German publisher dtp Entertainment has revealed that it's working on a new MMO set in a "multiverse" of virtual realities called Otherland.
The game - detailed in a full preview on Eurogamer - is based on the series of science-fiction novels of the same name by American author Tad Williams. It's due to be released for PC in 2010.
Otherland takes place in a near future where the super-rich have their own private virtual worlds on the net, peopled both by AI, and unwitting humans who don't know that what they're experiencing isn't real.
The game takes place entirely in virtual reality as players travel across a varied series of worlds, with themes ranging from mythology, science-fiction and fantasy, to historical, contemporary and cartoon settings. The appearance of players' avatars will alter as they go, and the game worlds will change dynamically around them.
There will be scope for co-operative gameplay and player-versus-player conflict, as well as a wide variety of casual and social minigames in a hub area called Lambda Mall.
Gameplay details are still largely under wraps, but the core of the game will revolve around your ability to gather information, and manipulate the "code" that dictates the appearance and properties of your avatar and the world around you.
To make Otherland, dtp has funded the creation of a new multinational studio in Singapore called Real U. The studio is headed by Andrew Carter, formerly of Melbourne House, and formed around core talent from the long-lived Australian developer.
The game runs on a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, and is aiming to set new technical standards for MMOs.