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Xboxnang

Questions about LEGO Rock Raiders game development

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Xboxnang

Hi, 

 

If I can answer any questions you may have regarding the game development I'm more than happy to.

 

I was Lead Tester on the project working both at LEGO HQ in Slough, UK and also at the developers Data Design in the West Midlands, UK.

 

 

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baraklava

I guess I can start off with a quick one:

The game's code contains a lot of unused references, such as a Canteen building and Large Spiders that would trap Rock Raiders. Do you remember if Large Spiders ever worked in the game, and if so how were they supposed to operate?

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Xboxnang

I don't remember seeing any large rock spiders in the game. We did adjust the amount of spiders at times to see if it kept the player moving quicker though.

 

The canteen was likely something proposed by the game designer but rejected by LEGO and residual code was not deleted.

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Akorax
Posted (edited)

What were the teams inspiration for designing enemies and how did you decide on which enemies that would suit the game?

Edit: misread your task description a bit, if you can give any insight to the above that would be amazing but let me rephrase:

How did you feel about the enemies designed for the game and would you like to have seen any concept at the time delivered if it were technically possible? Likewise is there anything you feel that was missing in the original game?

Edited by Akorax
Rephrasing/adding

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Xboxnang

Character design would have been done in-house at Data Design Interactive and signed-off by LEGO Billund via the UK team, likely based on what would work in a physical set moving forward. 

 

When I worked at LEGO the 1st rule for any software was 'if you can't build it out of bricks it can't be in the game'.

 

I did ask if I could build a scaled model of a game level but we worked out it would need about 30,000 bricks 😀

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Akorax

I'm taking a chance here but do you know anything about this version of the Tunnel Transport. It has a different colour scheme from the final version. In particular the-Cockpit, Large Tipper bed and Dome plate (the feet) are interesting. Did they perhaps even exist as real pieces with this colour scheme at one point?

unknown.png

 

The next thing is the scorpion-like model the guy with the sunglasses is holding in this picture. As it could be made out of bricks it would've theoretically qualified to be in the game. Do you know anything about it?

prototype-meeting.png

 

Thanks for answering my previous question, I did a edit after I re-read you first post but it might have been a little late so I'm not sure it got published before you put up your answer. I think this is the second time I see a person connected to the original game come here and talk to the community. It's a lovely thing really. I hope you'll find some interesting stuff around here. The fan remake projects are highly impressive I think.

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Arthuriel

Hi, thanks for joining and doing a Q&A : D !
Since you mentioned, that everything in the game should be able to be built out of actual bricks, I wondered, if this also applied to the L.M.S. Explorer and how you verified that?
Speaking of the ship: Do you happen to know, where the "L.M.S." in "L.M.S. Explorer" came from? I recall some discussions on RRU, that it might have been related to "H.M.S." (but with L for LEGO) used by ships in real life, but we didn't get further than that. One Rock Raider comic even used "H.M.S." instead of "L.M.S.".

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Mr. Skeltal

Thanks for stopping by, and having this Q&A!

I was wondering, did you get anything from testing games, and do you still have anything?

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Xboxnang

LEGO were really strict on the development discs so I want able to keep any of them unlike other companies I've worked for. 

 

I do wish I still had the early NTSC PlayStation version of the game before it was decided to dumb it down and turn it into a more arcade-style game.

 

I see someone spoke to Dave Upchurch (LEGO Producer on RR) on this site a few years ago.

 

Good guy Dave, had to step in to get the RR project over the line. Lots of late nights!

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aidenpons

Hello! Nice to see another RR dev around here! Karl came here a long while back, and Stewart also came by. At least I think those were their names.

 

What was your role on the project? You say you were a "Lead Tester"  - did that mean solely bughunting or did you have programing work alongside that?

 

There is a lot of unused content in LRR - some packaged inside the game files (like Spiders, Snakes, and Scorpions, which we managed to get to work and then some), some weird bits of level data magic (flooding tiles? Soil wall type?), and some only seen in the cutscenes (blue energy crystals, different Small Transport Truck). I'm wondering what else was considered for the game that was scrapped that we don't see at all, likely due to time constraints (which one of the previous devs muttered a lot about :P ).

 

Was there anything you really liked to work on in particular, and wished you could have done more of if time allowed?

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Xboxnang
7 minutes ago, aidenpons said:

Hello! Nice to see another RR dev around here! Karl came here a long while back, and Stewart also came by. At least I think those were their names.

 

What was your role on the project? You say you were a "Lead Tester"  - did that mean solely bughunting or did you have programing work alongside that?

 

There is a lot of unused content in LRR - some packaged inside the game files (like Spiders, Snakes, and Scorpions, which we managed to get to work and then some), some weird bits of level data magic (flooding tiles? Soil wall type?), and some only seen in the cutscenes (blue energy crystals, different Small Transport Truck). I'm wondering what else was considered for the game that was scrapped that we don't see at all, likely due to time constraints (which one of the previous devs muttered a lot about :P ).

 

Was there anything you really liked to work on in particular, and wished you could have done more of if time allowed?

 

Karl and Stewart from DDI? Cool!

 

Yeah. I was mostly in charge of the test team finding the issues and then fighting for them to get fixed (as you can see that wasn't always successful 🤯)

 

Trust me....those cutscenes really get to you after a while.....think I asked for a build without them at some point 🤣

 

Yeah...the development wasn't the smoothest I've worked on (and I've tested Sonic and Resident Evil games which can be brutal!). Lots of banging your head against the wall when certain decisions are made.

 

If we had more time I really thought an option to play as the Rock Monster would have been cool.

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jamesster

Hey, thanks for doing this! :) What LEGO games did you do testing for, besides Rock Raiders? Some particular games we might be interested would be:

 

Got any funny stories that stand out in your head? Any particularly amusing or outlandish bugs, in any game?

