Lego Universe: Teaching Camping, Grinding, Kill-Stealing, and Griefing to the Next Generation

Tonight a fairly high-expected patch to Lego Universe (LU) will be loaded, bringing with it the missing-at-launch class for all of the factions, along with a new area and a new racetrack. There’s also a great amount of hope that a bank or storage solution will be put in, as there has been a lot of official comments that “something” is coming for a while now. Some of these were promised, but not delivered, at launch, so seeing them come out relatively quickly is good. However, LU launching with such limited content is causing a lot of dissatisfaction among the user base. Nowhere is this more evident as in the zone called Gnarled Forest, in an area called Brig Rock. It is this area that really shows that the “MM” of “MMORPG” was not thought through completely.

In order to get the best (more or less) gear in the game, you buy it from your faction rep. You buy it using coins as well as faction tokens. These tokens can drop from just about anything, but certain monsters drop them more often. You’d think the end game dragons would drop more, but they actually drop them very rarely, so the dragons are only typically farmed for the top level weapons they drop. I have a few places I ground out my tokens, but one I avoided was Brig Rock, due to the dozens of threads on the official and fan boards about how horrible it is. Last night I decided to go back for the first time since I ran through there quickly for quests. It was just as it had been described.

Brig Rock has 3 total spawn points. These spawn points spawn 2 Admirals and 1 Pirate each (Brig = Brigadier). They spawn very quickly after being smashed, on the order of 5-10 seconds, so it is very fast paced. Admirals also have the highest drop rate of tokens in the game, often dropping 2 tokens per kill, thus speeding your farming up dramatically. If these had no other purpose than grinding, I’d simply say it’s an annoyance that we need to put a grind in a kids game, and move on. But there’s more to it.

There’s a series of quests that revolve around Brig Rock, including smashing these Pirates and Admirals, as well as building walls to keep them in. These walls are built-in griefing tools. Let’s say you are grinding a spawn point, which already means you are trying to tag the 3 spawns faster than the dozens of others at the same spot also doing so. Someone gets upset, and in retaliation, builds the wall. Now there is one less spawn spot, and no monsters to kill. While there last night, this one player did nothing but build the wall over and over on one of the spots, which is obvious griefing. When I managed to ask him why, which is more challenging than you’d think due to LU’s chat restrictions, he said he was doing it so we would leave so he could have the spot. Because he wanted to grind out his kill achievement there (kill 1110 Admirals).

So this is one fairly small area, with a total of 9 mobs, that is needed for a huge concentration of actual requirements – quests and multiple achievements – as well as also being the easiest to get to fast farm spot in the game. And from what I’ve read, this was an issue even back in Beta, and never addressed. Very disappointing.

Now myself, I found several other areas to grind out that I enjoy, but even those less-popular ones were fairly packed this morning when I logged in to get the last 100 tokens I figure I would need for the patch. As an Engineer, I can easily outkill most others because I have AI-driven minions that can tag a monster before anyone even sees it, but that really doesn’t seem fair. That didn’t stop others, similarly geared, from doing it, but because of the game’s mechanics, they didn’t really have an option. The requirement of grinding out tokens, 180 per piece, and there are 6 pieces plus the book that allows you to wear it in the first place, means that you will have little choice but to get out there and attempt to steal from your fellow mini-figures. There’s no team-up function that would allow you to work with someone, so you are stuck soloing and attempting to outgun everyone else. I really dislike that young gamers are being basically told that the way to work things out is to be a faster shot. That’s a very unfriendly way to game, and I hope that they address it soon, as it’s generally a fun game, and it is, besides these issues, one that I wouldn’t mind recommending to my dozens of nieces and nephews for at least a try out.

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Jaded old gamer, and father of gamers, who's been around long enough. Still, he's always up for giving the Next Big Thing a whirl.

12 thoughts on “Lego Universe: Teaching Camping, Grinding, Kill-Stealing, and Griefing to the Next Generation”

  1. I remember the problems with having to tag and kill mobs being a huge issue during Beta testing. Especially as I tried to level up a second toon to try the opposite faction.

