Happy pre-alpha, Dual Universe! The ambitious indie space sandbox MMORPG kicked off the pre-alpha over the weekend, bringing 2500 backers in to test. You’ll recall that it was the alpha that was meant to start this fall, but studio Novaquark didn’t believe it was ready enough, hence the birth of a pre-alpha to “honor [the studio’s] commitment to [its] backers.” This particular round of testing is open to “gold founders” and up who contributed to the game ahead of September 7th.
In today’s press release, Novaquark CEO Jean-Christophe Baillie talks up both the game’s funding ($7.4M to date) and single-shard tech. “Our proprietary CSSC (Continuous Single-Shard Cluster) and voxel engine technologies are now benchmarked for the first time with real players and not just bots,” he says. “It is truly amazing to think that when you see a moon in the sky, it’s actually there, you can fly to it with a proper spaceship. And you could carve out half of it, given enough time, as the world is entirely editable. Everyone will see it. This kind of giant continuous world experience has never been seen before in gaming. We can’t wait to see what people are going to build over the next weeks.”
The studio has a brand-new trailer out today in honor of the pre-alpha; you can watch it down below, and then when you’re done, take a peek at our demo and interview with Baillie from PAX West, after which MJ dubbed it “Landmark in space but better.”
If you were hoping that another title would pick up the idea of a voxel world and run with it, you’re getting your wish. I met with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, at PAX West. He showed off the pre-alpha build of his company’s voxel sandbox, Dual Universe. After zooming across the planet, building a ship, terraforming, and then blasting off to the moon to do it all again, I believe this subscription-based game (which begins its pre-alpha for backers on September 30th) may very well be the home that players who’ve been wishing for a voxel-based world have waited for.
Baillie defines Dual Universe: “We give more creativity freedom to the players: They can build the ships they want, the environment they want, the houses they want. It’s about freedon to create anything you like.”
Dual Universe today etched a date on its pre-alpha launch: September 30th. “Access to this first playable version of Dual Universe will be limited to Kickstarter and crowdfunding backers that have pledged at Gold Founder level and above, prior September 7th,” says Novaquark’s press release today, which characterizes the sci-fi sandbox as a “highly anticipated disruptive MMO.” The forums further explain that the originally planned alpha is in fact not actually ready, hence the pre-alpha label.
“You probably noticed that we’re calling this first public access Pre-Alpha and not Alpha, as originally intended. Why? Because we are not quite ready yet to switch the game into Alpha, but we still wanted to honor our commitment to our backers. This first public glimpse of the game won’t feature a proper game loop as we originally wanted but, after postponing the release a few months ago, we felt like a new delay was not appropriate. We think any additional delays, even though the game is not in the true Alpha state we had anticipated, would not be in keeping with the spirit of our commitments to our community and backers.
“We decided it would be better to give you access to the game at an even earlier state than to delay again. That it would be better to give you a look at where we are, rather than wait again for where we had hoped to be at this stage.”
If you haven’t picked up a founder pack for Dual Universe, you’re going to want to rectify that soon. Novaquark wrote in a recent Kickstarter newsletter that it plans to end the purchase of founder packs come September 7th, the anniversary of the sci-fi sandbox’s successful Kickstarter.
“Obviously we couldn’t extend it forever and now it’s time to move on to the next stage,” writes the studio. “After September 7th, we will temporarily disable the Crowdfunding portal. No new pledges or upgrades will be possible once the portal is disabled. We will reopen the Crowdfunding Portal later in Q4 2017 with new Supporter Packs. Supporter Packs will include different rewards than Founder Packs and the Lifetime Subscription reward won’t be available anymore.”
So how’s the game itself coming along? Not too shabbily; this week Novaquark posted pre-alpha footage of a ship flying seamlessly from a moon to its planet. That seems to be a theme today, yeah?
Kickstarted indie sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe has posted its monthly update this week with a meaty dev vlog from Novaquark’s JC Baillie.
Baillie says that his team is moving away from introducing new features and toward polishing what’s already live and functional in the pre-alpha. That includes working with a third-party company for playtesting. Paid testers – crazy huh! While the studio won’t be at E3 next week, it is promising early alpha previews at the major cons (namely, Gamescom and PAX West) later this summer.
The rest of the video focuses on the game content itself, including moon take-offs, the planetary map (it’s pretty slick!), atmospheric effects, and new art assets.
Fig, the gaming crowdfunding platform that surged in popularity in 2016 thanks to successful Wasteland 3 and Psychonauts 2 campaigns, has released a list of the top 10 biggest gaming crowdfunds of last year — and it includes three MMOs.
Fig is touting the games that raised cash on its own platform, of course, but the data also include three MMORPGs in the top 10, backed off Fig: Soulbound’s PvP sandbox, Chronicles of Elyria; Novaquark’s builder-centric sci-fi sandbox, Dual Universe; and Artix’s cutesy cross-platform MMO, AdventureQuest 3D. All three were funded through Kickstarter.
Fig, like the Indiegogo/Microventures platform Crowfall has used for its latest investment round, takes advantage of relatively new U.S. laws that allow non-accredited investors to invest in startups online, making some of these crowdfunds true investment, not just donations, though they come with plenty of restrictions and caveats. Check out the full infographic below.
Didn’t get around to backing Dual Universe back when it busted through its Kickstarter goal? Novaquark announced today that it would still like your money, and you can hand it over starting today through the game’s brand-new crowdfunding portal. As explained earlier this month, players will intially be able to pick up pre-order packs akin to those originally available on the Kickstarter, but those founder packs will eventually — likely in January — vanishand be replaced by supporter packs with fewer early bird perks.
