Frank Herbert's sci-fi world of vast sand worms and magical spacedrugs and political intrigue and swordfights and Kyle MacLachlan with a pet spacepug and Sting posing in his pants is being digitised again. Funcom, the Norwegian crew behind Conan Exiles and The Secret World, today announced that they're planning to make several video games based on Dune. We best know Dune round these parts for Dune II, Westwood's seminal 1992 real-time strategy game which set the blueprint for Command & Conquer and Warcraft and so on. Funcom's first Dune game is due to be some sort of "open world multiplayer" game, so perhaps another sandbox survival sorta thing?
Dune, right, is an endless saga centred on Arrakis, a barren and inhospitable planet which is the only known source of a magical drug, the spice melange. This is the key to space travel, it can aid magic powers, it extends life... magic. So it's no surprise that all sorts of spacefolk are scheming, jostling, and fighting to control Arrakis. Oh, and this magic spacedrug is produced by vast sandworms, beasties hundreds of metres long that make moving away from solid rock deadly. Basically it's like the movie Tremors except with more witches and Kyle MacLachlan instead of Kevin Bacon.
If you don't know yer vintage RTSs, you may know Dune from David Lynch's delightful 1984 movie adaptation. Or perhaps you know it from Jodorowsky's Dune, the acclaimed documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt to make a proper weird Dune film. You might have heard about the legendary 1997 movie sequel which was hastily rebranded and recast after a licensing deal fell through, Spice World. Maybe you've even read the book, you swot you, or its seven thousand sequels and prequels by Herbert's son and his pal. Or, y'know, you heard that the beardy fella out Fishman is going to be in a new Dune film made by Legendary Entertainment.
Funcom are vague about what they're up to with Dune. They say they're planning to release "at least three" games over six years for PC and console. The only genre we know for any is the vague "open world multiplayer" description for the Dune game Funcom's Oslo studio are due to enter pre-production on later this year. I assume that'll be a bit like Conan Exiles. Beyond that...
"Funcom has a strong history of working with beloved sci-fi/fantasy intellectual properties including our bestsellers Age of Conan and Conan Exiles," Funcom CEO Rui Casais said in the announcement. Uh huh. Yes.
"So many of us at Funcom, myself included, are huge fans of Frank Herbert's work and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Legendary to bring the iconic Dune universe to life for gamers all over the globe."
Unhelpful. Just tell me: will I get to ride a giant sandworm? And can my own name be a killing word?