Jumpgate Evolution: Combat and Controls Interview

Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor Answers by Hermann
Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Hermann Peterscheck, Producer for Jumpgate Evolution

The space combat genre is all about action. If you’ve ever had an opportunity to boot up one of these games, you’ll be familiar with the “strap yourself in” sort of mentality that the developers used to run with when creating these games. When I asked NetDevil’s Hermann Peterscheck about the combat in Jumpgate Evolution and how that game was being designed, his answers were so thorough and lengthy that the Ten Ton Hammer staff had to split the interview into two parts to encompass the entire span. With Part One of the "Combat and Controls Interview", the Ten Ton Hammer staff asked Hermann about control options, joystick vs. keyboard, and how a player advances throughout the game. We hope you enjoy his responses!

Control is a primary area of concern for the Jumpgate team.

Ten Ton Hammer: What options do the players have in terms of their control system? Will both keyboard and joystick be optional?

Hermann Peterscheck: Control is a primary area of concern for us. Our view is that people want to experience the game in different ways. Some people only have a kind of basic keyboard and mouse setup so it’s vital that the game plays well with that kind of setup. However, as a space combat game we have a large number of people that have very elaborate control setups and we want to make sure that we take advantage of those.

The good news for players is that we have some developers that fit into this category and I can assure you that they would not be satisfied with anything less than a fantastic joystick experience. Going beyond that we also support more advanced stuff such as TrackIR and continue to evaluate all kinds of different hardware to see how we can make the game even more immersive and versatile.

We also support both a 3rd and 1st person mode as people feel very strongly about what mode they want to control their ship in.

Ten Ton Hammer: Have you have to make any sort of compromises to support both methods of control? Will players with a joystick have an unfair advantage?

Hermann: The answer to the first question is no. We spend a lot of time making sure that both control schemes work. There is no point in adding an option just to be able to advertise it. Players are smarter than that, and poor implementation of control schemes is worse than not supporting them, in my opinion. As for having an unfair advantage, I am sure that will be a hotly debated topic. Think of it this was: has there ever been an MMO that didn’t have arguments over Class X or Weapon 12 being “unfairly overpowered” or “nerfed.”

The game mechanics should not be effected, whether people who use joysticks or mouse/keyboard or anything else are more effective than others is something we will be watching with a great deal of curiosity. We don’t want to end up faking things to balance the game. The thing that makes Jumpgate Evolution different than a lot of MMOs is that combat is skill based. We never want to go down the road of making a mouse more “accurate” than a joystick or something like that.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will the newest version of Jumpgate utilize all of the common toggles you find on a joystick? Things like throttles, toggle hats, alternate fire, and counter-measure buttons?

Hermann: Yes. I think we will be, if not the most, one of the most thorough MMOs with regard to supporting various control schemes.

Combat is, and always will be, skill base in Jumpgate Evolution.

Ten Ton Hammer: How will combat encounters typically play out in Jumpgate Evolution? Are we still playing in a dogfight style world? Or will more defensive players actually be able to run away without dying?

Hermann: I think that those things are different sides of the same thing. Combat is, and always will be, skill based. Many things are part of combat, attack, defense, handling, speed and so on. The various permutations of all the things that people will do is something that we could fill pages with. I also suspect we will only scratch the surface of what players might do.

As a simple scenario imagine if you have short range quick turning missiles, ammunition weapons, strong shields and a decent afterburner and I have 2 more guns, but they are energy weapons that can fire further. My missiles are longer range but can’t turn as quickly. I think that just in that simple scenario the combat possibilities are potentially endless. Our role is to give players enough options so they can decide what they want to try; then get out of the way and mix and match the various equipment to come up with new strategies.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will combat be the only way to advance? Or will other methods of advancement be an option?

Hermann: There will be many other ways to advance and many types of advancement as well. For example, there is the traditional gain experience, rank up, buy new equipment route. We’re also going to put a large emphasis on economic advancement. This is an integral part of most of the really fun space games that have come about and in an MMO environment it’s even more important for long term game value.

Then there are things like medals and titles which represent alternate advancement paths outside of XP and money. For example, if you down 500 of a given type of opponent you might get a medal for that. If you have a mission success rating of some amount then you can get a medal for that. We have all kinds of ideas to give medals value beyond the pure achievement value so it’ll be fun to see how that turns out. Faction rating is another area we want to expand on. The original game allowed you to gain and lose faction rating with the major nations depending on activities you did. We want to use that same system to enrich the game to a much great degree.

The trick with advancement is giving people enough things to advance to and reasons for doing so. It’s great to get a medal from time to time, but it’s even better if getting that medal comes with some other kind of reward beyond the completion value.

For you, what's the most important part of space combat? Is it the control system or something else? Let us know on the forums!

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