Welcome to the 1,164th edition of Loading...

Loading... is the premier daily MMORPG news, coverage, and
commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Being able to play two highly anticipated space MMOs back to
back was the highlight of our recent trip, and today I'll bring you my
hands-on impressions of the space combat side of Star Trek Online and
Jumpgate Evolution. As these two MMOs might be geared up for a
head-to-head launch next year, we'll look at some of the striking
similarities and refreshing differences that STO and JGE bring to the
table in today's Loading... A Tale of Two Space MMOs

width="100%">

The Pulse

You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
result is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/" target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

Here's today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/41"
    target="_blank">World of Warcraft
  2. Dungeons
    & Dragons Online
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115">Age of
    Conan (UP 2)
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/860">Champions
    Online (down 1)
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/254">Aion
    (down 1)

Biggest movers today:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/177">Fallen
    Earth (UP 9) href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/265"
    target="_blank">
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/175">Lineage
    2 (UP 3)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/265"
    target="_blank">The
    Secret World
    (UP 9 to #13)
Recent
MMO Releases

Important
Dates

  • 9/15 -
    9/18
    - GDC
    Austin
  • 10/1 -
    10/3
    href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/">EVE FanFest
Upcoming
Releases

Loading... Daily

For MMOs, space is hardly the final frontier. EVE Online has been
astonishing reviewers and gathering steam since 2003, and according to
Exec. Producer Noah Ward, the game just entered its sixth month of
solid growth. No other game has done as good a job at making space feel
strategic, populous, and political, but if you talk to many new
players, their chief gripe isn't the inability to walk around stations
or planets, it's that the mouse (rather than a gamepad or joystick) is
your primary means of navigation. In other words, it looks like a
dogfighter, but isn't. EVE Online is more of a simulator of how space
combat would really be like rather than how Hollywood makes-believe it
is, with Luke single-handedly taking out the Death Star.

To see what I mean, take a real world example - a submarine. You won't
find one guy inside a sub with a joystick to move the sub and a trigger
that fires torpedos , there's helmsmen to set and maintain the
course and speed, sonar operators to paint a picture of what can't be
seen, weapons specialists to load and maintain the armaments, engineers
to provide energy, life support, and propulsion, officers to make the
decisions, and many more specialized personnel to sustain the
day-to-day running of the boat. EVE Online realizes many of these
functions with UI elements, since to be successful in EVE you have to
have the mental space to work in concert with other players.
 EVE would have to give up a lot of its depth and
simulator-esque appeal to be a dogfighter.

But there's no denying the streamlined appeal of a space dogfighter,
either. Games of great complexity - EVE Online and Fallen Earth - don't
typically show well at fan events. It's hard to give folks a
sense of the action in these games in the space of a 10-minute play
session. In contrast, Star Trek Online and Jumpgate Evolution (along
with Global Agenda, as you'll see in our latest video) are
about as close as an MMO can get to a show-stopper (and if you've ever
had to work your way around a popular booth at an event, you know I
mean "show stopper" quite literally).  Not only does space
look nothing like the limitless vacuum it is - and I'd have to give JGE
the prize on the eye-catching looks department, though to be fair
NetDevil has more than a year of development time on Cryptic
-  the combat action is fluid and full of interesting choices.

For example of some of these interesting choices, let's look at space
travel and more specifically, combat maneuvers. Our first decision in
Star Trek Online was when to come out of warp, because shields can only
charge fully under impulse power. Craig Zinkievich noted that 14 km is
about the ideal distance from your enemies to disengage the warp drive.
Jumpgate Evolution likewise has a boost option with is powered by the
same source as your shield, but in JGE you can't boost if you're under
fire. You can come in "hot" in JGE, but you might find yourself without
an escape route. In Star Trek Online,  you can warp right into
the action, but without shields there's likely to be a breach in deck 9
with untold numbers of pretend crewmembers lost. These are different
and viable solutions to the problem of run 'n gun gameplay, which gets
old quickly. Unfortunately we didn't get to see that trademark
star-smearing visual effect when our Federation newb ship entered warp,
but likely this is reserve for cutscenes or long-distance travel.

As for combat itself, the shining feature of Star Trek Online was the
shields system, both for lore-appropriateness and how well it works
with gameplay. Just like on TV, you have four independent shield
facings - forward, rear, and the two sides. Naturally your forward
shields will take a pounding as you close on your enemies, so you can
divert rear shields to power up your forward shields. Similarly, you
want to wear down your enemies shields with phasers and then, once
their shields are depleted, you can fire a salvo of photon torpedoes to
decimate their hull. But should you put your back to your enemy's
wingmen with your shields facing forward, you'll take some considerable
damage. But should you find yourself outmatched, STO borrows an idea
from its Cryptic cousin and allows you to select a defensive "build"
(I'm not sure of the exact term in STO), with more power
available to shields in exchange for less speed.

