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Scrapped Zones And More


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#1
jamesster

I was poking around in the Alpha Team files tonight, and found several things I wasn't expecting.

CATEGORYIMAGES.TXT:
0	lego
41	group1
42	group2
43	group3
44	group4
45	group5
46	group6
35	ogel
1	global
19	trop
36	sub
37	sea
38	polar
39	mtn
40	moon
Notice the last six entries there? They're the zones in the game, in the order they're played through... Except the final game only has the first four listed there. This file lists two zones that didn't make the final cut: Mountain and Moon. Seeing as the other four zones are listed in the order they're played through, I think it's safe to say that the Mountain zone would have come after the Polar (Arctic) zone, and the Moon zone would have been the final set of levels in the game.

But wait, there's more.

CATEGORYUNITS.TXT
Spoiler

"Cyberia"? What the heck is that? Perhaps a leftover from LEGO Logic? There does seem to be some sort of portal in the TILT HQ, so perhaps that's what Cyberia is?

And there's a listing for a "Neandert" enemy, which is just a few letters away from "Neanderthal"... Who wants to bet it's the big blue primitive looking creature from LEGO Logic?

There's also sections for the scrapped Mountain and Moon zones... Which are completely empty.

Also, notice that the section listing all the Alpha Team members is titled "T.I.L.T.".

There's an asteroid of all things listed in the "LEGO UNITS" section, and a texture named "ASTEROID 2.TGA":

asteroid_2.png

At first I thought that perhaps the asteroids appear in the training... space place... But I just checked, and there are none. Perhaps they were for the Moon zone or something?


Another odd thing, Dash and Radia's texture names are pretty weird. Dash's textures are LASERBODY.TGA, LASERHEAD.TGA, etc, while Radia's textures are PIPBODY.TGA, PIPHEAD.TGA, etc. All the other team members are identified by specialty rather than name, so why are Dash's textures identifying him as the lasers expert, and what the heck does PIP mean?

Finally, there's a bunch of textures that appear to be for a debug GUI or something - buttons for each listing in CATEGORYIMAGES.txt, more finalized looking buttons for each zone (including the Moon zone, but not the Mountain zone, oddly), etc. There's quite a few so I won't be uploading them, if you want to see them for yourself they're in Etc.pac.

I'll keep digging around and will post anything else I find.
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#2
JimbobJeffers

Nice findings here, very interesting indeed. Despite that asteroid texture not featuring in the game, I reckon they still used what they'd already started creating in the Moon theme to produce the training, although I'm probably wrong. It's just if I had made all that stuff, had to have it scrapped but was then later given the opportunity to use it again elsewhere, I would.

 

Perhaps PIP stands for Professional International Performer? That could make sense if her original role in the T.I.L.T was a gymnast.



#3
jamesster

So, the asteroids.

legoat1_2013-04-29_12-20-34-00.png

Yeah. They're just those big rocks you drop on stuff. Why the heck are they called asteroids in these unit listings and textures, though?

#4
Sharkly

Nice observations. I was doing a little digging in these files a while back and remember seeing these things.

 

The biggest thing in LAT modding is yet to be model editing. I'm still working on the FIN format every now and again.

Once we can view and edit the models, we'll know a lot more about the game.



#5
jamesster

Just got an email back from Tom Mott, the lead designer for Alpha Team, and he sent a ton of info on LEGO Logic and T.I.L.T. and all that - and he's gonna contact some other developers and see if they can dig up concept art and the like, too. It's nearly 2:00 AM right now so I'm a bit too tired to really post much, but I do want to say one thing: The neanderthals are actually "neanderthaws", and they were found in a world called Mt. Fridgy. Other worlds in LEGO Logic included Aromazona and Poodle Dreamland.

This game was nuts, people.

#6
Fushigisaur

Someone should post this stuff to The Cutting Room Floor. It could use an Alpha Team page.

#7
LimeKiller

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Other worlds in LEGO Logic included Aromazona and Poodle Dreamland.This game was nuts, people.

 

This sounds insane. I want to play it.



#8
jamesster

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Oh man, you guys aren't gonna believe this stuff... Tom and I talked quite a bit via email today, and Bill Benecke (the concept artist guy) got involved too. They're really great guys, both very friendly, and were happily surprised to hear the game has fans. Here's the rundown.

So, I initially emailed Tom and briefed him on the game/theme's status as a well-loved classic in the LEGO community, our progress in modding it, and the various finds regarding LEGO Logic and such, and basically asked if he had any info he could add to this. Boy, did he ever!

Hi Jamie,

Holy cow, what a great email! I’m glad we have fans.

Yes: it was originally called LEGO Logic and the team was called T.I.L.T. Digital Domain (DD) was coming off the heels of making Barbie Fashion Designer for Mattel, which make boatloads of money (it kept the company afloat while they were doing special fx for Titanic). So DD decided it would be a “digital toy” company. It pitched 5 concepts to LEGO Media – LEGO racers, a virtual LEGO set, LEGO robot builders, a LEGO adventure, and then to round out the list, they threw in a half-baked idea to build wacky Rube Goldberg type contractions – similar to the popular game The Incredible Machine. LEGO already had a number of the other ideas in development but they loved the contraption-builder concept, so that’s what they chose.

