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LEGO Universe

Jukebox Heroes: LEGO Universe's soundtrack

Opinion, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Jukebox Heroes, Music

lego universe
I'm still incensed that nobody had the courtesy of informing me that LEGO Universe had such a great soundtrack until well after the title was shuttered. I guess it doesn't make a big difference -- at least I know now -- although I might have mourned its passing more.

Composed by Brian Tyler and Michael Jason Corder, the LEGO Universe score was never released, although it looks as though there were once plans to do so. This is an incredible shame because the wider listening audience is missing out on one of the most diverse, cheeky, and fun soundtracks from online gaming. The one word that kept popping into my mind while listening to this was "personality" -- as in, it has so much of it. At so many points I kept thinking that I was hearing the score to a well-done kids movie and not a "mere" video game.

I'm limited to six picks (and a bonus feature!) in this space, but I highly recommend that you use this column as a jumping point to listening to the LEGO Universe soundtrack in its entirety. If you do, I think you'll agree with me that this score is simply a triumph.

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Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #10-1

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Ultima Online, LEGO Universe, Runes of Magic, Miscellaneous, Firefall, Jukebox Heroes, Music

We're finally here: my top 10 MMO theme tracks. I anticipate that out of all of the weeks, this will be the most controversial, since not only am I proclaiming the 10 best, but you'll realize which of your favorite games I've left out of the top 40 entirely.

A final reminder as to my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31, #30-21, and #20-11. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

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The Perfect Ten: Final moments of MMOs, part 2

Video, City of Heroes, Opinion, All Points Bulletin, Humor, LEGO Universe, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

The Perfect Ten Final moments of MMOs, part 2
LAST TIME ON THE PERFECT TEN: Games were shut down, tears were shed, memories were dragged unwillingly from long-term storage, and videos were shown. Also, Marty totally suckered Biff into driving into a truck full of manure and then got his parents to kiss at a dance so that he wouldn't be erased from the space-time continuum.

AND NOW FOR THE EXCITING CONCLUSION!

Is it completely morbid to want to revisit (or see for the first time) the final moments of MMOs? Yes, but also no. Really, it's just interesting to me, and I have no great agenda at play here. Sometimes seeing how a game goes out can tell you a lot about its community and dev team. So join us now as we hit the second half of 10 videos showing the last few minutes of these online RPGs.

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The Game Archaeologist: When dead MMOs come back to life

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa, Shadowbane, Mythos, Free-to-Play, All Points Bulletin, LEGO Universe, The Game Archaeologist, Faxion Online

Hellgate Tokyo
Maybe I'm alone in this, but my jaw just dropped when I came home this past week to see that Massively posted the news that Shadowbane is coming back to life. Granted, it's only going to happen in China, but still, that's pretty incredible. Shadowbane's been in the ground for three years now, and if I had to pick an MMO that deserved resurrection, this particular one would be farthest from my mind (no offense if you liked the game; it's just that there are so many others that are even more worthy).

But how can this not give you hope? Many of us have lost an MMO we loved or at least had a decked-out character populating the character select screen, and the thought of that game coming back against all odds is a goosebump-rising one. It may also smack of justice served, as some MMOs fail not because of faulty gameplay but because of mismanagement by the studio, complex legal wrangling, or bad marketing.

Today let's look at a few examples of dead MMOs that were brought back to life and what this may mean for the future of the industry. Zombie MMOs! Not, you know, MMOs with zombies.

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Pack up your toys: LEGO Universe is shutting down at midnight

MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

LEGO Universe
The clock is chiming, and kids (and the young at heart) everywhere are asking for just a little more time with LEGO Universe. Unfortunately the struggling MMO has gotten no reprieve from the imaginary video game governor, and its servers will go offline tonight at midnight EST.

The shutdown FAQ encourages LEGO Universe players to share their favorite memories on the forums and ends with a heartfelt message from the team:
"Our decision to end LEGO Universe is similar to decisions we also make with LEGO Product collection, where favourite sets come and go to make space for new sets. It was time for LEGO Universe to end and hopefully new digital LEGO experiences will come in the future."
We first heard of LEGO Universe's closure last November, when the studio announced that the game's freemium model was not bringing in enough paying customers to keep the title afloat. LEGO Universe is a youngling in the MMO genre, having released in October 2010, making the game one year and three months old at the time of its shutdown.

