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Information From A Designer From LI2 GBA And IXS (With Images)

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So Dean Roskell and I have been having a conversation recently. Under the norm I'd wait on posting until after the conversation was over, however it will be a while until I hear back.

 

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1. Awhile back you uploaded a map that mentioned a character called Rolf the Vet, could you tell me a bit more about the character and its minigame

 

I don't recall the details about many of the individual characters. I remember we had a character bible which would have dated back to working on Lego Island 2 which we used for reference. Many of the characters that featured in the design throughout development would have come from that, but if nothing fit the design needs, then we would create something new. the brickimals had more of a grander design for the game, the collection, creation and use. Rolf was meant to play a role in that feature. I don't recall at what point it was cut or how far in development it reached, my feeling is that it didn't get much past the paper stage and never really had a fleshed out design.

The idea of Rolf being someone who fixes animals made sense to play the role of a guide helping instruct Pepper about the building and uses of the Brickimals. I do have one memory of sitting at my desk combining bricks in many different ways in order to generate ideas for each brickimal; the goal was to use as few basic brick pieces as possible to create a distinct looking creature.

The brickimals beyond being a collection and build feature were a hope to give the team a tool to use, say as a feature in a mini-game, quest, or animation opportunity on the island. I wanted to increase the life of the island as the game progressed, and rather than just have all creatures there from the getgo, let the player has a significant role in creating it, much like a bag of almost random bricks can be combined by a builder to produce an amazing build which becomes more meaningful than just receiving the end product.

 

2. Can you tell me about the canned Silk Road plans (Darren Drabwell mentioned it awhile back)  

 

Sure, so Lego Island 3 wasn't a clear sequel to Lego Island 2. We had to work with Lego and understand their plans for which themes they were wanting to promote over the upcoming seasons that fit the timeline of the game's release. So early on the team were working on basic technology, a new engine to drive whatever the game was going to be that would utilise the new Playstation 2 hardware; myself, along with the producers from Silicon Dreams and Lego were trying to build the plans for taking Lego's product theme needs and building out a concept that fit. So at the time, they were discussing a product line up based on the Silk Road. Lego also had an adventurers theme, I can't recall if they were going to be built as exclusive sets or combined so that the Silk Road would become a subtheme of Adventurers.

I did a ton of research into the history of the Silk Road, and Arabian Nights. The proposal I built was to have a multi-location adventure which included the Lego Adventurers sets and locations, Pepper would be the main player character, and would be themed around a story based on the Silk Road and Arabian Nights. I did some digging through old boxes and found a sample dungeon adventure I designed to show the type of game this would be (see attached). As you can see the adventure, based in Arabia, uses a story based on an idea taken from 1001 Arabian Nights. Pepper (the player) and his partner Johnny Thunder (From Lego Adventurers). This was the only dungeon design to be fleshed out like this as it was a proposal to see if this fit Lego's wants and product theme needs.

 

The design of this game unlike Lego Island 2 was to be more like Zelda Ocarina of Time, using a flow of moving across a set of different landscapes (with some backtracking), building up a set of key tools which would unlock the ability to access new spaces and perform new abilities, each area culminating in some form of dungeon and boss fight which would test the player's skills using their growing set of abilities, whilst unlocking new abilities for use in future dungeons.

 

This was a very different design, and scope of the project, which that in a combination of Lego deciding not to go with the Silk Road theme after doing some market tests with their own product line proposals (I believe they had some mockup sets which they showed to people for feedback) we axed. Following this was them making bringing a new product theme to the table based on Xtreme Sports. This fit closer to the existing range of Lego Island games as Pepper was already a skateboarder, and the Island could make for a good basis for a skate park style environment easily adapting to the physical sets being produced.

 

3. Also did Shugu/Animal Chin have any relation to the Silk Road concept?  

 

No, seem to recall Animal Chin being a thing dating back to Lego Island 2. It came from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Search_for_Animal_Chin and was related to skateboarding

 

4. By chance was there a construction worker character planned for Island Xtreme Stunts? There was one in the outro movie that seemed a little out of place with the rest of named characters.  