The ability to adjust your shields allows for some interesting fleet
warfare choices, as you can perhaps move in formation, overloading your
shields to your threat angles at the cost of shields facing friendly
ships. Your bridge officers (which, interestingly, can be bought,
looted, traded for, and quested for) also work as your "spells and
abilities." Craig demonstrated one officer whose ability allowed us to
completely refill our shields but, obviously, this ability was on a
long cooldown timer. Bridge officers also go with you on away missions,
which probably breaks all sorts of protocol. Ground combat is part
squad-based RTS and part shooter, as your officers are capable of
following a rudimentary set of instructions and will heal and revive
you, should it come to that. Aside from the interesting scenery, there
was nothing on the ground combat side that seemed particularly
groundbreaking yet, except that I have to agree with href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/74106">Sardu
that it was hard to tell it was built with the same proprietary engine
used in Champions Online.

What stuck with me about Jumpgate Evolution was the wealth of weapon
types and the UI, which is a masterpiece of HUD design and probably
ought to be evaluated by avionics manufacturers for how well it places
you (and your enemies) in space while keeping your viewable space
entirely uncluttered. The iteration NetDevil has done on this feature
has clearly paid off, and a quality UI was desperately needed by the
game, which feels much less planar and more three-dimensional than
other space shooters I've played. You'll have to evolve a certain
amount of skill to learn how to make the z-axis work for you (for
example, ducking behind an asteroid to break missile lock), but the
game isn't nearly as fast-paced, punishing, or anywhere
near as hard to learn as a modern combat flight
simulator. 

The weapon types in JGE are a trip, too.  If you find yourself
dogged by a fast-pursuing enemy, drop a mine. If a bogey is flying
rings around you, load up some guided missiles, which might yield less
damage than dumbfire missiles, but speedy rigs aren't the sturdiest
anyway. If you're firing on a fixed target, like a turret  on
a capital ship, use torpedos, which do lots of damage but are
incredibly slow. Whatever enemy you're shooting at is the one you
automatically establish a lock on, and though we have yet to see what
NetDevil is up to on the group interaction front, Scott did much to
assuage our fears that this would be Auto Assault in space. You can see
more about combat in our href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/74260">latest video
with NetDevil's Scott Brown. But I'd have to say that despite the
novelty and interesting things Cryptic is doing with STO, for
dogfighting depth, epic environments, and tilt, JGE would get my vote
if both games were launched today. 

Agree, disagree? Share your opinion from what you've seen in the href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=46207">Loading...
forum.


style="font-weight: bold;">Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=589">Aion
General Discussion

href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=46227">I
never thought I'd say this...

Anacche
has confessed his passion for...clerics; specifically, clerics in Aion.
Although he's never enjoyed a healing class before, he's in "fricking
love" with clerics. I can relate. Healbot classes have never done it
for me, but my Chanter is hella fun because she's anything but a
healbot--she can heal, buff, and dish out damage. I've never much liked
warrior types, either, and yet my gladiator seems to kick some ass and
leads me to play much later into the evening than I probably should.

Have
you found yourself enjoying a class in Aion that you haven't much liked
in other MMOs? Has venturing into Atreia taken you out of your comfort
zone? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=46227">Confess!


==============================
Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

"It amazes me how Aion
has gotten
us to play the classes we don't normally play. I tend to pick rogue
classes in the MMOs I play, but I have gone with a gladiator in Aion
because they dish out some epic damage.
"

- Metal
==============================

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=32559">Tell
us!


2 new MMOG home-grown articles today! 31
in
September!
983 in
2009!

Today's New MMO Coverage, Features, and Guides

  • Global
    Agenda
    - Two New Maps & Female Character Models Video

    For
    our first live in-game video look at Global Agenda, we met up with
    Executive Producer Todd Harris at PAX 2009 to see female character
    models for the first time, as well as the new Ravine and Seaside maps.
    We'll also ask Todd about what the Hi Rez team learned from the first
    round of beta tests and see some of the changes in action with this new
    twelve minute in-game video from the floor at PAX 2009. Enjoy!
  • The
    Thrill of Success – An Interview with Perfect World
    Developers

    Over the past year, Perfect World International has dedicated itself to
    introducing North American gamers to its deep character creation
    system, numerous (and funky) flying mounts, and fresh player races. In
    doing that, they’ve attracted over 1.5 million players, and Ten Ton
    Hammer wouldn’t be surprised if they still retained a nice chunk of
    those players. So what has the team done to make the game so
    successful? Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Jon Beliss to find out.

Hottest Content:

  1. Global
    Agenda
    - Two New Maps & Female Character Models Video
  2. An
    In-Game Tour of Jumpgate Evolution with NetDevil's
    Scott Brown (video)
  3. First
    Ever Look at PvP in The Secret World
  4. The
    Thrill of Success – An Interview with Perfect World
    Developers
  5. Aion's
    Lani Blazier on 1.5, Pre-Launch Improvements, and More
  6. EVE
    Online
    - Sins of a Solar Spymaster #26 – The Doomsday Epitaph
  7. Fallen
    Earth
    : Exclusive Interview on Factions, Beta and Beyond
  8. Earth
    Eternal
    Interview with Creative Director Matt Mihaly
  9. The
    Future of Tyria: An Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Interview
  10. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/cal_crowner/interview/stygian_abyss">Ultima
    Online
    : Stygian Abyss Interview with Producer Cal
    Crowner

Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network! 

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff
Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.

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