# The horse page will become more immersive

You may wonder about the future features we are working on. Well, you have to know that our new guideline is to bring more realism and immersion on Howrse. And the first thing that comes naturally in our minds is to review the horse page, by removing the beige background on this page, like we have done during some contests.

Your horses displayed directly on the landscape

Indeed we already have a beautiful landscape on Howrse but it is almost totally hidden by this beige background, and the horses seem to float on the page. So we have decided to put the horses directly on the landscape of the background, the same way as the wild horses, you know, these horses evolving in magnificent landscapes! By this way, you will be able to see all your horses in their natural environment, leaving you the feeling that they are livelier.

You will also be able to resize the image of your horses, or move them in their landscape as if they had the Helios’ Ray.

And don’t worry! Your playing won’t be affected. Indeed, the actions blocks will remain at the same place.
Even better! The removal of the beige background allows us to display these action blocks a bit higher on the page. So you will have to scroll down the page less than now. This will be more comfortable for you to take care of your horses.

You probably want to know what the future new horse page will look like, don’t you? So take a look here:

The landscapes of the Helios’ Ray will be enlarged in order to replace the landscape of the background when you are on your horse page. By this way, the landscapes of the Helios’ Ray are also better highlighted.

All the landscapes of the Helios’ Ray already in the game will be automatically resized. Yet the quality of these landscapes may be altered by this enlargement. So we will

• let you change all the landscapes of your horses which have the Helios’ Ray for free
• give a 3-month-period to the creators of all landscapes already in the game to send us a better-quality resized version of these landscapes.

After that time, all landscapes which creators won’t have resized manually will be deactivated from the Helios’ Ray sale. Yet they will be kept on the horses which already use them.

Of course we will give you more details about how to resize your landscape creations before the immersive horse page is launched.

What’s next?

The immersive horse page is not the only feature we have imagined to offer you more realism and immersion. Keep an eye on this blog!

Pamela, Game Designer

# The VIP-Account

Hellow,

This month we will be introducing a very important feature called the VIP-Account!

Here is a short explanation of how we came to this idea:

The motivation behind the idea of a VIP-Account came from the fact that in the last few years, a lot of our work on Howrse was about making the game easier to understand for our newbie players because they felt that the game was too complicated in some aspects.

To give you an example:

We simplified the horse’s page (apple, salt block, 2nd riding lesson). We are well aware that those types of modifications may not be pleasant for more experienced players and that all these changes might give some of you the impression that the game has become too simple. Additionally, the choice we made to keep the “basics” of the game simple didn’t always allow us to realize a couple of the marvelous features ideas you might have suggested (yes, we read them ).

So in early 2013, our aim was to find a solution to the following problem: How can we satisfy these two dissimilar categories of players? On one hand, by keeping a certain consistency in the basics of the game, so that new players can easily get into it, and on the other hand, by offering a wider range of specific features for the more experienced players (by realizing the suggestions you made and by offering a more complete game experience), and by allowing them to go further in Howrse’s gameplay.

We decided to do so by introducing the VIP-Account, which will be added as a second subscription-type besides the Pegasus-Account. The main difference is that the VIP-Account offers more advantages than the Pegasus-Account. It also contains a base-package offering 21 perks (e.g. enjoy all the Pegasus-Account perks, save your search options in the private sales; sort the competitions by difficulty …).

On top of that, you can chose 10 more perks from a list of features in order to personalize the game so that it fits to your own needs (e.g. customize the positions of the different blocks on your horses’ page  [yes, you can move the horses' skill block down again ], participate in feature test sessions, get a higher probability to get a unicorn, preselect the quantity of food for your horses, buy horses automatically, buy several horses with a single click, leave sticky notes on your horses’ pages, change your horses’ specialty etc.).

Not to mention that the VIP-Account was an excellent occasion for us to reinforce the links between all our players, by making the breeding partnerships between players on Howrse official. With this account, you can officially join a breeding team, have a common Affix for the team’s horses, lend horses to your partners, and make coverings available for all members of the team. Or even take part in the monthly Affix-rating allowing the best team to get awarded with stars and to win gifts. The creation of a team is reserved to players that have a VIP-account subscription, but each one of them can invite up to 3 other players. Accordingly, a team can host up to 4 players and each time another player with a VIP-account joins the team, the team’s size increases by four more players, up to a maximum of twenty players.

As detailed earlier, the account subscription is exclusively reserved for our well experienced players who have invested a certain amount of time or money on the game; accordingly, the access to the VIP-Account is determined by a player’s position in the rankings or by the amount passes he bought.

The VIP-Account’s cost is at 10 passes per month that can easily be balanced by the benefits from the various perks which allow you to pay less passes inside the game (e.g. additional objects with different packs, possibility to have BLUP 100 before a horse is 10 years old etc.).

Furthermore, we welcome several features on the game that will be available for everyone and that had been suggested by you!

In a few days, you will discover:

A brand new species, the winged Unicorns that can be bred by adding Medusa’s blood to your unicorns! Moreover, you can enjoy the possibility to grow; shrink and mirror flip your horses in order to make them fit perfectly on the background you chose for them.

You can join us in the Event forum of the version you play on to discuss this new feature.

Enjoy these new features!

Alessa, Product Manager

# Do you want to know more about tests?

Remember our article about how features make their way into the game. One of the steps concerns the tests before features are online.  As these tests involve players, we thought you might be curious to know more.

A bit of history

Apart from a few tests we did in the early days of the game, we started the tests with the players on a regular basis in 2010. At the beginning it was mostly to report the glitches and it was only on the French version. As time went by, we began to ask our players their opinion about features. At the same time, we opened the tests to the players on the International and German versions.

