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Interview with Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard Part 3 of 3 'MechScape


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http://mmohub.org/news/interview-mechsc ... -2009/307/

 

 

 

Brendon Lindsey, Chief Editor, MMOLife Network: You've mentioned it once or twice, but for those who don't know, you guys have been talking recently about working on "MechScape," a sci-fi MMO...

 

 

 

Mark Gerhard, CEO, Jagex: Yes.

 

 

 

Is that something you've been working on for a while? And is it tied into "RuneScape's" development at all?

 

 

 

Gosh, I think it's nearly four years in the making. So there's a significant amount of effort into this. Basically, a few years ago we sat down and said, "You know what" -- when we started out "RuneScape" we said "This is cool and fun, but I wish we did this, or that, and we can't change this now..." So with this one we went, "Now we know what to do, so what if we built this game with all of this stuff in mind."

 

 

 

I mean, "RuneScape" evolved over nine years with all these developers on it, and you can tell. It has all these different flavors. And, you know, it's quite organic. So we thought about, from the start, what if we had a bigger design brief, with these robots almost like Mechs, and it was very consistent. And it was only meant to be a year-long project originally launched in 2006. But every year we went "Wouldn't it be better if we did this..."

 

 

 

So the 2006 project became a 2007 one, when I joined it was a 2008... Now it's looking like 2009. But we'll talk about that when it's closer to the gate!

 

 

 

For all intents and purposes the game is done. It's finished, in testing, and working. But we're in testing and going, "What if we change this..." I suppose we're so excited about what the end result can be that we're tolerating all these changes in 11th hour so to speak. There's nothing really arbitrary, ti's all things we think will really help gameplay or make it more fun. I do expect it to be released in 2009, but it's hard to guarantee these as I'm sure you know. The Studio is however doing a fantastic job and working tirelessly to get the game awesome and ready for Beta.

 

 

 

Traditionally sci-fi MMORPGs don't succeed as well as fantasy, so how are you combating that?

 

 

 

That's a good question. I suppose "MechScape" should be clarified as it's not a traditional sci-fi MMO. Even the name, it probably won't be "MechScape." Certainly four years ago it would be sci-fi, robotic, and mech-like. But even now, that's just one of four factions, if you will. So it's grown and evolved as the sci-fi genre allows.

 

 

 

I suppose, if you look at who's the most successful but also hardcore, you'd have to look at "EVE." I would say "MechScape" is not going to be as hardcore; it's kind of casual like RuneScape, but still gives you the depth, complexity and intrigue that all of the sci-fi MMOs can bring.

 

 

 

We're conscious of what's out there, and of things that haven't worked. But, I think we feel that ours is uniquely different. Alternatively, it may not work for those very factors. But, we think having taken the best lessons, if you will, from "RuneScape" and still making it casual and accessible for a different audience, we've gotten the best of both worlds.

 

 

 

As always with these things time will tell, but we're quite confident about it.

 

 

 

You guys also came out recently with "Armies of Gielinor," which takes place in the "RuneScape" universe. Do you guys have plans to put out other things taking place in the "RuneScape" world eventually, or was that a side project that turned into a fun game?

 

 

 

It actually was a side project that we thought would make a fun game, and it ended up being tremendously successful. Probably one of the most popular games on the [FunOrb.com] service right now. And that taught us that "RuneScape" has an incredibly loyal fan base and is a strong IP, so we'll probably do a lot more with it, but that's a reasonably new element.

 

 

 

"Armies of Gielinor" is a great example of what FunOrb was made for, to test new things without having to spend millions a big project. One of the things Jagex likes the most is inventing, be it a whole new product like Mechscape or a game like "Armies of Gielinor." I don't think it would be fair to our creatives to just shoe-horn them into the "RuneScape" world, we like doing lots and having fun, really. But, I do think we will look at other "RuneScape" opportunities. And, at the same time, I'd like to make sure we remain innovative outside of that sphere as well, because we can.

 

 

 

So is 2009 still the "Year of upgrading 'RuneScape'" for Jagex, even if you're going to be looking at other opportunities?

 

 

 

Yeah, that strategy was actually set by Andrew pre-myself taking over. And, you know, I think it already had a lot of momentum. And you're going to see a ton of upgrades on the game from content and gameplay to graphics and stuff coming throughout the year.

 

 

 

The problem we've got is that there are so many opportunities. We maintain documents we call master plans, these lists, are of all the awesome cool things we want to do. And the challenge is the list is like 300 projects long. We're always wrestling with the top 10 on the list, and it's always "That's cool, we should do that." "No, let's do that one." It's hard, what do you sacrifice?

 

 

 

So the hardest thing right now is not deciding what we could do; the hardest part for us deciding what not to do.. So that's where we are. The order of projects tend to change rather fluidly, but I think that the overall trajectory is kind of set on what we want to do with "RuneScape."

 

 

 

But if that changes you'll be the first to know! [laughs]

 

 

 

Thanks for taking the time out of your two-job schedule to talk, Mark! I'll let you get home now!

 

 

 

[laughs] Thank you! Take care, Brendon!

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Even the name, it probably won't be "MechScape." Certainly four years ago it would be sci-fi, robotic, and mech-like. But even now, that's just one of four factions, if you will. So it's grown and evolved as the sci-fi genre allows.

 

 

 

Factions? :shock:

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That's what I read too Nic, and it makes you think what different areas are going to be released.

 

 

 

The one that hit me the most is, the name. If it might not be Mechscape...what is it? Dun dun dun... :lol:

 

 

 

Good read.

A reflection is just a distorted reality held by glass and your mind.

 

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