Exclusive Gatheryn Interview with Isa Stamos

A few months ago, the Ten Ton Hammer staff had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with the creative minds behind Gatheryn, an upcoming MMO set in a steampunk type world where everything from...

A few months ago, the Ten Ton Hammer staff had the wonderful
opportunity to sit down with the creative minds behind style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn, an
upcoming MMO set in a steampunk type world where everything from flying
dirigibles to steam-powered monkeys is possible. With their recent hire
of Game Studio Director Isa Stamos (famous for her work on  style="font-style: italic;">The Force Unleashed),
the target="_blank">Gatheryn
developers are revving their engines and getting closer and closer to
the beginning of their beta testing phase. We sat down with Isa to get
an update on this upcoming MMO and see what's next on the horizon for style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn!

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Soon you'll
see steam-powered monkeys next to these avatars.

Ten Ton Hammer: First
things first. You promise steam-powered monkeys in style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
. Pics or
it didn't happen!

Isa Stamos:
We will have pets in the game, and there will be both steam powered
robotic pets as well as animal pets. And YES there will be
Steam-Powered Monkeys. Don’t worry, the pics exist and
they’re on their way.

Ten Ton Hammer: In the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/47858" target="_blank">first
interview with Ten Ton Hammer, you mention that some areas of
the game will have combat and even PvP. Will combat be another skill
players can learn (something that can manifest in the type of character
progression gamers see in other titles), or will it be one-and-done
scenarios like a 100-yard dash?
style="font-weight: bold;">

Isa: A focus
for players of Gatheryn
will be the completion of minigames, which are familiar, fun and
engaging games that range from simple, world-interactive activities to
more complex games that will feature several levels of complexity and
difficulty. Some of these minigames will be PvP, and we are planning on
a combat focused game at some point.

Ten Ton Hammer: You
allude to a robust character creation system for style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
. Let's
test that out. Can I make my character a heavyset, balding man who is
short? What about a tall, malnourished-looking guy? Can I adjust my
character's age during creation? style="font-weight: bold;">

Isa: All
three of those scenarios are possible. Our system is very flexible and
allows players to come up with a lot of unique looks. Combining the
powerful customization of the character, there will be great options
for hairstyles, clothing and other equipment so each player can look
unique and have fun changing their look.

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developers are taking a deparmental approach to development.

Ten Ton Hammer: Another
aspect of Gatheryn
you've revealed that really intrigues me is your compartmental approach
to development, where the team focuses on creating a few areas of the
world at a time to get them to the public sooner. Tell us about the
areas that will be ready for the closed beta.
style="font-weight: bold;">

Newcomers to Gatheryn
during Beta will be introduced to one of the islands. The first island
seen is very much in a classical Victorian style with city areas and
countryside. Islands that will open up in the future will have
different styles of architecture and other geologic features to create
very different atmospheres and environments. The development process
doesn’t stop for the team when the first island launches, and
by the time players get through the content of the first island a whole
new area will be ready for population.

Ten Ton Hammer: A press
release near the target="_blank">beginning of December revealed
that Gatheryn
uses the HeroEngine. It seems you are getting close to going to closed
beta, so how long have you really been working with the HeroEngine that
you have enough content ready for (limited) public consumption to even
think about a beta?

Isa: We
actually started development two years ago, but switched to the
HeroEngine once we saw its capabilities. Normally I would not recommend
switching engines, but the HeroEngine has ended up saving us an
enormous amount of development time in the long run. Basically, the
technology enabled us to take our previously developed content and
optimize it into a playable experience very quickly.

Ten Ton Hammer: The
benefits you suggest with the piecemeal creation of style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
are an
ability to react to the interests and habits of your player base and
more frequent infusions of content. If the player base expresses a
strong desire for more combat missions, will style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn deliver
that even though it deviates from the overall philosophy of the game?
Also, what steps will you take to ensure that old areas, quests, and
minigames don't become ghost towns or useless under such a hectic
development model?

Isa: Open
world combat is something that we’re avoiding, but if our
users request it, minigames that are combat-centric will be added.
WoW’s arena system, for example, is a great way for players
who are focused on combat to experience that type of gameplay and get
rewarded for it. But generally, we’re planning to stick to
our philosophy of keeping the combat and violence away from the general
public areas.

As for the foundation areas of the game, we’re definitely not
planning on abandoning them. With the server-side development
capabilities of the HeroEngine, it’s very easy for us to add
in-game events, quests, minigames, NPCs, buildings, etc. that will
entice players to come back and experience the previous content in new

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The Gatheryn
developers are using the HeroEngine to build their game.

Ten Ton Hammer: A href="http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/interviews/5646-Gatheryn-WarCry-Talks-with-Joseph-Walters"
target="_blank">relatively recent style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
landed on the WarCry network on January 12th. In that interview, you
note that the "first island" has all of the assets in place and will be
tweaked based on feedback in beta. Does that mean that future
installments of the game will come in the form of new islands? And how
will players travel from one island to the next? style="font-weight: bold;">

Isa: Yes,
adding islands will be the basic avenue for introducing new content,
patches, or whatever you want to call it. Travel between islands will
have several forms depending on the island distance. Those lumbering
airships you’ve seen in the concept art will be a common mode
of travel.

Ten Ton Hammer: You also
told the interviewer that the player's character is from another land.
How "other" is this land we come from? Is it a part of the style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
Will we be able to learn more about it, or is the back story of our
characters something you want to leave to our imaginations? style="font-weight: bold;">

Isa: There
is a framework of backstory about the OutWorld that players come from,
which will be revealed in time, but the rest can be up to players. To
really invest the player in the world of Gatheryn, we want to provide
them with the means of creating and documenting their own backstories
and sharing them in the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: You've
said that the team is designing Gatheryn
to have major appeal for female gamers, an audience not marketed to by
most other games. Tell us what you think will help Gatheryn achieve
that goal.

Isa: While
there are not many games of this type that are attempting to attract a
female audience, we believe there are a lot of female gamers that want
to play MMOGs, but are scared away by the
“hardcoreness” of the genre. Minigames and casual
game portals are popular among the female audience, but there are very
few portals out there that tie the experience together in a way that
encourages community development and exploration. By combining that
genre with the Victorian sensibilities of Charles Dickens and H.G.
Wells, we were able to create an open-world experience that blends
exploration, romanticism, story and games into one complete package.

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The Gatheryn
devs are hoping to have some major appeal to female gamers.

Ten Ton Hammer: What does
target="_blank">gaining Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Isa Anne Stamos mean to the style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn
team? You
have a pretty popular game on your resume. Has anything changed because
of your arrival?

Isa: Aside
from contributing new ideas that will make style="font-style: italic;">Gatheryn a
hopefully more unique experience, I get to apply my years of production
experience to help streamline the development process, resulting in a
more focused, efficient development team.  

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally,
can you give a hint about the timing of closed beta? Q1? Later?
style="font-weight: bold;">

Isa: There
has been a lot of interest on when the closed beta will happen, and we
plan on announcing the start as soon as possible.  In the
meantime, folks can sign up at our website ( href="http://www.mindfusegames.com" target="_blank">http://www.mindfusegames.com)
so they will get an email when we announce beta sign-ups.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Gatheryn Game Page.

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