Interview With Jumpgate Evolution Producer

Suzie Ford | 30 Sep 2008 15:45
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Jumpgate: Evolution
The WarCry Network
September 15, 2008

Please introduce yourself and explain your role with NetDevil / on Jumpgate.

My name is Hermann Peterscheck and I am the Producer for Jumpgate Evolution.

With several space-themed MMOs on the horizon, how do you feel Jumpgate will set itself apart from the others?

The most important distinguishing feature is that you fly the ship. The core mechanic for Jumpgate is space action. On top, Jumpgate also has traditional MMO components such as a player driven economy, quest advancement, tons of ships and items, crafting, medals and so on. We're also working hard to make a pretty game that runs well across many levels of hardware. I think that combination is not something that others are working on.

What are Jumpgate's most unique features?
It would have to be the action based combat. It's a very different experience when you have the feel that you are actively flying a ship within this huge universe and that you are in control of your destiny in a very direct and engaging way.

What have been the highlights in development?
The whole process is incredibly rewarding, as game development usually is. The process of making an MMO is very challenging and requires a lot of patience, hard work and focus. Every once in a while you get a magic moment where suddenly things just start to work: for example when we first got AI flying in formations. Those are certainly highlights.

What have been the greatest challenges and how have those been overcome?
It would fill a book to try and go through that list. However I would say a huge step was getting to a test->response pattern. It's totally intuitive to think that the best way to evaluate a feature is to have people play it and see what they think. Breaking that down into a system is quite difficult however. Knowing how to conduct the tests, interpret the results and turn them into tasks that can then be put back through the grinder is not intuitive and we've learned a lot there. It can also be exhausting to constantly be a in a test->fix kind of mode because it can feel as though you are never going to get there... but eventually you do :).

How 'recognizable' will Jumpgate Evolution be to former players?
I think in some ways it will be very recognizable. For example, we are retaining the original races, many of the enemies, some of the fiction and so on. The core game play is also similar in the sense that it is space combat. The differences are really just making more things to do: a more complex AI system, more mission types & mobs, many more MMO type features (see above) and so on.

Why was the decision made to target "low end" player PCs?
It's really just an issue of market penetration. If you look at current sales about 50% of PCs sold are laptops and over 50% of those have integrated graphics chips, so you have to support that. Then you have to consider that of the millions of PCs in circulation, the lower you make your system specs the more of those users you reach. Beyond that it's an issue of courtesy, I suppose. I don't think that people should be required to spend thousands of dollars on a new computer in order to play new games. The funny thing is that it's had a positive effect on development as well. It allows us to focus on better game play rather than, perhaps, supporting complex and unknown high end graphics techniques which can take lots of time.

Are there any plans to port Jumpgate over to PS3, Wii or XB360?
Nothing concrete at this time, but it seems like it would be really cool to have an online space game on the console.

Explain the "twitch-based" combat system.
Well it's similar to prior games that have had twitch based space combat. Games like Freelancer, Privateer, Wing Commander and so on. It's really more of a "fly the ship like in the movies" kind of approach.

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