Who We Are - Story of a Game Developer
Part I: Brave New Developer
I founded JP-Production on 1994 when for some odd reason I had to come up with a game company name to be used on one of my very first terrible games. I didn't consider JP-Production to be an actual game developement group at that point... My first game worthy of publishing - StarFight: Beginning of the End - was finished 1996, and JP-Production's logo was shown as the opening scene of game's introduction. A Game developement group had been born. The first game was a terrible piece of garbage, and road ahead was rocky. Especially considering the group consituted only of myself...
Part II: Keys to Success
By 1997 results of my hard work were beginning to show. StarFight III: Within the Darkness was chosen as "Finnish game of the month" in MikroBitti magazine, issue 11/1997. Fortunately the old curse of movie world, that sequel is always shadowed by it's predecessor, doesn't apply to games. Sequel of the awarded StarFight III, StarFight IV: Legacy won the same title less than a year later, in MikroBitti issue 6-7/1998.
Part III: Savior of Freeware or a Shooting Star?
After the success of StarFight IV, JP-Production descended into a whirlpool of wrong decisions and disappointments. StarFight IV was meant to be the grand finale of StarFight game series, but it's success made the developer re-consider the usefulness of StarFight brand. Would gained credibility benefit upcoming projects? Mandatory military service broke the developement cycle of fifth StarFight-game (StarFights: Imperialists Strike Back), and as far too many freeware projects, the project died a quick and painless death. 180 military mornings later development of JP-Production's first ShareWare-game, StarFight V: Hell's Gate was begun, and I had great expectations for this title.
Sadly, because of it's technical modesty SF5's reception in Finland was contradictory at best: I got whopping four registerations. Fall 1999 was sad time for JP-Production. StarFight V was changed as Freeware, and developement group prepeared to slowly fade into non-existence...
Part IV: A New Hope
Substantial number of StarFight V Freeware registerations, overwhelmingly positive feedback from around the world and a new graphics engine born from experiments with Delphi and DirectX lifted the spirit of a dying development group. Idea of a StarFight game for New Millenium was born. Scrapped would be MS-DOS and compromises. StarFight VI: Gatekeepers was set to change the way gamers look at Freeware titles.. Project StarFight VI meant some organizational changes from JP-Production's part. Concept "one man group" was left behind, and two composers and a cartoon artist joined to assist in the task ahead.
Development of StarFight VI was finished by Christmas/2000. Game came off much, much buggier than it should've, thanks to rushed testing and polishing. Game was huge, 270 megabytes in size. I'm confident that no other freeware game (excluding commercial games later released as freeware) to this day challenges this record. Despite the bugs and awkward size, SF6 was very well recieved by the gaming community.
Facing technical difficulties in SF6's developent last fall I pondered whether the game would be remembered as "Half-Life of Freeware games" or "Finland's Daikatana". I can now safely say SF6 acomplished neither status, and of that I'm extremely happy. SF6 may not have acomplished what I had aimed for, but at least it'll be all the easier to impress you folks next time around :)
With all it's highs and lows, this job's been a privlige. Thank you all for your support.
Jukka T. Paajanen,
JP-Production Finland Inc.