Hello again everyone.
Ever so rarely, you get the chance to speak with famous people. Not famous because of what they have, famous because of what they have achieved. Today, I was meeting with a whole group of that kind. Under the expansive sky, only one thing was more imposing than the troubling realisation that I was at the wheel: the production centre of Objective Driveyards. It was easy enough to get lost in the intricate details of the elaborate metalwork ODY called shipyards and more than once, I found myself literally following the clean lines that decorated modern structures with the craft. It’s a good thing collision alarms work as advertised these days. Not to be outdone by the aesthetics of the ODY facilities, the control tower was as clear cut and precise as the features that distinguished the HQ from the rest of landscaping art that was the heart of DU’s most productive shipyards.
It took only a minute for my craft to land among other vehicles superior in both size and looks. For some reason, even the landing pads on my craft looked outdated on the brushed metal ground.
Before I dive into some questions I feel I should mention that when doing these interviews I am only talking to the representatives of organizations. Behind the efforts and accomplishments of any organization are people like you and me. All working towards a common goal and special in their own way. Without these boots on the ground no organization would be able to carve out a piece of this world. It is only for practical reasons that I interview the people who are allowed to speak for their organization in the knowledge that they are supported by their friends.
Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Code24. Since there are so many organizations created for Dual Universe it can be a challenge to keep up with all of them. Can you introduce us a bit into what Objective Driveyards is and what it stands for?
Objective Driveyards is all about using the power of quality craftsmanship and technology to shape the future of Dual Universe. We believe that by working as a team to master the principles of design and engineering we can build a lasting legacy as a brand. Sgt.Toothpaste and I co-founded ODY in 2016 with the structure of what we call a “corporate-state”. This means all our processes, from design, to the supply chain infrastructure, and even our own defense, are part of a unified system that strengthens over time. Our effort to maximize control over both internal processes and external threats, is a way to prepare for the unstable environment of a player-driven universe and insure enough stability to achieve our goals. As the organization has evolved, we have focused on becoming the premier shipyard of DU and a brand that carries a widely respected legacy. We will establish a line of ships for individual customers, while also working to secure contracts with organizations to build out their fleet. We have been very happy to see this vision steadily attract a number of awesome people who now make up our team of 90+ members. We’ve already hit the ground running with a talented team of players in Pre-Alpha, who always show determination and enthusiasm when faced with new challenges.
That’s a very interesting answer. Can you tell me where the idea originally came from? Just a desire to create dynamic constructs or is there more to the story? Am I correct in thinking the focus lies on dynamic constructs?
The ability to “mass-produce your custom designed ships to sell them in-game” being advertised as one of Dual Universe’s core features really captured my attention early on, as it isn’t really offered by any other game. Sandbox games like Space Engineers don’t have the stability for mass-production, while MMOs like Eve Online or Elite Dangerous don’t have fully customizable ships. Those games all have their niche, but Dual Universe offers a level of freedom we’ve not seen before. I want to help create the quality of ships you’d expect of an immersive sci-fi game, and really prove that players are capable of creating high quality content. The idea that a ship you built could be propagated to hundreds if not thousands of players, gives ship design and construction a new sense of meaning. As one of many industrial organizations, we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, so being a dedicated shipyard allows us to focus on mastering products that serve a specific sector of the economy. So it’s true that dynamic-constructs will be our primary products, but the infrastructure built around the manufacture and distribution of our ships is equally important to us.
I agree that the idea that your creative vision can be a commodity is very appealing. It allows the community to become really invested in our Dual Universe. And it’s a great way to turn a profit. If the product is highly desired. How are you going about building out your infrastructure? Are you relying on external sources or will you handle the resource gathering internally?
The plan is to build out our infrastructure and gather necessary resources ourselves as we do actively recruit people interested in mining and logistics. Having our own extraction division means we can directly coordinate what resources should be prioritized in proportion to our current needs for production. However, we may still supplement that by working with external suppliers if they offer us a cheaper/faster alternative to meeting our resource demands. Either way, I think it would be risky to assume that any external organization will cover our resource needs so far out from the games release. We are essentially going off what organizations look like ‘on paper’ at this point and the way that actually translates into the game will be really interesting to see.
So it seems you are trying to be self-sufficient. That can be both a blessing and a curse. For one it can keep your prices competitive. But it could also slow down production. It will be interesting to follow up on your development after launch. Though I think that there is a good chance that the goals of ODY will support many players in the economy. Directly and Indirectly.
Have you been pre-designing ships?
We have been pre-designing ships concepts since the beginning and are also working on developing the styles that will be found across our entire line of ships. Ship design will become just as much a science as it is an art, so our ship schematics will simply be used as inspiration for future more refined designs that take advantage of the game’s mechanics. I think our first schematics shared with the community were actually an excellent way of attracting interest in the organization, as giving some visual representation of the organizations specialty gave us some more exposure to potential applicants and customers.
What are some of the things you take into account when designing something? Is it style over function or do you take a more pragmatic approach?
