About the Alpha Gameplay

04. Hunter

We have been asked several times what the actual typical gameplay of Dual Universe would be, how it would be played, in a very practical way. It’s of course too soon to give a lot of details about the numerous activities that will be possible within the game, but we thought it would be nice to go through like five typical minutes of the kind of gameplay you could experience on the surface of a planet. To start with, let’s talk a bit more about what we have in store for the alpha version, which will be made available next summer.

In the alpha version, you wake up inside the arkship, which is still on its way towards the planet where you are to establish a new civilization with your fellow colonists. You have been woken up early from cryosleep, because you are a member of the alpha team, a set of special operatives that will be given a pre-training in the basic ways to run your future new life on the new planet, and be able to coordinate actions when the time will come (when the beta will be out). And this pre-training will be done through… a simulation (within the simulation, yes, where does it end?). So basically, you are still in your cryosleep vat and the ship’s AI is plugging you on a sort of Oculus Rift-like super neat simulator and here you go.

You step out of the arkship already loaded with blueprints, materials, skills, etc. The simulation is meant to put you in a situation which would correspond to where you are after a few months of playing and skilling already, so that you, the player, can experience it right away and test the core of the game. Generally speaking, it is a difficult thing to show “the” gameplay of Dual, because we expect that there will be many gameplays possible and, more specifically to the sandbox experience, we expect the gameplay to evolve over time, as players master more and more technologies and expand into the world. Think of it as a sort of live version of Sid Meyer’s Civilization, entirely player-driven!

OK, so you are in the alpha simulation. The game is going to be a FPS, and depending on our budget and time, we will also provide some TPS view, especially in combat. The FPS view is important for immersion and also because we have Oculus Rift and similar devices in mind, so it would not make sense to offer only TPS view in any case. So, looking through your virtual eyes, the arkship stands proud and high in the sky behind you and you are facing a large empty crater that was created by the ship impact, followed a bit further by a dark and deep forest on your left, and a large mountain chain on your right, with white snowy tops. It looks very familiar, the planet’s atmosphere is similar to the one on the Earth, and the cloud patterns you can see in the distance are also recognizable. It’s not exactly like on Earth, but familiar enough. Some planets will look much less friendly than this when you’ll start to explore the universe, but for the moment, it’s OK.

You come equipped with a very powerful and central tool, rigged right into your arm: the nanoformer. This tool uses incredibly sophisticated nanotechnology to allow you two things: to collect materials and store them in a nanopack (think of it as a super backpack, with space and gravitational compression capabilities), and to release these materials in various forms anywhere you want in your environment. Very convenient! Inside the forest, you have no difficulty to find wood, cutting large trees and gathering stone materials when you find them on the ground. Soon, your nanopack gets filled with various materials and you can start to think about building your first shelter. The process is very similar to Minecraft at this stage, but you will have many more possibilities to carve the structures you want to build into almost any shape. Still, we believe in the simplicity of some elementary geometric shapes, at least as a start, to make the process of 3D construction less cognitively demanding.

At this stage, it is not clear if we will have enough time until the alpha to implement NPC animals to come and bother you during the night, as well as serve as hunting preys. But that’s the idea, because you will need to feed yourself, and the nanoformer cannot make wood-based lunch for you!

The nanoformer can also be used as a very primitive weapon, projecting materials or energy towards your opponent. But nothing really more than a punch in the face. If you want to deal some damage, you’ll need a weapon. It turns out that you have various blueprints in your inventory, which are in fact weapon recipes. All you need to assemble them is to find the raw materials, which means: start mining and digging, Minecraft style! Once you have found the precious ingredients, just set your nanoformer to run a given blueprint and here you go, you can see the item forging itself in front of you. You will also have various recipes for armor, mining tools and various useful items (why aren’t these simply available in the arkship, you might ask? You know the story about telling a man how to fish, rather than giving him a single fish? I think the conceptors of the arkship had this idea in mind!).

I did not talk much about energy at this stage, because it is still under discussion. But the nanoformer, and of course more powerful tools or weapons, will need energy sources. For the nanoformer, it could simply be your body heat, so all you need to do is to (h)eat. We would need to get some serious future pseudo-science to explain that however, because the Watts available will be rather limited!

The next experience for you will probably be to try and build one of the construct blueprint available in your inventory. Like, for example: the hover car, or the balloon powered explorer vehicle, or… the rocket! More about the construct building in another post, but all this will require that you gather more or less difficult-to-find materials, and energy sources. You might want to start a trade post to exchange resources, tools or weapons with other players. Gathering into organizations will also be a good idea, as well as start to claim territories to secure your property. You don’t have to worry about PvP aggression as long as you remain inside the security zone managed by the arkship (see the Arkship security blog post), but if you wander further (about 20km away), you might also start to need to organize your defense and establish an outpost.

