Updated: Jun 10
le_souriceau: Hello, GraXXoR! Thank you for virtually joining us in our obviously non-existent studio!
Maeve: Hi and welcome!
GraXXoR: Thank you for inviting me!
le_souriceau: Starting with a predictable question that never gets old :) What were your gamer adventures that formed your tastes and eventually brought you into Dual Universe?
GraXXoR: I'm sure I am not alone amongst DU players in saying that my first taste of space action was the seminal 1984 BBC computer game called Elite. The idea of an open universe where players were free to take whatever course they wished was very novel... I believe it was the first sandbox space adventure. Other space games followed... Frontier, Wing Commander, Federation of Free Traders (FOFT)...
On the other side there were the builder games such as Sim City and Populous and Civilization which kept me busy for hours on end.
But then I moved away from computer games from highschool onwards. Tabletop gaming, BattleTech, CarWars, Shadowrun etc. were my staples.
I only got back into gaming in 2012 with the announcement of the two "Big guns" of space gaming Chris Roberts' Star Citizen and David Braben OBE's Elite: Dangerous.
I am a massive crowd funding geek, so they were obvious choices for me. NMS was released and I have been enjoying that for a couple of years, too... It's a new golden age of space games. Thus, when the DU Kickstarter came along, I was ready and waiting!
le_souriceau: I’ve played a lot of Wing Commander too! Do you wish to bring back those nostalgic experiences into DU, "relive" them in some from?
GraXXoR: Great question. Yes. Nostalgia brought me here... I am, since my earliest days, an immersion loving roleplayer... Diving into the game and only surfacing for the occasional cup of coffee...
These games always had a background milieu to them which I found fascinating. Elite came with a novel called The Dark Wheel and spawned several novels since. The concept of "new frontiers" and "exploration" are my favourite things. But I find building and crafting to be the most satisfying and stress relieving.
The background story to DU was also fascinating and drew me in, though it is difficult to see how any of that lore will make its way into the game.
Meave: Quick, but super important, intervention! What kind of space coffee is your favorite?!
GraXXoR: I take my coffee as black as deep space and as strong as titanium voxels.
le_sourciceau: Back to serious business! Kickstarters can be quite tricky when promises clash with realities, and peoples dream-factories occasionally reconfigure into salt-factories… DU is obviously not immune to these issues. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with the game?
GraXXoR: As someone who has spent an ungodly amount of money on crowdfunding over the years, TBH, just seeing the game developing from release to release at a steady pace is very satisfying… And when they announced the influx from a capital investor, I began to feel sure that this game will reach release, one way or another.
Maeve: How do you see your personal role in DU? I’m just itching to say this as a D&D fan: What would your class and alignment be?
GraXXoR: Ha-ha... I always gravitated towards Lawful Good. I'd try my hand at anything else and in the end, I just couldn't keep up the act... As for class: Clerics or Mages. My characters tend to follow the rules.
Maeve: Rogues and rangers – works best for me!
le_souriceau: As long you don’t fail those stealth checks…
Maeve: Speaking of honour and duty… Has living in Japan (a very interesting country!) changed your world perception in a way that projects into your gaming philosophy?
GraXXoR: Yes. Japan is a very socially orientated country and it certainly has changed the way I interact with others. They have the concept of 思いやり (Omoiyari) which translates as "think before acting" but really means one should show "compassion with one's deeds" I definitely take this mindset into any game I play.
Maeve: Great concept, I can relate to it! :)
le_souriceau: Honestly, we just walked near one of deepest rabbit holes of DU: a social experiment of players building their own civilization (or lack of it) in game, leaving even EVE far behind. So, how do you think it will roll out? What fruits do you expect human nature to produce in DU?
GraXXoR: This game could essentially become the perfect storm of EVE’s incredibly dynamic, brutalist military/industrial-complex-lead social interaction whilst having these hard, impersonal edges tempered with something akin to Linden Labs’ Second Life’s personally and lovingly crafted player content, ethos and aesthetic. It could well become truly EPIC!
Both of these are aspects of human nature that will absolutely appear in game and it will be up to NQ to somehow balance things so that the game doesn’t devolve into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, nor does it merely become something insipidly dry and boring as a challenge-free walkthrough art exhibition.
This, to me, would be the ultimate expression of the “DUAL” in Dual Universe. The brutal against the personal and the viciously uncompromising against the artistically nurturing…
Maeve: Will we will be able to transcend or instead will we fall further as a reflection of the deeply conflicted humanity of today?
GraXXoR: That’s a thoroughly philosophical question! I don’t even think NQ can answer this right now. But in my experience of MMOs and online games in general. We tend to see the best and the worst of humanity reflected in the microcosms; and presented with increased contrast and clarity. By that I mean the worst, most despotic murderers and the most egalitarian saints will likely exist in DU…and quite possibly within laser strike distance of each other. This is what makes fantasy so much more satisfying and electric than the typically mundane vista of real life.
le_souriceau: I agree. It’s not the game mechanics but the people that makes DU so special… At any case, adventures will always be both safer and more fun when you’re in good company! You joined the DU organization called NovaX. How would you describe the key ideas of your organization and how are you having fun with it?
