Interview with Eric Kingsley (LEGO Universe Partner Team Leader)

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Interview with Eric Kingsley (LEGO Universe Partner Team Leader)

Post by Soundragon on Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:29 am

Well, if you haven't found it yet, is a website created by the official developers of Moonbase, a world in LEGO Universe set to be released on/around November 9.

Eric Kingsley, the Team Leader of the LUPs Team, the A-Team, was nice enough to allow me to interview him about his experience as an LUP, and Moonbase.

Here's the interview, enjoy! Smile

Q. So the LUPs were originally asked to come together in 2006, right? Were you excited to be among those who were invited to be a part of the LUPs?

Yes, in late 2006 a "test group" of 5 fans were asked to participate in a "secret" project. LEGO wouldn't even tell us what the project was until we agreed to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). So in a way I joined without even knowing what the project was. After finding out what LEGO Universe was it was exciting but at that time it was just an idea, there was no game yet.
Q. Did you guys receive some sort of virtual tools to make your ideas a virtual reality right off the bat, or were you limited to real building alone at the time?

Actually, at first we didn't get any tools other than what any fan can download for free. LEGO Digital Designer and MLCad from were the building tools we were asked to use. In fact I believe the first fans asked were asked because they were known to be good using both tools. Later on we did get access to a tool for terrain editing etc.
Q. The A-Team is just one of a few LUP teams. Were you guys asked to form teams in 2006, or was that a personal decision made later on?

At first there was only the 5 of us so there were no "teams". By the middle of 2007 I believe about 50 fans had been asked to be a part of the project. At that time we broke into five, ten person teams. The A-Team had the original fans with me as the team lead plus 5 new fans. Because most of us were the first LUPs we were called the "Alpha LUPs" which morphed into the "A-Team".
Q. When was the A-Team itself founded?

The Middle of 2007 although over the course of the project team members left and were added. At the moment I believe there are only 3 original A-Team members still on the team.
Q. Was Moonbase your first idea, or were some other concepts tossed around? When did the idea of Moonbase originate?

Moonbase was not our first idea. Actually at first we were told we would be asked to create LEGO models based off of Artist conceptual drawings. That was pretty cool too but eventually they changed the scope of the project to be team zones. Our first idea was based on an island that had once had modern technology but had regressed. The goal was to find an underground city in a Volcano. For many reasons, some technical, some personal preference we changed focus.

Mostly we changed to Moonbase because myself and one other member were big Classic Space fans growing up and wanted to give that a try.
Q. During the short time that Starbase opened during Beta, there was a launchpad that led to a world known as MBL Station. Was this world the same as Moonbase? Or was it another world in planning?

That is hard for me to answer as it was the Beta. Who knows what placeholders were put in place. I do know there is no MBL (or WBL) Station (WBL stands for World Builder League which is a subset of LUP which stands for LEGO User Partner, I am a member of both groups). The Moonbase has always been the Moonbase. We had thought about calling it the "Lunar Exploration and Galactic Observatory" or L.E.G.O. for short but decided not to.
Q. What do you think minifigures will enjoy most about Moonbase?

Easy, the reduced gravity. Gravity on the Moonbase will be half the gravity of anywhere else in LEGO Universe. Be warned that there is a slight bug NetDevil is fixing with the gravity and for the first week or two after the map goes live you could lose the low gravity effect if you use advanced weapons. You don't need them yet anyway so just use basic weapons. NetDevil never thought someone would try and change the gravity setting for an entire map Big Grin.
Q. You mentioned a group called the Piratron, and pests known as Grabbles; while these appear to be the enemies planned for release along with Moonbase initially, are there any plans to add some Maelstrom later on?

At the moment no. One of the cool parts about this project is that these maps and zones are totally ours to do with as we please. That means our story lines can and will diverge significantly from the main game. Some teams do use Maelstrom in their levels however.
Q. How does it feel to know that thousands (if not more) of minifigures will be playing in and enjoying a virtual world that you guys created?

That is probably the coolest thing about this and the main reason I have remained a LUP for so long.
Q. Has NetDevil/LEGO given you guys the thumbs up to create more projects if you ever decide to? If so, do you see the A-Team working on any more worlds down the road?

Short answers are Yes and Yes. We can do almost anything we want and the tools allow. That said the A-Team feels like the Moonbase is highly expandable and will probably stick to that for the foreseeable future.
Q. Was Moonbase ever different in appearance than it will be on opening day of the world, or has it always looked the same?

It was definitely different. A little inside secret to the Moonbase just for your readers...

To create terrain maps you always start out with a flat terrain that you have to manipulate to add mountains, or in our case craters. This was taking us forever and it didn't look very "natural". The tool we use allows for exporting and importing greyscale bitmaps for manipulation with other tools. Well I actually found greyscale height field maps of Mars taken by orbiting satellites that imported directly into the tool. So all the terrain you will be exploring is only very slightly altered Mars terrain. Your minifigs are in a way the first to ever walk on Mars!
Q. Do you (or your team members) ever play LEGO Universe for fun, or do you only use the game to work on Moonbase?

Some of both. I personally am a LEGO fan first and not much of a gamer so I don't play often. I do intend to be in game fairly often in the Moonbase just to see what is up though.
Q. Do you guys have your own in-game properties?

Yes, well anyone can right Big Grin. That said I was part of an in-house property design contest. My property will be featured as the winner of "Best use of Behaviors". You will know it when you see it, there is a big "" billboard I snuck in.
Q. I'm guessing you don't have to pay for LEGO Universe since you were chosen to develop part of it, but if you DID have to pay for it (and if you weren't an LUP) would you buy it?

Ouch! Excellent question! First we do get the game for at least an extended introductory period as thanks for being in the program but for that to continue we have to stay with the program it isn't for life or anything. Would I pay? I honestly don't know, like I said I am not a gamer but I do have a 10 year old son so yeah I guess we would have gotten the game for a little while even if I didn't play.
Q. Do you still enjoy being an LUP?

Another great question! Put it this way, being a LUP isn't all fun and games. There are frustrations and times when I said "why am I doing this". I still enjoy it enough to want to stay with it through the next expansion. Besides I fronted the time and effort to get up and running.
Q. Have you made any new friends with some of the other LUPs?

Yes I made many new friends as a LUP.
Q. Last question - why did you guys choose the name A-Team for your team? Are you guys fans of the show?

Wink It is a classic Double Entendre. We are the A-Team because we were the first "Alpha" LUPs but many of us, including myself were big fans of the show as well.

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Re: Interview with Eric Kingsley (LEGO Universe Partner Team Leader)

Post by steelersrule12 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:28 pm

Awesome!!!! This is gold! Wink Hopefully i can buy the 1 month subscription soon. I really want to go to moonbase even more after seeing this.
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