 

How playable was the Rock Raiders PS1 version before it was turned from an RTS into an action game? And this one's fairly specific, but just in case you happen to remember: Did it have first/third person camera modes where you controlled individual units, like on PC?

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Arthuriel

Maybe my post with the questions was overlooked, so I wanted to ask/post them again:
 

14 hours ago, Arthuriel said:

Hi, thanks for joining and doing a Q&A : D !
Since you mentioned, that everything in the game should be able to be built out of actual bricks, I wondered, if this also applied to the L.M.S. Explorer and how you verified that?
Speaking of the ship: Do you happen to know, where the "L.M.S." in "L.M.S. Explorer" came from? I recall some discussions on RRU, that it might have been related to "H.M.S." (but with L for LEGO) used by ships in real life, but we didn't get further than that. One Rock Raider comic even used "H.M.S." instead of "L.M.S.".

 

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Xboxnang
On 7/25/2020 at 6:10 AM, jamesster said:

Hey, thanks for doing this! :) What LEGO games did you do testing for, besides Rock Raiders? Some particular games we might be interested would be:

 

Got any funny stories that stand out in your head? Any particularly amusing or outlandish bugs, in any game?

 

How playable was the Rock Raiders PS1 version before it was turned from an RTS into an action game? And this one's fairly specific, but just in case you happen to remember: Did it have first/third person camera modes where you controlled individual units, like on PC?

 

Other games worked on: LEGO Racers, LEGOLand, LEGO L.B.E (Test department was a huge mess of network cables, PC's and monitors getting that one done).

 

When I was on the RR project I never saw an RTS build if the PS1 game, just the action version. It's likely a build was at DDI but we were so busy trying to get all of the issues fixed there was very little time to find out. Add to that the decision to 'dumb down' the US version late n the project which didn't help anyone.

 

As for funny stories there's nothing I could repeat here for legal reasons 😉

 

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jamesster

Thanks!

 

A couple more questions if you don't mind - how often did you guys usually get test builds from the developers? And did they just mail discs to you or did you have a faster means of getting stuff between offices? (Especially for projects from studios based overseas like LEGO Racers.)

 

Also, not a question, but in case you still have builds of other old games you've tested, there's a bunch of sites out there dedicated to archiving them these days like Hidden Palace. They generally don't accept anything remotely modern - only the old stuff that studios have long moved on from and don't care about ending up online (i.e. generally nothing newer than, say, PS2 era stuff). There's also places like the Strong National Museum of Play in New York that archive that sort of stuff, it's pretty neat, especially if you want to see things archived but don't want to dump it onto the open internet. May be worth thinking about, game archival has become a pretty big thing. :) 

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Xboxnang

The test team was split between LEGO HQ in Slough and Data Design's offices. The PlayStation versions were tested in-house at DDI and the PC was mainly tested back at LEGO HQ (although we did also have at least 1 tester in our team looking at it...mostly me tbh). I was also delegating work on other projects and had to run reports at the end of the day for management so an 11pm finish was pretty much the norm back at the hotel. This was also the case for Dave the producer (think he said something similar in his interview on here).

We got builds 1-2 times a day depending on the severity of an issues so we could verify the fixes were done and move onto the next area/level/task.

For the PC build I think we were able to use an online storage platform to transfer any update files back to the office rather than an entire build.

 

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ACStriker

Were you an tester during the original LBE run (2000-2004)?  And what can you describe about the setup that game used during testing (and maybe after launch)?

 

That one is quite fascinating to me; and cant think of any RR questions since I yet have to try it myself 😅

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Xboxnang

Yes, I was part of the LBE team who tested the park ride before it was installed at Windsor (not too far from the LEGO offices in Slough)

From what I can remember the touchscreen panels were a bit of a nightmare to start with as they had to be designed so that small children could use them easily. The only other issues we had were getting the game play balanced enough so that anyone could win no matter what design their car was.

Some of the track shortcuts caused a lot of arguments between testers when they forgot to use one.

I think the overall test cycle for the ride in-house was 3 months and the test department was a bit of a mess with PC's and network cables running all over the floor. I seem to remember some of the team going to LEGOland Windsor to help out with the installation of the ride, I was busy on another project by then.

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tomfyhr

What games or game mechanics inspired LEGO Rock Raiders? At first glance, the game seems to be a SIMS-clone with mining game-mechanics thrown in. If you can, please relate to game theory and game-design literature. :)

 

Disney and Nintendo are very protective of their trademarks and are very careful in using violence, where the only exception is slap-stick. How did LEGO accept the darker color palette and the use of guns that shoots projectiles?

 

Did you work on the "LEGO Chess" game? 

 

Did you ever hear anything about a sequel to LEGO Rock Raiders?  :)

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jamesster
44 minutes ago, Xboxnang said:

Hi all, just a quick message to say I found some development CD's for the PC, NTSC and PAL versions. Have added a pic here

 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xJRJ72KUCqCvUkLv5

 

Will try and answer some more questions soon, really busy right now.

Cool stuff! I'd recommend checking out the BioMediaProject; they're an archival website (officially recognized by LEGO as such) that hosts quite a lot of stuff like this: http://biomediaproject.com/bmp/ (They're mainly focused on the Bionicle franchise but have quite a lot of general LEGO things too, and most importantly, LEGO officially recognizes them.) Another option for preserving them would be good ol' archive.org, or as mentioned earlier, Hidden Palace. They all have loads of game prototypes like this preserved already; you can't really go wrong. :) 

 

Edit: Oh yeah, yet another option would be Gaming Alexandria, who recently published a development build of Stunt Rally PS1: https://www.gamingalexandria.com/wp/2020/07/15/lego-stunt-rally-psx/

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