This month, you will learn more about the creation of our new summer event and a check-in from our Executive Producer on how we are doing on our Roadmap promises.
Camp Western is our new summer event with a focus on authentic ranch life experiences and the dangers of western frontier living! For this event, we’re trying something a little different, as I’m sure you’ve noticed! Here’s a bit of a sneak peek behind the curtain about why and how!
Hey Starfam! This is Bretton Hamilton (They/Them), the Lead Game Designer and mischievous Game Master Bee!
When we started Camp Western, we began by investigating what the Spirit of the West is, and, especially, what the western lifestyle means in Jorvik. Inspired by our previous work, we could think of nowhere more yee-haw or rootin’ tootin’ than Starshine Ranch! Drawing from our own fun and exciting childhood memories, we shared wild stories of discovering wolf tracks while lost in the woods, hiking during a storm, escaping a stampede of cows, and many other adventurous tales (surprisingly, some of which involved life-threatening encounters!) We noticed a common theme among the stories that stuck with us the most—they were filled with danger! So, we paused and asked ourselves, how can we not only add a sense of danger to Star Stable, but also add rewards worth braving that challenge!
Firgrove has high wooden walls because, historically, the first Jorvegian settlers were afraid of wolves. Between the bear cave and a few odd quests showing wolves exist in the area, we haven’t really used the wildlife to change how players interact with this area.
In the spirit of experimentation, we want to explore ‘risk and reward’ gameplay, and also create a festival that leans into what makes Westerns and Summer so exciting and memorable– danger!
Introducing our beasts! Bulgore the Bull, the Bjorn bear family, and the Firgrove wolves!
Unlike beasts of the past, this new generation will pose a threat to anyone who attempts to brave the wilderness in search of treasure! These beasts are not locked behind a quest, but instead, live and exist throughout the area for the duration of the festival! Catching their attention and outrunning them for a short time will cause the bears and wolves to despawn for several minutes, buying you precious time to search the area for goodies!
We spent several weeks prototyping and planning the gameplay and intended interactions! There were a few technical challenges we had hoped to overcome, such as allowing the beasts to collide with fences and obstacles. This would have allowed players to leap over logs and fences to escape a hunt! But unfortunately, we need to do a bit more code work to allow for this kind of gameplay in the future!
This is the first time in a while that we’re trying to add more challenging, long-lasting gameplay that does not exist on a timed schedule like our Winter Festivities or Championships! We hope that the treasures and rewards are worthwhile enough to light a spark of bravery in you!
We’d really love feedback on our beasts! Do you enjoy being hunted by these dangerous beasties? Are the rewards exciting enough to inspire you to enter the wilderness? Would you like to see these beasts and gold nuggets added permanently to the area?
PS: We apologize for the temporary disruption to other quests in Firgrove and Starshine. You’ll have a break from the beasts with the end of Camp Western.
Hello! My name is Karoliina and I am the Lead Content Game Designer here at Star Stable. Today, I would like to share some thoughts about lunging, a form of horse training that we introduced during the Summer Festival.
As you may have noticed, dressage was introduced as part of our Equestrian Festival. With the Summer Festival, our team felt it was the perfect time to explore how we can incorporate lunging into our game. One advantage of our festivals is that they provide us with an opportunity to try something new, gather your feedback, and assess what was well-executed and what needs improvement. This allows us to enhance the player experience, increase the "fun" factor and ensure scalability. Our goal is to make both dressage and lunging available as a form of training in the world of Jorvik, beyond just the festivals.
For quite some time, we have recognized the importance of creating engaging gameplay centered around horses, including various forms of horse training. We wanted to diversify the core activities you can enjoy with your horse. It felt fitting to introduce lunging during the Summer Festival where the activities combined both thrill seeking escapes from the wolves but also assisting Josh, Lisa, Carl and others with chores one would expect to see at the ranch.
To start the process, we delved into what lunging entails in real life. We watched videos, read articles, and even visited a stable where a colleague demonstrated lunging firsthand.
On our way to the stables, we ran into a bit of a tricky situation!
