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Dual Universe Is An Incredibly Ambitious Sandbox MMO

Ambitious or farfetched?

I always felt that the real strength of MMOs was in how they could parallel our own lives, and the folks making Dual Universe [official site] believe the technology is finally capable of making that happen on a grander scale. It's ambitious as hell and years away, but Dual Universe has some interesting talent and technology pushing it forward.

Billed as "sandbox first-person MMORPG set within a seamless sci-fi universe made of millions of planets," Dual Universe will be taking advantage of "cloud-based scalability" and "advances to voxel technologies" to create a positively massive universe that players can shape at their will. What has me interested, however, is that the developers at Novaquark are pulling more than a few pages from the other big sandbox, EVE Online.

"I am a huge fan of games like Eve Online and Space Engineers. I took inspiration from such games to imagine what could be the future of the MMO experience: a continuous world with planets, huge building possibilities, social and political aspects, but without the boundaries that so often restrict the gameplay," says founder and president Jean-Christophe Baillie. "This idea needs a lot of tech and emergent game design that is not so far from AI and other fields I’m familiar with. So, I got a first prototype working back in 2014, and Novaquark was born soon after.”

That familiarity Baillie is talking about comes from his experience as the chief science officer at Aldebaran Robotics, where he lead initiatives developing artificial intelligence. He's now funneling that knowledge into Dual Universe, along with some impressive-sounding ideas like a 'continuous single-shard cluster,' which is a fancy way of saying a really big server that can handle everyone playing together without having to divide them up. Other members of Novaquark include ex-employees of Ubisoft, Sony, and Apple.

As much as I want this all to be real, it does sound pretty far fetched — at least for now. There's some pretty pre-rendered screenshots you can check out on the site or this collection of awesome music that will be in Dual Universe. Sadly, music and screenshots don't make ambitious MMOs come to life, so we're going to have to wait until 2017 when an alpha build will be appearing with "a preliminary set of gameplay features" to see of Dual Universe really push MMOs to new frontiers.

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Steven Messner


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