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Roblox’s “Layered Clothing” Is Here | but Don’t Call It an NFT!

Players have always liked to dress up, even when fashion and video games seem like polar opposites. Shows how fashion in games is influenced by older industries such as Gucci and Prada.

Roblox, played by 50 million people daily and the most valuable video game company in the US, is one platform where character customization and self-expression are fundamental to the experience. “Layered clothing” improves Roblox’s customization. It could help the company become more than a game—a metaverse for games.

Roblox’s "Layered Clothing" Is Here | but Don’t Call It an NFT!

Customization is the key

Roblox is not a game but a place to make games; you play games inside Roblox. From 2006 to 2019, its most popular traditional avatar was squat and blocky, a mix of Lego and Minecraft. For 14 years, avatars wore 2D textures. Just open Microsoft Paint and create a pink top or jean jacket, says Roblox’s vice president of avatars, Bjorn Book-Larsson. It will fit the avatar as if you painted it on their skin.

“There was no way to change the clothes of more complicated characters, which the system allowed,” says Book-Larsson. The character must be rebuilt. Roblox emphasizes combination: you can rip off and replace an arm, like a doll. In 2020, Roblox made its characters smoother and more realistically shaped, but the problem of not knowing what kind of body a character has stayed the same.

Layered clothing helps. In most games, designers tailor outfits to specific body types, like samurai armor for a tall or short avatar. Roblox doesn’t know what crazy character one of its 9 million indie developers will create. One T-shirt must fit millions of bodies, from a dinosaur to a zombie, and game programming: you could be shot and shattered. Now people can design clothing for all avatars without rebuilding the character. Book-avatar Larsson wears “hip hop pants and a puffer jacket.” The pants stretch as he dresses a dinosaur. “T-shirts and jackets layer and affect each other,” he says. “You can put a jacket on a tree or pants on a car.”

Complex tech is needed for this trick. It is inspired by how air changes a rocket’s shape as it soars. “One of our engineers was studying how rockets deform and how to control them when launched into space,” he says. Then he used those papers to figure out how to control multiple connected layers.

By using this process, the system generates an “abstraction layer,” a mathematical relationship between the inner cage of a piece of clothing and an avatar’s body. The clothing creator dresses a neutral mannequin; the character maker sets their boundaries. That little extra step of having this abstraction layer allows us to say, ‘OK, so if the neutral mannequin is dressed this way, we then remap it automatically to work on every piece of clothing on every character out there,'” explains Book-Larsson.

Layered clothing must be easy and common. Any Roblox player should be able to dress anything with it. Development took two years and was hard. “We had to scour the top 10,000 games to see what they did,” Book-Larsson says. We had to figure out what the top million games had done.

Roblox’s "Layered Clothing" Is Here | but Don’t Call It an NFT!

You Can’t Even Call It an NFT

This “skin” system requires non-fungible tokens. NFT acolytes promise that in the future, players will be able to transfer skins between games. Layered clothing solves this Roblox problem. Could Roblox mint NFTs or allow third-party characters or items? “, asks Book-Larsson. Yes. Game developers know the issue: why? Roblox doesn’t need blockchain either. If this changes, the company’s position may change.

“NFTs created in a vacuum, without a good gaming experience from the start, are interesting, but they don’t improve the experience,” says Book-Larsson. “They’re currently a bragging point. Technology doesn’t improve gaming by itself. We’d be interested if we could make that happen. Not yet. “

Porting Roblox’s patented tech to Unity or Unreal follows the same logic. Technically, it’s possible, but why should you build your game in Roblox?

Layered clothing undermines the concept of transferring skins between games. Book-Larsson says solving this problem in a single game engine takes two years. Multiple game engines are unnecessary. It’s hard.

Fashion labels continue to partner with Roblox, says Book-Larsson. They’ve made Roblox-compliant versions of their NFTs and are amazed by the profits. Clothing brands like layered clothing because they can make one design for every sport.

Perspectives on the Future

Roblox’s growth strategy is to hold on to a 14-year-old audience and give them new things to do until they’re 18 and 25, and 35, says Book-Larsson. Give residents more to do, and they’ll stay.

Long term, he wants to turn the blocks into “emotional humanoid avatars” Roblox bought Loom. AI analyses video and audio to puppeteer and drive avatars. Book-Larsson says I could interview his avatar over Zoom later.

Is Roblox a metaverse? Book-Larsson says Roblox is not a game engine but an experience or operating system. If Roblox isn’t a game, then technological advancements must intensify regulation. When using block people as avatars, it’s harder to think about employment regulations. Copyright protection is hot: How easy will it be to regulate Gucci’s Roblox bag designs? Roblox protects its creators’ intellectual property rights and takes down content that violates those rights when asked to do so.

Other platform criticisms will likely harden. That the company’s revenue split with creatives on its platform is miserly and makes it look easier to “make it” as a developer, or that its profits come from the free creative labor of children. Roblox says layered clothing is another way for creators to earn Robux through design and sales, citing the technology’s ease of use and the size of the market. 14.4 million users received 74.4 million free jackets in the first five days of the company’s limited rollout.

The urge to express ourselves online is strong; it can be transformative to dress up and be someone else. This impulse is profitable and will grow as technology improves. “As we improve the tools and experience, you can make any metaverse movie,” says Book-Larsson. “We’ll provide all these systems.”

Also Read: Roblox Rule 34 | Everything You Need To Know