Around 2000, whilst still a professional gaming journalist, I was turned onto a little MMORPG called Jumpgate, which looked to be as close as we were ever going to get to either a Privateer or Elite Online (and it was). I gobbled up all the info I could about the game and covered it as much as I could (check out my old interview, preview and review covering the game).
I played the game on and off for the next ten years, putting in at least 800-1,000 hours. To date, it’s still my most-played game, and one of my most memorable. Unfortunately, on the official Jumpgate website, it was announced that the game would close up for good on April 30th, 2012.
For those of you who don’t feel like clicking the link above, here’s the text from the announcement:
Hello Jumpgate Classic Fans,
Thank you for supporting Jumpgate Classic. We hope that you have enjoyed playing the game and that it has provided you with some entertainment along the way.
Unfortunately these things don’t last forever, and the time has come to move on. So it is with great regret that we must inform you that Jumpgate Classic will shut down on April 30th, 2012.
We will be refunding all payments made in 2012. If you don’t receive your refund within the next 7 days on your bank statement, or if you have any questions regarding Jumpgate Classic, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are going to miss the Jumpgate Classic community. It has been immensely rewarding to see the community evolve.
We hope to see you again in Super Hero Squad Online (www.heroup.com) or in Marvel Heroes (www.marvelheroesonline.com). Thank you again for playing and supporting Jumpgate Classic.
– The Jumpgate Classic Team
This is just gutwrenchingly heartbreaking. The team that put Jumpgate together accomplished something wonderful. Rather than the simple point-and-clickness of games like EVE Online or Earth and Beyond, Jumpgate actually took real, viable skill in a cockpit to make the game enjoyable. Using a hybrid Newtonian physics engine (it also had drag), pilots had to actually practice docking and combat maneuvers in order to become successful at them.
The game offered a simulation mode to help with this, but the real thrill was taking one’s first ship — a really dinky little shuttle — and leaving your home base for the first time. When JG started, there were many hundreds of players online, and to see all of these space ships buzzing around you being flown by real people was an absolutely joy. The three factions in the game catered to everyone nicely, whether you wanted to be a pirate or an entrepreneur, and squads of all types formed up to exert their control, benevolent or otherwise, on the space trade lanes. For many years, I was completely and utterly hooked to this amazing game, and spent hours running missions, searching for priceless and useful artifacts, mining asteroids, trading needed supplies and so on. I never much took part in PvP combat — not my thing really — but many did, and I was witness to some glorious battles.
As time wore on, the population thinned. Other games — like those mentioned above — lured people away, either temporarily or permanently. Some people got bored, either with the missions, the graphics, or whatever else. While additions were made to the game in terms of new ships, player owned stations and so on, these sadly were never enough to lure most back. When the doomed sequel, Jumpgate Evolution, was announced, this brought back a good number of folks for a spell to see what had changed and to revisit old friends. Sadly, this was pretty much the last hurrah, as far as I know.
Eventually Jumpgate Evolution was canceled, and while there were notions made to an opening of the source code to allow players to modify and run the original game themselves, this sadly never happened. As I raise my glass in salute to this amazing game, I am warmed by all the amazing times I had playing this wonderful game, yet saddened that the game will never get the chance to come close to its glory days again. Thank you, Jumpgate — and those who created it, maintained it and played it — for such a wonderful experience. You’ll never be forgotten.