LEGO Legend of Chima Online – A Second Try at a LEGO MMO

LEGO Universe is just a memory, some random screen shots, and a painful timeline at this point.  But that doesn’t mean LEGO is out of the MMO business or that a LEGO MMO isn’t a good idea.  LEGO has a new MMO going, LEGO Legends of Chima Online.

LEGOChimaOnline450LEGO has teamed up with Warner Games for to take another run at the whole MMO idea.

I am not sure why they haven’t gone with Traveller’s Tales on this plan, as they are the people who have made pretty much ALL the good LEGO games, from LEGO Star Wars forward.  Then again, TT does seem to have a pretty set formula, one that might be getting old by this point.

Anyway, with lessons learned from LEGO Universe, things have a new flavor.  The game will be web based, using the Unity Plug-in as a platform.  It will be free to play, with premium options.  And it will be focused on a single, LEGO owned property, the Legends of Chima, which LEGO is starting to roll out as building sets, games on the DS and Vita platform, and a television show on Cartoon Network.  So a big cross channel cash-in is being attempted here, and it looks even more ambitious than the Ninjago campaign.

The site for Legends of Chima is up and running and the game is in open beta and seems to include all of the standard MMO features from levels to combat to inventory management.  The critical game features that LEGO is calling out are:

Free to Play – LEGO Legends of Chima Online is a free-to-play online game! Membership and Premium currency are available to further enhance the experience but are never required!

Build – As the new commander of your Outpost, it is up to you to decide what you want to build and where you want to build it. Every building provides benefits from generating and collecting studs, creating weapons and armor, or providing your hero with special skills and abilities! You can also build and destroy LEGO creations within the game world.

Create & Customize – Be the hero you want to be. Your skills depend on what kind of Outpost you choose to build! There are no classes, no restrictions – you can play the way you want to play! Customize items by picking which color brick you want to build them with!

I suppose we will see how a new LEGO MMO stands up in world that already has Minecraft and EverQuest Next Landmark on the way.  But this time around, the goals seem to be more modest and the focus a lot more concentrated for LEGO.

Items from the Mail Bag – In the Material World

Another visit to the mail bag, which for some reason features a lot of actual things.  It also shows that press releases will go out to just about anybody these days.

A Love Letter to DOOM

I am always a fan of people who tackle gaming topics in actual printed book form.  Being over a certain age, getting somebody to publish that sort of thing lends legitimacy to the whole genre, even if it isn’t likely to make any best seller’s list.  So I was interested to see a press release for DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST.

DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST

DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST

According to the press release, this 200 page book covers the creation of DOOM, how it impacted the industry, pushed online multiplayer and modding, and spawned many imitators.  The book jacket quote:

This book is a love letter to DOOM and its various creators, written by a highly educated and devoted scholar and player. The book offers a well-grounded sense of the game and does an excellent job working its way through a range of topics: from the software company to the graphics engine to the story to the sound to the final game.”
—Katherine Whitlock, California State University-Chico

Never having actually played DOOM (I was working on Mac OS at the time, so Bungie’s Marathon kicks off first person shooters for me) and not being a particularly dedicated shooter fan, some of this will no doubt be lost on me, but it is nice to see it getting recorded somewhere.

D-Link Router for Gamers

D-Link sent me a press release for their new router for gamers.

Available in August

Available in August

This one interests me because we have to share a rather small pipe to the internet at our house and the tools available for apportioning out bandwidth seem to be to be rather primitive.  Looking at the we page for the router, it looks like they are headed in the right direction.  And, frankly, things like Quality of Service shouldn’t be rocket science at this point.  I am not going to run out and pre-order one, but I will look for reviews to see if it actually works as described.

FitDesk for the Happy Family

FitDesk is a company that sells equipment that allows you to use your electronics while you exercise.  A noble calling, or at least one with some merit.  I recall a story from a few of years back about a guy who bolted his laptop to a treadmill and spent all his World of Warcraft time walking.  He lost weight and got into shape while raiding.  So I have nothing snarky to say about the idea really, except that the picture they attached to the press release they sent me is a bit… odd.

Happy, happy family!

Just like no family ever

The thought process that lead to this would be interesting to map.  Put dad in the chair.  Have him smiling, happy that his son is getting exercise. Hand him a laptop to show he is tech savvy.  Give him a smiling trophy wife about his son’s age.  Have those two gaze fondly at the son while he plays his game completely undisturbed by this attention.  And no sweating!  We don’t need to remind people that exercise makes they moist and smelly.

