E3 2010: Lego Universe

E3 2010: Lego Universe

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The world of Lego comes to life in NetDevil's brick-based MMOG.

Lego and MMOGs are like the peanut butter and chocolate of this industry. They're both wildly popular and potentially profitable, so it makes sense that some smart developer would find a way to combine them together. The trick, of course, is in finding a way of putting them together in a way that seems like more than just a cheap attempt to cash in on their popularity. Fortunately, the gang at NetDevil has created a context that does justice to the brand without compromising the gameplay.

The first challenge in creating a comprehensive Lego MMOG is in bringing all the various settings under one roof. To that end, NetDevil has created a story about four explorers seeking out the source of Pure Imagination. Unfortunately, they find it, screw it up and pretty much ruin everything. Their actions unleash the Maelstrom, a chaotic force that blows up planets, spreads anarchy, and basically makes a mess of the universe. Now all the various Lego settings rely on the newly created Nexus Force to combat the chaos.

As a side note, NetDevil doesn't have access to the third-party licenses for things like Harry Potter or Star Wars, but it hasn't ruled out including them in the game if clearances can be obtained.

Lego Universe includes lots of directed content that's drawn from the Lego sets, but we've been more interested in the freeform building options. Each player will have their own personal planet they can build on with the Lego bricks and pre-built components they've collected, won, or purchased. So if you want to build a pirate ship, or an Old West fort, or a medieval castle, all you need is a little imagination and a lot of bricks. A wide range of filters will help you easily sort through the bricks and find just the right one you want at any particular moment. The creativity you show as a player is part of the effort required to clear the Maelstrom from the universe and reassert the power of imagination.

Since NetDevil wants to keep the brand kid-friendly and can't commit the staff required for immediate approvals of public content, it's including a friend system. You'll only be able to visit the planets of your friends, so you won't be exposed to forts that are shaped like genitalia. Unless, of course, you happen to have friends like mine in which case you'll be spending a lot of time dreaming of your escape from the planets Wang and Rod in the Johnson System.

While crafting your own unique environments is attractive enough, Lego Universe also allows creators to attach scripts to objects in their world. The process uses a graphical programming language (much like that in Lego's programmable sets), so players can drag and drop behaviors and conditions onto any of their creations. You could, for example, put a knock-knock joke or a password on doors. More interestingly, you can manage the interactions between objects and actors.

We saw one example where the designers created some Lego chickens and attached movement and state changes to them when they heard the words "Release the hounds." Now, whenever any player (or any other object) says, "Release the hounds," the chickens will activate a certain behavior. When you begin chaining those behaviors together and having them react to the behaviors of other actors, you can create some elaborate situations.

Unfortunately, the team isn't sure that players will be able to attach states to other players, so the capacity for using this system to create certain types of gameplay isn't as great as it might be. Still, given all the creativity that's contained in the package, Lego Universe looks to make great use of the Lego brand.

Keep track of all our E3 2010 coverage here.

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Who's supposed to play all these MMOs? I've lost count of how many there are, and how many have died because too few people played them.

As a man with an outspoken inner-child and thousands of lego forts built in his youth, this is the most amazing thing I've ever heard.

I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

Korias:
I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

Probably. 5 buck for each set.

...

I'd pay it.

This seems cool and all, but I cant see how this will work.

Korias:
I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

In a rare moment of excitement over an MMO (I haven't played one since the first few months of WoW), I looked at the beta site. It seems to be a subscription model, and fancy character add-ons are from faction bonuses and the like. Maybe they'll have microtransactions for special bricks, behaviors, and the like. It looks like a pretty big maybe, though.

Also, the ability to play as a ninja and build just about anything I want is going to be really hard to pass up. The only foreseeable downfall is if you have to grind for bricks to build your fort - especially since the only people that get to see it are your friends.

Hiphophippo:

Korias:
I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

Probably. 5 buck for each set.

...

I'd pay it.

Korias:
I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

CaptainCrunch:

Korias:
I'm more interested in the pay model for this one. I'm going to hazard a guess and say, Microtransactions?

In a rare moment of excitement over an MMO (I haven't played one since the first few months of WoW), I looked at the beta site. It seems to be a subscription model, and fancy character add-ons are from faction bonuses and the like. Maybe they'll have microtransactions for special bricks, behaviors, and the like. It looks like a pretty big maybe, though.

Also, the ability to play as a ninja and build just about anything I want is going to be really hard to pass up. The only foreseeable downfall is if you have to grind for bricks to build your fort - especially since the only people that get to see it are your friends.

I've been in the beta from pretty much the time it started. It will indeed be subscription model.

That said, you can order custom sets of anything you make in the game and have them shipped to you.

Rodyle2:
\
I've been in the beta from pretty much the time it started. It will indeed be subscription model.

That said, you can order custom sets of anything you make in the game and have them shipped to you.

For the remainder of the day you shall be the target of my red hot ire.

Rodyle2:

I've been in the beta from pretty much the time it started. It will indeed be subscription model.

That said, you can order custom sets of anything you make in the game and have them shipped to you.

Ok. Now I totally HAVE to play this. Also, I hate you.

I've seen a few videos on this Lego MMO... It could be something pretty awesome, if the final product is done right. :)

No, I don't think it'll approach WoW in its success. But I hope that, at the very least, this is an MMO that actually stays on its feet throughout its life.

Always loved the look of the legos game, so cute...But, as an MMO...I dont think I can see it succeeding for too long

A neat way I once saw to have the buddy system not choke you was to allow bulk adding of friends so we could say compile a list of escapist people and copy paste

 

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