On the last day of PAX08 we stopped by the Jumpgate Evolution booth, which was full of people with glazed-over eyes as they blasted away at enemy ships in space. After some time with the game, we sat down with the NetDevil producer Hermann Peterscheck. In-between our questions and his answers we also got to watch him blow up some space pirates, fly through a huge asteroid and battle above a super-volcanic planet with chunks of land -- that had a city on it -- floating in orbit around the planet. It was a lengthy look at a game that's already come a long way and is still showing some real promise, too.
[MP3] Download this interview in MP3 formatMassively: Are you guys still scheduled for a Spring release?
Hermann: Next year, yeah.
Massively: What stage is the user interface in right now?
Hermann: We're definitely still working a lot on the UI, I mean it's a highly iterative thing. This is actually the fourth redesign of the UI. So we've just been going through it over and over and over. Testing it for usability, like icons versus text and how to display the information correctly. So I'm sure it'll be different at launch.
Massively: What kind of level of customization can players expect from the UI?
Hermann: It is windows based, so you can just kind of move things around. Early on, we had color customization so we plan on doing that kind of stuff. The key is though, it's all flash. So we're planning on releasing the .fla files and people can make them whatever they want.
Massively: So if someone was a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, they could emulate the series' look if the wanted?
Hermann: We can't do the copyright stuff obviously, but yeah you could do literally whatever you want. There are games that have proven that customizable UI is a nice feature to have. So we're trying to support that as much as we can. Stuff like, obviously us letting you customize it. The next step is letting you make the UI you want and then through sort of natural selection, the best UI kind of filters its way to the top.
Massively: Are you guys going to be watching the mod scene and re-incorporating some of them into Jumpgate Evolution?
Hermann: I'm sure, yeah. Absolutely. I mean that's just how it works, right? You want the game to be accessible and fun. If there's three or four of us sitting in a vacuum and we're playing the game and we're designing the UI, that's never going to compete with thousands of people playing the game hundreds of hours a week collaboratively solving problems that they encounter. There's no way we're going to be able to compete with that. So why not use that resource of people that what they want to do is improve the game for them and what you want to do is improve the game for everybody. It makes sense to take advantage of that community.
Massively: Are zones going to be areas around planets or more like EVE Online, with solar systems?
Hermann: Well basically the game is zoned by jumpgates, so there's all these varied areas and we're trying to make them as different as possible. Like one of the things people ask us a lot is, "Well, how big is your game?" and that's kind of like asking how long a piece of string is, right? The idea is that, to me, it's big as it needs to be in order to provide variety.
Massively: Especially with space, you're kind of unlimited.
Hermann: Yeah but I mean, you don't want to take 24 hours to get across it but there's 15 things in-between, then what's the point?
Massively: So it's more like designed zones, then?