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Istaria Info
Developer: Virtrium
Release Date:December 08, 2003
Monthly Fee:$12.95 USD

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General Information

Horizons: Empire of Istaria is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Artifact Entertainment and released in Europe on December 5, 2003 and in North America on December 9, 2003. Tulga Games, LLC acquired the game and all related assets on January 25, 2005 and sold them to EI Interactive July 2006. On July 18, 2007 the latest company to own Horizons, Virtrium LLC (Vi) acquired the rights to the game.

Set in a fairly traditional sword and sorcery world, the game allows players to be adventurers, crafters, or both, and features a struggle between the "living races" (including the players), and "the Withered Aegis", an army of the undead seeking to destroy all life.

Horizons uses the race/class/level paradigm common to many role-playing games; the game also has various mechanics that are similar enough to those of other massively multiplayer online games that they won't be mentioned here. Playable races include Dragons (the only persistent world to feature playable dragons) in addition to the more traditional biped races of Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, and Half-giant. Other races are less familiar, but typical of fantasy games: Dryads (a fairy), Satyrs (satyr, from Greek mythology), Fiends (humanoid with blue skin, horns and tail), Saris (a cat-like anthropomorphic humanoid), and Sslik (an asexual non-anthropomorphic reptilian humanoid).

Some of the core concepts behind Horizons just prior to the release of the game were to create a zoneless, co-operative, changing environment in which players would strive to hold back a seemingly unstoppable enemy: the Withered Aegis. This enemy would consist of a few individuals from the Living Races (races that the Players belong to) in an unholy alliance with groups of Devils and Demons from another existence called the Realm of Blight. The twisted Blighted magic would include necromancy, the ability to create zombies from corpses and even reanimate skeletal remains into fierce warriors. Due to the co-op nature of the game The Aegis would be entirely AI controlled. According to David Bowman in 2002, "Horizons will not ship with player versus player conflict. Rather Artifact has chosen to put its full attention to making the player versus environment gameplay the best it can be."

This enemy was originally supposed to be dynamic in nature, launching automatic attacks on player held positions and blighting (capturing) the ground with its evil magic. This proved to be difficult to implement properly in practice, and the battlefront was eventually scaled back into static regions of Player and Blight held areas. However, in the years after Horizons launched "World Events" would be held that would allow players to make a permanent mark on the Horizons world. While not as cost effective to maintain as an automated system, this allowed Artifact, Tulga, and Virtrium to keep their promise of a changing, interactive world.


  • 11 playable fantasy races: Dragons, Satyrs, Dryads, Humans and Elves populate the world and offer players distinct physical, mental and magical abilities .

  • An open character class system: Learn skills from 50 schools while not being limited to one class. Players can change their character's class as often as they like with no penalty.

  • A real-time persistent world: Build and maintain structures, from simple houses to entire towns. Create businesses, process resources and develop economies within the game world by buying, selling and trading with other players.

  • Family-friendly gameplay: With a focus on cooperative, PvP-free gameplay, Horizons offers families a perfect place to enjoy a fantastical adventure. A friendly online community of players is always available to help new and seasoned travelers as they explore Istaria.

  • Virtually unlimited exploration potential: Soar through the skies as a flying creature, or dig deep into the earth when building a dragon's lair. Istaria is a land without zones or predetermined player movement boundaries, thus allowing adventurers to explore the entire game world without limits.

  • Drop in play: Rather than penalize players with limited time to enjoy a game session, Horizons offers the perfect setting for quick drop in adventures for those with as little as 15 minutes available for a game session.
  • Solo-gamer friendly gameplay doesn't require players to join parties or form guilds

Player versus player combat

Horizons has no player versus player combat (PvP) to speak of. There is a small arena on an otherwise abandoned island, but that was primarily added for balance testing purposes. Players are nonetheless permitted to partake of PvP in this area if they wish (for a fee of in-game coins), but there are absolutely no rewards, and standard death penalties will still apply.

Military Appreciation Program

On September 12th, 2007, Virtrium announced to continue the Military Appreciation program. All new and existing Horizons: Empire of Istaria accounts created using a valid .mil email address may request a time-code for expanded access. This allows you to play Horizons with another family member at the same time on one account. They hope that this will allow military families to play Horizons together, giving them a family-friendly environment where they can meet, talk and play together over the Internet.

Sources: [1] [2]

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This page last modified 2008-05-04 03:54:41.
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