Community Update - Big Changes! Results of the Strategy Meetings, New Rollover Time, & Team Changes

Wednesday, Mar 24 at 13:15

Dear Community! Today we’ve got big announcements and we hope you’re as excited as we are about them: We can finally share the results of our strategy meetings with you! Besides this, there are some organisational things and team changes to talk about.

🔥 Focus Shift: From the V2-transfer to Gameplay Improvements! 🔥

In January, we let you know of our planned strategy changes. For over a year, we’ve been focusing on the transfer of our game to a better coding framework called V2, and by now the majority of game pages are written in this new code. While necessary, we understand that the transfer is a tedious process, and are deeply grateful for how patient our community has been during this period.

Over the past months, many players voiced concerns. Some of you were getting bored, while others were getting frustrated by the lack of finished features. We have heard you and understand that our community needs a break from the V2-transfer. Therefore, this year will bring a shift of focus!

Starting with the strategy sprint in February, the Horse Reality team has been holding regular strategy meetings during the first quarter of this year. In those meetings, we talked about our long-term visions for the game, the current problems standing in their way, and what our next steps should be. Finally, we are ready to share our plans with you!

This year we will focus on gameplay improvements again. We will mostly focus on pages that are already written in V2, or can be written in V2 straight away, and will do our best to finish the base of the game. We will add quality-of-life features along the way, too.

P.S.: If you’re new and wondering what in the name of pixel ponies a V2-transfer is, you can read an FAQ about it here (although some of that information is outdated by today’s news).

🔥 Future Directions: Next Development Steps 🔥

We want to involve our community in our development process and communicate our plans openly and transparently. This also means: The following plans are all work-in-progress and may be subject to change. We will realise them step-by-step and the order, ideas and details may change throughout that process. We’re sharing them now so that you know what to expect and can weigh in before we make any impactful changes.

Several of the ideas you will see down below have been brought up by you, our wonderful community, in our ideas board on the forum. Thank you so much for your wonderful additions! ✨

Short-Term Focus: Quality-of-Life (QoL) Improvements

The following quality-of-life improvements on V2 pages take relatively little coding time. Therefore, we can make them happen fairly quickly.

Player profiles will get a “Sales'' tab that automatically lists all horses a player is currently offering on the market. With its URL players can link directly to their sales.
Notifications will get sorted by “unread first” and have a “read all”-button This should make it easier to deal with big amounts of incoming notifications.
⚈ You will get the option to add public notes to your own horses which will be visible for any onlookers.
✅ The bank history will be visible for 7 days instead of refreshing daily, allowing you to keep better track of your recent finances.
⚈ The bank history and DP history will get categories. In the future, this will allow for various overviews. Our plans aren’t very elaborate yet and bound to expand later on.
✅ A background preview area will allow players to try out different backgrounds for their horses before deciding about a purchase.
❌ It will be possible to buy FT and WT packages with DP. [Update: This plan was changed and will not come within the forseeable future.]

Short-Term Focus: Premium Account Improvements

To be completely honest with you - players’ frustration with our slow development shows in our DP sales. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle: the less money players spend each month, the slower our development progresses the following month. To break this cycle, we want to make premium membership more attractive without adding pay-to-win features. Our plans will again focus on V2 pages with relatively little coding time requirements.

✅ Premium players will receive a free background credit for each month of premium membership they buy. They can trade this credit at the background preview area, once that gets added, for a free background (1 use) of their liking.
✅ Premium accounts will have the option to use an animated (gif) avatar.
✅ Premium players will be able to choose from differently coloured profile themes.
✅ Premium accounts will get a badge or icon to make them distinguishable from regular players.
⚈ Premium players will get the possibility to add hidden notes to their horses. Only the owner of a horse can see those, but they stay with the horse when it gets sold. [Update: Our team decided that it is better if the notes get deleted each time a horse is sold. We will announce that in a new news post but wanted to note it here to avoid any confusion later.]
❌ Premium players will be able to colour code their stable blocks to find them more quickly on the horses overview page. [Update: This plan was changed and will not come within the forseeable future.]

Long-Term Focus: Adding Companies

When our team sat down to decide which features we should be working on next, our list of options was endless. To set priorities, we need a long-term goal that then determines the order of our next steps. Companies are a perfect candidate: we need to add them back to the game at some point, they will bring fun, stimulate the economy, and add other possible solutions to various current gameplay problems. But much has to happen before we can add them. It would be pointless, for example, to add a farmer now while food has essentially no in-game purpose. Again, we will focus on adding game features that can be coded on V2 pages and pave the road towards implementing companies in the future:

🥕 Food & bedding will matter 🥕
Currently, all horses are cared for with the buttons on the “Summary” tab of their profile. It doesn’t use up resources: clicking the feed button feeds a horse, but without it taking a square hay bale from your inventory. This will change. We will add a food page where you can assign a diet to each horse, e.g. you assign that your horse “Hanneighbal” eats haylage. On his profile page, the feed button will then display the image of haylage and clicking it takes one haylage from your inventory. If your inventory runs low, there will be an easy option on the food page for buying items in bulk. We plan to add food, treats, supplements, and bedding this way. We are not sure yet about water.

