A portion of a MonAmiibo interview with Doug Heder, Executive Producer on LEGO Dimensions...
MA: On that process of deciding on brands for the game, what does LEGO deem appropriate and inappropriate for their audience? Gremlins is known for being a super violent kid’s movie, so I was equal parts excited and surprised to see that one revealed
DH: Yeah, LEGO’s been great, going outside the normal boundaries of the LEGO IP. That said, I think yeah maybe Gremlins has a bit of that reputation but it’s also a property that’s almost 30 years old, and I think the standards are a bit different from back then [laughs] You go back and look at those films and, as great as they are, there’s a nostalgic factor there. Every title that we bring into the world of LEGO is going to get its own LEGO interpretation. If we’re recreating a scene from a film and a character dies… you know, LEGO characters never die. We always adapt the moment to make it light-hearted and funny. That’s one of the important aspects of LEGO games in general. And you’re not going to see any violence or gore in a LEGO game, it’s never going to be that. It’s always going to take the property and adapt it in a way that’s in the spirit of the original brand, and keep all the sensibilities in mind. So we do have to think about that when selecting the different brands that come into the game – how far do we have to adapt it? Is it so far that suddenly it doesn’t feel like it’s in that same world?
MA: So when you’re working with these rights-holders, do they take a very hands-on approach? Or do they sort of just let you go free to do whatever you want?
DH: It really depends on each brand. Each partner is different, no two are alike and the collaboration with each is unique. We have a good track record from past LEGO titles, and that gives our partners a lot of trust in us and I think we’re afforded a lot of leeway. We present our first draft, if you will, of the game to our partners and we work together to ensure there isn’t any detail that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t feel a part of that world. Or in some cases, the partner is able to give us information we didn’t know going in! Little behind the scenes knowledge of how something came to be in that world. You’d be surprised that sometimes that helps us understand the DNA of that property even better and helps us make our game even better. Sometimes we can throw in a little Easter Egg to that fact. As a simple example, if you go into the Back to the Future Adventure World from LEGO Dimensions, you can walk around downtown Hill Valley. The film on the marquee in the original movie was Jaws. Well in our game when you walk by that banner, even though a holographic shark does pop out, the name there doesn’t read ‘Jaws’, it reads ‘ Bruce’. And that’s a little insider joke – Bruce was the name Steven Spielberg gave to the mechanical shark when they were filming the story. And I believe he named it after his attorney [laughs[ That was a little inside joke that fans who followed the Back to the Future or Jaws properties will know, but the general population doesn’t. It’s a fun little nod and homage to the inside jokes we find throughout the process.