Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Every time I travel to a convention, it seems inevitable that
I’ll run into the folks from NetDevil. Much like the Ten Ton
Hammer staff, NetDevil has had a constant convention presence for years
appearing at all the shows and always eager to talk about their
upcoming MMOG project. For the last few months, the project that has
received the most attention from the NetDevil crew is style="font-style: italic;">Jumpgate Evolution,
a science-fiction based spaceship shooter that is hoping to embody all
of the finer points of classics like style="font-style: italic;">X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter,
At this year’s ION Games Conference, I again had an
opportunity to sit down with Hermann Peterscheck, Grace Wong, and Scott
Brown, each of whom exude a nearly palpable passion for their upcoming
game. As Hermann set up his laptop on our conference table, I asked him
if there was anything new with the game since our last conversation at
the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Hermann’s
answer actually surprised me.
The NetDevil developers are ready to launch into more in-depth discussions about JGE.
“For the last year or so, we’ve been talking about
the accessibility of the game, and I think people really get
that,” Hermann said. “What we want to focus on now
is the really in-depth features, which I think are really important.
These are the things that make me want to play the game.”
“What we’ve basically been working on is mining,
manufacturing, refining, and the economy – basically the
crafting system,” Hermann continued. “One of the
things I’m pretty excited about is the mail system
As he brought up the screen, he showed me a fairly intuitive interface
where he could make a new message and attach items to it.
“Mail is basically what you’d expect, you can send
items, money, and notes. But there are a few things that are a bit
different,” he said. “The mail system actually
interfaces with our mission system. With it, the mission can actually
be more proactive and send mail from different events in the game. I
think it’s a really cool way to push fiction towards the
“For instance, you might be out killing pirates,”
Scott added. “Your faction drops because you’ve
killed so many of them, and they might send you a mail saying
‘We’re going to kill you! This will not go
unpunished!’ Something like that. We think it’d be
really cool to do fictional stuff like that.”
“One of the things we did was give items in Jumpgate real
positions,” Hermann said. “Let’s say you
open up your locker in a particular station and drop something in it.
You would have to go back to that station to retrieve that item. We did
this because moving things from place to place has actual value in
“When you buy something in the – let’s
say Octavian – auction house, you have to go to the Octavian
station to get it,” he continued. “Or you can go
into the mail system and have a ship send it over. Then the Octavian
station will spawn an AI ship and will fly your cargo through space to
get it to you.”
“And if the ship gets destroyed, the AI will send it
again,” Scott interjected.
At this point, red flags went up in my mind. The possibility for
griefing people in this system would be enormous if people could
actually steal your goods. I voiced this concern to Scott and Hermann.
Hermann was quick to respond. “No, no,” he
answered. “That would be exploited like crazy.”
“Players might get things from the ship, but they
won’t actually be getting your goods,” Scott
continued. “That said, I think it’s fantastic that
items actually have to fly through space and don’t magically
appear in a person’s inventory. It has to actually get
“If there’s a huge PvP battle going on in the area,
it’s going to get toasted,” he concluded.
After the new mail and auction system was thoroughly explain, I asked
Hermann and Scott what other areas of the game they’d been
working on. Apparently, they’ve been pushing out a number of
different systems, including a player reward set-up that’s
very similar to the original Jumpgate’s medal system and a
“We’ve also added tons of medals into the
game,” Hermann noted. “For lots of things that you
do, you’ll get medals. The license system is also something
we haven’t really talked about before. You’ll need
to get a mining license before you can equip a mining laser. However,
different ships have different hard points where you can attach things,
and certain ships may not have particular hard points where you can
attach things. “
Even the concept art behind JGE is fantastic looking.
“You’ll need to advance those licenses in order to
be able to mine all the different kinds of ore out there,” he
continued. “The other side of licenses is your relationship
with corporations. The way crafting works is that the different
corporations will have different levels of access to what equipment
they can make. So you get affiliated with a corporation, which allows
you to build things at their buildings. That said, you have a limited
number of affiliations you can have.”
As Hermann continued to explain, I found myself really interested in
the different corporation structures. According to Hermann, a player
could be allied with “Cromforge” (that’s
a placeholder title) and have access to their equipment, but then
players would only be allowed to make Cromforge equipment.
Let’s say you need a certain component to make your next
item, but it might only be built by a competing corporation. I was
“The other aspect with crafting is that in a sci-fi game
it’s hard to make people understand the exact function of
what’s being built,” Hermann continued.
“Crafting a piece of leather in World of Warcraft makes
sense. But it’s hard to describe ‘plasma
“So we thought it’d make a bit more sense if
players associated pieces of equipment with the
corporations,” Scott said. “They could see exactly
what each corporation built so they’d know who to affiliate
As Scott explained the corporations, Hermann was piloting the ship
around one of their latest “sky boxes,” a brand new
upgraded look for a battle station. When Hermann got closer to one of
the stations, I immediately noticed some improvements made upon the
original model. Not only was the station physically bigger, but each of
the pieces were more detailed; it simply looked better than it did
“Our art team is a victim of their own success. They keep
making things look good, so I keep making them go back and improve upon
their old models.”
