le_souriceau: Hello, ZarTaen! Thanks for accepting our invitation.
Maeve: Willkommen! Nano-recorder on!
*New chromite-cased nano-recorder shines proudly*
ZarTaen: I have to thank for the opportunity to do this with you today :D
le_souriceau: Dual Universe has a great collection of players – gray haired relics of ancient gaming, hot-blooded EVE vets, cubic minecrafters and more rounded landmarkers, greasy space engineers and dreamers of all sorts … What was your personal inspiration here?
Maeve: You forgot the green dudes with the space program!
ZarTaen: I came to Dual Universe because I heard of it from my alliance leader in Starborne last summer, Starborne is a space strategy game. He essentially said "I don't like this anymore, I'm probably going to try Dual Universe", and sure enough two weeks later I looked into it myself!
My background is a huge variety of games, starting with the Nintendo Gamecube and across all genres including the rhythm game "osu!" and WoW, as well as games like Robocraft and Elite: Dangerous. I didn't play with the green dudes with the space program (I guess it's KSP?), but wanted to for a while :D
le_souriceau: Looks like you have quite a wide experience! Yep, Kerbal Space Program (KSP), is a fun game and well worth a try!
Maeve: Speaking of inspirations, we are now digging into our “classical questions” box, but you can expect some personal twists! So. What are your all-time favorites: Name one sci-fi female character, one ship design (named one/class) and location – one planet or city, space station and why!
ZarTaen: That is quite an interesting question, I think for ship design I will go with the Arwing from Star Fox: Assault. I always liked the angular and sleek fighter-style with an overengineered weapon as a single-seater.
For location I would have to say the Endymion from To Aru Majutsu no Index, it is a Space Elevator with an Orbital Station combined and looks really sleek. It is something I would love to have replicated in DU someday, although it would take a lot of resources.
And for the female character I would pick Samus Aran from the Metroid Series, although I have to say I hardly think about "favorite" characters to begin with, so that may change at any point. She came to mind because of the story and her actions (that you do in the games), as well as being badass all around.
Maeve: Hmm… curious list!
le_souriceau: What kind of player are you deep at heart? And what kind are you planning to be? When people meet you in DU, can they expect to lose their clothing, boots and hover-bike?
ZarTaen: Hahaha, no, I'm luckily not a robot from the future. I am essentially playing DU for the sole purpose of developing and testing ships with various specific functions and goals, so it would be rare to encounter me in the wild once the game gets going on a bigger scale. However, if you do meet me outside, it is probably because of racing, testing, visiting places for inspiration as well as looking at other ships or similar stuff.
Maeve: Sounds like now I know why you’re in Hyperion. It’s time to talk about it!
le_souriceau: Why “Hyperion”? The Titan’s name is obviously quite a used name in sci-fi settings. What is your own idea behind using it? Some special meaning?
ZarTaen: So, when I started the game, I already knew 100% that I wanted to build ships, so I wanted to join an organisation that would provide me with the infrastructure to see those ships fly across the whole galaxy later on. And since I am from Austria, a german organisation was an obvious choice. The name "Hyperion" from what I know was for one derived from the Titan from Greek Mythology as you suggested, as well as the corporation in the Borderlands universe to some degree with less the "weapons manufacturer" and more the "New-U" part of it.
le_souriceau: Besides Hyperion being an old, large and (effective) working entity in many aspects, how would you describe its distinguishing features compared to other industrial corporations of which are quite many?
ZarTaen: It is hard to specify exactly how it differs from other industrial corporations, because I was never member somewhere else. My main guess would be how Hyperion members are not scared of the idea of building something on an insanely big scale and the organisation needed behind it. Themis was a good example that escalated a bit in size and it definitely will not be the last. However, I feel like clarifying that Hyperion isn't just an "industrial" organisation, even if that is a huge part of it. We have people planning a casino for example, I myself am working on a system for managing a racetrack next to what I usually do, Wildchild85 is working on the Website and there is a ton of LUA stuff going on. I think this will also shine through to the outside more once it is easier to sell ships as well as scripts.
