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Toys Games

Building the LEGO MMO 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the brick-by-brick dept.
Gamasutra has a lengthy interview with NetDevil's Ryan Seabury, creative director for LEGO Universe, which is due to launch next month. He talks about some of the difficulties in graphically optimizing a game with so many discrete, interactive objects, and mentions that they'll be keeping an eye out for inappropriate contructs to avoid problems similar to those that cropped up with Spore. "One thing we can say is when you build models you have your own property, and you can share that if you want to. If you share something publicly, it will be monitored by a human before it's seen by other people." Seabury also explains their desire to keep the game simple, using players' creativity as a driving force, as well as NetDevil's decision to stay away from a micro-transaction business model.
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Building the LEGO MMO

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  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:05AM (#33720344)

    Sounds like the kind of hyper-censored environment that even a 7-year old will be bored in. Let alone older kids.

    I won't play that game for certain.

  • by emj (15659) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:09AM (#33720364) Homepage Journal

    Minecraft [minecraft.net] seems to be doing "fine", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qss4uy6C_g0 [youtube.com]

  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:14AM (#33720394)

    "As a comparison, a two by eight LEGO plate brick, a very simple brick, is about twice the polygons of say, a World of Warcraft avatar."

    Eh?

    Ur doin it wrong?

    Maybe they're not, and I'm sure that they know what they're talking about after such a long dev cycle, but that just doesn't seem right to me.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @03:25AM (#33720440)

    Hey, I played lego heaps when I was a kid - and we had no chat, or public areas to share the creation in. If the game is close enough to the real thing, the censorship will be a non-issue. Of course, I doubt it will be - tactile sensation and physical objects aren't replacable by images.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:18AM (#33720600)

    It's hyper-censored in the sense that everything is checked before it's let loose on the general public. But it's not meant to be extremely restrictive.

    Except that it is. The chat system is so restricted that it's almost impossible to communicate. It's actually forbidden to say phrases in chat that actually appear in chat generated by the game itself! It's so bad that I feel it's dangerous to children's development. I'd rather have it uncensored, than have children think that this kind of out-of-control censorship is an acceptable model.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:14AM (#33720754) Homepage
    And we challenge you to defeat our censorwa- AAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Our brains! Our soft, sensitive brains!

    Is pretty much how this looks like it'll play out. I might - might - give this a brief trial, if it's free, but paying even a month ahead looks like a recipe for losing money in the inevitable shutdown when it collapses under the 4Chan lulz.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:52AM (#33720878)

    I don't have any lego bricks handy(all my lego toys are in my parent's house basement), but if I remember correctly they had the "LEGO (tm) (c)" logo embossed all over them, especially on top of every nub.

    My guess is that they are reproducing it like in the real bricks. I imagine that doing this with an high detail level will heat heaps of polygons.

    I'm sure a programmer or 3d modeler would never do such a crazy thing and just use some good texture...But I can see managers getting picky about such a detail notwithstanding any technical problem.

  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:53AM (#33721078)
    It's Netdevil. They've had one game go into beta and fail, then years later go beta, go live, and fail, and years later have plans to go live again (namely, Jumpgate and Jumpgate Evolution). Their other 'big' game, Auto Assault, limped along for about a year after launch. How they got a license like LEGO, with that pedigree, is a mystery.
  • by damien_kane (519267) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:01AM (#33721488)

    I mean, let's do some maths. The bulk probably goes into the nubs on the brick. Let's make the cylinder actually a 16 sided prism, which from my experience looks smoothly round even for a gun barrel or polearm shaft you're seeing in first person. That's 32 triangles for the cylinder. The top is 16 triangles (think dividing by lines from the centre to the corners.) Let's round the transition nicely from sides to top, for which actually three steps of increasing slope is more than enough. (Heck, at the size of those even one is enough, but let's be generous.) That's 3x32 more triangles for that. Grand total: 80 triangles.

    But wait, we have to do the hole on the other side too, and let's do it at the same level of detail. (Although here that rounded transition is really overkill with 3 segments, but ok.) So it's another 80, for a total of 160 per nub.

    A two by eight brick is 16 such nubs, for a total of 16, which needs 2560 triangles. Add a few more for the plate and you're still under 3000.

    It doesn't sound like you included the hollow cylinders [ ($length - 1) * ($width - 1) ] times, for a 2x8 brick that's 7 hollow-cylinders. These take a lot more polygons than the solid nubs at the top.
    Add in the LEGO logo on each nub, as raised text, and you've added a lot more polygons.
    From TFA, though, a lot of this extra is taken out when the finished model is sent to their modelling cluster for general display, as the top nodes used in connections can be removed and the bottom cylinders which are completely hidden can also e removed, as well as those partially hidden can have upwards of half of thier polygons also factored out of the equation, but to show the lego as it would look IRL there's a lot more than just a simple set of 5 planes and a bunch of nubs.
    Finally, get into the more complex lego pieces, such as much of the Technic line, and you take the above and add in further complexity to your models.

    Again, a lot of that complexity is removed when the finished product is shared with the world, however to be "correct" (and the LEGO people can be rather pendantic), those extra details need to be there in the original build. If it were my property, I'd ensure it was.

  • by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:15PM (#33728474) Journal

    Level 13 red 2x2 LFG

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