Community Update - Communication, Coding, Horse Artwork, and the V2 Transfer
In our previous news post we encouraged you to give us feedback on our communication. During the past days a lot of questions, concerns, and wishes were brought to our attention and we hope today’s news can shed some light on those. Before we get to that, though, we briefly want to update you on our development progress, which will already cover a few of the issues you raised.
🤖 Coding & Development 🤖
V2 Transfer: Freezer and City Map
Today, the freezer and the city map have been transferred to V2! The freezer is now finally stacking vials, as well as it shows the tagline and horse's chip number now! We couldn’t add a delete function for them yet, though. The city map has received a small addition: the links to all of its places have been added in text under the map in the hope that this may be more convenient for our mobile players. This is an interim solution - we plan to redesign the entire game for mobile use in the future and will then come up with a better alternative.
Roadmaps & Our Plans for the Future
In the last news post we announced our plan to use roadmaps to visualise the V2 transfer and our future plans. We found a software (Notion) to tackle this task and our V2 transfer roadmap is almost done! It includes all the V2-transfer work the dev team has to do, are working on, and have already finished. Another wish of yours is a visualisation of our future plans including feedback to your ideas - which ones we can and plan to implement and which ones not and why. We have started working on this but it will take longer to publish. It’s a huge amount of information to break down comprehensively.
What are the coders working on next?
⚈ Slowness Bug: Many players have reported that some game pages - mostly V2 and especially the vet page - load painfully slowly for them. We have an idea what may cause it and since this is a big problem, our coders started working on it right away. It is sensitive work that needs to be done carefully, therefore we don’t know when you can expect this issue to be solved.
⚈ Western Reining: After the update of the Reining competition calculations in September our plan was to collect community feedback about the changes, then update the calculations again, until we find a balanced system of justified winners and a surprise element. Once we found this balance it will be much easier to transfer it to the formula of the other disciplines, too. We had really hoped to do our second update of the Reining calculations soon after the first one, but a lot of unexpected bug fixing has kept our coders busy during the 2 days a week they work for us. This week, we want to pick up the work on the formula again.
⚈ V2 Transfer: We will probably rewrite the market pages next, but we cannot confirm this for certain just yet.
Recently Fixed Bugs
⚈ Player profile bugs & issues: We have completed the improvements to the new V2 player profiles based on your feedback. We know it’s not perfect but think it works reasonably well for the time being, until a proper redesign of the game happens for an official mobile version.
⚈ Delete player account: Some players had trouble deleting their account and ran into a 500 Error, this should no longer happen.
⚈ Player Profile: Selecting "Open in New Tab" actually kept opening in the same tab of your page.
💬 About Communication, Horse Artwork, and the V2 Transfer 💬
We’d like to dedicate the main portion of this update to answering your recent questions and concerns. We will try to address all that has been brought to our attention lately.
Why are there things you don’t tell us?
We try to communicate as thoroughly and transparently about the development of the game as we can. If something is left out of the news there are two possible reasons: it could be that we can't reveal or address it yet because of internal plans. But it can also happen that a detail is forgotten, or we did not anticipate something that the community is wondering. Many players have been dissatisfied with our recent communication. When we don’t address a specific issue or we seem too vague, please know that we don’t mean to taunt you. We intend to give you all the information that is important to you.
Please feel encouraged to speak up and ask for clarification under the news if they leave you wondering! Writing your question under a news post allows us to see and answer it. We always keep an eye on the comment section and try to answer all questions there. If it’s something we can explain, we will, and if not we can at least clarify that we cannot reveal details yet. The news area is currently our central information sharepoint and we recommend using the news and their comment sections to stay in the loop. In Discord and the forum, player questions and information can be lost in the constant flow. But you are welcome to tag a community manager in Discord so that they can answer once they’re online.
We are transparent in that we try to give you detailed and honest explanations of our decisions, progress, and shortfalls. Sometimes we leave out details, but not to cover things up or to be purposefully annoying. At times, it is because we are planning a surprise. But usually we want to avoid a mistake we made in the past: communicating things too early and ending up making promises we can’t keep. Game development is a huge organisational act and lots of factors (artists, coders, other plans, time, money, …) are constantly changing and influencing each other. To make sure that we can back up our words, we sometimes have to keep things from you until we are absolutely sure we can make them happen.
