This is probably the most original MMO concept I have seen in a very long time...really, since the heady days when MMOs first became possible and WoW hadn't yet set the mold for every other MMO:
I am very intrigued. I love the concept, but I fear the execution is going to be incredibly difficult to pull off. Still, I wish them the wind at their backs because this could well redefine the concept of a MMO experience in new and interesting ways.
A German publisher of games and children's software, without a major hit to its name and with no experience in online gaming, committing tens of millions of Euros to the development of what it hopes will be a triple-A MMO. An American author of doorstop science-fiction and fantasy novels seeing his work adapted for the first time. A bunch of talented, dispossessed Australian developers, striking out in a new field and a new country, with a truly international team. A wealthy Asian city-state looking to compete with its neighbours and foster an entertainment industry of its own.
If all that doesn't sound out-there enough, wait till you get a load of the game they're making. This is no World of Questhammer: The Rune Crusade. Otherland - from the books by Tad Williams - is a mind-bending concept. For want of a better soundbite, let's call it the first cyberpunk MMO: a virtual world about virtual worlds, in which your avatar is an avatar, the NPCs play NPCs, and you explore a multiverse in which you might be in realistic historical surroundings one minute, and cartoon fantasy ones the next. Everything changes, even your own appearance, and nothing is even pretending to be real.
These social areas also act as a stealth lobby system, where "hosts" will cross-reference players' data, and suggest quests in Otherland's multiple realities to them. Most quests will be set by NPCs, and have risks associated with failure - a reluctance on the NPC's part to offer it again, for example. But there will be player-generated quests too, which you'll be able to charge an in-game fee for access to, in a sort of lottery system.
Telemorphic capacity is what will allow you to change your own appearance, modify the stats of your virtual equipment, morph your gun into a sword, and adjust your avatar's abilties as you see fit (though there may be some specialisation later on) in an advancement system that Real U describes as "very organic and deep". It's all about bring able to suck information from the world around you -and that includes other players, who you can "hack into" in order to steal their information, take or copy their items, or plunder their virtual remnants after "death". The lower your telemorphic capacity, the more of the "real you" you expose, and the more vulnerable you are (not just in combat - NPCs or players might decide not to do business with you, for example).
Computer viruses will be a key tool. These can be bought from places like the Bazaar, plundered from enemies, generated through a crafting component of the game, and traded much like traditional MMO equipment. There will be situations where you'll want to infect hostiles with a virus, or even yourself; you can protect yourself from them with colour-coded shields, or by trying to outrun the "data ghost" goes that passes on the infection. Another tool will be the "Zoomer", an avatar mod that acts as a sort of data-capture sniper-rifle, capturing snapshots of the world and mining them for information. It will lock onto targets, but locking on will set off alarm bells for the victim.
It sounds better and better! However, after seeing a bunch of other original sounding MMOs arrive as little more than uninspired WoW clones, I won't be getting too excited just yet. Still, I have my fingers crossed that Gamigo will finally break the MMO mold.