Interview: NetDevil's Hermann Peterscheck on Jumpgate: Evolution

Sean Sands | 25 Jan 2008 21:00
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In late 2001 NetDevil, a small independent developer, released Jumpgate: The Reconstruction, a unique take on a then young MMOG market. The game, which would earn a devout if relatively small following, centered on intense space combat in a massively multiplayer setting, though it would remain overshadowed by larger projects with bigger budgets. Now, NetDevil is looking to reinvent its own niche with a sequel to Jumpgate called Jumpgate: Evolution, a larger and more organized effort to finally make the property both a cult and bona fide hit. We sat down with Hermann Peterscheck, Lead Producer of Jumpgate: Evolution to find out how NetDevil is planning to elevate their game to the next level.


The Escapist: So what’s the job of a producer on Jumpgate: Evolution?

Hermann Peterscheck: It’s kind of funny, the role of producer in the gaming industry is a lot like other roles in the gaming industry; it’s kind of loosely defined. Basically it’s managing the timeline and deliverables and budgeting. But also, interfacing between the different departments to make sure people are all moving in the same direction. My job is to make sure the game gets done.

TE: So how did you guys decide on a sequel to Jumpgate as opposed to a new expansion or property?

HP: The reality is that most game companies that are started, or at least the independent ones, are just started on vision and dog work. It’s a few people get together and they say, “hey, wouldn’t it be great if there were a game that did this, this, this and this?” And that’s really how Jumpgate was started. At that time the big game that was played was Air Warriors, but we were also big fans of Wing Commander and later on Tie Fighter, so Scott’s idea was always, “Imagine that scene at the end of Return of the Jedi where all the ships jump in and there’s the big fight around the Death Star, like I wanna play that!”

This was before "MMO" was even a word, so it’s interesting the process when you go to pitch it to publishers and there’s no mainstream MMO like World of WarCraft or EverQuest or any of that. And you say you’re gonna make this game and there will be all these people playing, and they ask if you mean 32 people in a map and you say no! A thousand people!

So after Auto Assualt we all sat down and wondered, well, what can we do? And, a lot of ideas got bounced around, but the reality is that a lot of the quality games come out of iteration. You’ll notice that a lot of the really successful studios tend to make similar kinds of games over and over. So we talked about this love of space games and the people out there who still like playing them, so we wondered what we could do if we really spent some time and resources with that game.

Originally it was supposed to be an update, but as we worked on it more and more, especially with the visual quality coming out of the art department early on, we decided we should make a completely new game. It evolved from there, and has grown into what it now is.

TE: And the name of the game is, of course, Evolution. So, how has Jumpgate “evolved”?

HP: Well, really everything.

The spirit of the game is still the same. It’s a space combat MMO, different than EVE, which is an empire building MMO. Jumpgate is you’re flying a ship and firing at enemies and engaging in PvP. It’s sort of a Wing Commander or X-Wing Versus Tie Fighter experience online. That’s the main focus.

However, since the original game launched, a lot of things in the MMO industry have changed, and things have been added. You can’t ignore that. So, things like player-driven economies and lots of AI, quests, items, different kinds of PvP; these are things we’re rolling into the game to enhance the experience. Really, it’s taking what we’ve learned from Auto Assault and other games that are out there and putting it together with the original JG vision to create a compelling experience.

My hope is that in your mind, if I say something like Privateer Online, that evokes the kind of image of what the game could be. To get that emotional response to be a Han Solo in the game is what we’re trying to capture.

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