Life in the world of advertisements.

LEGO Middle-earth Rolls On

And the people at LEGO continue to send me pictures of their latest and greatest stuff, like this Tower of Orthanc set.

LEGO Saruman

LEGO Saruman

Unfortunately, the age of LEGO seems to be pretty much over at our house.  My daughter is in the pre-teen stage and becomes quickly bored when forced to do things like assembling LEGO kits with dad.  Time marches on.  Now we’re worried about paying for college.

The Decision is in – No LEGO Rifter for You!

Remember the LEGO Rifter from last year?

10K Votes Achievement!

10K Votes Achievement!

It got proposed.

It got CCP support.

It got the votes.

It got reviewed.

It got shot down.

The official word from LEGO CUUSOO last month:

Results of the LEGO Review for EVE Online Ships – Rifter

2012.12.20

First and foremost, congratulations again to czar for reaching 10,000 supporters on LEGO CUUSOO, and toward everyone for all of the support of the EVE Online Ships – Rifter project! The Summer LEGO Review has concluded and the LEGO Review Board has arrived at its decision about the four projects in review.

The supporters we received for the EVE Online Ships – Rifter project allowed us to examine the feasibility of another niche gaming-related product. However the Rifter presented a more challenging business case when considered alongside other potential products in this Review period. Therefore, the LEGO Review Board has decided that this project does not meet the requirements for the business case.

czar has been a pleasure to work with throughout this process and has shown a lot of passion and enthusiasm for his idea and LEGO bricks. We also recognize the intense interest of all of you who supported this project, and we are sorry to deliver this disappointing news.

For further details on the results of the LEGO Review visit the LEGO CUUSOO blog at http://legocuusoo.posterous.com

Ah well.  It was something of a faint hope, given the size of the model and the relatively small audience EVE has compared to other properties LEGO could pursue… like that Minecraft set, which was in short supply over the holidays.

Still sold out in the LEGO online store!

Still sold out in the LEGO online store!

I suspected that Jester might have been right in his prediction on the whole thing, though the statement from CUUSOO reads more as a lack of economic viability than a statement that EVE Online is full of bad people.  The target audience age range, 6-11, was not mentioned as it was with the proposed Firefly themed set.

Still, we can dream.

Still Want

Still Want

Maybe some day.  Meanwhile, can we blame CSM7 for this too?

LEGO Lord of the Rings The Video Game Announced

Back in December, when LEGO announced that they would be doing Lord of the Rings based kits, my first thought was, “And a LEGO video game as well, right?”

LEGO Kits Coming Summer 2012

Well, now I have my wish.  Traveller’s Tales, LEGO, Warner, and a series of other companies involved in the whole thing have announced LEGO Lord of the Rings The Video Game!

A LEGO Fantasy!

There is also a video… ahead of which YouTube has placed a 30 second ad.  They know what people want I suppose.

Direct link to the video here.

Now all that is missing is a date.  I did not see one anywhere.  Maybe it will be something for the Christmas wish list.

LEGO Rifter – 10K Votes Achieved!

The LEGO Rifter project at LEGO CUUSOO which I mentioned a little over a month ago made it to its first milestone.  It got the 10,000 votes necessary to be considered for conversion into an actual LEGO kit.

10K Votes Achievement!

Now we just have to wait and find out if and when this will make an appearance at the LEGO Store.

Meanwhile, what of other EVE ships.  I see a LEGO Mymidon being proposed already, and there is the “which other frigates” poll thread in the EVE Online forums.

And will we get a minifigure to go with it?

Addendum:  The official LEGO Response

Congrats on 10,000 Supporters, czar!

2012.04.26

You’ve done it! You and all of the EVE Online fans voting for this have together achieved 10,000 supporters for the EVE Online Ships – Rifter project. We’re fans of awesome spaceships too, so we’re excited about this one.

You’ve built quite an impressive LEGO Rifter. It captures the essence of the ship with LEGO bricks, and it will serve as a good starting point as we explore the possibility of transforming this into a LEGO product.

Congratulations on achieving 10,000 supporters. We now officially advance this project to the Review phase.

So the LEGO master builders will try to come up with a sellable version of the Rifter.  I hope they use more rust colored bricks.

LEGO Rifter? Do Want!

Updated: 10K votes achieved!

Images of this EVE Online frigate, the Rifter, possibly one of the most recognizable ships in the game, rendered in LEGO form have been making the rounds for a while now.

