The NeoKnight Inquirer



Shores of Hazeron


What if I told you that there was a game where you could 3d model your own spaceship, fly to any planet in a fully-simulated galaxy, build an empire of custom cities with everything from breweries to military headquarters, and to top it all off, you could play as a zany alien race? And - all of this - could be in one shared, multiplayer universe?

Well, first you would probably ask me to stop describing a nerd's wet dream from 2015. I mean, we've already seen games tackle some aspects of this, and they all universally failed to deliver the full experience and had to reign it in a little. So far, nobody's quite succeeded in making 'Minecraft In Space', which is what projects like No Man's Sky or Dual Universe hope to be. People are wary of shit like this, now. But unlike the AAA calamities, there's been a game aiming to do this very thing since... 1999! That game would be Shores of Hazeron, and if you haven't heard of it, well...

...that would probably be because Shores of Hazeron is as much of a janky piece of shit as all those other attempts. Let me be clear: I love this game. I'm about to go into detail about it because I love it. But it's not always a fun experience. Back when I started playing, around 2011, just walking around was so choppy and weird that I couldn't get a single friend to play more than five minutes. Nowadays, the ship and city designers rely more on your ability to use CAD software than your ability to strategize. And the game has long since been abandoned by most of its playerbase, due to swapping to a pay-to-play subscription model as a result of high server costs.

The thing that makes Shores of Hazeron stand out is that it was trying to be an incredible space game since far before No Man's Sky was even a twinkle in whats-his-face's eye. Haxus, the game's creator, wanted to do this when fucking Half Life 1 was all the rage. And, you know what? He succeeded, at least by the time the game went public in 2009!

In Hazeron, you can actually visit a multitude of galaxies, with hundreds of thousands of solar systems. You collect resources at every place either through ship modules that collect them, or by settling down and creating persistent cities which mine or craft the resources using their environment. There are lush, green planets...

desolate moons...

harsh lava worlds...

and you can now even land on gas giants!

Of course, once you let the AI crew members pilot your ship, you'll most certainly take at least one or two nosedives into the sun. If you're in a binary or trinary system, it's even more likely! Stars come with wormholes that lead to other solar systems, but you can also just go warpspeed with a regular warp drive.

And, at the center of each galaxy is a supermassive black hole, with wormholes around it that lead to other galaxies.

Hazeron was first released to the public in 2009, and for a while, was free to play. It got pretty popular, at times having over a hundred players online, and there's been a ton of history due to players being able to form empires and wage war against one another. The player-maintained wiki, although mostly there to teach new players the mechanics, has a whole slew of articles about this history. Any veteran player will happily regale you with stories of their exploits in years gone by. I, myself, once took part in a heist of one of Haxus' main ships, stuck some pictures of Garfield on it (you can put framed photos in your ships), threw one of his immortal demiavatars into a gas giant, and then marooned the ship on a moon. Oh, and I did all of that with the leader of the largest empire in the galaxy.

I also made a video about the new, unfinished creature creator.

And drew pictures of the old creatures, a few years ago!

An old drawing of my Fairydogs, with the old creature creator. I love these guys and I love how they'll hold gigantic guns with one arm.

Another very old drawing, of a selection of creatures. The shit you could make (or find randomly generated) in this game was incredible.

I also once did some CLASSIC bug exploitation biz, back when the building designer was new and allowed you to, er... make some large buildings. (Yes, these were the size of planets. Yes, Haxus saw it. It was great.)

I even tried my hand at making some ships - my favorite was a teensy little UFO with an arcade-style downstairs. My larger Mothership design... never got finished, but it was a fun introduction to Blender.

There's an unbelievable amount of content in this game. You can ride a motorcycle out of a ship in orbit. You can scour the universe for maximum quality metal to make the ultimate guns, and then arm your military with them. You can create avatars genetically weighted entirely towards one trait, such as having a very powerful natural weapon or gigantism or lots of HP, and breed them with other avatars over and over in order to create genetic superweapons whose gestation periods may take multiple real-life months.

