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Building the LEGO MMO

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the brick-by-brick dept.

Toys 116

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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I want a ninja level... (2, Funny)

tacarat (696339) | about 4 years ago | (#33720246)

One with little lego caltrops.

Re:I want a ninja level... (5, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 years ago | (#33720284)

As all parents know, anything made of Lego works as a caltrop. A guided caltrop that homes in on bare feet.

Giant lego penis (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 years ago | (#33720256)

What do you expect to see as entrance to the MMO lego city?

1 - Two majestic statues of great kings of the antiquity.
2 - A large lego WOW-like portal.
3 - A giant penis.

If you answered anything but 3, please select "noob" difficulty, as you clearly know nothing of online gaming.

Re:Giant lego penis (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 4 years ago | (#33720274)

heh, totally.
Freerealms has had some freaky constructs, Everquest is just about to release housing where you can build structures for all to see. Amazing the creativity (and depravity) of players!

Re:Giant lego penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720280)

Can I expect the gate to be a giant vagina and there'll be a player selling rides to new player in his giant penisbus (otherwise known as a penus)?

Re:Giant lego penis (1)

tacarat (696339) | about 4 years ago | (#33720296)

Legoland news reports there has been an outbreak of head-on collisions involving penis buses. Authorities are baffled as to the cause. In other news, repairs on "Old Milky", our beloved front gate, have begun. Engineers hope to have the sagging issue solved with this latest round of improvements.

Re:Giant lego penis (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33720480)

Legoland news reports there has been an outbreak of head-on collisions involving penis buses. Authorities are baffled as to the cause.

      This of course consists of research in advanced Lego physics, a prototype for the Large Hardon Collider.

Re:Giant lego penis (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 4 years ago | (#33720478)

If your answer is "3" you ought to be working for Disney.

One of their cartoons has a giant penis in the background.

Offensive content ... or not (4, Informative)

zoward (188110) | about 4 years ago | (#33720324)

"Giant lego penises": while it seems like a foregone conclusion that this will eventually happen, I played pretty extensively in the beta for over two months and never saw anything offensive. The areas where you can free build are human-checked before they are open to the general public. Chat is limited to a pre-defined dictionary list. Every name you type in for either yourself or your pets is human-checked for offensiveness or trademark violation before it is approved. Hopefully I'm not overstepping the bounds of their NDA by saying all this - my point is that I had no qualms about letting my 7-year-old play unattended. And that's saying a lot for an MMO.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720488)

we had no chat, or public areas to share the creation in

How do you have no one to talk to and lack the ability to show your creations to?

Did you grow up in a white room with no human contact and nothing but legos to pass your time?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#33720496)

Nothing's stopping you from showing friends your creation while they're over your place, or logging in to your account while you'r over theirs. This game is not stopping you doing anything you could normally do with physical lego (in terms of sharing/talking about it, of course).

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33720780)

This game is not stopping you doing anything you could normally do with physical lego (in terms of sharing/talking about it, of course).

Say what? Have you actually played the game? It absolutely does stop you from doing many things you can do with physical Lego.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#33720832)

Care to give an example?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33720860)

It stops you talking about your Lego. It stops you from building things with your Lego. You can only build with your Lego under very constrained circumstances.

Again, I ask, have you actually payed the game? If you had, I wouldn't have to explain this to you.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#33720920)

Nope, haven't played my game. But I think you missed the point of my comment, which is why I asked for clarification. It doesn't stop you talking about your lego - it can't. You can talk to your friends about it - in exactly the same way you could talk about lego back when you were kids, and didn't have none of this fancy interwebs.

My post was a response to someone who claimed you couldn't really have fun with lego without an integrated chat room, or words to that effect.

Building under constrained circumstances - yeah, that's why I qualified my statement in regards to talking sharing.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33721070)

You can talk to your friends about it - in exactly the same way you could talk about lego back when you were kids, and didn't have none of this fancy interwebs.

