When I look back at LEGO Universe (LU), I see what could’ve been done better. For example, it felt like they announced the game a little early. With the information coming just a little too slow.
And then they redesigned the game, a big no-no in large scale game development because of the extra cost and work needed. And this is an MMOG, An even bigger task.
Comparing the Concept artwork, you can see a big difference. And while I was completely won over by the story concept for the new game, I certainly wish they had kept more of the Sandbox game design as well. (and maybe some of the environments!)
Original concept art
New Concept art
It’s hard to make a video game, even harder a Massively Multiplayer one. This theme seems to run throughout this post.
LU was originally being made by both LEGO and a company called Netdevil, both of whom didn’t have any experience making MMOs. Then, at one point, Netdevil decides LU isn’t what they want to do, so they hand the reins completely to the LEGO group.
NetDevil abandons LU
It’s like it was already destined for failure.
So when LU shut down; on the Midnight of January 30, 2012; millions of players were instantly saddened. Causing many to join petitions, complain, and wish they could do something.
But a couple months before the shutdown; on November 4th, 2011; Rioforce decided to start a game team to bring back LEGO Universe.
The Legend Team (TLT) was made up of both LEGO Universe News writers and readers. And they were the first ones.
(See their blog. https://thelegendteam.wordpress.com/)
The moment I found out about them, it brought me hope. It’s thanks to them that I started blogging in the first place. I didn’t know what to do with my blog at first, and I gave it the first name that came to mind: Nenen’s Blog of Fun. Then I left it alone for a while.
Meanwhile, the LEGO Universe News Network (blog and forum) had an identity crisis thanks to the scheduled shutdown, we had been originally all about LU. But with the game being shut down, that meaning was largely lost.
Then Rioforce had the bright idea of switching the name around. So instead of simply being about a certain game, they would expand to ‘The Universe of LEGO’. Now reporting on any noteworthy LEGO news, though with a special interest in new LEGO MMOGs. This breathed new life into the blog for a while. LU shutting down hit the forum more harder, causing a massive decrease of users in the end. (see link to post here. https://legouniversenews.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/re-launch-of-lego-universe-news/)
Getting back to the Legend Team. They first tried using both LU files and Unity, and they realized they couldn’t do it. Rioforce had Gie005 to help with development. But the guy was the only programmer, and finally quit, saying that he was tired of doing all the work.
TLT had failed to recreate LU, so at this point they changed their vision, it was obviously too much to try to recreate such a huge game. Instead they decided to make their own game.
They ran a coder contest, but only one person entered, StopSecret, and so he won by default. And he did a lot of work, and helped teach some stuff to Rio and others.
Then Project BUILD came on the scene, they wanted The Legend Team to merge with them, another team had already been absorbed into them (The Nexus Project wiki). In the end, TLT said no, but some of the members, like StopSecret, became inactive in TLT, joining BUILD.***
At about this time, I joined TLT as a testor, my only real skill at the time 😛 . I wish I could have done more to help. But that’s not how it went.
Rioforce had said, looking back, that “our team was too unorganized and since I didn’t know anything about making a game earlier (before he [StopSecret] became inactive) he felt like he was doing all the work and I know how that feels. It stinks.”
The Legend Team was the ‘New LU’ to many, and in the end, had to stop and shutdown as well. It seemed inevitable looking back.
They announced the closure of TLT on Nov. 27, 2012. This was the end, And the beginning of the end for the community that we had built around TLT and LU.
The LUN network had been hearing rumors of a new LEGO mmog being developed, cashiers of LEGO stores were a large culprit in starting some of these. Different themes and ideas came out, and speculation ran wild all over the LEGO community.
Finally we learned about it, and there were actually two MMOGs.
The Legend of Chima Online (LoCO) developed by Warner Bros; and LEGO Minifigures Online (LMO) developed by MMO veteran Funcom. Information and screenshots were found in business reports of the respective companies, as well as news press releases.
Our LoCO press release: https://legouniversenews.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/lego-legends-of-chima-online-open-beta/
our LMO press release: https://legouniversenews.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/lego-minifigures-mmog-countdown/
Neither one was like LU. In example, Both of these games featured a Top-down camera perspective, while LU had a third-person camera (LEGO reported that LU’s camera was hard to do.)
Their stories were less interesting to me, LoCO would have done better if they allowed players to play on either side of the Legends of Chima theme conflict. While LMO had a Big Bad who was stealing minifigures, with a slight collection mechanic similar to the toy line.
