Plant Reference Project

Plant is a reference experience where players plant and water seeds, so they can later harvest and sell the resulting plants.

Plant project banner

The project focuses on common use cases that you might encounter when developing an experience on Roblox. Where applicable, you'll find notes on tradeoffs, compromises, and the rationale of various implementation choices, so you can make the best decision for your own experiences.

Get the File

  1. Navigate to the Plant experience page.
  2. Click the button and Edit in Studio.

Use Cases

Plant covers the following use cases:

  • Session data and player data persistence
  • UI view management
  • Client-server networking
  • First Time User Experience (FTUE)
  • Hard and soft currency purchases

In addition, this project solves narrower sets of problems that are applicable to many experiences, including:

  • Customization of an area in the place that's associated with a player
  • Managing the player character's movement speed
  • Creating an object that follows characters around
  • Detecting what part of the world a character is in

Note that there are several use cases in this experience that are too small, too niche, or don't demonstrate a solution to an interesting design challenge; these are not covered.

Project Structure

The first decision when creating an experience is deciding how to structure the project, which mainly includes where to place specific instances in the data model and how to organize and structure entry points for both client and server code.

Data Model

The following table describes which container services in the data model instances are placed in.

ServiceTypes of Instances

Contains static models representing the 3D world, specifically parts of the world that don't belong to any player. You don't need to dynamically create, modify, or destroy these instances at runtime, so it's acceptable to leave them here.

There is also an empty Folder, to which players' farm models will be added at runtime.


Atmospheric and lighting effects.


Contains the smallest possible subset of instances needed to display the loading screen and initialize the game. The more instances that are placed in ReplicatedFirst, the longer the wait for them to replicate before code in ReplicatedFirst can run.

  • In the Instances folder exists the loading screen GUI.
  • In the Source folder exists the loading screen code and the code needed to wait for the rest of the game to load. The start LocalScript is the entry point for all client-side code in the project.

Serves as a storage container for all instances for which access is required on both the client and the server.

  • In the Dependencies folder exists some third party libraries used by the project.
  • In the Instances folder exists a wide range of prefabricated instances used by various classes in the game.
  • In the Source folder exists all code not required for the loading process that needs to be accessible from both the client and the server.

Contains a Script serving as the entry point for all server-side code in the project.


Serves as a storage container for all instances that do not need to be replicated to the client.

  • In the Instances folder exists a template Farm model. A copy of this is placed in Workspace when the player joins the game, where it will be replicated to all players.
  • In the Source folder exists all code that is exclusive to the server.

Contains the Sound objects used for sound effects in the game. Under SoundService, these Sound objects have no position and are not simulated in 3D space.

Entry Points

Most projects organize code inside reusable ModuleScripts that can be imported across the entire codebase. ModuleScripts are reusable but they do not execute on their own; they need to be imported by a Script or LocalScript. Many Roblox projects will have a large number of Script and LocalScript objects, each pertaining to a behavior or particular system in the game, creating multiple points of entry.

For the Plant microgame, a different approach is implemented through a single LocalScript that is the entry point for all client code, and a single Script that is the entry point for all server code. The correct approach for your project depends on your requirements, but a single point of entry provides greater control over the order in which systems are executed in.

The following lists describe the tradeoffs of both approaches:

  • A single Script and a single LocalScript cover server and client code respectively.
  • Greater control over the order in which different systems are started because all code is initialized from a single script.
  • Can pass objects by reference between systems.

High Level Systems Architecture

The top-level systems in the project are detailed below. Some of these systems are substantially more complex than others, and in many cases their functionality is abstracted across a hierarchy of other classes.

Plant project systems architecture diagram

Each of these systems is a "singleton," in that it's a non-instantiable class that is instead initialized by the relevant client or server start script. You can read more about the singleton pattern later in this guide.


The following systems are associated with the server.

  • Creates all RemoteEvent and RemoteFunction instances.
  • Exposes methods for sending and listening to messages from the client.
  • Type validation for arguments received from the client at runtime.
  • Saves and loads persistent player data using DataStoreService.
  • Stores player data in memory and replicates mutations to the client.
  • Exposes signals and methods for subscribing to, querying, and updating player data.
  • Handles soft currency transactions from the client.
  • Exposes a method to sell harvested plants.
  • Assigns player character models to collision groups.
  • Configures collision groups so player characters can not collide with plant wagons.
  • Re-creates a player's farm model from their player data when they join the game.
  • Removes the farm model when a player leaves.
  • Updates the player data when a player's farm is changed.
  • Exposes a method to access the Farm class associated with a given player.
  • Creates various objects associated with the lifetime of a player and provides a method to retrieve these.
  • During the FTUE, executes each stage and waits for it to complete.
  • Respawns characters when they die. Note that Players.CharacterAutoLoads has been disabled so that spawning is paused until the player's data has loaded.


