Roblox 2021 Material Update

Hello there Roblox texture artists who are looking for my feedback on the new wood materials, WoodReviewer here to take a look at the recent Roblox materials update that was announced back in December, but whose initial test build was recently released on GitHub. You can find more details on this on the Dev Forum. Obviously I only care about the wood and wooden planks textures, and I will talk about the pros and cons on both new textures, but before I get underway with giving a well thought out opinion on these new materials, I need to get something out of the way quickly: I hate the new wooden plank texture.

I HATE THE NEW WOODEN PLANK TEXTURE

I hate the new wooden plank texture. Now I will be the first to admit, I can be a bit nitpicky at times and may just offer vague suggestions on how to fix something or what is wrong, but I just hate this new wooden plank texture. Why? Well, to explain let me illustrate my issue with a picture.

Here is an image of two 10 stud longs by one stud wide bricks, one being smooth plastic, the other being the new wooden plank texture.

Now I have one question for you, dear readers, what is this absolute abomination on the side of this plank texture?

Why is it that this one stud wide brick, with a single stud being the universal measurement of all Roblox things, doesn’t contain an entire wooden plank. Why is it instead one plank, plus this small and pathetic sliver on a second plank that no one asked for, on a single stud wide brick.

“But WoodReviewer, this used to happen before”

Yes, it did, but not on a single stud, AKA the most basic unit of measurement in Roblox that everyone knows and most people use to measure their stuff while designing the layouts for their games. Now I am not saying that one stud is the gold standard for what everyone uses to decide how to build stuff, I am just saying that if someone is building a path that a single Robloxian needs to walk over, they will most likely have the bridge be 4, 5, or 6 studs wide to allow the character to walk over. Before if you wanted to have the bridge be entirely whole planks, you could make the bridge 4, 5, or 6 studs wide. You know, whole studs. As it stands now, you would have to make it be 4, 4.8, 5.6, or 6.4 studs wide for it who contain entirety complete wooden planks.

Planks, between .8 and 6.4 studs wide, with only entire planks shown.

Now I have to just ask, why. Why is a single plank 0.8 studs. Who uses 0.8 studs as their standard grid when building. Granted, not everyone uses 1 stud grids when building, but I’d wager that between the 0.1, 0.2, 0.25, 0.5, and 1 studs grids that I’ve seen most people use, 99% of builders on Roblox use those grids. And probably only a small fraction of those 1% of other builders use 0.8 studs as their standard. The fact of the matter is that if you want to make something that can be used in the most builds as possible, it should work on a 1 stud scale, since that is the basis for which most builds are based.

This also makes wooden planks look really odd if they are one stud thick as well.

Now, do I think this was intentional? Probably not. Do I know what caused it? Yes, yes I do. You see, this was the old .dds diffusel file for wooden planks.

NOTE: I believe this is the old Diffuse texture. I had it saved to my PC but I forget if I edited it or not.

That texture was, 1024×1024 and had 8 wooden planks in the texture itself. Anyway, this is the new .dds diffuse map for wooden planks.

This new texture has 10 in the same 1024×1024 image size. The issue comes from the fact that they are both scaled the same size in studio. So where as before the 8 planks would stretch over 8 studs in studio to create planks that were 1 stud wide, now 10 planks stretch over the same 8 studs in studio, creating the 0.8 stud width in studio. Now, how can this be fixed? Yes it can, quite easily in fact. The first, and easiest to showcase, solution is to simply change the texture of the new planks that 8 planks stretch over the texture, instead of 10. The new diffuse .dds file, for example, would look like this.

Yes, this fix is so easy even I could do it by myself.

And in-game it would look like this.

The color make look slightly off because I was messing with things

The problem with this is that it would slightly deform the texture from what it was originally intended to look like, but the deformation is well worth it, in my opinion, to make the planks actually be one stud wide again.

The second way to fix it, which is something that I can’t actually demonstrate, is based on some testing I’ve done, I am 90% positive there is some value that can easily change the texel density of wooden planks, so instead of having the single 1024×1024 image stretching over and 8×8 stud area, meaning the texel density is 128, meaning in stud has 128 pixels of texture on it. My proposed change would to make it so the 1024 texture gets stretched over 10 studs, making the texel density 102.4, meaning each stud would have 102.4 pixels of texture on it, which would make each stud in-game have exactly one plank on it. Or atleast in theory it would, since 102.4 is not a nice even number, which may cause problems.