 

There's a good possibility of it, but I don't recall specifically. Through all the different versions of the project we had a lot of characters which reached some stage of design before cutting, some of them would have been modelled and animated or had dialogue recorded. So would have been there for animators to grab even if any story/gameplay element was cut.

 

5. What other cut quests and characters were there?  

 

More than I can ever possibly list or remember. As a basis for the game concept, it went through many iterations until things finally settled on the design of the final product. At one stage I designed something like 50+ minigames similar to what you would get in Mario Party. These were mostly if not all cut as the game solidified on the concept of making larger more grander mini-game sequences seen in the final game, where-as the ones I designed were focused on performing more simplistic actions. Many of them were designed as four player games, which would feature AI in a single player game, and allow for four players to compete in a multiplayer setup. A lot of this work was done during the design and creation of Lego Island 2 on the Gameboy Advance, the thinking that a simpler style of game would allow for it to be made on both that system (using the system link cable for multiplayer) as well as the Playstation 2/Gamecube. You can see the kind of design concept in some of the mini games that shipped with Lego Island 2 on the Gameboy Advance.

 

As for Characters, I took some photos from a character document posted below, this was from when the Adventurer's theme was proposed to be included so we listed out a set of characters who would feature in each of the game's spaces based on the themes of the set (Desert, Jungle, Dino Island, Orient Expedition). For these, in particular, I remember went no further than this one document. No development work was ever actually produced beyond some concept writing.

 

Also here's the images that were mentioned above

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jamesster

While I think IXS was a more fitting game for the LEGO Island series, especially as the end of the trilogy, this is a cool concept. Would have loved to play it.

 

(BTW, the RRU gallery applies extra compression to jpg images, so your uploads here are blurrier than they were on Discord. You might want to upload them on imgur or something instead.)

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Brickome
On 4/4/2018 at 11:44 AM, Terrev said:

While I think IXS was a more fitting game for the LEGO Island series, especially as the end of the trilogy, this is a cool concept. Would have loved to play it.

 

(BTW, the RRU gallery applies extra compression to jpg images, so your uploads here are blurrier than they were on Discord. You might want to upload them on imgur or something instead.)

I uploaded them imgur and edited the post. BTW if anyone has anything they'd like asked, feel free to ask. Also I'll add that I think were both good ideas and are equal to me. If we were to have not gotten a game I'd rather it would been LEGO Soccer Mania and get the 2 LI games

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Got a reply today

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1.       By chance could I see the rest of that character booklet you uploaded a couple pages from, when you get back? I’m really enjoying reading about new LEGO Island characters

 

I've photographed each page for both the character document and the dungeon design and attached PDF's below. To be clear about both none of the content within the documents ever went further than just a conversation with LEGO, they were both from the different ideation phases of the project so never got made into anything. 

The dungeon was from when we were looking at making the game structure more like Zelda.

Here's links to the PDFs

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ybqvqi683jfowh4/Lego Island 3 Adventurers Island Character Document.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w7y8645ulohemee/images.pdf?dl=0

BTW it'd be neat if that dungeon was made into reality. If any of you try to make it real feel free to PM me and ask for help. (I'd do it myself but I lack coding skills)

 

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2. In the end cutscene of LEGO Island 2, a girlfriend for Pepper suddenly shows up but was never seen again. In some web games released between LI2 and IXS, Pepper has a friend named Luna Rom, whose official description is almost identical to Sky Lane's bio in IXS. Are these all evolutions of the same character?

 

I can't remember the story behind the character from LI2, if anything it could have been the seed of information that led to the creation of Sky Lane. 

