Star Stable August Blog: Mustang, Tech, & Player Character

Hope summer has treated you well so far! August comes loaded with great topics! Let’s dig in!

August 2023


By Kyly Sheldon (Senior 3D artist), Pauline (Animator), Ludvig Andersson (Animator), & GM Rose (Community Manager)

Hello StarFam!

My name is Kyly, and I'm a senior 3D artist at Star Stable. I was the lucky fish who got to work on the new Gen 3 Mustang. What an exciting breed to work on! Images of the American West with rolling grasslands and wild horses filled my mind. Researching them was amazing. So many dramatic photos of stallions battling it out, youngsters bucking and playing, or herds just galloping at full tilt. They are a formidable force – so strong, intelligent, beautiful, and tough, with a family bond to rival most.

It was a lot of fun to try to work out exactly what our mustang would look like, as mustangs vary so much in the wild. It’s not like there is a breed standard with specifications to follow! After many days falling down a mustang-shaped hole, filled with community feedback, mustang fan pages/websites, and Google images galore, I emerged – bleary-eyed, but victorious! I had a clear picture of what the essence of the mustang was and, most importantly, what it would look like. 

Next up – transform those ideas into reality. Modeling commenced in Autodesk Maya (my 3D software), and some spiffy manes were made to complement the mustang’s wild spirit. Once that was completed, the very in-depth task of creating the grayscale was tackled. This is a long process with many discussions and reviews within the team to get the muscle definition and other little details as accurate as possible. When testing in the game, I like to make placeholders for all my coats so that everything is set up nicely and early in the process. This takes the form of a rainbow since a row of grey horses isn't as much fun 😛

Then onto my favorite part – coat variations! Oooooh! So many possibilities. The sky was the limit! So we asked you, the community, for coat suggestions. Thank you for the input! Many of your suggestions made it into the final selection and materialized in Adobe Substance Painter, my texturing software.

Along the way, on all our horse projects, we always encounter some pretty amusing bugs. The mustang was no different. There was the freaky face of horrors, the "impressive" bridle collection, and even the curious case of the missing mane and tail. At one point, our mustang was also steaming from the nostrils wherever he went, regardless of the weather; the poor thing was clearly overheating. Swift action was taken to de-steam our toasty friend, and normal temperatures resumed once more.

Now that our mustang has regained control of his skull, located his missing mane and tail, agreed to wear only one bridle at a time, and returned to normal body temperature, he is ready to make new friends and go on new adventures in Jorvik! 


Hi everyone! I’m Pauline, one of the Animators working at Star Stable Entertainment 🙂

For the past few months, I’ve had the great pleasure of working on the Mustang Gen 3!
I am truly fascinated by this breed that has such a beautiful history.

I have been animating a few gaits of the Mustang, keeping in mind that this horse would be more of a Ranch Horse. For example, in the walk and trot you can feel its willful and relaxed spirit through the neck and head movements.

Also, if you take a look at the Idle animations, you can also feel its wild, playful soul.

And finally, I had the honor of working on the Special Move animation, also known as the Bucking. This was a really fun move to animate, the challenge was to show the strength of the horse without it looking mean. So we studied “happy buckings” of horses that they sometimes do in real life: Have you ever seen the excitement of horses entering a new pasture? This is the kind of mood we were looking for! 😀

I hope you have a wonderful time riding the new Mustang all over Jorvik!

(The animations shown above were still a work in progress)

Hi, I’m Ludvig, an animator at Star Stable. Getting the opportunity to work on the Mustang was great, since I’m a fan of an animated movie about a certain Mustang horse. 

On this project, I was responsible for the faster gaits, the rearing, and the braking animations. They were really fun and challenging to animate. I looked at the wild horses from the plains of the Americas for inspiration in figuring out how to capture the spirit of this wild and free breed. We realised that wind in the mane would play a part, and that’s not entirely easy, let me tell ya. A flow through the body was also key, which was a challenge coming from the very trained and bulky Lipizzan. During production, I kept getting the feedback that it should have more of a wave, starting from the head that ripples through down to the tail, showing force, but in a relaxed way.

