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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 12/08/03)  | Pub:Virtrium
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Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted Forum » General Discussion » From the Desk of the Developers: January Edition

7 posts found
  User Deleted
OP  1/04/08 3:05:53 PM#1

Cross-posted from the forums at

The Year of the Phoenix comes to a close.

Greetings My Fellow Istarians,

I hope you've each enjoyed a memorable, fun, last few weeks of 2007 - both in real life and in Istarian life. I know I partied like it wasn't 1999, but still had a fun filled end of the year. For Istaria, 2007 will be known as the Year of the Phoenix, because just like the phoenix, Istaria rose from near ashes this past summer when the company behind the game became Virtrium, LLC. In this, my second edition of “From the Desk of the Developer”, I'd like to take a sentimental look back at what the later parts of the year included. Then I'll take a sneak peak at some developer created new year resolutions.

The first order of business when Virtirum bought the game was to ensure that billing for game payment was both secure and accessible. To that end, one of the first things they did was set up a billing system through Paypal, and while this system was working for many, it didn't have all the features we wanted, and required our subscribers to have an active PayPal account. So, with a little more work, we added support for direct credit card billing through payment processor Auth.NET. High on the priority list was also getting the Blight test server back up and working. We knew we'd be needing this server to test future changes to the game, but it also allowed our dedicated testers who previously had made Blight their home access to their characters. With Blight back, we were able to finish testing delta 119 and then release that patch to live. We've since also tested and patched 11 other deltas (that's right - each and every week has us making progress), bringing us up to delta 130 that was released just before the Christmas holiday.

A few highlights from those deltas included two brand new events. Our first was the Hammer's Rest event. This event brought back some of the favorites of previous fall festivals such as costumes, special confectioner recipes, candy, and of course, Trick or treating. We also introduced special cargo disks that look like floating kegs as new artwork for the game, as well as new foods for the celebration. Hammer's Rest is now planned as an annual fall event.

Our second annual event was brought to us by the Gnomes of New Rachival. Gnomekindle is the celebration of when Istar gave the the First Spark of Ingenuity to the Gnomes. The gnomes created new clothing for the festival, brought back long awaited dragon masks, and even introduced their own special currency for the event in the form of Istarian Express Checks. Of course, no winter festival would be complete without quests, presents, and winter treants, so Darsenia was brought back to give out shoulder buddies to any who completed her quest, and many of the other residents of “Gnomekindle Town” had special quests for adventurers.

These are just a few of the many things we accomplished in the final months of 2007. Soon we'll be announcing the winners of our first Chronicles of Istaria contest, the Hearth and Home contest.

But now it's time for me to give you a peek into what's coming in 2008. One of the biggest issues with the game itself has always been that in populated areas players experienced too much lag when loading graphics. Toward the end of the year our Art Director put together an art internship program. Those interns have been assigned the task of cleaning up graphic models in the hopes of reducing loading lag. We've also made improvements to the game client for both how and when it loads items, and will continue to make improvements through 2008 with the goal of addressing the lag issue.

Our new world builder is getting up to speed and has already been making minor fixes to terrain and world object layout. Throughout 2008 we're going to be releasing updates that fix or improve accessibility, improve aesthetics, and of course some new areas to explore. Part of world building is also to manage plots and lairs. We know a lot of the small plots are not very useful and we're looking at what we can do to revise their configuration.

As I mentioned in my last “From the Desk of the Developer” email, we also have set early 2008 as a goal for bringing characters from the Unity database to our live servers at the request of the account holder. In order to give these characters a home on our live servers, we will also be restarting plot reclaims from any character that is not tied to an account with at least one active subscription. Another lofty goal for 2008 is to make Horizons compatible with Windows Vista. We know that many players would like to join their friends in Istaria but cannot at this time because their new machine came pre-loaded with Vista.

On the content side of things, confectioners will be happy to hear that the revamp of their school is coming along well. Many resource areas were laid out in the final deltas of 2007 in preparation for releasing the revamp. A behind the scenes look has revealed that new quests specifically for confectioners are already written and being entered for testing in the first quarter of the year.

I want to leave some surprises for you to discover through the year, so I'm not sharing everything I've seen, but I will say that having seen the list of goals for 2008 has left me walking out of the office with a smile. The developers have some significant surprises for you in the coming year. If 2007 was The Year of the Phoenix, 2008 is truly looking like it will be The Year of the Dragon where Istaria soars to new heights.

Until next month, I bid you all happy times in Istaria.

Your faithful behind the scene's gal,

- Amarië Ancalímon
Horizons Development Team

Novice Member

Joined: 8/05/04
Posts: 239

1/07/08 12:37:30 PM#2

Good ol' Horizons.  Any updates to overall graphis coming?

  User Deleted
OP  1/07/08 12:51:51 PM#3


Originally posted by Geeky

Good ol' Horizons.  Any updates to overall graphis coming?

Are you refering to the base engine or the models and textures?


I know they've got some folks working on the models and textures, but I don' think there are any updates to the base engine planned just yet.

The "Evolution Engine" which I think was partially based on "Intrisnic Alchemy" has plenty of poly-pushing power and some nice effects systems built with shaders, particle systems, and bump mapping, so it should be fully capable of providing a 'current-generation' MMO experience... What lets it down I think are the models and animation, which as shown above are being worked on.

What I don't think you'll see any time soon is a DX10 version of Horizons though.


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1/08/08 8:44:45 AM#4

If I knew for sure that the loading lag is cured, and that there'll be a GFX update, I'd be back playing Horizons in no time....


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Joined: 10/13/04
Posts: 165

Death is fleeting. Pride is forever.

1/17/08 3:01:20 PM#5


It's hard to say if the things you refer to have been improved. 'Loading lag', for example, could mean a lot of things. Do you mean time for the world to load when you port? If you're porting to someplace you've never been, yes, it still takes several extra seconds to load the world cache. That, however, is normally a one-time thing. After that, usually loading times for me are only a few seconds.

As far as a 'GFX update' goes, the art team is constantly working to improve the models the game uses. The programming team is constantly working on improving client performance in various ways. These are both regular, ongoing efforts. Now, if you're talking about a huge, all-encompassing revamp of the art assets, the client, and the rendering system, then no, that doesn't appear to be in the works. Just constant, ongoing efforts at improvement.

Guildleader, Mithril Council, Chaos


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Joined: 3/14/05
Posts: 270

This too shall pass...

2/13/08 12:31:30 PM#6

I love the fact that the game is still going and from what I read it is improving. Those first weeks of working together to solve those large cooperative quests was alot of fun. I do miss my dragon (left shortly after adulthood) and it's possible I might return one day if things continue to improve. If I wasn't having so much fun in my current game I would come back for a try. Keep up the good work!

UO,EQ (best mmo's). Been in lotro for almost 7 years mostly in pvp as a lovable spider: Mummy


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Joined: 2/15/06
Posts: 2120

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2/16/08 5:20:30 AM#7

Still no plans for a fresh server launch? You will never attract enough new players unless you do.