You can fly, without warp drive, to another solar system, called 'deadheading', even if it also takes real-life months. You can collect particles from stars and use them to return to that solar system with rare warp gates anywhere in the universe. You can create the ultimate ship, one the size of a city, with the most HP, strongest weapons, best shields, ect, and utilize the materials of dozens of star systems in order to create it over the course of weeks. You can fight space monsters with your laser guns.

You can create the perfect interiors for your ships, complete with crew barracks, a functioning bridge, your captain's quarters, your own fucking biodome where you keep alien creatures you've collected.

Or you can create a satanic wall of heads for all the enemies you've defeated.

There's an arena that's basically a holodeck where you can have fake spaceship fights with other players. Stop an asteroid from hitting your planet. Create an extremely powerful genetic bomb that replaces a world's entire population with DNA of your choice. Crash into the sun. Fight npc pirates. Terraform an entire planet into a tiny ball by using many, many explosives. Crash the server by manufacturing like 50,000 helicopters on one planet. Put an actual, functioning Star Trek style transporter room in your ship that really can teleport people around. You can make an alien species that implants babies into corpses, (as soon as it's properly implemented.) You can even kill nazi furries!

I think you get the idea. In Shores of Hazeron, you can do whatever the hell you want, and for once I really mean that literally.

So like. You're probably wondering,

What the hell happened? Why is this game not more popular? I want to be able to fuck a small blue rat guy and do a eugenics. Where are the Shores of Hazeron stans?

The short answer is, look at the fucking graphics.

The long answer is, this game is Dwarf Fortress.

I mean, in a literal sense, one of the guys who worked on Dwarf Fortress did indeed help out with Shores of Hazeron in, like... 2006, or something. But what I really mean is that Shores of Hazeron is a game attempting to simulate an entire universe, for better or worse. Haxus has admitted multiple times to rarely playing video games. Trust me, I've tried to get him to play Spore. The UI is outdated garbage. The graphics are horrendous. There's no soundtrack to speak of, and the main menu is one of the worst I've seen. When I said he started working on this game around 1999, I wasn't kidding - he really did, and he's not exactly a game dev. Haxus made most of his money, apparently, from designing CAD software, which is why the newer ship and building designers feel more like Blender than The Sims.

There are upsides to a man working day-in day-out on his vision as a passion project, and there are downsides. At the end of the day, Hazeron is for Haxus, and nobody else. You can't expect Hazeron to appeal to modern standards. You can't expect it to be free - server upkeep is costly, even with such a low player count, due to the persistent cities and ships. And because Haxus isn't even breaking even, you can't expect him to hire any graphic designers or programmers to help him. Haxus is a cool guy, and he's usually willing to listen to feedback, but much like Dwarf Fortress, the best thing the game could possibly do is stop adding features and start polishing what it has, and that just isn't the vision he has in mind.

I'll always love Shores of Hazeron, but somehow I think I'll always struggle to enjoy it, too. For every step forward, it takes two steps back - as I mentioned, that choppy movement from 2011 was fixed, but the far simpler and more fun ship designer was replaced with pseudo-Blender crap that tests even the most dedicated players. Give it a try, if you'd like; I love seeing new people enjoy this game. The community's pretty friendly these days, and as long as you're willing to put in a little effort, you can put a framed picture of Garfield on God's ship, too. Right next to his pictures of anime tiddies.

Thanks for reading! Check out Hazeron's free trial here. Have fun!


Bonus images!

When I boarded Haxus' ship, I slightly rotated all of his picture frames. And, as mentioned, put up Garfield. And some nice notes on his bridge for him to see. The image of all of the framed pictures up above is actually a picture another user sent me on his ship a year or so later - originally, there were far fewer pictures there. I'm very happy that he kept the Garfield.

Here's the full exterior of that pink ship I showed. Ripped it from Kirby Air Ride, I believe. Underneath is my very first ship - an ice cream cone, of course. My next ship was the bullet bill above, which successfully made it through the wormhole to another galaxy, but the life support was broken, and so I did not get to come with it. I assume after that, it immediately fell into the black hole. Only after all of that was when I shifted my focus to UFO designs.