Although, full-disclosure, I am not CloneTrooper so I have no actual knowledge to how this truly works, but atleast in my testing different materials have different texel densities. However I don’t know how exactly the materials are assigned their texel densities, or what valid values would be for them, which makes this a harder fix if it can’t easily be done.

For those of you who are lost, here is an example of what I am talking about, where I replace several textures with the wooden plank texture. Notice the difference in width between some materials, despite the fact they all use the same texture.

Anyway, that was kind of rambling because I don’t know what I’m talking about, but hopefully people who understand what is going on enough can figure it out to actual fix it, because I hate the new wooden plank texture because of the 0.8 stud width of each plank now.

Anyway, with my massive rant about the really bad wooden plank size over, time to look at other aspects of this update.

THE GOOD

So, seeing as I just spent the last 1100 words bashing the new textures, I figured it would be a good idea to start the second half of this post talking about the positives of the update.

The first thing I do like about the new wood grain is that the texture look a lot straighter than the old wood grain. So as an example, here is the diffuse texture for the old wooden texture, which shows the wood grain of the texture.

And here is the new diffuse texture.

I did not make this darker, this is how it is

The big difference is the grain goes across the texture in a much straighter line than the old wooden texture. So the old texture looks much more like smoke, that randomly goes across the texture, while the new texture looks more like paint that is streaked across the texture. Overall, this makes the direction of the grain on any single piece of wood much clearer, which is really helpful for new users or EBR members that have a hard time telling which direction the grain on wooden parts goes.

In addition to this, personally I just like how the grain individual grains of the wood grain are much more apparent now than on the old wood texture. Also, the wood looks as if the darker rings in wood are slightly elevated above the lighter part of the wood, which while not super common on fresh or indoor wood, does occur on more worn down wood or wood that has been weathered, which I think it a plus. I do know some other people have slightly different opinions on this, but this is wood, my opinion is the only one that matters.

THE BAD

So I realize the irony in someone who has spent the last 5 years saying they don’t want to spend too long beating a dead horse, especially as this entire blog post is well over 4,000 words, but I don’t feel like I need to focus too much on the color issues that need to be addressed with this update. Mainly that the textures are too dark. This is especially true if you want something like white birch wood, or a light yellow pine wood.

Or, you know, if you also want something that looks like it is painted in some bright neon-ish color. This is even worse for wooden planks, which causes the colors to become even more discolored than regular wood, giving them a brown tint in addition to making them darker.

Of course that is not just a wood related issue, as it appears to be effecting most textures as atleast a hundred people on the dev forum are also talking about it, so I am not going to go into much more detail about that. One thing I can talk about, however, is all the additional wooden knots added to the regular wood texture. For those of you who are unaware, knots in wood are the circular patterns in wood that are caused by a tree having some sort of bulge. This is usually caused by a branch growing on the tree, but can also be caused by other other growth things. Once the wood is cut into shape, these bulges leave their marks in the wood, altering the grain around them to make little circular patterns like hills on a topographical map. One problem with the old wood grain was that it, for the most part, lacked any true knots. I mean sure, it had a few areas where it looked like knots were about to form, but the actual knot just wasn’t there. The problem is that the new wood texture has too many knots, as shown in this image where all the knots are poorly circled.

The problem here is that there are way, WAY too many knots. Of course it is hard to say the exact number of knots in any piece of wood, so I decided to take a survey and counted how many knots were on my outside deck, which is made of wooden boards that are approximately 4 inches by 10 feet long. Of the 217 boards, 54 had knots in them, with 3 of them having a second knot. So based on the fact my wooden planks had roughly one in every 4 boards featuring a knot, the fact this 10 by 2 stud piece of wood has about 14 knots is a bit much. On the other hand, however, is the new wooden planks. In the below image, all of the wooden knots are again circled.

“WoodReviewer, did you forget to edit this image?”

Nope. These planks go too far in the other direction, with none of the planks having sort of knots anywhere in the texture. Personally I think this look is barely acceptable, however, I do think overall there should be atleast a few knots added to make it look better, and since I was already talking about knots in the bad part of this post, why not keep this here also.

The next part of the bad part of this update focuses entirely on wooden planks, mainly concerning how the planks are staggered. For those who are unaware, stagger is basically how offset the planks are from each other. Now, one thing that I need to with this is that there are two different types of stagger: Decorative and structural. Decorative is what is done with wooden floors in houses, where they are staggered any amount that the builder wants. While they do help a bit structurally, there is usually a subfloor under this flooring so where exactly the boards join doesn’t matter. That type of stagger looks like this, where the boards are staggered by 2 studs evenly.