How the tests are going?

The tests occur on a recent copy of the game hosted on a different server, that as no link with the real game. New features are implemented on this “copy of Howrse” and some players are invited to join.

These players can test most of the new features and the contests.  They have access to a test forum where they can give their opinion, discuss with others players and with the admins and report the glitches they meet.

The glitches are reported to the developers and corrected. The players review and interesting debates are reported to the product team. When possible, we make adjustments and take into account improvement suggestions.

We also follow a test plan to systematically test each step of a feature and check that there are no bugs. Unfortunately, it happens that bugs do not appear on the test server but appear on the real game. This is simply because it is impossible to reproduce identical conditions to the real version on the test server.

How are the players selected?

Depending on the Howrse’s version and the features, we invite between 40 and 100 players. Most of them are invited on a regular basis but we invite almost always new persons.

You probably are very curious to know how these players have been chosen.

So these are the criteria that we take into account to select new tests players :
* Players who are implicated in the game and in the community.
* Players who know the game very well.
* Players who go on the forums and give constructive opinion about what they like and do not like in the new features; players who give interesting suggestions.

So … Maybe one day it could be you?

Maïté,
Community Manager for French version.

# Focus on the general ranking

The general ranking in Howrse is one of the most popular rankings in the game.
Become ranked first and your popularity will be increased tenfold!

A lesser known fact is that the formula behind this ranking has changed only once over the past five years.
This happened two years ago and was intended to restrict the number of horses used to calculate this ranking to 10,000 per player.
Besides this, nothing has changed.

• Horses (number, age, skills)
• Player seniority
• The number of passes bought by each player

First, we take the 10,000 most skilled horses for each player and multiply their total skill points by two :

$2 * \sum (stamina + speed + dressage + gallop + trot + jumping + 1)$

Next, we multiply this value by the sum of all these horses’ age (capped at 30 years old per horse) and apply a power to it :

$(\sum age + 1)^{0.025}$

Then, we divide the result by the number of horses owned by the player and apply another power to it :

$(horses + 1)^{0.2}$

Finally, we multiply the value by the number of passes bought as well as seniority:

$(1 + {pass\ purchased})^{0.03} * (1 + {user\ seniority})^{0.01}$

The formula as a whole looks like this:

$\dfrac{2 * \sum (stamina + speed + dressage + gallop + trot + jumping + 1) * (\sum age + 1)^{0.025} * (1 + {pass\ purchased})^{0.03} * (1 + {user\ seniority})^{0.01}}{(horses + 1)^{0.2}}$

In this formula (as in the rest of the game), we use powers a lot.

We use powers bigger than 1 to increase differences between the players, whereas powers smaller than 1 are used to reduce differences between the players.
We have exhumed this formula from the source code in order to write this article.

Furthermore, as we wrote it we had a new idea… How about we replace the number of passes bought with the number of trophies won?
This has two positive consequences. We remove a parameter that doesn’t depend on in-game actions and replace it with a parameter that truly reflects each player’s playing skills.

Vincent, Howrse founder

# Did you ever ask yourself how Howrse features make their way into the game?

In this article you will learn how we create content for Howrse.

There are about 30 people working on the game:

• The product team, responsible for the elaboration of an action plan and the creation of technical specifications,
• the design team, responsible for the production of illustrations, interfaces and other graphical content,
•  the developer team (of course!) who develop the features
• and last but not least, the communication team, who is in charge of the information flow between Owlient and you, our players!

At the beginning of the creation process, there is always an idea. Like for example “how about making a contest including cupcakes?” (the howrse team looooves sweets ).  This idea is the first milestone in the creation phase. It might be a players’ idea, an idea that came out of brain storming or a suggestion of people working on Howrse.

Following, the all necessary details are written down on a 10 to 20 pages document, called the technical specifications. This document is then handed out to the dev team who will do their best in order to develop the feature (for example the different mechanics of the contest page).

In the meantime, our creative team is already working on the creation of design content. They work on the interfaces and all the illustrations you may find during the contest. Like for example the different ingredients for the bakery contest.

Once this desing content is integrated by the developers, the whole contest is put on our test servers, where the different features are tested for about 3 weeks. The bugs found by the testers, are corrected and the contest may be adjusted according to the testers  remarks.

And… that’s it !  The contest can be launched on Howrse.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It is, but it may sometimes take some time. In general, the creation process takes about 4 months (from the idea to the launch of the product). This means that today, we are already working on the features that you will discover in December and in January!

Have fun.

Alessa, Product Manager

Howrse?…  Of course you’ve heard about it. You’re even part of its community, boasting 2 million active players from all across the world!

So you might be wondering: “What’s this blog for?”

The purpose of this blog is to explain step by step the various stages of the process leading to a new feature on the game. To share with you all the questions  and challenges we can be confronted with to maintain the game’s balance in the long run, (why not even share a few of the secrets that we may have kept up until now…). Finally, it will also give us the opportunity of discussing important game evolutions with you.

We admit that in the past we have sometimes lacked transparency in our communication. This blog is the first of a fair few steps towards the new experience we wish to offer you, allowing each of you to live the Howrse experience with the intensity you prefer.

We’ll be writing this blog in English so that it can be read and understood by most of you. It would have been too complicated to make a blog covering every Howrse language, but you are free to translate it for the players of your version if you want.

The Ows from the different versions, the game designers, developers, illustrators and even the founders will take their turn to teach you as time goes by a little more about the game and go further in this community adventure.

Welcome to Inside Howrse!

Anne, Responsible for Customer Relationship