This will be a two-part post, this 1st part will be about LU itself.
The MMORPG, LEGO Universe, was shut down at the end of last month, in the year 2012. (6 years ago) It was a sad thing for many people, but interestingly enough was a turning point in my life. So I want to give glimpse of what LU meant for me, and to later show how God can use all things for His glory.
I found out about LU on the LEGO.com website. It was at the very beginning, they had put up a Teaser site, with the big “Coming Soon” words displayed. I quickly grew excited about the idea, and always paid attention to anything new that came onto the site.
It took a long time before things really started to change, I would look to the Lego message boards. I don’t remember too much about this time, I think they might have put up some Concept art. But at some point, behind the scenes, LU went through a design change. And so a lot of things began to change.
When it finally reached the time when LU needed Beta testers (a Beta test is the 2nd bout of testing for videogames. Usually when the important fundamentals are complete and it’s time to finish up and polish the game.) Things had gone through all sorts of changes. And the moment we could, the oldest two kids of our family (Me and Chewen), signed up using our parents e-mails, and waited to be accepted.
During the wait we lost our home internet, which didn’t bode well for us being able to play. Then one day, our parents came home from using the internet at a library with the news. Both of us had been accepted into the LU beta. They later brought us to look at the e-mails. We were pretty ecstatic about it, literally jumping up and down, and the fact that we couldn’t play yet didn’t dampen our spirits.
Then we got dial-up internet, which didn’t solve the problem. If you ever tried it, you’d know that Dial-Up is slow. Very slow. We tried to install LU, but I think we only got the ‘patcher’ downloaded and running. There wasn’t much else we could do.
One good thing did happen at around this time though. I found this Lego Universe News blog. I believe it may have been technically before getting accepted into beta, but I can’t really remember. LegoFan101, the founder, had recently started the LUN forum. I quickly joined. (I’m the 8th member of the forum. 😛 ) And when we did get accepted for LU beta, I showed a picture of the acceptance e-mail as proof of my beta tester status so that I could be on the LU beta insider zone. Though I didn’t really participate there too much, since I didn’t have anything to add there.
There was a lot of good times on the LUN forum. It helped us go through the disappointment of not being able to actually play ourselves. Helped us, but it wasn’t really enough.
Finally, Lego Universe’s beta ended. They were ready for launch, it was officially launched in October (Chewen’s birth month). The moment we got to a store we showed our parents the game. They were uneasy with the price tag, and uneasy about the fact that you were paying a monthly subscription fee. We patiently explained to them that it was an MMO. The game world stays there forever. And the box included a month of free game-time anyway.
We didn’t get it. It stayed in our minds though. We hoped that someday, maybe, we could possibly buy it.
Then, some months later, Free-To-Play. I think I discovered the news on the back of one of the LEGO store calendars. I, of course, immediately showed it to my brother. And we later convinced our parents to let us download and install Lego Universe.
That was definitely one of our happiest days of our lives, especially from that perspective. It was on even better then when we got accepted into beta (probably because we actually get to play it this time.). We got our first taste of LEGO Universe on a Sunday. I was first. I made my character, UltraSpaceGadget, and got playing.
It was fun, and what design flaws/problems that I can think of now, I didn’t notice yet. I wasn’t judging at the time, accepting it all. Though I didn’t have much to compare it to, having only played a couple other MMORPGs (Champions online, Runescape). At the time, if it was an MMO, we thought it was cool. It was the ultimate kind of videogame. So that was certainly in LU’s favor.
One problem we did find though, It was too short. I know now that Videogame critics, who played the game at launch, often complained that LU had too little structured content (Unstructured content would be the building ‘Properties’) and some even saying you could play the whole game within the first month of gameplay.
But we were in the Free-To-Play zone. And it was much more shorter. We played a little bit more after we had completed all the F2P quests, I even tried to get some of the wackier achievements like dying a certain amount by falling off a certain cliff. But finally we got bored. And so we stopped playing for a while, though we would come back now and then.
We still payed attention to any more news about LU, mainly through the LUN blog. Heard about all the new worlds being added. Like Crux prime, or Frostburgh. Project Moonbase was also interesting, allowing players add stuff to the official game was an amazing idea. If only LU would have stayed around. . .
One thing LU did was make the LEGO Club magazines even more better. If it mentioned LEGO universe, it became one of our favorite magazines. LU contests were ones we definitely tried to enter. It was my favorite part of any Lego magazine. When I later heard that some people didn’t like LU’s presence in the magazine, I was surprised. For us, Lego magazines lost some of their allure after LU shut down. Only when it gave news of other interesting LEGO games did our interest come back for a time (like LEGO City undercover, or LEGO Minifigures online.)
That last year, I personally determined to save up some money to buy 1 month of membership for December. (Since Frostburgh only came around during that season, I thought it would be the best value month to buy membership on.) But then the news came. LEGO Universe is going to shut down.
We complained as best we could in the LEGO message boards, it wasn’t good news at all. Though one side effect of that is we came back to play LEGO universe for a extended period of time, We played up to the day it closed. The last day of January.
They refunded everyone who paid for membership beyond the year of ??##, and gave a free membership for the month of January to everyone who ever paid for LU. I regretted never buying myself, but it was too late. I wish they had simply given EVERYONE free membership, but they didn’t. In my opinion they should have, but they had their reasons.
And when we were playing on that last day of LU in January. I finally realized that we could take screenshots. We never thought about doing that before. You played a game to have fun, not take pictures. But now LU was shutting down, and we had not even one screenshot of memories.
I took the only two screenshots of LU we ever made, probably on the last hour of LEGO Universe. The moderators, aka Mythrens, were giving everyone free goodies. Jetpacks, super powerful gear, etc. Using the powerful gear I increased my personal record for the Avant Gardens survival. Then I used the Jetpack to get into one of LEGO Universe’s ‘Glitch’ worlds. And there I took my two screenshots. One of me standing, wearing the jetpack. The second with me flying, a few moments later.
It was my brother Chewen who actually played the last moments. He didn’t take any screenshots though. And finally, Midnight. And the message pops up declaring that LEGO Universe is shut down.
The next day we try to open up LU again, just to see what happens. The message still pops up. We took a screenshot of that too.
(I cannot access either one of those screenshots at the moment . . . sadly 😦 )
But this isn’t the end of the story, LU may have shut down, but this caused shockwaves of effects. And though many didn’t realize it at the time, many changes occurred.
The end of Part one.
(I’ll try to get the second part out fairly soon, It may take longer then I hope though.)
Please share any stories of LU that you found particularly memorable. or comment on my story. Ask questions, etc.