Robotech Design Notes

Initial Design Limitations

When I first started working at Gametek, the development team had already made several decisions about the game design, which I needed to work into whatever Robotech story I put into the game.

First off, the game was going to be a space combat simulation, similar in general genre to the PC based Star Wars and Wing Commander games. There would be no ground combat in this first Robotech game (though we planned to add it to the next one), though we could have some non-combat based scenes inside the SDF-3 and a few other friendly capital ships. Unlike previous space combat sims, Robotech was not going to have a series of tightly scripted missions, instead allowing the player to fly anywhere in the universe. The story, therefore, had to be somewhat non-linear. Much of the gameplay would occur in randomly created combat situations, though the game would include a number of scripted missions for story elements.

The second limitation was that the game used the Macross era ships, with the Zentraedi being the primary enemy. The reason for this decision was that the Macross portion of the cartoon series is the most recognizable, and it would allow us to do a conversion of the game for the Macross license in Japan.

The third, and possibly most difficult, limitation was the inclusion of the crystals. When I first joined Gametek, the company had only one or two N64 development systems, which didn't even have final hardware. We had no way of knowing what the display capabilities of the N64 would be. At that point, the only way to ensure that we could display more than one or two objects on screen at once was to make the objects very simple to draw. The crystal fighters take less than 20 polygons each, while a battlepod would be over 600 polys. For the price of a single battlepod, we could get dozens of crystals on screen at once. At the time (remember, we were guessing about the N64's display capabilities), it seemed the only way to ensure that we could get some very big Robotech style battles. By the time I joined Gametek, the crystals had already been named the "Ebolians"... it was a bit silly, but the name stuck.

Note that these documents were written at the beginning of development for Robotech N64, and I wrote them as brainstorming ideas for myself... they are a bit scattered and strange at times....

Early Design Documents

The first few items are early design documents I wrote soon after getting the job at Gametek, in December of 1995. These files were made mostly for myself, so I wasn't going to any lengths to make them look like official design documents. They were thrown together so I could jot down ideas as I had them. Other than formatting them to HTML, adding a few comments in red italics, and fixing some (but probably not all) of the spelling errors, I've left them unchanged.

The first document is the story design I came up with in my first couple of weeks at Gametek. Though a lot of the minor details were modified, most of the basic ideas existed all the way back then.

Preliminary Story Design

The next document is a more detailed story design, with most of the major events that later were translated into missions and dialog.

Detailed Story Design

The last preliminary story document was a file that was primarily a way to write down any ideas I happened to brainstorm. However, a lot of the file ended up defining the structure of the game story in more detail.

Brainstorming Notes

A final document I've added is the preliminary list of characters.

Preliminary Character List

Final Game Script

Here is the complete game dialog (as originally written and recorded), cross-referenced with all the sound files that would have appeared in the final game. Much of the dialog in the original script would only have appeared in the game as text messages, with only the 14 or so main characters having voices. Even so, we managed to put nearly 45 minutes of voice audio on a small N64 cartridge....

R:CD Game Dailog

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Robotech is copyright and trademark © 1985 by Harmony Gold, USA, Inc.

Robotech: Crystal Dreams and all game related pictures are copyright © 1998 by Gametek, Inc.

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