Aside from this week's headlining announcement that LotRO is going free this fall, there was another bit of news that’s started to make some waves in the week prior to E3. Long since believed to be a vaporware by the cynics, NetDevil’s Jumpgate Evolution is finally back and tracking on gamers’ radars as the title’s producer came out with a lengthy post this explaining the reason for the game’s long period of silence. What the letter amounted to was that basically NetDevil had a lot of the game’s systems working but that the result simply wasn’t what they wanted it to be… and so like any good developer would the Colorado lads and lasses went back to the drawing board.
A while back, as JGE was still in quiet-mode, I wrote an article about five things NetDevil needed to do in order to make the evolution of Jumpgate successful. As it turned out, I wasn't at all far off from the developer's own line of thought. Scott Brown and Lance Robertson both read the article and I received an e-mail and subsequent phone call from the former in order to clarify how ND was planning on making my prognostications come true. Basically Scott said that the team behind JGE has exactly the same thoughts as me and that they're anxious to start showing the game again, but that they wouldn't be doing so until they were definitely ready. Next week is that time. And I have a feeling that those folks who have been calling the game vaporware for a while might be eating some hefty portions of crow.
While they're understandably holding a lot of their cards close to the chest until next week, I was able to get Scott and Lance to tell me what we can expect from this year's E3 showing. Aside from a major overhaul of most of the game's systems, a lot of what JGE was initially going to be was thrown out (as Lance stated here) and instead the team has focused most of its attention on bringing you the biggest and best representation of massive space battles the likes of which have so far only been seen on film. At E3 we'll get to see if and how NetDevil has been able to seamlessly blend the PvE and PvP, or the AI with the player characters to create truly stunning and massive space battles. Scott gave me an example that while there may be hundreds of players controlling smaller ships in a battle, the AI might be off controlling turrets on a space station. Or that players might find themselves tasked with destroying a massive alien fleet controlled by AI only to have it result in a PvP battle for the resources the aliens were hoarding.
The entire quest system has been redesigned as well, and apparently it now focuses on objective-based questing with the result driving the factional warfare. Of course I was assured there will be plenty of PvE as well, but that even the PvE content will be focused on the feud between the game's three factions. It's sounding more and more like a hybrid of DAoC and Wing Commander, and I for one couldn't be more excited to see if NetDevil can pull it off. I'll let you know if they're on the right track next week after I get my grubby hands on the pilot controls.