Mortimer: Ink limits are killing us. I've experienced glitches that double the ink amount in a room up to 197% and everything ran perfectly fine even for PSVR users that were present. I feel like a lot of great ideas that are completely possible are rendered impossible only because of this seemingly arbitrary heuristic that clearly doesn't actually do well at estimating performance. In 2020, what kind of improvements will there be made to ease up the ink restrictions in a custom room?
Radiant Blur: Yes, so, that is a great question. I want to thank you for pushing us to keep doing better with how we're measuring and accounting for ink costs in rooms. I promise you it's a little more than arbitrary, but I don't blame you for feeling that way. We're very conservative on the way we estimate the cost of ink in rooms. There are kind of two horizons we're looking at to tackle ink costs of circuits going forward. The big play is what we've described as Circuits V2. This is where we're going to invest in some longer term fundamental reworking of how circuits work; but a little more immediate - something that you'll be seeing pretty soon in the scope of our next big content release is: we took a good look at how are we factoring in the rendering cost of having circuits in your room, and we're currently actively prototyping for ways to subtract the cost of actually rendering the circuits from showing up in your ink footprint. I think in the scope of the next month or so we hope to ship out those incremental benefits to ink cost. And then there will be more longer-term ones coming down the pipe.
Different Ink Limits on Different Platforms
HairyManLegs: Next question comes from Pan Knight: What are your thoughts on having more ink space based off on what platform you're on. In Roblox, for example, rooms that require too much processing power are for PC players only and cannot be accessed by other people on phones. If Rec Room adopted this, we would have much more higher fidelity at the cost of mobile players or quest users not being able to play, or allow them to play but with a warning that a room might be unstable for their system.
Radiant Blur: Yeah, okay. Totally appreciate the request there; but I do want to set expectations about where we want to go. So, one thing that's really important to us is that over time Rec Room becomes more ... there's more unity across platforms over time. And so, today, we're not quite there, and we're working to get there, and we're willing to be patient and getting that unity before, hopefully, the experience for everybody can get higher fidelity and better across the whole ecosystem of Rec Room. So, not something we're considering anytime soon.
Packing and Unpacking Assests
HairyManLegs: All right. Our next question comes from IKillPigeons: Do you think it's possible in the future to be able to load and unload UGC assets/inventions using circuits. Think of it using like PKZip or PKUnzip to pack things away to save ink space, then unpack them when needed.
Radiant Blur: That's a really fun idea. Honestly, we had never thought about approaching it in that way; but, yeah, there's definitely times - the way we've structured our experiences, we have very mobile humans who are happy to kind of get together at the end of a hallway and wait, and then proceed through the door together, but there's definitely types of experiences - that we don't have in our rooms - where you do want to maybe use up your entire ink budget on one big thing and then swap that out and not have to ask your whole audience feel like shuffle into a whole other room. Even though, you know, some cool rooms out there get people to do that, it'd be nice to have a way not do. We don't currently have any prototypes going for it, but that's a really inspiring idea, and I think there's something to it.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, that does sound really interesting. So, yeah, I can't wait to see what you guys come up with.
Radiant Blur: Like deflate the bouncy house; it's really cheap in terms of ink. And when you need it, inflate the bouncy house.
HairyManLegs: There you go. That's something to look forward to. And we did have an end question here: This obviously would have a lot of use cases - especially for custom quests - but for example: it would allow for stage sets to be swapped out on demand, saving a lot of overall ink in the room by 'zipping' assets that weren't needed at the time.
Radiant Blur: Actually, yeah, that's a great, that's the perfect use case, because, you know, we've been to some real triumph experiences in Rec Room where the Orange Bucket Troop - forgive me if I'm misremembering that name - but they put on a recreation of The Princess Bride. And it was so nice, they used all their ink on the sets, and we all had to get up and kind of move into the next act, which was not a deal breaker, but, man, it'd be much nicer if we could just smoothly flow through.
HairyManLegs: Oh, that would be awesome. Yeah, I can't wait to see more, like, people utilize that more. So, it'd be, like, stage after stage that's being swapped out. That'd be really fun. I love the idea.
Paintball-Like Map Rotation & Room Playlists
HairyManLegs: Yeah, okay, so our next question comes from JayOnRR: Will there ever be a way to use map rotations similar to Paintball and Laser Tag - have a scoreboard vote before the end game countdown ends, then bring all the players in a new instance or the new subroom.
