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GDC: Avatar goes to Mars with CryEngine

Recently founded online community firm Avatar Reality has announced that it has licensed CryENGINE 2 from German developer Crytek for use in its forthcoming massively multiplayer virtual world project.

The company plans to use Crytek's advanced engine to build a world based on a vision of what Mars may look like following a terraforming project, and will allow players to live out fantasy lives in the environment.

Honolulu based Avatar was founded by a number of industry veterans including Blue Lava founder Henk Rogers, former Square Enix and EA chief technical officer Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Tetris creator Alexy Pajitnov and former Nintendo America president Minoru Arakawa.

The company is careful to avoid the label "MMOG" in its description of the as-yet untitled title, preferring the term MMVW - Massively Multiplayer Virtual World. The distinction suggests that the Mars-based virtual world will have more in common with virtual environments like Linden Labs' Second Life than with existing MMOG titles like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XI.

"CryENGINE2 is able to render the most beautiful images, in real-time, that I've ever seen in my 20 years in the computer graphics industry," gushed Avatar Reality president Kazuyuki Hashimoto. "We are certain that the quality of these stunning, realistic images stemmed from the technology and not just talented artists. After viewing the images, there is no question that CryENGINE2 is the perfect engine for us to use to build our massively multiplayer virtual world."

This isn't the first time that one of Crytek's engine products, which powered the hugely successful Far Cry as well as the upcoming Crysis, has found its way into a massively multiplayer title. NCSoft's eagerly anticipated AION: The Tower Of Eternity, which is due for release later this year, also runs on Crytek's technology.

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Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.