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Posted in Interviews
January 25, 2015 at 8:00 PM
Mechanical Mastery: An Interview with Bongo
Just imagine how this place would look using zeuxcg’s hack week project!
NOTICE FROM THE INTERVIEWER: This is an abridged version of the interview that has been edited for length.
How’d you first learn about ROBLOX and why did you join?
When I was young…like 2006 early YouTube era days, I was very much into Lego, and Lego-esque games. So you can guess what I was Googling back then. There were a ton of crude ones online back then, but the two that stuck out to me were Blockland and Roblox. Blockland was free but soon you had to pay for it, so I chose the latter.
Ha! That was the same for me! Except I was trying to look for early development & concept videos for LEGO Universe at the time in early 2008/late 2007. Ever played that?
Yes, I have heard of LEGO Universe, but it hasn’t really stuck with me. The reason why I love LEGO, Blockland, and Roblox is because you can build literally WHATEVER you want and shape it to WHATEVER you desire. Want to build a pirate ship and explore for treasure? Sure! Want to build a ski resort and slide down the slopes? Go right ahead! Want to just throw bricks together and see what sticks? Nothing’s stopping you. The MMORPG elements in LEGO Universe are nice since I do love a good MMORPG, but when I just wish that you could build some more and share them to the world. Something like the older LEGO Creator games, but you can walk around and explore other people’s worlds and creations.
Roblox, as you can tell, is what I have stuck with however. The customization of building is through the roof. You can make bricks super tiny and create intricate details, or make bricks massive and work on large landscapes. Bricks can pass through each other, be made transparent or translucent, given different colors and textures, place them pretty much ANYWHERE you want. It’s great! It combines the endless creativity possibilities of Lego with the bottomless amount of bricks with no restrictions of reality in the computer.
The only things lacking, however, drag down a lot of the game for me. The game engine is abysmal to me. Yes, I understand it has to be an all-in-one engine that can do everything, but that still doesn’t make me any less happy when the game engine starts to chug along, even in my newly created gaming computer. The lighting needs a lot of work too. I am a man who likes to set up a scene with the right lighting and take a picture (As you could tell from my Streets of London picture), but trying to work with this extremely basic and sometimes lag-inducing system of shadows and light sometimes don’t make it worth it for me.
Still, some of the results can be very nice indeed. Here’s a great example. It’s a tour of a mine aboard a mine train in a place I created. As you can tell I loved to play around with the shadows and lantern light to make the showcase seem larger and smaller than it actually was, but the game engine was just KILLING my computer to the brink that the video may not have been made. The closest thing I could get to a good shot without my game crashing was all the textures disappearing, which is why everything becomes and looks flat once you hit the entrance.)
“Bottom line…Roblox I just want more things to build my contraptions with. …I’ve seen people on /r/Roblox make working [combustion] car engines so I don’t see why we shouldn’t aid them some more with more materials to work with.” -Bongo
When did you first start building in ROBLOX? What was it?
My first and early builds were…how do I put it…extremely crude. Looking back, there were a few notable things. I remember building small miniature golf courses because there was a time when golf courses were all the rage. I then had a small stint of trying my best to replicate Disneyland objects, such as the submarines from the lagoon or a steam engine from the railway. That was all on one of my first Roblox characters. Then my uncle got me another account (Bongo) which had like 6 months worth of Builders Club in it. My first few builds as Bongo were all railroading related and from there I just built whatever interested me with greater detail as time moved on. In fact, I’ve been thinking of doing a gallery of the progression of my building style through my trains since they’re a constant factor throughout both of my inventories.
One of his trains now. Choo choo!
What was your inspiration for creating your first mechanism in ROBLOX? When did you make it?
What inspired me was an old book of mine I had for a long time. It’s called the ‘Lego Crazy Action Contraptions‘ and came with a small baggie filled with enough Lego bricks to build each contraption inside the booklet at least once. It was a bunch of weird and crazy things you could build out of the bricks, gears, and beams supplied. I may not be an engineer, but that didn’t wane my interest in gear powered machinery due to its sheer simplicity when you get down to it, and how complex the machines can actually become.
