Final 12 months we bought our first have a look at Dune: Awakening, the open world survival MMO from Funcom set on a “huge and seamless Arrakis” that can be shared by “hundreds of gamers.” However whereas the cinematic trailer confirmed us some acquainted sights just like the desert planet of Arrakis and a sandworm consuming a spice harvester, we nonetheless had loads of questions.

Final week I bought just a few of these questions answered once I spoke with Dune: Awakening’s inventive director, Joel Bylos, about how the MMO matches into the Dune universe and the timeline of the fiction.

Dune: Awakening is about within the 12 months 10199 AG, Bylos mentioned, which is about eight years after the occasions of 2021’s Dune movie. However within the MMO, these occasions will not play out fairly the identical means folks accustomed to the books or movies will keep in mind them.

“It is just like the books, however we have gone with an alternate historical past, like a ‘what-if’, if you would like,” Bylos mentioned. “We labored carefully with the Herbert [family] and Legendary [Pictures], and we discovered some extent, a single level, the one pebble that begins a landslide.”

This level, mentioned Bylos, represents “where if simply this one factor was totally different within the universe then it will change a whole lot of what comes after, and alter it in a means that makes for extra of a digital world sort of expertise, where gamers can see all of the acquainted issues that they’d count on to see.” 

Bylos sadly would not inform me particularly what that ‘pebble’ of story was (“I am not allowed to speak about that but,” he mentioned) or how altering it will lead to another timeline. However this transformation is supposed to permit gamers in Dune: Awakening to work together with characters from the books they in any other case would not be capable to as a result of “a whole lot of main characters die” early on within the story.

“In the event you’ve seen the primary film, you may count on a lot of these characters to exist within the story of the game,” Bylos mentioned. “I may give an instance that is very clear: Duke Leto remains to be alive. You may meet Duke Leto.”

That is already a fairly main change to the fiction from simply adjusting the course of that one ‘pebble’ Bylos referred to. Within the unique timeline, Duke Leto Atreides does not survive all that lengthy on Arrakis, actually not till 12 months 10199 AG. And if Leto is alive, what does that imply for Arrakis and Home Atreides? Or the Harkonens? I really feel like followers of the books would possibly take pleasure in making an attempt to foretell what little change in Dune lore would lead to Duke Leto surviving for much longer than he does within the unique story.

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Desert planet of Dune

(Picture credit score: Funcom)

Dune: Awakening Idea Artwork

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Desert planet of Dune

(Picture credit score: Funcom)

Dune: Awakening Idea Artwork

Past simply assembly Leto, gamers might get an opportunity to align themselves with the well-known Duke.

“The thought is that gamers will be capable to make decisions about who they assist, or need to work with afterward within the game,” Bylos mentioned. “So for those who’re assembly Duke Leto, you have clearly completed the correct factor for a sure group of individuals and you’ve got, clearly jumped by means of a whole lot of hoops. So yeah, it is sort of that angle.”

Whereas Leto was the one particular character Bylos was prepared to call, it seems like there can be extra celebrities from Dune showing within the MMO. Like one other Funcom on-line multiplayer survival game, Conan Exiles, Bylos says Dune: Awakening can be “constructing out issues additional and additional” after launch. “So an increasing number of characters will show up over time,” he mentioned.