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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Figgy Pudding

"My team has collaborated on an overarching epic storyline..."

"Essentially, new [players] enter [blank] Universe with nothing: no money...no stuff. Then they go through the world completing challenges, defeating enemies, gathering goods, discovering treasures and unlocking secrets."

Okay, try to guess the MMO these quotes are referring to (I redacted a few giveaways).

Gee, could be anything, right? Those serious sounding quotes could describe WoW, Everquest, LOTRO...

But they actually describe LEGO Universe Online.

I ran into
this post on Kotaku, and since then I've been poking around the LEGO website.

When I first heard about this game I figured it would be a more family friendly version of Second Life. But the descriptions make it sound more like WoW. They're talking about "defeating enemies" to earn "plastic," the currency of the game, in the midst of an overarching storyline.

The question on the current poll is: "Minifigs love minigames, and LEGO Universe will have massive amounts of each! Which minigame will your minifig love the most?"

Apparently a minifig is a miniature figure - one of those little LEGO people and your avatar in the world. The answers to choose from are:

Collecting hidden sets of trinkets

Rebuilding broken LEGO models within a time limit

Timed Obstacle Courses to jump and bounce through."

Okay, the second one does sound really fun and fitting with the LEGO theme. But the others?

I envisioned making an insane lego creation. And then another one. And then having a friend check it out. I thought it would be less limiting then real legos because you would have access to every lego ever made and endless storage space.

I'm not saying there won't be some LEGO creativity. The designer, Brian Booker states that he is the most excited about:

"The systems that allow users to generate their own content—things like original, highly customizable creatures as well as static models. It’s just amazing to be able to build your own creation, deploy it and have it come to life in the game world, and then show it off to your friends."

Which is great and what I was expecting. But the following surprised me:

"Essentially, new minifigs enter LEGO Universe with nothing: no money, no bricks, no stuff. Then they go through the world completing challenges, defeating enemies, gathering goods, discovering treasures and unlocking secrets. Along the way, the minifigs find bricks and collect a highly valuable currency— plastic. "

I could be totally wrong but I imagined most people's expectations (children and adults alike) were that they would log on and start building lego creations right away. I expected you would have a sizable number of building options to begin with.

"But an individual minifig may have to scale back their dreams if they haven’t collected or earned enough bricks to build their creations. "

I don't like scaling back my dreams - not when it comes to legos. Are people going to have the patience to play mingames, grind for plastic and participate in the "epic" storyline in order to have suitable building options? I get that this game is targeted to kids - I do. But it's the creativity and endless options that made legos so popular with kids in the first place.

I can't say they are making the wrong design decision. The decision to make LEGO more of a game and less of a sandbox may be based on research regarding subscription numbers and player interest. I should have just remembered the success of Lego Star Wars and realized that they would go that route. The sandbox aspect might be quite limited by obscenity concerns, so perhaps they had to focus on questing and mini-games.

The designers may very well have made the best decision based on what they were aiming for and the limitations they were faced with. Even though the direction of the game surprised me, it could still be fun.


Blogger Karnatos said...


Sounds cool enough from this post; and I cannot get to the site from work. (they 'block' Lego's site here? How appropos!)

Quick questions; what revenue model are they using? Monthly subscriptions? Is it going to have gameplay similar to the Indy/StarWars Lego franchises?

It just has me wondering :)

10:18 AM  
Blogger warm_machine said...

You bring up a very good point Aggro. I flipped when I heard the LEGO people were making a MMO similar to EQ2 or WoW, but that's because I already play those games.

New people may be expecting the online equivalent to LEGO Star Wars. I hope they made the right decision, because I'd love to see it thrive.

I will definitely give it a try!

10:38 AM  
Anonymous site said...

Well, I don't actually think this is likely to have effect.

9:56 AM  

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