Maeve: And why it’s named NovaX? I feel some deep meaning…
GraXXoR: I am the SL of HoneyTECH, that is under the NovaX umbrella. While I can't answer the "why" to the naming of NovaX... you'll need to ask Actimist or EyEs for that. They are brothers and founded the organization together. However, I can tell you the principles behind our org.
We operate as a firm, similar to how a law firm operates... Though, there is no single "boss" as such: No managing partner. There can be (up to) eight top partners in the org who each must swear all their assets to the firm. In doing so, they have an equal voting say in the running and direction of the firm and also share the profits... At any time, a partner can pull out of the firm and take their investment back, plus a negotiated share of value assets based on their performance. So we are all equal partners.
Each partner must take on a role as the Superlagate of a functional sub organization performing one aspect of NovaXs business.
For example. I personally will be running HoneyTECH (signed as HoneyTEX) – they will be in charge of keeping the org supplied with every honeycomb voxel type required and selling any surplus onto the markets.
Other branches include DinoXo, who solely produce and ship fuel. InspireX Shipworks. XDM Defence and PVP. FedX are our freighting and logistics guys (LOL) and finally DUGX are our geological survey and mining chaps. We have decided to split our org for security and also due to the limitations of the RDMS system.
le_souriceau: So, this is interesting system to cover in-game specializations. And I see there is still one free partner “slot” left. What talents will be especially welcome in NovaX?
GraXXoR: Yes. The idea is that with the skill trees requiring several years to grade up to full, there is a niche for people to specialize in different branches of the skill tree to keep ahead of the game knowing that we are not aspiring to be a 4-digit player org.
As for welcomed skills? Flexibility and the ability to work as a member of a team first and foremost. The new member will have to consider what sub org they want to run (they can even bring their own ready-made org if we feel it's a match) and slot it in to the NovaX system.
We will likely be recruiting more heavily once we know what the Beta will bring... or towards the latter half of the 3.1 test.
le_souriceau: As I understand, you are not greatest fan of PvP in DU. Still, it will be there to deal with. So, what is the NovaX strategy for security? Do you intend to join forces with someone? Or just be on your own, treading very carefully?
GraXXoR: You understand correctly... While I enjoy PVP in games as an e-sport, for example Elite Dangerous has the CQC: Arena battles. I have ranked up pretty highly in the past winning a lot more than losing. However, I am not a fan of open, free-fettered PvP and feel that it will detract more than it adds to the game unless there are ways to adequately offset and protect from the fallout in some way.
The key issue I have with PvP is that it tends to lead to min-maxed "Meta" builds and playstyles that do not promote beauty and aesthetics.
Yes. We are part of an org collective called C.A.T.S. and hope to benefit from safety in numbers. If PVP does become a dominant factor in the game, we will become a B2B org in the hope of making our services indispensable to our partners in times of war.
le_souriceau: And about morality and winning; what is NovaX’s stance on EVE-like spying? Especially those nasty guys that pretend to be friends for a long time to better betray and rob you. Where does the border between trust and suspicion lie for you?
GraXXoR: Excellent question. As an equitable firm, we have a certain vulnerability to this type of behaviour at the top, of course; a bad actor could infiltrate and theoretically gain access to the whole "pot" of NovaX without too much trouble... Especially in the early stages of the game.
So this is why we have chosen to compartmentalize our structure into separate orgs. Theoretically, any one member could only ever steal their sub orgs' assets and the portion of the main org's assets that are still tangible.
As we expand our sub orgs and transition all business functions to them, the proportion of assets in our umbrella (NovaX) should represent less and less as a percentage of the overall assets owned by all the member orgs.
It would hurt, but it would not be a deathblow. Like in that famous EVE case where a single guy infiltrated the org, gutted it from the inside, closed it all down, disbanded the members and stole $20,000 actual money's worth in assets.
This sort of action should not be possible given our cell like structure. And with only a limited number of top spots, we try to minimize any attack surfaces.
This also helps in the future if we decide to go our separate ways. (A sad thought, but worth planning for)... With our org structure, any member could leave and in worst case take their sub org with them if they so wished. However, this would 1) Not impact the other seven self-contained and self-supporting orgs... and 2) Any players under that dissenting member's org could theoretically continue to enjoy the game without having all their hard work destroyed. Fallout from politics can be messy. It's important to minimize the impact political decisions have on other Novaquark paying customers. They came to play, not to worry about whether they'll still have a "job" tomorrow.
Making sure that our members have a welcoming and secure environment in which to play with no fear of "impending doom" is one of the most important goals of NovaX.
le_souriceau: Sounds like good way to mitigate risks. Speaking of playing and playstyles producing debates around – more casual, more hardcore, lot of time to invest, little time to invest, etc. – Do you think NQ must do some specific game design balancing for such player groups or just let it go completely natural? And question about subs retention is implied, here too.
GraXXoR: Ahh! That is quite literally the million dollar question for NQ, isn’t it? There is the old adage, you can keep some of the people happy all of the time and all of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t keep all of the people happy all of the time.
