Community Update - Conformation Show Update, Breed-Specific Competitions, Development Schedule & Next Updates

Wednesday, Jun 2 at 14:15

Hello dear players! It’s been two turbulent weeks since you last heard from us and there are so many things we want to talk about today. We will first announce today’s code update: conformation shows can now pay out HRC prizes per category and have received some other adjustments. Next, we’ll address your feedback about the breed-specific competitions, and let us say this already - we were blown away by all your input and are very grateful for it! It was so much in fact that we had trouble answering everything in-time, but we avidly read along with your comments. Many of you wondered about the very short notice of the arrival of breed-comps, which has to do with our internal development schedule, which we have recently changed - we’ll explain this in-depth and give you a first overview of our planned updates. To close this news post, we’ve added a short list of our recent bugfixes. Let’s go!

🌸 Today’s Update: Conformation Show Changes 🌸

Ready your horses! From today onwards, it is possible to win HRC prizes in conformation shows in addition to the Day Champion Award! These go out to the first three places of a category if enough horses were entered.

Prize Money (if at least 5 horses entered category)
1st place in a category: 300 HRC
2nd place in a category: 200 HRC
3rd place in a category: 100 HRC

Day Champion Award (if at least 10 horses entered show)
70% chance to win 1000 HRC
10% chance to win 100 DP
10% chance to win 5 FT
10% chance to win 5 WT

As before, the day champion award will only pay a prize if at least 10 horses were entered in the entire show (across all categories). It gets paid independently from the category prizes. Those will only be paid out if at least 5 horses were entered in the category. Category here refers to foal, mare, stallion and gelding.

Gelding Category
Yes, we have added a gelding category to conformation shows! We assume that most players don’t own geldings yet, but it was a very easy-to-add update that will give our geldings at least a little purpose for the time being. We hope to one day add real gelding perks, but we still have a very long way to go until we’ll be able to do that.

Club-Hosted Conformation Shows
We also updated club-hosted conformation shows with the ability to pay out HRC prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd horse in a category (if more than 5 horses entered in that category). We are especially proud that we were able to add a remember-functionality to the “create an event”-form of the clubs! This will start with the first event you create after today’s update: You’ll have to fill in the info once now, and the 2nd event you create will be pre-filled with the values of your last show. We hope this will simplify the life of those who often create club shows, and it’s also a big step towards making club-run competitions possible!

Reading the Achievements Tab
As of today’s update, conformation & competition wins show up a bit differently in the horses’ achievement tabs. For shows, it is marked in the category column whether the show was hosted by a club (CLUB) or the game registry (REGI). The display of the position was changed/added both for shows and competitions. You can read it like this: For conformation shows, the position #2/10 (30) means your horse placed 2nd within its category (e.g. stallions), and 10 horses participated in that category (stallions), and in total 30 horses participated in that show across all categories. At the moment, it is not specially marked if your horse became Day Champion - this proved to be very complicated and we hope we can do this in a later update. For competitions, #2/10 (30) means your horse placed 2nd on its level (e.g. training level) and 10 horses were competing on that level (training level), while in total 30 horses were entered in the competition across all levels.

🏅 Let’s Talk: Breed-Specific Competitions 🏅

It is safe to say that the past two weeks have been eventful. The arrival of breed-specific competitions on May 19th was a massive change. The advance notice of their release came only two weeks before the actual implementation. Understandably, many of you were unhappy with this brief notice and would have wanted more time to prepare. And, indeed, there was a lot to prepare for: with prizes reduced and 5 horses needed per level to receive prizes at all, many players felt overwhelmed. This gave our breed-competitions an extremely rocky start and made them vastly unpopular among our community. We sincerely apologise for the stress that this update may have caused you. The good news is: We are confident that the worst lies behind us now, and that from here onward, future updates will bring about noticeable improvements for the community. We hope that today’s addition of more payouts for conformation shows will already ease some of the financial stress many of you are currently experiencing and help bridge the gap until we’re able to make adjustments to the competition payouts. The first updates where we are able to change anything about the breed-specific competitions are on June 30th and July 14th. We explain in-detail why this is the case shortly. But before talking about our timeline, we want to address your questions and concerns. We have received lots of feedback under the previous news post and in the forum, so much in fact that we couldn’t respond to everything. Thank you so much for all your input, we would not be able to advance this game without it!

