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Published: January 05, 2023

With Millions of Plays on Roblox, UT Junior Makes a Difference

A lot of students change their major, but when Bryan Lee ’24 did it, he set out to change the world.

The former marine biology major switched to film, animation and new media but did not abandon his original passion. Today, he’s applying his expertise on the gaming platform Roblox, where he develops games focused on ocean conservation and education.

With Millions of Plays on Roblox, UT Junior Makes a DifferenceLee, who has been scuba diving since he was a kid, is a certified cave diver. Photo provided by Bryan Lee

In just four years, his games have amassed more than 200 million plays.

It all started in Lee’s freshman year when he interned with Roblox in their Accelerator Program, a 12-week program that provides funding for participants to work on a new or existing experience within the platform. 

According to the Roblox website, during the program, participants have access to talks, consultations and roundtables on game design, production management and best practices for the platform.

During his time in the program, Lee was a 3D artist working at Moondrop Studios to produce a sequel game to “Westbound,” Lee said. 

The original game was based off the popular game Red Dead Redemption and is a multiplayer free-roam Western, where players can choose to roam as an outlaw, sheriff, or commoner and fight and collect money. 

“Our studio was working directly with Roblox’s developer relations and engineering team to accelerate production and shipping of a deliverable at the end of the internship,” he said. 

Creating games to help the ocean

Lee, who has been scuba diving since he was a kid, is a certified cave diver.  

“I want to give back in a way,” he said. “I want to use my skills in game design and storytelling to inspire kids to get involved in ocean conservation.”

Due to the lack of interest Lee said he experienced from Roblox in designing games about ocean conservation, he decided to start his own company, Aquatica Studios LLC, in April 2022 to do just that. Aquatica is “pushing Roblox” to the “next level by creating immersive underwater environments that have never been experienced before,” according to its website. 

Since its founding, Lee’s company has received letters of support from the United Nations, the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and more.

Lee first worked seriously on Roblox in 2016, on a game called Vietnam War Roleplay. The game has since been played more than 12 million times on the platform. 

Another one of his most popular games is Westbound, on which Lee was the main artist on a team of three. 

Currently, Lee is working on a game called Mizu, an underwater game focused on ocean conservation and exploration. Lee is in the funding phase of development.  

Lee said his Virtual Production class at UT helped him to get his feet wet in cinematography. 

“In our Virtual Production course last spring, [Lee] went out of his way to 3D model, create virtual environments and run the LED volume to assist on countless student projects,” Gregg Perkins, associate professor of film, animation and new media, said. 

“He has excellent 3D modeling skills, and this is a result of his extensive work on Roblox games,” Perkins said. 

Lee plans to continue making games that inspire people to make changes in the environment. He ultimately wants to become a National Geographic explorer.  

For those who might want to follow Lee’s path, he suggests time and exposure on the platform you want to create on and getting to know the people on the platform to understand the demographic.  

Roblox provides a lot of resources on the platform, and teams of creators can be formed quickly, Lee said. 

“Challenge yourself with projects outside of your comfort zone,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

Have a story idea? Contact Brianna Kwasnik, Digital Content Editor/Writer  
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