Something we generally don’t announce is the exact time of DP sales. We may give vague hints but no dates get revealed in advance. We understand your wish to plan ahead, but from the perspective of a company it is better not to reveal dates of such recurring events. Our goal with this practice is not to make your lives harder. We try to have sales every once in a while so that our players have a good chance to catch one.
Why don’t we get weekly news posts?
Some players were disappointed by our announcement to publish a news post at least every second Wednesday as they hoped for more frequent updates. What’s crucial here is the phrase “at least”. We want to establish a minimum to count on, adding onto that is always an option.
But we are a small team and most of us only work 4 - 8 hours a week on Horse Reality. There isn't always weekly progress to our projects and the more news we write the more often we have to repeat the phrase “still working on X”. Then players may grow bored of the news and stop reading them, thereby missing important details once they get dropped. Creating these posts also costs time and the more we work on communicating what we’re doing, the less we actually get done. We hope to find a balance to keep you informed with a manageable workload for the team.
Why didn’t all breeds get colour updates in the birthday surprise?
We can imagine it was disappointing that our birthday update didn’t hold surprises for all of our players. Although we explained the reasons for this in the original post, the recent feedback has shown this was not informative enough to answer all questions and concerns. Most of the breeds that did not receive new variations will get a new greyscale in the future and we didn’t want to put such strain on our artists: any coats we add now would need to get redone for the new greyscales. Some of those breeds still got new variations because they hadn’t received any new artwork since their introduction back in 2013 and their new greyscale is still quite far into the future. That’s a long time to go so it seemed fair to us to give them some love.
Why didn’t we make a list of which breeds will and won’t get a new greyscale? That ties in with what we wrote above about transparency. There are things we can’t disclose because they lie too far in the future or are influenced by too many factors to make a definite, public decision now. We hope the development roadmaps we’re currently working on will bring more light into these plans. But if your favourite breed didn’t receive any new variations, it’s most likely that we have other plans lined up for it. In turn, some breeds that got new variations now might still receive a new greyscale in the future.
Why did some breeds get more new colours than others?
We tried to even out the total effort spent on our breeds: of the breeds that received new coats, those that got more variations than others were in most cases the ones that had fewer coats in total. On a few occasions, our artists had so much fun that they decided to make more coats than we had planned. Every single coat was drawn with love and attention. Some of you were wondering why the new coats were more saturated than the older ones. This is due to differences in art style: our previous artists preferably used softer tones while the current artists try to closely match the colours in reference pictures.
How we announced these new coats left some of you unhappy. We listed which breeds received new colours but didn’t reveal details. Our intention was to keep up the surprise of finding them on your own, but we failed to anticipate a problem: some players spent lots of currency on buying and artificially ageing horses to find the new coats. In breeds which received only a few, this could mean players went on to find more colours when in reality there was none left to discover. It was never our intention to mislead you and we apologise for the frustration this has surely caused.
Missing Colours & Genetics in General
We are constantly collecting missing colours and genetics for our next round of foundation horses with the help of our researcher and players. Recently we have created a thread in which players can suggest horse coat colours. If you feel like something specific is lacking right now, please let us know in there! Keep in mind though that we only add colour genes that are found in a breed in real life - proof is always appreciated.
Some colours we cannot add until the greyscales get redone due to their current way of working. Others require the V2 transfer to be complete, because only then we can expand our genetics system. We hope the development roadmaps will bring more clarity to these issues, as far as it is possible.
To Sooty, or Not To Sooty?
Brace yourselves - we found out that our first researcher had a specific way of adding sooty in some breeds. The gene seems to be floating around in those breeds but is invisible in terms of appearance. To figure out exactly what is going on, we will be diving into all our existing breeds. We hope that you understand our inability to give more details about this for now. Before we can properly add sooty to breeds that currently don’t (seem to) have it, we need certainty of what is going on, in order to find an appropriate solution.
Are you working on new features?
No, we are putting all our efforts into finishing the V2 transfer as quickly as possible. Previously, we added new features to a page as it got transferred, such as the “select-all” button for competitions and shows. But we changed strategies - now, whenever we transfer a page, we really only rewrite its code without majorly changing how it works. Sometimes we add small tweaks like a stacking function to the freezer. But we used existing code from the inventory for this, which already stacked items. The addition of entirely new features (e. g. an ability to sell semen vials) would require our coders to write from scratch, taking away their valuable time from progressing the V2 transfer.