My first contraption came about when I was looking at a bunch of miscellaneous things on Roblox. What usually caught my attention was that people have incorporated more and more scripts into their builds, which provided them endless possibilities of things to do. While that aspect is rather nice, I kind of missed the older days of Roblox where scripting wasn’t as big and people relied more heavily upon static figures or things powered by motors, hinges, conveyor belts, and the physics engine itself. I honestly don’t know what the transition was between that desire and what compelled me to create my first mechanism, but it all eventually came up into my first one to show publicly, my sawing lumberjacks.
And now we’re up to modern times. Still experimenting with motors and hinges to see what I can get, but I have met a barrier; the lack of things you can do with motors, hinges, and conveyor belts. What I’ve made with what I have is fantastic, yet I still feel so restricted by what I have at my disposal. I don’t know how to change the speed and direction of a motor easily, and most of all I want more options like ball sockets, pulleys, pistons, etc. as displayed in numerous Roblox Tech videos, except the catch is to implement them WITHOUT the need to script. If there’s one thing I try to hold true with my contraptions is to use as MINIMAL scripts as possible. Stuff like making a brick flicker with transparency or a script that welds bricks together don’t count in my book. What does count are script driven hinges, motors, pistons, etc. That’s just cheating in my mind. So having an actual legit way to create such things without having to resort to scripting would open up the doorway of possibilities. It also…uh…may be a factor that…I cannot script to save my life…at all.
“…Having an actual legit way to create such things without having to resort to scripting would open up the doorway of possibilities.” -Bongo
What process do you go through to make and design one of your contraptions? Do you start with the actual mechanism or…?
In the beginning when I started building my contraptions it was seeing what strange mechanisms I could create. I would throw motors and hinges at each other to see what I am making would work and fit. Then I perfected those designs until I couldn’t perfect them anymore. Then I hit the brick wall of the aforementioned lack of gears, pistons, etc. It’s like owning a horse in the 1910′s. Your horse can take you far and do so many great things for you, but you soon run into the realization that you could go so much farther and faster if you owned an automobile instead of a horse.
Ah, ah, wheeeeeee!
What are you building now?
I don’t know. If you were to ask me today, I’d say something. Two days ago something else. A week ago something different. A month ago something that is totally unrelated to what I am building today. I just build, tinker, mash bricks together to see what I like and what I don’t. And if I just somehow manage to finish something, I show it publicly. I never have a ‘set’ mindset because I just have a ton of ideas I want to do. So I work a few days on one thing, get bored with it, and then move onto the next. And god forbid if I ever finish an actual MAP. If that ever happens, the world will freeze over. I am the type of guy who loves to see what sticks, but never sticks around to see it through, if you get my vibe. Truthfully, TODAY I am thinking about making a movie studio lot. Of course, if you check back in a week I’ll be working on a spaceship or some other junk. I never know.
Any advice to the readers?
Unless you are DEAD SET on getting something done, just do whatever and see what sticks. I like to take a 15 minute to 1 hour break everyday. Put on some music to set my building mood and just…build! Might be a contraption, might be a scene, might just be a model that will never see the light of day. I just like to throw random bricks together and see what I can create. That’s how I got to where I am with these amazing creations and pictures, by just throwing bricks together and then seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. I am the same way in real life with my Lego bricks. Bring out the tub and click pieces together. Make animals, cars, houses, just let the imagination flow. Some of the best things in the world came from people seeing what they could create without having any specific or clear goal in mind. Just put on some music you like and build with your heart’s content. Who knows? You might make something you’re really proud of, hit front page of the Roblox Games page, win a contest on the Blog, or even be recognized by the higher ups of Roblox…just from throwing bricks together and seeing what sticks.
Thanks for letting me interview you! It was a pleasure, and I wish you luck on your future projects.
Thanks for the interview, I really liked it.