February is a great month for some blog reading! Our amazing Game Director Stacy Place is back with a new recurring series all about Myths & Legends! Esmerelda Silverforce shares details around the amazing Jorvik Gazette quest! Marie-Cécile Jacq is back with a new Player Character Update!
Myths & Legends
By Stacy Place – Game Director
A bitter breeze brushes your cheek as you ride across the fields, approaching the forgotten lands of Hollow Woods. The landscape is vast yet empty, and the view harkens back to a promised time when many believed this place held a bright future. But now it remains eerily quiet, a perfect place to reflect on the myths and legends of Jorvik old.
I am your storyteller for today, she who will guide you through mysteries yet unsolved in our beloved land of Jorvik (or the place beyond, otherwise known as Star Stable Entertainment Headquarters). My name is Stacy, and I’m the Game Director for Star Stable Online.
HOME STABLE CUSTOMIZATION
Our first adventure into the realm of the unknown begins with the story of a couch, a can of paint, and a perplexing furniture store in Jorvik City that has been “Opening Soon!” for a suspiciously long time.
“What is this place?!” confused Jorvegian citizens have asked since the shop arrived in 2016. Well, my beloved inquisitors, allow me to explain.
Some time ago, we began a project much like one I have discussed with you recently – home stable customization. Unfortunately, the ambition and chaos of this project manifested in a way that we didn’t feel was right for Jorvik and was hardly our best work to put forward. The user interface and overall user experience were difficult to navigate, and the sheer amount of bugs and technical difficulties created were too severe to move forward with. A decision was made to pull the plug on the project and revisit it at a more appropriate time.
Excitement for such a feature could not be contained, though, and some content was released early, ideally so that all citizens would be as excited as we were. This, of course, was our mistake. As the feature didn’t pan out, that left a bunch of unexplained junk in your inventories and a vacant shop in Jorvik City. It’s always disappointing when something needs to be scrapped, but it’s even more difficult when we’ve already communicated it to all of you.
We should have shared more with you then, but there’s always a fear of letting your community down and creating upset over something many desperately wanted. How do you explain what happened when you feel like you’ve failed?
Thankfully, we aim to foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to say that something isn’t right. And now, more than ever, we want it to be okay to share those fears and disappointments with all of you. We trust that you, too, have been in similar situations and can understand how that feels. So while we couldn’t deliver home stable customization then, we’re actively taking steps to make it possible as a better experience in the future. We really want this feature in the game too!!
By Esmerelda Silverforce – Game Designer
Man, it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote that line! In Jorvik I’m most commonly known as Esme, and I used to write all the news articles for Starstable.com until I switched sides and joined the actual game production in 2020. I currently work with Game Content Design, which means I create quests, races, and sometimes features.
Last month, we released the Jorvik Gazette quests! If you have been with us for a long time, you might remember that our very own Linda Chanda once was the editor of the Jorvik School edition of that very same newspaper. Expanding Jorvik’s culture while being able to bring in references to our origins brings great joy not only to me, but also to our Game Writer Nadia, who brought our lovely journalist Imane Highcantle to life. We often imagine elaborate backstories for our quest givers to give them more character, and we had a lot of fun discovering who Imane is as a person. Maybe one day she will share more about herself!
While the city of Jarlaheim might look a little dusty at the moment, our 3D artists achieved wonders bringing the Jorvik Gazette HQ to life. Not only was it important for us to give Imane a base of operations, but we also wanted a safe place for her dear horse Sahara to stay. We think Sahara looks very pleased in her stall, where she can keep a lookout and make sure no new stories slip by her owner.
The most important part of the gameplay proved to be that YOU got the chance to edit the Jorvik Gazette! After meeting your fellow Jorvegians and listening to their stories, you had the power to decide what stories to run in the paper. It’s been so much fun to see which stories you preferred, and we’re certain Imane will return to keep sharing more news with Jorvik.
Speaking of news, maybe the most fun part of making these quests was the brainstorming of the stories. We wound up with more than 50 topics that piqued our interest or made us giggle, and there is a good chance we’ll see some of them in the game one day!
There are countless more stories to tell from Jorvik, and we’re nowhere near done yet. Stay tuned for lots more fun quests this year!
Player Character Update
By Marie-Cécile Jacq – Producer
We have some good news to share with you about the updated character. The animations that were still facing some technical issues are finally progressing at a pace we’re happy with!
To dive into details, we had to synchronize the horse “state machine”, with the character “state machine”. What is that? You might be asking yourself. It is a system to manage different types of animations (running, walking, crouching) and their relation to each other? Can you transition from one to another? What does the transition look like? Which conditions does it need to take into consideration?
Until now, our horses and characters didn’t use this technology, and the current player character won’t use it at all. The horse state machine will be implemented first, and you’ll get plenty of details about what the system does – and will allow us to do – in the coming weeks. The character will benefit from this improvement when the character update arrives.
We also have another piece of animation technology to work with, the additive animations, which allow us to make animations look good on each body shape. For example, ensuring that arms don’t collide with hips. But it will also be used to add facial expressions and so much more!
During January, we dedicated two weeks to focus on skirts and dresses. We needed more development to make sure the render was natural around the legs, regardless of which body you choose. Two of our 3D artists and one of our technical artists worked hard to find a way to fix the different problems automatically and make sure future clothes won’t have these types of issues.
We have slightly updated all the hairs to make sure they have a consistent render, and we are now focusing on type 3 / 4 hair types (curly, coily and kinky) as well as on short and gender-neutral styles.
We know it feels like the progress is very slow, but the player character is connected to everything in the game, and each change has ripple effects on almost every team. It’s such an important project for us, and we’re sure it is for you too, we want to do it right, and make sure nothing is missed.
Stay tuned and we hope to give you more updates soon!
Hope you liked this edition of our monthly blog! As always, stay tuned for next month to learn more about the work behind the magic!