Horizons: Empire of Istaria Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:Artifact Entertainment
Release Date:2003-12-09
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
GB: You have mentioned often that you hope with the publication of Horizons to bring a change to the gaming industry. What changes do you hope to bring, and what, if anything in today's gaming industry do you think could be better off?

David: I can't talk about the publishing side of Horizons as of yet, but I will say this - fairly soon, an announcement will be made that will give the public an idea of how serious we are with the future of Horizons, and what type of support mechanism we have in the industry. As time goes by, we will also pursue some new publishing styles that are definitely new to this industry.

GB: As lead designer, you have written a lot of the history of Istaria yourself have you not? I have been overwhelmed by the small details I have found in some of the writings on Horizons. Although there are a few gaps and discrepancies which some of the fans have noticed, have these possibly been left on purpose to be expanded on in the future? As a role-player, I like to well-versed in the History of the world to better play the characters I create. What are your plans for the Horizons history and will we ever see a complete history outline or story of the time before the AE Servers go online?

David: Yes, I am the creator of Horizons, and the world of Istaria. I wrote almost all of the base specification that was put up on the website, however it has grown to such a size that I am no longer the only one that works on it - we have an entire team here at Artifact that is dedicated to fleshing out the little pieces of the game and bringing it all together. Many of these 'little holes' you speak of will be filled in, but many of them will be purposely left open as well. We will have a complete set of history for the game, and even more importantly, it will integrate into the game world, and the stories (and quests) that unfold within the game itself.

GB: I know Horizons will be created to keep as many of each type of player happy and entertained: the roleplayers, powergamers, and socialites. Can you tell us how Horizons caters to the different playing styles? Specifically, in what ways are you planning on keeping the roleplaying type of gamer entertained? The powergamer? Socialite?

David: This is an issue that came up long ago when I was writing the original specification. I asked myself how I could create a world that did cater to almost all of the types of gamers out there. It's very hard to explain my approach, but I took a very broad vision of playability and defined it so that it could cater, in some fashion, to all parties to the point they would have enough fun playing the game that they would be hooked. Role-players - absolutely - look at the races, the blood wars, and the themes of the world. Power Gamers - absolutely - a skill system that's incredibly refined and flexible, defining the multitude of different possibilities of character advancement and power. Socializers - very important, since socialization in one way or another is the basis of all MMOGs - the ability to interact with other players, speak in different languages, wear different colored clothing and armor - the ability to define a unique look and feel for ones character has always been extremely important to us. Of course there are many more features, such as the magic system, the quest system, the ability for players to become involved in religious, government, and guild organizations, and more.

GB: With the sooner-than-Horizons release dates for other strong MMORPG contenders such as Anarchy Online, UWO: Origin or possibly Star Wars Galaxies, what do you feel will make consumers give up their hours of work on all those recently-released games (at Horizons release time) to try Horizons?

David: The first thing I want to say is that there is room for many successful MMOG titles in the industry - I actually support this in full - people should have a choice of which game they want to play, and they should be able to make that choice from a multitude of high-quality MMOGs - as a player, this is what I would want, and this is what the industry is going to give in the future.

Of course we want to have the most successful MMORPG in the industry, and I honestly think we have a very good shot at it, but that's only partially what it's about - the other part is about evolving the industry, and whether or not the other companies working on games of this style realize it, in some fashion we are all working together to evolve the on-line entertainment industry in our own fashion. I applaud all of the companies out there that have made the foundational games, and are working on the future games of the on-line industry. I am very excited to be a part of the evolution of this unique group of developers, and hope that Horizons is as successful as we all know it can be.

We are 'aware' of the competition, and in saying that, there is a distinct difference between being 'aware' of the competition and 'worried' of the competition. By being aware, and learning from the competition, we can focus on making the best game that we can and adhering to the base specification as much as possible; not worrying about other projects. In doing this, we are confident that when HORIOZNS releases, it will be leading edge, and will have the 'features' (some of which have not been announced as of yet) that will add that extra flavor that players want, and will entice them to play.

GB: As a designer of worlds, have your personal dreams been met, and do you feel is there anything left you would like to conquer in the realm of fantasy and role-playing?

David: Ask me after Horizons is complete :)

GB: We at GameBanshee would all like to thank David for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview and sincerely look forward to the MMORPG they are creating.

David: You're very welcome - thank you for the interview and support of the Horizons community!