by Cody "Micajah" Bye
From start up company to successful independent gaming studio, NetDevil
has gone through a wide metamorphisis of changes. As more news begins
to filter out concerning NetDevil's three upcoming products - Warmonger, Jumpgate Evolution
and LEGO Universe
people are beginning to wonder about the men and women that function
behind the scenes in the company. Through the wonders of our industry,
the Ten Ton Hammer staff has attained some of the background on the
NetDevil employees. Our first volunteer was NetDevil's Jumpgate Evolution
producer, Hermann Peterscheck, and he touches on his education,
involvement with video games, and much more!
Ten Ton Hammer: For
starters, can you
give the Ten Ton Hammer readers a brief synopsis of who you are and
what your role is at NetDevil?
My name is Hermann Peterscheck and I am the Producer for Jumpgate
Ten Ton Hammer: What
genre of games do
you play regularly? Do you mainly stick with MMOGs or do your interests
spread into other games as well (tabletop, card games, etc.)? Do you
prefer one variety over another?
While I occasionally
play tabletop and card games, I mostly stick to video games of one kind
or another with a strong preference for MMOs. When I first started
playing games, I tended towards RPGs, and it pretty much removed my
desire to play non-computer video games. When I started playing MMOs,
it also removed a lot of the desire to play non-MMOs though there are
many MMO games that will still grab me from time to time.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
have an all-time favorite game(s)? If so, why do you enjoy it so much?
It’s hard to
say. For the longest time it was the second trilogy in the Ultima
series. Ultima 4
the first time I played what I thought was a
“world” game. Everything seemed very real and
there was so much detail that I felt that I would never see it all. I
spent hundreds of hours playing those games and they really solidified
the feeling of wanting to be in the game development industry.
That being said I played so many hours of Diablo 2
it’s hard to not put those high on the list. These days,
with the rest of the world, I spend a fair amount of time in World of
. Blizzard seems to be really good at making games
quickly and stay fun for long periods of time which is why I (and I
suspect everyone else) play them so much. It’s a testament to
quality of a game when its 6 years old and still sells for
approximately $40 (Diablo
2 Special Collectio
Ten Ton Hammer: What
games are you
playing right now? Why did you decide to explore those games and what
did you learn from them?
the MMO side,
it’s still World
. I suppose the reason
it’s that one, is because I think it’s the best.
find a game I enjoy more, I play that. For example, I think BioShock
was very impressive, as were Halo 3
and Gears of War
Looking at that
list it’s fairly obvious that I like the same games that most
people do, which is what makes them such massive sellers I suppose.
Every once in a while a more obscure game will fly onto the radar. For
example, I thought Defcon was a fantastic game made more fantastic
because of the size of the team that built it. Everything fit so well
and the atmosphere was very impressive. Emotionally, it’s one
the best games I’ve played in a long time. I also think that
going to be a ton of fun. I enjoy “beta
that and I can’t wait for it (not to mention Hellgate:
Ten Ton Hammer: What are
your hobbies? What do you find relaxing/entertaining about it?
Hobbies? My job I
suppose. Honestly though, most of my time is either working or doing
work related things, which goes hand in hand with having a job you
love. Other than that I love reading all sorts of random stuff
almost exclusively non-fiction. I like learning little bits and pieces
of everything just because I love the way things fit together in
seemingly obscure ways. I also enjoy playing the piano and spending
time with my dog.
Ten Ton Hammer: How did
you get started in the industry? What led you to become a developer?
Hermann's first "official" game employer.
Since I was young this
is pretty much what I wanted to do, and it still is. NetDevil is my
first “official” game employer, but I applied all
place. I can’t tell you how many rejection letters I received
from Origin back when I was begging for a game tester job. I started at
NetDevil as a programmer and eventually got into production. Production
is a funny title because I produced more things when I was in
programming than I do now that I am in production, but that’s
it goes, I guess.