Tack will deteriorate
Similar to the food page, we will add a tack room where each horse can easily be assigned its own saddle, pad, etc. With each use (training, competing), tack will deteriorate. This adds realism and gives the future blacksmithing-and-saddle making career a guaranteed purpose. It will be possible to repair tack (for now with the click of a button, later you’ll have to go to a company). The main challenge will be to balance out how quickly the tack deteriorates so that it won’t become an annoyingly frequent chore.

🛍️ Item Trade Market 🛍️
To allow a more flexible economy, we want to add the option to trade tack, backgrounds, and semen vials at the market.

🔥 Open Questions 🔥

Our change of strategy opens up a few questions as well:

One concerns the release of the Thoroughbreds. Last summer, it was determined in a community poll that they would only be released once all their colour genes can be added. Since this requires additional coding, at least those game areas using genetics (horse profiles, breeding page, laboratory) need to be written in V2 first. When we held the poll, our strategy was to finish the V2-transfer in one go. Now that the strategy has changed, so has the anticipated timeline for the transfer. It was never possible to give a time estimate and it still is not, but we must assume that the release of Thoroughbreds with their full genetics will take longer due to the changed strategy. We aren’t quite sure yet how to go about this: the poll results were clear at the time, but the conditions have changed. We would love to hear your input!

You may also be wondering about the club- & breed-specific competitions. They have been one of the few features unaffected by the old “V2 before new features” strategy. Thus, the change in strategies doesn’t necessarily slow these down dramatically. But we still need to figure out all the details of how much dev time we can allot to the different tasks getting worked on under this new strategy. We know that many players are eagerly anticipating these features, and we will keep you updated!

🔥 Adjusted Update Rhythm 🔥

We will continue the current update schedule, meaning that every second Wednesday, new code updates with accompanying news posts will be published. What changes is that one update per month will be a big one with new features from the lists presented above. The second update per month will then be a smaller one focusing on bug fixing and, if time allows for it, the addition of smaller quality-of-life improvements.

🌅 Rollover Changes to 5 am HR Time 🌅

As was announced in our last news post, our rollover time will permanently change. Starting tomorrow (Thursday, the 25th of March), the daily care rollover will happen at 5:00 am HR Time on our COM-server and at 4:00 am HR Time on our NL-server. We have rolled it over into this time slot because it won’t collide with the daylight savings change and has a sufficiently low level of player activity.

🐞 V2-Market Bug Fixes 🐞

⚈ Some foals and Knabstrupper mares stole Alice’s eat-me-cake and grew to massive dimensions on the market. This may work fine in Wonderland, but this is Horse Reality! With the drink-me-potion, we managed to shrink them back to normal size. Phew.
⚈ After the market transfer, mares with foals at their sides showed up oddly in the registries and the retirement home. We told them to align properly, and the issue is now fixed.
⚈ Being overbid erased the entire auction from the player’s “my offers” page. This bug has been fixed: no more unsolicited yeeting when your leading bids are fleeting!
⚈ Buying out a trade always forwarded you to the market tab “incoming private trades”. We forwarded this as well - to our devs. Now it only does this for private trades (as requested by players), while buying out public trades links back to the main market page.
edit: We forgot to mention one bug in this update! Ever since the backgrounds started to show up in the foal pastures, the foals on them looked oddly huge, so we made them smaller in this update. It still looks a bit odd on some devices, we'll probably have our developers check this bug out again.
edit2: Another bug was fixed but forgotten to be mentioned on this list! If you were bidding on a horse, but someone else then bought the horse via buyout, your money was correctly returned to the bank but the notification about this event was missing. This should now be fixed!

😭 Team Changes - Goodbye to Tasinei and WrittenByWolves 😭

We are sorry to say that our lovely Community Manager Tasinei will be leaving the team after 4.5 years of working together. One of her lifelong dreams was to be able to work at Ubisoft. And you know what? She finally did it! She landed the job and is able to realise one of her dreams.

It was a delight to have you around, Tasi! While at first starting as a virtual assistant, helping Deloryan out with any of the miscellaneous tasks that were lying around, you were able to grow into the Community Manager position a few years later. After such a long time of working together, we have created a true bond like friends, rather than colleagues. We are going to miss you, a LOT!

Thank you so much for all you have done for us! We wish you the best of luck at your new job and hope to still spot you in-game every now and then! ❤️

Our team is taking a further hit by our forum moderator WrittenByWolves leaving due to health issues. He was mainly a moderator on our Dutch server but also helped out here and there on this one. We’re sorry to see him go and wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors!

👋 Open Positions: Become a Community Manager 👋

Do you love reading our news posts, or think we could do better? Well, you could be writing them! Join our team to impact how we communicate and improve our community engagement. You can read all details about this position here!

If you’d rather join our team as a moderator or intern, you can find all our open positions here. We are always happy to meet new people who are motivated to help us improve the game!

What’s next? With our adjusted update rhythm, a big code update is planned for April 7th, followed by a small one for bug fixing & QoL changes on April 21st, and another big one on May 5th. But you may hear from us a bit sooner since a very special date is coming up. The beginning of April is always a tricky time... isn’t it?

Don’t let the next month fool you!
The Horse Reality Team


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