Eurogamer: What about the payment system for the game?
Mark Hansen: It will be a subscription model. I think micro-transactions are not what we want to do. For this game, the subscription model works best.
Eurogamer: World of Warcraft still dominates the market, even though it was released years ago and other MMOs have since come and gone. Does LEGO Universe have the power to break Blizzard's dominance?
Mark Hansen: I don't think we're in there to topple World of Warcraft, but I think LEGO Universe has the ability to be at the top. Just the potential for what you can do with this game and where you can go with it... The feedback that we get and the following that we have shows how strong it is. If you think about LEGO, it can be any game that's out there. There isn't a game this game can't be.
Eurogamer: Going back to the gameplay, you've previously discussed how players will be able to construct things within the game...
Mark Hansen: Yes, we're going to have multiple levels of building. You'll have very simple, small items to build, models which you put together for faster build, all the way up to brick-by-brick building.
Ryan Seabury: It's really a complexity problem. Have you ever messed around with building virtually, like with LEGO Digital Designer? It's difficult. The thing about working with bricks in real life is there's a tangible reward. That doesn't necessarily translate well to the computer screen.
One of the cool things that Traveler's Tales game has uncovered was this idea of the quick-build... Is it creative? No, but it's a great way to introduce you to the concept of putting things together in a LEGO fashion. We want to build on top of that so we build in more levels of complexity. But we also empower you more, so modules start coming together. It's not just a single brick but you start combining things in new ways, then you can get all the way up to designing from scratch. Ultimately our vision is to bring those creations to life - not just to create cool looking models, but things that actually do something.
Eurogamer: But when you give people that level of freedom, you encounter the issue of moderation. With such a kid-friendly game, how do you stop people from, say, building giant nobs, which is frankly what some of our readers would do?
Mark Hansen: This is where we have a lot of experience. We've been working with digital tools and moderation for the last six or seven years, and we have some really cool technology that will be able to moderate this material relatively quickly. We're still working on technology to improve that all the time. We're very aware of that.
Eurogamer: Can players allow other people to modify their models, or protect them from being altered?
Mark Hansen: Yes. You can lock your models, you're the one who puts it out to the world so you decide which characteristics the model will have. You can allow access to other people to come in and destroy and break it up. It's your world.
Ryan Seabury: You get to write the rules.
Eurogamer: I'm struggling to envision how you fit all this stuff people have made into the world. What happens if I decide I want to build a massive palace - is there room for that? What if everyone else is building big stuff at the same time? How does it all fit together?
Ryan Seabury: In broad strokes, there's a property system. You can earn property over time, and that's the area where you can bring your content to life in that sense. Because you're right - if I just plopped a castle in the middle of ninja land and nobody could walk around it, obviously that breaks the gameplay for everybody.
Eurogamer: And you'd have a lot of unhappy ninjas on your hands. So you're saying players will have their own plot of land where they can build stuff?
Ryan Seabury: In essence, yes.
Eurogamer: So I could make Ellieworld, where I just build stuff I like, and other players could come and visit?
Mark Hansen: Yes, exactly. That's the creativity of LEGO, that's exactly want we want to get across... We want kids and all fans who love LEGO to be able to create their worlds. It isn't just people saying, "Here, this is exactly what your LEGO world is going to be, done by LEGO". It's very easy to do with IPs because you're telling a story and it's someone's perception of that.
LEGO itself is about telling that story just enough to excite people, to expand their world. We're giving little snippets, but we want them to take what they do in the physical space and do it in the virtual space and just expand it - share it with people, collaborate with their friends, build and expand the world.