Refunds for those who had a paid subscription on file after December 31st, 2011 will be distributed early next month. Unused LEGO game cards may also be exchanged for LEGO e-gift cards.

MMO Family: LEGO Universe, autism, and heartbreak

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, LEGO Universe, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

Lego Universe
Often when the topic of video games comes up, it's followed by comments about the negatives, such as violence, antisocial behavior, or inappropriate content. But if they do have harmful effects (and it's arguable how many players really are affected in a negative way), they can also be helpful as well, yet you rarely hear a news story about the good. I've written before about how companies like IBM have studied MMO guilds in order to improve team-building and organization within their company. More recently, MMOWGLI focused on global issues, such as the future of piracy, to study what solutions players could cooperatively generate.

There are also positive benefits to children as well, and while we've touched on a few in recent columns, this week we'll focus on the impact LEGO Universe has had on autistic children. Sadly, the game will be shutting down in a few weeks, and while many parents are thankful for how much it's helped, they're also concerned about what will happen once the game is gone. Read on for a bittersweet look at how this LEGO-based game is leaving behind a legacy.

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LEGO Universe shutting down January 2012

Business Models, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

LEGO Universe
Playtime's over, people -- time to pack up your LEGO bricks and move on. The word's come down from the LEGO Group that LEGO Universe is closing its doors on January 31st, 2012 due to a lack of paying customers. While the game has been free-to-play for a while, apparently not enough players were interested in dishing out cash to keep the MMO operational.

The news was posted just moments ago on the official forums along with a more in-depth FAQ:
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 are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this adventure wiith 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
Unfortunately, this closure means that the associated studios, including one in Colorado and one in Denmark, will be shuttered and 115 employees will be affected. LEGO Universe launched in October 2010 and converted to a free-to-play model this past August. We've included the official press release behind the break.

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LEGO Universe offers $15,000 US in prizes in the Nexus Force Championships

Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids

LEGO Universe title image
Given the age of the average MMO gamer, it's safe to say most of us grew up with the amazing creative freedom of LEGO. The LEGO franchise has given rise to countless computer games over the years, including kid-friendly MMORPG LEGO Universe. The game recently went free-to-play, and now a huge contest has been released to encourage people to give the game a try.

The eight-week-long Nexus Force Championships start today, challenging players to win as many in-game events and contests as possible before December 8th. Participants will collect points for winning contests and events in a bid to win some truly massive prizes. The single player with the highest number of points at the end of the eight weeks will win around $5,000 US worth of LEGO sets and a new laptop. In total, over $15,000 US of prizes will be given out during the event.

[Source: LEGO Universe Press Release]

LEGO Universe introduces Ninjago expansion

Trailers, Video, Expansions, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

Red Ninja on lava
Who doesn't like ninjas? Well, except for pirates, I guess. Now LEGO Universe has both, as its newly announced Ninjago expansion brings the world of the Ninjago LEGO toys and the Masters of Spinjitzu film to the MMO.

In addition to inserting over 100 new ninja-themed missions, this "largest expansion to the game yet" will raise the level cap to 45 and introduce new weapons, new enemies, and new gear -- all just in time for next month's first-year anniversary for the game. The expansion is free for all premium members starting today, and you can check out the screenshot gallery below and launch trailer just after the jump.

[Source: LEGO Universe press release]

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Rise and Shiny recap: LEGO Universe

Screenshots, Video, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, Humor, LEGO Universe, Kids, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

LEGO screenshot
Ah, LEGO. Who in this world was unfortunate enough to grow up without the wonderful plastic bits of imagination? I remember specific types of LEGO, from the hinged legs of the minifigs to the more advanced gears and pistons of the Technic sets. We used to build great long space battleships, similar to the ones you might see in Star Blazers, and we would run down the hall at each other, smashing them into hundreds of wonderful hard plastic pieces. LEGO built my childhood and was as important to me as destroying wasp's nests and building forts. Of course, girls moved to the top of the list pretty soon after that.

So when I heard about LEGO Universe, I was as excited as any normal person would be. I imagined building anything possible, sort of like a child-friendly Second Life, and spending hours in gleeful, plastic bliss. What I found during the beta greatly disappointed me.

Flash forward to now, and I have to say that my opinion has changed quite a bit. Let me tell you what I found, OK? Click past the cut... but leave the massive battleships behind for now.

