E3: A preview of Jumpgate Evolution

Towards the end of our time at E3 we got to sit down with the people from Codemasters (Tim Hodges to be specific) and get a preview look at Jumpgate Evolution.  If you’re like me you probably know little or nothing about the game other than the simple fact that it is a sci-fi game set in space.  Luckily, it’s a bit more than that.  I was given a lot of details about the game and wrote an article over at the Vault that is actually quite informative for a preview:

We had the opportunity to sit down with Tim Hodges, Product Manager of Jumpgate Evolution, to discuss NetDevil’s upcoming mmorpg set in the great expanse of space. Since the game is still deep in the alpha stages of development, it’s not uncommon for fans ofmmo’s to know little or nothing about Jumpgate Evolution. There are three main nations or factions in the game: The Solrain Commonwealth, a people corrupted by greed and the thirst for power; The Quantar Paths, a spiritual people united by the fundamental belief that human destiny lies among the stars; and the Octavian Empire, best described as the “Klingons” of Jumpgate as Tim put it. …

One of the most intriguing features in Jumpgate Evolution is the twitch based combat system. Players will be able to engage in dogfights and employ tactics usually reserved for action games. One such tactic was briefly showcased for us when Tim Hodges took his fighter up against a battle station and out maneuvered the barrage of attacks with his ship’s agile nature. Although we were only shown a small fighter ship in our preview, we were told that several classes of ships such as shuttles, fighters, light fighters, haulers, and even larger ships are in the works. This should make for amazing space battles where the larger ships run block allowing for the smaller fighters move in. When asked how players will gain access to these better ships we were told about the licenses system which acts as one of the several forms of character progression in JE. [Read the full article]

Both Graev and I were really impressed with Jumpgate Evolution.  It’s one of those games that you can see in person and know immediately how much potential it has so long as the developers don’t screw it up.  Know that feeling?  You can look at a game and say “woah, that’s cool!  Now if they did THIS it would be perfect!”.  I had those feelings several times while checking out the game.  One example of the potential is in the twitch based combat.  It truly is a free moving space ship fighter game where you can get into dogfights and go against big space station-like deathstar feeling missions.  However, right now in development it lacks the subtle details that could make it great.

One detail in particular is Graev’s idea for them to make it ever so slightly more sim.  If players could transfer power from weapons to shields or shields to engines or give their weapons more power then not only does the game become more dynamic while keeping the relative ease of accesibility to new players, but it becomes a heck of a lot more interesting as well.  What if you were being chased in a dogfight and couldn’t shake the enemy?  Then put power to the aft shields!  What if you’re needing to get away?  Power to the engines!  The system could naturally balance itself because you are literally making other systems weaker to boost one.

Tons of potential here again with ships.  Ships right now have a single health bar and take general damage.  That could prove to be a very good thing or a terrible thing in the long run.  When pressed for information and questioned about adding weak spots to ships they were hesitant to say much more than “we’ll look at that in beta”.  Hopefully their desire to keep the game so “accessible” will not be their undoing.

From what we saw of the battles there is tons of potential for big and “epic” pvp fights with huge ships running block for smaller fighters.  This could finally be that “sci-fi space dog fighter” mmo that I’ve been wanting but I’m hesitant to get too excited about it just yet.  The game is still so far from being ready  which was evident in the preview and mention of it being pre-alpha.

I have to say though, for their (once again) big emphasis on accessibility for hardware and gameplay the game looks (aesthetically) fantastic.  It’s full of color for being a space game and has a very stylized look.

Keep your eyes on this one folks, it could be really good.

  • My brother played the original Jumpgate for years and just loved it. I remember I tried to get him into EVE Online one time and he was like “why can’t I fly my ship?”

    I wish someone had asked the NetDevil guys what happened to Auto Assault because I was always curious. Sometimes if an MMO is failing you might see the dev buy it back from the publisher (the publisher having an incentive to sell cheap to recoup anything they can). That didn’t happen for auto assault and I was always curious why.

  • I’ve been a fan of ND since Auto Assault. Even with the negative press that game got, you can see how much originality these guys want to bring to the genre and how much passion they have. I’m very much looking forward to both JG:E and LEGO Universe. I hope they both do extremely well for NetDevil.

  • What is your definition of twich based combat? Milliseconds to react, furiously fast clicking/button pressing/mousing?

    That is what I think of when I hear twich based combat. I can’t believe you are into that sort of thing.

  • Twitch is the word Tim Hodges (Codemasters Product Manager for JE) used. Here’s a clip from the official site: “Jumpgate Evolution offers a unique twitch-based combat system which allows you to challenge thousands of foes with your own skill and determination, offering the most exhilarating, jaw-dropping experience in online gaming to date.”

    Basically, (from Wikipedia) twitch gameplay is a type of gameplay that tests a player’s reaction time and precision. Action games such as first-person shooters are typically composed of twitch gameplay. However, other genres can involve twitch gameplay as well. For example, Tetris is a puzzle video game that gradually speeds up as the player makes progress.

    Twitch gameplay keeps players actively engaged with quick feedback to their actions, as opposed to turn-based gaming that involves waiting for the outcome of a chosen course of action. Twitch can be used to expand tactical options and play, test skill in various areas (usually reflexive responses) and generally add difficulty (relating to the intensity of “twitching” required).

    Ad yes, there are situations in which I like twitch gameplay. In games like Jumpgate Evolution where it’s about your ability to fly your space ship and do battle better than the enemy or in a first person shooter I very much like twitch.

  • I’ve been interested in this one for a while, glad to hear its going well. I’ve tried to get into EVE online three times, but its just so slow and, well, dull. Jumpgate Evolution sounds more like what I’d expect from a space fighter type MMO, and I hope it turns out well.

  • @Keen:

    “Jumpgate has a much more fast paced feel and offers many of the newer and more demanded features of a mmorpg today.”

    Don’t just tantalise us – what were these features? 🙂

    Other questions: are they going single-shard? How big are Netdevil intended to scale their fleet battles?

  • Answering one of my own questions – from a recent preview on Curse.com – “we’re talking 200 ships all duking it out in the same sector”.

    If that’s 200 ships in mutual combat, all in the same local area of space, with FPS mechanics, and no lag, I’ll be impressed.