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Atari Ships Artifact Entertainment's Horizons: Empire of Istaria

 

ATARI SHIPS ARTIFACT ENTERTAINMENT’S HORIZONS: EMPIRE OF ISTARIA

Highly Anticipated Online Role-Playing Game Innovates with Playable Dragons; Dynamic, Ever Changing World

LOS ANGELES – Dec. 9, 2003 – Atari and Artifact Entertainment today announced that Horizons: Empire of Istaria, one of the most closely followed and highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), has shipped to retail stores nationwide. Available now for PC CD-ROM, Horizons will allow players to experience online gaming like never before in a massive, ever-changing, online world primed for exploration, brimming with adventure and rife with danger. For the first time in a MMORPG, players will have the opportunity to experience the power and might of ancient dragons as a playable character race. In addition, Humans, fiends, dwarves, elves, gnomes, as well as the cat-like Saris and the reptilian Sslik, round out the first nine playable races available in the game.

“Artifact Entertainment has spent the last few years making sure that Horizons will present MMORPG players with an experience like none other,” said Steve Allison, vice president of marketing, Atari Inc.’s Los Angeles studio. “Just imagine beautiful, massive, zone-free environments, epic level combat on a scale never seen before, an extremely intuitive, deep and self-sustaining trade skill system, extensive support for player-run communities and guilds within the game world and, for the first time in any MMORPG, playable dragons!”

Horizons takes place within the world of Istaria -- filled with cities and towns, castles and strongholds, villages and mystical structures, in environments ranging from tropical jungle and arctic tundra to windswept plains and mountainous wilderness. Whether adventuring by themselves or questing with a group of friends, players are free to choose their own paths and encouraged to create their own stories. Fierce warriors, arcane spell casters and challenging combat will rule the frontier lands, but skilled craftspeople will play an absolutely critical role in overall character and world development.

“With Horizons we wanted to create a world where players would have a massive impact on their environment -- a dynamic place where cataclysmic events could change the appearance and function of the world in real time right before your eyes,” said David Bowman, Creative Director and Co-President of Artifact Entertainment. “And, that’s exactly what players can expect. Our advanced world building capabilities, the seamless integration of changes into the Horizons universe and, most importantly, the inherently dynamic nature of extensive player-run communities are sure to deliver a level of immersion and interaction not seen before.”

Nine playable character races are available in Horizons; Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Fiends and Dragons are among them. Each player character can be further customized with a near endless variety of visual tweaks, including gender, ethnicity, age, skin color, body and facial types, hair styles and color, as well as wings, horns and other exotic alterations associated with select species. In much the same way, Horizons allows players to specialize their character’s class from a number of base adventuring schools such as, Warrior, Healer, Wizard and Scout as well as base crafting schools, including Blacksmith, Gatherer, Outfitter and Scholar.

Races:

  • Humans -- Humans are the paragons of versatility. Their frames are strong and dexterous, and they exhibit above-average power and focus. Humans are adept at many fields of endeavor, though they tend to gravitate towards scholarly and arcane-oriented pursuits.
  • Fiends -- The Fiends are ethereally beautiful beings. Their horns and tails and blued, icy skin are the marks of their deity, Niatha Moraven, Goddess of Vengeance and Power. Fiends are the descendants of altered outcast Humans of long ago, who sacrificed physical strength for mental power. Fiends excel in all fields of scholarly and arcane endeavor.
  • Dwarves -- Physically, Dwarves are one of the shorter Living Races; however, they are quite stocky for their height, and are known for their superior strength and resilience. While Dwarves prefer to achieve their ends through strength and physical exertion, there are several highly adept Dwarven mages in Istaria. Dwarves excel in all professions, but tend to gravitate toward the roles of Warrior and Healer.
  • Dragons -- The Dragons are scaled, winged beasts who become capable of flight as they mature. They are the largest of the races, with the eldest of the Dragons being at least twice the size of the largest specimens of other races. Dragons are blessed with an unbridled strength, making them fearsome Warriors. Dragons also strike a balance between power and focus, making them solid practitioners of the arts arcane.
  • Elves -- The Elves strive to create order from chaos. Physically, Elves share the same build as Humans, though on average they are slightly taller and lankier. Elves typically exhibit superior senses of balance and dexterity; many of Istaria’s famed scouts and explorers have been Elves. Likewise, Elves are renowned for their superior ranged combat skills, especially archery. Elves tend to favor power over focus in the matters of the arcane, making them excellent Wizards.
  • Saris -- The Saris are a proud race, originating from feline ancestry. They are of average height, their bodies covered in a light fur. The Saris are by far the most dexterous of all the Living Races, and they make for superb Scouts. The Saris are also noted for being some of the foremost Monks in the land.
  • Gnomes -- Gnomes are as strong of mind as they are agile of thought. While Gnomes are not as physically powerful as the other Living Races, they make up for it in their solid dexterity and their gifted power and focus. Gnomes make excellent spellcasters and scholarly tradespeople; they also make fine Scouts.
  • Sslik -- The Sslik are strong, sleek, reptilian bipeds who are genderless. The Sslik are extremely strong and focused beings, and this contributes to their exceptional adeptness as Warriors and Healers equally, calling upon both skills to aid their people in times of need.
  • Half-Giants -- Half-Giants possess a brute strength matched only by Dragons. On average, they tend to focus more on physical endeavors rather than pure mental pursuits, but this does not mean that Half-Giant society is without noted arcanists and scholars. Half-Giants are creatures of reason, patience, and focus; they seldom raise their dander, but when they do anger, they are quite formidable opponents. Consequently, they are often found in the role of Healer.

