Community Update - Recent Downtimes, First Competition Improvements, Fixing Competition Calculations on August 25, Feedback for Foundation Rework

Wednesday, Jun 30 at 13:45

Dear communeighty, hi! Today’s update finally brings about the first round of competition improvements! What’s more, we have many quality-of-life improvements for the competitions in the works that we cannot wait to present to you. Our plan to make all competitions use the Dressage scoring formula received a lot of feedback and we will explain our reasoning in more depth here. Finally, we have more details to share about the upcoming change of the foundation system - and several blank spots to fill in! We are very curious to hear your feedback, hopes and worries.

🤖 Recent Downtimes 🤖

We have been experiencing several connectivity issues lately.

First, there has been a login/cookies bug that causes some, but not all players, to experience phases where especially V1 areas of the game won't load. It also seems to depend on the device and browser, but there has not been a consistent pattern found. We applied some fixes for this bug yesterday that hopefully solve this particular issue – but we cannot rule out that some players might still occasionally run into it, especially if they haven't cleared their cookies and cache lately. When it comes to this specific problem, we recommend clearing both your browser cookies & cache again, and then trying to log out and back into the game. If you are then still having issues where you get a notice that says "too many redirects", please get in touch with the team by sending an email to [email protected]! It would be especially helpful if you could provide the full URL of the error page(s) you’re getting. In the meantime, accessing the game still seems possible using incognito mode or a different browser altogether - those temporary workarounds might be worth a try!

These past few days, the server has also undergone several unexpected downtimes during which the entire game (both COM and NL) was unreachable for all our players for several hours at a time. This problem is not connected to the aforementioned login/cookies glitch that affected only some players and certain pages of the game. It is not fully clear yet what is causing the global downtimes. Ever since we started using new development strategies and update the game base more frequently again, instead of focusing on the V2-transfer, many more players have become active again. Therefore, our initial gut feeling is that the problems are likely related to the increased game activity and the resulting strain on our servers, but we cannot say this for sure yet. Know that our devs are aware of this problem and are working hard to find solutions to make our servers run more steadily again!

In the meantime, though, downtimes can occur and especially if this happens at night or during the weekend (as "Murphy's Law" has it), the game may not always be back up immediately. We are very grateful for your patience and apologize for any inconveniences this may cause you. Please hang in there with us!

🏅 Today’s Code Update: First Competition Improvements 🏅

Much awaited and finally here, we are happy to present you: Our first round of competition improvements! We’re excited to bring you some ease in that area, and we’re long but done! As of today, the following changes are in effect:

🔹 Competitions: Refund entry fee if less than 5 horses entered that level
🔹 Competitions: Display fitness and training % on the entry page
🔹 Competitions: Remove the notification that you didn’t win any HRC because there weren’t enough entries
🔹 Competitions: Horses can enter all-breeds and breed-specific competitions at once (as well as one registry-hosted conformation show and one club-hosted show), so 4 events in total!

🔥 Next Update: More Competition QoL 🔥

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

🔸 You'll be able to bookmark your favourite competitions to the top of your competition page (e.g. pin “PRE Show Jumping” to the top).
🔸 The entry page checkboxes will remember which boxes you’ve checked in the last competition (and differentiate between breed-specific and all-breeds). If you’ve entered your horse “Robin Hoof” last time but didn’t enter “Spurtacus”, then next time you’re on the same entry page, Robin Hoof should be checked and Spurtacus shouldn’t. This update is a bit tricky and might start out a bit buggy, but we’re already working hard towards making it perfect!
🔸 The competitions will receive a complete layout makeover and redesign for increased mobile and screen reader accessibility!
🔸 Only relevant tack (no halters) will show up, and only relevant symbols (care needed)!

The results page will be redesigned it in a later update. The reworked design will feature stud, sale and pregnancy icons (and the breed in the all-breeds competition), so that you can easily see if e.g. the horse that keeps beating you is up for sale!