Yes, NQ are going to have to worry about retention. So they are going to have to look at whom they are targeting this game. Is it older players like me? Coming from a background of tape drives, games without easy mode, and printed 300 page mobile phone manuals. Or are they targeting the 16 year old who has grown up surrounded by preconfigured hardware appliances and a 3 page iPhone “manual”? We are well over a generation apart, with very different sensibilities, expectations and capacities (with exceptions on both sides, natch)…
NQ will have to determine which group they are going to target. I honestly think they will have problems trying to cater both – and a fancy FTUE bolted on top of the current game is not going to bridge the gap.
le_souriceau: So far, what was your most funny, memorable (or both) encounter with players in game?
GraXXoR: The most memorable? Without a doubt the Alioth Expo... 600 server-melting structures in one place... It was the most epic in-game event I have ever been involved in.
The sheer creativity on display there by DU's avid player base was mind boggling and distinctly humbling for me, personally. I joked in Geo's thread that "IT'S OFFICIAL. DU HAS MORE SHIPS THAN STAR CITIZEN."
The funniest? Me and MadManWithABlueBox had a competition to build the smallest, most compact ship in the game. Eventually we just ended up with a hoverchair strapped to few engines and not much else... It doesn't even have a throttle. Just press space and all engines are at 100% instantly... This soon became named "The Executioner" since pretty much everyone who has ever flown it has died at least once. The freedom DU provides is also one of its most endearing and entertaining aspects!
le_souriceau: Creating ships is definitely something keeping many people busy in-game. Do you have any “close-to-heart” ship project of your own or maybe something bigger you are planning with friends?
GraXXoR: I like to test the boundaries of the DU engine with my ship designs… I’ve already talked about tiniest ships I’ve tried to make... But I try to take one aspect and expand on it, ad absurdum, really.. see how far I can push it. One design I’m pleased with, for example, is a Small Core ship that is basically the maximum 32m long and yet only a shade over 1m high and wide! Nicknamed the SkySausage, it is perhaps the least efficient use of a small core’s volume possible whilst simultaneously being the most ogled at and queried ship I have ever made.
Maeve: Player-made cities and other big structures were always part of DU promotions and quite a big reason to play for people here. What kind of sci-fi, or maybe even fantasy architectural tropes are you eager to see materialized and experience in DU?
le_sourceau: Or maybe even actively participate in yourself?
GaXXoR: It’s more the sheer variety of cities I want to see, rather than any types… I want to see distinct styles depending on the region. Under sea chasms lined with buildings. Low space cores stretching down into the upper atmosphere. Massive swathes of land entirely covered in egregious mega structures, beautifully designed colonies based on different periods of history and of course epic reconstructions of famous vistas from our books and films.
le_souriceau: And now we have no choice, but to go even bigger – planets and other celestial bodies! Considering everything you have played and experienced or wanted from space game, what do you see as an ideal recipe for adding more in DU? Just More? Or less but more fancy? Harder to reach or challenging to explore?
GraXXoR: I play both E:D and SC which are on opposite ends of the spectrum… ED is massively, procedurally generated with little variation and SC is massively crafted with little room.
In my opinion, both of them are a little too extreme… While ED is filled with billions of identical planets around billions of identical suns (a mile wide and an inch deep), SC is concerned with the shape of door hinges and the flow of whiskey in a glass (a 100m test tube). They have taken their environments to severe extremes and are both suffering for it.
NMS takes a more balanced medium position (but suffers from a particular, surrealist artistic style and disdain for everyday physics that many find off-putting) and apparently has more players than either of the other two games.
IMO, DU would do well to provide enough variety to keep people engaged (unlike in ED) and enough space to make people believe they are living in an open galaxy and not in a walled off garden like SC.
NQ have their work cut out for them.
le_souriceau: And as we go farther down the road to dreams and future fun... If you had the ability to send JC one suggestion about the development course of DU so that the next morning it would be stickied as note to his display, what would it be?
GraXXoR: A 3M post it? Hmm... Good question. Wow... This is a tricky one...
I think it would be more of a mantra than a direct function request: (初心忘るべからず originally written as 初心不可忘 in Chinese) Shoshin wasurebekarazu. "Never forget where you came from and where you intended to go".
Maeve: Maeve: Last one! How would “Dual Universe” be pronounced in Japanese? So all anime fans will know how their favorite game is REALLY called :)
GraXXoR: The accepted katakana for this game is: デュアルユニバース basically a phonetic transplant. I'd pronounce it using English words like this: dew alu you knee baa sue -- dyuaru yunibaasu (in regular romanisation).
Maeve: Maeve: Wow! “Dyuaru yunibaasu” -- sounds great! Well, it’s time to finish, sadly -- these T1 nano-recorders we are using were made quite far from Japan
le_souriceau: Thank you for great conversation! Hope to see NovaX prospering!
Maeve: Doumo arigatou! *sneakly closes DUgle tab*
GraXXoR: Douitashimashite! You're both welcome. Thank you for giving me a chance to wax lyrical about DU. I'm looking forward to catching you all in game!
Special thanks to Kurock and (additional) to GraXXor for proofreading.