Maeve: And you are *deep breath*... Abteilungsleiter Forschung!.. Sounds… very serious! What are your duties?
ZarTaen: Yeah, essentially I am the "Abteilungsleiter" for "Forschung" which, directly translated is the Department Leader for Research, which is part of the Research and Development Division inside Hyperion. Essentially, my work in that role is to look at how game mechanics work as close as I can and test them thoroughly with scientific based methods and documentation. The result would then be helpful for building guidelines or as information for the ship development side.
While my duties are generally less stressful for now, before the wipe - a while after I got the position - I was essentially creating and leading the testing involved with how PvP damage calculation works and why, with a total of over 20 tests done.
So, when game mechanics arise that have a similar ambiguity, it will probably get more stressful again for me, but I like it.
Maeve: Wow! Sound like very serious approach.
le_souriceau: Hyperion holds german language as a prerequisite for new recruits. Compared to so many other organizations that go as international as possible, and trying to grab as many talented members. Do you think in the long-run it was a good decision for Hyperion to set such limits?
Maeve: Have you noticed any downsides? Like too much german humour in one place?
ZarTaen: You should know that germans have no humour :P. The prerequisite is there for a variety of reasons, one being that english is not a comfortable language for a lot of german speaking players. I think it is a good decision to provide a potential home for these players, because those are often talents that would struggle with english as a language barrier.
It is in the end a pro and con decision, going international would enable being able to recruit talents from different countries, as you say, but it also invites more possibilities for spies to enter without a huge language barrier. However, I can't predict the future, maybe it leads to trouble later down the road, maybe it will show more benefits than now, who knows.
le_souriceau: And besides language, how does it work in term of rules/progression for recruits? How are they… pipelined? Well, in a good sense.
ZarTaen: If you apply, you essentially apply with a few words about what you want to do in DU, what you expect from Hyperion and some stuff about you such as age, what you played before and how active you think you are going to be. That part is done verbally right now because of some website work, but usually it would be written. Then, when you join the Discord a newcomer appointee is going to talk with you once you have the time and get a feel for you. After that you are essentially a "candidate" for 2 weeks if you're active, and longer if you are not active. If the time is over and you were active enough, you are going to talk with the newcomer appointee again usually, and then you become member, where a lot more channels open up inside the discord.
Once you’re a member, if you want to become part of a team inside a department (like mining) you essentially have to apply to it by talking to the corresponding leaders, which opens up more department specific channels, and so on. So, that is roughly the progression and it has worked fairly well so far.
Maeve: Do you have some security service to catch spies?
ZarTaen: Maeve, that question is something a potential spy would ask :P I can say at least that the onboarding is partly the way it is because of potential spies and that there is definitely awareness of how things work to mitigate risks, without going into too much detail.
le_sourciceau: Considering how serious Hyperion is about its projects, does Hyperion suffer from over-engineering? Let’s assume you guys are building the new “officially best-in-galaxy hauler”… how many steps, people involved, remakes, updates and evaluations must the poor thing suffer before being approved?
ZarTaen: Honestly, that is a question that is insanely hard to answer right now because there is no official guideline yet and it is dynamically decided inside the R&D division for what is built there. Essentially, I can say this much that the "officially best-in-galaxy hauler" would be impossible. However, if we were to aim for that goal, it would be like this:
-- Someone would probably suggest it to a division leader.
-- That leader would discuss it briefly with the other division leaders to see whether that is needed as an official Hyperion project
-- The leadership/that leader would give the task to the R&D division
-- The ship development department inside the R&D division would then look at it and brainstorm for a while, maybe some mockup 3D designs, maybe some drawings, and it would be decided in that group and depending on the criteria we want to have, it would go back to leadership for some feedback, since they gave the task
-- Once the rough design is complete, those that are interested to work on it will take the project and work on it. There is not a whole lot of order to it, but officially there is a process already in place to keep leadership up to date. Later on this will be in written form because of increasing projects and player numbers, but right now mentioning how it progresses verbally is enough.