A preview of the new competition layout

🧮 Competition Calculation Fix: Planned for August 25 🧮

A quick recap: The calculations that decide which horses win, lose or get eliminated, are not working well for several disciplines. Eventing, Endurance, Show Jumping and Western Reining are considered to be varying degrees of random. Flat Racing needs to take other stats into account as a result of a community decision. Only Dressage and Driving let better horses win regularly over poorer horses while still taking the element of surprise into account.

We have decided to change all calculations to the way Dressage works, as first suggested in this newspost and later announced here. This means e.g. the Eventing competition will take the Eventing GP and conformation stats into account, but the result will be displayed as a number, e.g. 80.457.

We know not everyone in the community is happy about this decision, so we want to take this time to explain our reasons. What you need to know is that behind the scenes, the current formulas work to imitate real-life conventions of the discipline. This is tricky to make realistic already, since different countries or competition hosts all have their own conventions, and we usually try to pick something a bit in the middle.

To give an example: In Western Reining, a horse starts with a base score of 70. It then has to perform a set of maneuvers, and for each maneuver, points will be added or subtracted from 70. The points range from -1.5 extremely poor, -1 very poor, -0.5 poor, 0 average, +0.5 good, +1 very good, to +1.5 excellent. Our current formula does exactly that: When you send a horse into a Reining competition, our server simulates this set of maneuvers, decides if the horse performed excellently, extremely poorly, or something in between, and adds or subtracts the according points. It is the rarest case that horses perform extremely poorly or excellently in all manoeuvres, meaning that on average, most horses score something between 70 and 80 points. In a real-life competition, that makes a lot of sense. However, in Horse Reality, hundreds of horses are entered daily into competitions, often with very similar GP and conformation stats for that discipline, meaning that a big chunk of horses ends up being tied.

In Dressage, a horse starts with 0 points and has to perform a series of movements where each is scored with up to 10 points. The points are then added together and turned into a percentage, which is carried out to 3 decimal points. The highest percentage wins. Here, too, our server imitates this scoring by simulating that the horses perform a series of movements. But the resulting scores vary much more than those of Western Reining, which reduces the chance of tied results. This system is much more fit to accommodate a game such as ours. Because it doesn’t just add points ranging from -1.5 to +1.5 but from 1 to 10, and then turns those into a percentage with 3 decimal points, it allows for a huge number of horses with similar game stats to still have clear winners and losers.

In a nutshell, our problem here is a deeply mathematical one, and also the - for us - ever-present challenge of choosing where we should approximate reality, and where we should focus on being a game with the main purpose of bringing joy to our players.

To give just one example: We could try to keep the Western Reining scores somewhat closer to reality with numbers that allow for more variation. We could start at a base score of 77.777 and then add or subtract 5.555, 3.333, 0.234. The problem is: This is still not how Western Reining is scored in real-life, so it would not preserve much realism. Furthermore, the numbers just written here were picked randomly as an example. To actually implement such a system, we’d have to deeply think it through, change the entire formula and adapt it with several hundreds of lines of code, which again makes it vulnerable to other, new bugs. We would then have to extensively test this formula, then put it on the live server and tweak it again according to the community feedback - and not just for Western Reining but all competitions except Dressage and Driving.

Please don’t misunderstand us - it is not that we are not willing to do the work. We gladly would if we thought that the outcome would be worth it. But we are talking here about many months or years of very hard work, that would also mean we couldn’t do (m)any other updates because we’d be busy working on these formulas. All of this for an outcome that still is an unrealistic competition scoring, and potentially just as buggy as the one we have now.

As much as we’d love it if we could always make everyone’s dreams come true, as developers, sometimes our job is to pick the lesser of two evils for our community. We are nearing the third birthday of Horse Reality and the competitions are still buggy. There are players who have been breeding Eventing horses with excellent GP and conformation for 2.5 years who have patiently been waiting to finally see their efforts rewarded. And we do have code for the solution: If we use the Dressage calculations, debugging the competitions would essentially be a copy & paste job, all we’d have to do is switch the Dressage stats for the correct discipline stats.