“If you have already bought a pack (either during the Kickstarter or since Friday the 18th November on our crowdfunding portal), you will see different discounted prices. This is the amount needed to upgrade your existing pack to a higher one,” the studio notes in its FAQ. “Keep in mind that it’s not possible to upgrade a Kickstarter pledge yet, so the discounted price is there just for information purpose at the moment. We will inform the community as soon as the Kickstarter pledges will be upgradeable on our crowdfunding portal.”
Funding through the portal will continue to contribute to the stretch goals; the next one, at €650,000, adds new combat elements.
Technically, one could argue that you don’t need lore to make an MMORPG work; it just helps players have an idea of who they’re shooting and why. Dual Universe is not skimping on lore for those purposes; in fact, the game’s developers have just put out a lengthy and involved lore bible for the game, so fans and potential players can get a downright exhaustive look at who needs shooting and why players might be doing the shooting.
The lore bible in question is not quite finished, and there are still certain placeholder names that may be changed later. Still, none of those placeholder names are “Enemy Faction Here,” and it’s enough to give you an idea of how the game’s world works and what stakes players will be dealing with. Check out the full thing for all the interstellar politics and events you could ask for.
Dual Universe’s latest newsletter since its successful Kickstarter funding back in October is out this week. Novaquark tells players that it’s almost finished building its post-Kickstarter crowdfunding portal. Through the end of 2016, players will be able to purchase packs that are similar to those available on Kickstarter, less and excepting a few perks and packages like early bird packages and social goal rewards.
The second phase will kick off next year. “The Founder packs will be removed permanently, and will be replaced by Supporter packs,” the team says. “The Supporter packs will be significantly different and the price of the DACs slightly higher. Don’t worry, they will still be cheaper than after the official release! For those who like in-game pets and didn’t have the opportunity to get one from the Kickstarter, we plan to make a new one available through an add-on.”
Novaquark says updates will slow down a bit as the team works on the game, though it recently released a dev blog on scanning and mining systems in the sci-fi sandbox. While most of it is technical, there are some neat bits for folks already thinking about what they’ll do in the gameworld.
Yes, you read the header; Dual Universe has officially funded with over 8100 backers pledging over $630,000 toward a $556,421 goal. If someone registered DidDualUniverseReachItsFundingGoal.com, that site should probably get its final update right about now. The game’s Kickstarter has come to an end, and it’s all over but… well, the lengthy development process and hoping that the Kickstarter funding is enough to carry the development through into the future.
The development team posted a preview of multiplayer cargo ship building in anticipation of the final funding push which you can check out just after the break. You can also continue to increase your pledge via the developer’s ongoing pledge system, so as long as you got in on the action before the final moments, you’ll be able to scale up somewhat. If this is the first you’re hearing about it, though… well, the good news is that it funded!
Dual Universe has a fresh dev diary out this week on how it’s employing voxel technology for its builder-centric space sandbox.
“The idea of voxel is not new,” Novaquark’s Jean-Christophe Baillie says. “You’ve seen it in other games over the years, starting with MineCraft. But we wanted to go beyond the cube-like aspect. We wanted to let people be able to carve out literally the world the way they want, to sculpt the world, and to make it more realistic.” The voxel tech allows the team to scale and display everything from huge planets to small player-built space stations.
Dual Universe’s Kickstarter currently sits at almost 70% of its $557,724 US goal with 19 days left to go and over 5000 backers. The alpha is expected by summer 2017, with beta to follow in the first half of 2018 and the launch before 2019.
The voxel tech pre-alpha video is included below.
WCCFtech has an interesting interview with Dual Universe’s Jean-Christophe Baillie out this week that sheds some fresh light on the upcoming sci-fi sandbox. Baillie says that even if five million people show up to play the game, they’ll all be on the same server thanks to cloud tech and “dynamically split space” and “recruiting more CPU power to that particular spot.” Another concern for sandboxers is how much destruction of player buildables gamers should expect.
“Of course, it’s a fundamental issue: we don’t want to come back and find the house destroyed. It will still be possible to destroy the stuff created by other folks, but only outside of the safe zones. Though you could also use a ‘protection bubble’, a shield of sorts, to protect your stuff in that area: there are a lot of layers of protection.”
Dual Universe’s Kickstarter currently sits at almost 70% of its $557,724 US goal with 20 days left to go and nearly 5000 backers. The alpha is expected by summer 2017, with beta to follow in the first part of 2018 and the launch by the end of that same year. Consoles are out, Steam is a go, and VR is a maybe.
Dual Universe’s Kickstarter has passed the halfway mark, with over $284,000 pledged of the $557,818 goal with a whopping 26 days to go.
In its latest newsletter, Novaquark released a brand-new video of the game based on the summer convention demos and unveiled what it’s calling a Kickstarter referral program, which essentially allows backers to submit friends’ email info “to give them a heads-up about Dual Universe” in exchange for “Dual Access Coupons” should those friends also back the game’s crowdfunding efforts. Dual Access Coupon are defined as “items that you can buy on the in-game markets with the in-game money you make while playing, and that you can turn into one month of Premium play time” or buy “from Novaquark to sell it on the in-game market in exchange of in-game currency.”
“We will not send any emails to your friends as we hate unsolicited emails,” says the studio. “We will only use the emails you provided to cross-check if your friends backed us.” Check out the vid down below.