After literally being promised the universe by developer Hello Games, players are now frustrated by the underwhelming reality that is No Man's Sky. Yeah it has good elements, but it should have been so much more. Thank the procedural generated gods that there are new, and (hopefully) improved games in development. The most exciting, in my view, is by developer NovaQuark, who are working on an ambitious game titled, Dual Universe.
I am excited about Dual Universe because it moves beyond the premise that endless exploration is sufficient for engaging gameplay. Dual Universe is trying to crank the procedural engine in an attempt to take us beyond a journey of simple discovery, to an ever expanding universe that is subject to the complexity of human interaction.
Fill up your glass, and crack open a bag of Maltesers because I am now going to tell you why this game has so much potential.
Give It To Me
Just like No Man's Sky, Dual Universe is a procedurally generated game, but, with these key differences:
Dual Universe is a sandbox first-person MMORPG set within a seamless Sci-Fi universe made of millions of planets. The world is entirely editable, and the game focuses on massive scale emergent gameplay based around exploration, voxel building, trade, politics and warfare.
Dual Universe will be a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), which aims to offer gamers an eclectic range of activities to provide the necessary depth to sustain its longevity. I don't know about you, but after a few days of exploration and crafting, I want to share that experience with some friends. What is the point of having the whole universe at your fingertips if it's only you, some minerals and random aliens speaking drunken Aztec?
Meh, Not Sold
Hold your horses, because I am not done yet!
Dual Universe has developed a new technology that they call a Continuous Single-Shard Cluster. This technology, makes large scale gatherings for battles or urban activities possible. This will potentially allow millions of players to simultaneously rock the discotheque within the same universe.
The choice of PvP battles and PvE gameplay, will vary based on the collective interests and imagination of players. There are no set character classes within the Continuous Single-Shard Cluster, only the choice in how you participate in particular activities overtime.
- Build, buy and customise your own single player ship, or build a massive spaceship with on-board multiplayer roles
- Form armies and fleets of ships for imperial style dominance
- Become a space pirate (arr!) and leader of the underworld
- Sell your soul as politician or banker as you build an empire through control and influence
- Pack a lunch, and head out to the stars as an explorer, craftsmen or trader
It reminds me of the new settlement land rush of the United States in the 1890s. The opportunity is yours for the taking; all you need to do is line up for the land run at high noon, to stake your claim. What you make of it will be up to you. Remain in the densely populated solar systems, planets and cities, or randomly point "that way" as you jump into your ship to head out into the unknown. NovaQuark founder, Jean-Christophe Baillie explained the sandbox nature of the game as:
We don't create the content; players do.
How Would They Do That - Seriously?
Separate to the procedural generation algorithms that allow for the exponential growth of the universe, planets and whisky drinks, sit the nuts and bolts of the innovative server technology. The idea that there could be so many players in one environment, with quality graphics and rendering, should be one of the key benefits that procedural generated games deliver.
We Don't Want History Repeating Itself
No Man's Sky is obviously the archetype for Dual Universe, which is fine. It would however, be very disappointing if Dual Universe turned out to be nothing more than procedural swings and roundabouts. I know that does sound ridiculous, developers would never exaggerate their games, "how outrageous!" No one wants to go to a party, only to find the host is serving cheap whisky mixed with Coke.
For people keen to know more, I suggest perusing the frequently asked questions section of the Dual Universe website. The game is only in alpha testing at the moment, with the beta scheduled for late 2017, and game release sometime in 2018. If the scale, variety and discretionary option for immersive interaction, all turn out to be true, then I say "shut up, and take my money!"