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.
Like most MMOs I know of, we won’t go for permadeath. It’s too hard on the player, and I think it is more the realm of rogue-like games than MMOs. So, in Dual, you live forever. How can you explain this, taking into account the sci-fi background we have (see the backstory for more info)? The explanation takes its roots in quantum mechanics. Let’s have a look at how it works exactly.
I am very excited by many aspects of our game, including the gigantic procedural world to explore, the MMO aspect and the fact that you can craft anything you like, including spaceships that you can script in LUA. But between the original idea of the game and now, we have seen many other projects starting with similar ideas and it doesn’t seem to sound so new anymore. One could say that it is now in the “Zeitgeist”. However, one aspect of the game is still very hot and very interesting in my opinion: the emergent gameplay mechanics. Let me say a few words about it.
When you create a MMO, you need to answer a few basic questions: what is your character doing here, where does he/she come from and what’s the background. In our case, it is starting with a question: what would happen if the Earth were doomed by some foreseeable cataclysmic event, and humanity had to create some kind of arkships to evacuate to another planet. In our world, the cause of the doomsday is the imminent arrival of a neutron star that will cross our solar system and swallow all of it on the way. I’ll try to convince one of my astrophysicist friends to tell us more about the plausibility of this scenario and write about it in some future post!
The idea of the project originated about 7 years ago, but actually has its source in a much older gamers dream: create a virtual world that would be so realistic and unbound that you could do anything, build anything, go anywhere and become anybody you wanted. There are countless references to this dream in SF literature or movies (by the way, I just finished “Ready Player One“, and I highly recommend it!). When I first started to write ideas about the game design, the technology was not ready to implement it. You needed high speed Internet, advanced graphic cards to handle huge voxel worlds and voxel rendering technologies to make the world beautiful, and you needed a scalability infrastructure that was very hard to imagine at the time. Today, I believe we are ready to make this dream come true. If you add new technologies like the Oculus Rift to the equation, you can really start to think about a dual world where people would be free to reinvent themselves and live fascinating adventures.