Exclusive interview with Alexander Padberg, Product Manager of Jagged Alliance Online

Today we present this exclusive interview about the turn-based tactical action MMORPG Jagged Alliance Online with its product manager, Alexander Padberg.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you about Jagged Alliance Online.

First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi there, my name is Alexander Padberg. I am the product manager for Jagged Alliance Online at gamigo.

How would you describe Jagged Alliance Online to someone who has never heard about it before?
Jagged Alliance Online is a new and exciting addition to the well-known Jagged Alliance series; it's an MMOG that lets you create and manage your own company of mercenaries and send them on various missions all over the world. It brings the quality of a highly tactical turn-based boxed game to the browser by using the Unity engine.

Could you give us a sneak peek of the backstory?
The story of Jagged Alliance Online unfolds directly after the events in Jagged Alliance 2. The tutorial of the game starts with A.I.M. being attacked and you having to defeat the unknown attackers.

Could you tell us what are the main features of Jagged Alliance Online?
Jagged Alliance Online features top-notch 3D graphics based on the Unity 3D engine. There are more than 100 missions in all corners of the world and more than 40 different mercenaries with individual attributes, plus a custom merc representing the player. You can customize your mercs with hundreds of different weapons and countless equipment items and upgrade your headquarters. Jagged Alliance Online offers deep tactical gameplay with a variety of mission objectives and a sophisticated AI with different behaviors for different types of enemies. And, last but not least, you will be able to challenge other players in special PvP missions with a variety of goals using a matchmaking system and leaderboards.

Could you give us some information about the gameplay, more specifically on the tactical, the management and the social levels?
Tactical: On the tactical level, JAO provides players with the good old Jagged Alliance gameplay with a few modern tweaks. That means you get a certain amount of action points each turn to work with. The challenge is to use them as effectively as possible to achieve the objectives of the mission.

On the management level, you build up your base by upgrading different buildings, which have certain functions (workshop, hospital etc.). You hire and dismiss mercenaries, train and equip them to improve your company.

There are currently two different PvP modes for interacting with others. You can fight other players for the top spot in the rankings using a matchmaking system that pits players of equal skill level against each other.

Jagged Alliance previous versions gameplay used to be turn based. Is this going to change with the online version?
No, as I mentioned earlier, we are going to stay true to the well-proven system of the franchise.

Between how many characters or classes are we going to be able to choose? What kind of character progression will Jagged Alliance Online offer?
We've got more than 40 different mercenaries, which can be split roughly into five different archetypes like “sniper” or “heavy gunner”. Each of those mercenaries has their own set of skills, though, which the player can adjust to their own liking.

Which of the mercenaries featured in previous games of Jagged Alliance will be playable?
Most of the fan favorites will be there. You will be able to hire Ivan, Shadow, Raven, Fidel, Buzz, Lynx, Steroid, to name just a few.

How many mercenaries a player will be able to control?
We currently have missions that allow up to eight mercenaries, but you will be able to hire more than that and select the exact team of professionals you need to achieve the mission's objectives. But hiring and paying for that many mercs will be a challenge.

What about character customization? Are there many ways to equip and make each player’s mercenaries unique?
With the enormous amount of items in the game, you will be able to equip the mercenaries any way you want to. In addition to the items that will be available at launch, we will support the game with continual content updates, which will increase the amount of items even more.

What can you tell us about PVE and PVP? How is it going to work in Jagged Alliance Online?
The PvE in JAO is contract-based: Each contract consists of several missions that are connected by a storyline. After finishing a mission, you have the option of revisiting it at any time to try to fulfill specific achievements like finishing the mission in less than 30 turns or using only shotguns.

PvP will have two different game modes: Search + Destroy and Bounty Hunter. Those modes will present the players with different goals they have to complete in order to win the match. In Search + Destroy you will have to defend certain objects while trying to destroy the enemy's objects at the same time. In Bounty Hunter mode the goal is to get to a target person in order to take them out faster than the other player while also avoiding the target’s guards.

What about the item shop? Will it be necessary to purchase items to level up in a convenient way in the game?
It won't be necessary. Most of the items in the game can be found or acquired without paying anything. Although things do get a little more convenient when you shell out a couple of bucks.

From your point of view, what makes this game more fun than others?
As a long-time fan of the franchise, you feel right at home in Jagged Alliance Online. The game captures all the things that made the franchise such a hit with the fans, like the tactically challenging turn-based combat or the tongue-in-cheek humor, and combines them with great graphics, improved accessibility and a modern interface. You get to take all of your favorite mercenaries back to the combat and pit them against a sophisticated AI that is powered by special AI servers to provide you with a worthy opponent instead of just cannon fodder. And let's not forget the environments in the game, which are totally amazing. The maps for the missions have been created with an absolutely stunning attention to detail.

In what languages are you planning to launch Jagged Alliance Online and do you already have an approximative date to communicate for the open beta or the official release?
Open beta will start really soon, even sooner than some of you might think. Official release is currently planned for the first quarter of 2012. We will launch the game in English and German, other languages are going to follow in the future. Of course we invite players from all over the world into the German and English versions.

Would you like to add something?
It's a great pleasure to work with our extremely talented developers at Cliffhanger Productions, who are doing great things with the Jagged Alliance IP. I would also like to thank all our beta testers for their great feedback and their enthusiasm. Thanks to you. Without your help, we wouldn't be able to do the things we do and we hope you like the game when it is released.

Thanks for your time.

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