The game centers on your newly created character, a person who has traveled from the mysterious Outworld to the island chain of Ilemia. These islands are experiencing an abundance of prosperity, mostly due to the creation of fantastic steam powered inventions that fill the island. The setting is very much a Victoriana steampunk, as characters wear top hats, overcoats, corsets, and monocles. Players will be able to find a very robust character creation system thanks to a variety of facial modifications, hair styles, and clothing that is availble from the start. Characters will also be able to customize their appearance more during their stay in-game via shops and crafting.
The game has been developed on Simutronics's HeroEngine, the same engine that powers Star Wars: The Old Republic. The developers pointed out to us how quickly they were able to create the environments and world thanks to the live development client, which has allowed them to focus more on the content of the game. They even demonstrated how they could dynamically change the weather of the game, using the environment to aid the storytelling elements the game will possess upon launch.
Gatheryn is going to be a free-to-play game. Yes, that's right, a free-to-play steampunk MMO. Instead of focusing on combat, levels, equipment, and monsters, Gatheryn is taking a Free Realms styled approach to their virtual world. Steampunk themed mini-games can be found everywhere in the world, creating the feeling of exploration and openess rather than streamlined adventures. Machines in the world will need to be repaired, even NPC machines that are present in plazas, players can play chemistry mini-games, fishing games, farming, mining, and even kicking trees to find items that fell off of airships and got stuck in the branches.
There is, however, an overarching concept of character health. Fishing, farming, and mining can make a character tired. Chemistry formulas may backfire. Items falling out of trees can be hazardous to your head. For these things come potions and other character revival methods that can be crafted or performed by other players.
For those of you who have been alarmed by the mention of free-to-play, Gatheryn is going to feature two different systems for monetary payments. There is the expected microtransaction system, where players will be able to pay a few dollars to get the in-game currency, silver, added to their player's wallet. For those of you who want to pay a subscription, you can and there will be benefits. One of the immediate benefits we were introduced to was being able to having your own player house available right from the start.
Everyone will be able to have their own home, which they can decorate as they wish. Houses can be private, or you can have roommates, or you could even open them to the public. You could open part of your home to the public and turn it into your personal shop. You can buy crafting equipment so you can make your own workshop at home. The customization seems to be quite open, and we're looking forward to hearing more about this system.
Gatheryn is, without a doubt, a very different game. It's casual, it's exploration based, it's socially driven, and it's very pick-up-and-play. Plus, with the low, low price of free, can you pass up the steampunk goodness? We'll be watching this game closely as it evolves and moves out of it's development state and closer to beta.