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Back From Denmark

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GregF

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Back from Billund (with a sidetrip to a hotel on the west coast, about which more in a future entry), after a very successful BIONICLE story meeting. So I thought it would be a good time to answer some of the questions I get about how the story is put together and how the story meetings work.

 

We went into this meeting with a very, very basic idea for 2008, which had been approved by top management. The whole team was there -- myself, representing the actual writing end; Leah, the web producer; Lena, head of the team and in charge of overseeing the franchise as a whole; Birgitte, who works closely with Lena and does things like maintain the names list, put together the story bible from disparate sources, and much, much more; Christoffer, long-time head of set design for BIONICLE; and Christian and Jeppe, both of whom work for Advance, a Danish creative/advertising agency that has been working on BIONICLE since day one. (Christian, by the way, is the one who designed those maps of Voya Nui, Metru Nui, and Mata Nui we show in the comic.)

 

We started the meeting by going over the presentation that had been made to management last month, and then saw some prototype 2008 sets. Then I made a story proposal for 2007-2009 -- one which was in line with the concept for 2008, made the changes necessary to fit that concept, and also would hopefully set us up for some more exciting stories in the future. I was pretty nervous, because it was a proposal I believed in, and I would have felt bad if it had failed.

 

Anyway, long story short, it went over well -- but as usual, there was more work to do. Questions were asked; plot holes were sought for and filled; some things stayed the same, some things changed radically; ways were found to loop in old mysteries; and a lot of things were debated because we were discussing major, major changes to the story. Sometimes, in the past, story team debates can turn into hours-long arguments, but this time everyone was shooting for the same goal -- finding a way to make the story work. And everyone contributed, either with a question, an answer, or both.

 

The upshot was we did in four hours what we expected to need six or seven to do, and everyone came away feeling like we accomplished something. Assuming it gets the go-ahead from up top, I will be working on a story bible for 2008 before the end of this year. Then the 2009 concept will get discussed with management next year.

 

After the meeting was over, we adjourned to Leah's house for dinner. Then the next day I was off to a town called Ulfborg on the west coast of Jutland, where we would be spending three days in LEGO Club/Community meetings.

 

More later ...

 

Greg

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Sounds like an interesting process Greg. So does this change this story arc to a 4-year arc, or what? I look forward to the future of BIONICLE and I am glad that you're one of the people who controls it (coudn't think of a better person for the job). I anxiously await your next entry.

 

- :t::l::h:

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Hi TLH,

 

No, it does not change the Mask of Life story to a four-year arc -- it remains a three-year arc, with some changes. What IS changing is how the arc is ending, which plays into what we want to do in 2009. Essentially, you are going to get "more bang for your buck" in 2007 and 2008 than we had originally planned.

 

Greg

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Hi TLH,

 

No, it does not change the Mask of Life story to a four-year arc -- it remains a three-year arc, with some changes. What IS changing is how the arc is ending, which plays into what we want to do in 2009. Essentially, you are going to get "more bang for your buck" in 2007 and 2008 than we had originally planned.

 

Greg

 

"More bang for my buck", I like it. :)

 

 

SZ

 

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Yay! You updated! I've been waiting awhile, what's been the hold up? Long entry, I like knowing how the LEGO company works though, it's nice. I hope you update again soon. So you're already planning 2009? Interesting...

BtB

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So what you're saying is that we'll still have mysteries from '01-'03 four years later? Sounds good. Also, the whole process ressembles law-making, so I don't blame you for being tired afterwords. But at least you had a nice trip to Europe.

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Excellent. I await the juicy details in later entries. Any news on BL7?

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Wow, Now thats interesting, So does that mean 2007 is practicly done if you're allready doing 2008 and 2009, And they are making 2008 Prototypes this early O_O, I did'nt expect them until late 2007, Can those pictures of the 2008 prototypes be sent to the members of BZP to help in the development of what we would like to see??

