Horizons' history: Birth - Near Death and possible Resurrection?

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  • MenkureMenkure Des Moines, IAMember Posts: 30
    Originally posted by xauss



    IMHO, i think the Settlements expansion and the rumours of the new client were just blowing smoke to raise the subscriber base to show prospective parties interested in purchasing the game... i.e. EI Interactive (now known as Pixel Magic). i think even they said something about looking at the code to see what could be done about certiain performance issues, but how they would do that without retaining any of the staff from Tulga was never explained
    Xauss,



    The Expansion was not a rumor.  The team had been speaking about plans for an expansion  for some time prior to the sale.  However, back then the dev team knew that certain things had to be fixed and special conditions needed to be met before they started work on it.



    As the subscriptions started to rise, and major progress had been made towards bug fixes, the idea of a potential expansion went from simple discussion ("Ya know.. it would be really neat..") to preliminary planning and design.  Tulga was also in the midst of writing a new client for Horizons, and the expansion was planned to coincide with the new client release.  Bear in mind though that the new client (and the expansion) was not going to be seen for several months into the future, and the employees at Tulga knew this.



    Baker informed Bowman of his interest to sell, and Bowman looked into possible counter-offers.  He did try telling Baker of the increased subscriptions and the progress they were making, however to my understanding of the situation.. Baker wanted out, and was willing to take anything he could get (but was very untrusting of Bowman).



    Chris T. Baker is a businessman.  Plain and simple.  And just like any businessman, he saw the short-term... combined with the past efforts of Tulga.  While Tulga and the game had improved a lot prior to E3 2006, the year and a half prior to that was laided with debt.  Who really knows if the expansion and new client would have helped things or not.. but obviously Baker didn't think it would overall.



    From what I have gathered from speaking to past employees, I tend to think that Bowman didn't really consider Baker's intent to sell as something serious.  However, when the agent working for Baker introduced Mr. Andercheck to Bowman at the E3 conference, I think it was then that it hit home.  Bear in mind that it was at E3 that the expansion was announced, and it was announced before the meeting with Andercheck took place.



    I know Bowman and the team were left scrambling after that to try and convince Baker that selling was not in the best interests of both the game and the community it had, but Baker was not listening.



    EI was the only interested party, and Baker took a gamble.  In my opinion, Baker is just as much at fault and to blame as EI is for the destruction of Horizons.  He saw Horizons not for its potential or the wonderful community it had (a community that was beginning to grow since the bankruptcy), but as an item riddled with debt.  He sold it, wanting to get whatever money out of it that he could, all the while not realizing that he was also selling a community.. 



    ....and in doing so he destroyed that community.



    Oh I know... it was EI's actions (their complete incompetence and ineptitude) that destroyed that community.. but it was Baker that ultimately signed the death warrant.



    While the community lays torn asundered, it is nice to know that Baker didn't get one cent from EI...





    As for the expansion...   not gonna happen.  What else is there to say about it?



    -Menkure







    ((edit: spelling))
  • xaussxauss londonMember Posts: 384

    hehe thx for the post Menkure... i guess i am just far too cynical, and took 2 +2 and jumped to 'it was all a scam'.

    though if the expac and client were really in the pipeline, Bakers timing could have been better. but I cant really blame Baker for selling a loss making 'investment' though

    image

  • MenkureMenkure Des Moines, IAMember Posts: 30
    Actually xauss, you have a right to be cynical.  There were a lot of promises made back in beta, and right after release, of features which didn't make it into the game, or did make it in but months (and even years) afterwords.



    I guess Baker should not be faulted for wanting out..  however, he didn't do his homework.  He was stupid, and instead of getting something out of it (Heck, even anything), he got nothing but even more heartache.



    What I hate is that the community suffered because of it.  I had a lot of friends suddenly turn enemies..  people who once were fanbois turn slambois..  people who once praised Tulga for the wonderful work they were doing right before the sale, turn and slam them afterwords for being "incompetent".. and then praise EI, claiming they were the game's savior and only hope.  *HAH!*



    And I especially hate it that a good number of people were robbed and cheated out of money..  their money, which they worked hard for!



    Many of those who were screwed were even further insulted by bans and deletion of characters, all because EI couldn't admit that they screwed up..



    And now, Blight is gone.. Unity isn't gonna happen.. PERIOD.



    And while the fault lies upon EI Interactive, Mr. Andercheck, and Dr. Rask for this, a good portion of that blame lies on the shoulders of Mr. Baker, for it was HE that signed the death warrant.



    -Menkure
  • LiddokunLiddokun San Francisco, CAMember UncommonPosts: 1,665

    As an ex-FAN of this wonderful potentially great game it was sad learning that inept unprofessional management turned the game into crap sludge. It is here in Horizon's community that I met a lot of my good long time friends. If only the management of this game were to put aside their bickering and mistrust and worked on the game in earnest they might have turned this game into a fat cash cow that they could retire on, instead they ruined their own reputation and is the subject of redicule in almost every Horizon discussion I have read on the net.

    Greed = the road to destruction.

