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Horizon is Alive and Kicking – Close to Feature Complete!

By on July 12th, 2012 9:02 pm


Horizon is a turn-based space 4X game currently under development by the L3O indie game studio, and is part of the Space Sector’s “List of Sci-Fi/Space Games You Can’t Miss In 2012“.

Horizon has been in development for quite some time now (more than 9 years?) and some started to doubt if it would ever see the daylight. In the beginning of 2012 the L3O team said “present” and they have even enlarged the team, or at least were hiring (game developers and a 3D artist at the time).

And now, very recently, the Horizon devs have announced to be “very close to feature complete (end of the alpha stage)”. They said to just need a bit more time to finish the game – “there are still several months of work ahead of us. Gameplay and audio enhancements and lots of testing to bring the game you’ve all been waiting for”. They also said to be thinking in publishing some new screenshots and gameplay videos soon – “we should have some (screens and videos) soon starting in end of July or August”.

This is great news! Horizon is a game I have been tracking for some quite time now. I even had an interview with the designer and producer Raffi Parsekhian a couple of years ago. Then the L3O team remained silent for a large period of time, which sounded a bit like they could have abandoned the project. But they got back, and now said to be ending Alpha at any time soon.

Horizon Research screen (6 years ago)

Horizon sounds like a very interesting game. From our interview with L3O we learned that Horizon’s main features include “heavy emphasis on exploration” with “a galaxy that feels alive and more complex than other games in the genre”. The game will have turn-based combat which unfolds in the same view as the game’s strategic part; there will be ship design with a selecting of hull sizes, different weapons and “specials” – “ship specials are things like cargo bays, fighter bays, troop pods, colonizer pods, etc.”.

L3O defines Horizon as “a traditional 4x game and plays very much like one. If you have played Master of Orion 1 and 2 you will feel right at home.”

One more turn-based space 4X game at our doorstep people, perhaps still this year. Let’s hope the devs make it. And, let’s also help them in any way we can.

You can know more about Horizon by checking our interview with L3O and the Horizon official website.

Horizon Races screen (6 years ago)

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  1. Keith Turner says:

    Interesting. I recall reading about this on the 2012 list, but to be honest it slipped my mind after awhile. I went to their site and had a gander at the screenshots that were on there. The game certainly has an indie look to it, but in all honestly I’m fine with that as long as the core gameplay elements are in place.

    Turn based combat with firing arcs and possibly rather versatile ship design, now that’s what I like to hear.

    I’m not entirely sure what they mean by “one important distinction I want to make here is that the combat is not a separate phase in Horizon and occurs seamlessly because you are in essence always in tactical view when the game is running (when ships move etc.) After 20 rounds of tactical view the game is ‘paused’ as the turn ends and you then switch to a strategic view to review or make decisions, manage all facets of your empire before starting the next turn.” This could be interesting, but I’d have to see it in action.

    It also sounds like ground combat may be shown in a MOO style, which would be great.

    I’m a bit concerned that they are not looking to (at least in 2010) implement espionage, space monsters, or random events. Given that they are going with a lower budget graphical style, I think they are going to be fighting an uphill battle unless they can swinging hot and heavy with all the in depth features fans of 4x games like MOO/MOO II that they mention are going to expect. Hopefully they’ve spent some time these last couple of years adding some of this in.

    As with most other 4x games lately, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m ready and waiting for the next big (deep) strategy and tactical experience.

  2. Jani Sillanpää says:

    Turnbased combat with firing arces sound good.

  3. Jeff P says:

    At least no one can accuse them of rushing “Horizon” onto market! I’m glad to hear they are working on the project again. Pace Keith, I didn’t think the faux 3D artwork looked “indie”; it reminded me of the Gal Civ series. My only concern is with the turn-based tactical combat: MOOII combat was turn based and could get pretty tedious late in the game.

  4. McyD says:

    Hmm, I am up in the air on this one, the graphics may look indie… or they may look cutting edge for a game that was started 9 years ago. The rest of the interface does look like it was cutting edge 9 years ago though. Hopefully, they will at least bump up the texture counts on the textures and polish them up a bit more. Either way I will probably give it a shot.

    • Nothing wrong with 9 year old graphics or UI, or 20 year old for that matter, but it helps the charm offensive if the game is that old to begin with. Still, can’t fault them on commitment.

      Clearly one for next year’s list though.

      • dayrinni says:

        Sometimes, a commitment this long can be driven from a very deep passion for the genre. This could mean the gameplay has a lot of depth and will be a lot of fun to play.

        Being an indie developer myself, I can easily overlook some of the graphical issues. In the end, it is about game play. Case in point for me: I played D3 for a week and went back to D2. Yeah, D2 looks awful compared to D3 but it offers a much better game play experience.

        On another side note, I feel that the indie space needs to be broken up into two parts: ‘True’ indie and ‘commercial/funded’ indie. There has been a recent explosion of small well funded companies that can actually push out some really high quality stuff (ES for example). Then you have the other side, like Horizons and Stardrive, who aren’t funded as well and generally have a very small team. Both are indie but are in completely different situations. Just my 2 cents on this.

        • Adam Solo says:

          I agree. Graphics help but are very far from being as important as gameplay. The UI must always be great, very accessible and user friendly, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be beautiful. But that’s another story. So, Horizon can be an extremely fun game to play in the end, even without flashy 3D graphics. But I don’t blame people. It’s quite common to assume that if the art is bad so must be the “means” of the project and most likely the end result. But that may not be the case at all.

          I think you’re right in your indie distinction observation. There are surely many types of indie studios. But I have my share of doubts in this classification. In the games context Indie means a studio or person/team who isn’t “backed” by a video game publisher right? Horizon, Predestination, Deep Space Settlement, Galaxial, Beyond Bayaan, Redshift and so many others are “pure” indie in this sense. But, what is backed? Direct financial support only?

          What about games like ES and StarDrive, who have “agreements” with video game publishers (Iceberg Interactive in both cases). Does this mean that they are not indie? Does the size of the publisher matters? I believe the type of agreement would distinguish indie from non-indie (direct financial support vs distribution support only?). What about Distant Worlds and Matrix Games?

        • dayrinni says:

          I’m sure there are several different ways you could classify them. There could even be, three, four or more different types, depending on the situation. I just think the indie scene has moved drastically forward over the past few years (Steam really helped this) and it isn’t as clear cut as before.

  5. Ashbery76 says:

    The races,lol.

    Why do they waste time making such awful 3d models for races when 2d art is so much better and easier.

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