Roblox announced a new conversational AI assistant at its 2023 Roblox Developers Conference (RDC) that can help creators more easily make experiences for the popular social app. The new tool, the Roblox Assistant, builds on previously announced features that let creators build virtual assets and write code with the help of generative AI.
With the Roblox Assistant, creators will be able to type in prompts to do things like generate virtual environments. In one demo, somebody types in “I want to make a game set in ancient ruins,” and Roblox drops in some stones, moss-covered columns, and broken architecture. “Make the player spawn by a campfire in the ruins” adds a campfire and a stool. “Add some trees for the player to chop down” adds trees nearby. Roblox will grab assets from either its marketplace or your own visual asset library, according to Roblox spokesperson Roman Skuratovskiy.
You can see that demo and a few more examples in the video below from Roblox.
I’m generally skeptical of generative AI, but I think this is a pretty interesting use for the technology. In an interview with The Verge, Roblox CTO Daniel Sturman described how the tool might be able to create basic gameplay behaviors like teleporting you to a place if you touch a door. The Roblox Assistant can also help with coding and answer questions about developing on Roblox, which could be useful tools for creators on the platform.
Unfortunately, creators won’t be able to use Roblox Assistant right away, as Sturman said that the tool is going to launch at the end of this year or early next year.
Down the line, Roblox has bigger visions for Roblox Assistant, and Sturman teased that it could generate sophisticated gameplay and even make 3D models from scratch. If that all works, it could bring Roblox in line with CEO David Baszucki’s vision of Westworld-like ease of design.
That said, these generative AI tools could take away work from Roblox’s developer and creator community, and I asked Sturman what he would say to people who are worried about that. “I strongly believe that generative AI is going to reduce our creators’ dependence on specific technical skills and enable the big differentiation between creators to be the spark of genius they have in what an experience should be and how it should operate.” We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case, but given AI’s tendency to make things that can be just a little bit off, I suspect there will still be a need for experienced Roblox developers and creators to handcraft their work.
Roblox discussed some other AI-based updates at RDC, too. One will let you create an avatar from an image and a text prompt, meaning it might be easier to make an avatar that looks more like yourself. Onstage at RDC, Baszucki showed how the tool could be used to make a buff and cartoony version of himself. That tool is set to release in 2024. The company also wants to let you use generative AI to make things directly inside of other Roblox experiences.
Another tool uses AI to moderate voice conversations in real time, which could cut down on toxicity on the platform. The company started testing this tool in August and “will be deploying the English model shortly, with another four languages by the end of the year,” according to spokesperson Roman Skuratovskiy. Those languages will be Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese.
Roblox, like many companies, believes it’s well equipped to use AI to help people who use its services. “We’re not a hammer looking for a nail,” Sturman says. “We’ve got plenty of nails. We know what it means to enable creators.” Its AI tools do seem genuinely useful; I’ve always wanted to make a video game, even though I don’t know how, and the Roblox Assistant seems like something that could at least help me get started.