But you can't, not in the same context of "talking" with the same people you are "playing" with. With physical Lego in the pre-interweb ages, yeah, you pretty much needed to be in the same place with your friends. But now, your friends might not be in the same room, they might be in another country. And this game actively tries to stop you from interacting with your friends.

If you were to reverse your analogy, it would be like if you had your friends over to build Lego with you, but your mother prevented any of you saying the words "red brick" or "build another one" under threat of a beating.

I'm not sure what to conclude from your comments - do you think that children should be restricted from having friends who don't live in the same neighborhood as one another?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#33721320)

I'm not drawing an analogy. With offline lego, you couldn't talk to people across long distances. With online lego, you can't (effectively) talk to people across long distances. Is that a stupid failure to exploit the medium? Yes. Is long-distance communication necessary to enjoy lego? No.

There were three Lego Creator [wikipedia.org] games before this that were purely offline. Were they equivelant to Mum beating you around the head when you talked because they didn't have a chat component?

I don't think this game will succeed hugely, but I think it's failure will be in the fact that it fails to recreate the physical sense of building and constructing, not due to its communications sucking.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

pilott (732030) | about 4 years ago | (#33721744)

If you had read TFA you would know that there is no restriction on chat or sharing creations with people that the parent approves. It is only when you want to share or chat with people not on your 'real friends' list that the moderation comes along.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33721098)

P.S:

I should add that the game has very little to do with "having fun with Lego." It's actually more of an indoctrination into the MMO genre. It's more about pointless quests, farming, status symbols, and raising your level than it is about building with Lego.

It's absolutely not something you would want to expose a young child to.

The interview attached to this story really says it all. The "creative director" for Lego Universe is obsessed with polygon counts because he is not creative at all. The game just follows so many gaming cliches. Why does it even have to be a 3D world built from polygons? It could have been so many different things. Instead, it is tired formulae that are poorly executed. There is almost nothing creative there.

Things you can do with physical legos (1)

Rhaban (987410) | about 4 years ago | (#33720984)

Care to give an example?

Choke because you swallowed a brick, being transported to the hospital, and having your older brother yell at you because he didn't get that brick back and you weren't old enough to play with HIS legos.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720490)

What, your parents banned you from talking about Lego with your friends, or taking it outdoors, or to a friends house to combine with their bucket of bricks?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720494)

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.

If people just wanted that they'd just rerelease Lego Creator [wikipedia.org]

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

Nesman64 (1093657) | about 4 years ago | (#33722508)

Ah, memories:
Nothing like the feeling of a red 1x1 in your foot in the middle of the night.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

markimusk (669429) | about 4 years ago | (#33725256)

The blue ones hurt even more!

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 4 years ago | (#33720482)

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.

But you're right that LEGO should be careful. If a 7 year old kid in there is told "that spaceship looks too much like something naughty", or "we don't want you building LEGO crossbows" once too often, he'll be out of there.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#33720562)

"we don't want you building LEGO crossbows"

i doubt this will happen, considering lego actually sells crossbows themselves (and spears, swords, axes, maces, rifles, pistols, blasters... etc) Sure Lego never really openly built modern warfare type stuff, but they always have opposing factions in their medieval/pirate/ninja/space themes, with copious amounts of weaponry thrown in. They may not make a main battle-tank, but they ship a mean catapult!

And short of making a few 1940s wehrmacht sets, i'm not sure if they can make sets more "evil" then the platoon of storm-troopers (dark-troopers, generals, imperial guards, AT-STs, tie fighters..) set up in my office.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (2, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 4 years ago | (#33720594)

Actually, I think the "Chat is limited to a pre-defined dictionary list" will be the most obvious and annoying restriction. Because each typo means you have technically entered a word that is not in the dictionary and your message will be blocked. Maybe a few common typos will be allowed for convenience, but I don't think that will really solve the problem.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33720792)

Actually, I think the "Chat is limited to a pre-defined dictionary list" will be the most obvious and annoying restriction. Because each typo means you have technically entered a word that is not in the dictionary and your message will be blocked.

