This review was posted at a Homeworld news site in February 2001. It has since been archived.
Jump Gate Pkers are Evil Jumpgate is a new MMORPG currently in open beta and developed by NetDevil. It has taxed the time of many HomeWorld players, which is unfortunate for the skill base at HW. But hey! This game sure is enticing. After four months testing Jumpgate, I have come to the conclusion that JG is going to suffer the same problems as Ultima Online when they lost many clients to Everquest and Asheron's Call. PvP issues affecting the needs of peaceful players caused this loss of playership. Not only does uncontrolled PvP spoil the fun, the intensity of RPG also has a by-product of spilling over into relationships in real time and questions a player's willingness to fork out next month's subscription for the game.
Myself and many other players have left the Jumpgate beta because of the ghetto, gang like mentality of certain squads who take pleasure in killing other pilots for the slightest transgression or flimsiest whim.
Players who wish to extract a different sense of achievement from the game besides combat are at the mercy these killer pilots.
Being killed in Jumpgate is not the end of the world. Your life pod is sent back to the faction's core station and then the player is set up with default newbie gear. However your statistics and progress in the game can be severely set back by a few quick deaths and this is not fun. For players who wish to avoid the combat RPG aspect of play and simply trade or mine for the economy, falling victim repetitively to Pkers is disheartening and corrupts interest in the game.
The PK issue first reared its ugly head in the days of Ultima Online. 'Player Killers' (PKers), who take pleasure in attacking less powerful players, created an income-flow problem for Origin (the developers). Origin initially saw player vs player (PvP) as a natural part of the MMORPG realism. But when a large percentage of clients were lost to competitors, Origin revised the game and released Ultima Online: Renaissance. Here the player could only go vs another player by mutual consent, a move that killed the game in the eyes of many UO die-hards. Similarly, the Jumpgate developers, NetDevil, will be forced to confront the PK issue or suffer a loss of potential income when the game is released.
Personally, I would like to see factional NPC's (Non-Player Characters) introduced to the Jumpgate universe. Noobies and peaceful players need a secure environment within their own faction to explore and trade within the game during the initial stages. Between advanced players and NPC's patrolling local airspace, noobies could have peace of mind to settle into the JG environment. If some random serial Pker roams into a faction's airspace to rip down other less-skilled pilots, swift justice is dealt out by NPC's and the nearest Ace sporting Strakers and a pair of Morning Star missiles.
The role playing aspect in a persistent universe has the tendency to spill over into real time relationships with other players too. I had an unfortunate PK encounter with a hostile player in JG and because I had a history of trading only in the game, I was livid about this unprovoked attack. I tried to settle our dispute using BattleCom (voice chat program) but this punk, gangster like thug was still in role. Perhaps this was the 'real' him, I don't know, but by the end of our conversation I was thinking, "contract killer time". This is hardly the atmosphere conducive to making new friends in the game and certainly zero-fun-factor.
Unfortunately a friend of my Homeworld clan was also in this thug's squad. Upon hearing of my being shot down and placed on the "kill on site list" for no substantial reason, he immediately became furious with the squad's leaders and policies. In the end, I was angry with the mate from HW, he was angry with his new squad mates, our fighting out of JG alienated friendships in HW and the JG thug continued to be angry at the world at large. This situation caused real tension in our circle of friends and for a moment there I was thinking, "Holy %$#@, this is suppose to be a game right?" Many other situations like this are turning the Jumpgate universe into a hornets' nest of hostilities, a really bitchy place to be for some. Others are leaving the game's beta test in droves. JG in its present state definitely caters for a PvP centric environment and one would hope NetDevil promotes the game to be as such. The moral of the story is that when MMORPG games dominate the shelves at the local store it would be wise to check the provisions of the game for protecting newbies and peaceful intending payers from hell bent violent PKers.