With the oversaturation of fantasy in the MMO genre, we've been patiently waiting to get our hands on the steampunk victorian coolness of Gatheryn
. An indie title currently under development by Mindfuse, Gatheryn
seems to be part virtual world and part mini-game laden MMO, much like Free Realms.
Considering how wildly popular Free Realms
has become in a short period, many eyes are now turning to Gatheryn
to see if the combination of casual minigames in a fun, unique MMO/VW setting can strike gold again. Massively's very own Managing Editor, Shawn Schuster
sat down recently with Isa Anne Stamos, Game Studio Director for MindFuse
, to find out some more about the future of this retro-feel title.Massively: We first took a look at Gatheryn at GDC earlier this year, and liked what we saw so far. Can you describe some of the major feature changes or updates to the game since then?
Isa Anne Stamos, MindFuse
: Generally, we've been focusing on building out the early stages of the Gatheryn
experience – adjusting the layout of the city, adding variations to character customization, and creating a deep casual gaming experience that players can enjoy the minute they enter Gatheryn
. Specifically, we just added a Player Health feature that measures your avatar's fatigue and gives us some creative options for healing items and quests. We're also filling in a lot of the quests and minigames – we've probably added a few since you saw us at GDC. We're also working hard to build up the community tools because we rely heavily on them to communicate with our beta users - they're crucial to getting player feedback in these early stages of development. With Gatheryn reaching open beta earlier this month, the new shower of feedback must be exciting for the team. Can you tell us how the open beta is affecting the team's design goals with the game?
Just for clarification, we're not technically in open beta yet. We are letting people into the game from our official registration page, but we're doing it gradually in order to scale everything appropriately. We did open our beta registration page, which we encourage everyone to visit. We'll be sending more invitations in the coming weeks to those that register.
So far we're getting a lot of great feedback on Gatheryn
's interface – users are teaching us a lot about what is fluid and usable from an outside perspective. We're also learning a lot about how visual cues can direct the player from one part of Elymia to the next. Generally speaking, the beta has taught us that Gatheryn
's rich virtual world offers a lot of depth for casual games integration so we're starting to focus more on implementing the casual games in a way that is more accessible and further enriches the experience of exploring the virtual world. Much of Gatheryn's game mechanic focuses on mini-games. Based on the wild success of Free Realms, which is largely based on mini-games, do you feel optimistic about the MMO community's reception of the mini-games in Gatheryn?
team has done an amazing job with the Free Realms
and because of their success we do feel very optimistic about the reception of our mini-games. Free Realms
has shown that you can use mini-games to drive interest in plot and character development in a persistent universe and we definitely think it bodes well for Gatheryn
Would you say the game appeals to Victorian Steampunk fans first, and MMO players second? Or the other way around?
I'd say the game mostly appeals to time-traveling steampunks from the Victorian Period who've come to our time to play MMOs. Kidding - although that would be pretty cool.
Firstly, this is a game for everybody. With Gatheryn
, we're not trying to create a game for a certain type of person or gamer. We feel that the aesthetic of Gatheryn
is unique and does what all really good online virtual worlds do – transport the player to another place.
We've received a lot of support so far from both the steampunk and Victoriana enthusiast communities, and the Virtual Worlds community, so we're working to create something that will satisfy all tastes. The free-to-play or "freemium" business model is becoming more popular in MMOs these days. Can you tell us more about what the levels of payment options will offer to players?
We haven't completely finalized our revenue model yet, but we do know it will be a combination of the microtransaction and subscription models Virtual Worlds gamers are already familiar with. The main game itself will be free-to-play, but if you want to customize your experience beyond what is available in the basic version of the game, you'll have the option to accessorize your character and in-game residence with all manner of items that can only be purchased with cash. With the traditional progression of beta events as an indicator, we should be hearing about a launch date soon. Any word on a definite date?
Unfortunately we're not ready to set a firm launch date yet for Gatheryn
, but be assured that we're making progress every day. More and more players will be included in the beta in the coming weeks and you'll be hearing more about new features on a regular basis. Stay tuned!
As we transition to a fully open beta, we'll be gradually inviting users from our registration list at www.mindfusegames.com
. Thanks so much for talking with us, Ms. Stamos!
So there you have it. Looks like there's going to be a lot of options open to those who just want to enjoy some casual mini-games, or
for those who think it would be a cool place to set up proverbial shop and make it their virtual home-away-from-home. We'll definitely be keeping our eyes on this title to see how it progresses as time goes on!