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NetDevil Reveals Expansion Plans, 'Major Toy Company' MMO

Gamasutra spoke with NetDevil president Scott Brown and creative director Ryan Seabury to get some insight into the company's goals, including a new MMOG for a "major toy company," as well as a new FPS using "unlimited physics processing capabilities" in
Independent game company NetDevil has established itself as a respectable force within the MMO game space. Founded in 1997, the company is recognized by most as the developer of groundbreaking space MMO Jumpgate, as well as the NCsoft published vehicle based MMO AutoAssault. Recently, Gamasutra spoke with NetDevil president Scott Brown and creative director Ryan Seabury to get some insight into the company's goals, which include three new projects that will be announced soon, as well as plans well underway to double the company's Colorado based workforce to just over 100 employees by the end of the calendar year. “With the release of Auto Assault, that was our first high budget title, and we've grown from that. That being said, the first thing that we want people to know is that we are growing, and are working on a number of new and exciting projects,” commented Brown. “There are a lot of new MMO companies showing up that are making games in areas that they don't have experience in, or have never made a game before, but for NetDevil, we're a 100 percent self funded company, and next year is going to be our 10th anniversary.” He added: “There's a very different experience and knowledge set that going into a online game compared to a single player game. There's a lot of work that some people might not understand, but we've become experts at. There's not a lot of companies, certainly not independent companies, that have our expertise, and because we are growing so much, we're hoping to move into a new office space.” Interestingly, the move won't be a huge leap for the company, for when questioned as to the new office's location, the duo noted somewhat comically that they could look out their window and see the building literally across the street. “We are trying to build an environment that is a great place of work that inspires creativity,” noted Seabury. “The new space will be complete with basketball courts, and even a full kitchen.” When asked as to the nature of NetDevil's new projects, both Brown and Seabury revealed that NetDevil has begun working on a new, as yet unannounced MMOG for a “major toy company,” though the two were somewhat coy when pressed as to what company or particular IP this game would involve. “We can't reveal that just yet, though we are expecting to announce it in early January.” However, Brown did add, “It's not that hard to figure out, but everyone we've told this to has responded that the IP is a natural fit for a MMO.” NetDevil is also currently working on a shooter with physics middleware creator and 'physics processing unit' hardware company Ageia. “With this game we are asking, 'What could you do with unlimited physics processing capabilities?'” said Brown. He continued: “The way physics are handled now, we like to call that 'house of cards' destruction, where things just sort of get knocked over. What we are talking about with this new project is being able to destroy anything in the environment one chunk at a time. I think we have an edge in there in physics development, and we'll be showing this project off soon.” However, while the game is being developed with the assistance of Ageia specifically, both Brown and Seabury commented that the company is not developing its new or future projects with only one physics middleware provider in mind, to the exclusion of all others. “Whichever physics solution turns out to be the winner, we want to be able to fully support that as well.” The company is also looking to expand upon its first MMOG, Jumpgate, which launched in 2001 and is still running. “We're taking things that we learned with Auto Assault and Jumpgate in order to breath new life into that project,” noted Brown. He was noticeably enthusiastic about the prospect of re-energizing the company's freshman effort, and commented that “major changes to graphics and AI are the main upgrades planned for Jumpgate.” Finally, and more generally, Gamasutra asked the pair what separates NetDevil from the other competing firms in the online game space, to which Brown replied, “One of the things we've been doing as a company is building a massive code base, so that each game isn't starting from scratch. We have a lot of systems that work really well, and this makes it possible to build these games faster than other companies.” Seabury echoed this sentiment concerning leveraging off of existing projects, adding: “Of course there's always news things to develop, like auction houses, but we are building that base so that we can concentrate on the fun things instead of focusing on the beginning from scratch.”

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