Dual Universe And The Dream Of A Sandbox MMO

Many have attempted, but none have succeeded – the dream of an always-online sandbox world remains. But is newcomer NovaQuark the one to break new ground?

Since players first took their steps on the virtual soil of always-online worlds, there was a dream. A want. An intense craving that saw every player from the likes of the most benevolent creatives to the most vicious of PvPers striving toward the same thing: a world they could build and demolish at their will. Since then, developers have gone down split paths in service of this dream. Some elected to give players a powerful toolset with which to shape their own little slices of paradise, while others catered to a more bloodthirsty crowd – offering players countless tools to get the better of one another in ceaseless conflict.

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The likes of these online worlds have succeeded in drawing their target audience to them, but none have managed to encapsulate that dream of a world that could harbor both the creatives and the combat-driven. It’s easy to see why. One camp wants nothing more than to build grand creations, and the other wants nothing more than to tear them down. And so, the two separate audiences have been toiling away in their respective online bubbles for over a decade – but things may be changing soon.

NovaQuark, the brainchild and development studio of Jean-Christophe Baille, is committed to breaking new ground in a manner which no developer ever has before. NovaQuark’s crowdfunded baby, Dual Universe, has set its sights on becoming the first single-shard MMO to offer up an entire universe both to creatives and PvPers to run about to their heart’s content.

The sci-fi world is of Dual Universe stands to be incredibly massive. Although the content shown by NovaQuark has all been in a pre-alpha stage, the development team is not skimping out on any big ideas. According to Baille, the world of Dual Universe will all be contained on a single-shard – much like EVE Online. This means that there are no separate servers, realms, or instances. All players exist on the same server, and anything that happens can be seen and experienced by the game’s entire population at once.

The single-shard approach to an online community echoes not only the likes of CCP’s EVE, but also of a social network. When one is logged into Facebook, they are instantly at the reach of every other user on the platform – for good and bad. This same approach is what Baille and his team are hoping to achieve with their new universe. They want to give players the tools necessary to craft their own cities, cultures, wars, and narratives. The dream, if fulfilled, will see a universe in constant motion. With factions and alliances being born and torn apart continuously – much like your relationship with Gran when she gets into a racist tirade over your favorite social media channel.

Baille went into detail regarding the team’s philosophy behind their flagship title, and it’s a refreshing take on the traditional format of devs creating content for players to burn through before being forced to wait for more content coming down the pipeline:

“Our ambition is to become the number one platform for user-generated entertainment, all happening in the same universe, to create an ecosystemic amplification mechanism similar to that of social networks.

The emergent content acts as a collectively created story and universe, with the players directly involved in the content evolution. This content is potentially much more exciting and rewarding than traditional pre-made content, and it could have the potential to draw in millions of viewers via Twitch or similar online broadcasting services.” – Jean Christophe Baille

Baille’s ambitions are grand, but it remains to be seen if Dual Universe will be able to reach them. While the project has managed to secure over 7 Million USD in funding, the 25-man strong team in Paris has still yet to put out a testable alpha version. While players are eagerly awaiting the moment where they can ruin the environment of a planet in the hopes of building dick-shaped intergalactic vessels to take the war to their enemies, the project is still in its early days, and any untoward hype would only go to crush the dreams of the hopefuls. We’re looking at you – Everquest Next.

 

NovaQuark are promising the universe on a silver platter with their game. We can only hope that their dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare like so many before.