Elias Villd [Novalys]

le_souriceau: Hello and thank you for coming in.


Maeve: Hello, Elias, welcome!


Elias Villd: Hello, thank you for your invitation.


le_souriceau: Usually we start with your gaming past, but we sense a strong presence of a scientific Force within you, Elias. Are we correct and can you tell us about it? :)


Maeve: Do you have any cool science degrees? Professor, maybe?


Elias Villd: Indeed, I am present on a lot of physics and space oriented games since I am actually an aerospace engineer. I like all these games which utilize my knowledge. I particularly like Kerbal Space Program and Elite Dangerous, to name a few. I have a full diploma in engineering school and have worked in this domain for 4 years now. And I am also self-taught, freelance developer for more than eight years. So I merge these two aspects in my IRL life and also in Dual Universe (DU).


Maeve: Aerospace engineer? Oh! You’re one of those unlucky people who watch sci-fi shows and face palms at all the inaccuracies :) Or can you forgive the obvious mistakes?


Elias Villd: This is totally it! But after a while we learn to laugh at it :D Besides, one of my favorite aspects in DU is the inertia of bodies. In movies the inertia is far too easily compensated for. We see ultra-maneuverable vessels everywhere!


Maeve: But it is so much fun to fly ultra-maneuverable ships :)


le_souriceau: So, the presence of programming in game is obviously a huge attracting factor of DU for tech professionals and enthusiastic amateurs. As a tech guy yourself, do you think NQ has the right approach to the Lua integration? Do you wish they added something?


Elias Villd: To be honest, as an in-game developer too, I find the complete Lua integration system very well thought out. Put simply, they have successfully integrated an event mechanic that transforms this simple script language into an efficient and dynamic tool.


Many possibilities come from this integration. If NQ didn't do this mechanic we would be much more limited. I recommend IRL developers test it; it's always amazing to discover a specific new development environment. I’m obviously awaiting further additions in terms of APIs that will open up more possibilities.


le_souriceau: And what about the hottest recent topic of PvP? If I remember correctly, JC said that NQ will be carefully watching any Lua use in PvP and cutting any “excessive” advantage in ship combat as compared with the default configuration. Do you agree with this?


Maeve: How do we keep the game combat system from degrading into Lua-based arms race? Or is that really such a bad thing to have?


Elias Villd: Well, that's a hot topic. It is true that there is a real debate and I would even say conflict between the different parties. There is often a limited vision of the impact of Lua on the universe of Dual Universe among players.


While preserving the NDA, let's say that the Lua is not limited to graphic display as people have seen through the digest program.


It goes much further than that, and it is precisely the fear of JC, with whom we have had the opportunity to speak about it lately. The main subject is not really the use of Lua itself, since it can allow many things, between personalized and optimized HUD, navigation systems, but also strategy tools for PvP like a strategy table for example. A table displaying a holographic visual of the ships present on the battlefield. Or again transmitting orders similar to what you see in movies ;)


But in reality, it is possible for some players to make fully automated ships with auto-chase functionality. Which, to use his words, could lead to "the game becoming a scripting contest". They are really working on this aspect to allow Lua to be present in PvP but to also avoiding abuse.


In addition, one of the key points that will change everything in the presence of the Lua is the trading of technologies. It will become possible and will spread technologies to players and balance the advantages, such as ship trading, etc…


Maeve: Fully automated killer-ships? That doesn’t sound good!


le_souriceau: And there is a thing even BEFORE combat (maybe even more dangerous) – Is “reconnaissance software” theoretically possible? Some people are already trying very hard to get ahead in it, to spy on traffic, get ship tonnages, do course prediction…


Elias Villd: Yes, it is indeed, another aspect, of which players are afraid. Monitoring and tracking ships and players is a really useful tool for station management. Player flow analysis for markets and trading too, not to mention spying.


We could say the same thing about IRL metro stations to monitor the passage of people and manage their flow. As with everything, these technologies are not to blame but rather the use they are put to.


But to give a clear opinion on the subject, if someone wants to, they can always track you, with or without the Lua, and I'm not talking about spy players in organizations.


le_souriceau: What do you think of the idea of transponders as mentioned by JC in the latest Q&A on Twitch? The idea, for those who don’t know, is to add a transponder element that links to the radar and keeps a list of friendly constructs’ identifiers.


Elias Villd: I really like this idea in fact. The idea had already been raised during discussions by JC or an RDMS alternative. I think the idea chosen will be a mix between the two.


This is a solution that seems to allow the use of location information for navigation systems but also avoid the use of auto-chase spaceships.


However, I remain somewhat skeptical that the players are thinking of activating or deactivating their transponder.


le_souriceau: Well, let’s move to more positive uses of Lua :) You frequently use the term “casual layer”, the idea of the community creating some sort of convenient and accessible world (via Lua and other means) for newcomers. Can you tell us more about this concept?


