Violence and Visual Unification in LEGO Universe

The official LEGO Universe website just put up an interview with Phillip Atencio, one of the upcoming massively multiplayer game's art directors.

There's a lot of material in the interview but there were two things he touched upon that I found really interesting. First is how LEGO Universe is going to deal with violence and still attract younger gamers.

For LEGO Universe I'm seeking out creative ways to represent aggressive play and darker themes while still retaining LEGO values. This is an exciting challenge for me. I enjoy challenges that push my creative limits!

I'd like this game to feel more like Asian games. My goal is to design a visual package that has a distinct style, has a bright clean look, and complements the look of LEGO bricks. Executing this high goal is also an exciting challenge to me. Finally, I want LU to appeal to girl players in ways that aren't condescending or stereotypical. These are things I'd like to achieve to create a game that retains LEGO values while appealing to a wide range of cultures.

Also interesting is how LEGO Universe is going to manage to build a game that includes a diverse collection of sets. It's a pretty big challenge if you think about it. LEGO has everything from their younger City sets to things like Black Knight's Castle.

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We could have designed the game so that all of the pieces had to visually fit into the world in specific ways, but I recognised early on that this might make it impossible to include virtual versions of some LEGO elements and play themes. So, I wanted to create an adaptable environment where it would be possible for Black Knight's Castle to come in contact with the City and it wouldn't look out of place.

Our art fiction is making that possible. Since very early on in the design process we've focused on the creative idea that imaginations will come to life in the game. So, if a child can imagine Black Knight's Castle and the City together—and kids do that from the research that I've seen-- then it's acceptable in LEGO Universe.

From the art execution side, we are designing assets that can be used to unify two very different looking play themes. These can be simple things like small bushes placed between the two sets that soften up the visual transition. We will investigate many techniques to achieve visual continuity.

Still no word on whether IP-themed sets, like Star Wars, Batman and Indiana Jones will be making appearances. My money is on no.

LEGO Universe


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