The following systems are associated with the client.

  • Waits for the server to create all RemoteEvent and RemoteFunction instances.
  • Exposes methods for sending and listening to messages to and from the server.
  • Enforces runtime parameter type validation.
  • Runs pcall() on remote functions.
  • Stores the local player's data in memory.
  • Exposes methods and signals for querying and subscribing to changes in player data.
  • Exposes a method to request the server to purchase an item for soft currency.
  • Exposes methods to modify the WalkSpeed or JumpHeight of a character via multipliers to avoid conflicts when modifying these values from multiple places.
  • Listens for specific CollectionService tags being applied to instances and creates "components" appending behavior to these instances. A "component" refers to a class that is created when a CollectionService tag is added to an instance and destroyed when it is removed; these are used for the CTA prompts in the farm and various classes telegraphing farm state to the player.
  • Initializes all UI layers.
  • Configures certain layers to be visible only in physical sections of the game world.
  • Hooks up a special camera effect for when menus are enabled.
  • Configures FTUE stages on the client.
  • Uses LocalWalkJumpManager to increase WalkSpeed when a player character is outside of their farm.

Client-Server Communication

Most Roblox experiences involve some element of communication between the client and server. This can include the client requesting the server perform a certain action and the server replicating updates to the client.

In this project, client-server communication is kept as generic as possible by limiting the use of RemoteEvent and RemoteFunction objects in order to decrease the amount of special rules to keep track of. This project uses the following methods, in order of preference:

Replication via Player Data System

The player data system allows data to be associated with the player which persists between save sessions. This system provides replication from client to server and a set of APIs that can be used to query data and subscribe to changes, making it ideal for replicating changes to player state from the server to the client.

For example, rather than firing a bespoke UpdateCoins RemoteEvent to tell the client how many coins it has, you can call the following and let the client subscribe to it via the PlayerDataClient.updated event.

PlayerDataServer:setValue(player, "coins", 5)

Of course, this is only useful for server-to-client replication and for values that you want to persist between sessions, but this applies to a surprising number of cases in the project, including:

  • The current FTUE stage
  • The player's inventory
  • The amount of coins the player has
  • The state of the player's farm

Replication via Attributes

In situations where the server needs to replicate a custom value to the client that's specific to a given Instance, you can use attributes. Roblox automatically replicates attribute values, so you don't need to maintain any code paths to replicate state associated with an object. Another advantage is that this replication happens alongside the instance itself.

This is particularly useful for instances created at runtime, as attributes set on a new instance before it is parented to the data model will replicate atomically with the instance itself. This circumvents any need to write code to "wait" for extra data to be replicated via a RemoteEvent or StringValue.

You can also directly read attributes from the data model, from either the client or the server, with the GetAttribute() method, and subscribe to changes with the GetAttributeChangedSignal() method. In the Plant project, this approach is used for, amongst other things, replicating the current status of plants to clients.

Replication via Tags

CollectionService lets you apply a string tag to an Instance. This is useful for categorizing instances and replicating that categorization to the client.

For example, the CanPlant tag is applied on the server to signify to the client that a given pot is able to receive a plant.

Messaging Directly via Network Module

For situations where none of the previous options apply, you can use custom network calls through the Network module. This is the only option in the project that allows client-to-server communication and is therefore most useful for transmitting client requests and receiving a server response.

Plant uses direct network calls for a variety of client requests, including:

  • Watering a plant
  • Planting a seed
  • Purchasing an item

The drawback with this approach is that each individual message requires some bespoke configuration which can increase the complexity of the project, although this has been avoided wherever possible, particularly for server-to-client communication.

Classes and Singletons

Classes in the Plant project, like instances on Roblox, can be created and destroyed. Its class syntax is inspired by the idiomatic Lua approach to object-oriented programming with a number of changes to enable strict typechecking support.


Many classes in the project are associated with one or more Instances. Objects of a given class are created using a new() method, consistent with how instances are created in Roblox using

This pattern is generally used for objects where the class has a physical representation in the data model, and the class extends its functionality. A good example is BeamBetween which creates a Beam object between two given Attachment objects and keeps those attachments orientated so that the beam is always facing upwards. These instances could be cloned from a prefabricated version in ReplicatedStorage or passed into new() as an argument and stored inside the object under self.

