Eurogamer: What can you tell us about the storyline you've devised?
Ryan Seabury: In broad strokes it's an epic struggle between good and evil. It's really more about creativity versus chaos. You bring order to the universe, and you're there to help in that conflict.
We did feel very strongly that we didn't just want this to be a purely sandbox world. I've been doing online worlds since the nineties, and there were things back then... Even MUDs...
Eurogamer: I didn't even know there were online worlds in the nineties.
Ryan Seabury: Yes, there were, and a lot of them were very interesting. Technologically you could create user-generated content. But I felt there was always this problem where you never had an attachment to the world. I didn't emotionally care about why I was there. I just got in, it felt like a toy, but... Meh.
It's like handing someone a blank piece of paper and saying, "Draw something". Hmm. But if I say, "Draw an elephant," now you have a starting point. It was important for us to have a meaningful, coherent experience, something that could rationally explain how all these play themes could fit together. From there you can create your own stories.
I've always felt MMOs in general, even the ones that have stronger narrative elements to them, it's still really about your story. When I play WOW, I focus less on the narrative than the story I created with the people I played with that day. We've got a similar thing going on.
Eurogamer: So there will be structured missions, fetch quests and so on?
Ryan Seabury: Free, directed and problem-solving are the three academic types of play we talk about a lot. So yes, part of the directed play stuff is certainly missions, achievements and things like that.
Eurogamer: What about combat? Again, as it's such a kid-friendly title, presumably there's no blood and guts, but what about weapons?
Mark Hansen: Weapons are accessories we have in our playsets already. We're not going to have blood of any kind. It will be just like all the games we've done before, the models and the mini-figures break apart. The humour element will be there.
Ryan Seabury: It's pretty fun to see all the different ways a mini-figure can get smashed. So there will combat in the game, that was one of the first things we saw when we started talking to kids - especially 12-year-old boys. That's what they love to do. And frankly, so do 30-year-old boys.
Eurogamer: Is LEGO Universe just in development for PC?
Mark Hansen: [Long pause]
Eurogamer: That's an answer right there...
Mark Hansen: We know right now that we will be coming out on PC and Mac. We know that.
Eurogamer: So you're considering the console options?
Ryan Seabury: [Long pause]
Mark Hansen: We're considering them. There are a lot of issues with console right now, a lot of MMOs trying to figure out how to get onto them. I'm not saying we wouldn't want to be, I think we would love to be - it's just trying to find that access.
Eurogamer: Isn't Free Realms coming to PS3?
Mark Hansen: Yes, that's the whole thing. When Sony's working on that, it's like...
Eurogamer: Maybe Nintendo? Looks like a good fit to me...
Mark Hansen: Exactly. So we're very excited about that and we're very open to a lot of things to do with LEGO Universe. We know it's going to be a big hit.
Ryan Seabury is creative director at NetDevil. Mark Hansen is senior director of LEGO's Digital Play Studios. LEGO Universe will be released for PC and Mac in 2010.