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The MMO Report: What is this I don't even edition

Video, EVE Online, News Items, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, LEGO Universe, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The MMO Report

Screencap -- The MMO Report
Welcome once again to Massively's coverage of The MMO report, where we get to imagine that this entire article is read by a 1930s radio announcer.

The first order of business today is the record-breaking scam perpetrated in EVE Online, followed by the energy and weapon ability changes in the most recent test build of Guild Wars 2. Then we've got The Old Republic's first show of endgame content in the form of the Eternity Vault being showcased at Gamescom. Meanwhile, The Secret World announces a release date, slating the game for April 2012 with beta signups beginning on August 26th. LEGO Universe's transition to a free-to-play model rounds out the selections before a trip into Uncle Casey's Mailbag for some schmemes and other goodness.

So jump on past the cut and check it out. Oh, and don't ask about the beginning. We don't know either.

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LEGO Universe goes F2P today

Trailers, Video, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

LEGO Universe - F2P
Free-to-play conversions have been in the news a lot lately, with games as diverse as Age of Conan and Champions Online throwing open their doors with various flavors of free access. LEGO Universe is the latest freemium convert, and today is the official kickoff for the brick-building MMORPG's new membership tier.

So what can you do for free in LEGO Universe?

Two adventure zones and one player property area are available for starters, and the game also offers up a decent selection of free mini-games, build options, and basic functionality (including the ability to sample faction gear and collect up to 10,000 coins). The LEGO Group is clearly looking to entice gamers to upgrade to a full membership, though, as it only costs $10 a month and it unlocks the full game including over 15 adventuring zones, access to upcoming expansion content, and the ability to join in competitions and community events. Head to the official LEGO Universe website for a full listing of free-to-play offerings and subscriber benefits. You can also click past the cut to see a new free-to-play trailer featuring gameplay and world-building highlights.

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LEGO Universe update adds progression system

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

LEGO Universe has the creative aspects of MMOs and online gaming down pat. After all, we're talking LEGOs (edit: LEGO BRICKS OMG, LEGO BRICKS) here, and if there's one word that's synonymous with the long-running Danish toy line, that word is build.

What's there to do in LEGO Universe when your creativity runs dry, though? Thanks to the game's latest content update, traditional MMO character-building is now a viable option. Player minifigures may progress through 40 levels of content, unlocking points, achievements, and equipment along the way.

That's not all, as the latest LEGO Universe patch also features four new faction kits (Specialized Adventurer, Shinobi, Inventor, and Space Ranger), each of them aligned with one of the game's four Nexus Force factions and each offering players the opportunity to rank up and explore "new gear, powers, and abilities." Last but not least, the new LEGO Universe update brings a new instance challenge in the form of the Avant Gardens, and a big nasty known as the Spider Queen awaits players who are creative enough to make it through to the final battle.

Ex-NetDevil programmer talks LEGO Universe and getting an industry job

Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, LEGO Universe

Fan site MMO Fallout has an interesting interview with Stephen Calender that's worth a read. Who's Stephen Calender? He's a Flash developer who was front and center for the brouhaha that went down when The LEGO Group acquired the LEGO Universe MMO from NetDevil (putting many NetDevil programmers out of work in the process).

The interview is a wide-ranging and lengthy affair, and it features discussion on Gazillion's relationship with NetDevil, a blurb about the ill-fated Auto Assault, and of course, the bulk of the piece that focuses on the past and future of LEGO Universe. For all of the aspiring game devs in the audience, Calender also spends quite a bit of time talking about selling yourself in an increasingly competitive industry.

LEGO Universe dares you to make a 'Brickbuster'

Contests, Events (Real-World), LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

Have an itching desire to be an amateur filmmaker, but all you have to work with is a video camera and your toys? No problem -- LEGO Universe and The Ones and Zeros Pixelshow think that's all you need to become the next hit director!

From now until August 5th, you can film and submit your very own LEGO "Brickbuster" in the Build-a-Brickbuster Animated Film Contest. The best of the best stop-motion machinima will be awarded prizes, showcased at Pixelfest in Broomfield, Colorado on August 13th and 14th, and included in a special DVD later this year.

Pixelfest Producer Dylan Krider sees this as a perfect cross-over between the MMO and real world: "When players aren't busy battling to save imagination in LEGO Universe, they can bring their wildest creations to life with virtual building and behavior tools that make it simple for anyone to make their own machinima creations."

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