Jagexâ??s canned Mechscape â??wonâ??t go to wasteâ??

Jagexâ??s canned Mechscape â??wonâ??t go to wasteâ??
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

January 5th 2010 at 2:15PM

Game engine and assets will not go to waste with Jagexâ??s next project, CEO confirms

Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard has revealed why he pulled the plug on Runescape sequel Mechscape – but reckons the millions of pounds spent on the project won’t be wasted.

In October the UK studio – the biggest developer in the country – confirmed that Mechscape was cancelled despite having eaten up a big budget.

But the team working on the game have already started to rework their ideas, this time in close collaboration with company founder Andrew Gower, who designed the original Runescape, one of Europe’s most popular MMOs.

Speaking exclusively to Develop, Gerhard admitted that serious mistakes were made in the creation of the original Mechscape, but insisted time and money spent on the planned follow-up to Runescape will just make for a better second online game.

“Putting our values up front, and to explain what our success is all about – here it has always been about creating the best possible game we can, and creating a game we want to play and our community would want to play,” said Gerhard, who described the decision to cease development so close to release as one of toughest of his career.

“We could have just shipped Mechscape, because it was ‘feature-ready’, if you will, and it probably would have been okay, but it wouldn’t of been great, and at Jagex we really value our community,” added the CEO.

“We feel that if we took the commercial line of ‘hey, it’s ready, so let’s ship it because it’s done’ that would be treating our community with disdain. That’s how we would perceive it. “

Gerhard added that the game simply wasn’t up to the standards Jagex sets itself internally, hence why Gower has taken a hands-on role as producer to guide the new project.

“Certainly there’ll be assets from Mechscape that we can re-use,” Gerhard explained.

“For example the engine has been developed for four years continuously, so the game we’re starting today will benefit from all that hindsight tremendously.

“Yes, we made some serious mistakes. We even spent a whole year building a tutorial again and again and again. But it’s not all just a case of linear time that has been wasted.”

Describing the new title’s development process as galvanised and made more efficient by the time dedicated to Mechscape, Gerhard also shed light on other factors that contributed to the project’s demise at the renowned Cambridge developer.

“In our platform an MMO can be developed in a year. The most expensive thing you can do on a game is change the design brief. As soon as you make progress and make changes, all that retrofitting doesn’t just add 10 or 20 per cent to the development time; it doubles it.

“That explains why we spent so much time on Mechscape, because we kept changing it because it wasn’t quite right. I think that given a solid brief – which we have now – and the team we have now, which is not just experienced, but so passionate and dedicated, I think it’s very realistic that a year or so from now, we could have a game. Hey – maybe it will be even sooner.”