The next type of stagger is used mostly when building a deck, or anything without a subfloor. Here the stagger is not dedicated the lengths of the boards used, but instead where the supports are under the floor. The important thing here is that where 2 boards end, their needs to be a support beam under them to prevent the board from bending down as someone steps on it. This type of stagger looks more like this.

The problem with the wooden plank texture is that it follows neither type of stagger. If you look at this image, for example, you can see that the planks are staggered, but the staggering is not very consistent, and very close to each other.

This is shown even clearer if you put a line over all the nails on the planks, which looks like this.

What I am showing here is that under each of these lines there should be some type of support for the nails to be nailed into. So this is what the bottom of this would look like, if under each nail was a wooden support that was .2 studs wide.

So as you can see, if you were to put a support under each nail there would almost be more supports under the floor than empty space. So clearly, this is not structural stagger, so why is it not cosmetic stagger like we see in wooden floors? Well, because of the nails. You see, a majority of indoor flooring either uses incredibly small, almost invisible, nails from nail guns, goes even farther and hides the nails in the tongue and grooving of the boards, or forgoes nails entirely and using adhesion to apply the floor panels to the subfloor. Anyway, none of that is really important, all that you need to know is that indoor flooring, for the most part, doesn’t have massive, easily visible nails in the floors, in effect looking neither like outdoor decking nor indoor flooring.

Now I’ll be honest, none of this is really new, the really old wooden planks had the same issues with the nails, for example. However since this is a general texture rework I figured I might as well complain about it in the hopes that it gets fixed for the second major wooden plank rework that has occurred since I first started to review wood.

The staggering issues was also present on the original wooden plank texture

Before I move onto the nitpicking, one more small adjustment that could be made to wooden planks, in addition to fixing the stagger, is to simply move the nails closer to the ends of the planks. That way instead of having to use a 1.5 stud wide support beam under the planks to cover all the nail holes, a more reasonable 1 stud wide support beam could be used that would drastically cut down on the number of beams that would need to be used.

NIKPICKING

Ok, with the good and the bad done, it is time to talk about stuff that I would want fixed but doesn’t hinder the actual materials too much and is mostly just small things I want to be improved because I want them fixed because they slightly bug me. The first thing that I think would be the easiest to fix is how short the new wooden planks are. Each plank in the new wooden plank material is only 4 studs long when a brick is resized just to contain a single wooden board.

Or in other terms, the width to length ratio of the plank is 5 to 1, since the plank is 4 studs long and 0.8 studs wide. Now, for the rest of this section I am going to use this ratio when talking about wooden boards, as converting real life measurements to studs is confusing as best, black magic at worst, while the ratio is easy to understand. So, going back to my deck it had 217 wooden boards. They were all 6 inches wide. Of those 217, 40 were 4 feet long due to being stairs, 20 were 18 inches long due to being filler pieces, 36 were 72 inches long, and the rest were longer than 72 inches. In terms of ratios, the 4 foot long board have a width to length ratio or 8 to 1, the 20 inch fillers had a width to length ratio of 3 to 1, and all of the ones that were 72 inches or longer had a width to length ratio of at least 12 to 1. What that means is, for the most part, they were a lot longer than they were wide. This make new Roblox planks, comparatively, seem really short.

“But WoodReviewer, what about indoor flooring?”

Good question. For the most part, the same issue applies there. Most wood flooring is between 2-4 inches wide, and is roughly 36 inches long for cheaper options, and 5-6 inches wide and 60 inches long for more expensive options. Again, the same issues arises: even if were were to use the wider option for flooring, 6 inches, with the shorted length, 36 inches, the ratio is still 6 to 1, which makes the flooring have a bigger width to length ratio than the new plank texture. In practice, the real ratio for most floor pieces is probably closer to 10 to 1 the longer floor boards are taken into account, or in layman’s terms the new wooden planks are short and stubby. Now there is nothing “wrong” with this for me to put it in the bad section of this post, I just really dislike it and would like to see the wooden planks be made to be longer than they currently are.

One more thing I dislike about the new woods that isn’t really wrong but is really just off is that fact the different types of woods do not look similar to each other. What I mean by this if you have a wooden plank made out of wooden planks next to a wooden plank made out of wood, the differences in the wood grain appearance are so immediate you can clearly tell they are different materials.

