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LEGO MMOG Named and Given a Launch Window 69

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-grinding-for-four-pip-blocks dept.
Kotaku has the press release expanding on details for LEGO Universe, the block-based Massively Multiplayer Game announced earlier this year. The title is slated for a Q4 release next year. There isn't any concrete discussion of gameplay yet, but the general description does sound promising: "The full-featured MMOG will be complete with character advancement, expansive social and community features, and will provide a child-safe alternative to other MMOGs on the market. As a player, you'll be able to customize your mini-figs and interact in the universe as any character you choose, providing unique opportunities for players to expand and explore with their creations."
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LEGO MMOG Named and Given a Launch Window

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  • Here is a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buswolley (591500) on Friday June 08, 2007 @01:36AM (#19434069) Journal
    Child appropriate? I tell you what is child appropriate: Being outside, building models, playing in the sand, riding your bike.
    • by Knight Thrasher (766792) on Friday June 08, 2007 @01:43AM (#19434099) Journal

      You're posting on /. - how could you possibly not see the irony in a post like this?

      Slashdot - Geeks sitting inside on computers telling kids to go play outside!

      =V

      But more to the point on topic - kids are going to play video games, no matter how hard we shake our canes or yell at them to play on our lawns. I would rather kids have the option of playing a LEGO based MMO than, say, a GTA based MMO.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nschubach (922175)

        Slashdot - Geeks sitting inside on computers telling kids to go play outside!
        Kind of like your mom or dad slapping you across the head telling you not to smoke with a cigarette hanging out their mouth.
        • There's a slight difference there.
          Adults can legally smoke, children can't. It's only hypocritical if the "child" is 18 or up.
    • Re:Here is a thought (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Null Nihils (965047) on Friday June 08, 2007 @01:46AM (#19434111) Journal

      Child appropriate? I tell you what is child appropriate: Being outside, building models, playing in the sand, riding your bike.
      Or how about playing with actual LEGO blocks, and using some imagination?

      Still, an MMOG has to be more creative than another freaking toy-brand-based television cartoon.
      • by smbarbour (893880)
        Do you know how freaking expensive LEGO blocks are? And I'm not even talking about the themed sets or Mindstorms.

        $10-$20/month would easily be worth it compared to the cost of buying and replacing blocks, the time spent cleaning up stray blocks, ER visits to extract wayward blocks...
        • by steveo777 (183629)
          My parents made it through all that, I'm sure other parents can do so as well. It's a small price to pay to preserve the imagination of a younger generation, no?

          What would be nice is a vacuum that could separate Legos from dust, dirt and other trash. That would help out the parents a lot.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      Oh, totally. When I was just a little proto-geek, my friends and I had multiplayer Lego, cleverly implemented by going round to each other's houses to play with Lego. If that got boring we played with Meccano instead, or went outside and played on our bikes if it wasn't pissing with rain (and it had to be Key Largo-style cows-getting-blown-past-the-windows to stop us).

      No wonder childhood obesity is on the increase.
  • Child safe? How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sierran (155611) on Friday June 08, 2007 @01:49AM (#19434131)
    One of the truisms of humans - they'll *always* find a way. I recall reading an excellent story online by a programmer who was working on a 'child-safe' online interactive environment; after being forced to abandon live chat, the sponsoring company went with text chat. Then they went with selection of pre-programmed words. When an eight year old swiftly produced something like 'I want to put my tall giraffe in your fluffy bunny' that was right out, and bang went communication. Not to be deterred, their li'l alpha testers swiftly realized you could take the adorable objects in the game and make, um, *interesting* shapes on the ground (and each other) with them, which was way more fun than the design gameplay. The sponsor gave up.


    The only way to ensure a child-safe environment is to police it. The problem is that getting people to agree on what their children can be exposed to will never happen; someone's perfectly 'of age for the project' child will always know (or just have heard and faithfully attempt to repeat) something that someone else will find it a crime that their child has been exposed to. Realistically, the only way to prevent situations from getting out of control is to have an active and dynamic response to situations like that arising...which, traditionally, has meant teacher or chaperone. Unless LEGO wants to spend a crapload of money on nannymoderators, I just can't see this working.


