At this year’s E3 2016, Gamer Professionals Chief Editor Brandon Bui met privately for an interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Novaquark, Jean-Christophe Baillie, to discuss their new title and upcoming MMO Dual Universe.
Brandon Bui (BB): Thanks for having me today! Can you tell the readers who are unfamiliar a little bit more about your background in the gaming industry?
Jean-Christophe Baillie (JC): Of course. I’m JC-Baillie, the founder of Novaquark. Before that I was in robotics and artificial intelligence. I’m a science guy, and did a PhD in robotics and AI. I’m also a big gamer, passionate about MMOs. At some point, I looked at the state of MMOs and I thought that this genre could go a bit further in innovations. I started to prototype new technology, called the continuous single-shard cluster, which was a part of the beginnings of Novaquark in 2014.
BB: Just for the viewers’ sake, can you explain a little bit about what makes Novaquark unique?
JC: Of course, of course. If you look at certain aspects of our gameplay, we are doing building so you can build ships, do exploration, warfare…things that you may find in other games. What differentiates us is that all events will take place in a continuous single-shard cluster [mentioned above]. It’s an instance where everybody plays in the same world at the same time, and shares the same experience together.
The world never stops. If you build something, in terms of impact on the world, every small thing matters. Collectives, stories, this makes everything different. We have a second technology that makes this all possible as well, called Voxel technology, which is the planetary technology that allows players to modify anything they want (dig holes, dig underground, dynamic elements like ships and stations, cities) and make them in any shape or personality that they wish. It’s physically based and gives freedom in building design, and to complete that, we believe highly in the idea of emergent gameplay. Build your own political system, territories, define what is a nation or city for them, and create your own social structure. We intend to add all sorts of elements to create the experience of players doing what they want at will.
BB: My next question is geared towards that aspect of freedom you stress about – one of my biggest MMO aspects is to be able to participate in an economy with supply and demand. I like lots of money. Is the economy of Dual Universe going to be regulated by the game masters (GMs) or by the players based on available resources?
JC: Let’s start with how players can create markets. The localization is going to be a crucial factor. It’s player driven. Anyone can treat the market and compete with other markets any way they want. It’s going to be player-driven, and players can invest in materials which will rise or fall in price based on supply and demand like in the real world.
BB: Do you plan to introduce any kind of combat elements and PvP? Combat is a big part of many MMOs and players love the opportunity to fight each other. (4:18)
JC: Yes of course. It’s a question of PvP and implementing it, a point that’s very dear to us. We’re thinking of safe zones, one that would be around the Arcship (the main player starting point). It’s the ship that brought you to where you are.
Basically, there will be a 20 kilometer safe area where nothing can happen to you. We’ll be creating other safe areas, and players would be able to create their own grounds that aren’t indestructible. As long as players have the resources and wealth, they can make a zone that’s near impenetrable. Think about the United States. It’s not indestructible; can you imagine the whole world wanting to invade the United States? There’s enough security though, military, and whatnot that prevents that. In this game, it’d be a similar point.
BB: With everybody starting out in the same zone, do players start out with any kind of resources or are players completely empty and have to work from the bottom? (6:00)
JC: They’d have very limited tools, only starter things that help them through something like a tutorial. The interesting thing is that we believe that hte player experience will be different whether you join early in or several years down the line. In the beginning, when you step off the Arcship, there’s nothing out there. Joining later, there’s going to be hopefully huge cities that are central to civilization. The experience is difference.
Early on, you’d have to go for mining by yourself, and in the second case, you may join an organization and go for a job. You can be provided a ship or go mining, but it won’t be the same thing. You can start from scratch, sure, but later on you can contribute to other players’ goals if you wish.
BB: I see that you guys focus on freedom and exploration. For example, with the new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there was a limited focus on game play and a prominent focus in developing the mechanics through playing the game. Some people want direction though. How can Novaquark pull in those players that want that sense of direction? (7:55)
JC: I’ll give you an example. Suppose one group of players wants to build the Death Star. Technically, they can; in practice the resources and time are just not present with building the Death Star early on. They’d need to go out and recruit, promote their idea, and those who join can join that project and make it an MMO-esque “quest” where it can be something like bringing resources or components to participate.
BB: That’s all very interesting. I do believe that’s about it though, and I would like to thank you for your time in speaking with us.
JC: Thank you too!
Interested parties can check out the new Dual Universe game here. Some in-game pre-alpha footage was unveiled at the E3 2016 PC Gaming Show, and the trailer is below.