Following that, we analyzed the challenges involved in lunging. How could we translate these real-life challenges into a meaningful and impactful gaming experience? One such challenge was ensuring that the horse takes wide enough circles around the player and moves in the correct gaits. A favorite line that my colleague mentioned around the challenges of lunging was: "the challenge is usually to get the horse to not come in and say, 'I'm done, can we hang out?'" This inspired us to incorporate lunging gameplay where players would need to guide the horse to move in the correct gaits and circle radius. Additionally, we wanted to emphasize that horses are living and breathing creatures, and they may choose to take smaller circles or change gaits on their own. As a player, you need to be prepared to adapt and respond accordingly. We even played around with the idea of making it possible to change directions when lunging the horse or making it so that at times, your trusted horse may choose to ignore your cues... But perhaps that may be for the next iteration.
Lastly, I really hope you get the chance to try out lunging during the Summer Festival. We are eager to hear your thoughts on this new feature and strive to expand and improve it so that lunging can be enjoyed beyond just the festivals. Thank you for taking the time to read this. :)
Howdy y’all wonderful people! It felt fitting to have a big, hearty greeting considering we have been gearing up for Camp Western! Some members of our team also call it the Summer Festival, and I love ‘em both.
My name is May-Iren (You can call me May), and I’m one of the 3D artists that was lucky enough to get to work on making some of the props for this project. I also got to go into our in-house game-engine and paint out things like grass, flowers, rocks, dirt paths, etc., and place out props to make the world look pretty for y’all.
Believe it or not, the funniest task for me this time around was one of the simplest. Putting wheels under the chicken coop! (Have you ever seen a travelling chicken coop?!) I giggled like a madman staring into my computer screen.
A close second was decorating the wolf den area and the shop vendors. Therapeutic!
I’m creative at heart, so I really love being able to focus on the aesthetic and composition of the environment.
Growing up on a farm and often spending my summers in a similar way as on Starshine Ranch, this project was close to my heart and made me miss home! So, I really put all my heart into making this look pretty and cute for you all.
If at least some of that summer magic and atmosphere was able to make it through and into your lives, then I am very happy.
Big hugs, 3D Environment Artist May!
Here we are, the midpoint of 2023 is upon us, and what an exciting ride it's been so far! The second quarter, April to June, has been quite intense and full of updates that have modernized the game with new mechanics, features, and a new avatar. Now, as we cross the halfway mark, it's time to pause and reflect on our journey so far. What's been achieved, what did not go as planned, and what should you look forward to?
My name is Jane Skullman, and I am the Executive Producer for Star Stable Online. If you have read the previous post from me, I've been using this blog to keep you updated on our roadmap and deliveries for 2023. We've already had a check-in after the first quarter January to March, and now it's time for another update on our progress and future plans.
At the time of writing, our new avatar is not yet out, but when you read this, it will have been live for over a month. While I am curious and looking forward to your feedback, I truly hope you're enjoying the new avatar and the enhanced possibilities it offers. We've already initiated discussions about the next steps and are eager to hear more from you through the in-game survey that you can find in the game until the 6th of September.
We also managed to bring you a few new horses, the Lippizaner, the Pintabian, and two new magical horses along with their companion pets. We went through the Wild Weave and ended up in the mythical Devil’s Gap, and you could participate in the epic main quest required to unlock this breathtaking new area. Last but not least, we also released the Rainbow Festival right on schedule.
From the never stop believing layer, we have managed to release everything that we planned for this year. So let’s acknowledge the effort made by the team and recap them once again.
Effortless riding, our improved approach to handling animations where we are using a state machine instead of hard coding. This system has been implemented for all player horses and also in the new player avatar. That is why the avatar now can follow the rhythm of the horse when jumping and everything else is more fluid and realistic. And what you see now is just the beginning.
Horse Progression, a major step in our series of iterations aimed at enhancing your bonding experience with your horse. We're aware of your feedback on the new UI and we plan to continually refine it.
Cheating! Yes, we have taken steps to prevent players from exploiting the game and this is also something we will continue with. We will not go further into detail about the measures taken in order to make it harder for players to exploit it.
