What kind of game do we want to make? As it is often the case while designing a new game, our vision is a mix between the continuation of a tradition, and the exploration of new territories. We will talk here about the tradition, and what has inspired us. The genre to which we belong is one that has deep roots in the history of video games: the immersive sandbox games. In these games, players are set in a realistic world where everything – or almost – is possible, they are free to explore, and do what they like. In particular, there are two aspects to this freedom that we find essential: the emerging gameplay – the fact that the players collectively invent their own stories: no quest or scripted content – and the emerging world content, which means that players are free to build anything they want in the world. Two great games in particular are emblematic of those two aspects, let’s have a look at them.
The first one is “EvE Online” developed by CCP. Remaining a hot topic eleven years after its release, this game has clearly something unique. What has made it so popular among many players is its emergent gameplay: incredible stories where intrigues, betrayals and wars – all generated by players! – have regularly made the press headlines. The in-game economy feels also astonishingly real as all players affect the same universe hosted on just one big server – the “Single Shard” concept – and not several smaller ones. All large scale player actions or events affect everyone to some extent. Any player can make History in this kind of game, this is an invitation to “Leave your Mark”. Affect the world one way or another, should you be a Builder, a Pirate, a Merchant, an Explorer, a Diplomat and be remembered for your famous or infamous deeds…
On another side, EvE Online is also a very beautiful game (and its visual aspect regularly increases in beauty as technology evolves), with some poetic moments where you can surprise yourself looking at the stars in your ship, listening to the excellent and relaxing Jon Hallur’s music and just… enjoying to be there! In our opinion, this is also a very important aspect of the immersion in Eve, something that gives more density to the virtual world, in a way that makes it more real. We will try to catch this magic as much as we can in Dual Universe, both with stunning graphics and with beautiful deep music.
But as we want to grasp some essential aspects of immersion as CCP did, we also want to explore new aspects: while Dual Universe will involve spaceships and starbases, we want to focus immersion around an avatar and not just a vehicle. We want to make your character feel like an “alter ego”, as if you were born in a parallel universe at a different time, where you wake up in an unknown world and you thrive in it to survive.
The second emblematic game in everyone’s mind at Novaquark is “Minecraft”, developed by Mojang. Before Minecraft, several games have attempted to provide players with complex tools to create content. Very often, these tools were designed with professional 3d modelers in mind, effectively limiting content creation to a very few people that were able to master it. Minecraft has revolutionized the “Player Generated Content” aspect with the genius idea of simplifying the 3D construction problem by reducing it to simple geometrical shapes. With this approach, it became really easy for anyone to create simple or amazing buildings, or even cities. We keep this inspiration in Dual Universe, as we want to deliver the message to the players that they can “Shape the Universe” in any way they like.
To some people, paradoxically, the biggest limitation of Minecraft was its cubical graphics approach, with the idea that immersion needs realistic graphics. It seemed to us that is was possible to separate the question of designing intuitive building tools (inspired from Minecraft) and rendering the result with a realistic touch. Nowadays, games like “Landmark” have shown that recent PCs were able to handle Voxel Technology (giving the ability to all players to alter environment) and polished 3D Landscapes without too much trouble. We follow this path and we will try to go even further in our capacity to render a beautiful realistic world, using Unreal Engine 4 as the 3D engine.
We could mention many other games which gave us inspiration, more or less consciously, not necessarily in the MMORPG category and for different reasons: Fallout (for the survival side), Skyrim (for the open world side), FTL, the Mass Effect Trilogy, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Endless Space… But above all, as we extend the tradition and explore new ideas, we want to be inspired by one source in particular: ideas coming from you, the Community. We feel that the time has come to try to reinvent online multiplayer games, to come back to the roots of the dream that moved many talented pioneers that tried to create realistic, immersive games, and to explore again this path today with the gaming community. We will open a forum soon to start discussing important topics (about game design, lore and many other things). And it is also already possible to contact us through twitter for short questions and quick answers!