    Of course, I'm a pessimistic shmuck who is obsessed with tall yellow stiff giraffes and soft fluffy inviting bunnies.


    And to whoever's excellent anecdote I just thefted, my apologies, I'll try to find the link.

    • Re:Child safe? How? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MicklePickle (220905) on Friday June 08, 2007 @02:36AM (#19434341) Homepage
      Mod parent up please. This is exactly the issue with 'safe' online MMPOGs. Every parent's level of what's "safe for their child" varies greatly. None of the MMPOGs I've seen give parents ANY ability to limit what their child sees or does. It's a case of some parents having to sit there and watch what happens.

      Case in point: my 8 year old daughter likes these MMPOGs, which is fine I had no issue with it. Until I walked in one day and found my daughter talking to someone, (probably a "child" IE read 50 year old pedo), on IMVU. The other "child" had just said "Want to Cyber sex?". WTF? Where's the parental control? I searched on IMVU - none.

      So, it's banned in our house until they come up with a way to give parents the ability to limit what goes on, or ensure that children are safe.

      The thing is what works for one parent won't for others, and I BET anything that someone will respond to this post saying "What's wrong with that?". Well, yeah you might want to let your daughter do that, but I don't, and MMPOGs don't provide any ability to limit what goes on or provide parents with the ability to.

      What I'd like to see is a way of gradually limiting what the player can do. All the way from full access to just logging in. Trouble is, (as the parent post said), there will always be a way around it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eivind (15695)

        Way to miss the point.

        The point of the GP is that technology *cannot* distinguish offensive from non-offensive. It's flat-out impossible given human inventiveness.

        Filtering bad-words don't work. Allowing only "good"-words don't work. Allowing only "innocent" items don't work. Blocking all communication works, but then why make it an online game at all ?

      • by ragefan (267937)

        So, it's banned in our house until they come up with a way to give parents the ability to limit what goes on, or ensure that children are safe.
        "Player X wants to have cyber sex. Cancel or Allow?"

        QED
    • by benh57 (525452)
      Found the article -- http://www.fudco.com/habitat/archives/000058.html [fudco.com] Very interesting.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Carewolf (581105)
      This being Lego, and Lego being a danish company, child-safe probably means little to no graphic violence, they couldn't care less about language, and will probably not even censor the word "fuck".
      • LEGO is producing for a global audience, Danish moral is irrelevant.

        I very much doubt "safe" refers to either graphic violence or sex, but mostly to pedophiles making real world contact with the children. The buddy system where you can only interact meaningfully with real world friends (who have told you their buddy code) should work well. Communication with strangers should be much more restricted than the GP suggest, only a limited number (15 - 20) of fixed phrases allowed.
    • by netpixie (155816)
      Bang on, and connects with something I've been wondering about for a while.

      Is anyone thinking about how to make an age proof system for the interweb? Obviously some things require you to be above a certain age to access (and we all know what that is), but there's also things like this that require proof the other way.

      I have no idea how as to even begin to think about how to devise such a system but I hope someone out there is.
    • by ross.w (87751)
      Try Club Penguin [clubpenguin.com] They claim to achieve kid friendliness through actually having on-line chaperones as you describe.

      My 8yo son is a member, but lost interest quickly and now prefers Runescape.

    • by argStyopa (232550)
      I'd agree in general with most of your points, but I will point out that Disney's Toontown online has been remarkably successful in implementing mechanisms that do make it a (relatively) safe place. Of COURSE, no responsible parent should be letting kids play online without regularly checking what they're doing (or (heavens!) playing WITH them?)

      I'm positive that it's intensively moderated, but their in-place systems do a good job. So, for example there IS no text chat except for canned phrases like "let's
      • by SQLGuru (980662)
        With 200 canned phrases, you can easily assign one to each ASCII character. Then "type" your code for anyone to hear.....

        Publish the "alphabet" online for all to share. Publicize it.

        Done.

        Now, you can share your secret code with anyone -- in game, even.

