Shores of Hazeron is a free, space empire (4X) MMO, developed by Software Engineering Inc, which is currently in pre-alpha stages of development. You play as either a leader of your own empire, left to fend for yourself with nothing but a knife, or as a member of an existing empire. There are no quests, no missions and only one NPC you can actually talk to. That NPC, Targoss, is your guide in the start of the game, teaching you how to move and pick up items. He essentially has been created to show what the planned "story editor" feature is capable of, allowing players to create their own missions with interactive NPCs.
In some ways, Shores of Hazeron can be compared to Spore. You start off as a lowly creature and gradually fight, build and trade your way to the stars. Once you reach the stars, a whole new level of exploration awaits you. There is literally an entire galaxy of star systems for players to colonize, and finding systems without planets is rare. Every planet and moon you encounter can be landed on and colonized, save for the enormous Gas Giants. The stars you encounter can also vary in size from tiny Dwarf stars to colossal Supergiants. There are Binary and Trinary star systems and even enormous Ringworlds akin to Halo and there are even rumors of (and images of actual) Binary Ringworlds.
The game has several "stages" of progression, but it plays out differently if you make an empire or join an existing one.
Making a new Empire
Note: A comprehensive PDF tutorial is provided on the game's home page for newcomers.
Creating your race:
When you start a new empire, you give a name to your character and the empire you are forging, choose an image for your flag (players can upload their own), and create the look of your race. The editor has a multitude of options to create an race that suits your taste. You have basic skin choices such as wet scales, dry scales, skin, feathers etc. Different heads can be chosen, number of arms, legs, height of spine etc. Most parts can also be customized further, making it possible to create something very unique. A lot of players go with something distinctly humanoid, while others create crazy beings with four legs, wings and horns.
The wildlife in the game is randomized in appearance and based on the same elements from the editor, so you usually end up being killed by something only a horror writer could conjure up.
Once you are done with this you are placed on a random planet in a random, uninhabited star system.
In the beginning you learn the basics of movement, interface and interaction with the environment etc. Once you have learned the basics, you craft a flag from the resources you gather from the environment and find a suitable spot to build your first city. Resources are a vital component of city infrastructure, so choosing a location in close proximity to a variety of resources is important. When you place the flag you are required to name your city. Naming the first city in a new system also sets that name for the entire system.
Cities are fun to build, but also take time in the early stages. When you are alone, without any NPC or player citizens, you have to manually fetch materials and build each building yourself. This is done through the game's menu interface. However, once the population starts to rise the citizens will fill in the workload for you. Fetching resources is straightforward, as each resource is represented by a graphic symbol. These resources are then combined to construct commodities and materials for buildings. From each type of building you can choose which items to produce and whether or not you want the civilians to do the work for you. Every process in the game has requirements. To make metal armor you need metal. To make metal, you first have to mine some ore. To mine ore, you of course need a mine placed on an ore deposit. Some processes also require specific items to be created such as fitting wrenches, soldering irons or pliers. There are many types of buildings, and a lot of different performed by each of them, and these form the foundation of your economy.
First space trip:
The first trip into space will be in a rocket, because the primary material you need to build Spaceships and Starships can only be found on moons and other harsh-environment planets. Once you obtain that material you can build gravity drives, which means you can build spaceships. But first you need to get to a moon and build a colony. Initially, this requires a lot of planning and gathering of resources before you embark on the journey, but when you actually succeed in going into space, it is a great feeling. Building a moon colony is the same as building a normal city, except that you need to manually transport all of the resources with you until you establish a trade connection with your home planet. You will also have to either import air, or make it yourself on the moon with water. Once you have your mines running on the moon, you can design your first spaceship.
Shores of Hazeron features a design editor which allows you create your own unique looking ship within the limits of your economy and technology level. Each component of the ship is modular and can be placed wherever you like, within a matrix of square and diagonal grid lines, to set out rooms and components for the ship and crew. A functional ship will allow you and your crew to walk around inside it and perform their duties effectively.
Once you build a functioning spaceship/starship, you are ready to take on the galaxy! Almost at least. In order to really play the game, you need to advance your Tech Level (TL). You start at TL1, and progress as high as TL32. A few items are locked until you reach a specific TL, like Transporter Pads for your ships (TL7). In order to reach higher TLs you need money in your cities. For your cities to make money you need taxes. And in order to collect taxes you have to declare a capitol and make your empire official. Once you do that you can either invite other players, or set your "immigration policy" to open. If you are the leader of the empire, you can control every aspect of it, but it also depends on the style of government. A Dictatorship lets you call the shots, while you can be overthrown in a Democratic Empire. Once you reach this stage, the game becomes all about exploring, advancing your technology to build bigger and better ships, colonizing more worlds to get the resources you need, trading with other players, and going into war with your enemies. The galaxy is a big place, and there is plenty to do.
Complexity of Spaceships
Spaceships are a big part of the game, and the developers have done everything they can to make it fun to fly them. As it is now there are several ways to fly spaceships:
Solo: Flying solo is possible in SoH. It is not an easy feat to get from system to system, but you can still do it. The Captain's chair has the ability to open all the other consoles on the ship, making it a perfect place to sit if you want to fly it yourself.
With an NPC crew: This is the most popular way to fly a spaceship. With a crew, all you need to do is give orders. This can easily be done while you are on the ship, or if you are not on it yourself, you can station an Officer on-board to receive and execute the orders.
With a player crew: Other players can join you on your ship and man the ship's stations. You can man the Captain's chair, set a course for a new planet, take the Helm and set the power to 50% while the Engineering crew member fine tunes the engines. The Sensor Officer can scan everything nearby, and the Gunner can keep the weapons on standby, ready to fire. Every console in the ship can be interacted with in some way, even the Transporter pads.
Current bugs and issues
The game is still in a pre-alpha stage, which means there are plenty of bugs and other issues. However, the developer is constantly updating the game.
The following are some of the common bugs:
- Lag. The game suffers from minor to heavy lag constantly. Players near the servers in the US are less bothered with it, but it is mostly an universal truth that the game will lag like hell. Steps are being done to fix this.
- Sometimes when traveling through wormholes, your character can get stuck. This is referred to being "stuck in limbo". When this happens you usually have to wait till a server restart.
- The graphics are placeholders for now, which mean that things like buildings are not solid yet. Spaceships also sometimes disappear when seen from a specific angle.