At the recent London press event for LEGO Dimensions to celebrate the release of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them story pack, among other content, we got to have a little chat with one of the Game Directors, Arthur Parsons.
n3rdabl3: You worked on LEGO Dimensions, what’s the game like for you as one of the creators?
Arthur Parsons: I actually only joined LEGO Dimensions for year two. I’m one of the Game Directors at Travelers Tales, and I’m head of design now. Year One was a great success, Year Two we wanted to switch things up a bit. Ensure that packs had more content, more value. With 16 IPs for Year Two we wanted to make sure Year Two was really high impact. Year Two has been a pretty crazy adventure, bringing Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts into the sets. Being able to add content that people might not have thought would go into Dimensions, like Knight Rider, The Goonies or Gremlins and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Can I put Sonic in Hogwarts? Yes, you can.
n3: Sonic the Hedgehog has one of the longest running Intellectual Propertiess out there, how does that fit into Dimensions?
Arthur: It’s a bit weird. Because Dimensions is one of those things where there’s no real rules, there’s no limits on where you can put the figures. Can I put Sonic in Hogwarts? Yes, you can. Can I put Scooby Doo in Portal? Yes, yes you can. There’s no limits, it’s more about having a digital and physical toybox. For us it was more about what are the brands that people are going to want? What brands do we want? What brands are gonna be exciting to work on? What things are gonna be really great? Sonic was one of the things I grew up on. Sonic’s 25th anniversary is this year, and what better way to celebrate it than with a LEGO Sonic? That mini-figure is just one of the most awesome mini-figures I’ve ever seen. But again, it’s about we made a promise with Dimensions that we were telling people it’s a great adventure that people should be a part of. Year One with Doctor Who, Simpsons, Portal and Batman. Everything else that was in it and that was great. People want more and more IPs. The amount of communication we get of people’s ideas of things they want to see added. Year Two just became a monster of fantastic stuff, and there’s still stuff we haven’t released that’s coming next year! Like the Lego Batman Movie Pack, The Goonies Pack, there’s even a LEGO City Undercover pack for people that remember LEGO City Undercover on Wii U which is a great game. Beetlejuice, Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans and it just gets better. This year we added the 4-player mode with battle arenas. All those toys that everyone has in their collections, it adds that extra level of things to do with them. We listen to everything people say and we wanted to make sure every pack had that extra value. And we know that video games are expensive, people are parting with money for the stuff they buy, this year we worked to bring the prices down and add more content. There’s actually more in them, extra depth to the levels. We went out of our way this year to get that extra authenticity. Having Eddie Redmayne himself do voice acting for the game, it’s just incredible. We’ve had that with almost every pack. We had Simon Pegg come in to voice Benji for Mission Impossible. We had film voice work from Tom Cruise as well. It’s a great mix this year and we’ve really enjoyed it. We love every game we work on but Dimensions has been something special this year.
n3: With Dimensions, there is this huge range of IPs that you’re bringing into the fold, what’s the selection process behind that? How do you guys decide what to bring in? We know you’re a huge fan of The Goonies, it’s clearly close to your heart. How did you decide that it would be a great addition to the series?
Arthur: It’s a weird mix really. There’s a group of us that decide these things, comprised of our friends at LEGO, Warner Brothers and us at TT Games. We sort of all just throw ideas up in the air; “would this make a great pack? Would that make a great pack?” I was one of the people fighting hard to get The Goonies in. It’s a fun process, we just throw the ideas out and just see what sticks. Thankfully, our partners at E.T. and the Rowling camp for Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, they just want to get involved. Sega have been exceptional working with Sonic. I think it all comes down to they can see our passion and enthusiasm for making fun stuff. We try and treat everything really really respectfully. Even though we poke fun and add whimsy and humour but we stay authentic. So no matter what pack it is, there’s authenticity in there, whether it is Knight Rider or The A-Team. No matter what pack it is, we do the best job we can do.
That’s the challenge, our challenge to make sure that every game has that unique LEGO DNA.
n3: You’re true to the movies but you add those little twists to the movies and it always feels natural and fun. How does that flow into the games? Does it just happen or do you spend long nights agonising over them?
Arthur: Its more agonising over which bits to take out. It’s easy to make fun when you know the IP. When we did LEGO Batman 3 we wanted to have fun throwing some of the 1960s Batman stuff in there. It starts as crazy ideas and we’ll be sat mulling over stuff, and it’s that that keeps us engaged. With licensed games they’re probably the most enjoyable. You have a framework there for you, and you job as a creator is to dig out what could be the funniest things. What would be the funniest cameos and juxtapositions of content. That’s the challenge, our challenge to make sure that every game has that unique LEGO DNA. Our games must be good value, enjoyable, fun, humourous, whimsical and have great co-op play. The success of the Lego game franchise is down to the fact that we constantly strive for betterment. We want to make the next game better than the last. It’s not just silly jokes either, jokes that run deep into the lore and the fiction. Sometimes I find jokes that I didn’t get the meaning of the first time through, sort of like a Pixar movie. You have those layers of amusement, the top layer for younger audiences and then second and third layers for the older players. Its those that the fans really buy into.
n3: You mentioned the huge list of IPs that want to get involved, you’re always constantly adding to Dimensions. You must know of Yooka-Laylee coming out in the near future. Any chance of adding them to Dimensions?
Arthur: When I saw that first video I was instantly in. Who knows though. Anything is possible. I never thought we’d see Sonic or Harry Potter and Sloth from Goonies running around together.
n3: We have to ask, what’s your favourite pack to play through, obviously aside from The Goonies?
Arthur: It has to be Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’ve been in on Harry Potter since book one. I had the pleasure of working on Harry Potter Years 1-4 and 5-7 and I thought that was it. I thought that was my journey to the wizarding world over, so to go back to that world was probably the best thing. An authentic movie experience with the Dimensions humour and a Harry Potter team pack in there for good measure. I think it’s gotta be the wizarding world. That pack actually has 3 hidden areas from different IPs that aren’t even in Dimensions. So it’s a great pack. One of those things where we have some fun. I can’t wait to see the Twitter posts and YouTube videos of people finding this stuff and being like “Really? Really!?”. We had a secret in Year One that took almost a year for someone to find, and that broke in the last couple days.
n3: As a gamer it’s always great finding those little tips of the hat to other gaming and movie franchises.
Arthur: Absolutely. We love what we do. We also know that world wide there are some incredibly talented developers out there. We’re all gamers at heart and we love great games, movies, comics and everything. As fans of geekdom and pop culture, we are fans as much as we are creators. It’s probably why the team I’ve got behind me at TT is as good at what we do. We love that people love playing our LEGO games, Dimensions is just a different entry point, a different style. But it follows all the rules that make the Lego DNA great.
LEGO Dimensions and its many level and character packs are available on Amazon right now, and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them pack as well as the Sonic the Hedgehog pack just launched on November 18th.