    Why make another toon? I made the mistake of actually testing the game instead of just playing it for early access fun.

    The players sticking with their first ‘Main’ toons soon hit the end of Beta content so focused their attentions on the ridiculous ‘Kill X fuzzles’ achievements.

    High level toons were soon swarming the early areas one-shotting mobs that we the low-level toons needed to complete even basic quests.

    Ended up being very un-fun. When ever it was discussed in the Beta Forums it quickly got buried under ‘less QQ’ responses.

  2. What a horrible, horrible design on multiple fronts.
    Really, truly horrible.

    I shall imaginary-hug Guild Wars 2 to restore my equilibrium. ^_^

  3. Ha! Love the post title and hate the reality of what this is teaching the 9-12yr old crowd. As if they needed less compulsion to be selfish.

  4. That’s still an improvement over the loot mechanic from launch until a week or two later, where the killing blow got the kill credit.

    I was a proper terror in Brig Rock. As soon as I got my rank 3 Space Marauder gun I was out-tagging everyone. Eventually someone would get fed up and wall it up, so I’d go take over another spawn. If they kept it up I’d wall up two of them and dominate the remaining spawn. After half an hour of that everyone else would leave.

    In my opinion, the worst offense is where they strongly recommend that you upgrade to full rank 2 gear before proceeding to Hidden Valley. Not only is it unnecessary (the rank 2 gear is sub-par and is quickly and easily replaced by the quest rewards in that zone), but by that point I think I had half as many tokens as I’d need to buy the first piece of a five-piece set. If they want the class armor to be experienced during progression rather than after full completion, it either needs to be much cheaper or they need to drastically increase token drops.

  5. Yup, I went from rank 1 to rank 3, never equipping or buying a piece of rank 2 stuff, although I briefly considered buying the hat simply for the turret. As I rarely read my mail, I didn’t even notice the mail telling me to upgrade. Looking at the gear, it was far inferior to what I had on at the time (the Dragon Gi that makes you a fun ninja superman). If I had bought it, there’s no way I’d have been able to afford my Rank 3 stuff I bought shortly after my first dragon kill.

    LU has an industry standard first-touch-tag system now, but that only means that a person with an AE range attack can basically kill steal without much work at all, as everyone else will kill it for you. The killing blow credit thing was annoying in EQ1 12 years ago…they should have thought that over more.

    1. I’m not sure, and that’s why I’m pointing it out. Toontown was/is a kids targetted game. Yes, there was a grind (collecting the life powerups) but you would get 95% of them simply wandering around the game proper. If you liked, you could do nothing but fish and you’d get rewards. You could choose not to fight almost every mob and still enjoy the game. And for the grind happy, there were several raids that required coordination. Free Realms, the other “kid” MMO I’ve played, was similar, with a card game thrown in. Fighting was a lot more mandatory in that game, but the mechanics were very simple and I didn’t feel off-target.

      LU feels to me, as a person who’s played nearly every “big” MMO and several of the smaller ones, to be a normal MMO with a very fine veneer of child-appeal on the top.

  6. Wow, I was looking forward to a game that was more about being creative. At first I thought the whole post was sarcasm: killing and looting? camping and killstealing and grinding out faction in Lego universe? But it seems it’s all real? I guess I have not been keeping up.

    I guess it’s not like real-life Legos. And sounds like Minecraft is more like real-life Legos than Lego Universe.

    1. No no. For some, the main focus is building environments and scripting those constructions. In some reviews they talk about that aspect as though it’s the game proper and the rest isn’t worth bothering with.

    2. There is a subset, the housing system, that is basically like building with Legos. And what some people have done with a fairly open building system is truly stunning. You can YouTube many of these. And while the first one isn’t too hard to claim, claiming the second and third can be challenging, especially for someone not geared up. I died on the third one while the NPC talked to me about how I needed to fight to claim the land and did the little camera pan show thing. I could not move, nor stop the cinematic, but I could watch my health slowly fade away.

      However, there are limits, and the housing spaces are small. And besides being fun to look at, they really don’t do anything else. If you want to build your own, you’re going to need to go out and kill things to get the models/pieces.

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