LEGO Universe Pre-Launch Press Bonanza: If you build it, they will come…

LEGO Universe launched last Friday for a special fans-only release period, and boy has the PR team been busy! Over the summer and into fall, we’ve been across the country and back again with the LEGO Universe developers – and that’s not even counting pre-E3 and international happenings. From E3 in Los Angeles, Comic-Con in San Diego and PAX in Seattle, to press meetings in New York and family media day in Colorado, LEGO Universe has amazed and inspired everyone who sees it.

The LEGO Group (creative brick-building toy icon) teamed up with NetDevil (supernaturally talented development team), and collaborated with some of the most imaginative and passionate fans in the world (LEGO Universe Partners, or LUPS for short)… It’s taken 5 years to get here, and the real works just begun, but together this LEGO trifecta has created one helluva MMOG.

TriplePoint couldn’t be more thrilled (or proud) to work with the brightest minds in toys and technology, and finally help launch LEGO Universe this month. It’s been a while since we shared media feedback, so today is a double whammy – first, here are highlights from recent press events and releases. Then check out part two this afternoon, for the latest previews, reviews and such. You can find more LEGO Universe coverage from E3 and earlier in the archives.

Founders Release

For those of us who wish there was a way to merge our childhood imagination with our love of gaming, the upcoming LEGO Universe MMO has brought pause to our beating hearts and filled our minds with joyous anticipation.The Escapist

I feel like we’ve been pretty good about giving LEGO Universe the props it deserves, but what’s one more post? It really is quite a lot of fun– and for me, it’s what you would want “the LEGO MMO” to be.Destructoid

Considering the way in which players have assembled for the game’s release, it seems no surprise that the team behind the game has put together something special for launch… Now it seems that an even earlier release is being opened up for “Founders” to start playing — one that starts this weekend.Massively

Players must save Imagination from the chaotic Maelstrom in LEGO Universe

Cinematic Launch Trailer

Perhaps even more newsworthy than the game’s early debut is that its launch trailer is so super-hot. Not only does it do a great job of setting up the Lego Universe, it features the vocal talents of Patrick Stewart, who’s beginning to reach Nolan North-esque levels of video game ubiquitousness. (Not that we’re complaining!)Joystiq

A very rad introduction narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart for the imagination-fueled MMO.1UP

LEGO Universe is the first Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) for LEGO fans! It’s a giant new online world where players from all over Earth can safely, build, play and pal around together!Yahoo!

Family Media Day at Development HQ

LEGO Universe is awesome like bacon! – Max Calandro, age 11

This Monday my kids and I had a chance to visit NetDevil Studios for a family media day about Lego Universe. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I’ll report on some of the things I learned about the game itself later this week, but touring the NetDevil offices was a blast, too…Wired GeekDad

Blogger families gather at NetDevil Studios to learn about LEGO Universe

I spent yesterday hanging out at NetDevil with Tristan checking out their soon-to-be-released massively multiplayer online game LEGO Universe… Between interviews and presentations we had a chance to wander around the absurdly-large studio and check out some of the LEGO creations and the studio’s LEGO library, one of the five largest in the world.Kotaku

Kid "reporters" building LEGO Universe pets with official LEGO builders

It’s fun, cool and awesome. – Ridley Liu, age 6

Ryley, Sam, and I got to play in an official LEGO model building studio yesterday. It is managed by a LEGO model building guru named Duane, who kindly shared his knowledge and bricks with us. We toured NetDevil, the birthplace of the world’s newest and most whimsical MMOG, or Massively-Multiplayer Online Game, LEGO Universe. We learned about the creative and technical processes which are nurtured by hundreds of people in the most creative atmosphere I’ve ever seen. They opened their studios and pizza boxes to us. We toured the cavernous and crazy-hip warehouse-style studio with other LEGO-loving families. If you’ve ever played LEGO Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, or Rock Star, you know how hilarious and challenging the games can be. Now imagine the LEGO world housed online, with continual and ever-evolving game play.Lifenut

If I’m dreaming, don’t wake me up. – Matthew Calandro, age 7

When Calandro signed up to go to Colorado to interview the game’s designers, she asked if she could bring her three sons — Max, 11, Matthew, 7, and Miles, 5 — plus her tech-wise husband John Calandro, who just happens to be the principal of Santa Lucia Middle School in Cambria. “Usually, I don’t go along” when his wife travels for work, he said. But when the game’s developers learned of his occupation, they “got excited about the opportunity to talk about the game to high schoolers who are interested in programming. Calandro said he believes this is the first time Lego or NetDevil have involved a school in the pre-launch process. One student involved said, “It was amazing… Now I want to be a computer programmer.”SanLuisObispo.com

LEGO Universe developer Q&A - live video with highschoolers in San Luis Obispo

The premise behind LEGO Universe is that players band together in a fight to save Imagination, which is threatened with extinction due to a malevolent force called The Maelstrom. You create a LEGO Minifigure, complete missions, collect LEGO bricks and other objects, and have the opportunity to engage in creative free play… if you aren’t great at one aspect of the game, you are sure to shine in another. LEGO Universe is a unique way to play amongst the beloved LEGO line-up of games. The game continually evolves, improves, and engages the members of the playing community. Unlike many other MMOGs, LEGO Universe stresses family-friendly play and high standards of safety and security. LEGO Universe continues the great LEGO gaming tradition of partnering smart and challenging game play with humor and whimsy. – MileHighMamas

The best LEGO game ever. – Sam White, age 10

Family Media Day participants experienced LEGO Universe, behind-the-screen

See more photos from the developer studio event on Flickr.