There is a long FAQ explaining our change in strategies and many other details of the V2 transfer and coding, found in the bottom part of this newspost. The aforementioned roadmaps will hopefully help you to keep track of the V2 progress and to envision our plans for the game once the transfer is done. We soon want to start utilising the Staff Sharepoint area in the forum to collect such information in a central place, rather than having it spread over several news posts.
Why do you add new artwork instead of focusing fully on the V2 transfer?
Many players ask why we bring new breeds and colours into the game, which is often assumed to eat up a lot of funds, instead of using all available money for more dev time. They fear that we may only seek to attract new players rather than tending to the needs of our current community. But in reality, an artist is by far cheaper than a coder. For example, our expense for creating 1 greyscale barely equates to 1 hour of coding time. Halting the creation of new artwork would not noticeably speed up the V2 transfer. At the same time, the transfer is a slow process and meanwhile we can’t add new code features, which already makes for quite a boring game experience. Since we can add new breeds without affecting the V2 transfer, it is what we do to at least bring something new to the game. The next pair of upcoming breeds are feral, and their addition will bring us closer toward completing the game: it will allow us to open more wildlife parks and establish their NPCs in the Horse Reality world.
Coding projects are where we cut back to speed up the V2 transfer. For example, many players have requested an advent calendar for Christmas. That’s something we really would have loved to do and even brainstormed. In the end we decided against it because it would have required a lot of precious coding time, which currently should be invested in the longer-term game development. It is highly likely that we may not have a new april fools event in 2021 for these reasons.
Don’t new breeds and colours require coding work?
Most artwork can be added to the game without coding. A CMS (content management system) was built in the beginning of the game to add new artwork to the system. It’s kind of like creating a WordPress website - you don’t have to code but can update content on your website. First, Deloryan and the artist upload the image files and then connect them to the genetics. This gets done manually and is sensitive to human error. It takes some time if special colour genes are involved. Otherwise, it can normally be copy-pasted from existing breeds and then adjusted. On our test server the moderating team tests the new contents to spot wrong connections or failed image uploads. Once everything seems to be working well, it can be transferred to the live game which also doesn’t involve coding. Because no coders are involved in this process they are free to work on their regular tasks.
The Thoroughbreds are a rare example where a new breed would require coding work since we currently only have four white spotting genes in the game (w3, w10, w19, w21) and they have way more. Since those genetic variations are not in our code, they are not in our CMS, which is why we are only able to add this breed with a full set of genetics after the completion of the V2 transfer when our coders are available for other tasks.
🤖 Other News 🤖
Our Discord Moderator DragonRider (also known as Hobi) will be leaving our team as of today.
“Hello HR players!
I will keep this as short as I can! This is my official message to the discord community that from now onwards I will be stepping down as a moderator. This decision has not been made lightly, but there are some good reasons!
Firstly, I've recently changed jobs to a full-time position, and in March I begin my Honours course at university. Being a moderator takes a bit of time, and I don't think I will have any spare time, so it's best for the team that I give up my place for someone with some hours to spend! Secondly, it's become clear recently that I personally have had some clashes with the community, for which I'm incredibly sorry. I'd like to clarify that if I made anyone uncomfortable, it was never my intention. I sometimes take comments about Horse Reality personally, which I realise is my mistake, as I'm sure nobody means to criticize me when they have a comment about the game. I hope I can mend fences with anyone who felt wronged, as from now on I will simply be a player like you. I will still be around from time to time, and if anyone would like help with anything about the game, I'm more than happy to offer it.
And to the HR team, this has been an awesome opportunity and you have all taught me so much and helped me improve as a person. I will miss it, but it's for the best! Good luck to you all, and I can't wait to see where you take HR in the future.”
Dear DragonRider, the entire team would like to thank you for all the work you have done! We will miss you dearly and hope to see you around ❤️
Edited Birthday Livestream Video Online!
As promised, the edited version of our birthday livestream is now online! Adding subtitles proved more tricky than we thought, but we are still planning to do that.
Discord Event: We’re playing Skribbl.io!
Until this upcoming Friday, at 01:00 HR Time ( 1am CET / 7pm EST) you can sign up for our community event this weekend. After this time all open spots will be free for all. We would love to have a fun time with you! All information about it was posted here in our Discord.
We hope this has given you plenty of information and answers to all of your questions. In case there is anything you would like to know, please feel free to leave us a comment down below!
We wish you all a happy Black Friday Weekend!
Your Horse Reality Team