Don’t be afraid of further added costs!
We will not add further costs like food & bedding being needed and tack deteriorating before we are happy with the payouts of conformation shows and competitions. We are aware that our last update was a shock to our players’ in-game finances and we will further balance out the prizes. Only after we - and that includes you - are for the most part happy with the level of income created by confo shows and comps will we proceed to add more costs to the game.

Notification Flood
We know many players are annoyed about the current flood of notifications, and today’s added prizes for conformation shows will result in even more of them. We are truly sorry about this inconvenience and are thinking hard about how to solve this, ideally on our update on July 14th. We know this is a long time to go with this notification plague and are really sorry. One thing that we’ll be able to change quicker (on June 30th) is to remove the “no prizes were paid out” notifications that many of you perceive as daunting. Our goal here was only transparency, but we see how this had a different effect than we planned.

Competition timers running out-of-sync
Over the past two weeks already, many of the breed-competitions started to develop great differences in their running timers. We expected some problem of the sort but not with the drastic effects we are already seeing.
To ease the stress of our servers, competitions and shows are all put in a queue and run one after the other. In the conformation shows, that leads to them not finishing perfectly at the same time, but with roughly a 2-5 minute difference. However, with all these new added competitions, the server finishes the “easier” tasks first, which means those can be started sooner, which leads to big differences between popular and unpopular competitions. For example: The server can process a competition with 1 flat racing Brabant in it very quickly, and then the flat racing Brabant competition starts quickly again, while the server needs a long time to process a competition with 50 reining Quarter Horses, and then this competition re-starts at a later time. Accumulated over 2 weeks, these tiny differences add up.
While we know that the different timers are very annoying to handle as a player, we don’t know how to improve this at the moment. The only solution that comes to our mind is to make something like a “big award ceremony” that runs for 30 minutes in which all competitions are halted. We keep thinking if there is a better way, but for the time being, we unfortunately can only apologize for this inconvenience.

Are conformation shows now more worthwhile than competitions?
Some players may think so, however, we would advise you to not yet overthrow your entire breeding goals. We are quite optimistic that we’ll be able to lower the competition restrictions in the future and/or raise their HRC prizes. Maybe after that, we’ll even be able to raise the conformation show prizes a little. We will be balancing the economy quite a bit over the next few months.

Are our calculations too far removed from reality?
While planning the new competition system, tricky estimates were needed. How much HRC the competitions generate depends on how much they get used, and it wasn’t possible for us to predict just how busy the new competitions would be. The potential for an overpay was big, while at the same time, training horses is effortful and should be rewarded. Even if we had been able to collect broad community input or other data in advance (we’ll explain later why we couldn’t), things often develop differently than expected. To avoid pushing the economy into a bad inflation, we went with admittedly extreme estimates and harsh restrictions. It was clear that, no matter what, there would be a phase of trial-and-error, balancing and rebalancing. Based on that, we chose the path that we felt was best for the game, and easiest to correct down the road if it turned out to be necessary. It was always our hope that we could loosen the restrictions again, and we are still entirely open to that possibility. Again, your feedback will be highly valuable in this process - you are the experts for your gameplay!

