Horizons. We all see them, we all know what they are. For some, they portray the unreachable, for others, what is to come. That's exactly what Artifact Entertainment is trying to do, achieve the unreachable, create what is to come.
Horizons is a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMORPG. Set in a time of magic and fantasy, people can act out their dreams of being whomever or whatever they want. From Demons to Dragons, Elves to Dwarves, Dryads to Goblins, even a race unique to the game, such as a Lamurian. These are only a few of the choices available, each with seemingly unlimited "career" opportunities.
Unlike other role playing games, characters do not increase in level as they gain experience. Rather, they become experienced, much like one would in real life (your age in the game actually matters). If you repeat the same task often enough, or train yourself in a certain endeavor, you become proficient, or even an expert in the subject. However, it may take you a year or more (for the casual gamer) to become proficient in a skill area.
Religion will play a role as well. If you pay homage to your Deity (such as visiting temples and shrines), you're granted rewards. It will also make dying a more "pleasant" experience. When you are resurrected or respawn, things may be better than they would if you "ignored" your god.
The magic system appears to be quite promising as well. Rather than the usual "I want to cast this spell at such and such," it's more along the lines of "I want my magic to do this," and "if I use my magic this way, I can achieve this." You'll need to do research in order to cast spells, thus allowing the player to go on a quest to find a rune or other markings that contain the Words of Power. Then, you may need to translate the word(s), since they are from different languages.
In addition to the language, you may need a reagent to add to the power of the spoken words. Let's say you wanted to poison someone. You would need to know the words, the order they are spoken, and an item or two, such as a poison ivy leaf or small amount of arsenic.
Currently undergoing design changes, the magic system may change drastically, although I hope it doesn't. The way it's set up now would allow for an almost unlimited combination of spells and variations of those spells. It would be nice to have a variation of a fireball. After watching a leaked video (if you can get past the guy in the turban) some of the magic effects look awesome.
With three dimensions to move around in, AE claims the world will be large enough to avoid crowding during peak server loads. Players will be able to traverse the surface via mounts, caravans, ships (and walking of course). In addition to just seeing the surface, gamers will be able to explore underground caves and dungeons, as well as underwater areas of the map.
Much like the real world, climates will be different based on where you are on the map. Travel north into the snowy regions of the Ber'rak Glaciers, it gets cold. If your race is used to a warm climate, better be sure to bring clothing along to keep you warm. You could freeze to death. Travel into a desert, bring plenty of water with you. Don't carry too much though, your backpack is based on weight and volume, not empty slots.
Cities will have unique buildings and architecture depending on the climate and the race that built it. Guilds, bazaars, temples, banks, shops, restaurants, arenas, you name it, can be found throughout the city. You can buy a chunk of land and build on it. You may need to get approval from the local city or town to build say, a castle or keep.
Laws will vary from region to region, as will the spoken language and customs. Break a law and you may find yourself in prison, or worse, hanging from a pole in the middle of the town courtyard. One year game time will equal about forty days real time. Currently, seasons don't change (one season for the entire year). One thing worth mentioning is you can't die from old age, maybe you just can't swing that sword like you used to. Your appearance will change over time as you get older.
Artifact Entertainment is using Intrinsic Graphics' Alchemy game development platform, which allows for a stunning 3D environment. You have the choice of either a first or third person view. All players, monsters, and NPC's are 3D models with a unique look and feel. After viewing some of the model animations, it looks like they're putting alot of detail into the artwork. Supposedly, even rings and other jewelry will appear on your person, as well as armor, weapons, etc.
Music and sound will play a role as well. Music will be different for each race, as well as change when you enter cities or other areas of the map. After listening to a few of the ambient tunes, is makes me think finding an ancient ruin in the middle of a tropical jungle. Horizons will support EAX for that "What the heck was that behind me!?" feel.
Note from the official site (regarding screenshots dated September 6, 2000 - namely, the jungle pics): NOTE: These screenshots are not using high-quality final objects or textures. The final version of the forests will look much more realistic - these shots are only to show the general look, feel, and concept behind the foliage of the forests and jungles. Keep in mind that we want to share the development of HORIZONS with the players, which is why we will release prototype or non-finalized work for the game. It is important to us that you see the design of the game as it progresses so that we can get proper feedback.
I for one am looking forward to this game. With the number of choices you have, from race to profession makes the possibilities endless.
Horizons MMORPG Network