If only we had toys like this when we were kids. Actually, we did. LEGO
has been a fundamental part of childhoods across the map and now the
adventure continues on the computer screen in an MMO space. Ten Ton
Hammer spoke with Creative Director of LEGO style="font-weight: normal;" class="bbc"> class="">® Universe, Ryan
Seabury to learn more about building, exploring and adventuring in this
exciting upcoming game.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Players
get virtual properties to create their own LEGO creations. Do you have
to purchase building property or does every character get one? How big
are they, and can you upgrade to larger or better properties?
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Ryan Seabury: Hold
on!  It’s not that easy… It turns out the destructive
Maelstrom has infested many of the worlds in LEGO Universe. 
If you can figure out how to use Imagination to clear the Maelstrom off
each property world, you’ll be able to claim it.  Then you can
build whatever you want, hang out with friends there, and generally
bring your worlds to life.  The first property is free once
claimed, so everyone can have one.  Subsequent property worlds
are deeper in the Maelstrom, so they’re going to require some extra
effort to keep Imagination fields active and keep the Maelstrom at bay.

style="width: 600px; height: 356px;"
alt="LEGO Universe Maelstrom Pirate"

A maelstrom pirate in
LEGO Universe

Ten Ton Hammer: When
building on personal properties, can players "save" their work before
destroying it to create something new?

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Ryan: Much
like in real life, if you take your model apart to build something
else, the bricks are consumed again.  However, you can make
your models smashable, which means anyone can come up and smash them,
and then they will respawn a short time later.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you
tell us a bit about character development? Are there player levels?
Equipment slots? How does a player advance?

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Ryan:You get
to create your own LEGO Minifigure; customization and development of
that character is a huge part of LEGO Universe.  We went away
from a leveling system early on for a lot of reasons; the main ones
being that levels create less social-friendly circumstances, and create
an artificial compulsion not to return to early areas. 
Additionally, permanent classes and skill trees didn’t feel correct for
the fundamental nature of a LEGO Minifigure.  So we adopted a
more Zelda-esque approach, where your Minifigure’s abilities increase
over time through collecting items and equipment, but you can only have
so much equipped at one time.  At the same time, there will be
content you can’t access on your first play through the major worlds
that you’ll get to come back to after you’ve earned more skills and

Ten Ton Hammer: Are
players restricted on how many blocks and what kind of blocks they
have? How can they get more, and is there a limit?

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Ryan: There
are near limitless amounts of items, accessories, models, bricks,
behaviors, consumables and doodads you can find, earn, buy, trade and
sell in LEGO Universe, which  makes it really tough to decide
what to keep in your inventory.  However, bricks by far have
the largest inventory capacity of anything.  You’ll be able to
store a large quantity of every single shape on offer, which is nearing
almost 2000 unique bricks.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are there
"rare" blocks that players can trade?

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Ryan: We
toyed around with the concept of rarity on LEGO elements, but mostly
went away from it.  Consider how annoying it would be if you
have a very specific simple design you want to build on your property,
but then you have to go grind for a .0001% chance drop of a critical
block.  We’d rather open the doors to creativity with LEGO
brick building as widely as possible, and so in general, bricks are in
great supply everywhere.  You can collect new bricks and
entire models by completing challenges, smashing stuff, trading with
other players, exploring new areas, etc.

style="width: 600px; height: 375px;"
alt="LEGO Universe personal property"

Personal property on
which to build

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you
tell us the difference between quick, modular and free building?

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Ryan: We
think of all the ways to build in LEGO Universe as an evolutionary ramp
leading to greater creative power for the player.  To start,
Quick building is similar to what you’ve seen in all the fantastic TT
Games based on the LEGO experience (LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Indiana Jones,
etc.). Quick builds are used as gameplay features, so you can have
tension, timing and puzzle elements without worrying about how a
bouncer looks, for example.

Modular building is the next step up, and is the first taste of getting
truly creative and “custom” within the storyline context. Modular
builds feature modularly-designed and interchangeable models (or
“parts”) to build a specific kind of object, for example a rocket ship
or a race car.  This kind of building is still very accessible
- anyone can do it and it takes very little time, but you end up with
something unique to your style.

The next step is actually “Model Mode”, which takes the idea of modular
building but allows you to place any models next to each other with
less constraint, for example in your property worlds.  This
introduces a little more complexity, but is still very fun and
accessible as your Minifigure carries your models around and arranges

Then we come to free building (or “Brick Mode”) as the most open form,
which is fairly unrestricted except by the number of bricks in a
player’s inventory. In this mode you can build your own custom models
from scratch, or modify models you’ve earned as rewards or traded
for.  Free builds translate the physical LEGO brick building
experience into a nearly identical virtual/online activity, and allow
for limitless imaginative fun.  