Last but not least, the Android version of Star Stable Online is now in Early Access for Sweden and will most likely be extended to Hungary soon. Things are looking good, so we think a worldwide access in early fall is very likely.
In our 'New Layer', we've introduced the lunging feature in the Camp Western event, currently in a prototype stage similar to how dressage was introduced during the Equestrian Festival. A prototype is a way for us, and many other game developers, to try something new and get feedback. If you like it, like most of you did with the dressage, we will spend more time on it and introduce it as a permanent feature in the game.
We're still on track to deliver the first step of the new multiplayer feature, this will most likely happen during the Winter festival this year and it is just the beginning of several new ways where you can play together. Last but not least, the revamp of Hollow Woods is still to come, more info to be revealed later. The option to change names was not part of releasing the new avatar, but it's under development for a possible 2024 release.
Furthermore, we've made progress on the inventory revamp! The first step will be a refactoring (rewrite the source code in order to improve operation without altering functionality) of the inventory system which will make it easier to add possibilities for how you can store things that you have bought, including new items that we don’t even offer today. Even if this maybe sounds super boring and very techy, this allows us to give you so many more options and even new game play. Please let us know which option you would like us to do first:
Customise your stable and/or paddock
New tack for your horse - blanket, ear bonnets, breast plates, etc.
Avatar item slots - like wearing multiple accessories and make-up
New UI functionality and more space in your wardrobe
Enhanced backpack experience
Three additions have been made to the new layer! We have started to add back the navigation arrows for our mobile players. And in order to cater to a wider group of our players, we are not removing the joystick. You as a player can choose between the 2 control options in the settings.
We are also adding a space for remembrance and reflection that will serve as a memorial place for all our loved ones. This is in honour of all players that leave us too soon and was initiated as a special project in remembrance of Violet Flowergarden.
The third addition is to create a region for our Ukrainian players. This new region will be created in steps. The first will be to create a new server in the existing Russian region, the second offers players to move there, and then the third step, after a limited amount of time, will be to split the Ukrainian server from the Russian region and into its own region. More info to come in Aug.
In the upcoming months, we have decided to do less complex projects so we can stabilise (fixing bugs and glitches) the bigger releases during the first 6 months. And if you want to know what bugs have been found and fixed take a look at our bug patch notes.
The Discovery Phase! Discovery for us is where we look at new ideas and how they can fit into the game. It involves identifying challenges to tackle and opportunities to harness, both for you, the players, and us as a company. Not all ideas survive this phase, but rest assured that your interests drive our decisions. Generation 4 horses are currently in discovery, where both breeding and customization has been mentioned. The production hasn’t officially begun for this project since we have much more to explore before deciding what should be part of the scope. Other than gen 4 horses, we're still exploring what magic is to Jorvik and also considering how to enhance the role of pets in the game. We are also exploring how we can improve the onboarding journey for new players, especially on mobile.
While we've accomplished a great deal according to our 2023 roadmap, we've also encountered some things that did not go as planned.
First, I want to mention the retrofitting of tack. This was delayed due to our focus on the new avatar. But rest assured, we've reintegrated retrofitting into our roadmap, and the next breeds are estimated to be out in Q4 this year.
Second, bugs and glitches. Despite extensive testing, some releases have given rise to unexpected challenges. This is due, in part, to the complexity of these large-scale projects that touch multiple areas of our codebase.
However, these challenges are a stepping stone towards a new paradigm of more - more game features, better animations, and enhanced graphics. To offer a glimmer of hope, we faced similar challenges three years ago with our server. At the time, the server had a hard time coping with a much larger number of players and could crash multiple times per week. We made some bold decisions and made several changes to how the network codes operate and today the server is much more stable and can handle a lot more players.
Thank you for reading all the way. Stay tuned for our next blog in August, where our Engine Producer will shed more light on our tech progress and share some exciting news about the transformation of our old engine. We will also share the progress and what is next for your player character.
Thank you for embarking on this exciting journey with us. Here's to another amazing six months!