The initial idea was to freely mix-and-match themes. So the team consisted of a chef, a gymnast (Flip), a magician, a mad scientist with bouncing powers (Dr. Pogo – our idea was that LEGO would produce a rubber mini-figure instead of hard plastic), and a marching band musician (Major Minor). The chef would flip things in his frying pan; the gymnast would provide spinning motion; the marching band musician would provide forward motion, the magician could teleport things from one spot to another. There were probably other team members – my memory is fuzzy. We had a lot of characters in the game at one point. I recall a “motor” that was a cowboy sitting at his campfire. If something lit his fire, he’d start cranking his spit. So he functioned as a fire-activated motor. The worlds included places like Aromazona, Mt. Fridgy (home to the Neanderthaws – those unfrozen cavemen-type creatures you referred to), Poodle Dreamland, and more. Bill Benecke did the concept art and may still have some of it. I’ll see if he can dig some up and share it. It was really fun.

We were fairly far into full production – animation, building out the worlds, starting to build puzzles – when LEGO Media flew myself and the senior producer to their offices in London to present what we were doing. They hated it. The mix-and-match aspect just didn’t fit in with how they market LEGO themes. We were pulling bits and pieces from themes targeted at 5 year olds, 8 year olds, boys, girls, etc. They told us they wanted to completely revise the idea to base it around a “Mission Impossible” style “Spy” team. Keep it all very blue and black and “boy” oriented. More of a focus on cool gear and gadgets. So we threw out 90% of what we had developed … keeping TeeVee and Evil Ogel … and created Cam, Dash, Crunch, and the rest. It was a bit rushed – we had eaten up a year and a half of production heading in the wrong direction – but all things considered, I think it came out pretty well. I think the abbreviated schedule necessitated cutting the moon base and the mountain hideouts. I’m not sure how developed those ever were though.

If I can find some old files I’ll share them with you. I’m still in touch with a number of the guys who worked on the project too, so I’ll forward your email.

Thanks again for the great email.

Best regards,
Tom

So yeah, my jaw dropped. I sent an email back, thanking him for the details, and also linking him to this and this as examples of what fans have done with the theme. He loved them, and added that he's gonna try to dig up some more LEGO Logic and Alpha Team development stuff sometime. He also had an amusing little anecdote to share:

A funny anecdote: When we redesigned the characters, we had a hard time getting Dash’s character design approved. I finally told the character designer to just make him look as much like the LEGO Executive Producer (Tom Gillo) as possible. Tom loved Dash’s new look—having no idea we were trying to make Dash look like him—and the character design was promptly approved.

Dash: http://images1.wikia...s/2/20/Dash.jpg
Tom Gillo: http://www.mobygames...51474743-00.jpg

He also mentioned where some of the other developers are at now, and what their current projects are:

The two main engineers, Bob Soper and Thomas Miller, went on to work at SONY. They were heavily involved in the God of War series. The Executive Producer on LEGO’s side, Tom Gillo, works for Sony Europe and oversees development of Sony Kinect games. Bill Benecke, who designed the characters and devices, now works at Mattel as a toy and action-figure designer. I’ve mostly worked for LeapFrog for the past 10+ years producing interactive books. LEGO Alpha Team was super fun to work on. Great team. Fun work environment. Loads of creative freedom … until the boot came down those last six months and we rushed to revamp the whole product. Immediately afterwards, Digital Domain shut down their interactive division and laid-off the entire department, so the project has always been tainted for me by that. But you’ve reawakened some nostalgia for the good times we had making that game. Thanks for that.

He then forwarded my email to Bill, who added the following:

This is just flat- out wonderful- I never suspected that there would be dedicated fans of Alpha Team, or that they were able to piece together so many bits of what we worked on!!!

Alpha Team was one of the niftiest projects I’ve worked on, and probably the biggest in terms of my career where I look at the designs for our first version and feel a strong dose of “what if…?” tinged with a lot of “if only…!”- especially when I think of Roller Toaster! And Ol’ Blue Ice! And the Neaderthaws! And, yes, Poodle Dream Land.

You’ve really brought a huge smile to my face with this- thank you ☺

And Bill's email reminded Tom of more specific details of LEGO Logic, and then things started really coming together:

His email jogged my memory a bit:

The very earliest concept for LEGO Logic was that the things we take for granted in our homes: refrigerators, dog bowls, toasters, are actually powered behind the scenes by incredibly complicated contraptions and loads of mini-figures hard at work.

The look and feel was very much akin to Diddy Kong Racing, or Crash Bandicoot, or Banjo-Kazooie: brightly colored surreal worlds, with fun bosses to defeat. Evil Ogel was meant to be the final boss. As I said, this wasn’t just preliminary concept work: quite a bit of actual production (modeling and animation) was done along these lines before it was all scrapped for the “spy” theme.

