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Louise Andrew

LEGO Vehicle Designs in LEGO® City Undercover

Louise Andrew

So, are you interested in the car design in LEGO® City: Undercover and how we get them set up to work in game? Then read on....

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

There were over 200 vehicles in LEGO® City: Undercover and although half were based on the amazing original LEGO designs that you can buy in the shops, the other half of these were designed by our genius LEGO Designers here at TT-Fusion. 

1) Vehicle List and Design

Firstly we had to decide on categories and make sure that there was a good spread of vehicles types throughout each category.

These included Aircraft, Farm Vehicles, Industrial Vehicles, Motorcycles, Naval Vehicles, Space Vehicles, Trains and Uber Vehicles amongst others.  Even within just the cars category we had small cars, saloon cars, sports cars and muscle cars. Enough variety so that you would never get bored of discovering new ones!  

Having decided on what types of vehicles we wanted, we then designed each vehicle, thinking about what would look really cool in game and give you lots of variety when you are playing. Once we were happy with the design, the vehicles then got built in a 3D software package called Maya.
We have a virtual LEGO library which contains 3D digital versions of every LEGO piece ever made, which really helps the designers in making their stunning creations.

Sometimes the designers actually build their ideas up using real LEGO Bricks, to make sure that the construction is solid enough, which is great because then we all get to see the real thing!

2) LEGO® Approval

Once we are happy with the digital versions of the vehicles, we send them to The LEGO Group for approval.
When The LEGO Group are reviewing the vehicles that we have created, they are checking that we are sticking to their guidelines to make sure that they can be made from LEGO bricks that you and I own.

As well as making sure that the vehicles can be made in the real world, we have to make sure we are using the official LEGO colours of bricks, (there’s only around 50!) and we have to make sure that the scale of vehicles is correct... On LEGO® City: Undercover the vehicles had to be between 6 and 8 studs wide so that they fitted alongside all the other LEGO City vehicles.

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

On occasions we produce instructions, similar to the LEGO instruction manuals that you get with LEGO sets, as this helps us show LEGO how it was built.

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

3) Optimising, Rigging and Damage States

Once The LEGO Group have reviewed and approved the vehicle, we then start the tricky bit of getting it set up to work in game.
Firstly we have to optimise the model so that all the internal LEGO Bricks that never get seen are removed. This makes the model simpler which helps to make the game run faster.

We then set up a Rig inside the model so that it can be animated to move like a real vehicle. This is a bit like a skeleton inside the car. The wheels need to turn, the chassis have suspension and the doors need to open. And we also add Locators, so that the game knows where the seat is, so that Chase sits in the right position. We don’t want him sitting on the windscreen!!

We also create Damage States to show how the model will look after it has been hit once, then twice, etc  until it is totally destroyed.

 LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

4) Collision and Level of Detail

The next stage is to create a collision shape around the outside of the vehicle, for the game engine to know how big the vehicle is, so that it collides with other objects correctly.
We don’t want objects intersecting with each other, nor do we want them colliding at a distance. It has to look as realistic as possible, whilst still being as simple as possible.

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

Next we create different versions of the vehicle so that they become more and more simplified the further away they are seen. This helps the game to run quicker too. From a distance you are not able to see all of the details, so we create very simplified versions.

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

5) Export and Play!

Finally the model is exported and set up by designers as a vehicle object in the game and hey presto you have a new vehicle to drive around in! :-)

As you probably already know, for the first time ever, The LEGO Group have designed a brand new set specifically for LEGO City Undercover – It’s called High Speed Chase - 60007. 

LEGO Video Games. LEGO City Undercover Vehicle Design

If you buy this set then you can use a code inside the box to unlock these vehicles and then actually play them in the game!

Now go and have fun discovering all 200 vehicles in LEGO® City: Undercover!

Louise Andrew

Being an Artist on LEGO City Undercover

Louise Andrew

Hi, my name is Louise and I am the Lead Artist on LEGO City Undercover and I wanted to tell you a bit about how we made it.


It has taken about three years to make as the City is so enormous! There are over 20 different regions around the City as well as more than 40 different level areas such as this Chinese temple with a dragon that comes alive!


LEGO City Undercover artist


There is Bright Lights Plaza with its theatres and neon,


LEGO City Undercover artist


Festival Square with lots of fairground rides, a beach with a giant roller coaster and a farm yard with pigs you can shoot from cannons!


Here is a Karate Dojo where you get to fight against these guys,


LEGO City Undercover artist


And there is a Space Island with moon buggies on it!


My favourite is Fresco which is like a beautiful little Italian town and reminds me of being on holiday :-)


LEGO City Undercover artist


There were over 30 artists on the team who created LEGO City Undercover, which not only included the environment artists, but lots of other specialists too.


We had Character Artists creating all the crazy characters.