New York Press Tour

Named one of the “Best New Video Games for Families” by Family Circle – LEGO Universe – An MMO, which stands for massively multiplayer online game. This one’s a twist on the traditional that allows players to craft their own worlds amidst tons of quest-y action. If you ever doubted that screen time could make a kid smarter, check it out. - Family Circle

Creative Director, Ryan Seabury demos LEGO Universe for NY mommy bloggers

You’ve got all the LEGO staples, from the knob-headed, yellow-skinned people to the enemies who explode into bricks. You’ve also got something that hasn’t really appeared in many “LEGO” games: Complete control over what you’re building. Players are given personal spaces to create whatever they wish, from pre-fab scenery like castle towers and rocket ships to 100% user-made designs made up of smaller, more traditional LEGO blocks. In the end, there’s a heck of a lot in place to prevent children from seeing stuff they shouldn’t in “LEGO Universe.”MTV Multiplayer

LEGO Universe awed again at the Pepcom NY Holiday Spectacular

We got a look at the Sorcerer, a Paradox Faction specialty kit, which gave Ryan’s character access to sorcery (d’uh!) and this came in the form of several nasty AOE attacks. Ryan (Seabury) noted that specialty kits are unique to LEGO Universe, as they are not available in the physical LEGO toy line. However, NetDevil hopes that down the line players will be able to commission their tricked out LEGO Unvierse mini-figs as real life toys to put on their desk. This sounds incredibly cool.MMORPG

PAX

LEGO Universe joins Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic in leading the evolution and revolution of the MMOG genre by breaking away from the ‘traditional’ MMOG mold and creating a game that emphasizes, enhances, encourages, and projects the inherent creativity of its community. Every player in LEGO Universe gets their own virtual space where they can build, customize, paint, and even ‘program’ your home base. With Behaviors you can effectively create your own missions, puzzles, and interactive areas, which can then be shared with others by inviting friends to your home base. You can also publish and share your creations with other players, or even trade them at Nimbus station, the in-game hub for LEGO sharing and trading. – Examiner

Producer, Brian Johnson gives Wonder Woman a hands-on demo at SDCC

When meeting with the folks at LEGO during PAX last weekend, LEGO Universe shined above any other family friendly MMO I’d ever seen. It was so impressive that I wholeheartedly intend to pay the $10 monthly fee once the game goes live. Not often will I have an MMO subscription other than World of Warcraft active, but LEGO Universe offers something different, something very mature for a kid targeted and kid inspired game. The dynamic engine along with engineering-style complexity in the building, questing and sharing aspects of the game make it one that stands out amongst the MMO competition on the market. LEGO Universe seriously packs more creations, dungeons/missions and customizations than even the most creative MMOer could dream up. Brilliant and addictive!MMOMFG

My last official meeting at PAX was with LEGO Universe. It’s a new online PC game that’s like a mix of World of Warcraft and LittleBig Planet. You make your own LEGO character and send it off on WoW styled quests. But you have your own space in the LEGO Universe that you can use how you see fit, and can build it up with LEGO sets and blocks you unlock in the game. The makers of the game are doing everything they can to make LEGO Universe a kid-safe online game, too. Everything from chats to LEGO creations will be moderated. It certainly looks like an online game that’s more my speed.GamerDad

Final verdict for LEGO Universe?  From what I could tell playing it myself and watching the younger children who sat mesmerized by the action on the screen, it’s going to be worth a play.  It’s a nice bridge and a safe environment for pre-teens to play a fun game that isn’t really violent and allows them to use their imaginations for all sorts of tasks in game.  Plus their little ears will get the joy of Patrick Stewart’s narrations, something I know I’m always excited about when I hear.  With a release price of $39.99 it’s not that expensive either. - The Nerdiest Kids

LEGO Universe looks like a blast. Especially “brick mode,” which will let you build structures granularly, with any real-life LEGO piece, from the ground up…FileFront

Comic-Con

G4TV Broadcast All Access Interview with Ryan Seabury – Developer Ryan Seabury gives you a preview of LEGO Universe and the game’s MMO elements, storyline, factions, characters and sandbox play in this X-Play Preview of LEGO Universe.G4TV

Developer NetDevil has told Gamasutra that its upcoming LEGO Universe MMO has logged “thousands of hours” of play, some from groups of children who have been beta testing it for four years. The game’s development began by soliciting ideas from a group of children who formed the basis of its testing pool, says Ryan Seabury, creative director of the game at NetDevil.The full interview goes into great depth  on the business and development decisions NetDevil and partner LEGO have taken with the game, and explains why we may see cameos from popular LEGO licensed properties like Star Wars in the future, among other topics.Gamasutra

There are many looks and pieces that reflect current physical LEGO product, but since LEGO Universe is a separate property, they have created many unique looks, all conforming closely to LEGO specifications. There’s talk that perhaps sometime in the future, you may be able to buy a mini-fig that looks just like the in-game you. Now, wouldn’t that be cool? MMORPG.com

Creativity stole the show at the packed LEGO Universe SDCC panel

Traditionally, I’ve always been a not-MMO guy. And yet, I find LEGO Universe to be quite a lot of fun for what it is. Maybe that’s because the cute aesthetics cover the seedy addiction-garnering underbelly of the genre in ways similar titles are unable to. Maybe not. One thing is for absolute certain, though — the Minifigs in LEGO Universe have brilliant, totally manly names.Destructoid

It lives up to the pedigree. LEGO Universe borrows heavily from previous LEGO games; there is still the quick build mechanic, the game maintains the cute art style, and destroying random objects gives you rewards. But there is also a lot of new ground covered in this game. Your ability to build is controlled by your Imagination (think Mana). The amount of Imagination you can store increases as you level up throughout the game, allowing you to build more complicated things and progress further. – Ripten

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