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With the release of Ultima Online in 1997 and while I was wrapping up the development of DEMISE, I began designing the next game I wanted to create. A major commercial title that would push the envelope and set a precedence for products to come. I created it as a codename which became known as the title itself: HORIZONS. Working on a design specification throughout 1998, wanting to make a true MMOG where thousands of people could play together in a virtual world, my thoughts on achieving this goal were reaffirmed when I saw the beta of Everquest at E3 in 1998.
I founded Artifact Entertainment in 1999 solely for the purpose of building HORIZONS even though DEMISE was still in its final stages of Development. I was very excited. I also wanted a change of scenery. I had grown tired of the Seattle area dreariness, and wanted to build HORIZONS elsewhere. In October of 1999 I moved to Scottsdale, AZ and began the process of fundraising for HORIZONS.
By December of 2000, I had raised roughly $6,000,000 from a combination of Publisher, VC, and Angels. We used a “prototype” presentation to raise this capital, showing some of our capabilities with people who had come on board. We secured offices in Mesa and began to build the team.
Unfortunately, I bit off a lot more than I could chew. As a 28-year old CEO, I was completely unprepared for the conflicts that would come up, as well as the development-related challenges that were ahead. While I had built the design-related foundation and hired a core team, progress was not taking place, and drama began to come up within the workplace. Lacking the experience in solving such issues, I found myself in a poor position of being able to salvage things. I departed on July 21st, 2001.
The HORIZONS that ended up shipping was a different product entirely, based loosely on the very aggressive original design specification I created.