Mt Fridgy was a “snow and ice” freezer environment that included a lot of frozen foods: pizza boxes as platforms, ice cream tubs, things like that. The Boss was “Ol’ Blue Ice” and the Neanderthaws were frozen in blocks of ice. If you defrosted one, he’d starting walking in a forward line, swinging his club.

The Roller Toaster was a roller-coaster “hot lava” environment. Roller coaster cars that looked like slices of bread would ride the rails and get toasted by hot pools of lava. The boss was King Crusty.

Poodle Dreamland took place inside a dog pool. It was shades of pink and lavender, with topiary trees, and giant doggy bones. The boss was a killer poodle named Flea-Flea.

Aromazona was a world of giant flowers, inside a flower pot.

And finally:

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for all the great emails. I’ve forwarded them to the rest of the team. They really made everyone’s week.

Glad you liked the game—good to know there was fans! It was a lot of fun to make. And of course we’re all very happy it spawned a popular LEGO theme.

Best regards.

I'm so darn happy right now.
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#9
Olivus Prime

Wow. Just... wow. Great job Jamesster, you seem to have found an awful lot about the game whilst making a whole team of people happy!

 

It's so nice to see how proud of the game the team members are, all these years later. It's also amazing to suddenly know so much about something that was discovered via a short video clip on YouTube.

 

About LEGO not liking the mixed theme concept... I can kind of understand the concerns they had. LEGO Racers was very much a "best-of" in regards to its choice of themes, and even then they excluded girls themes (though Belville and Scala wouldn't have fitted anyway). Earlier than that, Time Cruisers very much focused upon boys themes, including Fright Knights, Aquazone and Ice Planet 2002. By the looks of things, LEGO Logic seems a lot more ambiguous when it comes to its themes. Yes, I know they have the whole "household appliances" thing going on, but that's usually the focus for a level within an adventure game, not a whole game.

 

I've never played Alpha Team, but I loved the theme as a kid and a lot of the talk of it recently has gotten me interested.



#10
JimbobJeffers

So much information! I can't respond to it all. I do love how Dash was based off that Tom guy, in order to persuade him to accept the design.

 

If you get any concept art, I may have to use it along with the animation they created to make the T.I.L.T. myself. I.e. using plain LEGO parts and applying decals on top. They'd be such a colourful collection of figures to have.



#11
BobaFett2

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Wow, that's really cool. I never knew that Alpha Team had that sort of history.


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#12
Brickulator

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I love Alpha Team and I think the secret agent thing worked really well. But this Logic thing looks like it could have been a lot of fun too. It's not like LEGO games using several unrelated themes have been uncommon.



#13
Tazakk

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Thanks for sharing all of that information, jamesster. The happiness the developers seem to have experienced reminds me of the response when Templar first began posting concept art from Mata Nui Online Game - the developers were overjoyed to see that there were still people out there who remembered their work.

 

It seems I was correct when I theorized that LEGO Media called for a redesign at the last minute, although I had assumed that it would have been because they wanted the game to tie into the theme that LEGO would theoretically have been developing. I am sort of surprised that LEGO Media didn't monitor what Digital Domain was doing - they just approved the game concept and left the developers alone until a few months before the game was due to be completed? LEGO Media does not, to be completely honest, seem to have been terribly efficient. From what we have heard, they put a lot of unreasonable constraints and due dates on the developers, which is a shame.

 

The correlation between developers publishing LEGO games and their subsequent demise or decline is rather disturbing. I think that we have four cases now (LEGO Island and Mindscape, LEGO BIONICLE: The Legend of Mata Nui and Saffire, LEGO Universe and NetDevil (although that was not as much the end of NetDevil as the abrupt dismissal of the LEGO Universe team), and now this). Obviously there are plenty of companies that did not disband after developing LEGO games, but that fact that there are four examples seems astonishing.

 

The original concept for the game certainly sounds interesting. Using a flower pot and a dog pool as worlds is quite inventive, and it would have been interesting to see what Evil Ogel was doing attempting to thwart the way Minifigures operate household appliances. A random observation; the original premise explains the giant hotdog in the original introductory animation. Speaking of the animation, I wonder if there might have been some sort of world set inside a computer, judging by the scene with the construction worker-looking team member.



#14
Oboe Shoes

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A funny anecdote: When we redesigned the characters, we had a hard time getting Dash’s character design approved. I finally told the character designer to just make him look as much like the LEGO Executive Producer (Tom Gillo) as possible. Tom loved Dash’s new look—having no idea we were trying to make Dash look like him—and the character design was promptly approved.

Dash: http://images1.wikia...s/2/20/Dash.jpg
Tom Gillo: http://www.mobygames...51474743-00.jpg

 

This is honestly just too freaking hilarious.



#15
Addictgamer

Woah. Great job, James, you always manage to dig up interesting stuff.
I'd have loved to see the original project they were working on. If Alpha Team was great, how much greater would that unique project of theirs been?