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(+2)

I've been thinking about rollers for wheels, after my attempts to build some ate the entire frame rate

What I'm wondering is if it would be plausible to have an object that has significant friction in - say - the X axis, but none in Y or Z.

Assuming directional friction is possible in the engine, it would allow rollers on wheels - or in other places - to function without having to complicate the game's calculations with moving hinges.

(+1)

It turns out that a big problem with player-made wheels was that the game was recognizing them as high-speed spinning weapons and adding Weapon_Blur_Cylinders to them.  The Weapon_Blur_Cylinders are designed to correctly calculate the result of impacts when a steel bar is spinning faster than approximately 400 RPM.  At this speed, the physics engine is essentially "teleporting" the spinning thing to its new location every tick.

Weapon_Blur_Cylinders do apply tangential forces, but they don't simulate friction, so driving with them is a terrible experience.

In the new build if you create a shape and set the material to "Rubber", the game will not create a Weapon_Blur_Cylinder at all.  This means that the game will use its normal friction system, and the robot will drive exactly like it would if you used premade wheels.