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LEGO Universe

LEGO Universe going freemium this August

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

Fallen Earth? Check. City of Heroes? Check. Which AAA MMORPG act is warming up to take the stage next on the free-to-play 2011 world tour? That would be LEGO Universe, and the LEGO Group has announced via press release that the kid-friendly building-block title will be joining its formerly subscription-based brethren in the freemium ranks as early as this August.

Interestingly, LEGO Universe will continue to make its money via paid memberships, with no microtransactions planned at this time. Free players will have access to a limited selection of game content for an unlimited period of time. If the trial content tickles their fancy, tire-kickers are then free to pony up $10 per month for full access.

LEGO Universe is also doing away with its physical media, as new users will find that the game is transitioning to a download-only model for both paid and free players. Full details on the content available to free players isn't yet available, but check back with us frequently as we bring you all the latest updates.

Former LEGO Universe dev: 'I have decided to get out of the MMO game'

Interviews, MMO Industry, LEGO Universe, Dev Diaries, Miscellaneous

We're all familiar with that guy who gets burned out on his game and makes a very public and lengthy rant as to why he's quitting on the official forums. But what happens when a developer does the same thing to a larger audience? Today we found out, as former LEGO Universe dev Ryan Seabury wrote an open letter saying why he left NetDevil -- and why he'll never work on MMOs again.

Seabury cites four reasons: that the "MMO" label has lost its meaning, it takes too long and is too stressful to develop new games, it's difficult to play around with creative concepts, and the market is trending toward indie titles anyway. He left to start up END Games Entertainment so that he and others of a similar mind could indulge in "a ridiculous variety of game ideas" instead of treading the waters of the status quo.

His letter is largely upbeat as he focuses on the joys of game development and play, and he thinks that it's high past time studios break out of old mindsets to embrace the new: "We have come to a point where the game concept trumps such insignificant bullet points, and global social connectivity is a given. From a creative standpoint, this is fantastic. Ideas are king once again; the industry feels as vibrant to me as the golden nostalgia years I experienced as a kid growing up through the coin-op and early console eras, except we've finally ditched the nerd-in-basement stigma."

You can read Seabury's full letter over at Kotaku.

LEGO Universe opens the Nexus Tower

Video, Patches, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Miscellaneous

It's always nice to finish a big construction project of LEGO bricks, even if you're just making something out of spare bricks on your desktop instead of working. It's the same for LEGO Universe, but in a somewhat more substantive fashion -- the Nexus Tower, a massive structure composed of a huge number of bricks, has finally been completed in-game. Thanks to players donating bricks and working toward the tower's completion, everyone can start enjoying the features of this large-scale hub as well as several content updates due to accompany it.

Players who explore the tower will find over 50 new missions to undertake as well as several faction leaders to work alongside as they learn more about the history of the game's multiversal setting. There are also new items, new pets, new daily missions, and a promise of more content to come down the pipeline following this. LEGO Universe players can check out all of the new stuff in-game now, but if you can't log in right at the moment, take a look at the trailer just after the break.

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LEGO Universe unveils May contest schedule

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contests, Events (In-Game), LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

May in LEGO Universe is all about faction pride, and as such, players are invited to participate in a host of exciting contests to demonstrate their factions' superiority. Well, that and win prizes. You can have your blocky cake and eat it in LEGO Universe!

The site has posted its May contest schedule for your edification:
  • All month: Join the community effort is underway to build the Nexus Tower via donations.
  • May 7-8: Race in the LEGO Grand Prix, which will take place at a soon-to-be revealed location.
  • May 14-15: Take aim and fire during the Shooting Gallery Showdown, where players will try to hit enemy ships and creatures in the water.
  • May 21-22: Submit your best faction screenshot for a shot at several prizes.
  • May 28-29: Unite with your faction in the Battle for Nimbus Station!
Take a gander at the contest details and the many, many goodies you can win over at LEGO Universe.

LEGO Universe readying new race track, pets, property, and a month-long event

Galleries, Screenshots, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

Next week is looming large for fans of LEGO Universe. May 3rd will see major new challenges made available to the game's community according to a LEGO press release circulated earlier this afternoon.

First up is a month-long initiative to finish the colossal Nexus Tower construction project. The tower houses the Nexus of Imagination, and it's a good thing too since the dastardly Maelstrom is bent on unyielding destruction. Players will need to contribute bricks to the Nexus Force cause or risk leaving Imagination vulnerable to the forces of darkness.

LEGO Universe will also be sporting a new race track as of next week, and the circuit is every bit as grueling as its name (Dragonmaw Chasm) suggests. New achievements are the order of the day, and skilled racers can unlock new cars including the Fire Brawl and Mach Lava. Finally, the new game update is bringing new property options to LEGO Universe. These include the ability for players to place pets on their in-game homesteads and bring said pets to life via a system of behaviors. Head to the official LEGO Universe website for more.

LEGO Universe on sale for $9.99

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, LEGO Universe, Kids, Promotions

Have you seen the prices for LEGO brick,s these days? Some parents have had to choose between purchasing their child a Harry Potter Hogwarts set or paying the mortgage that month -- and Harry Potter usually wins. Fortunately, you can get your virtual LEGOs on for cheap: LEGO Universe is on sale for $9.99 in the official LEGO store.

