Status Update: Jumpgate Evolution

Back in May we broke the news that Jumpgate Evolution had been officially delayed and since then, further developments have been few and far between. During our time at PAX we had the chance to talk with NetDevil President, Scott Brown about what the team has been doing, where they're at and when players can expect to play the retail version of the game. Unfortunately Scott mentioned that it's probably impossible to ship in 2009, but rather early 2010.

In addition to the fore mentioned topics in our interview, Scott mentioned their commitment to work with the UI modding community to make sure that JGE players will have plenty of choices when it comes to their user interface. Someone remind me to inform Dolby of our sister site, MMOUI.

ZAM: What is the biggest reason you decided to delay the game and go back to the drawing board?

Scott Brown:
It's all based on player feedback. We started our focus testing with a few hundred friends and family testers. They came back with a lot of stuff they really liked, like the game ran well and it looked really good, but there were just some certain things about it that weren't immersive; the game didn't feel epic. Of course, epic was really our goal, so we went back to the drawing board on mission systems, special effects, A.I. especially - did a lot of work there - to really bring the level of immersion up.

ZAM: What are some of the things that you improved? I saw that the A.I. had been redone. What specifically did you redo?

Cataclysmic PAX Interview

Now that some of the dust has settled since the BlizzCon announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we wanted to dig a little deeper into the mysteries that encompass the next expansion. Unfortunately, we didn't get much, but at this point, we take what we can get. Enjoy!

ZAM: Will the Wrath of the Lich King and Northrend story arcs continue into the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, or will they begin and end separately?

Liam Knapp: The Northrend and Wrath of the Lich King stuff will be complete when Cataclysm goes [live]—the story and progression have moved forward. We're still working on the final patch for Wrath of the Lich King, where Icecrown Citadel and Arthas will come to a head. So we're still working on that and players are going to be able to sink their teeth into it in the near future. Once that storyline completes, that battle has just ended but a new terror comes and hits the world. So even though people thought they may have a [lull in the action], the Horde is already breathing down the Alliance's neck, and vice-versa. Then something new comes into the world and they have to take it on while [neither faction] is being very friendly toward [the other].

ZAM: Ever since WoW came out, Maelstrom has been in the middle of the map. I've always thought one of the expansions would focus on the Maelstrom, with an underwater zone, raid or that in the works? Anything underwater?

Star Trek Online @ GamesCom

Back in 2004, when I first heard the rumors that Perpetual Entertainment was working on a Star Trek MMO, I wasn't all that excited on a personal level, but my MMO centric occupation kept me interested. You see, I wasn't a Star Trek fan back then. Sure I knew plenty about it. I'd even sat through an episode or two; however, I failed to grasp the appeal that brought so many die hard fans to the franchise. It wasn't until I saw The Wrath of Khan followed by First Contact that I understood the appeal. I was now a Star Trek fan eagerly anticipating the MMO. When Cryptic Studios acquired the license and art assets following the bankruptcy of Perpetual Entertainment in 2008, I thought that surely the MMO space was going to get its first taste of what I like to call, the "Duke Nukem Forever paradigm" (a game with massive amounts of hype, with no release in the foreseeable future). Fortunately for Trekkers everywhere -- that's not that case.

In the fall of 2008, I began learning about the direction that Cryptic was taking the game. Total Customization was the underlying theme and when Cryptic says customization, it's safe to believe that you'll have more options than you can shake a stick at. It wasn't until we saw the gameplay demonstration at GamesCom, in Cologne, Germany last week, that I realized how much customization Cryptic is giving the players with Star Trek Online. The game looks absolutely amazing and is exactly what Star Trek gamers have been waiting for. Keep reading for our gameplay impressions.

Dragonica Online "M1" Interview

While at GamesCom last week we took some time to meet with Gala Networks in an attempt to squeeze some information out of the Dragonica Online European Producer, Max Stolberg about the upcoming "M1" update. Fortunately for our European readers, we received some great information and confirmation that the update is set to go live on European servers around the end of September.

ZAM: The Dragonica M1 update is conceptually planned for the end of September to early October. What all does that entail?

Max Stolberg: The M1 update entails the majority of the new Van Cliff dungeon. The new Van Cliff dungeon is a high end dungeon for groups of four level 60 players and it will be really, really tough. The other slight modifications are the interface and the mission map system and other small things as well.

ZAM: There's going to be four bosses; the Gargoyle, Rahnoff, Dracula and a Bone Dragon. Can you tell us a little bit about those individually?

ZAM Interviews Hiromichi Tanaka

By now you've seen dozens of interviews out of GamesCom that ask questions about how Final Fantasy XIV differs from XI. We had our fair share of those questions, but ultimately we wanted to know, "why was the decision made to make FFXIV so similar to FFXI?". During the interview we asked Hiromichi Tanaka that very question and the answer was intriguing. "FFXI has been out for about eight years now; the graphical engine we used is very old. In that sense, we wanted to have something that the FFXI players can smoothly move on to" said Tanaka.

Make sure to check out our round table style interview with Q&As from our friend Chris Morell from the PlayStation Blog.

Discuss this interview on the ZAM forums!

PlayStation Blog: You guys recently talked at E3 about how the game kind of closely relates to Final Fantasy XI. I was kind of wondering how the monsters and races have changed from XI to XIV.