I've found the opposite. Words that are in an English dictionary are usually banned. Words that are misspelled or not in the dictionary have a much higher chance of passing the filter.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

uncledrax (112438) | about 4 years ago | (#33721344)

The worst part I found was I've had my PASSWORD for the system rejected because apparently a sub string of it was offensive in a different language (Russian, I believe, but hey, now I know a new cuss word in Russian.. Thanks LEGOUniverse!).

I have to agree that attempting to 'chat' in game is annoying and difficult to say the least. I realize they want to create an 'all ages' environment, and I guess any in-game 'guilds' will just use a VoIP-like service anyway.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

Spellvexit (1039042) | about 4 years ago | (#33723572)

I'm a bad beta tester. I only played the beta a couple of times -- my friends and I got a few keys at Comic-Con. Perhaps they've improved things in the past couple of months that have elapsed since I abandoned the game, but I have to concur that the chat system was terribly restrictive. At the time I played, I couldn't even say people's names, like "how are you today, Nancy?" The word "wife" was banned, so I had to refer to my friend's significant other as "girl friend" (a concatenated girlfriend was also too naughty). We couldn't even complain that "This chat sucks." We entertained ourselves briefly by speaking like cavemen, which really was about the only language you could speak. For a massively multiplayer online game, it felt like we were robbed of one of the primary features of a purportedly social game.

Perhaps it's gotten better, though. I know for a while, even question marks weren't legal.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | about 4 years ago | (#33725058)

As far as I know, question marks are legal now, but it hasn't gotten much better. Almost all forms of number words (and their corresponding numerical representations) are still banned, and a lot of quest-objective words are off limits as well.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

BlackBloq (702158) | about 4 years ago | (#33726640)

You don't have kids. Simple as that.

Younger kids won't know what they missing (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 4 years ago | (#33720734)

and older kids who do won't be missed.

Censorship is sometimes a requirement in a society who use the anonymity of the internet to be dicks. People also forever underestimate the desire of many people to play in environments free from jerks. Let alone keep them away from their kids. When growing up jerks tended to be hauled off by parents or teachers. We have gone from real playgrounds to virtual ones but we still need supervision.

Re:Younger kids won't know what they missing (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33720824)

People also forever underestimate the desire of many people to play in environments free from jerks. Let alone keep them away from their kids.

The problem is that the Lego MMO's system is much more inclined to create jerks than to dissuade them. It's extremely fucked up. You're probably imagining it as some kind of utopian system that makes everybody nice. But in reality, the restrictions cause so much trouble that it's basically asking to take griefing to a whole new level.

Bottom line is: if you are so worried about your child's social interactions online or otherwise, why would you even let them near an MMO, even if it is dumbed-down to be supposedly "kid friendly"? It's a recipe for disaster, whichever way you look at it.

You're either going to create kids who are so devious that they can torture other kids in even the most controlled settings, or you're going to create kids who are so hypersensitive that they can't survive life outside of a Fisher-Price world.

False choices (1)

voss (52565) | about 4 years ago | (#33721224)

A parent shouldnt have to make a choice for a 5 year old between being a sociopath and a bubble boy. There is no free speech right
to show virtual wangs to children. In fact the free speech right is on LEGO's side. Its their content and their right to make editorial decisions about how their game should function. That IS free speech, the right of the editor to decide what they will publish and not publish.

This is not an adult MMO it is specifically designed for kids. Mmos are part of life now, and there should be some
kid friendly ones. Its no different from an editor of a childrens magazine deciding to not publish someones graphic artwork.

Re:Younger kids won't know what they missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720842)

What Candyland did you grow up in?

There were dicks and jerks in school through and through and I knew their names. Dicks and jerks will be dicks and jerks regardless of anonymity or not.

Re:Younger kids won't know what they missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33722796)

Well said - mod parent up

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720942)

I was also in the beta. Trust me, you'll get bored of the shallow, crappy gameplay long before you even notice the censorship.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33721482)

From what I understand there will be an age verification system which determines which "chat" you use. Young children will be on the closely watched (i.e. humans and machine keeping an eye out to prevent the wrong sort of personal information release) white list only system, where older people will be on a more open chat with only black-listed words forbidden.

