DHU Origins #2 – Dark Horizons: Lore

The game that would finally bring the Dark Horizons Universe its first video game entry was never originally planned as part of the universe. But because of circumstances mentioned at the end of DHU Origins #1, we assembled a team to begin work on Dark Horizons: Lore.

Dark Horizons: Lore, followed by the Invasion expansion, was released in 2004. It was a first-person shooter mech game set in the year 2160 of the Dark Horizons Universe.

It was Max Gaming Technologies, LLC’s first game release and the first of 3 mech games built on the Torque game engine in collaboration with Garagegames.com.

Inserting mechs into the timeline…

The original Dark Horizons Universe did not cover mechs in the original source material. If you download the Dark Horizons Universe D20 Campaign Setting, you will find no mention of mechs. At least not until we launched Dark Horizons: Lore D20 Edition in 2006.

The original Dark Horizons Universe materials were set in the 24th century, as well as the upcoming Mechanized Corps wargame and video game. So when we inserted mechs into the picture, we had to determine the best fit in the timeline. After weighing the options of before or after the current timeline. We decided, based on where real-life military technology was, that setting the game in the 22nd century (2160, to be exact) made the most sense.

Drones, you say!

When building Dark Horizons: Lore, the U.S. military started using drones in large numbers. So our mech became known as MAVs (Mechanized Assault Vehicles) and is now known as MCs (Mechanized Corps). The mech was remotely piloted by cyber warriors directly jacked into the drone through the pilot’s core implant. This allowed the pilot to see and fight in real-time as if they were the drone.

At the core of the conflict were the two main factions in the world at the time: the Eastern Confederation and the Federated States.

Eastern Confederation was a reformation of the old Soviet block controlling the bulk of Eurasia.

Federated States was formed shortly after the attacks of 2010in the Dark Horizons Universe timeline. The Federated States comprises what remained of the United States and the European Union.

From concept to video game…

Creating something new in the universe from a story standpoint was easy, but from a visual perspective, we wanted the drones to be stylized, not giant, and handled in the game like a first-person shooter. So we began work on envisioning what unmanned mechs may look like and then implementing it into a lower poly video game.

Unfortunately, the concepts for all the mechs have been lost, but you can see the inspiration for the Federated States mechs(the blue ones) from the original ideas. These smaller, fast, and agile mechs made for a fun game experience that is still being supported by fans!

And the fun began!

After launching Dark Horizons: Lore and its expansion Invasion, Dark Horizons Universe saw a series of releases:

  • Dark Horizons: Lore – April 2004
  • Dark Horizons: Lore Invasion – March 2005
  • Dark Horizons: Lore D20 Edition – April 2006
  • Dark Horizons Universe D20 Campaign Setting – April 2006
  • Dark Horizons: Lore Aftermath – 2009 (InstantAction.com)
  • Dark Horizons: Mechanized Corps – Early Access Steam (Currently unavailable)

What is next on the video game side?

We are working closely with the team behind Dark Horizons: Mechanized Corps to take the unreleased version that was in early access and released in early 2024 in time for the 20th anniversary of the release of the original video game. Part of this is to make sure if you build a mech in the video game, it matches values from the tabletop wargame.

Though we cannot promise release dates or what state the game will be in, we want to support the Dark Horizons Universe across platforms and gaming mediums.

Next time on Jrah’s Corner, we will look at the ongoing work on the back story and history of the Dark Horizons Universe…