Radiant Blur: Okay, yeah, great. I'm pretty sure that our producer included this question as like a volleyball thump so I could announce one of the new features coming to our tools with the next release. Hey, that's great. So, we are currently working on our next big release. It's a major content beat for one of our existing activities. And one of the user-facing features coming out of that is room playlists. So, we've gotten a lot of requests about ways to shuffle out rooms - kind of like we do in paintball. Paintball's as close as we have to a playlist today: you just go to one room and then you shuffle through subrooms; but what having real playlists will do is it means that we can actually dynamically change out the content that you're rotating through. So, it's really nice for us; but the real value we see in this feature is that it actually creates new opportunities for creators in Rec Room. So, if you remember, we have this community door in Stunt Runner when we first launched Stunt Runner. Once playlists exist, that's our opportunity to take all those awesome community rooms made in Stunt Runner and put them there front and center inside the Stunt Runner lobby.
Raidiant Blur: Another really cool example that we hope to stand up as soon as this is ready is we want to feature community-made Paintball maps in primetime Paintball rotation. So, if you made a really cool map, you know, instead of trying to get that one single map to outshine all the other stuff out there, we could just feature you in our array for Paintball rotation on a day and hopefully it creates new opportunities for a creator.
Alternatives to Room Doors
HairyManLegs: Next question comes from 24: Will we ever get a different way to send someone to a subroom/different room other than using a door? Maybe a trigger zone or something? Also: how's your day going?
Radiant Blur: Hey, my day's going great. Thanks.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, my day is going pretty good.
Radiant Blur: We've been having a lot of snow in Seattle and cancellations of highways and things. So, it's just about our first day back to almost normal. So, that's good.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, absolutely, that's really good. So, things are looking up for us.
Radiant Blur: But for the question: that's a great request. You'd probably be surprised that doors are the only way to transition between subrooms because people are so crafty in how they shrink them down and put them in clever places. And, you know, for that reason it's never managed to sort the top of our priority queue or community-requested features, but that's definitely a really good one. It makes total sense that you'd be able to touch a trigger and transition to a new room. So, best recommendation I can give you is to make sure you get it visible in the Canny and do whatever you can to promote it getting upvotes.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, that's a really good tip.
Better Streamer Cam
HairyManLegs: Zizuar - I believe his name is: It can often be a dual-edged sword causing a game lag and poor performances for the streamer and players. Additionally, many high requested improvements or enhancements to the system have been sidelined for a while now. Some of us see this as one of the best times and chances to make something special evolve here. Is there any possiblity that we can get if not a little more prioritization on the camera enhancements at least a brief focus towards optimizing existing performances the streamer cam? It would help us make much better content and promote not only the league community but the greater Rec Room community as a whole.
Radiant Blur: Okay, great. So, yeah, I got a little bit of a tip for this question because I got a chance to go and talk with the dev team who owns it. So, streamer cam is something that is now a community team feature and we want to take it more seriously going forward. It's something that a relatively small set of users rely on, but it's very near and dear to them, and I believe it's only going to become more important as the app grows and the audience grows. So, I went and spoke with the dev lead and our community manager on this one, and they had a couple of recommendations they wanted me to share. So, one was that you may have already tried this, but if not, they recommend not having the first person in the room be the one to do the streaming because that can really mess with the experience for everybody else in the room. Two, they said they would really, really appreciate more detailed asks on especially for these users what would make the thing you're trying to do already much easier. So, one way to do that is to get on the Canny and make sure that's represented; but you can also go on to discord and DM Shawn directly, and I bet you have a higher chance of actually getting it through to him.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, I think so, too.
Radiant Blur: That's directly from Shawn, so, I think he's more than happy to hear exactly what we can do to make the streaming experience better. We are really, really grateful that there's people out there who want to make a league. That's so in line with our mission to provide a product where people can compete but be friends. So, yeah, keep(?) Shawn up on discord.
HairyManLegs: Message Shawn, guys. That's what we want you to do.
HairyManLegs: Will there ever be a color wheel type color picker? The pre-selected colors are kind of crap for most uses and it would be nice to have more new options. I can say that; they did.
Radiant Blur: So, here's the thing with colors is Cloud is our art director, and if the color is not in his sock drawer, it won't make it to Rec Room. So, if you want more colors, send your socks - send new socks to Cloud.
HairyManLegs: VekhoTheVexed asked: Will it be possible in the future to change the opacity of objects or players?
Radiant Blur: Oh, yeah, great question. So, there's a lot of ways that we've heard that request - different types of objects and different ways of doing opacity. On players, we're definitely not planning anything there; but on objects - specifically shapes - we really are interested in finding some solutions that work for creators. I don't know if this works for your particular use case, but one that we really like - that we hope to start working on soon is to put a glass material into the palette, and that way you could do your windows and your ice cubes and have those look accounted for. So, keep an eye out for that. Nothing new to announce yet, though.