Corresponding Instances

As noted above, many classes in this project have a data model representation, an instance that corresponds with the class and is manipulated by it.

Rather than creating these instances when a class object is instantiated, the code generally opts to Clone() a prefabricated version of the Instance stored under ReplicatedStorage or ServerStorage. Although it would be possible to serialize the properties of these instances and create them from scratch in the class' new() functions, doing so would make editing the objects very cumbersome and make them harder for a reader to parse. Additionally, cloning an instance is generally a faster operation than creating a new instance and customizing its properties at runtime.


Although inheritance is possible in Lua using metatables, the project opts to instead allow classes to extend each other through composition. When combining classes through composition, the "child" object is instantiated in the new() method of the class and is included as a member under self.

For an example of this in action, see the CloseButton class which wraps the Button class.


Similar to how an Instance can be destroyed with the Destroy() method, classes which can be instantiated can also be destroyed. The destructor method for project classes is destroy() with a lowercase d for camelCase consistency across the codebase's methods, as well as to distinguish between the project's classes and Roblox instances.

The role of the destroy() method is to destroy any instances created by the object, disconnect any connections, and call destroy() on any child objects. This is particularly important for connections because instances with active connections are not cleaned up by the Lua garbage collector, even if no references to the instance or connections to the instance remain.


Singletons, as the name suggests, are classes for which only one object can ever exist. They are the project's equivalent of Roblox's Services. Rather than storing a reference to the singleton object and passing it around in the Lua code, Plant takes advantage of the fact that requiring a ModuleScript caches its returned value. This means that requiring the same singleton ModuleScript from different places consistently provides the same returned object. The only exception to this rule would be if different environments (client or server) accessed the ModuleScript.

Singletons are distinguished from instantiable classes by the fact that they don't have a new() method. Rather, the object along with its methods and state is returned directly via the ModuleScript. As singletons are not instantiated, the self syntax is not used and methods are instead called with a dot (.) rather than a colon (:).

Strict Type Inference

Luau supports gradual typing which means you're free to add optional type definitions to some or all of your code. In this project, strict typechecking is used for every script. This is the least permissive option for Roblox's script analysis tool and thus the most likely to catch type errors before runtime.

Typed Class Syntax

The established approach to creating classes in Lua is well documented, however it is not well suited to strong Luau typing. In Luau, the simplest approach for getting the type of a class is the typeof() method:

type ClassType = typeof(

This works but it isn't very useful when your class is initiated with values that only exist at runtime, for example Player objects. Additionally, the assumption made in idiomatic Lua class syntax is that declaring a method on a class self will always be an instance of that class; this is not an assumption the type inference engine can make.

In order to support strict type inference, the Plant project uses a solution that differs from idiomatic Lua class syntax in a number of ways, some of which may feel non-intuitive:

  • The definition of self is duplicated, both in the type declaration and in the constructor. This introduces a maintainability burden, but warnings will be flagged if the two definitions fall out of sync with each other.
  • Class methods are declared with a dot, so self can be explicitly declared to be of type ClassType. Methods can still be called with a colon as expected.

local MyClass = {}
MyClass.__index = MyClass
export type ClassType = typeof(setmetatable(
{} :: {
property: number,
function number): ClassType
local self = {
property = property,
setmetatable(self, MyClass)
return self
function MyClass.addOne(self: ClassType) += 1
return MyClass

Casting Types After Logical Guards

At the time of writing, the type of a value is not narrowed after a guard conditional statement. For example, following the guard below, the type of optionalParameter is not narrowed to number.

local function foo(optionalParameter: number?)
if not optionalParameter then
print(optionalParameter + 1)

To mitigate this, new variables are created after these guards with their type explicitly cast.

local function foo(optionalParameter: number?)
if not optionalParameter then
local parameter = optionalParameter :: number
print(parameter + 1)

Traversing DataModel Hierarchies

In some cases, the codebase needs to traverse the data model hierarchy of a tree of objects that are created at runtime. This presents an interesting challenge for typechecking. At the time of writing, it's not possible to define a generic data model hierarchy as a type. As a result, there are cases where the only type information available for a data model structure is the type of the top level instance.

