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ArmitageShanks
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ArmitageShanks

Hi all,
..and you thought the chief was a rare minifig, this guy (linked below) as far as I know is unique. Lego made this prototype based on the in-game model that I designed. He originally had a chrome arm (like his helmet) in the game, but Lego were unable to use that more brittle plastic as arms, so he ended up with the distinctive turquoise colour.


Lego's original plan was to bundle this fig with the game but that plan was dropped for reasons unknown to me, perhaps time or budget constraints.


..anyway, I trust you like that little history lesson, and hope you're still enjoying Rock Raiders as much as we did making it.

 

https://imgur.com/ioTRPcR

 

 

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Antillies

Welcome.  It's always a pleasure when someone else who had a hand in designing the game makes contact.

 

That's a neat tidbit about the custom Chief figure.  I am somewhat envious, as I don't even have the regular mini-fig (someday hopefully 🤞).

 

I'm sure we all would love to hear more about your experiences at DDI while working on the game, if you would be open to sharing. 

 

But, regardless, welcome to the site.

 

 

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ArmitageShanks

Thanks for the warm welcome, happy to share whatever I can about my time at DDI, as an artist I don't have many insights into company stuff or any programing knowledge, but if there are any burning questions I'll answer what I can. I worked on Rock Raiders, Lego Racers, Lego Island, Lego Chess and the Lego adventures comic.

 

I had to make do with a link to the chief image, if anyone can display it in a post that would be better.

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Welcome to the forum! I took the liberty of uploading your picture to our gallery and editing your main post. It's in one of my albums for now, but you could create your own and upload other pictures if you'd like. I'd certainly like to see other never-before-seen things you may still have.

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lol username

Welcome! ^_^

 

I'd love to hear anything about the general art process you folks had in place - like, textures for example. For environments, were the textures touched-up 3D renders? Drawn by hand? A mix of both? Or, a lot of game artists make use of stock textures from compilation CDs/online libraries, and edited them into proper tiling textures, did you folks ever do that?

 

How picky was LEGO about made-up pieces, like hats or accessories for minifigures that didn't exist as physical parts? Did they give you folks mostly free reign?

 

I still love the look of all those cutscenes you guys made, by the way - very charming, still hold up to this day, and gave the LEGO games of the era much more artistic cohesion than they otherwise would have had. Rock Raiders especially has such a good aesthetic, it's a big part of why the game still appeals to so many people today, I'm sure. Thanks for makin' cool stuff, your work was a big part of my childhood. :) 

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Olivus Prime

That's awesome! One of a kind figures made by LEGO themselves are definitely something special.

 

I heard on the LEGO Racers episode of Bits 'n' Bricks that LEGO made two Rocket Racer minifigures for the developers behind the game. I guess it used to be their practice to celebrate game releases back then. 

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aidenpons
10 hours ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Lego made this prototype based on the in-game model that I designed.

Huh, so the in-game model came first, and the actual minifigures later? Was this just for the Chief that never ended up shipping with the game, or did this involve the other minifigures and even the sets?

 

3 hours ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Thanks for the warm welcome, happy to share whatever I can about my time at DDI, as an artist I don't have many insights into company stuff or any programing knowledge, but if there are any burning questions I'll answer what I can. I worked on Rock Raiders, Lego Racers, Lego Island, Lego Chess and the Lego adventures comic.

 

I had to make do with a link to the chief image, if anyone can display it in a post that would be better.

Ooh, I remember the Lego Chess cutscenes! Such slapstick non-violence with the minifigures :D Shame I wasn't good at chess and the game would randomly crash, but the endless slew of ways minifigures were banished from existence always kept me laughing :D Looking back on it now, I'm guessing Lego very forcibly required no violence was shown - you and the game did a great job of working with those restrictions :)

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@ArmitageShanksThat's a cool piece of history you have there! Could you tell us a bit more of things you saw or created over at DDI. We have a high interest in design choices, why things turned out as they did with the theme and game. People here have also tried to build almost every model displayed including prototypes. (Have you seen the 1:1 scale L.M.S Explorer?)

 

Unfortunately images and videos that old have such low resolution that it's quite a lot of guesswork. Here we love when we get the opportunity to meet those who were actually involved back in the days.

 

Finally as a side note. If you like, come and hang out on the RRU and/or Manic Miners discord server. I'm sure many would like to chat.

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ArmitageShanks
18 hours ago, Cirevam said:

I took the liberty of uploading your picture to our gallery and editing your main post.

Thanks Cirevam, that's ideal.
 

17 hours ago, lol username said:

For environments, were the textures touched-up 3D renders? Drawn by hand? A mix of both?

I did all the textures for the dirt/ground and rocks, there were some stock soil and rock images used but my method for the various types of walls, was to make a 3D scene with a pile of boulders/minerals and render that out to an image, then take into photoshop and make it into a repeating tile. That way the lighting would be consistent across all the textures.

