Drome Racing Challenge
The Drome Racing Challenge was a team-based strategy game available for LEGO® Web Club members (who are not required to pay for an account) to play for free on the LEGO website, and was produced by a company called GameLab®. It ran in a Macromedia® (later Adobe®) Shockwave application in the user's browser. The game was started in 2002 alongside the Drome Racers theme, and continued until 31st April 2007 when it was deleted altogether.
The player, on his first visit to the game, would be presented with a choice between five teams; High Octane Team (or H.O.T. as it is commonly referred to), which featured orange-and-yellow cars and proclaimed that it was a team for those who like to muscle their way through obstacles; Maverick Team, which featured green-and-red cars and proclaimed that it was a team for those who prefer a stylish, rather than purely practical, approach; Nitro Team, which featured blue-and-yellow cars and proclaimed that it was the "newest" team, and that it was for highly versatile people, as well as the fact that it featured the persona for the Drome Racers video game, Max Axel; Racing Extreme Design Team (or R.E.D. as it is commonly referred to), which featured red-and-orange cars, and proclaimed that it was a team for those who are calm, precise, and skilled; and finally Zero Team, which featured aqua-blue-and-red cars and proclaimed that it was a team for those who pay attention to detail and think carefully about their strategies. There was also a facade for a sixth team present, the Exo-Force (although this was later renamed "Ex Team") which gave the player the illusion that they might later in the game join this team.
The player is started with an introduction which shows him how to use his "Garage", where he equips a Charger part to his car's engine, where the type of car is given to him on the basis of the team he earlier chose, and afterwards he is asked to race on a track in the Jungle zone against badly-equipped virtual opponents. This introduces the player to the fact that he has no direct control over the race, but that the persona uses the parts equipped on the car to gain an advantage over his opponents. After the race, the player is shown that he has received a number of points and credits from the race, which are used for gaining prestige and more cars, parts and upgrades, respectively. The introduction then ends.
During the course of the game, the player can use the credits he earns to buy more parts to add to his cars (which fit into a number of "slots" which is limited), upgrades for each car (which improve the overall performance of the car) and more cars, with different characteristics which suit different Zones.
Certain parts and cars, an the maximum number of upgrades, are limited by the "Class" of the player. There were going to be six attainable classes: E, D, C, B, A, and A+. However, there have been no proved cases of a player reaching A+ and it is therefore thought to be a part of the game that was never implemented. The higher the class a player is in, the better quality the available parts are and the more difficult the virtual opponents become. Players can only play opponents who are in the same class that they are in.
Players may play other players, if they are in the same class, and may take up to five challenges on each zone that they have a car assigned to and are willing to accept such challenges with, before the player activates the challenges by viewing them.
There are six Zones, which test different aspects of a car's performance.
ICE ZONE - a tough chassis and weather-resistant parts are key to success.
JUNGLE ZONE - cars with a tough chassis and durable wheels, as well as some weaponry, are more likely to be successful.
URBAN ZONE - cars that are tuned up to approximately match a virtual opponent, as well as having a powerful weapon, have an advantage.
BEACH ZONE - very durable wheels and a variety of parts are advantageous.
HIGH SPEED ZONE - cars with good suspension and tough wheels have a clear advantage.
DESERT ZONE - An extremely strong chassis, and wheel-attacking weapons, are the best combination.
Naturally, if a player should challenge another player, he should tune his car according to how he believes his opponent will tune his in order to counter it.
Over time, players began to communicate more with each other on the subject of their Drome Racing Challenge teams and headquarters were established on the LEGO Message Boards. Eventually, people with different views and feelings toward the game migrated to different teams, which gave each team its own unique "flavour". They also began to develop their own political systems.
Ex Team was a team that nobody on LEGO could join. Their team leader was Sever he was only in the Racers Comics. In the comics their rival was the Nitro Team. This team was unkown to everyone so we don't have very much information about them.
High Octane Team had an unrivaled experience of success under the astounding success of BZPower moderator Bonesiii and SpaceDinoDig, who acquired very nearly one hundred million points, and later craZyRacrXtreme, who acquired the maximum possible number of points (around 2.1 thousand million) with five different accounts before the end of the game (though he did so with extreme over use of glitches), which led to the domination of the entire Drome and an 11% lead over the next best team with regards to overall win percentage before the game was deleted. This kind of unparalleled success led to a high level of complacency evident in their headquarters at the Lego Message Boards, as well as a lax approach to etiquette towards other teams. They did not recognize any leader until craZyRacrXtreme and loving88888 both took the stand in the same month in 2006, at which time craZyRacrXtreme was recognized as High Octane Team leader.
Maverick Team was the lowest-scoring team in the Drome Racing Challenge from 2002 until late 2006. It was notorious as being the least organized of teams until late in 2005, when Houlte began showing that he was serious about the game and about Maverick. He was quickly identified as the person who would do Maverick the most good, and therefore became their first team leader. He was also one of Maverick's two leading scorers at the time, having acquired in his career a total of over four million points. Houlte introduced a policy of not using the "glitches" that players were uncovering and using to gain an advantage, considering them "cheating", and this caught on throughout the entire team, many of whom began to regard ill-gotten points as worth less than nothing. When craZyRacrXtreme was going up the rankingboard quickly using the game's glitches, also sc35 was right behind him the whole way, he had the most points for Maverick without using glitches for a while until LEGO put a point limit in. Around 2006 Flame51 emerged and led Maverick to dominence in the Dessert Zone.
