Previews

Previews
Jumpgate Evolution Preview

Dana Massey | 7 Mar 2008 23:07
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Like any MMO, Jumpgate Evolution wouldn't be complete without missions. In our demonstration, he showed off a new concept for a mission briefing screen, which adeptly countered the tedium of the regular MMO mission with a very setting-appropriate visual mission briefing screen. On top of the usual text box of description, important still shots were displayed in the window, which proved to be both immersive and informative.

Peterscheck noted that their game is fully Flash-based and he hopes they'll be able to release it so that fans of the game can enhance and expand beyond it in ways NetDevil simply won't have time to do.

While the core focus is clearly combat and missions, Peterscheck was quick to point out that they also have a variety of crafting, gathering and economic paths for players to enjoy as well. Players can build and plug modifications into their ships for added customization, but consistent with his core philosophy, has kept the system simple and accessible, a lesson his company learned from Auto Assault.

NetDevil has had its share of setbacks over its 11 years of operation. The original Jumpgate, while still in operation, was never overly successful and their sophomore effort Auto Assault may be remembered as one of the biggest flops in MMO history; publisher NCsoft shuttered it just over a year after launch.

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Checkered history aside, it's not all doom and gloom for NetDevil. Both games have their problems, neither is without its redeeming qualities. Ultimately, Auto Assault took a small and fun idea - fast paced car combat in a fully destructible environment - and likely just ran too far with it as an MMO. Jumpgate, unfortunately, got buried by a couple higher-profile competitors in what was an extremely limited market for space MMOs.

Neither of these games killed the company, which puts NetDevil in the unique position of one of the most experienced MMO developers in the world. Last year, they continued their journey of experience with the physics driven Warmonger, a free online FPS, and are now also at work on the mother of all toy licenses, a LEGO MMO.

With Jumpgate Evolution, the game's system requirements are perhaps the single most important sign that they have used their experience for good and not evil. A string of MMOs have recently hit the market that require machines most people cannot afford just to get a decent frame rate and that is perhaps a big reason for their lack of financial success. If World of Warcraft taught the genre nothing, it's that accessibility trumps pixel shaders every time. Jumpgate Evolution has taken the same system requirements as World of Warcraft as its baseline and created a game that is both beautiful and hopefully accessible to a vast majority of PC owners.

Jumpgate Evolution is not the most epic, cutting-edge or even original MMO shown at GDC this year, but they may be the company with the clearest idea of what they want to accomplish. They have a realistic vision of a tight, fun game that could easily take off. Publicly, NetDevil will only say that they plan to launch Jumpgate Evolution this year.

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