 

18 hours ago, lol username said:

How picky was LEGO about made-up pieces, like hats or accessories for minifigures that didn't exist as physical parts? Did they give you folks mostly free reign?

I'm pretty sure we had to use existing Lego pieces for anything made out of Lego, they did of course make us some bespoke pieces like the rock monster and openable boulder, but Lego designed those without any input from us.

 

17 hours ago, Olivus Prime said:

I heard on the LEGO Racers episode of Bits 'n' Bricks that LEGO made two Rocket Racer minifigures for the developers behind the game.

I only worked on the cut scenes for Lego Racers not the game itself, we did have a Rocket Racer minifig with his car in the studio, but I think he was a standard production version.

 

16 hours ago, aidenpons said:

Huh, so the in-game model came first, and the actual minifigures later? Was this just for the Chief that never ended up shipping with the game, or did this involve the other minifigures and even the sets?

Lego had already made the other characters/minifigs, when we realized we need a captain/leader, I had an idea for him and we tried him out. I had an issue back then with all the disabled or scarred characters, always being the 'bad' guys, I felt they were being demonized just for being different, so I gave chief the 'robot' arm to try and address that balance... it made me feel better anyway :)
I know that we did make up some sets that were needed in-game, drilling machines and apparatus etc., out of existing Lego parts, and some of these may have made it to physical Lego sets. 

 

16 hours ago, aidenpons said:

I remember the Lego Chess cutscenes! Such slapstick non-violence with the minifigures

I remember doing the Lego Chess cutscenes, lot of fun. I think we had a fair amount of free rein to do the scenes we wanted, the only restriction I recall was, NO FIRE! Lego being rather paranoid about the flammable nature of their product.

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ArmitageShanks
On 11/5/2021 at 12:14 PM, Akorax said:

@ArmitageShanksThat's a cool piece of history you have there! Could you tell us a bit more of things you saw or created over at DDI. We have a high interest in design choices, why things turned out as they did with the theme and game. People here have also tried to build almost every model displayed including prototypes. (Have you seen the 1:1 scale L.M.S Explorer?)

 

Unfortunately images and videos that old have such low resolution that it's quite a lot of guesswork. Here we love when we get the opportunity to meet those who were actually involved back in the days.

 

Finally as a side note. If you like, come and hang out on the RRU and/or Manic Miners discord server. I'm sure many would like to chat.

Thanks Akorax, I was at DDI for about 6 years, most of which was dominated by Lego, most of the major design decisions were above my pay grade unfortunately.

That's proper dedication building the L.M.S. Explorer 1:1, I didn't build that for the game, but there are a few non-Lego parts in that I think, so quite a challenge.

Sadly, the animation is very low resolution compared to modern capabilities and playback was more important than quality back then too, so there is a lot of compression in the video, I wish I still had the original renders, or better still, the scene files and models for a nice high res render.

On 11/5/2021 at 12:14 PM, Akorax said:

If you like, come and hang out on the RRU and/or Manic Miners discord server. I'm sure many would like to chat.

Drop me a link and I will pop by if I have time.

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berry-pepper-roni
On 11/4/2021 at 5:15 PM, ArmitageShanks said:

Lego Island,

what did you do for lego island? (it's probably my favorite lego game and it's also the only one i own)

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ArmitageShanks
19 hours ago, berry-pepper-roni said:

what did you do for lego island? (it's probably my favorite lego game and it's also the only one i own)

That should be Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge, my mistake. Lego Island was already a successful game when we at DDI got involved with the Lego group. They were happy with the game itself but employed us to put exciting intro and cut scenes together for the sequel, much as we had done with Lego Racers. Sorry for the confusion.

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baraklava
On 11/6/2021 at 9:58 PM, ArmitageShanks said:

 

Drop me a link and I will pop by if I have time.

 

@ArmitageShanks

Hey there!

Let me start by dropping the link to the other server mentioned, Manic Miners' Discord server: https://discord.gg/C3hH7mFsMv

We are currently the biggest Rock Raiders remake to date and have a very active Rock Raiders discussion! Feel free to give it a try if you got the time ;)

 

 

I had a few questions too!

