Interview with Serula - Research Station the Myriad (3rd place winner)

Our own NQ-Naerais sat down with the top five builders in our latest Space Station Building Contest. Here's their interview with Serula, third place winner and designer of the Myriad.

NQ-Naerais: Tell us a bit about your station and its purpose

Serula: The Myriad was built with several goals in mind: build fast, learn to design sci-fi style, build something using only basic shapes, techniques and look good at the same time. 

This was something I wanted to achieve, and the contest was the perfect test with the amount of time I had left. The reason I set these goals was because I was a really slow builder. ‘Quality over quantity’ I always said. Working with intricate shapes to get the most details out of the engine as I could. This takes time and it's really rewarding once you finish something. But I wanted to learn to design more so I needed to find a way to build faster. The most obvious way was to go with simple shapes and building techniques. And I realized that if I could pull this off as in "make it look nice". It could also serve as an example for other builders that don't want to get into those details. I'm really glad that all my goals were achieved by a large margin. And I hope that I can inspire people to learn from the things I make and become better than me.

NQ-Naerais: Where did you draw your inspiration from when designing your station?

Serula: There is only a single piece of art that I drew my inspiration from. Pinterest has been an amazing source of inspiration in general and I can access it anywhere. So oftentimes when I have some extra time I take a peek there and create my own boards.

NQ-Naerais: Tell us about your build process. Did you plan the build ahead of time, or do it in real time? What kind of preparation did you do before this build?

Serula: I had zero preparation for this build. I started this on an impulse so everything was done real time. At first, I created an incomplete mental image of a tiny space station about 25% it's final size. This image was supposed to be the full size but it changed along the way. From there I created a floor plan and walls. That was more or less a speed build process. Simple shapes, just blocks in this case, to quickly get a feel for the result. But none of it was exactly that mental image. The image was just a rough guideline. 

From there I created a new mental image of the hull and it's shape, again a rough guideline. So the whole process has been that iteration between a rough mental image and then adding voxels. The image was mostly small but when I got stuck I tried to think outside of the box and leave my line of thinking and create a more radical and often larger mental image. That's why the station grew over time to become four times the size I initially intended.

NQ-Naerais: Were others involved if so, how so?

Serula: There were some people that helped me with resources and a large container. There was no assistance on the build itself, although I did try to find someone to help me with the interior because I thought I'd be short on time to do something nice with it. And I did appoint someone that was new to the game and started teaching him about building with voxels. But I never saw him again after that first meeting.

NQ-Naerais: What struggles did you face during this build?

Serula: The floorplan was one of the biggest struggles. I wanted it to be playful and dynamic with odd levels.  I knew I had to start my build with that so I could later add the hull to it. But I am my own enemy sometimes and I like to think outside of the box. Make radical changes to get to the wow factor I'm looking for. So at one point I was taking a closer look at my station and although I liked it I didn't get that wow factor yet and I also felt like I needed more room on the inside. So big changes happened that were focussed on making the exterior look better. This led to difficulties with the floorplan. Navigation was a big part of that. Where do you enter the station, how do you get downstairs etc. And I had to use stairs because elevators feel unnatural to me and every building in real life has stairs. It just makes it complete and more natural. Eventually I ended up discarding my initial floor plan and going for something more simple because I wouldn't get it done in time. And it still took me a very long time to do after that. That was also the least enjoyable part to do. 

I was also struggling with corners and making them look good. Sometimes a straight corner or a 45 degree angle don't really do it. And combining angles requires more advanced techniques and also don't always do it. 

And then there is the interior decoration. As I mentioned I wanted and had to refrain from using advanced techniques and "micro voxels". Using only simple shapes for the interior is easy to do but hard to perfect because they are much closer to the character. I actually have an example that does that really well. But I never tried to use that because I thought the style was too different and it would still take a long time to apply that to all parts of the interior.

NQ-Naerais: What is your favorite element of this build?

Serula: That is a really good question. There are several things I really like. But if I have to pick just one it has to be the one it all started with. It's the biggest greeble on the side of The Myriad with the three lighter colored cylinder shapes. That’s the first detail or "greeble" I created for the hull that was the driving force behind all the other greebles.

NQ-Naerais: What advice would you give to other builders in Dual Universe?

Serula: Start simple, ask others for help. There is a lot of knowledge out there and people that like to help. In terms of design, find out what works for you and stick with that. For example if I try to plan a build I struggle a lot. Instead I try to follow my inspiration as much as possible because that has worked better for me. If you get stuck try to think outside of the box, break your general line of thought and do something unexpected, well that might be hard, but something new or big. Look at your build from different angles and under different light, take a step back. And also, search for art.. a lot! Get inspired and ask yourself why something inspires you. Because when you can understand what makes something look nice you can apply that in your next build instead of trying to copy something. As a side note. I feel like such a beginner that I'm like, wait why am I giving advice to anyone, maybe I need a disclaimer haha. I'm pretty sure that once the "real" artists, that I know from another game, come in. I will be in their shadow. Which is a great opportunity for me to learn more :)

NQ-Naerais: How did you discover Dual Universe and how long have you been a part of the community?

Serula: I'm not really sure but I think a friend told me about the kickstarter and I had to back it right away. I think that's almost 4 years ago. Wow that's much longer than I thought haha. Time flies when you're having fun.

NQ-Naerais: How do you spend your time in Dual Universe?

Serula: Mostly just building and to a lesser degree mining. And I also like to visit other people sometimes and see what they've made, if they are not too far away.

NQ-Naerais: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Serula: I had no idea that building something could affect me as much as it does. When I make something that I really like. For me that is one of the main reasons I do this. I guess it's because there is a lot of time and effort into it. Not just for this build but all the things I made before it that come together in a way I never expected. And it's such a surprise every time. So I want to work on this more, develop it further and make even better things. I'm already working on something much bigger.

Finally I would also like to congratulate everyone on their achievements in this contest whether you won or not. It's truly inspiring to see all those great works of art. And also a sincere thank you to everyone at NovaQuark, you guys are legends.


Special thanks to Serula for agreeing to interview with us, and congratulations on his awesome build!

The Novaquark team