Beta's been fun

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 4 years ago | (#33722244)

Boo hoo... You wont be able to get away with building a dong. All the aspirations of children around the world have been crushed! Apparently you've reached the limits of your imagination quite quickly.

I find it rather obnoxious how offended people get when they aren't allowed to do something offensive or lewd. Do these things define your existence? You can't just once accept that people might not want to be exposed to this, especially in a kid's game?

Personally, I wouldn't lose any sleep if my daughter came across this sort of thing but I do find it ridiculous how immature people get about having this insatiable need for "mature" content.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 4 years ago | (#33722404)

If you read the article, they actually seem to have a halfway decent compromise going.

Essentially, you can be un-censored and un-reviewed in anything you say or share with people on your friend's list, it's just public chat and anything shared for general consumption that gets reviewed. Which seems not intolerable for a kid's game.

So you and your friend can make giant lego penis starships, you just can't go park them in front of the city gates. At least, that's what the developer seemed to be saying.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 4 years ago | (#33720456)

I wouldn't rely on whitelists to restrain human language. Innuendo will evolve faster than the mods can keep up with it. It's probably fine for your 7 year old, who's probably not linguistically sophisticated enough to understand that sort of thing, but older kids will be able to subvert that sort of stuff without too much trouble.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

Eivind (15695) | about 4 years ago | (#33720602)

Certainly. Letting humans communicate, but preventing them from saying "bad things" by way of black or whitelists, or even pre-determined phrases (if you can call that communication at all) is a lost battle.

How'd the disney-story go again ?

I want to put my strong giraffe in your fluffy rabbit ?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720586)

"Giant lego penises" - made of lego bricks by lego pricks

Re:Offensive content ... or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33721068)

"I was never aware that lingams [wikipedia.org] were obscene, until a westerner pointed it out to me" - Mahatma Gandhi.

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 years ago | (#33721622)

Could enough user conspire to build structures that seem innocuous on their own but which make an incredibly giant penis when viewed from above?

Re:Offensive content ... or not (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | about 4 years ago | (#33724986)

Chat is limited to a pre-defined dictionary list.

Indeed, and it's why I haven't bothered to *use* the in-game chat. It's useless. I was trying to get another player to work with me to get one of the goodies, and I couldn't tell him "we need to build all four at the same time", because "four" is not in the dictionary. Indeed, almost none of the number words (or numeric representations) are in the dictionary.

Every single time I try to use the chat to either ask for help or get help from another player, I end up having to say it in the most roundabout way possible, in broken English. LEGO's chat is completely useless.

That said, the nostalgia alone makes the game fairly fun :)

Allowing creativity to flow (1)

Tar-Alcarin (1325441) | about 4 years ago | (#33720332)

If they can make it open enough (and dialing the censorship back to a bare minimum) so as to harness the incredible creativity that's seen in all the Minecraft videos online, then they may be onto a winning formula.
Because that game is more than a little bit addictive.

Minecraft is already doign this (3, Insightful)

emj (15659) | about 4 years ago | (#33720364)

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

Re:Minecraft is already doign this (2, Funny)

trooperer (1305425) | about 4 years ago | (#33720612)

Minecraft should be made contraband, just like Heroin

Re:Minecraft is already doign this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33722820)

Haha agreed.

And to emj: Minecraft isn't doing "fine" in that it can run indefinitely without issues. The servers were down just yesterday, which included the authentication server for running personal servers. So if you own the game and have your own server hosted you can't play on it if the auth server is down.

The servers require massive amounts of memory and CPU usage spikes if you have more than a handful of players. These are all things that Mark is working on. I have faith in his abilities and in the game which is why I bought it. I'm just this game is not without issues.

I think its popularity has certainly increased over the last few days since I've started to play, but the game has been out much much longer than that. The guy is making a fortune that is for sure, especially since you pay in Euros.

At any rate I have faith in the game and loved supporting him with my purchase. I guess being a jr dev has changed my mindset about certain things.

