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ToaSerwithed

Drome Racers Megathread

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Sup.

I don't tend to use forums these days but I'm honestly trying to reconsider that, as I've got something interesting to post for once. 
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Drome Racers was Racers' second subtheme released in 2002 and lasted till 2005. Throughout its run, stories and games were being made with the theme's history and characters, some of which were of course eventually cancelled and simply never saw the light of day. I managed to get in contact with some of the artists who worked on the original Drome Racers game and the cancelled Racers CC, who were open for questions and keen enough to share some goodies from their old jobs.

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Drome Racers 1 was originally supposed to have minfigures as the main drivers instead of human characters. During my conversation with the artist who gave me the renders, Rob James, he had a lot to share regarding the game's development and his general thoughts about LEGO and ATD, the developers of DR1:
(Serwithed = Max)

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Rob James  4:02 PM

HI Max sure fire any questions away.

 

Max 5:56 PM

Glad you're open for questions. Before we begin, Drome Racers' credits is rather vague about its positions. As you're credited as an artist, were you an environment artist, character artist or did you make the textures?

Rob James sent the following message at 8:04 PMView Rob’s profile

Rob James  8:04 PM

environments and cars

 

Max 8:11 PM

1) How was working on Drome Racers and did you work on its initial concept, if so, could you talk about its prototype stage and beyond?
2) Do you recall any scrapped zones and racetracks you and the team worked on?
3) Did you move on to work on Racers 4? If so, could you talk about the game in a bit more detail.
4) Did you guys design some of the cars? A dozen or so cars weren't released as kits in 2002 and 2003 which includes Pulse Concept, The Tremor etc
5) What are your fondest memories of DR's development?
6) Do you still have anything left from the development? (Concept art and such)

 

Rob James  11:46 AM

1) it wasnt a very pleasant project to work on from a publisher point of view, they (lego) were never really happy with what we were doing. We had previously worked on lego racers 2 and they were keen to then make drome racers a competitor to wipeout, but it meant that the game had barely any actual lego in it.  2)there were no scrapped zones as far as I remember 3) I didnt move onto racers 4, I was on another project, I do remember there being a bit of a bust up with lego and they just pulled the plug (at the time, its hard to believe Lego were in real financial trouble, so possibly this was budgets). 4) I cant remember where the cars came from exactly, we did have some prototypes from legos office to build them from, so they were possibly just kits which never made it into the shops. 5) There was a good team on the art side, the game was really hampered by Legos involvement from their producer though as they were very touchy about what we could of couldnt do with their products.  I do have a load of the concept renders lying around if you want to see it,.

 

Max 11:49 AM

Thanks for the answers. Send the concept renders my way. Do you know any of the designers I could possibly contact? I talked to Ian Mayor recently and he seemed to be the only designer I could find on LinkedIn, are you still in contact with any of them?

 

Rob James  11:51 AM

i think originally it was going to have minifigs

 

and some technical lego, but the mini figs got pulled...

the human characters Shicane and the other bloke were awful !

 

Max 11:53 AM

it's definitely interesting minifigs were considered. why did the team go for humans than minifigs?

 

Rob James  1:15 PM

it wasnt our choice, it was a lego decision

there really wasnt a lot of creative freedom on drome racers

Lego were in dire financial trouble at the time and basically drome racers had to be a big hit for them

at that time basically they werent selling much plastic toys, as they thought all the kids were into computer games instead

so they were stupidly trying to compete with other games

 

Max 1:17 PM

do you have anything else beyond these renders? real sad if I'm honest, Drome Racers definitely had a lot going for it but I guess it's sad to know publisher interference limited the creativity.

 

Max 1:19 PM

Yeah it was really bad, the sets I think sold well? I got the video game extremely late in my childhood long after it was pulled off shelves.

 

Rob James  1:19 PM

not at that time, have you watched the documentary on netflix

 

Rob James  1:21 PM

it got so bad lego actually sold legoland

 

Max 1:24 PM

Yeah I consider myself well read when it comes to LEGO's history. Drome in 2002 was in the top 5 best sellers in 2002 and eventually peaked at fourth place in 2003. But I guess 2003 couldn't be compared to 2002 as if I recall, only one theme was actually selling and that was the BIONICLE brand in 2003. Drome is interesting to me because of how much work was put into its world and story from the start that it almost seemed like a competitor to BIONICLE in 2002 with the comics and games. I guess the switch from minifigures came from LEGO because the story had human characters in both the comics and character bios on the racers website back then.

 

Rob James  1:24 PM

Yeah Bionicles pretty much saved lego from extinction
 

Max 1:25 PM

speaking of, Matthew Stephens (one of the artists on DR, environment artist) worked on a glass dome project. Did you ever work on that? I'll get some pictures of it

 

Rob James  1:26 PM

they did have a fairly huge building in Slough for lego interactive, which was I think headed up by tom stone who now runs travellers tales. When they really started running out of money they canned off their internal staff and closed that. Tom then got rights for travellers tales to do all the lego games

the tt game were/are actually really good tbh

Matt, was working 1 day a week in the office at the time

so Im not entirely sure what he did
 

Rob James  1:27 PM

that was from racers 4 or drome 2

 

Max 1:28 PM

I talked to him recently and he said he'd check his HDD for more but I'm still curious about this as you've mentioned the team never had much creative freedom with the game.

it was? interesting

 

Rob James  1:29 PM

there was some big city thing, there was about 6 months where some of drome went onto drome 2 (racers4) and I was finishing it off drome

I had had a skinfull of lego by then, as Id been on racers 2 and then drome for about 3/4 years

and was utterly sick of it 

 

Max 1:30 PM

Do you have any stuff from that still?

