Hey everyone, this is my first post here (made an account to download and try out a couple mods a while ago).
Sorry for the long, disjointed post, but I couldn't let this go by without putting in my opinion.
I have to 100% agree with Polaris' criticism of using blocks. If I may, I would like to add a few points to the discussion.
I think that you are spot on in saying that, even if it's not true, using blocks will make this game look like a Minecraft clone. And that's pretty darned important. To be honest, I'm having a hard time imagining how a block-based Rock Raiders game would look different from Minecraft. Sure, RR would have buildings, but Minecraft already has usable blocks like the crafting table and furnace that function in a similar manner. RR and Minecraft both have monsters, different tools, etc. RR would have vehicles, training/upgrading rockraiders, and the RTS elements, but I'm not certain that this is enough to differentiate it from Minecraft and the other MC clones that are already out there (especially if the RTS elements of the game are not deeply expanded upon).
My other criticisms for the block system center around the fact that RR is, at its core, an RTS, and in no way do I feel that a block-based system is conducive for an excellent RTS experience.
I know that the block-based world is attractive as it seems to more easily account for verticality. I don't necessarily believe that this is true for a top-down RTS (even if you have the option to go into 3rd/1st person modes). In a block-based world, the player would still need a way to navigate the top-down camera from level to level, and I think that it would be even more difficult to this without making the world painfully confusing to navigate. In a plane-based (I think that is the terminology people have been using) world, all of the levels would be right on top of one another. In a block based world, some levels would be on top of others, while other levels would be halfway between.
The block-based system is great for building things. This seems to be another main reason for supporting it, as it allows members of the community to easily make levels. The game Rock Raiders, however, is not about building things; it's about management and strategy. Players do not need a building system to enjoy the game. Furthermore, while the block-based system may be accessible for level designers, there's no reason why the plane (or tile or wall) based system would be any less accessible. In fact, I personally would find it far less daunting to make a map with a set of horizontal tiles on several levels than blocks positioned all over a 3d world.
It's also worth mentioning that processing a world made of individual blocks is not exactly resource friendly for our computers. Minecraft especially struggles with a poorly optimized engine, but I think that this is an inherent problem in a block-based system.
I like Polaris' system of tiered planes. There can certainly be more ways to get between levels than ramps. You could simply use a zip-line down a 1-tile space for individual rock raiders, ramps of varying sizes for land vehicles, or simply holes in the ground for flying vehicles. Players could build damming systems for water vehicles, as well. There are plenty of possibilities, really. If this system were used, I would prefer that the ground of one level would be the wall tiles/unexcavated rock on the level below it. Thus, if someone mined away that wall tile, then the floor above would disappear, potentially harming rock raiders or destroying buildings that were placed on it. I'm not an artist, but here's a basic plan of how a 3x3 tile space would look between 2 levels in a few examples:
X (Floor), W (Wall), O(Open space between the upper and lower level)
Ex. 1 Upper Lower Ex. 2 Upper Lower Ex. 3 Upper Lower
XXX WWW XXO WWX OOO XXX
XXX WWW XOO WXX OOO XXX
XXX WWW XOO WXX OOO XXX
I think that such a system would make the tiers feel more connected to one another, and it would allow for level design that made base planning and digging more challenging. Anyway, that's just my 2 cents on the block-system vs the original system and that which Polaris suggested.
I do have a few other things to say. I read over the story section on the new web site, and I have to say that I do not like this nonsense about androids. I think that you should keep the Rock Raiders human (even if they are cartoony humans that bear a strong resemblence to the Lego minifigure). I simply feel that their being human, combined with the ability to name them, makes the individual Rock Raiders feel more important and meaningful to the player. I don't see any reason to change that, unless it somehow helps prevent copyright/trademark issues (but I suspect that it does not). In fact, I think that the story should still be a bit more pressing. I quite liked that the original Rock Raiders needed to gather enough crystals to repair their ship and go home. Mining with androids in space for...profit? Or even simply just for the heck of it? I feel like this takes away from any chance at a compelling campaign storyline.
I'm glad that this game plans to carry over all of the core Rock Raiders features. This is a good starting point, and the site seems to indicate that there are plans to greatly expand upon the content that is included in each of these features (like additional buildings, vehicles, creatures, etc.).
Here are some other features that I would like to see expanded upon:
The Rock Raiders themselves: This is probably a given, but I would like to see rock raiders that look different (clothing, ethnicity, gender, etc.). Maybe even (since this is science fiction) different alien races with advantages/disadvantages, sort of like what the indie game FTL does.
More/Tiered Training Options: It would be nice to see some additional jobs the RR's can perform. I would also like to see tiers in each ability, such as Driving I, Driving II, Driving III. I think that this would add to the feeling of progression (which is definitely going to need to be expanded upon if the levels are going to be larger).
Fully Functional 1st/3rd Person: The ability to perform all individual rock raider actions from the 1st/3rd person viewpoint, although I get the impression that this is already on the to-do list.
Difficulty: This is critical. While Rock Raiders is a great game (and rather difficult for a Lego title), it is still fairly easy. Most of it is simply a time-sink to explore and eventually get the required crystals. The only truly difficult aspects of the game are lava, slimy slugs, rock slides, and oxygens (And those last two are only a problem for the first few minutes of any mission!). Off the top of my head, I can think of many ways to add difficulty. (1) Limiting the number if RR's that can be called down in any mission (I think that something like this is essential). Basically, you only get 8 Rock Raiders for level 1, and if any of them die, you cannot call down any additional RR's. (2) Making Rock Monsters and other creatures much more of a threat. (3) Requiring ore or other resources to train/upgrade RR's. (4) Losing resources spent on a structure when it is destroyed. (5) Time limits on some missions (although this is sort of a lazy one, it can certainly work here and there). (6) Limiting the number of skills that a Rock Raider can be trained in (e.g. once a RR is a driver, explosives expert, and geologist, he/she cannot be trained any additional skills). This would also go a long way towards making each Rock Raider feel unique and important. (7) Additional Rock Raider needs beyond sandwiches (maybe sleep, medical attention etc.). These are all just examples, obviously, and I am simply welcoming to anything that adds difficulty to the game. Remember, this game is 14 years old (I think), and as such, the target audience is probably 14 years older.
On a side note, I really like the idea for multiplayer!
Sorry for the long post! I just wanted to get some of my ideas out there.