  • MenkureMenkure Des Moines, IAMember Posts: 30


    Originally posted by xauss

    hehe thx for the post Menkure... i guess i am just far too cynical, and took 2 +2 and jumped to 'it was all a scam'.
    though if the expac and client were really in the pipeline, Bakers timing could have been better. but I cant really blame Baker for selling a loss making 'investment' though

    xauss,

    I just read a post by Smeglor on another forum (one where the ex-devs of Tulga are rather active posters on). He had this to say about the expansion.. which also corrects some of the info that I was going on:


    Originally posted by Smeglor

    I personally spent about 1-2 days a week (spread out, an hour or two here or there) working on the DWO design. No, we did not have enough staff to develop it fully, but we did have enough to get the design to the point where it could be funded to do the necessary hiring.

    The HZ expansion was really just a list of new features (new housing system, pets) we decided to do anyway, packaged up as an "expansion". All current players were going to get it for free. It wasn't really an expansion, it was more of a planned re-release timed with a new suite of features. But there was work going into figuring out how these features would work as well as be integrated. True, actual coding and artwork had not yet begun, but it would have in a month or two at the time of the sale.The announcements themselves were indeed a marketing ploy to generate interest in the company, as dictated by Baker. We were hoping perhaps it would lead to new funding for DWO as opposed to the HZ buyout that occured. But to say that the announcements were deceitful or facetious is not correct.

    I guess it isn't suprising that Baker ordered it.. but as so, it would not have been to get more subscriptions, but instead raise interest in the company in hopes of finding a buyer.

    Sad shame.

    -Menkure

  • Xix13Xix13 Tampa, FLMember Posts: 259

    Poor Horizons.  This was one of my favorite games with a great community and some excellent ideas.  I played for months, then the billing debacle started and I still miss it.  This nightmare ranks right up there with SWG's horrorshow.  Both my favorite games...gone.  Oh yeah, and my first MMO was still-beloved EnB. 

    Unlucky in love, unlucky in gaming. 

    -- Xix
    "I know what you're thinking: 'Why, oh WHY, didn't I take the BLUE pill?'"

  • green13green13 SydneyMember Posts: 1,340

    This game really had so much potential. Player built towns, player-dragons, the promise of large-scale world events...

    They were offering an unheard of degree of player control over the gameworld - and what they achieved in this respect is something even many new mmos fail to reach. But they failed in nearly every other respect with this game. The lag was always awful, combat tedious, buggier than an entomologist's wet-dream and crafting... oh god stab me in the eye with a fork.

    And then all the billing issues... well let's just call it was it is - theft.

    It will probably always be an oddity in the mmo world. They took elements proven to work well in other mmos, broke all of them, then laid their really wonderful innovations on top. It's a bit like designing a new super-aerodynamic helmet for a cyclist... then breaking both his legs before the race.

    If books are ever written on the history of mmos, Horizons will undoubtedly have a chapter all to itself.

  • HadesPvPHadesPvP West Springfield, MAMember Posts: 33
    I have a couple of friends who played Horizons say that some people they knew had gotten billed more than once or billed after they had cancelled their accounts. This doesn't make sense to me. Who in their right mind would be like, "Oh well I got billed twice I don't care"? I think if this happened in a game like WoW, the boards would be in an uproar instantly.

    image

  • Schonk31Schonk31 Windsor, CAMember Posts: 72
    The original design plans for Horizons was sweet, unfortuantely a lot of stuff did not make it in.  I did enjoy playing the game until I maxed out on levels, then I stopped plaing.  Too bad they could not pull it off.
  • Parsifal57Parsifal57 Hampton, GAMember Posts: 267
    I have to say all performance/engine issues aside, this game still has a spot in my heart, I truly believe the community there Pre-Tulga (i didn't hang around long enough for that to happen) was the best I ever have and ever will come across in a MMORPG. (I've played WoW a lot on and off, but have to blame WoW for almost singlehandly destroying MMORPG communities across many games).



    A lot of the game concepts were innovative and pleasing to play I really liked the lack of an item drop based system and a game where crafters truly did form the heart of the game.



    I would dearly love to see Horizons resurrected with a better engine and competent management, that would be enough to draw me back, but sadly it looks like the ink is nearly dry on the writing on the wall (apologies for messing the metaphor up).
  • SinnicalSinnical Lowell, MAMember Posts: 5
    I never played this game, but i remember keeping an eye on Horizons back before it was in beta. It looked like it was going to be something special but by the time it was released, it looked like it had become a very different game... that turned me away from it at the start. Though it doesn't affect me too closely, it is a bummer to hear that such a cool looking game got sunk like this.



    I've always been curious about what happened to this game. Thanks for posting such an informative thread. And good luck to all those still involved.



    -sinnical
  • PietoroPietoro Seattle, WAMember Posts: 162
    Originally posted by HadesPvP

    I have a couple of friends who played Horizons say that some people they knew had gotten billed more than once or billed after they had cancelled their accounts. This doesn't make sense to me. Who in their right mind would be like, "Oh well I got billed twice I don't care"? I think if this happened in a game like WoW, the boards would be in an uproar instantly.
    Horizons fanbase was made of of the most abuse-tolerating people you can get. Distilled down over and over, as more regular people got fed up and left, until only the most hardcore fanatics who took the abuse and bugs as if it were a proof of their superior moral character were left. Or you had those that were happy just RPing in a graphical chatroom (The friends I met there were what kept me on).