 

1) You mentioned you worked on the cutscene. Recently, a 3-minute audio cue belonging to an unseen cutscene was discovered, and we have desperately tried to find any video of it but it is nowhere to be seen. It ends with Chief shouting "Lego Rock Raiders!" and laughing, which is very cool! There are also sounds of buildings, vehicles, slimy slugs, rock monsters, and things we aren't sure about. The only speculation I have is that this could've been a test animation for the proposed "TV show" that never made it anywhere. Do you remember anything from this? As reference, here is the 3-minute sound file on SoundCloud, with the filename of the sound file intact (SEC Ex1SIM): 

 

2) You talked about the process of creating 3D models to render textures. Do you happen to still have any of these 3D models somewhere? I'd love to re-render the walls from scratch in higher resolution! So far I've had to rely on others' Neural Network upscales for my remake, and while they're incredible, nothing outmatches true source assets. (this goes for the cutscenes too, but we'll likely never get the source files for those)

 

3) You have a Chief figure: Do you have any other physical items from Rock Raiders development? I remember seeing a few renders of your exact Chief above together with a Rock Monster, a Lurker, and a Slimy Slug, all looked to be created by the same person and made to potentially be produced as physical items. Please see the gallery here for the renders: https://imgur.com/a/C7wbGEc . This got me thinking, if you made the Chief and have that, maybe you have any of the other ones too, or saw their prototypes? I've always wanted to see a physical version of the Slimy Slug in particular!

 

4) Do you remember if you had any other of the Rock Raiders with leg prints? The early prototypes showed a figure with blue printed legs (shown here, scan is property of Zanthera: https://i.imgur.com/uW18Nyg.jpg ). These prints never made it to production, all final minifigures had plain legs, unfortunately.

 

5) Finally, do you remember designing/animating anything that never made it into the game or cutscenes that you really wanted to have been in the game?

 

I had a question I forgot so I'll simply send some more later, hopefully! Cheers!

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berry-pepper-roni
On 11/4/2021 at 8:16 AM, ArmitageShanks said:

Lego's original plan was to bundle this fig with the game but that plan was dropped for reasons unknown to me, perhaps time or budget constraints.

And yet they bundled an Infomaniac figurine with the OG LEGO Island game.... that infomaniac figure is pretty rare :( and so is the big box it came in!!! 

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ArmitageShanks
19 hours ago, baraklava said:

here is the 3-minute sound file on SoundCloud, with the filename of the sound file intact (SEC Ex1SIM)

Interesting, not sure I can shed any light on that, although could be for an early edit of the intro vid, our sound guy at the time John Saull may remember. The file name is curious, I don't recognize the format, although my real name is SIM I don't think it's one of mine.

 

19 hours ago, baraklava said:

Do you happen to still have any of these 3D models somewhere?

I wish I did, all the files would have been on the DDI severs, maybe backed up somewhere Stewart Green would be the one to ask.

 

19 hours ago, baraklava said:

Rock Monster, a Lurker, and a Slimy Slug, all looked to be created by the same person and made to potentially be produced as physical items.

I remember the renders. The rock monster had a rocky texture originally and still has in some instances, although Lego made him a uniform brown. I definitely saw a Slimy Slug figure, and honestly thought they had produced a physical figure of that, Stewart Green would have it if anyone does. I had totally forgotten about the Lurker, I modelled that, but it never made it to a physical figure as far as I'm aware.

 

20 hours ago, baraklava said:

Do you remember if you had any other of the Rock Raiders with leg prints?

I don't have any, but I think our original minifigs we had at DDI had leg prints, they're out there somewhere :)

20 hours ago, baraklava said:

Finally, do you remember designing/animating anything that never made it into the game or cutscenes that you really wanted to have been in the game?

Yes, I designed and built an amazing ice monster (well I was pleased with it at the time), I wish I had an image I could show, I will have a look through some old sketch books and see if I can find a drawing. From what I remember the ice monster ended up as a re-textured rock monster, but you probably know more than me about that. Did that end up in the game?

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lol username
1 hour ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Yes, I designed and built an amazing ice monster (well I was pleased with it at the time), I wish I had an image I could show, I will have a look through some old sketch books and see if I can find a drawing. From what I remember the ice monster ended up as a re-textured rock monster, but you probably know more than me about that. Did that end up in the game?

Here's what the ice monsters look like in the final game:

 

ZkAXfsh.png

 

large.1256804466_unknown(1).png.aac7e5c9

 

There were indeed some other appearances where they looked like reskinned rock monsters (i.e. in books made by companies other than DDI), but do those pics look like what you'd made?

 

Would love to see anything you've got in your sketchbooks :D

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baraklava
1 hour ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Interesting, not sure I can shed any light on that, although could be for an early edit of the intro vid, our sound guy at the time John Saull may remember. The file name is curious, I don't recognize the format, although my real name is SIM I don't think it's one of mine.

 

I wish I did, all the files would have been on the DDI severs, maybe backed up somewhere Stewart Green would be the one to ask.

 

I remember the renders. The rock monster had a rocky texture originally and still has in some instances, although Lego made him a uniform brown. I definitely saw a Slimy Slug figure, and honestly thought they had produced a physical figure of that, Stewart Green would have it if anyone does. I had totally forgotten about the Lurker, I modelled that, but it never made it to a physical figure as far as I'm aware.