Sky Lane was supposed to be Pepper's girlfriend IIRC, I think Sky's name changed probably a few time, like many other characters during production, often not all references were updated to reflect that. I think her creation was in part to produce a capable character who could impress Pepper with similar skills, in an effort to give him someone to have a crush on. We weren't sure how far we wanted to push the relationship idea though and looked to find a comfortable middle ground suitable for the age of the audience. I can't remember the details of Luna Rom exactly, but there's a very strong chance that they both came from the same idea. With different teams working on different projects or parts of the project, there's every chance that the character was using one particular name and design when that team worked on their part.

Sorry, I don't have a definitive answer on this one. 

 

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jamesster

Awesome stuff. The dungeon is far more intricate and scripted than I expected, though come to think of it it's pretty on par with the sort of gameplay variation you see in in LEGO Island 2 - just in a rather different format.

 

If anyone wants to take a shot at making something based on this, Unity 2018.1 just got ProBuilder integrated into it, which is really nice for level prototyping. I recommend blocking out the dungeon with that, then getting all the functionality in place, then making it look pretty.

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Brickome

I got a response today and yesterday

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1. Was there ever any talk of a fourth LEGO Island game? (The original LI3 concepts have gotten me wondering)
I actually left the project and company just prior to the launch of the game; I think it's fair to say that the relationship with Lego, the introduction of EA and the state of the industry at the time all had their say into whether a fourth game was ever viable. The developer Silicon Dreams didn't ship another game after IXS; they struggled, like many other companies to secure a licence/project deal for a new game. I was involved in pitching concepts to publishers and licence holders, but nothing solidified. They ended up looking in-house for ideas, where team members pitched projects. The winner of that process was the Urban project, which started and ended with Urban Freestyle Soccer; this was to build on top of the in-house engine that was used for UEFA Champions League and Lego Soccer. The company folded before shipping this, the publisher Acclaim was already in financial trouble and in their efforts to stay afloat tried too offset their lack of capital by failing to pay developers on the promise that the money was coming later; this is obviously an unsustainable strategy but it allowed them to survive a little longer by letting developers go out of business and adopting the leftover projects for a cut-price, passing the nearly finished code to another developer before shipping the game. In this case, the developer was Gusto Games, a short-lived phoenix that rose from the ashes of Silicon Dreams housed by ex-staff. "

 

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> 2. Was there some sort of editor built into IXS? (There’s a few file mentions )
We did have an editor, shockingly I'm really struggling to remember much about it now, wow, that's kinda hurting my brain. It was an in-house built system, this was a time when most companies had their own engines and systems outside of the few that licensed, which was generally the Quake 2 engine. The engine had a scripting language, but it was heavily reliant on the input from programmers, unlike the Unreal and Unity we have today that rewards great power to their high-level scripting setups. Most of the mini-games were developed and managed by a dedicated programmer, who would put most of their focus within that code; this was the cost of developing such different experiences which existed outside of the main Island space; I wished I could have found a solution so that all content existed within the confines of the Island but the request to create richer styles of games forced my hand, there simply wasn't the performance in the engine or scope in the size of the island to do so.

Noting that there's a bunch of code in the exe for an editor, I'd suggest someone try to get up and running. (Not to say they couldn't be remains of it, but still it'd be nice to see whatever is there)