LEGO Rifter

The model itself is up on LEGO’s CUUSOO site that allows you to submit your LEGO creations for consideration to become actual LEGO kits.  There are of course rules, but you get 1% of the net sales.

This, by the way, is how we ended up getting a Minecraft LEGO set.

But to be considered, a kit needs to get 10,000 supporting votes.  The LEGO Rifter, as of this moment, has 3,490 votes for it on its page.  That is about a third of the way there.

CCP is clearly excited about the prospect of there being a Rifter kit from LEGO.  One of the log on ads this week asked people to go vote for the model.

CCP supports the LEGO Rifter

But the whole thing needs about 6,500 more votes, which means people need to go to the site and create an account and vote.

So can you take a minute and go vote for the LEGO Rifter?

I know, another account on the internet, just what we all need.  You can log in with Facebook, though that carries its own minor annoyances.  But just go do it.

And while you are there you can look at some of the other proposed LEGO projects.  There are some Mass Effect kits being proposed.  And some Doctor Who kits as well.  As one article put it, it is like Kickstarter for LEGO.

The Annual LEGO Minifigure Round Up

As happened last year, the new year seemed to be about the right time to try and round up all our LEGO minifigures and put them back into their original configuration.

That first means finding them all… and all their various parts.  That gets tougher every year.

Laying out the minifigures

I tend to leave the minifigures in their initial forms.  My daughter and a few of her friends however, like to take them apart to mix and match.  And then loose pieces go missing, largely thanks to one of our cats who also loves LEGO.

Still, I think I got a lot of them back together.

Indiana Jones minifigures

Star Wars minifigures

Harry Potter, Speed Racer, and more...

So they are… mostly… back together and into their various storage drawers waiting to be taken out and rearranged again over the course of the year.

LEGO Lord of the Rings: The Video Game – It Could Happen

This is the reason I keep Kotaku in my RSS read… for every hundred Japanese trends or cos-play articles, there is a gem I never see elsewhere… like this one.

Coming Summer 2012

As foretold by prophecy… or at least by my nearly four year old blog post… there could be a LEGO Lord of the Rings Video Game.  There will at least be LEGO Lord of Rings sets, but how can they do that and not a video game?

Actually, I would bet there are going to be three games, if any video games come to pass.

Anyway, I asked for and got LEGO Harry Potter… what else from that post might happen?

Probably none… I was being kind of silly.  But of the most serious two I asked for, one came to pass and the other looks like a solid “maybe.”

So I’ll be spending the rest of the day muttering, “That’s so cool!  Oh my God really?  Could it happen? That’s so cool!”

LEGO Universe End Game

It seems that the troubled story of LEGO Universe now has an end date.

A press release went out last week and email notifications started going out to users after that letting everyone know that LEGO Universe will be shutting down on January 31, 2012.

On March 5, 2007 a press release went out announcing that LEGO and NetDevil would be joining forces to create a LEGO themed MMO.

At that point, in the MMO world, NetDevil was primarily known for its troubled Auto Assault online game, published by NCsoft, which would be closed down in July of 2007.

LEGO Universe, after a couple of missed dates, eventually went live just over a year ago, on October 26, 2010.  And it has had problems ever since.

Originally a traditional “buy the box, pay a subscription fee” model MMO focused on kids and claiming to offer parents ease of mind on safety issues, it failed to distinguish itself on all counts.

Its well established main competitors (e.g. Club Penguin, online since 2005 and Toon Town, online since 2003) offered free to obtain, free to play options along with parental controls on par with LU, while pay to play games like World of Warcraft offered superior parental options.

So the only real draw was LEGO base game play, and LEGO Universe failed to stand out in that department as well, as so accurately documented by Oz over at Kill Ten Rats.  In our own house, my daughter tried the game and went quickly from enthusiasm to boredom.  She stopped playing and has never asked to play the game since.

NetDevil bowed out of the LEGO Universe drama with a press release on February 24, 2011, which also pretty much ended their existence as part of Gazillion Entertainment, which purchased NetDevil back in July of 2008.

In June 2011, LEGO announced that LEGO Universe would go to a free to play model, the current panacea for all ailing MMOs these days.

All of which brings us to today’s email blast from LEGO.

Hello Adventurer, today we are very sad to announce that LEGO® Universe will be closing on January 31, 2012. This was a very difficult decision to make, but unfortunately LEGO Universe has not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open.

