March 31st, 2009 is a date not many people will remember, but it is a date which set forth a series of events that would entirely shape my life for the last 5 years. Was it some major geopolitical event? Family event? Dark personal tragedy? No, it was none of the above. You see, March 31st, 2009 was the day that Roblox officially announced they were adding wood to the game. But like most events that will be referenced in this post, the date wasn’t the true first time I saw wood grain on Roblox, as I was active on Roblox’s test servers then and likely saw it a week or so early.
For those of you who weren’t around then, Roblox released this blog post detailing the Worlds of Wood contest to celebrate the launch of the new material. Of course, being an old Roblox contest everyone tried to game the system and instead of making a new game from scratch, just changed everything in their pre-made games to wood and entered the contest. I, however, had a vision, to bring back an almost mythical place that I had only heard rumors of, a place where gladiators battled it out for supremacy, whose remnants have been ravaged by time to the point where there is nothing but faint outlines left in the ground to mark that they even existed, so I set out to create it.
Naturally, it being 2009 on Roblox, I failed horribly, but wood grain was my first time on Roblox I ever clearly saw something in my mind that I wanted to make, and every few years I still go back and try to make that vision, getting closer and closer each attempt.
The next stop in this tale is a bit later, some time in mid to late 2010. A friend and I were up, chatting on Xfire, when we learned that mod-Venture, what was supposed to be the biggest, most advanced RPG that Roblox was to have ever seen, had the game exploited, and they had a copy of it, so we went in studio to take a look at it. As we looked at the game, they remarked about how overly big and empty the map was, the basic GUI’s of the era were ugly and half broken, the terrain was bland, and the tools barely worked.
But I didn’t see that. I saw the bad wood grain.
For those who were around during this time period, mod-Venture being anything but a AAA scale game was a disappointment. In hindsight, I’m not sure how we expected a Oblivion level game in Roblox (NOTE: This was before Skyrim came out), in a game engine where 10,000 bricks would bring computers to a crashing halt, but that was what the hype built to.
But I wasn’t worried about the disappointing scale. Or lack of features. Or the fact it was a glorified showcase at the time. I hated the bad wood grain and nothing else. That was all that I saw, and that was what angered me.
Now just as a slight aside, at this time it was a bit much to be so angry at improper wood grain. I myself had just graduated from using Build mode level GUI’s to using the classic CmdUtl by Anaminus, and there was still a debate on if CmdUtl was better than manually editing the C-Frame of parts in the command bar. Plugins were still years away, with CmdUtl having to be launched manually each time you opened a place by launching it with the “Execute Script” option in studio, and a dedicated part flip plugin was but a pipe dream, but improper wood grain still annoyed me.
Still, time moved on, and the range of my rage was mostly confined to GollyGreg, who admitted it was a problem but largely did nothing to fix it, probably because of the dozens of other issues with mod-Venture. But I still harassed him.
THE BUILDING RAGE
While occasionally tormenting GollyGreg was good fun, I mostly kept to myself with my random fits of rage. But time moved on, builders got better, plugins became a thing, and slowly Roblox turned from advanced Legos for kids to a legitimate game engine you could make money from. And and at the forefront of this change were the builders, because builders claimed to be so great and pay so much attention to detail and were perfect in everything they did making amazing and great showcases. And nothing you said could change their greatness.
Use 50 parts to make a doorway in a time when games struggled with performance? The engine will catch up one day.
Have an off color tree?
The color palate is limited, it will expand eventually.
Using the same mesh 1,000 times in the place?
It is all we have.
Try to level an criticism about how something could be better?
Fix the wood grain that I could easily fix in 5 minutes?
Woah, slow down there cowboy, I can’t spend those 5 minutes fixing the wood grain, I need to copy and paste this 50 part wall detail another 40 times to make sure the engine slows down to a proper crawl, texture clipping included.
Now, I’m not trying to say that in certain respects these games weren’t impressive. But builders of this time had an over-sized ego. Scripting was still mostly based on stuff from free models, GUIs were basic boxes, and no matter how well those parts of the game were, a good looking showcase always overshadowed them.
But what if something in the game looked off? Well, aesthetics is subjective, so no matter how wasteful something was, resources wise, how out of place certain things looked, no matter how dark the rooms were, how massive the gaps in detail were between endless flat plains and overly detailed houses, it was all subjective or due to limits within the engine.