I think every design should start with a clear understanding of the role the ship is meant to fill, and what it needs to achieve, because that will influence every engineering and design decision going forward. The functional requirements are priority, but I don’t view style and function as mutually exclusive. In a player-run market nailing the “look and feel” of a ship can actually serve a practical purpose in that it gives character to the form and can even override a potential buyers more practical imperatives. We could make it our mission to engineer an ugly death brick that dominates in battle, but ultimately I don’t think that’s an exciting goal. The power of style can’t be completely dismissed by the “form follows function” cliche, and I think the pursuit of elegant engineering is going to be core to our process. You can run into issues when form forces function though, so there has to be a delicate balance. When aiming for maximum vehicle performance, being overly focused on style will end up being counterproductive.
Fascinating, from a consumer point of view it sounds like Objective Driveyards tries to look good while going about its business. As a consumer that’s pretty important to me. I can’t speak for everyone but a lot of people will want to own constructs that reflect their own style in some way. If you can share this with us, what are the tools you currently use to pre-design your constructs? Can you give us a rough idea of the process?
We’ve used a variety of methods. My favorite way is to sketch them on paper because it’s easy to make modifications as you go and later transfer in to a visual editor. For 3D visualizations we’ve experimented with Blender, SketchUp, MagicaVoxel, and SolidWorks to name a few. That being said, we don’t enforce any specific process or set of tools when designing concepts. It’s just whatever the designer is most comfortable with. For those of us already in pre-alpha, we’re mainly focused on testing out concepts in game.
That makes sense to me. You could just as well develop a concept in clay if that is what the artist is most comfortable with. How does your organizations structure look like? Are you going for a classic business or are you trying something new? How about potential profits?
Upper management currently consists of the CEO and three branch directors. We will likely be adding a few positions to the upper management as needed. Each branch will consist of 3-4 divisions which will each be assigned a division head. We’ve also been developing a few different ways to track member progression and authority including a basic ranking system for each branch. Below these upper and middle management positions, member teams and leadership will be much more dynamic, shaped by the projects and missions that are being actively pursued by the corporation. Our policy is to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy wherever possible while still providing enough stability and structure to avoid chaos. Some of our structure is similar to real companies, but we have to keep in mind the Dual Universe is a game, and that members can’t act like full-time salaried employees with the incentives being much different from real life. We want our members to have fun and be valued as a member of a team, without feeling like it’s just roleplaying a second job. The great thing about Dual Universe is that the line between roleplay and gameplay are starting to become blurred as projects will be so complex that specialized roles will actually serve a purpose.
As we will need to grow our manufacturing and facilities early on, I think it will take awhile before we see our revenue from ship sales begin to exceed our operational costs. Producing ships is risky because it requires that we can produce assets to support ourselves and supply customers with ships that are price competitive. Before we can secure our place in the market our members will be our stakeholders, and they will have to put the success of the organization first to get us to financial and military security. As far as living up to our ‘corporation’ label, we will have to be careful when opening ourselves up to outside influence, so I think in the early game we will only consider strategic rounds of private investment to give us a kickstart. There’s a lot of uncertainty involved and failure is always possible when doing something this ambitious, but I think this is also what makes our plan exciting.
That sounds like an interesting investment opportunity to me. In fact, I think you’ll find many players eager to invest in your business venture.
As I wind down our little chat can you tell us a bit more about yourself? Who is Code24?
I’m an American third year college student, majoring in biology, as a path to get into the field of biotech and bioinformatics. I work tutoring other students in bio and math (mostly stats). Outside of my studies, I’m more of a creative person, with video editing and web design being my main hobbies. I’ve always loved sci-fi books, movies, and games that bring those ideas to life, so when I discovered the community and technology of Dual Universe I became really excited for it’s potential and wanted to help it succeed. It quickly became my main creative outlet and ended up backing the game, co-founding a corporation, building a website, and eventually regularly editing videos for DU. Day to day, I spend most of my time in front of the computer, either working on projects related to school or DU. Leadership in an MMO is definitely a new kind of challenge for me, but the friends I’ve made and projects we’ve undertaken have already made it very rewarding.
If you had to choose, Captain Picard or James T. Kirk?
Picard. No contest.
Oh, that’s going to ruffle some feathers.
I’m looking for a new ship. Sell me a ship.
I prefer the performance, aesthetics, and overall utility of the ship to speak for itself. That being said, if you want to travel the stars and make a name for yourself in this vast and dangerous universe, don’t settle for some rickety dingy slapped together with the cheapest spare parts. Objective Driveyards will give you a ship that’s been painstakingly refined and crafted into a vessel that exudes quality. The design of your ideal ship is still germinating in the minds of our engineers, but you can be assured that when the time comes, we’ll deliver a vessel you’ll be proud to call your own.
There you have it folks. A closer look at the structure behind Objective Driveyards. As always there are still so many questions to ask but perhaps we can get around to asking those in the future. I don’t know about you but I’m left excited for the prospect of being able to buy a ship from Objective Driveyards. Is it the excitement that Code24 shows in describing his product? Or perhaps it’s because Croomar’s team from Objective Driveyards has shown their skill and style in the community outpost competition where they won first place. If you are a designer at heart or want to be a part of this startup company head on down to the community page and apply.
I’ll leave you with the video showcasing the building efforts of our community.
See you on the flip side.