        Layne
        • by argStyopa (232550)
          (rolls eyes)

          Yeah, I'm sure an ASCII reference table is the first thing an 8 year old would think of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by njfuzzy (734116)
      I think you mean a "Truth" of humans, not a "Truism". A truism is something that (either obviously, or under analysis) doesn't say anything novel, only things that are true by definition.

      For example, some people think the Aristotelian Mean (the idea that the right amount of a virtue always lies in the middle) is a truism, because it just says that the best point lies between too little, and too much.

      I don't think it's a Truism that "Humans will always find a way". Often we don't.

    • Virtual LEGO bricks pose no choking hazards.
    • by merreborn (853723)
      Here's the source for the parent's anecdote:

      http://www.fudco.com/habitat/archives/000058.html [fudco.com]

      The guys who write the Habitat Chronicles blog have been in the graphical multi-user online service game for a long time. If you're in to MMO design, and haven't already read it, The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat [fudco.com] paper is a good starting point.

      It's amazing how many things they point out in that paper (which is now 17 years old), that MMO designers *still* screw up to this day.
  • Two words (Score:4, Funny)

    by antic (29198) on Friday June 08, 2007 @02:11AM (#19434241)
  • by frostband (970712)
    For the love of jebus, let us build stuff with lego blocks! Let me build my own house!
  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Friday June 08, 2007 @02:36AM (#19434343) Journal
    Occasionally this site just hits the "nerd" killswitch in my brain.

    Honestly, could this get any nerdier? A massively multiplayer game based on playing with Lego for god's sake? I assume a Star Wars theme will be included somehow. Grown men, sitting at home on their PCs, playing with lego interactively with other grown men. I have goosebumps.

    Am I alone in just not understanding this whole "virtual lego" thing? Isn't the whole point that they are a tactile, physical toy that kids (and adults) physically play with to create real objects? Why would someone want a computer simulation of that, rather than either a simulation of something real, or (gasp) real lego bricks?

    Every time I see this kind of story, I have the Comic Book Guy's voice echoing in my head: "No Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills... you're from two different worlds! Oh, I've wasted my life."

    Cue responses pointing out that it says "News for Nerds" right there in the title...
    • Lego has been offering something like this on their site already, called Lego Digital Designer [lego.com], which allows you to put 3D models together, upload them to the site, and (if you really want to) buy them with a customized box of your choosing. While it's not an MMORPG, it does allow you to build virtually. But it sucks. I think it seriously cramps the creativity of building with your hands. It lacks sensory perceptions (sight, feel).

      IMHO, we've got too many kids (and adults) glued to their screens playing g
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daranz (914716)
      One advantage virtual Lego has over the real ones is price: few people are going to build huge cities of Lego in their homes - with games, you're limited by hardware only, and one brick costs the same as 50000.

      Another thing is interacativity. In real life, children have to pretend they're Lego people. In game, they control Lego dudes themselves, and interact with the environment through them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adona1 (1078711)

      Honestly, could this get any nerdier? A massively multiplayer game based on playing with Lego for god's sake? I assume a Star Wars theme will be included somehow


      You want nerdier? I'll see your Star Wars, and raise you a Firefly [reasonablyclever.com]. Lego Mal shoots first!
    • by Yoozer (1055188)

      Honestly, could this get any nerdier? A massively multiplayer game based on playing with Lego for god's sake?
      Just wait until you see Blockland [wikipedia.org].
    • saving money on blocks?

      Who can aford enough blocks to build an entire mansion from leg? Welp now you can online!
    • by SQLGuru (980662) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:35AM (#19436301) Journal
      Actually, the promise of a LEGO MMO sounds intriguing. Most MMO worlds (not counting the sandbox-y types such as SecondLife) are limited to one genre. LEGO has such a rich collection of models that you can dedicate whole areas (in other words quests and activities) to each one with enough content to go for quite a while.

      Even if you only start with one or two worlds think about this:
      LEGO Sports (soccer, basketball, etc.)
      LEGO Town (airport, mall, cops, etc.)
      LEGO Space
      LEGO Western Town
      LEGO Castle
      LEGO Star Wars
      LEGO Circus
      LEGO Comics (DC and Marvel)
      LEGO Aqua
      LEGO Harry Potter

      The list goes on.....and on.

