Exclusive Gatheryn GDC '09 Interview - Creating an "Advanced Casual" MMO

Posted Wed, Mar 25, 2009 by Cody Bye

Whenever a developer for a multi-million dollar smash hit like The Force Unleashed packs up her things and moves to a different development company, people perk up and take notice. That’s exactly what happened when former-LucasArts employee Isa Stamos joined up with MindFuse as the studio director to help create the upcoming “advanced casual” MMO Gatheryn. While at GDC, the Ten Ton Hammer staff was able to chat with Isa about the finer points of Gatheryn and how this game may be a gateway for players not exactly familiar with the MMO experience. Read on!

Ten Ton Hammer: For those gamers that aren't incredibly familiar with Gatheryn, what is the game all about?

Isa Stamos: While Gatheryn is an immersive 3D experience like most MMOs, the meat and potatoes of Gatheryn is casual gaming. If you look at the top casual games on the market, we’ve been able to get gameplay into Gatheryn for the more popular titles and launch them inside our game. What players do in Gatheryn is play these casual games that have RPG elements tying everything together.

The experience is definitely unique. It will hit players that are more used to casual games, but have an interest in MMOs. I think it will draw those players in and serve as a gateway to a more immersive gaming experience.

Ten Ton Hammer: How are new players entering the world?

Isa: The context for players that are entering the world of Gatheryn is that they are “outworlders.” Elymia is a chain of islands in the middle of the ocean and is experiencing a very prosperous era. This land has technology that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.  Outworlders are very motivated to come to Elymia to seek their fortunes, because elsewhere doesn’t have that level of tech.

So that’s why players find themselves in Elymia in the game world.

Ten Ton Hammer: I've heard that character creation in Gatheryn is unique. What can you tell us about it?

Isa: The character creation system we have in Gatheryn is pretty advanced. I would guess that it’s something that casual gamers haven’t seen before. Even folks who are playing 3D MMOs haven’t played around with something like this either.

We’ve added a lot of details that players can change. Details on their faces and bodies are adjustable and there are a lot of clothing options available right at the start. The style is very Victorian / steampunk, so the clothing fashion definitely plays a role in the gameplay.

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