Ten Ton Hammer: What kind
have you received? What was your educational focus? Has it helped you
with the development of MMOGs?
and No. As with
many people in the industry, games and working on them was more of a
distraction from school than it was a benefit. When I was young my
parents moved around a lot so I got to see all kinds of different
schools and meet all kinds of people. This probably helps in some small
way when it comes to being sensitive to what people like and
don’t like and being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
After high school I studied English Literature for a while and I think
that helped with regard to knowing fiction and stories. Honestly I
think that everything you learn can help you with developing games,
especially MMOGs. It’s one of the few fields where lots of
useless knowledge seems to help rather than hurt – which is
of the reasons I like it so much. Art history, math, science,
architecture, cooking, economics, they can all be useful in game
making. It always helps to have some kind of hard skill (programming,
modeling, writing, etc.) as well, of course.
Ten Ton Hammer: Has your
gaming history influenced your work on Jumpgate Evolution?
How has it
helped your work?
Yes. From a playing
point of view it’s great to be able to remember all kinds of
experiences because chances are if you can remake those you will be
more likely to have a successful game. In terms of working on games,
that helps you learn what works and what doesn’t and you
better at “smelling” the future. You
don’t ever know
when something will or won’t work, but the more you do it the
better your senses become and you can trust them more. I’m a
believer in intuition and simplicity. Things that just make sense and
are easy to explain and understand are usually the best
and most fun.
Ten Ton Hammer: As a
player, what's your favorite aspect of Jumpgate Evolution?
ship combat is Hermann's favorite part of Jumpgate.
to say since we aren’t finished yet! We recently started
on large ship combat and so that is my favorite thing right now. I
suppose my favorite thing is usually whatever it is that is currently
being worked on. One of the things we try and do is figure out what it
is we, as a development group, want to play and that then helps guide
us down the development path. If you make a game that is fun for your
team chances are people outside the team will also like it.
That’s only 50% though; you also need to test with people
aren’t on the team to make sure that you aren’t
fooling yourself. Also, the people working on the game *know* how it is
supposed to be played and tend to play it that way. People from the
outside will most likely play it the way they are not supposed to play
it which is where most problems are identified, so that’s
Ten Ton Hammer:
Conversely, as a developer what's your favorite aspect of the game?
think the same as
above. It’s always good when you are working on the same
you want to play. If your team plays their own game above other games
out in the market, that is a real accomplishment and, I think, a good
sign that you have a quality product – note that forcing them
play is important, but not the same measure. What I hope for is that
people stroll in at 2 pm because they were playing Jumpgate Evolution
until 6 am the previous day.
Ten Ton Hammer: Why
should an MMOG gamer play Jumpgate
Evolution? How would you recommend
answer is because
it’s fun. That’s the real reason to play games,
it? I think all too often developers get concerned with who the
audience is and what that audience wants, etc. Our audience is game
players and what they want is good games.
As an example, think about the games that sell millions of copies:
Mario, Zelda, Halo,
World of Warcraft, LEGO Star Wars
. Those games have
little in common but I have played all of them. People that are
“FPS Players” may also play Zelda
. People who
“MMO Players” also play Halo
. If you look
it’s similar to other people’s game shelves.
see: World of Warcraft,
Starcraft, Diablo 2,
Halo 3, Gears of War,
so on. I think those games succeed so well because they are fun as hell
to play – even though they may not be your
If you want to
break into the video game industry, heed Hermann's advice.
Now, of course, not everyone plays Halo
, but many people who
don’t play FPSes do. I think if you make a fun and attractive
game you will have a success. This is what I am trying to do with
Jumpgate Evolution. If we as a team succeed, I think the game will
recommend itself so to speak.
Ten Ton Hammer: Finally,
best part about being in the MMOG industry and what advice would you
give to anyone else wanting to break into the field?
it’s what you
want to do, don’t give up. Probably the best way in is to
start making a game. It doesn’t really matter what it is,
try something simple and finish it. It also doesn’t matter
much how you do it: Flash, PHP, C++, whatever. We get LOTS of resumes
from people that have a lot of passion but if anyone has any kind of
game attached I always check it out.
Taking an idea and making it real is a very hard thing to do, if you do
that you will put yourself above about 90% of all other applicants.
Don’t worry about it being crappy and simple. If
and polished, that’s a bonus! Try making a Tetris
. If you
like RPGs make a simple web based game with
basic combat and character progression and maybe loot. The lessons
learned in just trying to do it will be so valuable to any employer.