If you have recently been browsing social networks and various entertainment channels, you have surely heard about Lethal Company, a new multiplayer title that is becoming increasingly popular among players and content creators. What you may not know is that this game could represent a trend that, in the coming years, could only increase: Lethal Company, the solo work of developer Zeekerss, would not have existed without Roblox.
For those of you who are not so familiar with this popular platform, Roblox is an application for creating video games that allows its users to use its tools to develop titles within its engine. The games are published – for free or through payment of in-game currency – on its servers and players can access them through the different discovery tools that the platform itself has. As of 2023, Roblox has more than fifty-six million active users every day, and is a particularly popular entertainment among the youngest, who can access it for free from computers – with few technical requirements – or from mobile phones and tablets to an infinite number of users. of titles that are played alone or cooperatively, together with your friends.
However, there are none of Roblox’s glossy graphics, schematic bobbleheads, and unique interaction dynamics in Lethal Company. Published on October 23, it is a cooperative game with survival horror overtones and procedurally generated levels, in which players take the role of employees of a dystopian and retrofuturistic company that is dedicated to extracting resources from different moons. in a solar system. For the company, achieving the objectives of collected materials is paramount, regardless of whether its workers have to expose themselves to lethal dangers to do so. Thus, we will join several friends and go out on an adventure, trying to obtain as many materials as possible while we have stamina, which works as a life meter. We will collect weapons and upgrades for our characters, yes, but we will also face a large number of dangers that will make it very easy for our game to end prematurely.
The success of Lethal Company has a lot to do with a simple but easy to understand design, yes, but also with a very interactive world that gives rise to thousands of emergent narrative situations. When playing with friends, it is easy for a partner to accidentally activate a trap that puts the group’s safety in check; that we ourselves stray a little, attracted by something particular that we have seen on the map, and we end up dying inevitably while the rest wonder what happened to us. The game has a communication system between the different participants, but with a peculiarity: it is based on proximity, so if we die or move too far from the rest of the players we will no longer be able to talk to the other members of the group, not being able to warn them of the dangers that have ended with us or help them in their tasks.
It might seem that the game is just another multiplayer phenomenon, like Fall Guys, Among Us or similar were at the time, but there are several peculiarities in this case that make it worthy of attention, even beyond the design virtues of the game itself. game. For example, the fact that its developer, Zeekerss, is one of the first cases of massive success of Roblox as a platform for approaching the creation of video games. A user who learned to program, design and create his own titles in this tool, and who ended up making the leap to independent development.
Between 2011 and 2018, Zeekerss developed a total of 574 games on Roblox. We can see glimpses of this, in fact, on his own YouTube channel; If we dig into the videos on the account that published the original Lethal Company trailer three months ago, we can find diverse Roblox content, from trailers and soundtracks of its own games to memes and montages using the platform’s tools. It is curious, in fact, to see the evolution of the developer himself: after several videos criticizing Roblox’s update policies, which make the titles already created in it obsolete and require constant maintenance from the creators of the games hosted on its servers, we find records of its first developments in Unity or its first games in itch.io.
If we look closely, in fact, we can perhaps even glimpse some of his training on this platform in the design elements of Lethal Company. A very particular focus on multiplayer, for example, which seeks to find short games but with the potential to generate fun moments between users, or a predilection for simple, intuitive controls and concise premises that are quite similar to some of the horror games present in Roblox.
Beyond the individual case, Zeekerss’s is a particular case because it could be the beginning of many others. Although Roblox as a platform has existed since 2006, its rise in terms of popularity began around 2017, and increased exponentially during the pandemic; a boom that continues to this day, with its player base constantly increasing. What remains are the statistics: 29% of its users are between nine and twelve years old, and another 25% are under nine. Although there are already numerous precedents of Roblox developers who have formed studios to continue developing games within the platform, such as Uplift Games (Adopt Me) or Gamefam (Tower of Misery), it is perfectly expected that many of the young people who have started developing video games in Roblox, they make the leap to independent video games, or even become part of the big studios in the industry. This generation, with a completely different background and background than most developers at this time, could bring a stream of new ideas and perspectives to the video game that we would not have gotten otherwise; Lethal Company would be, perhaps, just the tip of the iceberg.