Welcome to Imagining LEGO Universe!

In 2006 the vision of
bringing the iconic LEGO brick to the virtual world of MMO gaming - started some years earlier by key members of The LEGO Group - began to take shape with the partnership of a small and little known Colorado based video game development studio called NetDevil.

During the five-plus year journey of development, the team at NetDevil was faced with many difficult technical and design challenges in order to bring LEGO play to the virtual space. Working along side the designing minds and programming wizards, the LEGO Universe art team, lead by Art Director Phillip Atencio, molded a visual style unmatched in the world of MMO gaming, seamlessly melding existing LEGO themes with original story developed in-house by the minds of NetDevil developers who also happened to be life long fans of the timeless plastic toy.

The conceptual design team tasked with bringing the vision of LEGO Universe to life boasted some of the most incredible talent the video game industry has to offer. Lead Concept Artist Jim Stigall guided a team of seven concept illustrators during the life of the project. Along with the help and incredible visions of Jerry Meyer, Dave Kang, Brett Nienburg, Kyle Wheeler, Richard Tran, Peter Coene, Nathan Storm, and Mike Rayhawk many many worlds and literally thousands of drawings were explored to assist the world builders, animators, character modelers, and visual effects artists bringing the three-dimensional world of LEGO Universe to life.

Millions of fans logged in daily and assumed the identity of their Minifigure avatar, virtually interacting, building, and exploring with their friends in the LEGO Universe.

Sadly, in January, 2012, after little over a year since its initial public launch, LEGO Universe was closed for good.

This blog is for you, the fans. It is a place where we, the Concept Art Team from LEGO Universe, can share with you the passion and love that was put into this wonderful game - much of it never seen before, some never meant to be shown.

Please enjoy Imagining LEGO Universe...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chunk O Rama

Jerry here again. I had an awesome time drawing these images that represent an entire content zone sitting on a planet chunk. Since the back story stated that Planet Crux (which was actually shaped like a cube) blew up and dispersed planet chunks everywhere. The goal was to explore different chunks and unlock passage to other chunks. I always found myself wondering if a planet really blew up, what would happen to the gravity? Would it divide itself equally amongst the chunks? And if so, would gravity continue to be directed to the tip of the chunk where the core used to be? Or, would the source of gravity stay put, and create a black hole of some sort? Am I totally over-analyzing this?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LEGO Universe Opening Cinematic Story Art

LEGO Universe began with a wonderful opening cinematic that helped to explain the story behind Imagination, Planet Crux and its ultimate destruction, the Maelstrom, and the corruption of The Baron (and it is also pretty cool that Patrick Stewart is the voice of our storyteller). You can watch the video here:

I've always wanted to share some of the work that went into creating this trailer, as it started, as most things in LU did, with a collaboration of the concept art team and our designers. Below, you will see the last working visual storyboard sequence I worked on for the intro cinematic. Now, keep in mind that I did around ten versions of this before work from our team was passed off to LEGO's marketing team to finish it. Also, you will notice some very big differences in the look of the characters and some of the locations. For example, when this art was done, our well known pirate hero, Hale Storm was indeed a female pirate known as Gale Storm. Duke Exeter had long, dark hair, and Doc was far less techie and much more nerdy scientist. The locations in this finished cinematic are also much more developed, showing the original Imagination Temple on Crux (heck, at the time of the story art Crux wasn't even a cube planet yet, only a flat plane square with Maelstrom creeping over its edges), and also showing the development on the land chunks of existing LU playable worlds after Crux blows up.

Why so different? I think it is both interesting and important to understand that, as organized as we all wanted to be as a development team, the whole process of creating LEGO Universe was very organic. This last set of story boards that I touched for the opening cinematic, shown here, was completed in December of 2008 - almost TWO FULL YEARS before the final cinematic's completion and release of LEGO Universe! Because of that, the story of the cinematic itself evolved even in the hands of a separate company still working in conjunction with us - for example, the two color pieces at the end, done in 2009, were quick inspiration pieces used to help add some of the content to the finished cinematic - one actually making it (the destruction of a now cubed Crux), and one not making the final cut (the team, now further developed, discovering Crux with a large hologram map instead of using the found Imagination pieces, which was developed at an later stage yet).

What I find awesome - and I hope that you will too - is that even with all of the changes the essence of the story is really still there. We knew what we were doing... I think. ;)