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...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Faction Leader Design: Duke Exeter, Sentinel

Our games noble hero and leader of the Sentinel faction, Duke Exeter, was one of the first faction based characters we started playing around with. His look went through many a' change...

Final approved concept for Duke.

At one point Duke had a lighsaber-ish sword AND a laser gun. Oh, and a beard.

Getting closer, anime larp'ing sword and all. :P

Flowing brunette hair and killer mustache? I liked it.

Yes, Sentinel was also red at one point.

Rough sketches for Duke.

Faction Leader Design: Doc Overbuild, Assembly

Leading up the Assembly faction is odd-ball scientist Doctor Overbuild. Originally called Doctor Brickmaster, he was supposed to be a solid mix of Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future and Egon Spangler from Ghostbusters. Later, we moved him in to a much more tech feel to get cooler accessories, also taking some cues from Spiderman's Doc Oc.

Final approved concept for Doc Overbuild.

Plan sheet for Doc's torso accessory.

The tech re-design. We ultimately eliminated the two lower mechanical arms due to technical limitations. The colors of the Assembly faction also switched from a red theme to the final orange. This sheet also shows plans for various head accessories for Doc.

Early color design for Doc Brickmaster.

Rough Exploration sketches for Doc Brickmaster.

Faction Leader Design: Hael Storm, Venture

Hael Storm, fearless adventurer and leader of none other than The Venture League faction. What else could he be but a pirate? I bet you didn't know that once upon a time Hael was a female pirate named Gail Storm... This changed when we added Vanda to the line-up. Notice the various spellings of 'Hael' in the concepts - we were not sure how we wanted to spell his name once I started re-designing the character to be a male. Also, Hael holds the same last name as LU artist Nate Storm.

Final approved concept for Hael.

When we decided to make this character male I had to re-design his head - the body was easy as we just removed the curves. :P Also, I based these head designs on LU concept/character artist Brett Nienburg - our very own scruffy, dread-headed dreamboat.

This was the final design for Gail...

Development sketches for Gail.

Faction Leader Design: Vanda Darkflame, Paradox

Vanda Darkflame was our replacement character for Baron Typhonus - who ultimately becomes the Darkitect. She represents the Paradox faction, which served as the closest a player could get to joining an 'evil' faction, as they dabbled and experimented with the energies of the Maelstrom. She is, of course, a kick-butt ninja-type character...

The final approved concept for Vanda.

Thought we were there - still too dark. Notice the older Paradox branding.

First color pass - we decided this design was way too aggressive.

A couple sheets of rough explorations for Vanda.