But wood grain wasn’t subjective. Wood is based in reality. No one could hand wave it off as they couldn’t do anything, they just chose not to do anything, and whenever called out on it they would just huff and puff away with just a minor bruise to their ego.
5 YEARS AGO
And with that in mind, 5 years ago I finally let my frustrations get ahead of me and made WoodReviewer. My goal was never to get popular, become a meme, or anything else like that, I mealy wanted to be a constant throne in sides of builders, hoping that their ego wouldn’t let them get called out for not doing something properly.
At first, WoodReviewer was purely impulsive; I made the account 5 years ago today, December 27th. I then spent the next month setting everything up, writing my initial posts on how to fix wood grain, and on February 6, 2016, my first post went live, followed by my first review on February 12th. And my blog went exactly as I expected it to. No where.
This shows the first month of my blog, going whole weeks without any views, and then getting a massive spike of nearly 60 views in a single day. And that was what I wanted, just enough legitimacy so when I called people out, it wasn’t random, but from someone with backing. The only issue was the next day, something unexpected happened: I got popular.
And then stayed popular.
I went into this expecting a slow harassment of builders with a small following of 100 or so followers and maybe a few people reading my blogs. Instead I have 17,000 followers on Twitter, and each of my main posts now gets nearly 1,000 views, which is far more than I ever expected.
And so with my newly found internet fame, I continued making reviews, and reviewing wood. The only issue was that the Roblox I knew was changing. For starters, ROBLOX is now called Roblox. Games, which use to be small in scale, started to get bigger and bigger, and where as grinding a game use to take a day or so at max, now we have games that want you to grind for months. The front page, which used to have a dominant game or two with the rest in flux, is now a tectonic battle of games slowly moving up and down the rankings, with a few surprises here and there, but mostly the slow moving of some games up, and others down. Showcases went from the backbone of Roblox, showing a builders creativity, to a side venture that prevented them from making money elsewhere.
The lack of new games and emergence of, quite frankly, boring simulator games made reviewing games a chore, which is why I went from 3 posts a week in 2016 to barely one post every 3 months now. I just don’t know what to review, and when I do, my reviews take way to long to actually do. Granted, this is partly my fault, mostly due to the fact I want to complete a game before I review it, and increasingly impossible task. But it isn’t helped by simulators sometimes requiring hours of grinding to make it out of the starting level. And then when I do make a review, it is less a review in any way, and more a random angry word salad, which I often hate but post anyway because it is done, so why not.
So, that brings us to today, and the reason I am making this post. 2020 has not been a good year, and has caused me to be introspective on if these past 10 years of reviewing wood are worth it. In that time, Roblox has matured as a platform, going from that weird Lego game with a few hundred people playing it, to a gaming giant with a player count constantly passing the million player count. Sometimes with one game. I have moved three times, graduated from two different schools, am on my fifth computer since 2010, have changed jobs five times, and am still reviewing wood. And over the next two months, I will be making the biggest personal changes in my life, a truly make-or-break moment for me.
And what has WoodReviewer offered me? Well, mostly nothing. Yes, I’ve gotten a toy, but all of that money has either been donated to charity or used on gifts for my relatives. If anything, the $100 yearly charge to run this site and additional $5 a month for Premium have cost me money. And then there is the time aspect, with more than 300 posts made so far, and each taking an average of 3 hours to make, at minimum, that is easily more than a thousand hours invested in this over the last five years. Probably closer to two thousand when everything is accounted for.
So, between the lack of financial gains and the massive time sink WoodReviewer has become, the only thing a sane person would do would be to end it, focus on the present, and let this chapter end like people say it should have years ago.
Luckily for those of you who would miss me, I am not a sane person. Do I have any idea what I am doing? No. Do I have any long term goals? No. All I know is that I have a deep and seething hatred for improper wood grain in games. I literally cannot ignore the wood grain in every game I play, even if I have no intention of reviewing it. Every time I see a post post on Reddit and the Dev Forum the first thing I do is look for the bad wood grain, even if I know I don’t want to respond. The absolute hatred I have for improper wood grain is there, I’m just not sure how to express it anymore.
So, what does this all mean? Truthfully, I have no idea what the future will hold for me, or what I am going to do. Maybe more reviews, maybe more Wood Tips on Twitter. Maybe videos, maybe an actual full-length guide to wood grain on Roblox. I’m not sure how I will express it, but all I know is that I really just want people to start using proper wood grain.