The Community’s Contribution to the Mustang

Hello! My name is Joanna, also known as GM Rose, and I am SSO's Community Manager (CM). I have been privileged to participate in many horse productions since I started at Star Stable, even before I became CM. It is so exciting that today we have the community even more involved in the decision-making of what the horse should be, and it all started with the Mustang! 

The Mustang is a super popular breed; we have seen so many of you saying that you want us to update the breed to Gen 3. As usual, we had some of our Game Masters lurking around, hoping to find your expectations for the horse, something we do regularly. However, doing this quietly and waiting to share our plans with you makes the production process slightly restrictive. We can only analyze what we're able to find, and with some breeds, that means not much to analyze, while others come with so many different opinions that it's almost impossible. So this time, we decided to ask you directly! We created a story on our Global Social Media where we announced that we had started the production of the Mustang and would love to know your expectations. There was so much to read; it was almost impossible to get through it all! But it gave us a better understanding of what you want to see in the Gen 3 Mustang. 

As a follow-up, we published a post on our Global Social Media, sharing the coat colors the team decided to go with, along with other findings like animations and style. From that post, we received even more requests for coat colors, with one being highlighted the most: the Buckskin. It was forwarded to the team, and they discussed and decided that there was time to add an eighth color to the mix. Voila, buckskin was added and announced in a story shortly after the post was published! 

Also, when we post a story, we include a hashtag specifically for each breed. That hashtag is for you to use in case there are even more things you would like to share with us! 

You might have noticed that this was only the beginning. We have asked for your expectations for the Dartmoor Pony, Dutch Warmblood, and Ardennes, too! From now on, we will regularly ask the community what they would like to see in a breed as we get close to starting the production of a horse. By doing this, we can be more open with you about what up-and-coming horses there are, gather your expectations well in advance, and give you a sense of when the horse will be released. 

Will we continue to do this with just stories and posts? We don’t know yet. We will continue investigating the best ways to gather your expectations, so you will most likely see this change and evolve. 

Before I leave you here, I wanted to give you some information regarding retrofitting! Now that the new player character is out, the team in charge of retrofitting can continue their work.The first is already coming out in September! We can’t say how many retrofits will happen this year quite yet, but we aim to do more than one! 

Behind the Screens : The Unseen Work of Technical Enhancement

By Ali Farha (Sr. Technical Producer)

Greetings, Star Stable Adventurers!

As you saddle up for your latest content and make new friends along the way, we're here in the background, ensuring your Star Stable journey is as magical as possible. Today, I want to discuss something we're tackling behind the scenes: technical debt.

After a week of fun and play, your room needs tidying up, and our game also needs a cleanup. Sometimes, in our excitement to bring you new adventures, we put some housekeeping tasks aside. We’ve been rolling up our sleeves and doing the necessary tidying up!

Over the next few years, while we continue to bring you exciting updates, we'll also be working on this cleanup, ensuring we can create even better experiences for you in the future.

What is Technical Debt? 

You know when you're drawing a picture and your colored pencils aren't sharp? The picture turns out okay, but it could be even better with sharp pencils. In the world of game development, 'technical debt' is similar to using those unsharpened pencils. When we're excited to deliver new adventures to you, we might use 'unsharpened' parts in our game's code. While it helps us bring new features faster, we need to go back and 'sharpen' these parts over time for a smoother game. Another aspect of 'technical debt' is our game's compatibility with various devices. Over time, Star Stable has continued to support even very old devices that aren't supported by their manufacturers anymore. While we're proud of this commitment, it can slow down and limit our ability to introduce cool, advanced features. For example, currently we are supporting OpenGL 2.1 (released in 2006) and we have 3.3 (released in 2010) as a minimum but, to offer the best gameplay and bring you exciting new features, we've decided to gradually sunset support for these legacy devices, and set the 4.3 (released in 2012) as the minimum during next year. But don't worry! We're also expanding Star Stable globally on Android, giving players with older devices a new way to continue their adventures. We've ensured that this will affect only a tiny percentage of our players. By addressing these issues - taking time to 'sharpen our pencils' and updating our device support, we're taking significant steps to reduce our technical debt and improve your Star Stable experience!