How could we change the restrictions?
We hope for some more debate about how to change the payout restrictions. We still need to see how things develop during the upcoming weeks, and in addition to player feedback, we plan to take bank data into account. But because adjustments down the road are a likely occurrence, it is best to determine concrete strategies already. Until Friday June 11th we have to tell our developers what we want to have coded till July 14th (see next paragraph if those dates are confusing). We can of course change the restrictions repeatedly, but July 14th is the earliest we could make bigger changes.
At the moment, we feel that we would most likely change to a minimum of 3 horses instead of 5. There were other great systems suggested, often percentage-based (e.g. If only 3 horses enter, they get 70% of the usual prizes) or based on the entry fee (the prize money gets pooled from the entry fee). We are afraid that the 2nd option would lead to very low prizes and not create enough in-game money. The 1st option sounds great in theory, but might be complicated to understand, especially for newer players. Each time they enter their horse somewhere, they’d get a different prize based on how many contestants have entered. We’re sure that the vast majority of players who read and discuss our news posts wouldn’t find this too complicated, but we also have an obligation to our many casual players. One of the important game design rules is to keep things simple wherever possible. Of course, here the question is: Is there a simple solution? Is a 3 horses minimum an approach our community would agree on? Updates that we are already planning are to refund the entry fee if too little horses entered the competition and to make it possible to enter the all-breeds and breed-specific competitions at the same time. Would you think that these 3 improvements together would make competitions more attractive to you again if the current restrictions really don't work out? Of course, these are only a few of the many suggestions we've seen, and we are curious what other ideas are trending high within the community!

🤖 Short Notice for Breed-Comps, Change of Development Schedule & Next Updates 🤖

Let us first say: We agree two weeks were not enough time for the community to prepare for the 5-horses-restriction. Had we been able to give you an earlier heads-up without postponing the breed-comps themselves, we would have absolutely done that and asked for player feedback in advance. The reason why we could only give you such short notice, odd as it may sound, is because we didn’t know about it much earlier ourselves. Our old development strategy didn’t allow us to sufficiently plan ahead, which is why we have recently switched to a different strategy. Unfortunately, that in turn doesn’t allow us to now react to the community’s wishes as quickly as we would want.

As you may know, since April 7th we have started rolling out new code updates every two weeks using a new strategy. After a year of slow-paced V2 transfer, this is pretty new to us and we have to admit, it’s been a bit chaotic behind the scenes. We’re a small team with few working hours and in order to plan, design, implement, test, publish, bugfix and adjust a new feature, much work needs to be done. This often resulted in us designing a new feature just the week before it was published, and working on testing and bugfixing until the last minute before the release. For the first few updates we rolled out, this wasn’t a big problem: nobody needed advance notice of the fitting room joining the game, for example. But when we started working on the breed-specific competitions we realized that this strategy doesn’t leave us enough time to prepare our community for the changes to come. Adding the breed-specific competitions was originally planned for May 5th, and it had always been clear to us that some restrictions are needed to limit the HRC influx into the economy. We know now that we should’ve made that aspect much clearer from the moment we first promised the feature. But only when working out the last details days before the update, we realized just how harsh the restrictions would have to be. Because this would have completely overwhelmed the community, we decided to publish a preparation post on May 5th instead, and wait 2 weeks with the breed-specific competitions. We had a lot of heated internal debates around this. Some of our team members wanted to release the breed comps as soon as possible, as it would allow us to see their effects on the community and plan their needed adjustments sooner. Other team members wanted to push the release of the breed comps further into the future to give our community more time to prepare. But not releasing them soon enough could also have severely messed up our plans for other features that are yet to come. Ultimately, we decided to go through with the update sooner rather than later. But the feedback we have heard over the past 2 weeks paints a clear image - everyone would have wanted more preparation time. We are truly sorry that we rushed into this update and hope to do better in the future.

