Some of you might hear this sentence - what have we done - with excitement and some with irony. And that is OK, I love irony and even feedback. So, with this post, I will share what we have done, what did not go as planned, and what is still to come.
My name is Jane Skullman, and I am the executive producer for Star Stable Online. In my last contribution to this blog post, I shared an overview of what we had in store for 2023 and also how we have structured our roadmap and deliveries.
So, let’s start where we left off.
From the foundation layer, we have pretty much followed the plan. We have released some new horses, the Morgans, The Lipizzaner, and 2 new magical horses, some new races, minor quests, and we have retrofitted the Andalusian and the Paso Fino. You are most likely enjoying the Equestrian Festival while reading this. And as I write this, we have just wrapped up the Rainbow Festival, and we are still working on the next story quest, where we will visit the newly created and very longed-for Devil’s Gap area. Don’t miss it; it will be epic.
From the never stop believing layer, we have released the state machine or, as stated in the news, an effortless horse-riding update. This will allow us to have smoother and faster transitions between gaits, and there is no need for longer breaks between jumps. Both of these changes can be experienced in the game already now. Going forward, we can animate and design with this in mind, so we are no longer bound to restricted hard-coded animations we had before, and instead, we can have a tighter collaboration with the character and horse since they can have the same state. Or have the citizens of Jorvik (our NPCs that stand for Non-playable character) move depending on what happens in the environment and so much more. So, a lot of cool things to explore.
And to the question, why did we release this if we knew it came with bugs? It is a super good question. The answer: this update is the first in a series of changes to how you will experience your horse and also the new character. So, if we didn’t release the state machine when we did it, it would also have delayed the Horse Progression that is scheduled for May and the new player character to come out around summer. So, we took the risk and released it with a few bugs, knowing we can hotfix the majority and then, in relation to the upcoming releases, fix the rest of the bugs.
And to say a couple of more things about the new player character, if everything still looks fine, we will give you the new characters during the summer. Right now, we hope to be ready just before we enter into the Rainbow festival. A smaller beta test will be done just before the release with the aim of understanding if there is anything that needs to be adapted and adjusted during the beta or after the release.
So, what about Android? It seems we can have early access in Sweden beginning in May, and this will be our 4th platform where you can play the game. Since I know a lot of you have been waiting for this, and I do understand that it feels like we have taken forever to get it out since the game already is working on the iPhone. I wish it was as easy to just do a copy-paste of the code. But the operating systems, Android and iOS, are not the same, and each system has its own challenges to solve, especially when it comes to performance, meaning memory handling and lag. There are also some differences in how the UI is rendered on each phone that we need to adapt and make sure it works. With that said, despite it being hard and taking some time to get it out, we are quite proud of having the game with cross-play on PC, Mac, iPhone, and now Android devices.
So, what is in the New Layer? You have probably already noticed that we are trying out dressage during the Equestrian Festival. We see this as a smaller prototype, and if you like it, we will take the version we have, including your feedback, and make this an existing system in the game, similar to the races and championships.
As planned, we have also started to work on adding more multiplayer and co-op mechanics to the game. If it continues to go as planned, this will be something we aim to add in the winter festival. Another thing that has started is modernizing the backend service for your character. This will allow you to change your character's name and also open up for some more changes that you can make with your character, but it will not be released in 2023, only worked on for a later release.
Something that has been in the new layer but we didn't share in January is the revamp of...dramatic music...Hollow Woods! The reason why we didn't share this news already in January is that we don't just want to do a graphical update, but we also want to take the opportunity to include more engaging content and things to explore. We want to do justice to the mystical Hollow Woods and also give it meaning and purpose to visit.
The Discovery Layer
When looking into the feedback we got regarding breeding and combine that with our thoughts of the Gen 4 horses we have merged these 2 discoveries into one. With still having in mind that we are exploring ideas and we think that the Gen 4 horses should be the first generation that offer you some customization and uniqueness rather than going all in on breeding. With previous generations we have done graphical updates based on the same system, now we want to update the system instead to put more creative freedom for you as the owner of the horse. This involves how we handle tack, the coat options and the animations.This full Discovery wont start until after summer so don’t expect to see this in game during 2023. But please let us know what you think the Gen 4 horses should include already now so we can include this in our discovery.
At this point in the game you as a player have used magic a number of times, and your opponents too. But do you know where this magic actually comes from? And how that magic correlates to the magic of the Dark Riders and Pandoria? We are currently overseeing how the in-game representation aligns with the context of the lore! So we will explore the magic from several aspects in order to have our magic to be visually compelling so you as a player understand where its sources come from. We will let the power from Aideen guide us on this mission.
"Since Aideen gave up her physical form to give the riders and horses on Jorvik the magical bond, its very unlikely we ever get to see her true form. Some still believe its a girl on horse, but others talk about a magical being half girl, half horse. And when riders and horses form the bond, Aideen is whole again."
What I hoped should have started as of now is the inventory revamp, this got delayed since we wanted to react to the feedback we got from the Horse Progression Beta Test. And since this is the same people, designers that are good with features and system, UI designers and also Gameplay Programmers we can’t start this until the Horse Progression feature is ready to be released. But soon, so it is not taken off from the roadmap only delayed.
Another area that got delayed is the next step for Horse Bonding, the discovery for horse prestige and personality. Unfortunately this will most likely not happen until 2024 since we want to have full focus on the inventory revamp instead.
We also had planned to do another Beta test of your new character in March, this was postponed, but as mentioned above we will do both the Beta and the actual Release before closer to summer.
Then we have an initiative that we have added to the roadmap, which is an initiative that goes across the whole company. To have more focus on bugs. It is not that we are not fixing bugs today but we do want to be more transparent and informative about what bugs we are aware of, what bugs we are fixing and in what release they will be out in. And yes we have failed you in this area both when it comes to the information but also the fixes themselves. So as a start we will bring back a new version of the Bug fix log on Starstable.com and also do social media posts with the latest bug fixes. The Bug fix log on the web will only be available in English to ensure that we can deliver Bug fix logs on a regular basis.
Then there are some things that have been on the wishlist for a very long time but for various reasons never been given time or seen as not possible to do. Horse Pages are one of those areas! But during a passion week some web developers took the opportunity to create the start, and with that our Horse pages were born. If you haven’t seen them yet, go visit and read about your favourite horse, where in Jorvik you can buy them and what coat variations they come in.
And we have also redesigned the desktop launcher and added some new features to it, you can now see your Star Coin balance directly in the launcher and also buy stable care.
We also have a new tool to use in order to easily capture your feedback, and this was an area that was seen as impossible to do due to legal reasons. The ingame survey tool is a very longed-for tool that some of you were part of testing when we asked for championship feedback. We will do more of this and also extend it to more languages than english.
I will sign off in the same way I did last time with sharing that I look forward to your reactions and feedback, where it is possible we will adapt and adjust. Sometimes we can do that fast and sometimes it takes some time. And in some cases we decide not to do the change at all.
I will be back in August with a new update on how we are doing.