One approach to this challenge is to cast to any and then refine. For example:

local function enableVendor(vendor: Model)
local zonePart: BasePart = (vendor :: any).ZonePart

The problem with this approach is that it impacts readability. Instead, the project uses a generic module called getInstance for traversing data model hierarchies that casts to any internally.

local function enableVendor(vendor: Model)
local zonePart: BasePart = getInstance(vendor, "ZonePart")

As the type engine's understanding of the data model evolves, it's possible that patterns like this will no longer be necessary.

User Interface

Plant includes a variety of complex and simple 2D user interfaces. These include non-interactive heads up display (HUD) items like the coin counter and complex interactive menus like the shop.

UI Approach

You can loosely compare Roblox UI to the HTML DOM, because it's a hierarchy of objects that describe what the user should be seeing. Approaches to creating and updating a Roblox UI are broadly divided into imperative and declarative practices.

ApproachAdvantages and Drawbacks

In the imperative approach, UI is treated like any other instance hierarchy on Roblox. The UI structure is created before runtime in Studio and added to the data model, typically directly in StarterGui. Then, at runtime, code manipulates specific pieces of the UI to reflect the state the creator requires.

This approach comes with some advantages. You can create the UI from scratch in Studio and store it in the data model. This is a simple and visual editing experience that can accelerate UI creation. Because imperative UI code only concerns itself with what needs changing, it also makes simple UI changes easy to implement.

A notable drawback is that, since imperative UI approaches require state to be manually implemented in the form of transformations, complex representations of state can become very hard to find and debug. It's common for errors to emerge when developing imperative UI code, especially when state and the UI becomes desynchronized due to multiple updates interacting in an unexpected order.

Another challenge with imperative approaches is that it's harder to break down UI into meaningful components that can be declared once and reused. Because the entire UI tree is declared at edit time, common patterns may be repeated in multiple parts of the data model.


In the declarative approach, the desired state of UI instances are declared explicitly, and the efficient implementation of this state is abstracted away by libraries such as Roact or Fusion.

The advantage of this approach is the implementation of state becomes trivial and you only need to describe what you want your UI to look like. This makes identifying and resolving bugs significantly easier.

The key drawback is having to declare the entire UI tree in code. Libraries like Roact and Fusion have syntax to make this easier, but it's still a time consuming process and a less intuitive editing experience when composing UI.

Plant uses an imperative approach under the notion that showing the transformations directly gives a more effective overview of how UI is created and manipulated on Roblox. This would not be possible with a declarative approach. Some repeated UI structures and logic are also abstracted into reusable components to avoid a common pitfall in imperative UI design.

High-Level Architecture

Plant project UI architecture diagram

Layer and Components

In Plant, all UI structures are either a Layer or a Component.

  • Layer is defined as a top level grouping singleton that wraps prefabricated UI structures in ReplicatedStorage. A layer may contain a number of components, or it may encapsulate its own logic entirely. Examples of layers are the inventory menu or the number of coins indicator in the heads up display.
  • Component is a reusable UI element. When a new component object is instantiated, it clones a prefabricated template from ReplicatedStorage. Components may in themselves contain other components. Examples of components are a generic button class or the concept of a list of items.

View Handling

A common UI management problem is view handling. This project has a range of menus and HUD items, some of which listen to user input, and careful management of when they are visible or enabled is required.

Plant approaches this problem with its UIHandler system which manages when a UI layer should or should not be visible. All UI layers in the game are categorized as HUD or Menu and their visibility is managed by the following rules:

  • The enabled state of Menu and HUD layers can be toggled.
  • Enabled HUD layers are only shown if no Menu layers are enabled.
  • Enabled Menu layers are stored in a stack, and only one Menu layer is visible at a time. When a Menu layer is enabled, it is inserted to the front of the stack and shown. When a Menu layer is disabled, it is removed from the stack and the next enabled Menu layer in the queue is shown.

This approach is intuitive because it allows menus to be navigated with history. If one menu is opened from another menu, closing the new menu will show the old menu again.

UI layer singletons register themselves with the UIHandler and are provided with a signal that fires when its visibility should change.

Further Reading

From this thorough overview of the Plant project, you may want to explore the following guides which go further in depth on related concepts and topics.

  • Client-Server Model — An overview of the client-server model in Roblox.
  • Luau — Details on Luau, the Roblox scripting language derived from Lua 5.1.
  • Remote Events and Callbacks — All about remote network events and callbacks for communication across the client-server boundary.
  • UI — Details on user interface objects and design on Roblox.