We think it’s time to admit that despite our game’s name, we still are a game and we’ll never be able to recreate reality in all its wonderful complexity. The important thing in a game is that it’s fun, and sending your horses into randomly scored competitions for 2.5 years is not exactly that. Therefore, we have decided to prioritise fixing our bugs over reality - in this case. All competitions will use the Dressage formula of scoring and take all the relevant factors into account when deciding on which horses win. We wish we were able to offer you a better alternative, but we are also extremely excited for all those players who will finally see their champion horses win!

All of the above doesn’t mean that the scoring system must stay like this forever. At a later point in time, we may have different means or ideas to bring more realistic calculations back. Technology is ever-evolving, and we as a team are constantly learning and growing. But first things first: Let’s get those competitions debugged!

To give everyone enough time to prepare for the fixed competition calculations, the scoring formulas will change in 2 months from now, which is why we happily announce:

🚨🚨🚨 On August 25, all competition calculations will get debugged! 🚨🚨🚨
(As always, updates can always change, be postponed or cancelled.)

🐴 Feedback Needed: Foundation Rework 🐴

One of our next updates in line is the rework of our current foundation. We had first presented our plans to you in this news post on April 21st. Your feedback was overwhelmingly positive and also brought up some great points and questions that we checked with our developers. Now we have a better idea of what is possible, and want to run these plans and problems by our community before we finalise our plan and send it onwards to our developers!

These are the basics we already know (for the long version, please check the April 21st news post!)
🔹 Players will purchase horses without parents/pedigree. This means our team has control over the stats without the RNG betraying us- this change is our main motivation behind the foundation rework.
🔹 The foundation will only have a limited number of horses of each breed that replenish once per week (per player). Each continent will have its own set of horses, so if you bought all horses in Asia, there will be more in Africa, etc.
🔹 Every player will see their “own” foundation store, meaning the horses you see for sale are not visible to anyone else - and nobody will snipe them from you!
🔹 Both foals and adults will be offered at the foundation breeder.
🔹 There will be a range for each stat that our team has carefully chosen. It will be in accordance with the breed’s natural talents and take the current level of breed progression into account, but the baseline will be more or less average as to not overpower player-bred horses.
🔹 For now, the wildlife parks will continue to work the way they currently do. But the horses there will also become pedigree-less and fall into a stat range decided by our team.

The following points are yet to be decided and open to your input:
🔹 How many horses should be available per week, and visible at the foundation breeder?
🔹 How exactly should the weekly refresh work, and when should it happen?
🔹 Which stats should be visible prior to buying a foundation horse, and how expensive should a horse be?
🔹 We’re eager to keep foundation tickets valuable and useful despite the weekly amount of horses being limited from now on. We have some cool ideas on new uses for FT detailed in our post (spoiler: Caroll might be open to a little bribe on the side…)
🔹 We have heard your concerns about colour breeding and hidden genes! Please check out our proposed solution and let us know what you think.

We’ve created a discussion thread in the forum where we’d like you to post all your ideas, concerns, and suggestions. All details about the above questions and our own ideas regarding them can be found in this thread. For general details on the foundation rework, don’t forget to check out the April 21st news post linked above! The foundation is important to us, and to many players. We want to make this update into one you’ll love. We’ll be present in the comments below that thread, too!

Let’s hear a drumroll, please! Our first ever community art feature has been chosen. This one was submitted anonymously and we dearly thank the unknown artist behind it! We are amazed by all the submissions we’ve received, it was tough to pick just one and we ask you to please keep them coming! Don’t fret if your art was not chosen this time around, there will be many more chances to get featured. Thank you, everyone!

Do you want your art to be featured here? Let’s do it!

Next community update: July 14
Thanks for reading! Your Horse Reality Team 🐴


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