Maeve: In all the tasty details! What can we potentially see if Lua guys go wild?


Elias Villd: Well, yeah! This famous "casual layer" is a very vague term I must admit but fairly well understood by all. Firstly, I would say that it is one of the primary purposes of the game and the dream that we all share with JC.


Let's get into the details a bit since this is what interests you and will certainly interest the readers more. Concretely, the "casual layer" brings together the whole environment of the civilization for which we all will work. So in commercial stations, stores, missions, casinos, cities, but also all the mechanics and content that can be found in some other universe such as Elite Dangerous.


But it even goes even further since it is a movement of creating a frame on which our civilization will be able to develop and on which the players who affectionately qualify as "casual players" will rest. These players who simply want to do missions, escort, transport ... Well, so that they can do that in DU, it is not NQ that will create it. It is not NQ’s role, it is ours, the community to do so.


And even further, developing its activity within the framework of the "casual layer" highlights the communication and marketing aspects. And yes, the advertisements will also come. But it is all of this that will create a living world.


So, Maeve, all of this will need to be lively and dynamic, and that's why we "Lua guys" are here. So imagine a simple station, in which you can play at the casino, make bets on the races between players organized by DICE, buy a ship in a store with an exhibition of certain flagship ships here and there, and even the possibility of taking a ticket from a passenger or vessel transport company.


All this is possible and even already done in terms of a prototype, and this largely thanks to the Lua and partnerships and collaborations.


Novalys is one of the many organizations waiting for Beta to launch all of this. And make sure we do our utmost to offer a first transcendent step; not necessarily on the subject of the projects but on the whole marketing communication and identity aspect…


le_souriceau: A great vision! I can’t wait to see it! And we naturally arrived at one of future actors in our technological progress in DU, your organization – Novalys…


Maeve: Let’s start with the name first!


le_sourceau: On the most primitive deconstruction it’s like “nova” – “new” and “lys” – “lily” or “iris flower”, And the logo looks like cybernetically-enhanced fleur-de-lys…


Elias Villd: Ah! Novalys upholds an identity through this logo and this name.


Firstly, the origin of our company, although it is international, is mainly French, with half of the team being French and the rest German or Dutch. The fleur-de-lys being the symbol of French royalty.


Secondly, its name "Novalys" comes from the Latin "Novalis terra", meaning a new land ready to contribute to growth, and in our case, the growth of ideas, projects, partnerships and “casual layer”.


And finally, the cybernetic half of the logo shows our technology aspect, which is our main work.


le_souriceau: Yet interesting things only begin here! Your organization is quite unique as it’s not a typical “MMO clan” -- you call it a company, development office? And develop things with your actual real life former/current co-workers, mirroring your real activities. Does it not feel somewhat…


Maeve: ...surreal at times? Team meetings in real life and again in game? :) Have they been tempted to fall asleep in the game too?


Elias Villd: Ahah! Indeed, it is true that it may seem somewhat atypical compared to what we can see on other MMOs, with guilds or association of players. But isn't Dual Universe already atypical?


But yes indeed, as you said, we are former IRL colleagues and work in a similar way (a little more relaxation all the same since we are in a game, eh?). We have simulation engineers, designers and a project manager, among others.


Dual Universe really has two different aspects, those who will build the casual layer and those that will use it. And let's be honest, many will use this "casual layer". And very few will actually build it.


Novalys places itself in the creation of this "casual layer", which means that we do things so that it is finished and well done. I am not saying that the rest of the creations are badly made! Do not make me say this :D ! Ah ah!


But let's say to take an example, like a ship, when we design a ship, we don't just build a nice exterior and put things in a hurry. We work with a real process to obtain a finished and complete product, not an empty unoptimized box which does not make you want to live there.


It can sometimes be scary, but it's generally simple in principle, we make plans in levels with the different parts, we assess the needs in terms of equipment, evaluate its numerical and software infrastructure but also the ergonomics of the vessels .


This is what makes all the immersion and the desire to walk around and be able to stay there just for fun. To answer the question, it sometimes happens that we fall asleep in the game too!


le_souriceau: Sounds like a seriously scary set-up! :) So far, what are Novalys’ finished projects you are most proud of? Like a signature achievement?


Elias Villd: To be transparent, we have currently made five projects for the development of Novalys, the majority of which are currently secret since they are used internally.


The majority of our activities to date have been carried out by sponsors. Sponsors are a way for us to work on various projects without worrying about funding. But it has a disadvantage: The sponsor owns the intellectual property of the product and is also the decision maker on whether or not to publish the project.


