Right now, on Kickstarter, Dual Universe is about half-way towards its 500,000 Euros goal to “finish” a game that boasts the ability for every single person who plays to share a single universe with fully editable voxel worlds, player-made ships, and constructs. Novaquark’s game is nothing short of phenomenally ambitious, but we’ve heard that before. I met with Novaquark at PAX to see the game’s pre-alpha running on an Alienware laptop, and I came away impressed if not wholly won over.
Dual Universe, as Jonathan Doyle put it after his Gamescom demo, “…in very broad strokes is the sort of game you get if you put EVE Online in a blender with Space Engineers and a squeeze of No Mans Sky to taste. It is an attempt at, as they call it, a boundless MMORPG.” The scope of DU is nothing short of staggering. Jean-Christophe Baillie, President at Novaquark, demoed the game for me.
I watched as our avatar got into their custom made ship, lifted off of the planet, left its atmosphere and flew all the way into orbit to a space station that was also made by the voxel building system. Down below, a tiny spec, the area of the world where we once stood. You can even see, from high above a planet, how its lighting changes based on the time of day and its position in relation to the sun.
When I say voxels, you all probably think Trove or Minecraft. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. The voxel system in DU is much more close to that found in Landmark or the ill-fated EverQuest Next. There’s a crazy level of detail and finite alterations you can make when shaping your constructs. To make a ship, you’ll choose a core unit, like the cockpit, and then sculpt around it. Place guns, missiles, and more. The same basic principles extend to all the things you can build or make in Dual Universe.
But Dual Universe is not a single player game. That massive carrier ship will need a crew; the space station will need caretakers. A single cockpit fighter ship can be piloted by one, but to truly scour the stars and make a home you’ll want to make friends and organize.
We really only got a quick look at the scope, building tools, and server tech that allows everyone to live on one server, but already I’m impressed and infected by Jean-Christophe’s passion for the project. Not to mention the sheer scope of the thing. Whether or not the 500K Euros they’re seeking will be enough to make all their dreams come true is another story. Either way, I'd like to see what becomes of Dual Universe and how it all comes together. Right now, it's a lot of good ideas and some great work in progress. Let's hope it becomes something more in the coming months.