NZGamer.com got the chance to chat with Doug Heder, a Producer at Warner Brothers Games to talk about TT Games’ LEGO Dimensions and the new expansion packs that are due out later this year.
Since the launch of LEGO Dimensions, just over a year ago, what has the reception been like and are there any changes to these upcoming game packs based off feedback?
Yes, we definitely take all the feedback from fans seriously. That’s pretty standard these days, especially with social media and the internet letting us keep in touch with our audience. It allows us to know what they’re thinking and what they’re playing and whether they’re having fun. That’s what most important at the end of the day. Are they having fun and are they engaged? And if not then we want to adjust and figure out what will work.
We’ve been doing LEGO Games now for over ten years so we know what works - but LEGO Dimensions is doing something new by bringing in that physical component. And not just the toys, but if you’ve played the game then you know it’s all about creative play - and that’s at the pillar of what a LEGO game should be about. We wanted our game to give as much opportunity as possible for kids to use their imagination and explore and be creative.
We’ve seen a lot of positive response to that and it’s given us inspiration to do more of these types of things with our second season of content. When you see the packs we have lined up you’ll see us building on that foundation even more.
There are some interesting choices for the new Dimensions packs coming out soon. Especially some of the 80’s inspired ones such as: E.T, The A-Team, Knight Rider, and Gremlins. A lot of kids won’t be familiar with these franchises - what is the process behind choosing these?
That’s a great question - there’s really no formal process about choosing them exactly. It really comes down to the fact that we’re all fans of these brands, and as a team we’re submitting ideas throughout the year, like “Hey, what about this?” or “If we did a pack based off this, what would it be like?”.
Some we remember as kids, and a lot of us have kids ourselves now - so they’re looking at new stuff and we’re learning from that as well. We definitely try to do a big cross section so there’s something for everybody in there. There’s properties for younger crowds, older gamers, the fan boys (and fan girls) and it spans so many different periods - and there is no rule in LEGO Dimensions.
It comes down to what the team is passionate about building and what we think fans will enjoy playing, and what’s going to really translate into fun LEGO experience. So yes, there are definitely a few titles in there, like the older Amblin properties - E.T, Gremlins and we had Back to the Future last year - but these are brands that, for me as a parent, I’m having so much fun introducing to my own kids. They’re loving them and seeing them for the first time, and it opens up these conversations and these dialogues about these great stories.
My kids see me playing a Back to the Future pack and what do we do? We sit down and watch the movies together and those are now among their top ten movies of all time. So as a parent, I get to share things that I loved as a child with my kids and vice versa - I didn’t grow up with Ninjago or Teen Titans - but my kids are playing them and now sharing them with me and we’re having a blast playing them all together.
Looking at the E.T set, that tiny LEGO phone is adorable, but what’s the play factor of it? You didn’t go with a UFO or a bicycle?
[Laughs] Well there are a couple of things we have to look at when we’re doing those models - and some of it comes down to the geniuses who design the buildable LEGO creations at the LEGO headquarters in Denmark. These guys, the master builders, are just incredible at what they do and what they can come up with. So the phone is what we call one of the “tag items” and each character comes with at least one tag item in the game. They all have to be able to transform into not only its default form, but a new additional form as well. And not only must it transform, but it must do so using all the same pieces. We don’t ever want to leave a loose brick on the ground, or on the floor. Using them all is an integral part of the LEGO brand and experience - so it’s really fascinating to go through the process.
We explore a huge number of different iterations which makes sense to the character - and we work closely with the brand, or license owners of the property - to come up with a short list of what could be an iconic model or toy that goes with it. Obviously with ET, the whole “ET phone home” thing is iconic, and if you look at what it transforms into - the second model is actually an interpretation of a home made satellite dish which he leaves in the forest that he used to communicate with his home planet. So there is an evolution there, it starts off as a simple 80’s push button phone - but it does upgrade into something more complex. And for us, it comes down to what bricks we can use, how it translates into different models and how compelling they are to the story and gameplay experience.
One of things we discovered many times, is the toy which seems so obvious to a particular character - we start with that and build it out - but then we realise that those bricks don’t work well for any other relevant model. We also want the different models to be completely different from one to the other, and not just an upgrade or slight variation to the previous one. We want each model to be really unique and special and important. We don’t want gamers to be building something that won’t be fun and purposeful in the game.
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