New Things Are Still Coming

Even though we're doing some cleanup, we're also working on fun new stuff. Sharpening our pencils makes our picture even more colorful and bright! Our game engine is in top shape and ready for action.

Right now, we're working on four cool things:

  • A Smooth-Sailing System: Actor Streaming system which operates behind the scenes like a wizard casting spells to keep everything running smoothly. It's all about making sure your game runs smoothly and works well, no matter which device you're using. Maintaining a smooth and stable game is always our top priority!

  • A Fancy New Look: Early next year, our artists are getting a new UI (User Interface) tool to make Star Stable's screens and menus look fresher and even more fun!

  • A Magical Makeover: We're giving our game a huge visual makeover with refactoring our rendering system. This will let us add fun visual features like changing weather, better lights, fluffy clouds, and even changing day and night!

We're super excited about all these improvements. They're going to make your Star Stable adventures even more magical!

How Can You Help?

You're a big part of our Star Stable team! If something in the game doesn't seem right, let us know. Your keen eyes help make Star Stable even better.

Your feedback is like a treasure map, guiding us to make improvements. This blog is to reassure you that we're working hard to make Star Stable the best it can be. Your feedback helps us get there!

So, keep exploring and stay tuned for all the exciting things coming. Thanks for helping us make Star Stable great. Happy adventuring!

Player Character Update

By Marie-Cécile Jacq (Producer)

Hello folks! It's been two months since the new character was released, and we're excited to share some more information with you and talk about what is in discovery to be the next step for the character. And we really want to hear your thoughts and ideas, so we'll be running an in-game survey in the first week of September that will be part of the discovery and determining what the next steps are. 

Before moving into what will come, we just want to share that it has been amazing to see how you've been experimenting with new personas, hairstyles, and makeup since the release. So we truly believe that working together in this and evolving the character as a joint mission will bring joy to all of us and make Jorvik an even more magical and beautiful place to be in. 

Since the release at the end of June, we've been focusing on fixing critical bugs, graphical glitches, and making the character more stable. We're almost done with this post-release phase, and we're ready to discuss what's next. We have some easy things we can do without developing new code or mechanics, such as introducing new types of clothes, hairstyles, and makeup. The Birthday Festival  is just around the corner, so you can expect some new stylish looks to treat yourself with.

We know that many of you have been asking for features like sliders in order to customise your character's body. This is a feature that requires more performance than we currently have capacity for and adding them can also be challenging for players that have devices with drivers and OS that is no longer supported by the supplier. Our Engine Producer has shared that we're making several changes to the engine to use more modern graphical techniques in order to improve the games performance. However, there are limitations when it comes to supporting outdated technology from suppliers, which means that some players with very old devices may no longer be able to play. But with that being said, sliders are one of the options we are looking into. Exactly when and how this will happen is not yet decided. The survey results and engine performance will play a role in determining when and how this feature will be implemented.

Other things that we are looking into, and to some extent are already being prepared for, include: adding more animations for both the horse and the character, a mix’n match for the character face instead of using the presets, skin marks like scars, tattoos, birthmarks, etc., a color picker for eyes, skin tone, and brows, a new hair rig that allows for more complex hairstyles, new clothing meshes, and new item slots in the character sheet so you can wear multiple accessories at the same time.

So what is next? To decide our next steps, we need to consider multiple aspects of development, such as which features depend on other projects, limitations in performance, and the notion that we want to deliver new things often rather than waiting another 2 or 3 years for a big release. This will most likely mean that we will only deliver one new update at a time. So, with all of the above aspects in mind, we want to make sure we're focusing on the things that matter most to you and that is why we want to start with a survey in order to prioritize the right things. 

Thank you so much again for your feedback, critique, and ideas. Even if we can’t fulfill all of your wishes, we read and collect them all. We see creating the future of your character as a joint effort, and we will try to be as transparent as possible along the way - with opportunities and challenges alike.