Interview With Jumpgate Evolution Producer


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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Will NetDevil sponsor any type of PvP events?
I’m assuming we will. I mean we plan on having all kinds of PvP activities in the game but having special kinds of events is always something game developers are looking to do. I would imagine the scale and particulars will come from what players want and it’s difficult to speculate on what that might be.

Would you say that Jumpgate is more angled at the casual or hardcore player or is it some sort of hybrid?
I always worry about speculating as to who the customer might be. On the one hand we are certainly making a game that will most likely appeal to the space combat game player. People that played and enjoyed prior space combat games I suspect will find it enjoyable and familiar. That being said we are actively trying to make the game have much broader appeal. Space action games tend to be very hard to learn how to play and time consuming to get into. We are doing lots of things to ease people into it so my hope is that we can reach a whole new group of people that never thought they might like this kind of game.

What elements will attract hardcore players? What elements will attract casual players
A fun game that runs well :). Seriously though, I think that often game developers get carried away with trying to split users into neat little buckets and then figure out which feature feeds which player. I don’t think it works that way. I think players tend to like fun game features and the more of them you have the more users you attract. That being said, traditionally hardcore players tend to like PvP, high end “boss” type content whereas casual players tend to enjoy soloable PvE content, social features and things like that. The best way to figure it out, though, is to just go ahead and test the features out and see who likes them and who doesn’t.

What type of transaction model will NetDevil use for Jumpgate: Micro-transaction? Monthly subscription? Both? Why was that decision made?
We haven’t announced a billing model as of yet.

The beta is fast approaching. When do you anticipate it beginning?
As soon as it’s ready.

How many players will be involved?
It’s impossible to give precise numbers. Suffice it to say that we plan to ramp it up in response to feedback and player response.

How will they be selected and how will they be informed of their involvement?
There will be many opportunities to get involved with beta. The goal of beta is to get people into the game, playing it and giving us useful information, so obviously standing out in those areas will give people priority. There will most likely be partnerships with sites, contests and so on. Keep an eye on and if you’re interested get involved with the community.

How long do you anticipate the beta lasting?
As long as it takes :).

What is the approximate goal for the game’s launch?
We want to release next year, but as always the goal is to make sure the game is ready before we release it.

Add any other tidbits/teasers………PLEASE!
Our lead artist is modeling a new capital ship that is really awesome looking :).

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