But wait!  There’s more!  After all this, you can
then bring any of these creations to life by adding Behaviors to your
models.  Again, you can choose your level of comfort in
creativity:  either drag and drop pre-made Behaviors onto your
models, or go all the way to custom built behavior defined with
Behavior Blocks.  Then invite your best friends over to your
property and have fun toying around with whatever you’ve created!

Custom Brick Mode creations and properties must be moderated before
they can be shared publicly.

Ten Ton Hammer: You can
build with friends; how does this work? Are there permissions you need
to set up on your property?

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Ryan: You
won’t be able to build the same model brick by brick with more than one
person initially. In fact, we have our doubts whether this will ever
really be as enjoyable in a game as it is in real life, but we’ll keep
researching it.  However, you will be able to trade models
back and forth, and be on your Best Friends’ properties while they
create on them, so there is a way to build collaboratively in that
sense. You can share your models and properties publicly once they have
been moderated as well.

Ten Ton Hammer: What sort
of PvP play is available?

Ryan: We
have prototyped a few PvP scenarios during development and they are
showing a lot of promise.  However, they fit in better
thematically with future content plans so we’re holding it out of LEGO
Universe’s initial release.  There will be bad guys to battle
in PvE solo and co-op of course, and you can compete on leaderboards in
some playful challenges with friends and other players.

Ten Ton Hammer: How much
PvE content is there for group and raid play styles? Can you give us
some examples?

Ryan: LEGO
Universe is, by design, more casual than a hardcore MMO, so teams (our
groups) are smaller than many MMOs (4 players max), and the content is
geared very differently.  We will definitely be keeping group
content more aimed around these smaller sizes for the foreseeable
future of the game.  There will of course be bad guys for
groups of players to defeat in LEGO Universe, as well as a number of
opportunities for players to collaborate in adventures and missions.
Examples:  one of the worlds features a wandering Maelstrom
gorilla encounter that is designed for multiple players to
overcome.  We’re also playing around right now with things for
future release points, such as very epic Quick Builds in the middle of
boss battles, which would be impossible for one player to complete on
his/her own.  

style="width: 600px; height: 375px;"
alt="LEGO Universe rocket ship"

Flying away on a LEGO
rocket ship

Ten Ton Hammer: There are
certain features that are age-restricted. How is a player's age
verified and how do you enforce these restrictions? What sort of
protection will parents have available for their children?

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Ryan: Since
2002, LEGO has gained a wealth of valuable moderation experience
through LEGO.com and our internal team moderates millions of
submissions every year already.  We’re constantly evolving our
chat and socialization features to keep LEGO Universe as safe as
possible for families.  You can expect that focus to never
stop; it’s a never ending cycle of upgrades, behind the scenes
technology and tools, process improvements, an army of actual people
constantly observing the player base and reviewing logs, The LEGO
Group’s legendary customer service, and dialog with our community and
other parts of the LEGO organization.  Safety will always be a
top priority for us in operating and developing LEGO Universe.

Safety tips and advice are available as an online aid for parents, as
well as a source of information specifically on the subject of
“safety”. These can be accessed at the Parents Section on href="http://www.legouniverse.com">LEGOUniverse.com.

Ten Ton Hammer: What
other features and gameplay set LEGO Universe apart from other MMOGs?

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Ryan: While
LEGO Universe is aimed first and foremost at young people, it also
offers adventure, challenges, humor and fun for the entire family and
LEGO fans of all ages. The various levels of difficulty and the
creative building features are diverse enough for enjoyment by
beginners and experienced players alike.  I suspect LEGO
Universe will attract the broadest user base of any online game I could
imagine - there really is a little something for everyone… even my wife
wants to play! ;)

The back drop of LEGO Universe is an epic battle between creativity and
chaos. There are tons of side stories, missions, building challenges
and unique environments that create an interesting canvas for that
storyline in the game. We have plans to continue developing the major
arcs of this storyline for years beyond the initial release.

But the most unique feature in LEGO Universe truly is the creative
building set against this epic saga.   Players can
make up their own stories, design their own worlds, and play however
they want with friends. Players can introduce their own models, bring
them to life and perpetually change game content themselves -
collecting bricks, creations and abilities to customize their gameplay
experience along the way.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our LEGO Universe Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016


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