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Jagex cancels MechScape at significant cost, restarts anew

Sci-Fi, New Titles, News Items, Mechscape, Stellar Dawn

Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard has indeed confirmed the cancellation of MechScape, although you wouldn't quite know it from his comments, which seem excited to be working on a different title with a new direction. This isn't the first time an in-development MMO has been rebooted in favor of a completely new direction, although Tabula Rasa at least kept its original name.

Why the sudden decision? According to Gerhard, MechScape wasn't able to avoid the same pitfalls of RuneScape. Of course, making such a move is going to cost Jagex millions, but their current financial success will be shouldering the weight. The new game -- known as Stellar Dawn -- should be coming in 2010 and will be based on the MechScape graphics engine.

The big changes planned for Stellar Dawn are content and combat focused, although no specifics were given by Gerhard. It's a bold move, no doubt, and sometimes this industry favors such decisions -- other times it punishes them significantly. Whether you look at this as stalled (Tabula Rasa) or prolonged (everything Blizzard) development, you have to admit it creates a notable amount of interest in Jagex's 2010 game.

New details surface about MechScape

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Mechscape

Ever since Massively first learned of Jagex's sci-fi follow up to RuneScape at GDC 2009, a project codenamed "MechScape" -- and that it will be more than "RuneScape in space" -- we've wondered what to expect from the game. Jagex has given us a few hints though: four distinct species; choice of alliances which affect player adventures; and the potential for cloning, player-built vehicles, perhaps even spaceship construction.

There's now more info out there about MechScape through a Eurogamer interview with the game's Chief Designer Henrique Olifiers. Eurogamer's Rob Purchese learned just how different a spin on MMOs MechScape might be. Olifiers said, "From the beginning we didn't want to make another RuneScape: it can't be another fantasy game, so no more elves... no more orcs, no more dragons." This sci-fi game will not share some of the standard MMO game mechanics we've come to expect.

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Jagex lets out a small bit of information on their upcoming title, Mechscape

At a glance, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Browser, Mechscape

Getting Jagex to even speak the name Mechscape is hard enough in itself, but Kieron Gillen was able to glean some facts from the Jagex staff at the recent DEVELOP conference in Brighton.

While Gillen's Rock, Paper, Shotgun piece centered mostly on Jagex's newest website, FunOrb, and their dedication to retro gaming, he was able to sneak in a few questions and learn a few key facts about Jagex's next browser-based MMO. Mechscape is not Runescape in space, but more of an evolution of "How can we avoid past mistakes?" One of the mistakes that many developers make is putting fantasy MMO mechanics into a sci-fi setting according to Henrique Olifiers, the head of Mechscape.

"The reason why many Sci-fi MMOs haven't worked is because they're fantasy games dressed up to look like Sci-fi games," said Olifiers to Gillen.

To this end, Mechscape has turned to sci-fi titles such as Ascendancy and Masters of Orion for inspiration in regards to their game mechanics. In addition, Mechscape will not be featuring experience points or levels, much like another game we just talked about.

Olifiers has stated that Mechscape is in the final polishing phases of development, but he will not put a date down on the game just yet, citing the age-old, "It will be done when it's done."

GDC09: What Jagex has in store with MechScape

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Massively Meta, Interviews (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Mechscape

We've been hearing some new info this last week concerning Jagex and their latest MMO project. The company has enjoyed wild success so far with their free-to-play browser-based MMO RuneScape, and they hope to replicate that success with their sci-fi project entitled MechScape. We had the opportunity to sit down with a few members of the company's top development team for an interview during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to discuss this new project and the current state of the company.

So what is MechScape? Well, first off, it's important to note that MechScape is not the game's name, only the project's code name. It is a sci-fi MMO project that has been in development since 2006. Although it will be running on the RuneScape HD engine, Jagex is very determined to point out that this game will not simply be RuneScape in space. It will have its own mechanics, its own storyline and a planet-based, non-linear game experience unlike anything they've tackled before.

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Jagex looking strong for 2009

Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Virtual Worlds, Mechscape

Jagex, the developer of the popular free-to-play browser based MMO Runescape, is looking very good as they enter into 2009 with two of their best quarters behind them and a brand new game ahead. RuneScape has already been hailed as the largest free-to-play game in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, featuring 1 million paying players and 5 million free players.

Besides giving Blizzard a run for "which company could fill a pool with money and swim in it," Jagex is also preparing a brand new MMO game, set in the confines of science-fiction and giant robots. MechScape, as the project is currently known, will feature deeper gameplay than its fantasy cousin to target a brand new audience. MechScape will be based from RuneScape's technology and will feature graphics of a higher caliber than RuneScape HD. You can look for much more information regarding this project in our GDC interview with Jagex, releasing tomorrow.

E308: Jagex teases sci-fi successor to Runescape, Mechscape

Sci-Fi, New Titles, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Mechscape

Earlier today we spoke with Jagex CEO Geoff Iddison and developer Henrique Olifiers about the future of the company. We'll have more from that discussion later today, but as we talked we noticed something interesting about Mr. Olifiers' business card. His official title, according to the card, is "Head of Mechscape." So we asked, point blank, "what's Mechscape?" Mechscape, according to the company men, is the next MMO coming from the folks at Jagex. They're expecting that it will be released in the first Quarter of 2009. It's going to be the next step or two beyond Runescape HD in terms of technology, and a slightly more mature product. Their view is that, as players grow older with the fantasy product, they're going to want something a little more in-depth, deeper. That said, they don't feel that players will want to give up the jump-in jump-out portability of a browser-based game.

Mechscape will capitalize on that by providing a science fiction world and more complicated gameplay, all via your standard web browser. What's amazing is how passionate Jagex's fans are for this game already: the above logo was discovered by nosy fans searching out information about the game. There are already two fansites for the game, even though there are almost no details released about the game yet. They've even put together a video showing what assets and information they've unearthed. which is embedded below the cut. Stay tuned to Massively for more on Jagex's new game as we hear it.
Did you enjoy this? Check out all of our E3 coverage as the week rolls forward!

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