GDC '08: Jumpgate Evolution First Impressions

NetDevil goes back to its roots with this action-oriented space combat game that's also a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

SAN FRANCISCO--In 2001, NetDevil released Jumpgate: The Reconstruction Initiative, an online space combat game that was generally well regarded by the critics. After stumbling a bit with the failed Auto Assault, NetDevil has gone back to its roots with Jumpgate Evolution. This promises to be a revamped version of the game, with a brand new graphics engine and all of the lessons learned over the past six years.

A good way to think about Jumpgate is to imagine something like Elite or Wing Commander: Privateer, but with a massively multiplayer scale. You fly a small spacecraft--ranging from fighters to slightly larger transports--and go out into the vast expanse, travelling from system to system by a series of jumpgates (hence the title). In this fast expanse, you battle enemies and pursue quests that you get in space stations and other ports.

Jumpgate Evolution won't be a sequel to the first game, but it will be set in the same universe. The three original playable factions are back, as well as the Conflux, the universal enemy controlled by the computer. NetDevil gave us a short look at some of the action, like flying between monstrously huge asteroids, shooting down pirate fighters, and flying by gigantic space stations. The scale of the game is impressive, and one thing that NetDevil is thinking about for player-versus-player battles is to have capital ships in the mix. Imagine two capital ships approaching one another--guns blazing--and swarms of fighters (piloted by the players) mixing it up.

The controls and handling of the fighters is being tuned to mouse and keyboard, but there will be joystick support for the hardcore space fans. More importantly, the physics engine is being tweaked a bit. The first Jumpgate had a pretty unforgiving physics engine that would result in you slamming into objects and exploding. Realistic, but not too much fun. We'll see how the revamped physics will work, but we did see at least one collision where the fighter slammed into a larger object at low speed and bounced off.

Like any good MMO these days, Jumpgate Evolution will have a dynamic, player-based economy. Details are scarce, though. This was just a first look at the game, on an offline laptop in the middle of GDC, so it was all fairly rudimentary. Still, it'll be interesting to see where NetDevil goes with this game. We'll find out more in the coming months, and Jumpgate Evolution is aimed for launch in the second half of this year.

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15 comments
thatmy
thatmy

Hope, they have a simple features like freelancer and earth & beyond. Also a simple mouse control flying features like earth and beyond. I hate using joystick and poor mouse control spacecraft flying. if they have these, I definitely buy this game otherwise forget it if they are like EVE cos complicated and hard for me. :P

buzzard31581
buzzard31581

Sounds a lot like Freelancer to me...which was an awesome game btw. I look forward to this one.

nvfigueiredo
nvfigueiredo

I just wished producers went back to this genre. X-Wing, Descent Freespace and Wing Commander were brilliant games. They would surely do great on recent consoles. Imagine a whole new Descent Freespace on PS3/Xbox360... bundled with a dedicated flightstick... wouldn't it be heaven? :)

selbie
selbie

The good thing about this game which sets itself apart from game like EVE is that it's basically Freespace & Wing Commander on a massive scale. I can't wait to see more!!!

uberlex
uberlex

What would be really nice too is if this was released on ps3 / 360 (preferably with better graphics, thought it probably won't) and allowed all 3 platforms to use the same servers, that way making it a LOT bigger. Even though this is basically a more arcade-y version of Eve-Online, I would still like to see it in action as I've always wanted something like Eve but with more control over the ships. Let's hope it's not another Freelancer though...

Irenicmad
Irenicmad

Definitely worth a try. I want to see how this will compare to eve, but it's probably going to be at least a year until this comes out so...gg This actually looks more like X3 online rather than eve.

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

Looks a LOT like EVE Online.

Lycen
Lycen

WOHOO... damn them if it has monthly pay!

t3h_sauce
t3h_sauce

Seriously, I want Tie Fighter back.

aceoaces
aceoaces

What the whole genre seemed to abandon after Wing Commander 2 was the cockpit design. They went to these wire graphics and gave up on the detailed displays that made it all seem real. I've been waiting for a WC2 style modern game ever since. I doubt this will be it. Not to mention everyone gave up on the genre period. What happened?

Lghtknght
Lghtknght

The difference versus EVE....some of us actually like to fly our ships and pit our piloting skills against others. I tired of EVE before trial ended...got bored of sitting around. I want something that hearkens back to the golden age of space sims but evolved to fit into modern games. This one hopefully fits the bill.

Kubilius
Kubilius

Right, and what's the unique selling point of this game against EVE or other space games? I don't mean to be rude, i love space games, but EVE has everything that's written in this review + much larger battle system, economy, etc. etc. etc. So if this will be just a small ships action game + economy, not sure if it will be as massive and involving as EvE