-- What is built first is a prototype. Those that are interested in the success of the project would give their feedback verbally, formally or informally so those working on it know
-- Prototyping can take a long time, depending on what the ship needs to achieve. In this case, the “best-in-galaxy hauler” would manage weight beyond anything else, look good, and be resistant to pvp as well, a tough challenge.
-- During prototyping, it would also be shot, and at some point when everyone is satisfied, it would be good to go
So, it is hard to say how many rebuilds or remakes it would need, or how many people would be involved, directly or indirectly.
le_souriceau: Oh! That is serious! Did you experience some hilarious story of (epic or not) fail and can you tell us without compromising Hyperion’s reputation too much?
ZarTaen: Well, there is no specific story that comes to mind, but there were a lot of awkward crashes when I was flying an overweight wannabe freighter while trying to get some mates and testing materials near the PvP-space station. Another one that comes to mind was trying to fly a mate from the market to the base at the time with an experimental diagonal engine prototype, it was a running gag that you needed to disconnect in order to survive me flying :D.
There were also tales of objects starting to move by themself and eerily flying away without any direct player influence. Now that I think about it, one thing does come to mind. Skeletmaster and I both tried to use rockets for escaping Alioth as fast as possible. With some questionable tricks up our sleeves we simply had some fun and looked at how fast we can get inside the atmosphere before leaving. For me, it ended up starting the engine, dying immediately, and respawning 50m away at the res node while still seeing the rocket stand still. The same shenanigans ended in no lost fuel either when I died. And later that evening, when it was maneuvered in some weird way, I started the engine and was suddenly 1 su away from Alioth at over 30k km/h with insane rotation speed and without a clue about what happened.
le_souriceau: All for science and knowledge! Recently warp-drives have been introduced in game, this seriously influenced the game as a whole and shipbuilding in particular. Do you like how its was done from a design point or have better ideas? And, secondly, since you already played around it in shipbuilding aspect, do you like the new challenge it adds to create ships?
ZarTaen: I indeed like how it was designed from a game-design standpoint. In fact, when NQ announced it, I expected something less spectacular, sort of like a loading screen. A "better" idea would always be recreating supercruise from Elite: Dangerous, however that is not possible for DU, likely due to the game engine.
The fact that the current iteration relatively heavy and needs a container for warp-cells leads to the obvious result that it is not really useful economically for very small ships. This could be a good thing because carriers gain a certain purpose that way or a bad thing for ships that want to do it all in a small package. Essentially, given that you have enough space for the requirements in a design, you would simply think about how much weight it adds and whether the ship would travel space by itself that much to begin with. Other than that, not a whole lot of challenge is added. Once Open-World PvP across all of space exists, the decision to add a warp-drive might not be so obvious anymore.
le_souriceau: You mentioned the Themis project and plans for more. Can we expect some really BIG things from you guys, like true mega-structures, sort of like wonders in Civilization games?
Maeve: At least – tease our readers!
ZarTaen: Right now there is nothing specific planned other than the possibility of creating structures as part of the Ascendancy, but I can say that once it is guaranteed there are no wipes anymore, we are likely to plan on bigger scales once the basics have settled somewhat. It all depends on how many people join the game as well as Hyperion.
Personally I can see Hyperion do mega-structures in a few years time, but given the scale for a "mega structure" it would take years to complete even with a lot of players, and frankly, without ways to gain resources on a bigger scale, it is hard to do so and justify it. But because you mention Themis and mega-structure, it is a running gag among us that Themis was just the "Tunneleingang" or the tunnel entrance for a much bigger Space station due to what happened with the naming when it was shown by NQ.
le_souriceau: Yeah, that naming mistake was funny :) Hyperion’s “crafting calculator” was very warmly welcomed by the DU community and is now extensively used. Are you planning to develop it further and maybe even create more tools like this?
