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Road To The IGF: Armada Online's Mark Jordan

Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, which profiles and interviews Independent Games Festival 2007 entrants, today’s interview is with Mark Jordan, of EvStream, developers of online sci-fi RPG
Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, which profiles and interviews Independent Games Festival 2007 entrants, today’s interview is with Mark Jordan, of EvStream, developers of sci-fi RPG Armada Online. The game is still being improved upon by the company, who view the project as an “open and modular” development, adding that the game is part of a “total universe” that will allow the team to “try new experimental game types”. Armada Online itself is a science fiction RPG that lets players take control of a “starship, destroy hordes of biomechanical aliens, and explore the universe”. Much of the game is based around the importance of team communication, with allies acting as teachers and mentors for newer players, as well as directing them to “critical locations”. The title has been announced as a finalist in the Technical Excellence award for this year’s competition. We spoke to Jordan about the game, its entry into the IGF, and EvStream’s plans for a “total universe”. What is your background in the games industry? I've been an artist and designer since 1994. I started on the Mac, then made PC, Dreamcast, Game Boy, Xbox, and PS2 games. When was EvStream formed, and what previous titles have you released? EvStream started in early 2005. Roger Fang and I worked on Armada DC and Star Command. Armada Online is EvStream's first project. What inspired Armada Online, and why did you decide to make it? Playing Starflight as a child led me to make Armada Online. What were your expectations from your game, and do you feel the end product lives up to those expectations? It is fun, as we had hoped, but there is still a great deal to do. What plans do you have for a "total universe" based around Armada Online, and how important is longevity in your IP for you? We built AO as our personal "virtual console" that we can make new games for. You can play it now to get a sense of the scope. What do you think the most interesting thing about your game is? Choice. How long did development take? 19 months, so far. What was the development process like? 2 months preproduction for interface and file structure. After that we left the game open online for people to drop in and play as we add layers. What do you think of the state of independent development, and how do you think independent games fit into the industry? We can make AO and sell it on our own. Electronic Arts could fund and publish. Have you checked out any of the other IGF games? Yes. Much excellence. Which ones are you particularly impressed with, and why? Aquaria and Castle Crashers, for their style and spirit: I love Ecco the Dolphin, Castlevania, and Golden Axe. Which recent indie games do you admire, and which recent mainstream titles do you admire, and why? Cave Story, Mutant Storm, Alien Hominid, Gamma Bros, Dad 'n Me, Silent Bomber, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on 360, because they are awesome. Do you have any messages for your fellow contestants or fans of the IGF? Mine: NewGrounds!

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