Re:Minecraft is already doign this (5, Funny)

Supurcell (834022) | about 4 years ago | (#33720784)

I just started playing Minecraft two weeks ago. Last weekend I joined my first public server with a buddy of mine. Fantastic creations as far as the eye could see; monstrous spires that tickled the clouds and pyramids made of solid gold. That's when my friend turned to me and asked what we should make. I told him we should build a penis.

Re:Minecraft is already doign this (2, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 4 years ago | (#33721592)

Better yet, find a lava flow source and make that be in the hole at the end of the penis. Call it Mount Gonorrhea.

Blockland was already doing this in 2007 (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 4 years ago | (#33721784)

Blockland [blockland.us] is more LEGO-like than Minecraft, and has been doing this since 2007.

Vehicles and a character designer are the main advantages that Blockland has over Minecraft.
What it lacks over Minecraft is you don't craft stuff so much as interact with bricks in the environment.

The lights and guns and bows and what not are a nice touch though. It feels more like the LEGO Starwars/Indie games than a Minecraft clone.

Complexity of block rendering. (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

Henour (1513727) | about 4 years ago | (#33720450)

WoW Avatars (without equipment) are not really complex model wise, so i can imagine that to be true. If you take an WoW character with some fanc gear equipt i'm sure the equation is moot. (As each piece probably has more polygons then the Avatar itself :o)

Sounds more like sheer incompetence (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#33720746)

WoW Avatars (without equipment) are not really complex model wise, so i can imagine that to be true. If you take an WoW character with some fanc gear equipt i'm sure the equation is moot. (As each piece probably has more polygons then the Avatar itself :o)

1. As someone who's dabbled into 3D modelling, you'd be surprised how fast the polygons go into something that actually doesn't look all that detailed. Especially if you make it for 1920x1200 screens, not for ye olde 320x200 VGA mode. You can sink a few hundreds into a face alone just so it doesn't look offensive, much less look good.

Then comes even the basic equipment a WoW character has. I'm not even talking about epic equipment. Just your basic curved blade can east up anywhere between a hundred and a couple hundred polygons just so it doesn't look like it's made of abrupt angles. Etc.

And generally, while the WoW characters do look cartoonish, they're not particularly low detail by my guess. Sure, they're not Doom 4 class, but they're not Quake 1 either, if you get my drift. At a wild guess, I'm guessing even a newbie avatar would have a couple thousand triangles.

Which brings me to the point:

2. How do you actually reach twice that with a freaking basic lego brick, other than sheer incompetence? I mean, Jesus Haploid Christ, I was feeling like a noob because my detailed weapons were in the several hundreds range, and these guys are talking several thousands for a freaking lego brick. How does one _do_ that?

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.

Note that so far it's just assuming the most basic 3d rendering engine. With normal maps you can make things look equally round with half that number of polygons. You just model it in this high polycount, generate the normal map, then reduce the count of the actual model.

So, really, how does one reach twice the polycount of a WoW avatar other than sheer cluelessness? It reminds me of the daikatana story where a newbie artist was asked to draw an arrow for the crossbow, and painted an IIRC 2048 pixel wide bitmap for it.

3. And, really, anyone who's played WoW or any other MMO can tell you that things can get really annoying when you have 1000 characters on your screen. Think the old Ironforge, back when it had the only auction house. There were people who had a slideshow there or their computer crashed. Or I remember an event on Anarchy Online, waay back, when they actually told people to look at the ground to avoid a crash because of too many people. (Yeah, smart idea to have a major event where everyone only sees their own feet.)

The prospect of having several creations made of thousands of bricks, each of which has several thousand triangles, on the screen should make anyone who has a clue wonder if they're doing it right.

Re:Sounds more like sheer incompetence (3, Insightful)

damien_kane (519267) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Still sounds stupid to me (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#33721886)

Actually, it still sounds stupid to me, although more in the way of whatever were they thinking when they based an MMO on that.

Even if you remove the bits used in connections, there will still be plenty which aren't. As a trivial example, any sloped roof made of Lego bricks will still be a huge brush of nubs.