But really, I think neither one had as interesting design as LU had at any point of their known development. They both soon ended therafter, LoCO simply closing down, and LMO was abandoned by Funcom. (In fact, Funcom was seeking buyers of their company, suggesting internal trouble)
The LUN blog was being led by a few writers now, possibly only one. It seemed that each of the games were a breath of life to the LUN network, and with every shutdown came the possibility of our final breath.
Again, LEGO –with the help of others– had failed to make a persistent online world (another term for MMOs), this time on two separate attempts. If LEGO ever ties to again, they would have already damaged our trust that they would actually be able to deliver.
We all played these games. But all things come to an end. But one wonders why it seemed to happen again and again. Never did things survive long.
At about this time, Rioforce, now the only active admin of the blog, decided to recruit more writers. I enthusiastically joined, and I know others wanted to as well. But it seemed that I was the only new writer who actually wrote anything.
Finally, a new game that is also, in many ways, a spiritual successor to the Original vision of LEGO Universe, become an overnight out-of-the-blue sensation. Nobody saw it coming.
LEGO Worlds’ immediate impression is that it’s a Lego version of Minecraft, and indeed many design similarities support that. But it is different.
I have yet to try it, being unable to. Similar reasons to when LU first launched.
But already a community is building around it. One notable difference between it and any of the LEGO MMOGs is that the servers are player hosted, one may argue that it isn’t an MMOG at all. And while it may not be, it is certainly at the current end of the LU legacy.
It’s almost like LEGO has come full circle. They started with the idea of a LEGO Online sandbox, which changed into a more typical MMORPG. And they finally returned to that first idea.
And now, something that’s just as sad as when both LU and The Legend Team shut down. The LEGO Universe News network is dying. It’s a much slower death, a death of silence rather then instant shutdown, but is otherwise very similar.
It seems like soon we may have yet another Goodbye to add to the list.
I would be Glad if either this Blog or the Forum would instantly revive, suddenly having at least the small tight community it once had. But it seems unlikely.
I will personally try to do a few things on this blog before then, but Life does move on. It seems like the story of LU, where everyone becomes lone rangers, carrying most of the weight. Netdevil abandons LU; TLT has several, first Gie005, then StopSecret. . . And now this Blog, for a time Rioforce seemed to carry all the weight. Now I’m the only one saying anything.
I who once found LUN by accident, when the forum had just started, am now a writer of it’s blog. Another full circle. I’m glad to have participated in LU, The Legend Team, and finally this blog.
There’s so much to be thankful for. God has led me through so much. The LUN Forum community had been a wonderful place to participate in, helped me through lots, and I could probably write a tribute to that place alone. And many thanks to The Legend Team, I’ve been able to practice writing because of them (even if it isn’t fiction), so it’s sharpened my skills. And they gave me an interesting lesson.
Thank you all for participating in this community. And I hope we can all stick around longer.
Defining what LU meant for Me is somewhat complicated.
LEGO Universe had such an effect that even Roblox, a competitor, gave a few words in recognition of LU.
But to me, I look back and am surprised at all the things that happened in connection to LU. Including things I didn’t mention in either of these two posts.
In one way, it was a continuing lesson that nothing in this world gives lasting fulfillment. Everything in this world dies, and is forgotten by the world. All good things come to an end. And from our limited perspective it seems bad.
On the other, It has led to friendships, greater skills, knowledge we didn’t have. I believe God’s promise that “the end of a thing is better then the beginning”*, for He “worketh all things good to them that love Him”* He knows how to take bad and make good.
*Ecclesiastes 7:8 and Romans 8:28 respectively.
*** [BTW, it seems that Project BUILD is gone too, I cannot find any trace of it.]
Sorry for taking so long! A combination of rewriting this post several times, no home internet, and lack of research before starting, all worked together to make this longer then I would have hoped.
LEGO Universe had an interesting effect on the rest of the world.
Many later games took the idea of making a Name-Generator system for a Player’s characters. (Where names like UltraSpaceGadget comes from.) And they made it almost exactly the same way as LU.
LEGO Universe music is one of those things everybody praised, and it always gives us memories. It’s interesting how many places beyond LU I’ve heard them! I’ve heard some of the Beta music (by the Deviled Eggs) used on PBS tv shows! –Of course, when another LEGO game uses LU music for their trailer, it feels like a violation. [If you want to hear LU music, go here: https://legouniversenews.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/one-for-the-road/]