During the latest "I hate Linden Labs" event (aka the Open Sim fiasco), out of curiosity I visited other virtual worlds to see what any LL competitors had to offer. I will admit to being extraordinarily disappointed in the alternatives, as OpenSim and Avatar Hangout both seemed quite unpolished and seem to fair poorly compared to SL.
The Steampunk Librarian directed me to a new MMORG called Gatheryn, which is slated to have its "Public Beta" test this December (if I recall correctly). Visited the webpage for the endevor, and have to admit, it is quite nice. The official blurb is as follows...
MindFuse, a leading developer of online virtual worlds, today announced that they are bringing the advanced casual world of Gatheryn to PC users in 2009. Combining the detailed aesthetic of the Victoriana world with beloved casual gaming experiences, Gatheryn delivers a unique and highly-customizable virtual world where adventure, community and fun come together to create an unforgettable experience.
“With Gatheryn we’re creating a very accessible world appropriate for gamers looking for a mature and enjoyable pastime,” said Joseph Walters, CEO of MindFuse and Lead Designer on Gatheryn. “We’re very interested in the detailed aesthetics of the steam-powered genre, and our aim is to draw players into a romantic, vibrant world where story, community and puzzle-solving are the focus. Gatheryn provides an alternative to gamers who crave immersion and social interaction, but not the violence associated with similar games currently available.”
Set in a fantasy world where steam powers everything from vehicles and mechanical monkeys to dirigibles meandering through the clouds, Gatheryn embodies the detailed Victorian aesthetic depicted by classic writers such as Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. A high degree of customization functionality allows players to personalize the Gatheryn experience from the character creation screen through to the decoration of their own in-game apartments.
Gamers will recognize some of the most beloved casual titles of all time, including puzzle and action games. Playing these games not only advances the story, but players earn in-game gold that can be used to buy accessories, personal pets, clothes, apartment decorations, vehicles and more.
“There’s a very large and active casual gaming community out there dissatisfied with the lack of social features on many of the bigger casual gaming portals,” said Matthew Le Merle, MindFuse Chairman. “While we want to maintain uniqueness and individuality in Gatheryn, we also want to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for friends, family and fellow gamers to gather and enjoy the experience in a fully immersive 3D world.”
.... or to paraphrase the review at Kotaku, "Stop. You had me at 'steam-powered monkeys'." If you wish to visit the portal, and perhaps register for the open beta, please turn to: