Eurogamer: Stellar Dawn will welcome those MMO fundamentals, then?
Mark Gerhard: It will have an, er, accumulation mechanic.
Eurogamer: What's left of MechScape in Stellar Dawn?
Mark Gerhard: The game meta-view, story, concept remain the same. We still loved the story, it was just the implementation.
Eurogamer: Stellar Dawn's logo looks very similar to Mass Effect's logo.
Mark Gerhard: Ooh. [Cringes, giggles.]
Eurogamer: Is that a sign that you're going after a core audience with Stellar Dawn?
Mark Gerhard: Stellar Dawn will certainly be older than RuneScape, and play to a more core gamer audience. It'll still be casual, it'll still be accessible to most people.
Eurogamer: You say casual, but most MMOs require hundreds of hours of play before characters see significant results. Who's really going to play it?
Mark Gerhard: The same people playing World of Warcraft, I suspect.
Eurogamer: Ah! A head-to-head battle?
Mark Gerhard: Indeed. We'll park our tanks on their lawn.
Eurogamer: RunesCape's nearly 10 years old. How long has it got left?
Mark Gerhard: Our current business plan is another 10 years of slated game updates and content updates.
Eurogamer: When is there going to be another big visual overhaul?
Mark Gerhard: That will be much like we've done so far: iterative. The engine team's always pushing the tech and as soon as we're ready there will be another upgrade. But people don't need to pay for that, it just comes when it's ready.
A lot of what we've done to push the boundary for Stellar Dawn will benefit RuneScape and another MMO we're working on. We've got the advantage in that we share the same MMO tech platform. From there it's really down to the studios to decide how it's used.
Eurogamer: RuneScape is your fantasy MMO, Stellar Dawn is your sci-fi MMO. Is there a point when you'll want a new fantasy MMO?
Mark Gerhard: We do, we totally do. We're working on it as we speak.
Eurogamer: Jagex has taken on some third-party MMOs and you're, in a sense, publishing them. Are you aligning your self as a publisher?
Mark Gerhard: Well, "publisher" is a dirty word, or certainly the publishers today have made it a dirty word. We don't want comparisons to that. We know there's a lot of people like Jagex - indies who actually have great content - who don't know how to come to market. We really want to help those people. That goes beyond just the usual publishing relationship. It's really about passing on our 10 years of hard-learned lessons on every level: game design, content, story-arc, various other parts.
Even with War of Legends we spent a good six months and longer working on the game to localise it. That's not something we'll charge at a premium: that's us setting up a long-term investment. It's worth our effort to teach you all the things we know because you'll be making even better games in five years from now, and hopefully we'll still be your publisher of choice.
Eurogamer: Can those games be as big as RuneScape?
Mark Gerhard: It's really hard to know. We didn't know RuneScape would be as big as RuneScape.
Mark Gerhard is CEO of Jagex. Stellar Dawn has no release date. Front page image of Mark Gerhard taken By Dan Griliopoulos at Develop 2010.