We realize how sad this will make the many players who have enjoyed LEGO Universe and we are committed to providing open communication with both kids and parents as we transition through this difficult time. We understand this is a challenging change and apologize for not being able to give parents forewarning before the general announcement.

We are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with an amazing community of players. We hope you will continue to enjoy LEGO Universe for the last few months. As a thank you, if you are a paying subscriber on December 31, 2011, we will provide you the full game for the final month for free.

Again, we want to thank the fantastic community of players who made LEGO Universe such a vibrant, fun and creative experience.

Hello Adventurer, today we are very sad to announce that LEGO® Universe will be closing on January 31, 2012. This was a very difficult decision to make, but unfortunately LEGO Universe has not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open.

We realize how sad this will make the many players who have enjoyed LEGO Universe and we are committed to providing open communication with both kids and parents as we transition through this difficult time. We understand this is a challenging change and apologize for not being able to give parents forewarning before the general announcement.

We are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with an amazing community of players. We hope you will continue to enjoy LEGO Universe for the last few months. As a thank you, if you are a paying subscriber on December 31, 2011, we will provide you the full game for the final month for free.

Again, we want to thank the fantastic community of players who made LEGO Universe such a vibrant, fun and creative experience.

Sincerely,

The LEGO Universe Team

The Details:

  • The game will be turned off on January 31, 2012 at midnight (EST).
  • All current subscribers (1, 6 or 12 month plans) who still have active subscriptions on December 31 will receive a refund for any remaining game time remaining after December 31 as well as free play from January 1, 2012 until January 31.
  • For example, if you purchased a 6-month subscription on September 1, 2011 (which would expire on February 29, 2012), you would be refunded $16.66 for the 2 months following December 31.
  • We will begin processing all refunds on February 1, 2012. All refunds will be made to the credit card used for the original subscription.
  • If your subscription expires before December 31 you will need to purchase an additional 1 month subscription by December 31 in order to get the free game play in January (again, any unused game time as of December 31 will be refunded.)
  • LEGO Universe game cards can only be used until December 1st 2011. Unused game cards after December 1st can be converted to LEGO Shop @Home gift cards for the same value.
  • Please note: Details on how to convert unused game cards will be posted on December 1.
  • You can continue to enjoy the free to play zone until January 31, 2012 but your last chance to convert to a paying subscription is December 31, 2011.

There is an additional FAQ with more details available.

And so a sad end to a game with such promise.  There is no curse like failing to live up to ones potential.  And I am sure this was a hard decision at LEGO.  Once you have all that effort sunk into a project, once everything is in place, once the machine is running, it is tough to just turn the switch off and send everybody home.

But LEGO has been through tough times of its own.  The first decade of this century saw them stumble and really have to rethink how they did business after many years of simply succeeding because they were LEGO.  That lead to a series of tough decisions that brought them back from the brink and set them to focus more on profitability than market share.

And that focus is clearly being felt now.  LEGO Universe isn’t hitting its goals and is going to be cut.

I am sure this is sad news for those who play the game.   I certainly find it sad, if in a more abstract sense, since we haven’t played it for months at our house.

In the end though, they appear to have failed to capture the essence of what makes LEGO building sets popular.

What should have been the direction for LEGO Universe?  Less “block-based WoW” and more “LEGO Second Life?”

(The latter with more parental controls and less some smaller quantity of flying penises, of course.)

Begun the Count Down to Christmas Has!

If it wasn’t enough that Star Wars: The Old Republic was practically slated for a Christmas release, the LEGO people have their own irresistible angle on the season.

A Star Wars LEGO Advent Calendar.

We already get the LEGO advent calendar every year as it is.  But when you throw Star Wars into the mix… well… there is already one sitting on our kitchen table even as I write this.  It isn’t even October yet.

But I am a little paranoid.  The LEGO City advent calendar sold out from the online LEGO store pretty quickly last year, though I was able to walk into our local LEGO store and grab one off the shelf no problem.  So I wasn’t going to tell you about it until I had mine home and secure.

Okay, so maybe Yoda in the Santa role is a bit odd.

He doesn’t seem like the candy cane and presents type to me, but I always picture the Degobah Yoda, when he was a senile cranky old coot.  And since the Star Wars Holiday Special is canon (at least C-canon), who am I to quibble about Yoda in a Santa suit?

Beside which, tiny little LEGO ships!

I couldn’t say no.

(Watch out though, Toys R Us is currently charging $10 more than LEGO is for the calendar.)