You'll want to note that this is a physical copy of the game, not a digital download. The purchase also includes the first month of play, which certainly lowers the barrier of entry. This promotion is a limited time offer, although the company didn't put an exact end date on it.

This follows LEGO Universe's transition from Gazillion to the LEGO Group. Newcomers to the game will certainly want to check out the cooperative community events that highlight this MMO's unique strengths.

LEGO Universe builds community via community building

Culture, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

The fun of playing with LEGO sets is only half in the assembly -- a lot of the enjoyment comes with showing off what you've created to others, no matter your age. It's an element that LEGO Universe has taken to heart, as a recent release talks about the community events the game has run thus far and the plans for more events in the future.

Each month of the game's operation has been based around a core theme for community events and challenges, giving players unified goals to work toward. March is the Battle Month, with the final event taking place this weekend in the Battle for Nimbus Station. Players who successfully face off against 29 waves of enemies will be in the running to win a variety of in-game prizes as well as some real-world LEGO sets.

The Creation Lab has also been a major area of development, allowing user-generated content to come front and center in the community. Even if you're not currently playing LEGO Universe, you can take part in some of the contests and get your own buildings in the game -- sharing what you've built with everyone even if it's not made out of plastic bricks.

Gazillion press release clarifies Netdevil layoff rumors

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, LEGO Universe, Kids, Miscellaneous

The NetDevil/LEGO Universe brouhaha that unfolded earlier this morning is officially official thanks to a press release just published by Gazillion Entertainment. Gazillion has formally agreed to sell its development stake in the LEGO Universe MMO to the LEGO Group (the game's publisher and custodian of the world-famous toy brand).

Most of the LEGO devs, formerly employed by NetDevil (a Gazillion subsidiary), have received employment offers from the LEGO Group and will continue iterating on the game from the company's Louisville, Colorado studio.

Gazillion is re-focusing its ongoing development efforts into browser games, according to President and COO David Brevik. "The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group enables us to focus completely on internally-published, free-to-play game businesses," he said.

NetDevil lays off large portion of its staff [Updated]

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Jumpgate Evolution, MMO Industry, News Items, Rumors, LEGO Universe, Family

When it comes to game development, it's somewhat common to see a layoff or realignment of development team members shortly after the release of a title. However, it appears that NetDevil's most recent round of layoffs came as a complete surprise to its employees. After all, the company's most recent release, LEGO Universe, is well past that initial post-launch phase, having gone live back in October 2010, and both Jumpgate Evolution and Fortune Online are (at least supposedly) under development currently at the studio. There are jobs posted on the hiring page, as well.

However, it appears that the developer, owned by Gazillion Entertainment, is on shaky ground as of this morning, according to rumors. The truly horrible thing about this isn't that some developers were laid off -- it's how the affected employees found out. It appears that some of the NetDevil employees were notified that they were going to be laid off via Facebook postings before they were officially contacted by the company, according to a blog posting by Toby Cochran, who worked as a character/creature animator on LEGO Universe. Apparently an image showing a tombstone with the inscription "NetDevil R.I.P. Oct 1997-Feb 2011" started making the rounds on social networking sites shortly thereafter, indicating a far bleaker picture than just that of layoffs.

We've reached out to NetDevil and Gazillion Entertainment for comment on the rumors and what, if anything, it will mean for the development of Jumpgate Evolution and Fortune Online. We'll be sure to update this post as soon as we have further information. In the meantime, we hope that all the talented, hard-working NetDevil employees who were affected are able to land fabulous new well-paying spots elsewhere, continuing to do what they love.

[Update: We received the following statement from NetDevil: "The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group allows us to conclude the work-for-hire segment of NetDevil's business and lets us expand our internally-published, free-to-play game businesses based on our own properties and licensed properties. Gazillion is wholly focused on developing, operating, and publishing the next generation of browser-delivered games," said David Brevik, President and COO. "We're proud of the LEGO Universe game that our team built, and we are certain that it has a bright future."]

LEGO Universe invites players to battle for Nimbus Station

Trailers, Video, Patches, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family

Grab three of your buddies, gear up, and get ready to travel through time to save the LEGO Universe (or at least, Nimbus Station). Starting on February 23rd, NetDevil and the LEGO Group are inviting groups of four players to journey backwards to battle the evil Maelstrom in a thrilling confrontation to decide Nimbus Station's fate.

You'll need to find Wenn Wuzzit, a Venture League time traveler who has taken up residence in the present-day Nimbus Station. His time-twister contraption serves as your personal way-back machine and as a gateway to epic battles vs. 30 waves of enemies and bosses.

In addition to the Nimbus Station shenanigans, LEGO Universe is releasing new build missions and achievements tied to players' Property Worlds. Four new dailies and 12 new achievements are on tap, with rewards that include faction tokens, Mega Brick booster packs, and new Doom Star and Behavior Model sets. Sound exciting? Check out all the details via the new trailer after the cut.