To achieve better predictability in future updates, we talked to our development team on May 5th already and decided for a new development schedule. Now we are always one development sprint ahead of time, meaning that we have our next update (to be released in 2 weeks) ready to go on our test server, and are currently working on the update after that (to be released in 4 weeks). We think this will be a beneficial change to everyone because it will allow us to communicate the coming changes ahead of time. However, there is a big downside to this new strategy that we didn’t anticipate. It means that we’ve already “used up” our development hours for this month and now cannot react quickly to your feedback and wishes about the competitions. While any drastic changes to the restrictions can't be decided on so soon, we would have loved to add some smaller improvements in a timely manner at least - but unfortunately, there really is no way to arrange that. We know that this is disappointing news and we are sincerely sorry. We rushed into publishing the breed-comps without giving you proper preparation time, switched strategies to give you more preparation time in the future, but for the current update this means no quick tweaks are possible during a period where you can’t wait to see changes.

But there is a more positive side to this medal. The hope is that with our next big planned updates, this new strategy will allow us to tell you about the specifics of our plans (e.g. the rate of tack deterioration once it’s time for that) far ahead of time. Therefore we’ll be able to incorporate your feedback to these plans before publishing the update itself. We will have more time to properly test upcoming features on our test server, too, which reduces the odds of bugs sneaking in. All of this is especially important because many of those upcoming features will also affect the economy again. Although this new strategy does not allow for quick adjustments once a content is released, our goal is that the future updates will get announced with more preparation time, and be better-tailored to the needs of our players from the get go. As much as the change of strategies came with bad timing for this current update, we are convinced that it will benefit the game and foster community involvement in the long run.

Here is an overview of what we will/plan to do in our next updates:

🚨 Please note that updates can always be changed, postponed or canceled! 🚨

Small Update on June 16 (Bug Fixes) - This update had already been worked on prior to the addition of the breed-specific competitions, therefore we weren’t able to add any competition improvements in there.
🔹Bug: If there are too many club-organised conformation shows to fit on one page, you would need to navigate pages 2, 3, … which is currently impossible, because those forward to the horses page.
🔹Bug: When a horse is eliminated from a competition, this should be noted in the Achievements tab, but at the moment those eliminated placings go unlogged.
🔹Some other fixes that have nothing to do with clubs/confo shows.

Big Update on June 30 (Enhancements & Additions) - This update had to be planned shortly after the implementation of breed-specific competitions and will add improvements that we are absolutely certain about already.
🔹 Competitions: Refund the entry fee if <5 horses participated on your level.
🔹 Competitions: Remove the notification that you didn’t win any HRC because there weren’t enough entries.
🔹 Competitions: Allow players to enter their horses in the all-breeds and the breed-specific competitions at the same time.
🔹 Competitions: Display physical fitness % and training progress % to entry page.

Update on July 14 - This update is not yet planned. It’s therefore the first update where we could make any other changes in regards to the competitions. We are not yet sure what to put there as it will also depend on your feedback and the internal bank data we are tracking, but here are some ideas (!) of ours:
🔸 Possibly change the min-5-horses-restriction in competitions (if we have a good idea that is supported by our community & internal data before June 11th)
🔸 Find a way to further ease the notification flood
🔸 Add categories to the bank and DP history
🔸 Improve usability of competition entry pages

🐞 Bugfixes 🐞

  • It was impossible to move one’s estate while bidding on a horse, even when one was already overbid. We are happy to report this bug as fixed!
  • For a while now, the horse artwork at the foal pastures wasn’t properly centered, leaving some players under the impression that the foals tried to escape from the screen. Now all foals have found their proper center again!
  • After a first attempt to fix the aforementioned bug, the foals weren’t showing their correct backgrounds at the foal pastures anymore. Now those should be back!
  • When looking at the market on mobile, some horse’s taglines were overlapping with other information, rendering them unreadable. We fixed that by using the same design as we have on the player profile’s “sales tab” now!
  • When purchasing a background in the fitting room with a premium orb, sometimes the player received “two” copies instead of one. This was fixed, and players should now properly receive one copy.

This is all for today! Okay, that might be an understatement, there is a lot of information to digest in this news. As always, please feel welcome to comment or ask questions!

The Horse Reality Team


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