Interview With Producer Hermann Peterscheck
WarCry: Could you introduce yourself for the record? What is your name and your role on Jumpgate Evolution?
Hermann: My name is Hermann Peterscheck and I am the Producer on the project.
WC: JE still has the three player factions from the original Jumpgate: Octavius, Quantar, and Solrain. How has the world of Jumpgate changed since the first game? Are the three factions still pretty much the same or have there been changes within their ranks?
Hermann: We're keeping the basic framework of the universe in place, although the physical location is completely different. We want to allow ourselves a fresh start so that we can make the changes we feel are necessary, but we also want to keep the same basic world structure. Think of the differences between Star Trek and The Next Generation. Same world, but very different flavor. The main focus has been on making the world richer and deeper. This includes making the nations have a stronger identity and getting more character and history in there. We have some really good ideas, thanks to Keith and everyone else, but it's injecting that into the game that becomes the tricky part.
WC: Much of the fiction in JE is being penned by Keith Baker, the designer of the Eberron setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Will players be moving through a "story" of your creation? If not, how are you planning on revealing the fiction behind JE to players?
Hermann: It's sort of in between. The problem with MMOs is that you have this massive world with lots of stuff going on so trying to create and evolve hundreds of different story lines is really hard. On the other side you need to have some kind of compelling things going on otherwise the world seems pointless. Thus in JGE there's a mix of the two which enables players to always have something to do but still being able to look forward to a story that unfolds and evolves over time. The other nice thing about MMOs is that part of the game is continuously adding content and so we can keep moving the story forward post launch.
WC: The official JE site describes the combat as "a unique twitch-based combat system," and joystick control is supported (as in the first game). Could you elaborate on this? Is the combat in JE closer to, say, TIE Fighter than a more "traditional" MMOG?
Hermann: Certainly. The main differentiator is that combat is fly and shoot a la TIE Fighter, Wing Commander or Freespace. Actually if you think about a game like Freelancer the mix of RPG elements, story and action game play lends itself very nicely to an MMO. I know that when I think about something like Freelancer online it sounds really fun, and that's what we are trying to make.
WC: JE has a somewhat small development team-what would you say are some of the pros and cons of working in a team this size?
Hermann: We don't really think of it that way; that is to say, it's not that a team needs to be this many or that many people. I think the best development environment is as many people as you need to accomplish whatever goal you set for yourself. The thing about game development is that teams have become massive in order to keep pumping out the amount of content needed within a given time frame. A lot of this team size is an effort to trade team size for development time, which everyone in the software industry knows doesn't work. As a producer I feel that it's my job to keep the team as small as I can. My feeling is that as a small team you can respond to changes more quickly. It also is much easier to communicate ideas and visions and everyone has more buy in on the project.
Once you get to 30-50+ people jobs become a lot more about meetings and task lists as opposed to just making a great game. Another thing to keep in mind is while the actual number of developers is smaller than other studios our publishing partner (Codemasters Online) has people who do QA, Community management, Marketing, Customer services and so on. So if you add the development team to QA people, marketing and customer services people the numbers add up quickly. The other nice thing about a smaller team is that everyone can contribute which builds the excitement level... I think that if you have a team that is having fun and cares about what they are working on, that will show.