Recently, Scott Brown -- President of Net Devil -- paid a visit to our office to give us a First Look at their upcoming sci-fi MMORPG, Jumpgate Evolution, and right away we could see the direction the game is going. Net Devil is looking to introduce action into the space-based MMORPG -- something that is currently lacking. While EVE Online shines at a more turn-based feel, Jumpgate Evolution quickly impressed us with its fast-paced action style. There's no lengthy tutorial; no confusing introduction to the game; nothing that will frustrate you right out of the box. You experience a brief cutscene that explains the story, and you're immediately thrust into a mission with an objective: fly your ship directly into combat, take out four enemies, and then return to the station.
“The system specs are very low. We've targeted World of Warcraft players.”
-- Scott Brown, Net Devil
Your ship is controlled through both the keyboard and the mouse: WASD is for thrusters, while the mouse is for aiming. Right-clicking on a target locks on and gives you a guidance mechanism; it doesn't do the work for you, it just suggests where you'll need to shoot if you're likely to hit your target; Left-clicking will then fire your chosen weapon. Better yet, if you're really into flight sims, then you're okay -- Net Devil plans to provide support for a bevy of various flight controllers like joysticks, game pads, etc. We commented that it seems to have a feel of "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter," and Scott agreed; that's the goal -- to have a fast-paced action sci-fi MMO that actually feels like you're piloting a small fighter ship in the grip of war. Net Devil wants to give players the feeling of being the ones directly responsible for blowing up the Death Star, as well as the adrenaline surge of trying to get out before it explodes, via special mission situations where you may be expected to fly into an asteroid and take out a base, then escape before everything goes to hell.
“There are no random dice rolls,” he said; it's absolutely designed as a skill-based game. If you miss, that's that... there are no hidden factors as to why you missed. You either didn't aim properly, or your opponent noticed the incoming fire and dodged it manually. There will also be potential counter-measures for things like guided rockets, and other various tracking weapons, so that skill has a large role even in the defense of your ship -- not just its offense. Players will of course also have access to a multitude of various ships, and weapons to outfit those ships with -- all purchasable via the game's planned auction house. Some ships will even be accessible via faction-based merchants; align with a faction, do some missions, and you might gain access to ships or weaponry unique to that faction, Scott explained.
There's also been a progression path set up for unlocking content in the game. “Unlocking is similar to Gran Turismo,” he said; you go through missions, complete content, and you'll unlock better ships, weaponry, and various rewards. He continued: “You're only as powerful as the ship you're in.” Net Devil also wants players to play their own story, rather than guide them through pre-determined goal paths. To this end, missions for the most part will be dynamically generated based on players' actions in previous missions, reputations with the various factions, and a few other factors. The end goal is for Jumpgate Evolution to feel very open-ended, allowing players to decide what leads them to the endgame, rather than Net Devil themselves determining it.
So you're probably thinking to yourself, "With so much detail on the ships, and the gorgeous backgrounds and textures we're looking at another system-killer, right?" Wrong. “The system specs are very low. We've targeted World of Warcraft players,” he said. Yep, Scott was adamant to point out that they aren't aiming for top-end, 'the-average-person-will-own-this-in-six-years' computers. They want the here and now; they actually want the typical gamer to be able to play their game. It's a good thing, too, because the game is being designed specifically to handle massive ship battles; we're talking 200 ships all duking it out in the same sector. Net Devil wants you to enjoy this; not see the outcome three weeks from now when your video card has finally finished rendering the slideshow.
On Monday we'll have Part 2 available, where we'll be discussing the user interface, some of the game features and mechanics behind them, and the higher level content.
Of course, don't forget to add Jumpgate Evolution to your games if you're excited about it! You can do so over at the Jumpgate Evolution section of our website.