 

Rob James  1:30 PM

yeah

 

Max 1:32 PM

could you share it? Drome 2/Racers 4 is virtually undocumented, all we know about it is from simon goodwin's website where he briefly states he worked on the tech.

 

Rob James  1:32 PM

there you go

I did all the mars and snowy enivironments for racers 2

Simon goodwin was completely crazy...

 

Max 1:34 PM

oh thanks! is the car the only thing from drome 2 or is there more?

 

Rob James  1:35 PM

im not sure where that buggy was from

 

Max 1:36 PM

I think it's one of the older technic sets from the late 90s. Most of them carried a similar aesthetic to drome racers

 

Rob James  1:37 PM

Ive no idea what that was from but it was in the concepts for racers 2

 

Max 1:38 PM

that's extremely weird if I'm honest

 

Rob James  1:39 PM

we definitely modelled up these weird men

its called technicman

so I presume at some stage lego were going to do technic minifigs

 

Max 1:40 PM

for racers 4?

 

Rob James  1:40 PM

this looks like it was for racers 2

but we didnt use technical lego

what a mess !

 

Max 1:43 PM

haha, I get ya. Racers 2 doesn't have much of its development documented so this was extremely delightful to see

 

Rob James  1:43 PM

have you been in game developement ?

 

Max 1:45 PM

Yeah, I'm working on a fan continuation of Drome Racers with a couple of friends. So far we've landed a good roadmap of how we'd make the game and I've been using some of my time studying Drome 1's technical aspects so I can carefully make a faithful but much more tighter raycast wheel system for the cars.

so far the only things that are finalised are the cars and characters.

lemme show you what we've been working on so far!

 

Rob James  1:47 PM

which engine are you using ?

nice car 

 

Max 1:48

this is for one of the new exo force drivers. In the story the former driver of the team disappears and eventually gets replaced by this cyborg character named EX0.5

 

Rob James  1:48 PM

my renders from 18 years ago look so s*** 

 

Max 1:48 PM

it's still being discussed if we want to do a story or not but personally I think the story is sorta important if we want to stay true to ATD's vision

We're using Unity.

 

Rob James  1:50 PM

cool, thats what I use thesedays

its annoying I dont have any of the original models/ scenes

ATD went bust and we were basiclaly kicked out before we could get any of the source files off our pc's

 

Max 1:51 PM

Great engine most definitely. Reason why I started researching drome to stay faithful as much as possible. This is why I'm so curious about racers 4

That's awful 

 

Rob James 1:52 PM

I am struggling to remember who was put in charge of it

all I remember is that they produced an enormous design document

 

Max 2:00 PM

is there anything else from racers 4 you still have or was that it?

 

Rob James 2:58 PM

I have nothing from 4 as I avoided working on it

the relationship with lego was pretty toxic at the end of drome racers and that had canned project written all over it

so I went onto something else (which got canned 


Max 2:59 PM

gonna assume that's ion runner?  IIRC that was ATD's final project before the parent company went bankrupt?

 

Rob James 3:00 PM

there was 1 in between drome and ion runner which also got canned

so I think I spent about 3 years working on stuff for the recycle bin

then I left and went to Minds eye for 18 months and worked on starsky 2 which was also canned 
 

Max 3:04 PM

it's been again, extremely great having an extended conservation with you about drome racers and I feel I've learned a lot from this.  thanks!

 

About Racers 4, not much is known about it beyond one of the developers listing it as a game they worked on. They mentioned the game had an extensive development circle with a large focus on open world exploration, and it seems like I managed to find concept art of it. it's not much but it's interesting to say the least:
Dome Racing Concept
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Racers CC? Well that's definitely one of the most obscure games I've ever heard of. Somehow I managed to get in contact with the UI director of the game on deviantart and he agreed on sharing his promo artwork he made for the game. 
https://www.deviantart.com/nemons (check out his stuff!)

Exo-Force.jpg.f374cefb71d4b183a8ca21c1c4c24d04.jpgH.O.T..jpg.ff4a49350dd50f3b5b96ed6a0de59561.jpg
Maverick.jpg.49bb2a6f970d23539f7185ad980c80a9.jpgNitro.jpg.12b7438ac456b7c962564d24606e92a6.jpg
R.E.D..jpg.41236dc3679ee0f7bd4b1b633adc2ba6.jpgZero.jpg.2b9b1b5dc98c854c87ec894cb99c9097.jpg
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I'm still researching Drome Racers in my time as for whilst writing this topic and I'm all ears to hear about your experiences with Drome, the characters and games. I haven't heard that much about it these days so I'm hoping you guys are just as interested as me.

-Serwithed

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