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The MMO Report: The sad, strange death of Company of Heroes Online

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Video, MMO Industry, Humor, LEGO Universe, DC Universe Online, The MMO Report

Bad puns, sexual innuendo and all the MMO news you can handle are crammed into yet another MMO Report, brought to us by our friends at G4TV. Casey Schreiner and his fabulous tie recall a few of the biggest stories from the previous week.

First up on the docket is the cancellation of two THQ titles previously in development: Company of Heroes Online and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw Online. Both of these games were an attempt by the studio to bring its western-style MMOs to a Korean market, although THQ ultimately decided that this move wasn't at the top of its priority list.

On a more upbeat note, Casey talks up LEGO Universe's Crux Prime update, which came complete with ninjas and multiplayer madness. And yes, Casey, we agree that LEGOs are "awesome."

Other topics for the Report include Undead Labs' "Class 3" single-player XBLA title that's hopefully leading up to the studio's zombie MMO, robo-Batman in a new DCUO video, the announcement of BlizzCon's 2011 dates, and a Blizzard theme park called "Joy Land" in China. Face it: We have a weird hobby.

Hit the jump to watch the full MMO Report!

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LEGO Universe releases Crux Prime update

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Miscellaneous

Pirates or ninjas? That is the age-old question. As of today we know where the LEGO Universe team stands thanks to the new Crux Prime update. LEGO's Ninjago line is the star of NetDevil's latest content patch, and players can participate in a new storyline that involves the search for Sensei Wu. It seems the reclusive Wu is a master of Spinjitzu, the only skill that can stand up to the hordes of skeleton enemies descending on Crux Prime.

The patch contains a substantial amount of new content including over 100 missions and achievements, over 100 new pieces of gear, and four rare armor sets to collect.

Finally, the Crux Prime update brings multiplayer team functionality to the fight against The Maelstrom, and groups of up to four friends can join forces to save the Nexus Tower and do battle to protect the Imagination Nexus. Get a glimpse of the new Crux Prime trailer after the cut.

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LEGO Universe unveils newest zone for flipping out and killing people

Galleries, Screenshots, Trailers, Video, News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

The LEGO brand is nothing if not a universe of heterogeneity -- race cars, aquatic explorers, space police, and even Batman have long existed side-by-side. The newest kid on the metaphorical block is the just-begun Ninjago line, and it's being celebrated in LEGO Universe with the addition of the newest zone, Crux Prime. But the zone has more to offer than just a cavalcade of ninja, with brand-new gear, weapons, and decals for players to unlock as they progress through the zone's new content.

Players will be tasked with finding the long-lost Sensei Wu amid the ruins of the Ninjago Monastery to learn the powerful skill known as Spinjitzu. They'll need it, too, with Maelstrom Skeletons attempting to steal the beacon of Imagination from the tower in Crux Prime. With over 100 new missions for players to undertake and an ongoing story that promises to unfold over time, LEGO Universe players should find plenty to like about Crux Prime. Take a sneak peek at the zone in the gallery below as well as the trailer past the cut.

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LEGO Universe hosting a race contest for the New Year weekend

Contests, Events (In-Game), News Items, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

If you or your favorite youngster has been enjoying LEGO Universe, this weekend would be an especially good time to play, not only because it's a holiday weekend with plenty of free time for everyone, but because a special contest is being held in the game up through January 2nd. Twenty winners on the Space Blizzard Race Track will start the new year with prizes in-game, and the luckiest three winners will be driving away with an entire prize pack of LEGO World Racers sets.

To qualify, players must complete all three races on the track before the end of Sunday, January 2nd. The time at which the contest ends varies by the local time of each server. The setters of the top 20 times will be rewarded with prizes, with a full giftset going to the top 10 racers over the two-day period. LEGO Universe players still have enough time to get onto the track and get to racing, so go ahead and see what you can accomplish.

Frostburgh holiday comet headed for LEGO Universe

Galleries, Video, Events (In-Game), New Titles, News Items, LEGO Universe, Family

In the mood for a snowy throwdown? Netdevil and Gazilion have just the thing for you LEGO Universe players -- an entirely new wintry wonderland named Frostburgh! The new area is actually situated on an icy comet that will open up on November 30th, offering players a whole new area to explore in honor of LEGO Universe's winter holiday, Frostivus. In fact, there will be a festive new mission every day for the entire month that Frostburgh will be orbiting near Nimbus Station, as well as all new holiday NPCs to meet with.

Aside from the new holiday quests, players will additionally have the chance to get into snowball fights, build gingerbread houses, open presents, pick up fun wintry stuff for their minifigs, and tame new reindeer pets. Additionally, the Vertigo Loop racetrack is in for a snowy storm of its own: Icy road conditions and evil snowmen are on the forecast, which will create new challenges for racers. For those who manage to make it through the hazardous road conditions, new achievements and special Frostivus cars await!

As a preview of the chilly LEGO Universe fun that kicks offt next week, we've gathered up a handful of screenshots in the gallery below, or you can check out the Frostburgh trailer after the break!

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