Back in May of 2008 I wrote this analysis of the game from documents available at the time. I was exploring the names and meanings, to get it all straight in my head and to hopefully add some insight. There were many changes made and you kind find clues to some of the paths not taken in this document.
The Lego Universe is separate from our own Universe and appears to be completly independent from it. There is no human or familiar physical connection ( such as being in scale on a child’s desktop or playroom, or in a store shelf as in the Toy Story ‘universe’ ) The place came into being on it’s own accord and has it’s own creation origins. This can draw comparisons with creation stories from myth and religion, and rightly so.
For having no tangible connexion to our environment it makes every reference to it from naming of places to thematical locations. This is not a difficult conceit and should embolden imagination and identifying with your character even further. What I’d like to explore is the references, the connotations of those references between each other and other associations that have a previous purchase that should be considered ( also to try and get the storyline sorted in my head ). From what I’ve read of the actual game play it all sounds brilliant and this has nothing to do with the in game story arc, but primarily the pre-history leading up to the time of game play.
At the beginning of time a group of beings invented the Universe out of imagination using a creation engine. That is the sum of the creation myth being put forward and if there isn’t any yet, there should be a formal response drafted to reply to the questions from any number of religious organizations. You could argue, WOW and EQ havn’t had any backlash and they have origin stories as well ( I don’t know if they do, I’m just throwing it out for the sake of arguement ) but LU is unique in being marketed to the children market and some parents can be incredibly possessive about how information is disseminated to their little ones. If you have any doubts about this then visit http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ to see how analytical and thorough parents can get about movies.
In a second age, thousands of years later 8 adventurers came together each with a key either of plastic or imagination which when combined made a map that led them to an ancient planet.
Ancient creation planets are great fantasy fodder and a few come to mind: Eden, Margrathea, the Genesis planet from Star Trek 3. Keys, maps, 8 and 4 are all solid story elements and one can make their own personal conclusions from experience.
The panic of running low on plastic being comparable to oil shortages was mentioned in the document and instantly has a political undertone. Lower gas prices isn’t something that divides anyone, it’s not like someone is pro oil shortages, but it reads as a combination between satire and political stance. I like it, good sci-fi is relevant to situations that are going on in the time they were made ( LOTR was compared to WWII, SW ANH brought together a new generation trying to move past the mistakes of the Vietnam war, though both authors would say there was no direct intention of that ) and plastic is tied intrinsically to oil.
Nexus is simply the centre of something. It’s a widly used word in fiction, music, media, electronics and there’s nothing predominately connected with it.
Nimbus is a cloud word. It’s a cloud that makes rain and is most often heard when discussing cumulonimbus which is precipatory weather. Culturally it is most easily related to the revered Nimbus broomstick from Harry Potter, featured in almost every volume.
Crux is the central aspect, from the phrase ‘the crux of the matter is…’ or some sort of puzzle. It’s also a constellation. Besides the common phrase I can’t think of any other notable cultural references.
On the planet which is the center of things, or a confounded puzzle ( the Crux ) which had the infinite well of plastic in the northern pole ( the Nexus ) which was activated by the plastic keys. There was also a creation engine, or a curtain of imagination ( like the Aurora Borealis? ) in the southern pole ( Nimbus, being a rain cloud, it’s very active and full of plenty ) activated by merging the imagination keys creating a force between them that combined the well of plenty and the power of imagination.
Prisoner with a capital P has a primary association with the 60’s seminal espionage series by the same name. Albeit, I could see the whole series easily translated into Lego, the association if not the intellectual property is made with the show. With children that isn’t going to be an issue, especially since the show and the Prisoner in LU have nothing in common, but it’s still there despite that.
Maelstrom is a giant whirlpool. A giant wall ( the Bulwark ) that contains it brings to mind the Great Wall of China, as does any incredibly huge wall.
Darkling has an impish connotation and a quick search on google images reflects this. There is no major cultural association with this and has classic possibilities written all over it. Flawed creations by an evil lord is right out of Tolkein, the orcs and trolls as pitiful copies of the elves and ents by Melkor and later by Saruman. It’s seen in other children series such as Prydain with the Cauldron born. This is an old and resonate theme which if played out weantDa
Exeter is a city name in many countries. Sounds great, and no characters named that come to mind!
Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. It’s meaning is greatness ( if they were smart they would have called them Omegablocks ) The most commonly used phrase is God being the alpha and the omega, the first and the last. It’s generally a math and sciences term, a good solid name for a hero character.
Bright King, Rocket McCloud, Mason Brick, Dawn 52, these are all boss Lego names. Minifig heroes spring to mind and can’t wait to see how these characters are depicted.
It would be nice if there was some explanation for why Maestro used the power of the Nexus for evil. It would add a layer of depth to the character and is not past kids’ capacity to grasp, in fact it would probably be appreciated. Maestro doesn’t have to have any redeemable qualities or hope like Darth Vader, he can just be a frikin tool, but where did it come from? Was he insanely jealous of Omega? Was it something that he uncovered in his early quests, something from the early creation of the Universe which was too much for even his brilliant mind? I like his motivations for trying to wrestle control and make everything into his vision, but madman motivations are usually spurred on by some sort of horrible event that shaped them, and then their personality tendencies get exaggerated beyond any natural reckoning. Then when all of the power of the Nimbus went through him his darkness affected the imagination and all was awry. The Maelstrom became the antithesis to creative imagination.
Harry Potter is one of the licenses that Lego makes product for, but that dosn’t make some of the comparisons between the HP and LU narratives any more palatable. The Nexus Force which is comprised of the honourable Vanguard, the powerful Thunder, the creative Assembly and the crafty Venture League SURE SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING FAMILIAR. Do you use a sorting hat to pick your hou.. er, team?? I’m not sure if this has been discussed yet but rabid HP fans are far worse than a Jihad. Otherwise, I’m really looking forward to seeing the characters and the different leagues. There’s also that Nimbus thing which is nowhere near as concrete, but it’s ammunition for that lot.
The religious comparisons are strikingly evident as I read through this. Crux being an Eden like planet. The creative spark could be alluded to a soul. The birth of the minifigs is akin the the awakening of mankind. A sacrifice by the original creator to create the creative spark. As mentioned in the notes of the document, Doctor Genesis might want to be renamed, just so further religious allusions are not made because of that being established as a reference point. See note above about Omega.
Let’s be clear, I’m not referring specifically to Christian religion here, these are universal themes found in many religions and myths. Also I’m not opposed to amping up the mythos of LU, bring it on! I love a good origin story, the wackier the better. Even pure science has no firm explanation about what happened before the Big Bang, there’s always room for conjecture. I’m trying to be the devil’s advocate making level headed comparisons which is not a courtesy LU will be provided once out in the wild. The possible religious layers added with some assumed political stances ( the plastic shortage, the wall reference earlier ( it’s grasping a bit, but people read into things )), and the token Tolkien and HP references could make for some stickiness. I could be digging way too deep here but I had to practice my typing anyways 😉
On the whole I really like the character and location names being used. They aren’t culturally worn out and have an instant feel to them. There is the direct reference here and there that could be used to build a larger case, mostly on conjecture, but that’s enough for some. I realize also that it’s hard to recreate the wheel when making these sorts of narratives but I’m hoping the game doesn’t suffer a sense of derivation and sponging major key elements from other well known epics. A game that’s foundation is about creating should feel unique on all levels right?