Artifact Entertainment released a long letter today that updates players on the current state of the game and their plans for the future. Here it is:
Friends in Horizons:
I've spent some time with our team here at Artifact Entertainment considering Horizons: Empire of Istaria, where the game is, where the game is going and how our loyal subscribers will benefit. Here's a short state of the game message and some plans for the future.
What does Horizons already have?
Eleven races: Humans, Fiends, Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Half-Giants, Saris, Sslik, Gnomes, Dryads, and Satyrs. Two of these races, the Dryads and Satyrs, were freed through cooperative player actions over the past year. The Dragons have a special developmental path that leads to adulthood and flight through the Adult Rite of Passage.
Extremely diverse looking characters: Horizons allows you to customize the appearance of your characters beyond any competing product. Not just the 11 dramatically different player races, but also the ability to customize your hairstyle, face, weight, height, and muscularity. Some races have customizable horns, a wide variety of fur, and Dragons have an awesome variety of color combinations.
A unique multi-schooling system: players train their non-dragon characters in as many different schools as they wish to give their character the skills that they wish. Your character can continue to evolve after mastering any single school. There are 47 different schools to choose from and 65 different skills to master. You can also play as an adventurer and a crafter with the same character, or choose to pursue only adventure or crafting.
Property ownership: buy land and develop it for your needs. If you want a house with additional storage, then buy some land and have one built.
You can master the skills necessary to build the house yourself, or hire other players to build it for you. Choose from over 100 different structures, each with a purpose, with more being added.
A world created through player action: players make, trade and sell the tools, weapons, armor, clothes, food, buildings, bridges, spells, potions, and equipment in the game. Gather what you need from the world, and build what you want. Your character can learn the skills needed to build and provision a store, or to build an entire community. New areas of the world are opened to character settlement through the construction of bridges or other large-scale player construction projects.
A huge, beautiful, seamless world to explore: with over 300 square kilometers of meadows, swamps, tundra, glaciers, desert, mountains, oceans, forests, and islands Istaria is vast. Players have discovered and colonized many new islands and an entire continent since the game launched. Horizons has some of the most beautiful vistas of any online space, and the world is seamless, with no invisible boxes dividing up the world. There are over 300 different indigenous creatures inhabiting Istaria and the characters have learned many useful things to make from these creatures.
A war against the forces of the Withered Aegis: the players have fought against the 27 different monsters belonging to over 80 different schools that the Withered Aegis has thrown against them. The Withered Aegis continually changes their strategy and tactics and enlist new allies in order to challenge the players and gain control over Istaria.
Real-time changes to the world by staff: In several events we've changed the world dramatically and in real-time. We will continue to use this ability to run interesting and interactive live events. Another capability allows us to update simulation code without restarting the servers.
Extremely flexible and powerful UI/chat system: the user interface can be customized to whatever your personal preference. You can resize, locate, and set opacity for all of your windows, including the render window. The hot keys allow you to map them to any action within the game. You can also remap all of your actions to any keystroke that you wish.
What are we working on for Horizons today?
The following are additions that are coming to Horizons between today and the end of January. In addition, we are constantly working on reported problems, improving performance, new quests, equipment, structures, events and land. Due to the move to the new offices, some of these have taken longer than we had originally planned.
Blighted Equipment: in an effort to equip their forces with better equipment, the Withered Aegis have begun arming the Undead with blighted weapons, armor, scales, and other equipment. Players will be able to loot blighted equipment from the Withered Aegis forces and turn them against the enemy.
Ancient Rite of Passage for Dragons: Adult Dragons will be able to begin the Ancient Rite of Passage and upon their completion of this difficult series of tasks, assume their most powerful form, the Ancient Dragon.=20
Dragon Claw slots: Dragons will be able to equip claws that can be techniqued.
Dragon Lairs: Dragon plots will become available which allow the underground construction of player configured Dragon Lairs.
Blight Anchors: these most recent invaders, sent by the Withered Aegis will continue to evolve and attempt different tactics to drive the Gifted from Istaria.
New Crystals: Crystals will once again begin to be discovered in Istaria. These crystals will provide valuable powers to properly techniqued items.
Racial Quests: New quests will be introduced which provide additional bonuses to the different races of Istaria.
Vault Capacity Quests: the demand for larger vault storage has lead to additional methods of increasing how much a player can store in a vault.
New Tutorials: the existing tutorial does not properly explain to the novice player how to play Horizons. We are building two new islands, one for Dragons, and one for Bipeds, which will do a better job of explaining the mechanics and the ideas of Horizons. These islands will be able to be visited at any time in order to review the lessons and to engage the content found there.
What will we work on immediately after that?
New Racial Structures: with Humans and Dragons having their architectural styles covered, we will continue to develop racial structures for the other races.
Raising Schools to level 120: Players will be able to take their favorite school beyond the current cap of 100. Ancient Dragons will also be able to advance to new powers. We have already begun this work, and had expected to be able to be able to complete it by this time. However, the complexity of the task was not fully appreciated and we are going to take more time in order to do this well.
Structure and Community Customization: We will be initiating systems that allow for the player built furniture, structural modifications and additional environmental modifications by players.
And more: we are dedicated to growing and improving Horizons for the long-term and will constantly add new and more interesting experiences to the world.
I'll keep this list as up to date as possible and keep you informed as we progress toward each milestone. For now, I hope that the entertainment and community that is Istaria meets and exceeds your expectations. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season - I'll see you in Istaria.