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As IXS was originally called LEGO Island 3, by chance did the name change have to do with the EA beginning to work with LEGO part way through development?
I can't remember the exact reasoning behind the name change, it was a marketing thing though. to capitalise on the trend of extreme sports, to avoid losing customers if they hadn't played the first two games, and to shift it further away from the educational branding into more of the entertainment space. EA certainly had an impact on that, although they came quite late to the party and the game was very much as it shipped really. Actually, I do have a story about that. when EA stepped in to joint publish the game they came to visit the offices to check in with the dev team, Lego was obviously super nervous about this and it was clear there was a bit of power play going on over who really was pulling the reigns, IIRC Lego wasn't in the best financial state at this time so the move to partner with EA was probably a requirement rather than a want. Tom Stone who was EA's vice president swept through the office bouncing from staff member to staff member asking what they were working on and if they had anything they wanted to bring up. One of the main design issues that the team were struggling with was Lego's constant pulling back on anything that resembled violence, they were getting uneasy at any sort of projectile in the game, and I don't mean guns, but things like bananas, this was requiring us to change the designs of games, and even disregard stuff we'd done for LI2. Tom's comment on this was to turn to the room and make a speech about how it all changes now, you want violence you put that in. The team were actually taken aback by the monologue after he left discussion flared up, and while I was happy that he'd basically given more creative freedom back to us I had to temper things by reminding everyone how late in the project we were, but still it did give us some allowances to make adjustments. Tom, who you might know has gone on to produce quite a legacy for himself when it comes to Lego games, and the statement he gave that day was certainly the grounding of the new path forward for Lego games. Prior to that we often daydreamed about the idea of making a Star Wars Lego game but laughed it off as we saw no possibility of doing any justice to the Star Wars universe if we couldn't feature lightsabers, X-wing battles and blasters.

Apparently the attitude for modern LEGO games began during the final bit of development of IXS with Tom Stone. Its also interesting that they wanted to do LEGO Star Wars. I later told him about my guess that it had to do with 9/11.

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Me: It’s quite interesting the full Tom Stone deal. I’m guessing LEGO was more cautious after 9/11 as they also canned a Bionicle game. I’d love to have seen Silicon Dreams make a LEGO Star Wars game.


DR: That's a good point I forgot to add about 9/11 there was a lot of reaction across the world to that, Metal Gear Solid 2 I think made some changes before shipping as well.

 

Also he added something else that was very interesting about the Base Jump Challenge
 

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Bonus: Going through all these thoughts reminded me of a really funny bug that resulted in some major team downtime. At some point, a bug got introduced into Pepper's locomotion system where there were no upper bounds on how fast he could travel. This wasn't an obvious issue because the movement controller could only input up to a running speed, however, gravity could enable him to go faster. It was discovered as someone ran down the side of the mountain that Pepper got faster and faster, and when reaching the mainland of the island would race forward at high speed until hitting an object or eventually slowing down. Although it was a bug it actually didn't look all that bad and was pretty fun, but then a second discovery was made, if you aimed Pepper towards some sort of ramp that speed would be converted into airtime, launching Pepper into the skies and across great distances. After this second part was discovered team members got distracted as they tried to find better and better ramps and hills to launch off. I spoke to Andy Bray the programmer of the system (He later went on to code the A.I for the Alien in Alien: Isolation) and we put a scoring system in the code that would track the distance covered by Pepper when he jumped. So now the team didn't have to predict how good their jumps were we could actually produce a real high score. We used a whiteboard in the dev room and people went about trying to smash the top score. The first big milestone was to reach the edge of the island, then we found a way to reach one of the smaller islands, then even further, to the point where it was taking an age to swim back on to land, I think we added a reset option to teleport back at this point. This was a fun time and I was frantically thinking of ways so that we could avoid fixing the issue, but sadly my hand was forced and Lego asked us to 'fix the bug', despite our push to call it a feature. I'm not sure if it could be hacked back in, but it would be fun to see if someone did.

I showed him a bit of footage of it from the final game and got this
 

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That's great news to see it made it. I doubt the character locomotion bug went unfixed, so the max distances are probably not able to be as high, but still, that's a nostalgia trip seeing it again, I forgot the was the teleport added too, people wasted a lot of time manually using the flying debug to get there.

 

I also asked about The Directors part in the original LI3 plans
 

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Me: Also I’ve been thinking over that character document from above, I’ve noticed that The Director/Blok Buster was mentioned in Rusty Dents profile. What was The Directors role in the orginial LI3 plans?

 

DR: I think the Director was always used as intended, he only became a thing when the design switched to the extreme stunts movie idea. I can't remember if he was supposed to be featured in more scenes or gameplay sections.

 

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