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GDC 2012: A look at Otherland and Grimlands with Gamigo

Karen Bryan

Do you prefer a post-apocalyptic world or Tad Williams' vision of the internet of the future? Luckily, you can have them both by the end of the year because Gamigo is working busy at work preparing to launch two new titles. Massively had a chance to talk with Anthony Guzzardo, Gamigo's North American Publicity Manager, as well as PR Manager Dennis Hartmann as they showed off Otherland, based on the works of Tad Williams, and Grimlands, a post-apocalyptic vision in the desert.

Otherland is based on the novels by Tad Williams, and in true life-imitating-art-imitating-life spirit, the in-game world portrays Williams' vision of what it would look like to "plug-in." Because of that, the devs have a pretty blank slate to develop a plethora of genres and time-periods within the world. Lambda Mall, for example, is a bustling, futuristic, urban setting, while Eight Squared is much more pastoral. Hovering over Eight Squared are colored chess pieces, and as with a chess match in progress, the zone is open to allow players to battle each other. But the Gamigo reps added that there are no king pieces in Eight Squared, indicating that there is no real end to the match, both up above and in the zone in general.

But there are still little reminders that this world is artificial and built upon code. In the middle of Eight Squared, for example, is a dump that's full of dark, rough, pixelated blocks, while in another, the bottom of a nearby river has a rows of glowing binary code -- a sign that there's an ongoing effort to bring the area back and finish construction. Mars is another area the duo mentioned, along with a Hanger Zone for PvP, and they said there are two other areas that are still in the works, with more details to be revealed at E3.

One of the first things Guzzardo and Hartmann showed off was the ability for players to switch their looks and their classes at will. Because they're dealing with the internet of the future, players aren't restricted to one look and one class; you can swap gender, race, and class at will. In Lambda Mall, there are several vendors that offer a range of outfits, looks, and weapons. In addition, there are several little wormholes that take you to vaious minigames. Again, because this world is very much a blank slate, Gamigo has tapped into many different eras to use as the setting for this game. One, for example, takes you to a World War II-themed room where you can participate in dogfights, while in another, you're tasked with lifting and transporting cows for some outer-space aliens. We next visited an English Pub and picked up a quest to head to the Hacker Zone, an underground zone that contains the black market as well as plenty of foes to take on.

In the Hacker Zone, we fought several different enemies, and the team pointed out that combat is not based on targetting mobs; instead, it's more of an area attack, so anything that's within range will get hit. When we defeat mobs, we can pick up something called eDNA. When you collect enough eDNA of a particular creature, you will be able to control it and bring it to an area called MyLand.

MyLand is a unique area that guilds will be able to use as their own hub. Inside, you can build defenses, erect security perimeters, and place creatures you control to help guard the area. You'll be able to explore and expand the territory, an each MyLand area has an address, which guild members will need to know in order to enter. That also means that if you can uncover the address of another guild, you'll be able to access its area and attempt to take over its MyLand. Even if you are able to avoid being attacked by other guilds, there are creatures roaming around MyLand to provide a constant thorn in your side and a test of your defenses.

Grimlands is a post-apocalyptic, shooter-style MMO that is focused on the creation of your own skill set, which allows you to be whatever type of player you want to be with whatever type of weapons you want to have. There are no classes, so your skills are based on what weapons you use. In addition, the game is very focused on scavenging materials to craft pretty much everything you need to survive. That allows for a lot of variety in how you customize weapons, and with a choice of slider bars and a crafting point pool, you decide which stats you want to emphasize. From scopes to silencers, you can create quite an arsenal. When in combat, your particular weapon skill levels up as you use each weapon, and there are three main points that you can hit your target: the head, which causes crits; the arms, which causes the enemy to drop his weapon; and the legs, which causes him to slow down.

The same goes for vehicles, so you can purchase a basic four wheeler and add on armor, improve the engine, and customize it as you like. Vehicles provide for safe and fast travel, and you can carry up to four players -- one driving, one riding shotgun, and two passengers. If you don't have a vehicle, you can still get to various travel points from a helicopter that shuttles players to and from specific landing zones.

Guilds have the opporunity to create an outpost, which is a point of control that gives you a nice location to do things like trade and craft. You'll also get a buff while you're in the outposts, and the greater the area you control, the better the bonuses and faction you will build up with denizens of the nearby towns. Of course, other guilds can come in and conquer your outpost, so it pays to be vigilant.

In addition to the usual combat skills, there are several non-combat skills that players can build up. Barter skill improves as you trade with NPC, giving you better prices. There is also a skill called covert, so the more you stealth, the better you become, eventually making you virtually invisible. There is also a visibility level bar, and it goes up when you're in open territory, making you a more vulnerable target that NPCs can spot more easily. There is also a sound bar, so if you use a loud weapon, you also make yourself more of a target.

Grimlands will start closed beta testing in the next couple of weeks and will launch in the third quarter later this year. Otherland is also nearing closed beta and is slated to launch by the end of the year.

Massively sent four resolute reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! From games like The Secret World to PlanetSide 2, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!

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