This is why we’ve created a new series: The Dual Universe Community Spotlight. With it, we hope to interview some of our most interesting and influential community members to showcase their contributions to the Dual Universe Community. We hope that you look forward to hearing their stories as much as we do!
Since we are currently reviewing the entries from our second NovaWrimo writing contest, we decided to ask a few questions to Aetherios, winner of the first contest in 2016.
Novaquark: Could you introduce yourself?
Aetherios: I have many names in Dual Universe, the most common being 'Aetherios'. My current and permanent name, however, is 'Vyz Estju' (just wait till you hear me pronounce that one). For some reason, I love names (and concepts) that the average person will find hard to pronounce, relate to or even bother understanding. So, if you find some riddle of a name popping up in Dual Universe, it will probably be my doing.
In Dual Universe, I'm the spokesperson for the Heimera Trade Xchange, formerly known as the Aether. I find the Dual Universe Community interesting, dynamic, and supportive - even when the organisation and player drama becomes slightly too serious or testing once in a while.
I'm a final year university student, studying a business related course. Music, art and literature are fond interests of mine when I have the time. The rest of what free time is available is spent on languages, Dual Universe or Eve Online, with the occasional diversion into new games that never lasts more than a month. I generally think of myself as old-fashioned, though my real age (insert three-hundred-year-old vampire here) would make that seem as suspicious as it is ironic. People in real life describe me as many things, but I was called 'anachronistic' first in Dual Universe, and it sums up everything else nicely.
I love reading about science-fiction and fantasy, mostly tending towards the dystopian, cyberpunk or military side of the future (I find stories with a perfect environment and 'furries' as unrealistic as they are tiring). Occasionally, I write when the inspiration suits me well, with most of my stories testing the balance between the dark side of the future and what light the characters can make out of it.
Novaquark: How and when did you discover Dual Universe?
Aetherios: I have often tried to trace back my precise discovery of Dual Universe, but it has so far remained vague. What I do remember is finding the groundbreaking game on Youtube. That was around the time I was sourcing for more information on Cyberpunk 2077. I came across Dual Universe around May in 2015, and it has seized my attention ever since.
Novaquark: Since we're talking about the moment you discovered the game, what sparked your initial interest and passion in Dual Universe? What about now?
Aetherios: One thing I have always found intriguing in games is the concept of an 'open world' without the restrictions that most RPGs come with. It's why I have found Eve Online so attractive and it's why I find Dual Universe even more inviting. The scope of freedom that exists in Dual Universe is just phenomenal and that is what hit home when I first watched the video. The obvious effort of the developers to create something futuristic, relatable and creatively challenging struck a chord with me.
My first reaction was along the lines of: "This is what I've been looking for. This is it."
For the present, many things have retained my love for Dual Universe. The first screenshots of the game, the pre-alpha tests, the glimpse we get of the work behind the scenes... all these show their dedication to making Dual Universe what that first video told me it would be: a game changer.
The community of Dual Universe is quite as important, if not more. In many MMOs, the best way to stay in the game is to join a guild, alliance or a corporation. In Dual Universe, it's no different - and that for a good reason. The Dual Universe player base is as dynamic as the developers themselves and have often taken things into their own hands, whether it's pointing new players to existing resources, creating new content, offering advice, or managing the community in ways they can to reduce toxicity. Having a corporation to be part of takes all that to the next level: creativity, involvement, connections. Once you reach a level of involvement, Dual Universe becomes an alternative reality: you can't leave, you can't dare to leave.
Novaquark: What do you plan to do and accomplish in the game?
Aetherios: In Dual Universe, there is no way to 'win the game' other than accomplishing a goal. My first goal in Dual Universe is permanently tied to my organisation: HTX. And that is to create a partly self-sufficient group of professional players. If you've played Eve Online, think Mercenary Coalition + Ascendant Frontier on a smaller and more capable scale. Creating content, however, was my first goal in Dual Universe. To me, that goal is continuous positive involvement in the game for the foreseeable future. I want to play a game for decades, and I think Dual Universe will be that game.
Novaquark: We’re working really hard to create a nice, warm, and welcoming community. We’ve been very fortunate to have such incredible support and belief in our vision for Dual Universe. We’ll keep working hard to be worthy of that trust!
You won the first NovaWrimo contest last year with your short story, "That Bright Dawn". Could you tell us more about it? What inspired you to write this?
Aetherios: Alright. The goal of winning drove me to write Bright Dawn! Jokes aside though, in previous short stories I wrote on the Forum, the theme was always about what happened after Noveans landed on Alioth. The stories usually burnt on their own momentum, plans for the future, troubles at the moment... To me, they lacked something: history. The Novawrimo contest was a good chance for me to delve into that history. Noveans didn't become humans after they landed. They held their humanity and experiences in dormant sleep for thousands of years. Now, what happens when they awake? Hope? Trauma? Anger? Desperation? Innovation?
From the lore guides and the lore bible Novaquark provided, I found a unique chance to imagine a world where things didn't work out as we would have wished. At the same time, reflecting humanity's perseverance and stubborn will to survive was key in Bright Dawn. I think the interplay between a hopeless earth, an abstract chance of selection and a bright future for those who were chosen makes for some very interesting characters. The plan was to continue the story, towards Ak's moment of departure, her life (or her brother's life) on the new planet, but I think the story is complete in its unfinished state. It should be up to the readers and players alike to 'write their own stories' as Novaquark puts it.
Novaquark: What are you hoping from Dual Universe in terms of lore and storyline?
Aetherios: In terms of lore, the UMF is still very vague right now. We don't know anything about their structure, leadership, or the extent of their emotional/psychological connection to a doomed society. On the other hand, the no-future movement is quite beautiful in its vagueness - although Novaquark might change that (I fancy some dark cultist/confused theme, but that's just me). There is little to no information on intra-system travel; the rise of the Emporium, Luminous, Ethereans and Alphas. The political movements are very interesting and may be the driving force behind a lot of roleplay in the future, but letting players define these politics could prove problematic down the line as well. In the theoretical sense, the Noveans would stick with what they know as they try to understand their new world and these four movements would determine interactions, progress and...yes, wars on the new planet. For players, it would give them a good excuse to work together or shoot one another, if not for fun.
I would love to know more about the AI-human relationship. I was planning to write about that this year, but work and uncertainty made me drop the idea a week before the deadline. That aside, I don't really want too much of details: it would limit the creative imagination of many writers in the community. AI-human relations, the political movements and the limit of human space travel before the departure of the last Arkship. I think those are the most important details. A little light on the mechanics of the game that can be placed in lore context would also be nice, but I believe it's too early to ask for that.
Thanks to Aetherios for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope that you enjoyed our little conversation as much as we did. In the future, we’ll be reaching out to more community members on a host of topics, introducing you to them, and sharing their unique contributions to our incredible community. If there is someone you feel should be in the spotlight, please let us know!
If you haven’t read Aetherios’ NovaWrimo entry, “That Bright Dawn”, you really should. It’s a great read. You can download it along with all of the 2016 NovaWrimo entries here.