Unfortunately, we cannot show much of it or what will evolve with the new project campaign that started recently for the Beta, with a brand new partner. Nevertheless, I can still name the Zeus; a flagship product from Novalys. A very versatile XS hybrid vessel with a sleek design intended for solo players or beginners offering great freedom and varied functions. We had designed this vessel for the French organization Les Scorpions du Désert (LSD), which agreed to let us display it.


However, I will also allow myself to name certain products / projects carried out, without quoting the client or the final projects, such as an underground train, a deck-assist technology, a holographic projection technology without a screen or even a tactical holographic table… These are some of the things we are proud of.


le_souriceau: You sound quite busy :)! And it all sounds like quite expensive investments for those rich in ore and money. Do you plan something like Kickstarters for everyone? Like some player invests a little bit and then gets some humble, but lesser copy of tech?


Elias Villd: You have to be aware that we have fairly wealthy clients or sponsors. But it rarely reaches millions of quantas you know. :D


You are kidding but you know that we have recently thought about doing something close on a range of Beta products on which the team is working. :D


These products are intended for players and not for organizations, in order to reduce the opening price for certain players we wanted to offer players the opportunity to participate in the financing of products with a small contribution and allow them early access and for a lower price in the end.


But hey, to avoid breaking promises, we await our first tests on the communication and marketing aspect with our partner to see if it already pleases the players before launching any other forms of marketing. Each thing in its own time.


le_souriceau: Any plans on creating out-of-game “utilities” using Novalys capabilities, like the latest Hyperion Crafting Calculator? The project was quite appreciated by the community.


Elias Vallid: Again, to be fair, Novalys has developed (and is internally using) some tools for simulation and design studies.


However, we do not expect "out-of-the-game" achievements. Some groups have better skills in this area than we do. And I congratulate them for that!


We are more dedicated to the in-game software realization in Dual Universe.


Maeve: Is Novalys. more or less, an exclusive, established club? Or are you accepting new members with particular competences?


Elias Villd: Well, Maeve, to be honest, we are not particularly focused on recruitment. We are not looking to acquire hundreds of players since those numbers are clearly not the easiest to manage. In addition, given our sector, we need specific skills but we are not closed to experienced players.


I'm going to be transparent: we prefer to offer the opportunity to participate in a project to see what happens before offering recruitment, which has already been done 4 times ... but all of us considered our work a little too complex for most. We have nothing against most players, this can be understood given the multidisciplinary nature of the projects. ;)


And we prefer to work with partners with complementary skills, for example the graphics designer Aeros Group team, than to seek to recruit them.


Maeve: I see. And what is your personal dream tech project in DU? Something big, bold and utterly bordering incredible and impossible? If it’s not a secret! :)


Elias Villd: No no, nothing to make secret, Maeve! In fact, it's not just technology, rather a complete solution. My dream for DU, similar to many other developers, would be to have common standards that would work on most ships.


Leading to the realization of a massive station with a huge number of services and products, a technological ecosystem that would bring all of this to life. It becomes a common meeting point for players who welcome a lot of players and activities. That is the dream! But we have to be honest, it will take years to accomplish!


In view of the enormous amount of substantive work and training, the support of many partners, background technologies ... etc, it is a crazy job! It's not just a bunch of voxels, it’s much more than that!


I admit I have a little guilty pleasure of making games in DU, so a big game will make me happy. But keep it quiet, huh!? :D


Maeve: Nice! What is your general advice for people who want to start Lua from a point of absolute zero? People, who not only know nothing about Lua, but have never done any programming at all?


Elias Villd: Above all, I want to clarify something to your readers. In DU the goal is *not* to do everything. Rather find the activities in which you want to grow.


Anyway, if I had a tip for someone who is motivated, what you need is to understand the language a bit, even if it would repel some but it is necessary ... take a few lessons :D And of course ... read the codex. There is no miracle, Lua is a real programming language, not a little trick that allows you to flash lights. :D


I wish them good luck and stay motivated ;) And especially, do not hesitate to come and ask questions on the dedicated section on the forums or discord, you will find a lot of people there to help.


le_souriceau: Last one! Space-coffee, this aromatic drink from beans of Jago-born plant species, has become quite a hit recently in the Noveans community, bordering, some experts say, on addiction. Do you consume this substance too? What is your stance on the issue?


Elias Villd: Oh yes! We had someone who wanted to consume it! We had to intervene, this is certainly an anti-stress benefit, but let's say that we prefer that our teams maintain their concentration! But hey, you know it will spread through the system if people like it. :)


Maeve: *hides suspiciously looking can under table*


le_souriceau: Thank you Elias for your time and interesting high-tech answers! :)


Maeve: Thanks! Hope to see, and personally test, some of your creations in game soon enough! I’m especially looking forward to riding your underground train!


Elias Villd: Thank you for this moment and this interview!



And we XL level grateful to Kurock for proofreading and advices!


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