With talk on Dimensions ceasing production, and counter talk saying that it isn't, I'd like to go back to it to talk about things I'd like to see done if they do go for a "Dimensions 2". This is not meant to be me saying I could do the job better, far from it. These are more ideas that, if I was a part of the development team for whatever reason, what I would suggest.
- Drop the Toys to Life model
This is a no brainer, due to me personally thinking its the main thing holding Dimensions back. I know it sounds weird but hear me out. One thing that the team cannot do, or at least try not to do, is sell power. Most of the power ups you can get from the packs are cosmetic upgrades that do fit the worlds they come from, but have little practical use. There are some that are useful, like a stud magnet, cheaper upgrades, ect. But for everyone of those, there's two more that are "replace music with *x*", "give all vehicles *y*" "wear dino hats". Every Lego game has upgrades like that, but they are balanced out with things like extra stud multipliers, invincibility, and others that have more use to them, help with the pacing of the game, something that Dimensions can't really do because the way to get red bricks are bared off unless you have characters that can get to the Adventure worlds they're from. On top of that, there are characters which are required to get collectables that you could be waiting months to get. Raven's one I know about in Year 2 as you can't complete the Adventure Time level without her, Gamer Kid had 50 arcade games you could only start getting late into Year 1, and unless you have Supergirl, you're not completing the Sonic Level. Just to name a few. None of these would be a problem in a normal Lego Game, as then the only thing blocking off your progression is the amount of studs you had, whereas the way its going with Dimensions as it is, if you needed a character, you're probably paying $25-$80 (that's based on brick and mortar stores in Australian dollars for the record), which on top of the $180 for the starter pack, will not help get customers, especially when the audience you target relies of their parents to buy it for them.
- Give us a reason to use these vehicles
To those who haven't played Dimensions. around 90-95% of the vehicles and vehicle upgrades... are completely useless and really only exist to make an attempt to justify the price tag of the sets (which they suck at for the record). With the exception of some specific vehicles for the occasional secret area and puzzle, you have no reason to use the vehicles. Boats and submarines are only used in adventure words, which is negated by characters who can swim, which you'd probably find out before you got a submarine. Planes are really only used for lifting specific items onto switches, as there are characters who can fly on their own and fly faster, and cars, while the most useful, still aren't often used unless you want to move faster, in which case you're probably flying. Gadgets are the ones that get the most use along with special vehicles, things like the Ghost trap, Arcade machine, TARDIS, DeLorian, ect, but like the cars, are the most situational. Combined with all the vehicles sharing the same stats depending on what kind of vehicle they are, and you get the 90-95% useless number (roughly). I'd like to see vehicles get more use, levels built around using them, give me reasons for having these. I admit the Lego games have had a lot of issues with useless vehicles, but in other games they did have reasons for you to use them, levels that had you play as them, or puzzles that required a vehicle to be built and used to move on. Rather then "Use a vehicle of your choice to use this dash panel you could fly over" "Use one to lift this box" "Use one to charge up this machine".
- Real Lego sets based on the game
What do I mean by that? Well, I'd like to see sets based on the idea, even if its just a series of collectable minifigs. Most people who buy the sets, buy them for the characters, especially ones like the Twelfth Doctor, Chell, Sonic, Mr T, and other characters who haven't been minifigs before. There is a market for these characters as minifigs, and if they were turned into sets based on their franchises or from the game itself, that would be even better. Doing this and taking away the Toys to Life aspect would cut the games cost in half, so that the people who want the game can get the game, those who want the sets can get the sets, and those who want both can throw their money away now. Everyone wins!
- Keep the Portal
I know that might sound crazy, seeing as before I did say to drop Toys to Life. But I will admit that the Portal is a interesting mechanic, and has led to some interesting puzzles. It could even be something like a phone app that connects to the game which would let you do the puzzles, control characters to go to specific areas to do some sort of Rube Goldberg like puzzle, or even take something from Lego Star Wars 3 and have a way to control units of soldiers on a battlefield. You could even connect it to the physical sets, like they do with the Nexo Knights sets, and have a way to scan codes to unlock things like costumes (not characters, not power). There is an idea here for controlling parts of the game with something other then a standard controller that I'd love to see more games take use of, we have the technology for this, and its a safe bet everyone who'd get the game would have access to a phone or tablet.
- Better navigation in adventure worlds
I hate navigating the adventure worlds, I really do. It's slow, easy to get lost, especially in the year 2 worlds, and the tools you have for navigating it just makes it a chore. There are ways it could be fixed. Things like the radar showing some signs of world geography rather then a blank circle with icons giving a rough idea where things are, the ghost studs from previous Lego games (if you choose) to point to the closest collectable to where you are, a way to bring up some sort of map of the world. Games have been designing ways of navigating open worlds since the 80's, we have a good idea on how to be a gentle guide if the player wants, and there are far better ways then "Look at all the arrows clogging up your HUD, there they are, go find them".
- Less of the old, more of the new
I'm going to probably shoot down a lot of older readers nostalgia here with this. But Dimensions needed more characters that kids of this day and age would know better. There are some that are timeless, like the DC superheroes, and a lot of the Lego IP's in the game helped a lot. But, most children, and I say most intentionally so please don't spam me with "but my kid does", are not going to care about things like The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings (though that ones more debatable), Back to the Future, Portal 2, the original Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, Mission Impossible, The A-Team, Gremlins, E.T, Knight Rider, The Goonies and Beetlejuice. Like it or not, those are aimed at older players, the parents and older siblings. Before anyone says it, no, there is nothing wrong with them being in the game, see before about the minifigs. What I will say was that there needed to be more IP's in the game that targeted children with things they're growing up with, the IP's you can find on TV and in movies right now. Because those would have been what kids would have begged their parents to get, because they knew them. Parents would see the sets from their childhoods, maybe getting them too and congratulations, they just got more money.
- Lego Engine 2.0
The game engine they're using for these games is showing its age. The games are becoming stale, in game visuals look like they haven't improved, and are aging badly. Their cutscenes are looking better then the games they come from, and showing that they're pre rendered and not done in game. Its time for an upgrade. We have more power then ever in consoles and PC's, yet the games still look like my old PS2 could run them. I'm not saying they need to look rediculous. But lighting and shading could be improved, more detail to the minifigs to make them look more like actual Lego. Basically, take the Lego movie and Lego Batman movie, give the minifigs more articulation points, and that should be what they look like now, but they don't. Heck I'd settle for Lego Worlds in terms of where we should be at visually. It can be done people. I'm even willing to trade off compatibility with the last generation of hardware to do it, even if it means I wouldn't be able to play them yet. It is something that needs to happen.
- Time to go Digital
Before you read on, note that I'm very much on the camp of local multiplayer. But even I admit that, if we can, we should have both. And this also came from a Facebook group I'm a part of related to Dimensions, so thank you to that person for the idea. Dimensions does have online multiplayer in terms of the Battle Arenas, but at this point, its probably time for some online co-op multiplayer. Just can we please still have local? I know you want to only have one WB but please can we have both?
I have been working on an updated version of a character roster, building on what Year 1 and 2 have done, its still some time away as before I publish it, I'd like to give powers to the characters and maybe, if I can get the time to dig into Stud.IO, make mock ups of what they could look like based on currently existing pieces. It's taking longer then I expected, due to brainstorming ideas, and the site content schedule going from weekly to daily. Hopefully I can get it soon though as its something I really want to get out, I'm not really happy with how the first one turned out as it was rushed, its was mostly still my personal work notes. See you on Wednesday for the opening impressions on Ducktales.