LEGO City Undercover artist


LEGO Vehicle Artists who made all of the hundreds of amazing vehicles


LEGO City Undercover artist


LEGO City Undercover artist


And Prop Artists creating all the zillions of brilliant props


LEGO City Undercover artist


Then we also have UI Graphic Artists who make all the on screen icons, maps and symbols to help you navigate around the game.


LEGO City Undercover artist


And VFX Artists who make the amazing visual effects, so that when something explodes or transforms etc it looks even more impressive!


LEGO City Undercover artist


Being an artist on a video game is really great fun! You get to create amazing things that don’t exist in real life, so you can really let your imagination go wild. I’m sure you can imagine how entertaining it is creating all these crazy props, characters and vehicles and I feel very lucky to have a job where we can make fun things all day!


I hope you enjoy playing LEGO City Undercover as much as we enjoyed making it!


Graham Goring

Ding Dong, the Witch is - uh, I mean the project's finished

Graham Goring

Ding Dong, the Witch is- uh, I mean the project's finished*!

A common misconception about the video game industry is that we just play games all day long. A less common misconception is that we're all really dozens of pugs stuffed into human-suits. I'm going to address the former of these today.

When you're in the middle of making a game you don't really get a chance to play it, meaning you don't know how well it's gonna turn out until the very end, as the project winds down.

I went through my "winding down" stage on LEGO® City Undercover very recently which meant that I got to finally sit down and spend some quality time with it... And by cracky it's great! Yup, this one is definitely going on the ol' resumé***.

So, fresh from tearing around the streets of LEGO City, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite locations and encourage you to visit them when the game ships in March.

Bright Lights Plaza and Crescent Park - one of my favourite driving routes is to head north through these two districts, hitting a series of special jump points which send you zooming through the air in slow motion, crashing through barriers and obstacles - it never gets old!

Once I arrive at Crescent Park I like to stop and look around - it's full of stuff to do including a tree-house which you'll need specialist equipment to get up to, an assault course and a delightful tea-house where some unsavoury elements may be hiding.

Another great place for exploring is Cherry Tree Hills. Not only is the Police Station there (in case you want to unlock new vehicles or characters) but the roof-tops are packed to capacity with stuff to do. Every time I play I find some new side mission or nugget of gameplay there.

But for me, the prettiest area of the city is Pagoda. It's full of Asian detail, blooming Cherry blossoms, relaxing gardens and, oh, a criminal gang that only Chase McCain can bring to justice.

Anyway, now it's back to the grindstone as I start working on the next project. I'd tell you what it is but the company would fire me.

Into the sun.

 

* Although as Leonardo Da Vinci said "Art is never finished, only abandoned**." - I know, he spoke really good English, didn't he?
** Which makes me a piece of art - thanks parents, wherever you are!
*** Not all games I've made get onto my resumé. One game I made got a customer review from a displeased mother which stated that it "made her son cry". That one has pride of place on there.

Jonathan Smith

Welcome to the Design floor

Jonathan Smith

<CRASSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH>

<CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK>

Sorry, that can be a bit disconcerting until you get used to it.

A lot of the walls here at TT Games are made from LEGO bricks - so we'll often smash straight through and rebuild them behind us.

We've been here for 10 years, and we're still inventing new shortcuts. Hold on tight! Full speed ahead!

<CRASSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH>

<CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK>

And now: welcome to the Design floor.

This is where all our games start out, as rough sketches, heated arguments and endless endless lists.

Look over there, in the corner! Can you see Jimmy, Lead Designer on LEGO Lord of the Rings, slumped over his desk? That game's finally finished, so Jimmy gets to go to sleep for a while.

A very little while.

He'll be back in action shortly, don't worry. But for now, let's not disturb his Mithril dreams.

I'd like to introduce you to the LEGO City: Undercover design team - but they're working in secret high up in that giant LEGO treehouse, placing the last round of collectibles in the game. No-one's allowed up until they're finished; the location of those final hidden Gold Bricks must remain closely guarded until the game's actually in the hands of players.

You should meet our other active team, though. Please, step out of the vehicle and follow me. Over here, just behind the life-size LEGO statues of LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Ron Weasley and - for some reason - a six foot tall LEGO carrot. If we approach quietly, you might be able to catch them at work...

Yes, I know it looks like they're just playing with LEGO; but they're actually designing levels for a brand new game. And if you look closer, you'll notice that the minifigures are... yes, that's right.

I know - awesome, isn't it?

What's that?

Yes, of course. And many more.

Anyway. Let's get back into the transport, and move on to the next floor.

<CRASSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH>

Ah. Sorry. That wasn't a LEGO wall. Are you OK?

Phew. It'll take a while to rebuild that transport, though.

No matter. To the stairs!

Graham Goring

Being script writer of LEGO City Undercover

Graham Goring

Hullo, Graham here again and this time I'm gonna' tell you a bit more about what it's like being the script writer of LEGO City Undercover. But rather than tell you in general like last time, I'll take you through one of our exciting days at the recording studio in LONDON*...