“The scary thing is, that’s actually half the polys
of the old model,” Scott said. “They’re
From what I could see, the new station looked exquisite, much more like
a city than what I had seen previously. When I looked closer, I
actually realized that the fighter Hermann was piloting had a different
look as well. I made a comment about it, and Scott chimed in.
“We’ve actually designed a variety of skins for
each of our fighters as well,” Scott said. “We have
red, chrome, and all sorts of other things.”
As the fighter pulled up to the station, it was readily apparent just
how huge the actual station was compared to the fighter. In a word, the
station was immense. Even the frigates, which could have held two or
three fighters, were dwarfed by the massive building.
But that wasn’t the end of the structure. Along the sides and
around the different areas of the structure, the station had all sorts
of factories and refineries outside for players to use. Hermann
maneuvered his fighter around each of the building and asked me to
imagine what the space would look like with hundreds of ships flying
around the structure. I commented that it would probably look like a
beehive with hundreds of drones buzzing about the structure.
Eventually the conversation turned towards PvP and how that is going to
play out in Jumpgate Evolution. “We’re going to
have specific zones that have wide open PvP and zones that are PvE but
have PvP objectives in them,” Scott said. “So you
may not want to engage in the wide open PvP, but you can do the PvP
objectives in the PvE zones so that you can still shoot other players
but not have the constant battle going on. It’ll be by
“In essence, it’s going to be consensual.
We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure
it’s not a server choice. We really don’t want to
split the community that way.”
“At the same time, PvP is tricky,” Hermann said.
“It’s a religious debate. No one can win. The
people who love PvE can’t understand why the PvP guys are so
brutal. They’ll never win. At the same time, both populations
are huge, so you can’t ignore one over the other.”
With the partial separation of the PvE and PvP space, I moved on to my
next question, which had to deal with crafting and resource gathering
in contested space. To put it simply, I asked Scott and Hermann whether
gatherers would need to go out into PvP space to get high end materials.
“Yes,” Scott said emphatically. “The goal
is that you have different types of equipment to build in the different
types of gameplay areas. There will be particular items that are only
built in PvP space and require elements only found in PvP space. Then
there will be different high level PvE stuff. In some cases in order to
build an awesome piece of equipment for PvP space, you’ll
need to destroy a massive battlestation that takes a lot of players
“That said, we don’t want to force players to
intermix their components,” Scott continued.
“Nothing will have half PvP items and half PvE items.
Whatever it is they want to do, they should be able to do it.
We’re basically going to have items for PvP and items for
Along with my questions about PvP, I was also really concerned about
how players identify with their characters in the game. Without
humanoid avatars, many individuals find it difficult to relate to their
in-game personas, and I asked Scott and Hermann how style="font-style: italic;">Jumpgate was going
to help players identify with their characters.
“We want players to make their own story,” Scott
said. “We don’t want to write the story and simply
inject the player into it. We want to give them a cool backdrop to play
in. Do the factions hate each other or like each other? It’s
up to you. Keith [Baker] had a really great idea in that he gave
players three nations to play for, but he included all of these
subfactions in each of the nations. For example, there’s a
Solrain faction that absolutely hates the other nations, and their
objectives are going to be very aggressive towards the other nations,
even other players in PvP.”
Jumpgate Evolution hopes to embody the essence of classic space combat.
“On top of that, each of the subfactions may have their own
particular art styles for their ships,” Scott said.
“Everything you do is really geared towards unlocking
different things in the game. If you’re doing PvP,
you’ll be unlocking certain things. If you’re
playing through missions, you’ll be unlocking different
things. It’s really different between your playstyle and who
you work for.”
When Scott mentioned being able to unlock different aspects through the
various factions, I instantly wondered whether there would be any
factions that rivaled one another. For instance, if you advanced in X
faction you lost reputation with the Y faction.
“There are some that will be like the sort of Aldor / Scryer
rivalry,” Scott said.
“You want to force choices in some instances,”
Hermann continued. “If everyone can be anything at the same
time, you’ll never foster cooperation. It’s
psychological: If you’re allied with a certain faction
you’re the enemy of another faction. It’s a
deliberate choice, and you’ll want to group with players that
are your allies after that.”
“And it’s really about helping players find the
story,” Scott said. “If you’re flying and
fighting with a particular group and you see another player group
that’s an ally or enemy, you may want to find out more about
that particular faction.”
With that, Scott and Hermann wrapped up their presentation. As a player
of sci-fi based combat games, I find it incredibly exciting that with
every demonstration I see of
Jumpgate Evolution, the game continues to get better
looking and more interesting. Now that Hermann and Scott are willing to
discuss the more in-depth portion of the game, expect to see a number
of interviews hitting the internet concerning the finer details of style="font-style: italic;">Jumpgate Evolution.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Jumpgate Evolution Game Page.