Lego Universe Update

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Publisher: The Lego Group
Developer: NetDevil

Platform: PC
Official Site

There is no single toy line with a richer history and more individual pieces than Legos. Next year, The Lego Group and NetDevil plan to release a massively multiplayer online game called Lego Universe that will bring Legos to life in a child-friendly persistent world with activities for Lego fans of all ages.

Projected Release: Fourth Quarter of 2008

Kyle Ackerman

Concept art depicting a Lego city This isn't a detailed preview of Lego Universe. Both developer NetDevil and The Lego Group remain tight-lipped concerning this upcoming massively multiplayer online game for the PC. But at this point, it is possible to talk about the team, its dedication, and its positively spectacular collection of Lego pieces.

Early this year, Lego revealed that it had engaged NetDevil to develop a persistent world game based on its many Lego products, just recently named Lego Universe. The game is being designed as a child-safe alternative to other massively multiplayer online games. But unlike Club Penguin or other child-oriented online games, it strives also to engage all age groups, while remaining true to Lego's brand and values.

Customizable minifigure avatarsSo what can be said with certainty? Players will be able to create customizable Lego minifigure characters that they will play and "advance" in some as-yet-unspecified way. The rest remains to be seen.

Will there be levels? Combat? Minifigures from other properties like Star Wars or Batman? Neither NetDevil nor Lego is prepared to say, yet. There is, currently, a playable build that is being play-tested with both kids and adults, using Lego's play-testing infrastructure. The developers simply say that they are focusing on the different motivations and rewards that inspire different age groups, to ensure that there are ways to play without engaging in direct competition. They acknowledge, however, that competitive players will seek out those portions of the game that offer competition. A preview video suggests that there will be the ability to build your own Lego constructs within the game, and that could easily be tied into Lego Factory – but details remain sparse. NetDevil's main answer to matters Lego is that "Everything you ever wanted to know about Lego Universe... will be revealed someday."

A place to build your own Lego constructs?The development team has put together marvelous art, both concept drawings and preliminary game assets. They want to ensure that all of the art and animations are unmistakably Lego – so far, they've succeeded admirably. For example, the team showed off preliminary animations of a lush jungle waterfall that was not only beautiful, but had the churning water filled with recognizable Lego blocks so that even still images were unquestionably part of the Lego world and not just a random watery landscape.

The team is withholding most details for now, but NetDevil's new office space is an unquestionable monument to Lego dedication. The entrance is littered with versions of the NetDevil logo, lovingly laid out in Legos. A massive Lego brick towers over cubicles with minifigure construction workers rappelling from the top. But most of all, the NetDevil office is host to a Lego collection to drool over. Shelf after shelf is filled with boxes of extra Legos, while an entire warren of shelves and bins sport a veritable honeycomb of Legos, most neatly sorted. If you've been lusting after a particular arm or pink and sparkling shade of block, they've got it. They've got them all. Oh, yes, and there's a Lego train running above the entire operation.

An urban vision in LegosThe Lego Universe team is currently around 45 developers, including two that were hired from the adult community of Lego fans. One is a practiced builder and serves as the game's community coordinator, while the other is a dedicated expert builder creating models for the game and helping the developers realize their dreams in solid Lego reality.

If the teaser information you've seen so far feels ultimately unsatisfying, keep your eye on NetDevil's progress. The team repeatedly emphasized that the game is being "developed for Lego fans, and supported by the community." They made very general promises that there will be plenty of chances for Lego enthusiasts of all ages to get involved in the development of the game over time. Interested players can sign up at the Lego Universe site.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 24, 2007 7:46 PM.

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