    Also, never underestimate the power of playable dragons, it's a huge factor in most people staying on at all. The first game to actually do it right, and have playable dragons, will have an instant fanatic playerbase.
  • DaedrenDaedren CannesMember Posts: 11
    Interesting read. I tried the game back when it launched. The game was really hyped up and had some good ideas. Those ideas just never got implemented.



    The life and birth of an MMORPG. Thanks for the read. ;)
  • shakaamashakaama las vegas, NVMember UncommonPosts: 31
    I think your timeline is a bit off.  Out of all the games ive played and wanted to play, i actually WANTED to play this game.  I followed the developement from the start.  what's his face didn't leave a month after announcing they were starting the game.  they were well into development, when the investors told him to tone it down because it seemed the project would be endless the way he envisioned it.  when they revamped the vision, that's when i lost interest.
  • xaussxauss londonMember Posts: 384

    Originally posted by shakaama

    I think your timeline is a bit off.  Out of all the games ive played and wanted to play, i actually WANTED to play this game.  I followed the developement from the start.  what's his face didn't leave a month after announcing they were starting the game.  they were well into development, when the investors told him to tone it down because it seemed the project would be endless the way he envisioned it.  when they revamped the vision, that's when i lost interest.

    DA left July 2001 - the game had been hiring staff and under development since 1999 (thats over a year and a half) - the time line is OK

    image

  • xaussxauss londonMember Posts: 384

    i've not really been following the game, or indeed these forums for a while, so have added what i know to the timeline and removed the pessimism of impending doom

    there must be more to add regarding the new Vitrium chapter of the saga... so feel free to post corrections / new info

    image

  • dand3dand3 San Rafael, CAMember Posts: 241

    August 2007; Virtrium publishes a proposed fee schedule.  Many comments received; ex-subscribers were awake after all!  Fee schedule heavily revised, Virtrium was actually listening! 

    September 2007: new fee schedule implemented, PayPal based, very secure.

    October 2007: Virtrium makes it clear that they prefer to underpromise, not mention dates, and overdeliver.  Virtrium commits to European sub base to be ported to US servers, and done right.  Plot reclamation (making plots held by players no longer subscribing available for sale again) will follow the European relocation.

  • Player_420Player_420 KuesecMember Posts: 686

    I quit after about 5 months, but damnit this game rocked.

    If they canceled this mess of a project, and just revived it...I would play as im sure many many others would as well

    I play all ghame

  • dand3dand3 San Rafael, CAMember Posts: 241

    The bad news is that with the staff size reductions after the release and then after bankruptcy, the extraordinary events ended. 

    The good news is that a lot of less-epic content has been added. I'm not sure exactly about the timing of all, but since you left the following may have been added:

    The Adult Rite of Passage, for 45-ish dragons.

    Plots, construction of shops and houses. Then later,  dragon lairs, which are very well done.

    Various quests, new monsters  and new blighted areas of course. 

    New tutorial, beginning areas.

    Northern continent.

    Various islands; fire, ice, Balit's, guild, etc.

    Ancient Rite of Passage, for 100-ish dragons.

    Major  revamping of dragons, much less frustrating to play now.

    Tier IV, V, and some VI crafting levels.

    Memory leaks seem squashed.  They can always arise of course, but way better now.

    Client performance is up.  With 4 year old computer, 7800GS AGP card, 2G memory, 1280 X 960, shadows off, view distance and textures maxed, I'm running smoothly in town.

    Currently, customer service is excellent, and the devs DO listen.  (Amazin' huh? )

    When the subscriber drain was turned around, and subs were back up to break-even level, Hz looked like an attractive business again.  The VC who owned Hz after bankruptcy sold it to some people who just milked it, and who did no development for a year.  Subs fell, billing was mishandled, and ownership reverted to the VC, who sold Hz to a group of former developers, Virtrium.  So far, they're off to a great (re)start.

    No characters or inventory have ever been deleted. If you remember your login and toon names it should go smoothly; otherwise submit a ticket.

    Current projects, now that they're pushing updates to live:  Transporting the Unity players' characters and inventory  to US servers; Vista compatibility*; content and events.  Fall Festival going on now...

    *Some players are running under Vista, but it may take several boots to get it to play... Something random going on there.  Obviously a priority for the devs.

     

  • rlkpwi0rlkpwi0 fgsMember Posts: 2

    Out of curiosity, is Horizons running currently or is no one able to play?

  • dand3dand3 San Rafael, CAMember Posts: 241

    I just stuck my muzzle in; all seems to be well. The maintenance of 11/26 is (obviously) complete.  There was an instance of a hamster feeling an arthritic twinge a couple of days ago, so some preventive maintenance was done.  

    Otherwise, Istarian life continues apace.

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