Basically think even a small city like Stormwind, if it were made of Lego. Even after removing the bits used in actual connections, you're still left with several million polygons just in nubs and cylinders, on top of what the same city would have if built otherwise.

Re:Still sounds stupid to me (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 years ago | (#33724174)

There are some aspects that textures can simulate, e.g. the slope bricks' rough surface.

But the initial assumption of 16 sides to a circle (both on top and on bottom) is probably on the low side. Most 3D engines get away with it because they use fancy texturing to simulate the smoothness of the circle. But with so many studs and bottom tubes on the screen at one time , I have to wonder if this trick is feasible.

In LDraw, the low-resolution circles are 16-sided, and they're not great. The high-resolution circles are 48-sided, and look far better. I'll bet the real number is somewhere in between.

Re:Sounds more like sheer incompetence (1)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#33722510)

Add in the LEGO logo on each nub, as raised text, and you've added a lot more polygons.

This is what bumpmaps are for. You shouldn't be looking at them closely enough to see they aren't actually raised.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#33720570)

the brick itself is simple, with six sides of two polys each, but the nubs on top, which are round, probably eat up a lot of polys. And in this day and age they probably felt make the round nub an octogon just isnt good enough anymore, the bottom shape is even more complicated

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 4 years ago | (#33720930)

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.

Surely you'd do the logo (and any surface texture) with a bumpmap?

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720954)

I'm not a 3d modeler. Just a system administrator with programming background. But I would not be sure the manager would be happy with a bump map in that scenario. a bump map does not protrude from the polygon like the logo on the real brick does. Manager tend to be very picky about this kind of nonsense.

It's just a theory anyway. Since they do have a ridiculous high polygon count there has to be some reason.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33721728)

I'm not a 3d modeler. Just a system administrator with programming background. But I would not be sure the manager would be happy with a bump map in that scenario. a bump map does not protrude from the polygon like the logo on the real brick does.

It most certainly does, at least, in any context you should be using it, it appears to, which for our purposes is the same thing. Unless they let you zoom so close to the brick that it fills your whole screen, a bumpmap would be totally adequate.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33721134)

Surely you'd do the logo (and any surface texture) with a bumpmap?

A bump-map is just another type of texture-map.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

Rhys (96510) | about 4 years ago | (#33722172)

Most likely, no, they're doing it right. Circles/spheres are hard on the poly count. Each stud on top, plus the offset lock rings on the bottom (which are hollow too, so they count twice) is a circle that needs to be high poly so it doesn't look 'wrong'.

The LEGO Group is big about that sort of thing.

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

llZENll (545605) | about 4 years ago | (#33723806)

Your answer is already in the article. Basically LEGO will not allow their bricks to be simplified to simple 6 sided cubes.

"LEGO is uncompromising about how those need to look."

Re:Complexity of block rendering. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 years ago | (#33725874)

That's about right, if you show the detail of a block in free space. Texture mapping doesn't help much for Lego blocks.

However, as soon as a Lego block meshes with another Lego block, you can drop most of the now-interior detail. A block in a wall comes down to one rectangle on each side. Big flat areas can be reduced to texture-mapped rectangles covering many blocks. From a distance, you can drop the model of a block top or bottom to a rectangle with a bump map.

Worst case is a fly-through over a simple random pile of blocks. All the exterior detail shows, and the collision detection load is high.

I object (0, Flamebait)

Yosho-sama (800703) | about 4 years ago | (#33720410)

Legos are most fun for adults when you are making 12 inch long yellow and red block cocks.

Re:I object (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 years ago | (#33720538)

Legos are most fun for adults when you are making 12 inch long yellow and red block cocks.

Only if you have an unnatural interest in poultry.

