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A Fresh Look: Exploring a New Area in Jumpgate Evolution at AGDC '07

Updated Wed, Dec 16, 2009 by Cody Bye

by Cody “Micajah” Bye

As conferences go, the Austin Game Developers Conference was full of people to converse with, but fairly sparse as far as new information is concerned. All of the interviews I conducted for Ten Ton Hammer brought about really cool information about the processes of making games and the developers strategies on doing things, but really didn't open up any new looks into the developer's particular game. It was frutstrating, but the information concerning process and a developer's opinion on a subject were still interesting.

NetDevil's attempting to make space look unique and visually compelling.

However, there was one game that was actually showing new content, and that was NetDevil's upcoming space-combat MMOG, Jumpgate Evolution. As I pulled a chair next to Hermann Peterscheck, he pulled out his laptop and placed it on the table between us, which is always a good sign. Out of all the events I'd been to that summer, Hermann had been to almost all of them, so he and I chatted about what had been going on over the last few weeks and what was coming up for the both of us. But eventually matters turned to Jumpgate, and my first comment was about the art direction of the game and why they'd chosen to make space look so unique.

“It’s this whole idea of making space look visually compelling but different,” Hermann says. “We’re really beginning to get into that mode.”

Hermann fired up his laptop and jumped into the instance of the Jumpgate Evolution client he was running. He took his ship through the undocking procedures and launched away from the space station. Instantly we’re forced out into a section of space that’s full of red-orange light. Dominating our view is a giant Mars-like planet that looks as if it might have some sort of civilization on it.

“As you can see we’ve got a different sort of sky box going on here,” Hermann states.

“What’s a sky box?” I ask, figuring it was some sort of term the developers used between themselves. I was right.

“It’s our word for the background you’re seeing,” Hermann answers. “This one is more of a red-orange color than what you’ve seen previously.”

“As you can see here,” Hermann pauses and points to a giant asteroid with stag beetle-like pincers coming off a side, “this is one of our space stations built into the side of an asteroid. We’re not done with it yet, but it’s sort of buried in this asteroid field.”

“And you can fly around and through the space station?” I ask.

A close-up of a Jumpgate.

“Oh yeah,” Hermann answers, aiming his ship towards the space station. We travel for a bit and fly up and into the station before coming out the other side. Watching him do that reminded me of my X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter days when I’d camp out in the space stations and ambush enemy pilots, if I was outnumbered. However, when we were inside the space station I was amazed at its size. While you may not immediately consider the objects around you to be very large, when you get close to them it quickly becomes apparent that these are large structures.

As Hermann turns the ship around, I notice that we’re surrounded by asteroids on almost every side. “Here we were trying to see how many asteroids we could plug into one space,” Hermann notes. “This is kind of a demo area just to test out what our system can handle and a few other things. For example, what happens when we plug a bunch of asteroids into an area then place Jumpgates intermittently throughout the asteroids? What kind of strategies will people devise when flying into and out of these areas?”
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