      Layne
    • by Schnapple (262314)
      Well actually I thought the same thing when they announced Lego Star Wars - let me get this straight, someone made dinky little toys of the Star Wars movies, and now they've made a video game of the dinky little toys of the Star Wars movies?

      And then I saw/played the game. It's actually a heck of a lot of fun. It's not only a legitimately humorous take on the Star Wars universe, it was sanctioned by Lucas, so it proves he has a sense of humor about these things after all. It works amazingly well given the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        it was sanctioned by Lucas, so it proves he has a sense of humor about these things after all

        Yes, and he's laughing all the way to the bank.

    • by dryueh (531302)
      Am I alone in just not understanding this whole "virtual lego" thing? Isn't the whole point that they are a tactile, physical toy that kids (and adults) physically play with to create real objects? Why would someone want a computer simulation of that, rather than either a simulation of something real, or (gasp) real lego bricks?

      Hey, check it out. I played with Legos when I was a little kid ---- I have fond, nostalgic attachments to them, to the different sets that were released (but my parents would never

  • Microserfs anyone..? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It was Douglas Coupland book where he describes a Lego based game, although I don't remember if it was an MMO or not. But the concept, if I remember correctly, revolved around being able to create your own little worlds, much like Lego.
  • Buzzwords (Score:3, Funny)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday June 08, 2007 @04:36AM (#19434897) Homepage

    There isn't any concrete discussion of gameplay yet, but the general description does sound promising:

    How precisely does a collection of buzzword boilerplate sound promising?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836)
      As for gameplay, I think this picture [kotaku.com] gives some good clues. The monster that plummeted into the ground provides for the PVE aspects -- no doubt you'll have skills, weapons, etc. that you can level up as you fight the aliens. The other guy who's there repairing the street that the monster just destroyed is doing a kind of farming. The destroyed monorail in the background (cue Simpsons monorail song) provides an opportunity for a quest. Driving the garbage truck might be either a quest or even a professi
    • um....by leveraging our synergy?
  • Is is just me or does anyone else hope there is also a server for us adults?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      Hah, too right. My first thought was 'That'd be cool, but having to watch my mouth/actions around all the kids won't be much fun.' I tend to watch it anyhow when playing MMOs, but at least with the adult ones, if I slip, it's 'Oh well, their parents let them play knowing that could happen.' With this, the onus is on me, instead.

      (I assume all the profanity filters and such will be in place, but still.)
  • Personally, I think that a simple multiplayer Lego game (like Blockland [blockland.us]) would make more sense than a Lego MMO.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      If Lego had not already produced several "Lego" games that had nothing at all to do with building, I might agree with you.

      But Lego Star Wars 1 and 2 were good games and sold very well. The Bionicle games are also quite well done and enjoyable.

      This is probably just going to be another in that line of gaming. I somehow doubt you'll be able to actually design stuff, but instead will only be able to put together things they've approved. Especially since children are 'protected' and they won't want people mak
  • by Allen Varney (449382) on Friday June 08, 2007 @07:51AM (#19435533) Homepage
    I surveyed the surprisingly large field of Lego games a few weeks ago in an article in The Escapist #97, forthrightly titled "Lego Games [escapistmagazine.com]." (Link goes to plain-vanilla HTML text version.)
  • Are they aiming for one point oh?
  • Hot Gas Pump attendant LF Red 1x6 beam to fill my bases.
  • I thought it was a Lego Moog. Just imagine, a synthesizer built with Legos blocks!
  • An MMO? Ew. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by morari (1080535)
    I'd like to see a regular action RPG, maybe along the lines of Lego Star Wars. Have a character creation system similar to "The Original Trilogy", but not just limited to Star Wars pieces. Furthermore, I'd like to see a simple level editor like the downloadable Lego Builder game. Perhaps you could even make your own vehicles like that? The sad truth is that ACTUAL Lego products aren't doing well nowadays because it's almost all licensed Harry Potter, Star Wars and Spider-man crap. I would buy a game in a he
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by ThePsion5 (1037256)
      If they combine this to with second-life style property ownership, and make it free, I'm in. I want a lego fortress. With railguns, of course.

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