I have been waiting for Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3 for a long time, but I have been waiting for Lego Universe even longer (and it’s been delayed just as much). I’ve been playing with Legos for most of my life. My Facebook icon has been and always will be a rendering of me in Lego form. Small sets of Legos scattered around my office (and I don’t work in a place where hip swag is really allowed). My first gift to my first daughter was a Lego set. And, I have had Legos on my computer since 2004.
For the unitiated, building with Legos on your own computer has been around [unofficially] for some time with LDraw. LDraw has a rich history, but it has evolved in to a format to play with Legos on your computer. It has it’s own modeling language, strict rules to make models “official,” and an elected Steering Committee. People can use a modeler, like MLCad, to utilize the LDraw files, and then plop them into almost any 3d program, such as POVRay. Then fun things can be done, like this.
Then Lego made their official modeling program which evolved into the Lego Digital Designer (LDD) we have today. LDD had nowhere near the power of LDraw’s suite of tools, but it was also easier to use. Plus, people could take their models they created in LDD and buy the real parts. The physical Legos would come shipped in a box depicting the person’s model on the front. Yet The Lego Group did the most awesome thing, they helped the LDraw people merge with LDD so a person could build the model with the super complex LDraw suite and then put it in to LDD. I think the opposite is also true (LDraw can read LDD files).
The reason I am telling you this is because Lego Universe is supposed to have similar capabilities of LDD (and because I love Legos and LDraw). For more reasons to love all that is Legos, the developer of Lego Universe, NetDevil, gave the LDraw group a ton of models they created for Lego Universe that LDraw didn’t have available. They gave assets away for free so others could play with them! In the usual IP world of gamemakers, this was outrageous.
Oh yeah, so the MMO. There are videos of the CES 2010 presentation, and they are glorious. From what I can tell NetDevil really took to heart the winning formula that Traveller’s Tales had already created for the Lego computer games. The MMO seems very platform-y, and like the computer games, having your avatar bash things for Legos and quickly build things to help with puzzles seems to be the norm. They have crafting stations with challenges, and of course zones to bash the Kingdom Hearts reminiscent enemies. There is no leveling, only collecting Legos, creating models, and completing challenges.
My biggest worry is how the game will be subscription-based. Some games seem to be worth a subscription, I get that, but Lego Universe is half-toy. Subscribing to play with Legos seems paradoxical, especially since Legos are a toy you do not throw away. I am hoping that at the very least the subscription fee is more akin to Wizard 101 or Free Realms than the $15 flatline. It would be much better, in my humble opinion, if they followed something like Dungeons and Dragons Online so I could own something.
After years of polish, I have high hopes for this lighthearted MMO. I hope it helps reinvigorate Legos even more for that next generation, and I really hope they make a physical Lego line with the purple enemies. Even if the hardcore only subscribe for a month here and there, I am hoping it breaths some innovation in to our staling genre.