Re:I object (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33721992)

Only if you have an unnatural interest in poultry

Or an interest in unusual poultry. (SFW) [seankenney.com]

*My* LEGO creations (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | about 4 years ago | (#33725000)

My lego creations were often militaristic, rarely if ever sexually perverted. :P

Second Life did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720454)

Yeah, because this issue is completely new to multiplayer environments.... *cough*Second Life*cough*between 15,000 and 40,000 discrete objects per simulator*cough*.
We already have "Simpsons did it" but I think we should introduce "Second Life did it"

WWOT fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720584)

something done is perhaps more grandiose users. BSD/OS get tough. I hope already dead. It is about a project Are about 7000/5 [8ero-oKnline.org]. it racist for a

The Lego MMO is Utterly Shit (3, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33720624)

I got the feeling playing it that the developers just aren't competent. Sure, it was a Beta, but it was horrifically bad.

As I noted up-thread, the "child friendly" measures are so out of control that they offend the intelligence of even the most stupid people. It's almost an insult to humanity and the wonderful vehicle of verbal communication we have evolved. It's absolutely an insult to the spirit of Lego. I wonder if the upper levels of management have any idea how this game is dragging the good name of Lego through the sewer. It is absolutely antithetical to what Lego represents to many of us: creativity, fun, ingenuity and quality.

You can actually type improperly-spelled gibberish into the chat system, and it will allow this through, before it allows a properly spelled polite sentence. And it gets crazier. You can't even give this feedback and register your objection on the game's forums, because they have a ridiculous character limit, and anything meaningful that is said will be censored. Absolutely horrific.

Re:The Lego MMO is Utterly Shit (3, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:The Lego MMO is Utterly Shit (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 4 years ago | (#33721122)

It may seem offensive, but it is aimed at kids and I bet the sentences that you can write carefully avoid "The pool's closed", "I'd hit that" and "For the lulz".

Re:The Lego MMO is Utterly Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33723058)

"You can actually type improperly-spelled gibberish into the chat system, and it will allow this through"
This is a straight lie. I've played the beta, and improperly spelled words do not pass the filters. The word must exist in the game's "dictionary" to be passed through the filters.

Re:The Lego MMO is Utterly Shit (1)

Swanktastic (109747) | about 4 years ago | (#33726322)

The game's fine. It's got the exact same level of controls that every other kid-targeted MMO does. The people who are really disappointed with this game are adults who were hoping this was going to have the complexity of WoW/Eve/etc in a Lego-themed environment. I played the beta for a weekend and it really wasn't my cup of tea, but I can certainly see kids loving it the same way they love Lego Star Wars video games.

By the way, based on your other posts about Lego Universe and this one, I'm not surprised you were censored on the Lego forums. You have an extremely derogatory and insulting writing style.

Netdevil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33720736)

Just look at netdevil's other forays into the mmo world. If they don't shoot this one in the head, it will likely die from apathy.

That said, I sincerely hope this will be the first MMO they actually give a shit about, it has potential to be a lot of fun for a lot of people.

Hello, we've designed an "M"MO that doesn't scale! (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#33720754)

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.

Re:Hello, we've designed an "M"MO that doesn't sca (1)

schn (1795404) | about 4 years ago | (#33720900)

I'm sure 4chan can come up with some variations of p3|\|15 that will make it through the filter.

Re:Hello, we've designed an "M"MO that doesn't sca (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33723424)

Never underestimate the power of 4chan. They will drown you under their flood of shemale anime porn.

This just in! (1)

Supurcell (834022) | about 4 years ago | (#33720794)

This just in: LEGO MMO against penile erections.

Censorship? (1)

andyh-rayleigh (512868) | about 4 years ago | (#33720874)

1) Create a set of objects representing the letters of the alphabet.

2) Produce as many of these as necessary

3) Use to form words bypassing the chat censorship

4) ????

5) Profit!!!

Anyone heard of Roblox? (2, Interesting)

Keerok (870468) | about 4 years ago | (#33721200)

My 12 year old plays it, a lot. I can't get into it (it seems horribly broken sometimes), but they have managed to keep it fairly clean, the chat hasn't yet gotten out of hand, some of the creations are quite nice, and my son can now type about 60-70 wpm. Its crazy the number of Games kids have created, and the apparent ease that a kid can pick up the tools and get creating. Its even getting my son interested in Lua scripting, which is quite neat.