ZarTaen: It is pretty sure that it will be kept up to date and developed further to a degree, however I cannot give any guarantee because I am not the one developing it myself. There might be more tools coming later down the line, but honestly, it depends on a lot of factors and a certain need for it. The original intention of Wildchild85 behind the crafting calculator was originally to do so because he kept miscalculating when calculating materials for crafting. Other tools are the Voxel Library to get a good immediate glance at Voxel stats and the same for the Engines.
You say very warmly welcomed, and that may be true for the majority of the community, however some voices appeared that raised concerns about what we do about potential information because it is handled by a single organisation. Some even claim we collect every possible information about what they do on the website in order to do their organisation harm. So, it also depends on the general sentiment.
Because we take these concerns seriously, it has to be evaluated how things are done in the future.
le_souriceau: I think people are just a little bit over-cautious on the spying front :) Such tools are very useful for the wider community, especially solo players/non-affiliated newbies and small groups who have no important “secrets” to hide.
Maeve: Returning to a more personal topic. With the time you have left after organizational responsibilities, what are your own little garage ships projects? Any particular things you dream to realize in game?
ZarTaen: Honestly, it may sound weird, but what I am doing when fulfilling my organizational responsibilities is already what I would do for my own little garage :D.
For example, I don't build the haulers that Hyperion uses, but I built the Libelle, the Hummel Prototype and the Taipan. While the Libelle was a fun little single-seater thing I wanted to have myself for space dog-fighting, it turned out to be a nice fit for the PvP-Event that Hyperion took part in with other members of the AC. The Hummel prototype is the result of realising the weaknesses the Libelle had and eradicating them with a long-range role but is very much still a prototype that might actually be scrapped. The Taipan is my first ship and was also the one ship I rebuilt several times over and while it may be highly effective for PvP, it was sadly a disappointment from my point of view, while still being a good teacher. I consider all these ships garage projects.
Right now I'm building a 10 person transporter ship. Because of how building ships works inside the R&D Division, I essentially chose to build this ship myself from the tasks that were available, because I think it is a change of pace compared to building a 100% functional ship that needs to work for PvP as well. I consider this a garage project as well, even if its essentially for Hyperion :D. Other than that, one of my bigger goals might be to create an L core PvP ship with the maneuverability of a Hummel. Might not sound like a lot, until you realise this thing is supposed to have over 20Gs of braking force, over 6Gs of acceleration as well as being able to turn around on a whim and change direction as close to instantly as possible. But we will see whether this will become a reality in the coming years.
Maeve: Looks like quite a productive garage!
le_souriceau: And with all that time you’re putting into ship design, obviously you had these moments of “if I only had”… So, if you were able to add one completely NEW element or “element family" in game, what would it be?..
ZarTaen: This is a pretty hard question to answer. Since you mention elements, it would be rotating engines near the top, but my list is a lot longer and deciding that is hard. But for me it is less about " if only I had" because my building style is already constantly working around the difficulties that arise and more about the potential I see in what can be done with some elements, such as rotating engines. You could strafe with them while still keeping the engine numbers low for example, and you wouldn’t need something like a Hover anymore. It could make some compact builds possible that are difficult to achieve right now.
le_souriceau: Rotating engines are surely a thing resonating in the hearts of many of our readers :) And last one! If you were tasked by NQ to come up with a funny, but challenging theme for an epic shipbuilding contest, what would it be?
Maeve: Space ice-cream truck!
ZarTaen: If I had to choose a topic for an epic shipbuilding contest, it would be about building a ship with “voxel-scales” on the surface. Like a reptile, or a fish. It is likely extremely hard to do right, but would also look very nice.
Maeve: Sounds like a challenge! Thank you, time to wrap up!
le_souriceau: Thank you very much for inverview. We wish you and Hyperion all possible luck!
ZarTaen: Thanks for having me, see you in game and have fun :)
Super-special thanks to Kurock for proofreading/editing. And additinal to ZarTaen for kind start of english-repair process!