[Dev Interview] Expanded world from the original, Dune: Awakening


'Dune: Awakening' is a new MMO developed by Funcom, the creators of Conan Exiles and Anarchy Online. It was first announced at Gamescom last year. The details revealed so far about the game is that it is an open-world survival MMO set in the planet of Arrakis, where players compete for the core resource called 'Spice'. While the official release date has not been announced yet, it will come to PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.


Inven inquired about the availability of the game in South Korea and a more detailed introduction to the game through a written interview with Joel Bylos, the Creative Director of 'Dune: Awakening'.


Are you planning to officially launch the game in South Korea by localizing the content into Korean?


We haven't finalized our localization plans yet, so there isn't much I can confirm at this point. But in the past, we've localized our games to Korean and have been happy with the experience.


How’s the game universe established compared to the original novel and recent movie?


We’re very invested in building our universe from the vision of the books and the Dune movie. Visually we are very close to the style of the movie though of course the movie is very focused on characters and limited spaces, whereas we are building a larger world, so we have to expand far beyond the scope of the movie and even the DUNE from the books.


For the game, we have chosen to take an Alt History approach, so while the Universe of the IP and Movie is identical to a point, we also have a moment where the story changes and becomes different for us. This allows us the freedom to give players more of a role to shape the world.


▲ Creative director Joel Bylos

Is this universe unique to the game or does it follow the original IP?


As mentioned, we consider this to be an alternate story from the mainline movies and books, but the universe is still the same in almost every other way and will include all the familiar elements for fans.


What was your focus when bringing the IP into the game?


Our focus has been on bringing the DUNE universe to life and capturing the feeling of living in this world. How does it feel to have to deal with Water Discipline? How do Sandworms feel when closing in across the sand? How can we capture the thrill of harvesting spice? We think about the player experiences that lie at the heart of the IP and try to reproduce them for players in a way that is engaging and exciting.


How’s the game different or close to the novel and movie?


The novel and movie concern themselves with the story of Paul Atreides and his rise to power on the world of Arrakis as he is caught up in the political intrigue of the Imperium. Our game reflects much of this journey, but from the perspective of a player. As mentioned, our alt history allows us to set different events in motion so that we can lead players to key experiences such as the ones I listed above. We really try to capture the feeling of what it is to be on the ground in Arrakis, surviving and interacting with the different factions of the world.



Please share how the development experience of previous Funcom games (Anarchy Online, Age of Conan) was reflected in Dune: Awakening.


As you’ve noted Funcom has made multiple MMORPGs in the past and we also had huge success with Conan: Exiles our first survival game. Dune: Awakening draws upon the knowledge we have from developing both types of game – the types of game loops that players expect in a survival game and the social features and multiplayer aspects of the MMO space such as a player Exchange for selling crafted goods and hubs where players can socialize.

How’s Dune: Awakening different from previous Funcom games?


I think perhaps the largest difference between Dune: Awakening and our previous games is our focus on the complex sandbox mechanics that make up the game. We have added vehicles with complex physics simulations, we are creating shooting mechanics for the first time and we need all of this to function seamlessly in a multiplayer world. I think just the ability to pilot an Ornithopter and explore the various corners of Arrakis is quite different to our other games.

Where can we find the characteristics of MMORPG in Dune: Awakening? (E.g. large-scale PVP/PVE, base building, leveling system of either character or item, etc.)


Dune: Awakening features many of the classical MMO characteristics, but applied through a sandbox worldbuilding philosophy. You can build bases and customize them as you like and you are not limited in how and where you place them (apart from special cases). Players can explore the world alone, or together with their friends, forming groups and guilds to take on dungeons and harvest spice. There is both technological advancement where players learn to build new and greater technology through the acquisition of powerful schematics, as well as a robust skill and imprint system that allows players to define their playstyle in the game.


How are the features of the open world applied in this game? (It is said that Coriolis storms alter the landscape. How does it change and to what extent?)


The world is a large open space with many things for players to find and explore, but the twist in Dune: Awakening is that the Coriolis Storms will alter the map itself outside of the Shield Wall. This means that outside of Shield Wall area, the sands will periodically shift, revealing new content for players to explore and creating a “race” where players will compete to find the most valuable resources before they are taken or wiped away by the next storm. We call this Infinite Exploration and it is a key pillar of Dune: Awakening.


How are the roles of the characters illustrated? (Eg. different weaponries, jobs, etc.)


The skill and imprint system allow players to specialize their characters in different directions – but with the game being a sandbox, you will be able to choose how you approach building your character. In addition, we have many avenues of progression in the game that are implicit, rather than explicit. Perhaps you want to play as a trader pilot, taking contracts to deliver items across the world, or perhaps as an explorer, mapping the world as it changes from the Coriolis Storm. Perhaps you want to be an assassin and focus on killing high-priority targets for your faction. Or maybe you just want to do a little bit of everything – Dune: Awakening tries to allow for flexible playstyles and approaches.



How are the key resources such as 'water' and 'spice' utilized in the game?


Water is obviously a major component for survival. Learning Water Discipline – how and when to harvest, how to keep your Stillsuit in good condition, how to use water in crafting etc. By the end of the game, water is required to perform industrial crafting – so players will always need to keep an eye on their supply.


Spice is the heart of the experience. Spice represents longevity, wealth and power – everybody wants it, but getting it is dangerous and difficult. Spice is also addictive and while consuming it has advantages, players will also need to pay close attention to their spice levels in order to perform optimally. This means, for example, that at a certain spice blood saturation, players will be able to train more skills due to the mind-altering effects of spice.


Would you share the details of faction battles between guilds, families, and spaces?


We wanted to emphasize the control of spice as a resource through our systems, so guilds and factions will find themselves in conflict over spice blows around the world. Because the game is a sandbox and “anything goes” we expect to see fleets of vehicles competing over spice in the open desert. And maybe somebody will use a thumper to call a sandworm, rather than letting their enemies get away with the spice.


Those who control the spice, control Arrakis.


Any comments for Korean players?


I worked closely with Neowiz back in 2009/2010 to bring Age of Conan to Korea and I remember some very good discussions with the team at Neowiz about the Korean gaming audience. It is a great honor to hear of the interest in Dune: Awakening in Korea and I hope that we can deliver an experience that appeals to them. Thanks.


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