It opens, not with a whimper, but with a big bang. After designing your avatar using LEGO Universe's extensive character creator, you're thrust on to the bridge of a starship that's disintegrating in the maw of a gaping black hole. As your hull slowly peels off into the infinite, you have mere minutes to escape your fate, platforming your way around the ship to find enough rocket parts to build your escape vehicle.
It could be seen as a metaphor for developers NetDevil, who launched LEGO Universe as an escape vehicle when their last MMO, Auto Assault, began to implode. Ryan Seabury, the studio's battle-scarred creative director, reckons the experience made them more determined than ever to make LEGO Universe great. "After Auto Assault," he confides, "we'd rather go out of business than make another compromised game."