A Tale of Two Betas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33723214)

I have recently been a part of two MMO betas: the Lord of the Rings Online F2P beta test, and the LEGO Universe private beta. I'm posting anonymously because I have no desire to get sued, and because I'd like to not get blacklisted.

Turbine did a great job with the LOTRO beta. Pretty much all of the bugs I reported in the early phases got fixed. The forums were very active, and while there was a predictable amount of bitching and moaning, nobody was censored and people were allowed to voice their concerns. Turbine, to their credit, made several adjustments based on the feedback.

LEGO Universe is a complete mess. Basic problems that even 15-year old MMOs have addressed (i.e. kill stealing) are unaddressed. The entire game's content can be completely mastered in a weekend or two. Posting in the beta forums is useless because the forum is moderated and limited to 600 characters per post. Moderation is inconsistent, as posts similar to mine got through but I had several posts rejected with no reason given.

I was interested in LU on the premise of building stuff and sharing creations, but this feature seems to have gotten the least amount of work. Building is a complete disaster. You put the pieces together with your avatar ("Minifigure"), so whatever you build has to be assembled from the bottom up. You can also build with models, but the model pieces don't fit together properly. The action scripting is hilariously bad, allowing you to assign actions that are physically impossible with the pieces.

Another user has already hilighted the hilariously bad chat filter that blocks out fun things like game character names and numbers. Yes, numbers. No digits, or spelling out digits. This makes it impossible to coordinate teams together.

Lego Universe is going to go the way of APB, shut down within a month or two because there is not enough content to support 30 hours, much less 30 days of play.

Been there done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33723264)

So it'll be minecraft but the blocks will be replaced with brightly colored plastic?

How's the game? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 4 years ago | (#33723592)

I know it is by designed for young people, but is it fun for adults without kids/children? I have beta access, but read that it isn't fun. :(

Re:How's the game? (1)

HanClinto (621615) | about 4 years ago | (#33726348)

I played through a fair chunk of the beta with my brother-in-law. It got kindof boring when we had maxed the endgame, but it was still fun to go in and hunt dragons and work on building up my second tier of equipment. There is a TON of stuff to collect in the game, and the achievements were fun (I didn't max nearly all of those). Lots to do and explore, and it was getting better every week in the beta as far as making it more fun to coop with friends. Not a traditional MMO by any means, but if you can enjoy "light" MMOs like Puzzle Pirates and whatnot (and particularly if you enjoyed the Traveler's Tale games), then I felt it was fun (even for an adult) -- but especially if you play alongside kids. It was fun for my brother-in-law to build up the character, and his sons enjoyed playing with all of the higher end equipment.

Re:How's the game? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 4 years ago | (#33726516)

Interesting. I don't think I have played Puzzle Pirates and Traveler's Tale games before. I play WoW, Warhammer Online, Star Trek Online, SW:G, etc. Those were cool but didn't last long for me due to lack of free time, repetitive, and don't like subscriptions. ;)

Re:How's the game? (1)

HanClinto (621615) | about 4 years ago | (#33727124)

If you don't like subscriptions (like me) and are able to play with most of your friends locally, then I think I could have quite a bit of fun just sticking with the Travelers Tale games (Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, etc).

The beta was a good time, and especially if I had remote friends that I wanted to play a family-friendly online game with, I'd definitely consider subscribing.

Re:How's the game? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 4 years ago | (#33727160)

Oh, Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, etc. I have played their playable demonstration/demos. on Windows/PC. They're decent, but don't last long for me. Basically, I wouldn't get the full games to play. ;)

Re:How's the game? (1)

HanClinto (621615) | about 4 years ago | (#33727254)

Okay, yeah. If you're not a fan enough of LEGO games to even buy LEGO Star Wars, then there's almost no way you'll find LEGO Universe worth it. :)

Possible Patent (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 4 years ago | (#33725410)

From TFA:

"We came up with this idea of best friends, which I think is a really cool, innovative concept."

You had better patent this "best friends" idea before Jeff Bezos does!

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