 

I don't have any, but I think our original minifigs we had at DDI had leg prints, they're out there somewhere :)

Yes, I designed and built an amazing ice monster (well I was pleased with it at the time), I wish I had an image I could show, I will have a look through some old sketch books and see if I can find a drawing. From what I remember the ice monster ended up as a re-textured rock monster, but you probably know more than me about that. Did that end up in the game?

Thank you for the responses! This is very helpful and I'll see what I can follow up.

 

It's lovely to hear there was a slimy slug figure! It would've been awesome to have back in the day, but unfortunately we've never even seen a prototype picture of a physical one. The Slimy Slug and Lurker in the images though are obviously designed to be physical Lego toys so I suspect they were produced at some point, but maybe are lost now.

 

 

About your last point: This Ice Monster model was uncovered in a series of events last year. It is so damn cool, I have a hunch that might be what you were talking about? ;) 

y1Jp1sA.jpg

 

I should add that unfortunately we have never seen a high-resolution model of the finalized Ice Monster that made it into the game. See the post above, that is the highest resolution we've seen.

 

I took a crack at re-creating it in high resolution. It took a while to realise that the eyes were glowing orbs inside empty sockets! If you designed that, I applaud how fearsome you made it look. Here's a screenshot of my in-progress remake model, if you're curious: 

WJa2G5Y.png

m8Me3Lv.png

The molars were a suggestion from a server user and  I went with it, I think it looks better than the pointy ends we got in the original game!

 

I'll be back with more questions later, probably... Thank you so much! :D 

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ArmitageShanks
28 minutes ago, baraklava said:

About your last point: This Ice Monster model was uncovered in a series of events last year. It is so damn cool, I have a hunch that might be what you were talking about? ;) 

y1Jp1sA.jpg

Man, that is the guy! ... can't believe he made it out into the wild. I wish I still had the model, I'd love to rework the texture lol. I think the reason he never made it to the game was he was deemed too scary for the kids. If I ever find the original drawing of him I'll share it here. Thank you, and great work on the remake.

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baraklava
46 minutes ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Man, that is the guy! ... can't believe he made it out into the wild. I wish I still had the model, I'd love to rework the texture lol. I think the reason he never made it to the game was he was deemed too scary for the kids. If I ever find the original drawing of him I'll share it here. Thank you, and great work on the remake.

Thank you! I adore your scarier Ice Monster model, if you somehow find it, I'd love to see how it would fit into the game remake as an easter egg ;) 

Looking forward to the potential sketchbooks! Any cut content from the development phase of Rock Raiders we have seen tends to be wild, but I reckon the sketchbook has more than just Rock Raiders in it!

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aidenpons
4 hours ago, ArmitageShanks said:

Interesting, not sure I can shed any light on that, although could be for an early edit of the intro vid, our sound guy at the time John Saull may remember. The file name is curious, I don't recognize the format, although my real name is SIM I don't think it's one of mine.

 

I wish I did, all the files would have been on the DDI severs, maybe backed up somewhere Stewart Green would be the one to ask.

 

I remember the renders. The rock monster had a rocky texture originally and still has in some instances, although Lego made him a uniform brown. I definitely saw a Slimy Slug figure, and honestly thought they had produced a physical figure of that, Stewart Green would have it if anyone does. I had totally forgotten about the Lurker, I modelled that, but it never made it to a physical figure as far as I'm aware.

 

I don't have any, but I think our original minifigs we had at DDI had leg prints, they're out there somewhere :)

Yes, I designed and built an amazing ice monster (well I was pleased with it at the time), I wish I had an image I could show, I will have a look through some old sketch books and see if I can find a drawing. From what I remember the ice monster ended up as a re-textured rock monster, but you probably know more than me about that. Did that end up in the game?

 

Really fascinating stuff! Cool to hear about all the things that never made the light of day in the final product :'( I was wondering what your favorite or most memorable moments were as you were working on the Lego stuff (not just LRR)?

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Serwithed

Hey! Welcome to the forums!
 

On 11/8/2021 at 2:01 PM, ArmitageShanks said:

That should be Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge, my mistake. Lego Island was already a successful game when we at DDI got involved with the Lego group. They were happy with the game itself but employed us to put exciting intro and cut scenes together for the sequel.

Interestingly enough, DDI were never credited for their work on LEGO Island 2 - what do you remember specifically about DDI's work on those cutscenes?

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ArmitageShanks
1 hour ago, Serwithed said:

Interestingly enough, DDI were never credited for their work on LEGO Island 2 - what do you remember specifically about DDI's work on those cutscenes?

I seem to remember some of our team helping with cutscenes, but it could have been as little as providing some assets for Silicon Dreams to use. Either that or I'm confusing it with the Legoland game, which I do recall working on, but don't think we are credited on either.

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