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Mana Leader -- It would not surprise me at all if at some point down the road, fans (other than just our small focus groups), get the chance to voice opinions on prototype sets in some way. We have talked about the idea for a while and how best to do it. It's a tricky thing, because the easiest way to do something like that is online -- but you also have to have a way to make sure that whatever you show is confidential, and that one of the "fans" looking at it is not really an employee for another toy company looking to steal ideas. But anyway, I think you will see LEGO moving closer and closer to this sort of thing going forward.

 

And yes, 2008 prototypes are pretty far advanced. They have to be -- stuff coming out in January 2008 has to be manufactured months beforehand in order to reach the stores on time, so you can't wait until the end of the year before to complete them. In fact, we already have focus groups scheduled for 2008 stuff early in November.

 

Greg

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Mana Leader -- It would not surprise me at all if at some point down the road, fans (other than just our small focus groups), get the chance to voice opinions on prototype sets in some way. We have talked about the idea for a while and how best to do it. It's a tricky thing, because the easiest way to do something like that is online -- but you also have to have a way to make sure that whatever you show is confidential, and that one of the "fans" looking at it is not really an employee for another toy company looking to steal ideas. But anyway, I think you will see LEGO moving closer and closer to this sort of thing going forward.

 

And yes, 2008 prototypes are pretty far advanced. They have to be -- stuff coming out in January 2008 has to be manufactured months beforehand in order to reach the stores on time, so you can't wait until the end of the year before to complete them. In fact, we already have focus groups scheduled for 2008 stuff early in November.

 

Greg

Allthough I would love the chance to observe now sets I never thought of that idea, Maybe you can chose some select members of BZP and PM them detailed pictures of concepts so we can build them from our collection and try out the sets prototypes, Because as I've seen, Alot of Prototypes were just old parts re-used for testing by the fans (I.E. Visorak seen in B2 DVD), But Thanks for clarifying that it can't be easily done so other companies (I.E. Pure evil (I mean Megabloks) ) don't try to steal the idea, Thanks for listening to the fans

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Not easily done, but not impossible. You just have to be careful who you choose, make everyone involved sign confidentiality agreements, and make sure the parents understand the possible legal repercussions of leaking.

 

Greg

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Not easily done, but not impossible. You just have to be careful who you choose, make everyone involved sign confidentiality agreements, and make sure the parents understand the possible legal repercussions of leaking.

 

Greg

 

Funny enough, I know what you are talking about with confidentiality agreements. :)

 

But anyway, nice stuff going here Greg.

 

Also I do wonder one thing, when you say major major story changes, this means loopholes, and not entirely skewing the current storyling to fit the future?

 

I'd hate having to majorly reshape the pass. I mean Takua was noted as a Ta-Matoran, but know we know him as a Matoran of Light -- that's not a big change. Hopefully that's as far as the storyline team would go with such things...

 

~U

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I know it probably wouldn't seem so to you, Greg, but to me, the prospect of sitting in a story meeting where your opinion matters would be awesome! Any time of BIONICLE meeting would be really cool. Maybe someday I'll work for LEGO, I don't know...

 

~Phyre

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Mana Leader -- It would not surprise me at all if at some point down the road, fans (other than just our small focus groups), get the chance to voice opinions on prototype sets in some way. We have talked about the idea for a while and how best to do it. It's a tricky thing, because the easiest way to do something like that is online -- but you also have to have a way to make sure that whatever you show is confidential, and that one of the "fans" looking at it is not really an employee for another toy company looking to steal ideas. But anyway, I think you will see LEGO moving closer and closer to this sort of thing going forward.

 

And yes, 2008 prototypes are pretty far advanced. They have to be -- stuff coming out in January 2008 has to be manufactured months beforehand in order to reach the stores on time, so you can't wait until the end of the year before to complete them. In fact, we already have focus groups scheduled for 2008 stuff early in November.

