Avatar Reality has let Eurogamer know that its massively multiplayer virtual world Blue Mars will enter beta testing at the turn of the year, in January 2009.
The first-time developer expects this to last for around three months, before the full game launches in April. And perhaps there will be time for some tea and biscuits if all goes well.
Blue Mars has attracted attention for its impressive CryENGINE2-powered visuals - the same software at the heart of Crysis.
The idea centres around a habitable version of planet Mars, where water trickles free and people dress up and build houses and make families. In fact, that's what players will be doing; none of this crazy science-fiction laser shooting we're afraid. Think Second Life in space.
More interestingly, Avatar Reality has opened development to third-parties, offering contributors free reign over in-world attractions and perhaps promotions, which could prove lucrative if the game takes off.
An intriguing project. And one you can find out more about on our Blue Mars gamepage.