Yesterday, we spoke to Gamigo about its upcoming titles Grimlands and Otherland. Grimlands was, admittedly, not quite on my radar until Gamigo's Anthony Guzzardo said the magic word: sandbox. I'd heard a few things about Grimlands already, such as skill based over levels, lots of customization, intelligent AI, vehicular combat, and yes, something about owning clan territory. Oh, and it's supposed to be free-to-play.
Sadly, E3 was having internet issues at the time of my interview, so while I couldn't play the game, Anthony was able to answer some questions for me.
The first question, of course, was about clan territory. The game has two types of property for clans: player-based objectives and towns. Player-based objectives involve the process of activating an item, such as a landmark or object in a building, with clans of 10 or more followed by waves of enemy mobs fighting to take over an area. Once this is done, the clan gains bonuses within the area. If it does the same thing at another nearby location, its bonuses spread out to a larger area. However, clans that do this in, say, a town, are able to build the town up. Anthony mentioned that a small number of towns will initially look like, well, every other town, but players can build them up so they're more unique. Of course the other side of territory control is the fact that someone else is going to want to take what you have.
Other players can (and probably will) fight you for your town. Bonuses and resources make your clan stronger, more prosperous, and more powerful. Resources allow crafters to build bigger and better weapons, which anyone can use, though it should be noted that lacking a certain skill level may make the weapon act odd, such as poorer aiming. When a player is killed, however, she simply has to wait a little while before she can respawn at the place she died. There's no experience loss, no item loss: just a potential for camping and a walk of shame. How this plays out in clan wars remains to be seen.
The game's skill system is another feature that's fairly attractive and simple: The more you use a skill, the higher it levels. But this also works in reverse. If you stop using a skill, its level goes down. As previously mentioned, your skill level can ensure that an item doesn't work as effectively as it should, but at least you can use an endgame item. However, the game also has primary stats that you can raise, so some players may be a bit harder to kill than others based on those.
Beyond PvP, Grimlands boasts intelligent AI. That is, mobs can hear you coming, run to others for help, or just plain run away. The idea reminds me of many of the mobs in Darkfall Online, which made my newbie experience both challenging and exciting. Add in the fact that different hit zones do different things (head shots crit, hands shots can disarm, and leg shots can prevent enemies from fleeing), and you've got a fairly interesting combat base. Again, due to technical difficulties during our demo time, I wasn't able to see this for myself.
Of course, the game does have an item shop, but it's still a work in process at this point, so there's not much else to report there.
Gamigo's other MMO is Otherland, based on the book series by Tad Williams (who apparently voices the game's tutorial). This game caught my attention in ways I wasn't expecting. As in Grimlands, clans can own territory called clan lands, which they can claim, develop, and fight over, but Otherland also allows players to collect eDNA. This allows collectors to eventually recreate the mobs the eDNA was gathered from to give clan housing some NPC defenders. This is important because other guilds can not only invade your clan lands but take items from it. Luckily, clans aren't always vulnerable, and another guild will need to "hack your ip" before they gain access to your town.
One thing to note is that Otherland is an action-based MMO, so when your enemy swings a sword, you and your nearby friends have to actually get out of the way to avoid damage. Players who die will need to choose a respawn point and re-earn lost health and mana since death will temporarily lower these stats. This could be a good thing to remember when developing your clan land!
The game does have PvE content. We know that NPCs in this game actually go out and live, such as bakers going around and getting supplies, and that players can impact this. However, the game also has several dungeons, such as all the chess pieces in the Eight Square zone, and Gamigo's currently working on a "raid" situation in which players will have to face... a face. Considering the fact that the zone's a giant chess match that's missing its kings, I'd say a face fight isn't terribly surprising. Though still odd, this is only a part of the beauty of this game.
We were also shown a new area named Five Isle, a Chinese-themed area where the player can start really learning about what the origins of Otherland are. The zone was still in development, though, so there weren't many NPCs. However, we did get to see the game's fast travel system: portal tubes the player jumps into and floats through until he reaches his destination. Another zone, The Hackerzone, was mentioned; it's actually the first big quest hub and PvP area.
We also heard about a feature called MyLand, which consists of personalized apartments that you can decorate or set up with portals, making your house a base of operations. This allows a player to hang out with friends in Lambda Mall (the social area where you can recustomize your character's appearance or class, play minigames, or drink at the pub for some stat enhancements), head home for supplies, and then portal back into the field to figure out what's going on in the world of Otherland.
One last area to discuss is the game's cash shop. Certain customization options are available only via the cash shop, including some items for clan lands that will allow you to expand the land, but there is also plenty to be purchased with in-game cash. Still, for all its other features, a few powerful items mainly for guilds sounds like a small price to pay.
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best news from E3 2012. We're covering everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions, so stay tuned!