Next Version of Circuits
HairyManLegs: qirad: What can we look forward to in terms of gadgets? Can you give us more info about Circus 2.0 or Circuits Version 2? Give us more ink to work with.
Radiant Blur: Yeah, okay. So, this is a big one that we touched on at our last Q&A. Something that we're referring to internally as Circuits V2. It's really just our next big iteration on how circuits work. And there's three big areas that we are focused on innovating with the next version of circuits. So, the first one would be: how responsive they are capable of feeling. So, today if you want to make something like a gun that fires, you can approximate that feeling reasonably well, but they're not as responsive as the things we rely on in our games to make them feel really tight and very deliberately dial in things like cooldowns and things like that. So, we want to build a system that's really capable of giving you control to make things feel really responsive and make your own game play. That's the first big area. The second big area is something that we call control flow or it's essentially how do you manage the order in which things happen in circuits and the way they execute. So, if you were going to do something like set up a bunch of AIs to spawn and create waves of gameplay you need really intentional and explicit ways of knowing what's happening when and being able to follow that logic as it travels through circuits. So, control flow is another big area we want to improve on with the next version of circuits. And then the last one is something we already talked about earlier in the questions was just the overall ink footprint. Today, we're really conservative with the amount of ink circuits take up. The dream is that we don't want you to have to mentally manage how much ink it costs to implement an idea. The dream would be it's as close to a non-issue as we can get. So, we don't expect perfection there, but we do want to hold ourselves to really big improvements on the ink footprint of circuits with the next version.
HairyManLegs: Oh, that's great to know. That's actually a really good way to, like, go forward with that. Well, thank you so much for your question there.
Quest Enemies/AIs/NPCs in Custom Rooms
HairyManLegs: All right; our last question comes from JayOnRR. He asked: Knowing that this year, you guys seem to be going with the "ship and activity with tools along side it" method, which - I have to say - is awesome, will the quest AI come to custom rooms with the arrival of wave survival RRO talked a while back? IIRC, in the last AMA, you confirmed that this was not the next RRO but could be one of the next ones, it seems right to think that the AI would come out alongside the RRO. I'm very excited and have a lot of ideas to create some awesome survival experiences that are driven by lore.
Radiant Blur: Oh, great. So, I think I'll answer that one in two phases. The first one: they described the process we're doing in 2020, where we release a big chunk of content, and then in addition to that content, we send out a whole bunch of new creator-facing tools, and for people who weren't around it back then, Stunt Runner was the first version of that. So, in Stunt Runner, we spent a lot of our time and resources inventing a whole new - a brand new game with brand new mechanics, and then we also shipped those features, but we proportionately invested a lot more time in inventing the new game. For the one we're working on right now - the next big content beat - is an additional - is more content for a game that we already have out there, and that's so that we can spend a huge chunk of time actually building out whole new features and spending a lot more time putting those through the pieces and making sure they're ready for primetime when that next release goes out. So, we're gonna do that for a couple of times and then we'll get back to: hey, we want to do something as ambitious and crazy as Stunt Runner and invent a whole new game. We'll still do that. It's just not the next release. And then, the second part of that question is AI. So, AI is something that internally we believe is kind of the next big horizon for creative expression in Rec Room. There's so many ways people could use AI, and the stuff we've done in our quests is just one very narrow example of what you could do with AI. So, in the fullness of time we hope both are true. If really what you want is to just use the goblins and stuff that we've built to make your own wave-based shooters or your own little quest adventures, it should definitely be possible. Thinking beyond that - and as we do more prototyping and more development over time - we want to give you something much more general purpose so that if you wanted to make friendly AIs that follow you around and are your friends, that's really an expression of the same system used for something else. So, we want to take AI really seriously. We believe there's huge, huge value for creators out there. We're going to start actively prototyping it pretty soon. So stay tuned. We'll keep you guys informed as we go.
HairyManLegs: Yeah, that would be really amazing for all the quest rooms that people come up with. So, yeah, stay tuned for that, guys.
HairyManLegs: Thank you, guys so much for joining the latest AMA. I'm so glad and and happy for Radiant Blur to be joining us. Thank you so much for taking your time out of your day to answer these questions from the community. They really appreciate that.
RadiantBlur: Hey, this is great. This is my first one. Thank you guys so much for having me. We really appreciate your questions. I'll probably be back in to do these, but we're gonna have other members of the team come in and do AMAs as well. So, it's been great chatting with you. Hope to hear from you soon.
HairyManLegs: For everything Rec Room, guys, please leave a like, comment and subscribe; and we'll see you guys next time. Bye, everyone!