Now I know that some of this will be fixed with the color correction change that is coming soon, but I still don’t understand why the wooden plank texture isn’t based on the regular wood texture. Like just imagine how much better this would be for games that want to mix and match wooden planks and wood in-game.

Some of you may be wondering why would you use a mixture of wooden planks and regular wood in a build. The answer is because you would use wooden planks for flooring and/or for walls in a build, but use regular wood for the larger support beams to that they have no lines in the larger beams. And while the improvement may me negligible in a comparison of both materials laying flat on the ground next to each other, it is much clearer how seamlessly they can work to gather when you have something like this, where the supports are large wooden beams with wooden planks on top.

And this texture was with something I made in like 5 minutes, and I suck at texturing stuff. Just image what someone with access to the source files and actual ability could do to make these textures more similar to each other.

Of course, if I were to be given complete control over Roblox textures, I would much, MUCH more to make wood grain better on Roblox. I have gone over what I would do a bit in previous posts about wood, and have implemented some of them in my advent calendar gifts, but the gist of it is I would make three completely different types of wood grain: One like the new wood grain with a well defined grain and is slightly darker, one with a less defined but closer grain, similar to the current wood texture on the site, but is a bit lighter, and one with a super fine grain like you find in super expensive slow growth woods.

Of course, I wouldn’t be happy with just three wood textures, each of those textures would have wooden plank textures. Textures, plural. One would be much like the current wooden plank texture, with planks that were 12 or so studs long and 1 stud wide with well defined lines between them. The second plank texture would be similar to this first texture, only the planks would have an infinite texture, like the regular wooden texture, which would be perfect if you have something that is only a dozen or so studs long that doesn’t need multiple planks in it (pictured below). Then the third plank texture would be one that had no easily visible lines or nails in it, but the difference in the plank texture would be the only giveaway one piece of wood ended and another began, much like in laminated desktops or interior wooden flooring. The planks on this one would also be much finer, only .2 studs wide, which is much more inline to what there planks are like in real life.

The infinite plank texture that I feature in my Advent Calendar every year for the last five years because I love how it looks

Of course, I am not in charge, and I’m pretty sure that having nine different wood textures is super high on the priority list, so I guess for now just having wooden planks and regular wood be more visually similar is all I can hope for.

Oh, and before I forget I guess I should mention that voxel wood planks for smooth terrain are still a thing. They look OK I guess, but seeing as you can’t control the orientation of the side grain of the planks I would try to avoid using them. I guess that wouldn’t be much of an issue since the smallest size a wooden plank voxel can be is an entire voxel so the side plank texture isn’t really useful, but if you manage to get the wooden planks to be less than a full voxel thick than just be aware the side grain will be messed up. Although I don’t think that will be much of an issue as I can only recall one game ever using smooth terrain wooden planks in a game, but it is still possible for someone to use them.

SUMMARY

Now I know it may not seem like it since this blog post is well past 4,000 words, and only a few hundred are talking about the positives to this update, but as far as wood goes I really like the new material update. It is just that I really, REALLY like lighter colored woods, and uses those extensively when I build, so until the color correction issue gets fixed it is hard to show them off for how wood they look. However, after spending several hours going through hundreds of wood-based objects I’ve made, some with my own custom old wood textures, the new wood has really grown on me. Of course, this has been a long post, so let me just make a quick summary of how I feel on the new materials.

I HATE THE NEW WOODEN PLANK TEXTURE

  • I hate the new wooden plank texture

PROS

  • New wood texture shows wood orientation much better
  • Knots on the new wood texture look much better
  • Grain is more more defined on the new wood texture

CONS

  • Wooden planks have a complete lack of knots
  • Regular wood has too many knots, especially on larger pieces of wood
  • Color issues that are to be fixed
  • Wooden planks are not staggered evenly

CHANGES I REALLY WANT

  • Nails in wooden planks moved closer to the ends
  • Planks in wooden plank texture are too short
  • Planks and regular wood are visually dissimilar
  • Would like more wood textures added for more stylistic choices

Yes, I know, I talked about the nails being too far from the end in the cons part of my post but included it in the nitpicking part of my summary, get over it, I just didn’t feel like rewriting parts of this post to put it un the correct spot. But with that being said, this has been my review of the new wood-based materials coming soon to Roblox. If you’ve made it this far, congrats, and I apologize for wasting so much of your times. However, before you leave I just have one question to ask you:

What happened to the new bark texture that was supposed to be coming? Or are we just ignoring that was supposed to be added?

6 thoughts on “Roblox 2021 Material Update

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