2022 Year In Review
By Stacy Place – Game Director
With 2022 at a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what we accomplished throughout the year and embrace the opportunities that lay ahead for 2023!
My name is Stacy, and I’m the Game Director here for Star Stable Online! This means I help hold the vision for our game and ensure everyone is working together to deliver the best player experience we can. I’ve worked at Star Stable for over seven years, and I look forward to the opportunities and potential every new year brings!
A goal in 2022 was to release primary quests (those relating to the main plot of the Soul Riders and Dark Riders) more frequently and consistently. Now that a new witch and three of the four Dark Riders (our tiniest foe is going through some additional iterations) are happily wreaking havoc, we can continue the story in many compelling ways! We even have new locations for exciting gameplay.
We also introduced the concept of story snacks, tidbits of lore or gameplay that are released between significant story beats. These often contain more in-depth details than we could explore during the primary quests themselves.
We keep Jorvik lively through the release of secondary quests. One of my favorite updates this year was the completion of one of the most requested story continuations by far—the Baroness’ Racetrack! We were determined to see this area flourish by implementing a new hub, races, and even a brand-new championship! Visitors to the racetrack were left wondering, though … what does Ms. Drake have up her sleeve?
Marley’s Farm got a fresh coat of paint and a rather intriguing storyline about his not-so-deceased father, confused and suspiciously identical siblings, and Big Bonny?! Jorvik truly is a…unique place!
We helped the Bobcats prepare for their upcoming show featuring riding classes with everyone’s favorite NPC—Stacy! And, of course, good ol’ Herman finally made his journey home! It’s the least we could do for him after leaving him stuck in that awful container for so long.
2022 was a spectacular year for horses and equestrians! The Appaloosa dazzled us at the start of the year, followed by the Welsh Pony, Birkir, and Hanami. The Equestrian Festival escorted in beautiful new variations, and then stepping in as my new favorite go-to horse, the Paso Fino debuted this spring too! We also saw an updated Haflinger, Sedna, Proteus, and the mighty Shire with a long-overdue update. Hemera and Antheia popped up just before some new horse variations, and Galaxy jumped off the page of one of our latest books and landed in Jorvik.
Laverna and Nemain stampeded their way into Halloween, and we were blown away by the love these two received. The Belgian Warmbloods (along with H&M’s All In) followed shortly after, proving to be some of the most photogenic horses I’ve seen in a long time! Your photography skills truly shined with this horse! The graceful Tennessee Walkers waltzed in to round out the year. Winter brought two exceptionally unique horses, unlike any we’ve seen on Jorvik before—the Sylvan Unicorn with its glowing horn and Kátur with its soft coat of snow.
The bond between horse and rider is a vital element of Star Stable (in fact, it’s one of the game’s main ‘pillars’ as I’ve called them), and we released the first in a series of new features meant to emphasize this area of the game more than we have previously.
Horse personalization means you can change your horse’s name directly in the horse details sheet and select the age and gender of every horse you own. While these details currently don’t directly impact gameplay, they can directly impact your personal equestrian experience.
The new horse purchasing window is another significant improvement in the horse bonding area, allowing you to view all the gaits and movements of a horse before purchasing it to determine if it is the right fit for you and your stable. You can also personalize your new horse, purchase a new mane style, and choose to ride your horse right away in the new interface! This window allows us to condense the horses that exist in the world, which were starting to take up too much space—both physically in the world and in how they affect the game’s performance. To keep Star Stable running on as many devices as our players use, we continually face the challenge of addressing the game’s performance.
A few other horse-related elements now have more structure and, in some cases, a proper schedule. We began the retirement process of our pre-Generation 3 horses, the Horses of Jorvik races continued on a bi-monthly cadence (this schedule will change slightly in 2023), and our magical horses rotate every single month. For magical horses, this alleviated confusion around if they would be returning, so now you can be reassured that any new magical horses will return in the rotation or during the following year’s associated festival.
And, of course, we can’t forget the eternal retrofitting process! We detailed this more in a previous blog post, but we will continue to retrofit our Generation 3 horses with all new types of tack. We appreciate your understanding that this is not as easy as simply fitting a horse with a new item; it is made exponentially more complicated depending on how many NPC versions of the horse exist in Jorvik.
Speaking of horses, how about that Equestrian Festival?! 2022 was a great year for festivals overall. We made considerable progress in our journey to solidifying our Festival Framework, including getting the Equestrian Festival up and running as our Primary Festival in Spring! The team and all of our players easily made this one of the year’s highlights with so much hard work, love, and appreciation.
The summer was slightly different this year than it will be next year, as we’ll be re-organizing to create our Primary Summer Festival in July. The Beach Festival laid an excellent foundation for this, and we hope to build on that concept to create something even more engaging in 2023.
While the Midsummer Festival will not return, the Rainbow Festival will, along with the magical rainbow horse contest winners! Going through all the entries was inspiring—every single one made me so happy to see! Festivals, even small ones, take a lot of work from the team, and we really want to be careful about which festivals we release and when. Creating this foundation of Primary and Secondary Festivals that spreads over the year means we can put effort into the things that matter most to players in each one.
We wrapped up the year with Halloween and Winter, both returning as two of the most exciting times of the year! While I believe some things didn’t pan out as the team anticipated in Halloween, their efforts demonstrated that they felt comfortable taking risks and trying something new. We had an extended retro for Halloween, where we discussed the player experience (what went well and what didn’t), and changes and adjustments will be made next year.
Winter saw the return of SNOW in Jorvik! Although most players understood deep within their hearts why we needed to remove the snow in the first place, it has been a long-awaited and FREQUENTLY requested return.
In 2022, you could finally decide if you played in day or night with our time slider in the settings! We also introduced new photo mode and invisibility options, plus you can now hear the pitter-patter of player footsteps as you traverse Jorvik!
We ventured to handheld in 2022 with our global launch of Star Stable on iOS devices! Android being a bit trickier is in the works but not ready for a global release yet. We hope to have it in your hands in Early Access in 2023, though!
We’ve also made countless leaps and bounds outside of the game (the new log-in queue, for example) and behind the scenes (we have teams that work with our servers, engine, internal tools, and more) that take so much work and dedication but that players will never see. These teams and their work should not be forgotten; they make up a considerable chunk of our workforce numbers to help keep the game and our systems running. Some of these folks were part of making snow happen again in Jorvik, and we’re insanely proud of what was accomplished!
When the pandemic and quarantines hit in 2020, the games industry flourished, and it was a great feeling to be part of an industry that provided relief and escape to so many. We’re seeing a rebound now, with many people choosing activities that take them outside, and of course, in 2022, we’ve all had to start tightening our belts a bit when facing the current economy. This year has been a challenge for many across the globe, and while these are challenges we also face, we have a positive outlook for what we’re working on next year!
The biggest project on our horizon is an inventory revamp. This is a complete overhaul of our inventory system (most of which is behind the scenes), which is a significant blocker for some of the most requested features in Star Stable. An updated (and expanded) wardrobe, additional horse item slots (for ear bonnets, breastplates, second saddlebags, etc.), and even home stable customization are all blocked by this massive undertaking. So while the projects that I mentioned are part of our backlog of things to do, the inventory revamp must come first.
We’ll also be diving into discovery for possible features we’d like to bring to the game, such as dressage, breeding, and the next steps of our Horse Progression track (horse personalities? prestige?). BUT! Our next blog post will cover more details about what’s to come in 2023! Stay tuned!