We had a chance to sit down with Avatar Reality's VP of Development, Li-han Chen, at E for All to get some details about their recently announced title, Blue Mars. Set on a futuristic, terraformed Mars circa 2177 AD, the world will be far more akin to something like Second Life than like other more typical MMOs; in fact, the company is calling Blue Mars a "massively multiplayer virtual world," or MMVW, in lieu of labeling it specifically as a game world. Two main mechanics will separate Blue Mars from SL: a suite of pre-programmed in-game activities (minigames, essentially) to provide a framework for socialization, and no user-generated content -- all environments and objects in the world will be coded by third party developers.
By the time Blue Mars enters closed beta at the end of 2008, Honolulu-based Avatar Reality hopes to have at least 3 of these minigames developed and ready for testing. With golf and vehicle racing listed as two of the activities, it seems clear that Blue Mars is going to cater to the more casual side of the gaming audience. If combat exists at all in the world, it will be relegated to specifically designated areas -- the core mechanic is casual socialization. Perhaps paradoxically, the game is going to be aimed at users with high-end machines and graphics cards (Quad Core CPU and GeForce 8800 or better) in order to feature the CryENGINE2-rendered "breathtaking graphics."