Does the name Kazuyuki Hashimoto ring a bell? He was Chief Technology Officer for Square USA for five years, was Vice President of New Technology and Platforms at Electronic Arts for 4 years, and spent seven years as the Senior Vice President of R&D at Square where he worked on the CG segments and cutscenes in the legendary Final Fantasy VII.
Along with Li-Han Chen - whose background includes Project Manager (Sony Online Entertainment), VP of engineering (AtGames Inc), Senior Programmer (Squaresoft), Senior Programmer (Dreamworks) - Hashimoto heads up the Honolulu-based Avatar Reality Inc, and their new MMOG, Blue Mars.
Is Blue Mars a virtual world, or an MMOG? Well, that's hard to say. The answer, it seems, would have to be both. Blue Mars is to be built on top of the CryEngine2 from Crytek, and will be targeted at the highest-end and hardiest hardware.
ARI is shooting for a late 2008 beta of Blue Mars, and will be strutting some of their stuff at E for All this week - although it isn't clear yet just how much they have to show. We don't quite know where the game is yet, with information so far suggesting that it's more of a Mars Themed shopping and social world. We're still a ways from beta though, and ARI may have more to divulge at E for All over the next few days.
Although they already have a core team drawn from the engineers and artists who worked on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, ARI is hiring. Check their website for open positions.