5.10am - Alarm goes off. Ugh. I hit the snooze button.

5.19am - I get up, notice that it's still dark outside and reconsider my choice of career.

5.40am - I arrive at Mauldeth Road station just in time to notice they've cancelled my train to Manchester Piccadilly. I panic and then call a taxi.

6.00am - Flustered, I arrive at Manchester Piccadilly. I get on the train. I get off the train. I get on the right train.

6.10am-8.10am - I spend the journey to London preparing for the day ahead, re-reading the script and making notes.

Or, if it *isn't* my boss reading this...

6.10am-8.10am - I watch 2.7 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on my laptop and eat a chicken and bacon sandwich.

8.30am - I get to the recording studio in London's trendy Fitzrovia. Doug - who videos some of the actors in order to do the lip-syncing** for them - is already there because he has to set up cameras and whatnot. Then I ask if we're seeing any new actors during this session. I Google them to see if they've been in Doctor Who. In case you're wondering, at least 2 have.

8.40am - Loz Doyle, LEGO game producer extraordinaire arrives. I just put this in to make it clear that he always arrives after me, despite him only living an hour away.

8.45am - I drink a cup of tea. I will repeat this at least eight more times throughout the day.

9.00am-1.00pm - The actors and actresses arrive in turn for sessions of 1 to 4 hours each.

We start by chinwagging about what play or TV show they're doing at the moment and then get on with the recording.

The actors read out their lines, one or two at a time. These might be new lines, or they might be lines we've recorded before but which have changed due to the gameplay changing or because I got something wrong the first time. I'll let you guess which of those two options happens most often.

If they nailed it in one take we move on, but the director (usually Mark but sometimes Damian) may ask the actor to try it in a different way. If I have a very specific delivery I'm after (due to it being a set-up or punch line to a joke or just because I'm a control-freak that way) then I'll ask for them to stress a particular word in the sentence or say it with a specific emotion. Occasionally, when my communication skills fail me, I'll give them a line-reading and feel guilty about it because actors really don't like it when you do that.

After between one and three*** takes and some discussion we all agree that the line is bang-on and move on to the next one. Either that or we agree that I've written a right turkey of a line and I rewrite it there and then.

Eventually, the actor either finishes their session or moves on to record the lines for another character. Some actors only play a single character (such as the actor who plays Chase McCain), however a few of them play quite a few, just like in cartoons.

1.00pm-2.00pm - Lunch. I eat a Schnitzel wrap and it is delicious. I check my email and answer any urgent messages. Then, if there's time, I check my work email and answer any urgent messages.

2.00pm-6.00pm - We see more actors and actresses and record more lines. It's very much like the morning session except now I've got so much tea inside me that I have to keep diving out to the toilet.

6.00pm - End of the day!

If we have a recording session the next day, then I'll find a moderately priced restaurant and eat a steak, check in to my hotel and wonder why they felt the need to put eight assorted pillow and cushions on my bed.
If we don't have a recording session then I'll get a train home, arriving at between 10pm and 11pm depending on how badly I planned my trip and how many connections I managed to miss.

8.30am - I get up at a sensible time and remember why I love my job.

* This is where you should "coo" appreciatively.
** That's where we match the animation of the mouths to the dialogue so it looks like they're really talking.
*** Or *very* occasionally, twelve.

 

Graham Goring

LEGO City Undercover very close to being finished

Graham Goring

Hey there! I'm Graham, and I'm the writer for LEGO City Undercover, which - as I type - is getting very close to being finished. As a result, everyone on the team is as busy as a bee* making the game as super spiffy shiny-trousers as possible.

Even though all the writing is done on the game, that doesn't mean I get to put my feet up. Although I frequently do, which is when my boss yells at me and points at the list of things I've still gotta' do. One of them is simply getting the dialogue we recorded into the game, in the right place (although Ben - Hi Ben! - does a lot of this, too). That also includes putting all the foreign dialogue into the game in the right place, too. So, if - when you're playing the game - one of the characters is speaking Spanish, then you know who to blame. Or thank, if you're playing it in Spain.

Additionally I have to set up a bunch of the little mini cut-scenes you see in the game (not the all-singing, all-dancing ones you see at the start and end of levels and during important story sections, they're done by a team of incredibly talented animators over in Knutsford). My task involves setting up cameras and trying to point them in the right direction, so you're not looking at someone's elbow when they're talking (unless they're talking about a tennis injury) - it's quite fiddly, sometimes taking many hours to get right, but the end result is worth it.

My last job is the simplest, and that's just knowing everything about the plot of the game. It's so that if someone says to me "Why is that character called Rudolph Pianola?" or "Why can that cow talk?" I can instantly retrieve the answer of "I think I had a fever that day.".

Until next time!

* An especially busy bee. Or a lazy one who's left filing his taxes until the last minute.

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