Each of these topics probably will be treated in dedicated blog post, so I won’t go any deeper at this stage. To summarize, we’ve seen a very short preview of the FPS style gameplay that will be available in the game: you can gather resources and construct houses, buildings, items. You can also create more dynamics constructs like vehicle or rockets (actually, space ships or space stations, there is no limit in size). We are also thinking about farming and hunting, because you will need food. You can team up with other players, or compete with them, through economy, politics, manufacturing, territory control and a lot of other emergent gameplay elements. One of the challenges we have as we design the alpha version is to find a way to make all these aspects of gameplay easy to learn and quite naturally flowing from the player’s experience. We are working on it ;)

JC Baillie,
Project Lead


7 thoughts on “About the Alpha Gameplay

  1. I like the idea of a “true” sandbox. It would seem to me that where many people prefer to be lone wolves, it would definitely be an advantage to team up in the early part of the game to provide protection, gathering, etc…

    Where there would always be concerns about being attacked from the indigenous flora and fauna, in this early part of the game are you planning on allowing other parties to raid a new groups base of operations? or will that base of operations usually be in the “safe” area?

    • Well, now I feel foolish. This is answered in the next months blog. I will read everything before I post :)

      • No Worries for replying a bit too fast ;)
        There are so many subjects to talk about that it needs a lot blog posts to cover everything.
        One thing though: in the alpha version there won’t be flora or fauna attacking players.

  2. Sorry if I reply late.

    I think another idea could be:

    – if I can’t enter the game but my starship is under attack, I can activate my avatar with 1 click on my smartphone and my avatar will defend following pre-istructions I gave him to defend or to do other actions at right time or during the day.
    The avatar could be activate 2 times during the day or you can decide for 1 or 3 times. ..?

    – sometime I can meet some special weapon or a special ship or special character like a space fairy who can help me during the game and when I can t enter the game but it could happen only if I enter after midnight or if I enter invisible doors or …..others ideas…

    – I could have a relation with another character, she or he could defend me or I could defend her or him when I’m online but they are not online.

    – I could help her or him to finish missions and at the end I earn 30% – 50% of the gamepoints or virtual dollars.
    This could help to make the game a better social game.

    • Hi Nykolas,

      No problem for the late questions: we’re are always happy to have questions or feedback from players :)
      Here are a few answers to your suggestions:

      – To enable some active interaction through your smartphone, we will have to wait after official release of the game. As we mentioned in the FAQ website, we are thinking about developing Apps for smartphones. But we don’t know in which measure we will develop this. It’s way too soon to be able to give you a straight answer on this subject. However, we keep your suggestion for the time we will start to work seriously on that matter.

      – It will be possible to put in place some automated defense to protect your house/base/outpost and/or your ships. That is already planned :)

      – This will be exactly the benefit of being in group/guild/corporation: Some of your friend will be able to defend your assets while you’re disconnected from the game and when they aren’t.

      – It’s still too soon at this stage to talk how “missions” will work. We want to make something really different from what is already existing in other MMOs. However, we DO want to reward well coordinated team play. For us MMO means to have players enjoying the game and having benefits while forming groups and/or alliances. We do not want to implement mechanics inciting to enjoy the game alone, next to other players without interacting with them. Playing solo will be possible, but there will be no encouragement to do so.

  3. Very good ideas.
    I think the game would be not very easy to play and people must play every day at any time in a persistent world.
    During the day it will happen something in the own world and it will be better to connect and be there, even with app on smartphone if they are at work, not at home.

    • Hi Nykolasalbert,

      You are perfectly right: This is a common and recurrent problem in persistent sandbox worlds. But several games have proven that some game mechanics can temper the necessary online presence. As much as we are gamers, we don’t want to see gamers obliged to stay in game for countless hours, just to protect their buildings, ships or starbases. Nothing is set in stone yet… But we have many ideas to find the right balance. One, for example, would be to implement a possible “Invulnerability” mode (for a limited number of hours) when your territory is attacked. That way, even if you’re at work or sleeping, you won’t have to worry and will have time to prepare (calling your friends, putting additional defenses, or evacuate all valuables things if the threat is too big) before the Invulnerability runs off. Again this is just one of the ideas we currently have, nothing certain yet. But we are keeping this problem in mind while developing the game, that’s for sure! ;)

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