Nitro Team had its turn of success, competing with High Octane Team closely until 2006; this was largely due to the secret headquarters that members such as Nitro-Guy, Patches46, dabomb, X-DR55 and josh812000 were using to share deep secrets and co-ordinate attacks. It has been almost a tradition for them to quickly overrun and dominate the High Speed Zone, as they have been known to do so at least twice. They also had some difficulties, Team Nitro had so many so called "noobs" that made the team's winning percentage go down. Theses "noobs" were racers that would race a few times and then quit and they would almost never win a race, others in class e would take advantage of them.
Racing Extreme Design Team was largely unsuccessful for its entire history. It has produced several unarguably competent players, one of which is a moderator known as Timoteo on BZPower, but their headquarters in the LEGO Message Boards has been generally unorganized and the scene of several unpleasant arguments. Some of the members formed a secret headquarters in a forum now known as InZone, although this did not improve their chances until much later, when they overran the ranking boards only a few days before the game was closed.
Zero Team had its share of success and failure, keeping a tidy LEGO Message Boards headquarters and developing a simple political system very early on, with streetsmart as their first leader, who urged his team to concentrate foremost on racing, and to cut down on communications, and later under the guidance of TurboMitcho and Double, who were less inclined to share that view. Zero Team at one time almost occupied every Zone in the Drome Racing Challenge, after a series of cautious, co-ordinated attacks. However, they lost this position when the H.O.T. became more organised, despite the careful leadership of Double and DWReyes.
Many games have their technical difficulties, and this game was certainly not an exception. Dozens of glitches and bugs in the game amounted to a number of loopholes which some players were able to use to gain an advantage. This was the source of a controversy which lasted longer than the Drome Racing Challenge itself.
The controversy was simply that although a number of players considered this behaviour "cheating", the players using it would argue that since there was no specific rule covering any glitch use that they could make out, then they were perfectly entitled to use them. This difference in opinion was the basis of several heated arguments throughout the course of the game, as well as the policy of the Maverick Team and many players belonging to other teams.
It was in fact this controversy that eventually brought the end of the game, when a "super-glitch" was discovered and used extensively.
Another problem was with players' usage of weaker accounts they had made for other teams in order to earn points more quickly; the Terms of Service for a new user creating a LEGO Web Club account clearly states that creating more than one user account per person jeapordises their status and may have their accounts removed, but a recent enquiry revealed that a member of the LEGO Customer Support team gave permission for anyone to make as many user accounts as they please.
Another problem with the game was that a "bug" in the Drome Racing Challenge database had to be removed, resulting in the elimination of progress made by any player since the beginning of the game; this occured in 2005.
When the Drome Racing Challenge was released in 2002, there were only five cars available, those being the default cars each team began with, and only one Zone available to race on; the Jungle Zone. Also, there were two classes available (class e and d). After a while they finally came up with two more Zones, Beach and High Speed. After nuvadad took over everyone with almost twice as many points as micshum who was second. It got very boring because they couldnt update the Drome so it was the same every day. Then in late August in 2006 the new drome came with 10 cars, 6 Zones total, and classes E-A, it was much more exciting than the old one. High Octane Team gained an early advantage with SpaceDinoDig at the forefront, with Nitro-Guy struggling to keep up; High Octane Team and Nitro were closely competing for dominance over basicaly all of the Zones. One day Nitro would be the best at most of the Zones then the next day the High Octane Team would have the most Zones.
The Drome Racing Challenge was expanded soon after, with the rest of the Zones and cars added. Players were assigned to Class E. Since the introduction of more Zones, Nitro had an advantage, as their efforts could be spread, with more proficient players than H.O.T., who had only SpaceDinoDig at the forefront. R.E.D. gained an advantage in the Jungle Zone as other teams explored other zones, and Maverick began to attack in the Desert Zone. At around this time, there was a "bug" that resulted in the destruction of the Drome Racing Challenge player database, and so players had to begin again from the beginning; this in turn resulted in some players deciding to join a different team; in a notable case, Houlte left the Nitro team and joined Maverick where he became their leader, shortly afterwards.
The Peak of the Drome Racing Challenge Era
Although the game was created in 2002, it was not until 2006 that the game seemed to be approaching any level of civilisation; at least, not in the immediately accessible area of dicussion, in the LEGO Message Boards, where it was very common for members of teams to insult each other and claim superiority. This began to change, possibly because of the increasing popularity in the idea of team leaders and the politics they introduced; team leaders would discourage ungentlemanly behaviour, in general, and over the months of 2006, the atmosphere became more hospitable, as did diplomacy between teams. However, this effect was not evenly felt; teams R.E.D. and H.O.T. had not advanced at the same time as teams Maverick, Nitro and Zero. There were a few people responsible for this change, but it may well have been inevitable, merely accelerated.
GameLab press release - the first time the game was announced.
Location - a statement from the LEGO Group announcing the closure of the game.