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DEVBLOG: THE FUTURE OF DU - Part 3: Finding the Fun


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PART THREE: FINDING THE FUN 

 

In this third and final segment of this series, we’ll take a look at Dual Universe gameplay and how we’re aiming to improve it. There’s a delicate balance to strike between staying as true as we can to the original vision, making smart design and production choices, taking players’ feedback into consideration, and creating more opportunities for community engagement. The game needs to be challenging but, most of all, fun. It can be a tall order sometimes, but not an impossible goal. 

 

This is far from being a comprehensive list of everything we’re working on, but we think it’s a good starting point for sparking conversation with the community. You’ll also notice that we have intentionally stayed away from precise timeframes. We would rather stay flexible and give ourselves the opportunity to revise our plans based on the feedback of players. 

 

Now, let’s get to the good stuff!

 


BREAKING THE MONOTONY 


Even if the main pillars of the game aren’t quite finished yet, the launch of the beta allowed us to see how the various systems work together, how fun they are, and what actually works or sometimes doesn’t.

 

Analyzing data on player behavior and reading the copious amount of feedback we receive (thanks for that!) have pointed to two main objectives we’ll be addressing in the coming months (in addition to continuing to fix bugs and balancing issues). These are: 

 

  • First, emend gameplay loops that are tedious for some players. We call it “fixing the player routine”, so that playing DU doesn’t feel like “going to work”.
  • Up the stakes, adding meaningful opportunities for conflict so that the in-game economy, social components, and building aspects come together. 
     

Some elements of gameplay are more fun than others in Dual Universe. Mining can often be seen as a must-do for many new players, and because it is perceived as mandatory it can rapidly feel tedious. Earning quanta is fundamental. When we launched beta, it seemed like mining was almost the only way to get money, especially for new players who didn’t have much in the way of resources or allies. 

 

To make it more interesting with a real sense of progression over time, here is the high-level plan:

 

  • Make it easier for newcomers to gather resources from the surface of planets without the need to dig;
  • Then, transition players to deploying mining units once they’ve claimed a territory. Mining units will supply a steady stream of ore, depending on the specifics of the tiles the player has claimed. These mining units come in tiers and should add a sense of progression even to early mining. There will also be a production optimization gameplay if you want to use several mining units.
  • For players who want to specialize in mining, we will introduce asteroid mining. Think of asteroids as epic mining with high reward potential. Asteroids will be spawned in the universe. Players will be able to scan clues in space to discover where they’re located. Some asteroids will contain not just regular ores, but also rare and valuable ones. Once discovered, there will be a delay before their location is broadcast to all players. This is an opportunity for explorers who find these asteroids to reap their resources first or monetize their location. The control of valuable asteroids will also create opportunities for combat, information trading, and collaboration between players. Please also note there will be asteroids in safe zones with lower-value ores.
     

THE QUEST FOR QUANTA   

Another way for players to earn quanta is the previously-announced Mission System, coming in version 0.25. It will include two components: a job board to facilitate interactions between players (for example, “I need gold delivered to this location”), as well as a secure framework for player- and NQ-created hauling missions. We hope that this will kindle the game’s economy with increased specialization and proper tools for exchanges between players. The upcoming introduction of in-game challenges will also add fun ways for players to earn cash. 

 

On that note, we plan to revise the way the markets work, considering different ways to improve connections and making it less painful to trade for goods. This should make markets more accessible and fluidify trade.

 

We are looking into how we can rebalance the industry. The reaction to changes introduced in 0.23 told us that there is more work needed here. The role of schematics is definitely one of the areas we’re looking at; whatever we do with schematics, we are particularly sensitive to making a fair move for players who have invested in buying them. 

 

Builders haven’t been forgotten. We just delivered new tools for them in 0.24, and we are already working on new ones that should let builders enhance their artistic arsenal to create more amazing constructs. We’re pretty excited about them, but should forewarn you that it may be some time before they appear as higher priority changes will take precedence. 

 

The first-time player experience will get a full overhaul to facilitate the onboarding of new players. We’re doing away with the long monologues from Aphelia and the length of time it took to get into the action. The tutorials will be more contextual, and the experience of new players should get them into the core gameplay faster. As it is now, new players sometimes need to travel long distances to find a tile free of neighbors and suitable for future expansion. The redesign will allow these new pioneers to start with their friends in a location of their choosing in a more streamlined fashion. They will also be able to select an outpost design and receive startup resources. 


STOKING THE PVP FIRES 

We know a lot of players want to hear about PvP. Once we’ve fixed the main gameplay loops, this will be the next thing we’ll tackle. Our goal is for space warfare to be one of the driving forces of the emergent gameplay, fueling the economy of the game, including for players who don’t want to directly partake in combat but might want to provide ships, ammunition, and services for those who do. 

 

While there are PVPers who are in it for the thrill of the pirate’s life, there are others who aren’t pirates so much as protectors who enjoy defender-type PVP scenarios. In its current state, PVP can be seen as gratuitous, devoid of reasons to fight beyond pillaging a bested ship’s cargo. The current PvP mechanics will be modified with the addition of construct shields and a rebalancing of weapons, among other things, as well as introducing territory control in space and, later, on planets. Controlling space territories will give players benefits such as the ability to acquire highly-lucrative space resources (i.e. rare gas, singularities) and a worthwhile reason for organizations and solo players to fight. Not only that, but you’ll be waging war in style with an array of new, unique cannons and skins. 

 

GLITZIER GRAPHICS

Admittedly, graphics improvements have been on the back burner for a while in favor of building the main gameplay systems. Upgrading the visual immersion has now taken a more prominent position in our priorities, the goal being to give more “life” to Dual Universe. 

 

This ongoing process began in 0.24 when we overhauled many of the assets used in world generation (i.e. trees, rocks, ground textures, etc.) We’ve also undertaken a big push on visual effects, with a slew of new and improved visual effects planned for gradual release in the near future. Continuing our efforts with the recent addition of new voxel textures for builders, we will freshen up many older elements in the game to bring coherence between older and newer assets, as well as between voxels and assets.

 

We are also investigating longer-term visual improvements. For some time, we’ve been working on prototypes for a new planet generation technology to make sure that our planets are interesting to explore. Before we can roll this out, we will be doing an overall pass on the existing planets, like Jago, with improved terrain and more varied environment assets. There is also a project to improve lighting with the inclusion of global illumination.


CLOSING THOUGHTS

Again, please remember that all these changes will be tested first on the public test server. The final versions of these features may vary depending on your feedback and our own thought  processes. In terms of timing, most of the “player routine” fixes are planned to be gradually introduced before the end of the summer while the space warfare and PvP revamp should begin rolling out sometime after.

 

As you hopefully see, a lot of these changes are based on your feedback and a more grounded, pragmatic approach to game design. We realize that many of these topics require additional explanations and that they will probably trigger more questions. We will answer them in due time, as we’re able, in future devblogs. Until then, we look forward to hearing your thoughts in this discussion thread. See you there! 
 

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