Hiromichi Tanaka:
Because we're using a new graphic engine, the graphics are really different from FFXI and you can see more details on both monsters and races. Regarding the races, to encourage people to shift smoothly from FFXI, you will see very similar types of classes. But if you actually make your own character, you'll be able to select your own colour of hair, skin, eye color, shape of your face, etc. There will be a wide range of variety to customize.

ZAM: Why would you stick so rigidly to the class / race balance in FFXI, and are there more races we haven't seen in XI?

GamesCom: Rise of the Godslayer Interview

During our first day at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany -- we had the opportunity to talk with Age of Conan Executive Producer, Craig Morrison and Lead Expansion Designer, Joel Bylos. During the interview we went into detail about the first expansion for Age of Conan, Rise of the Godslayer. In addition to new mounts, an alternate advancement system and a handful of different NPC factions to sway, players can also look forward to zones with as much as 30 percent more playable space. Check out our full interview and stay tuned for our first look at Rise of the Godslayer.

ZAM: What were the biggest goals with the first Age of Conan expansion?

Craig Morrison:
I think the key goals are two-fold. One is to add a lot more content and story-driven, dynamic content that the players can really invest in and have a lot of fun playing through. It's a content-driven expansion. The second is the system-side; adding the additional character depth that we discussed in the presentation of the 'alternate advancement system,' and giving players the ability to further specialize and train their characters and make them more powerful [via] the alternate advancement system.

Let's talk about the alternate advancement system. Is it more of an advancement system or a specialization system, in which players would choose different paths?

Exploring the Underfoot with Ryan Barker

Last month at the Sony Online Entertainment Fan Faire, the EverQuest team announced that they've been hard at work on the 16th expansion simply titled "Underfoot". Curiosity got the best of us, so we sat down with our old friend Ryan Barker from the EverQuest development team to find out what we can expect in the next expansion.

ZAM: Hey Ryan, it's great to talk with you again. Are you ready to talk about the Underfoot?

Ryan Barker: 
Sure thing, ready if you are!

First of all, it's hard not notice that this is the first EverQuest expansion with a singular name, making it nearly impossible for players to create an acronym. Is this intended or is the EverQuest team running out of ideas?

Ryan: Well, the acronym issue was definitely brought up, but we just came to the conclusion that it didn't really need a multipart name.  The Underfoot title makes it pretty clear what the premise for the expansion is, and it's always been referenced that way in lore up to this point.  It was definitely a conscious decision.

Jake Neri and Hall Hood on The Old Republic

It's no secret that I'm a huge Star Wars: The Old Republic fanboi. In fact, it's the first MMORPG in many years that's been at the top of my personal "Most Anticipated Game" list. This made the chance to sit down with Producer, Jake Neri and Senior Writer Hall Hood at Comic Con particularly exciting. Join us for an interview with some personality where we talk about The Old Republics story, features you can expect and even what George Lucas thinks of the project.

ZAM: Can you give us a re-cap of what the Comic Con panel was about, and what information was given out?

Jake Neri: The panel was called "Behind the Scenes, Star Wars: The Old Republic." We're in a phase of talking about where we're at in the game—[we want to] get the fans in touch with some of the guys actually making the game; let the fans feel [them out] and ask questions. We covered the process of writing—these guys are doing a tremendous amount of work. We talked about art creation, some of the production goals and overall, what the game is and what we've achieved.

ZAM: Let's talk about some of those achievements. This is the world's first fully-voiced MMO, for example. At E3, we were told you started this project five years ago.

The State of Warhammer Online

Last week we featured an editorial about Warhammer Online, speculating about the ways in which the game's developer, Mythic Entertainment, might have hindered the MMO's long-term success. Was WAR released too early? Was it the endless gameplay and client bugs that drove subscribers away, or the fact that WoW's Wrath of the Lich King dominated the market last winter? What could Mythic have done differently? More importantly, what is the company doing today in order to retain current subscribers and lure back old ones?

As fate would have it, the timing couldn't have been any better. This week, at Comic Con in San Diego, CA, ZAM had the chance to sit down with James Nichols, Community Manager for Mythic Entertainment and talk about WAR. We brought up many of the player issues and concerns circulating the community forums these days, including the lag in large-scale battles and the fundamental design problems facing ORvR. We're also interested about the hotly-debated combat and career issues brought up by the community, as well as the lifespan of the Land of the Dead event, and the future of WAR in general.

Make sure to read the interview transcription after the jump!

Free Realms: One Server for all Nations

Yesterday we had the opportunity to sit down with Free Realms Creative Director, Laralyn McWilliams at the San Diego Comic Con. During the interview we received information about new items coming to station cash, an explanation about the new Druid job that's coming to live servers and some world exclusive information about the upcoming Free Realms international push. "We're all languages, all servers, which I believe is a first for a massive multiplayer game like this. We're not going to segregate certain regions or languages into certain servers, so you really are going to be playing on a server with people from all over the world." McWilliams announced.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below and make sure to read the full interview after the jump.

ZAM: During the beta, there was mention of a family plan membership. Is there any time frame on this, or will any kind of program be rolled out eventually?

Laralyn McWilliams: That's something we're still interested in, but I don't have an exact time frame for it quite yet.

ZAM: Do you have any details, so far, as to how much it would cost?