Combat:
For many, combat in Horizons will be an all encompassing passion, but even a simple tailor minding his or her own business can run into the occasional zombie – so training a few fighting skills can never hurt. Combat in Horizons takes the art of war to an entirely new level as lunges, parries, blocks and evasions are all fully represented with detailed animations. Monsters will no longer stand still as your mighty sword cleaves them in two. As players progress in skill by using standard attacks in combat situations they gain new special abilities that could be the difference between life and death in later levels.

These special abilities are granted to characters by the schools to which they belong. As players demonstrate mastery of current abilities, they are promoted in status and will be rewarded for this progress with new special abilities. When leaving a school, the school will revoke some of the special abilities that were granted to a character, but will be restored if the character later rejoins the school.

Tradeskills:
The crafting system in Horizons is the most robust system ever put into a massively multiplayer game. Players have several design choices when making an item. Swords, for example, are made of hilts and blades while a smelting tong is made of a handle and head. As the player becomes more skilled in weapon crafting, blade and hilt styles will become available at the time of item construction. A person who has learned techniques is able to attach such things as tassels using the cloth system, visual effects using the shader system, fire using the particle system, and runes using the decal system. Crafting techniques further differentiate the items that can be created using tradeskills leading to millions of permutations.

Player Properties:
In Horizons, the Empire controls the land. However, the Empire will sell the rights to pieces of property to anyone with the ability to meet the conditions of sale. In most cases this is simply pay the Empire and the rights are yours. In some cases, it might be necessary for you to clear the land of hostile creatures such as the Undead or to go on a quest for the Empire. Player plots come in many different sizes. As the Frontier is pushed back and more of the world is explored, new individual plots will become available.

Community Building:
Community building in Horizons is not just about constructing a home on your personal plot (see above). Community building involves developing a multitude of structures that provide benefits of different types to the owner of the property. Structures can be buildings for storage, decoration, defense, entertainment, transportation, resource management, socialization, vending, construction or crafting. After sufficient construction has occurred on individual plots within a community, computer-controlled characters will begin construction on the community plots that adjoin the player-controlled properties.

Those communities that are nearest the frontier will be exposed to the greatest risk of hostile encounters from creatures in those outlying areas. These frontier attacks range from loose groups of merely hostile creatures, to carefully orchestrated invasions of undead hordes. If conflict of this nature does not appeal to you, be sure to obtain a plot in the more sedate portions of the long-settled world.

“Artifacts” are another form of community building, but unique in that they provide enchantment benefits to either all members of local communities and/or all characters within the physical range of influence that the Artifacts possess. When enough player built communities within an area have been established and developed, an Artifact-only community plot becomes available for development. Artifacts must be both maintained and protected by the communities they serve.

Another unique community class of building in Horizons is the “empire” structure which is designed to benefit everyone in the world and not just a particular community. An example of an empire structure is a bridge that is not within a community, but provides the entire world of Istaria with access to a newly discovered landmass. Much like artifacts, empire structures can come under attack from hostile forces and must be maintained and protected.

Horizons: Empire of Istaria is now available at retail stores nationwide with an estimated retail price of $49.95 and an ESRB rating of “T” for Teen. Additional information about Horizons can be found online at www.istaria.com.

About Artifact Entertainment
Artifact Entertainment, Inc. is a privately held developer of Online Interactive Entertainment Environments and revolutionary Multi-User Networked Simulations for the gaming and military communities. Artifact strives to provide quality entertainment experiences using superior technology, proven design methods, broad market appeal, customer satisfaction and the highest quality staff. Artifact is currently developing the highly anticipated, fantasy based Massively Multiplayer Game called 'Horizons: Empire of Istaria'. More information on Artifact Entertainment, Inc. can be found at http://www.artifact-entertainment.com or requested by emailing press@artifact-entertainment.com.

About Atari, Inc.
New York-based Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) develops interactive games for all platforms and is one of the largest third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software in the U.S. The Company’s 1,000+ titles include hard-core, genre-defining games such as Driver™, Enter the Matrix™, Neverwinter Nights™, Stuntman™, Test Drive®, Unreal® Tournament 2003, and Unreal® Championship; and mass-market and children’s games such as Backyard Sports™, Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues™ and Dora the Explorer™, Civilization®, Dragon Ball Z® and RollerCoaster Tycoon®. Atari, Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary of France-based Infogrames Entertainment SA (Euronext 5257), the largest interactive games publisher in Europe. For more information, visit www.atari.com.

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