 

Greg

Allthough I would love the chance to observe now sets I never thought of that idea, Maybe you can chose some select members of BZP and PM them detailed pictures of concepts so we can build them from our collection and try out the sets prototypes, Because as I've seen, Alot of Prototypes were just old parts re-used for testing by the fans (I.E. Visorak seen in B2 DVD), But Thanks for clarifying that it can't be easily done so other companies (I.E. Pure evil (I mean Megabloks) ) don't try to steal the idea, Thanks for listening to the fans

 

Well, ManaL, it looks like you have first dibs on checking out and giving your opinion on prototyps sets, but I volunteer to be second pick!

 

 

Hearing about the process was very nice. It's also good to hear that you are considering the adults as well as the kids (that might be in the next entry...)

2008 already, wow! KUTGW.

 

 

Here's an idea for getting imput on prototype sets, and building the sets: look at what fans are doing. Hold more building contests with Lego Mag, and check out Brickshelf and the BBC forum. I'm sure you'll see things like technic bodies (not one mold) and some ingenuity. And...brown! I think you can see what people want by seeing what they make because they don't have it. (and they're just creative)

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Utopia - It doesn't involve retrofitting. It involves adding events to the plot.

 

Vahiki -- Since I can't discuss 2007 sets, I certainly can't discuss 2008 sets.

 

Frogs - Decision on brown can get easily made -- did the brown Piraka sell well? If it didn't, add that to the stack of brown sets that didn't sell well. Sales makes the difference here, not what pieces people get nostalgic about.

 

Were it up to me, I would bring online fans in on story panels -- and that is, in fact, something that has been seriously discussed. I am not sure on sets, simply because the online fan base is so much older than the mass of the set buyers -- a set that would seem like a really simple build to you guys might be really complex for an 8 year old.

 

Greg

 

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Utopia - It doesn't involve retrofitting. It involves adding events to the plot.

 

Greg

 

Ahh...the greatest of all the story changes....

 

:)

 

~U

 

P.S. - Somehow, I find it funny that after the meeting, everyone went to Leah's to eat. I'm sure it's very normal meeting-like thing to do, but I just find it funny... :lol:

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Wow Greg, the trip sounded fun, I always wanted to go to Europe and go to Denmark. Hope you had a great time!

 

P.S. Hey Greg what did you have for dinner at Leah's? :D Just curious.

 

-Paine-

 

 

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Chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, and a few things I did not recognize but which tasted good .. it was catered by a restaurant in Billund.

 

Greg

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Well, ManaL, it looks like you have first dibs on checking out and giving your opinion on prototyps sets, but I volunteer to be second pick!

Yes I can keep it confidential but I have to have GregF's permission to build the new sets from my collection.

Decision on brown can get easily made -- did the brown Piraka sell well? If it didn't, add that to the stack of brown sets that didn't sell well. Sales makes the difference here, not what pieces people get nostalgic about.

Well I'm pretty sure most people would have prefered the Prototype Avak, But was changing Hewkii from Brown to Orange and Gunmetal Grey part of the process of trying to make the Po elemental characters sell better

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Yes, it was. There has been talk for some time about just dropping the brown characters entirely, but we decided to just try a new color scheme instead.

 

Greg

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Chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, and a few things I did not recognize but which tasted good .. it was catered by a restaurant in Billund.

Mmm, tasty. :D

 

Hey Greg, is it possible for a fan to purchase BIONICLE prototypes from LEGO? Like, I'd like to get my hands on that prototype Kikanalo. =D

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What did you mean when you said, "Bring online fans into the story panel?" Are you talking about hiring online fans? Or just have them voice their ideas?

 

It's sorta wierd hearing about 2008 sets when we've only seen one '07 set. . . makes me want Toyfair to be here even more.

 

It's also cool that LEGO is one of those few that actually listens to the fans instead of throwing away all fan mail. . . and I hope to see some set-design contest in the future :) .

 

StF

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Sounds good, glad you had a good trip, good to see that bionicle is gonna continue for a few more years.

 

Long live bionicle!

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