#horsegame Prototype Update: Progress and Priorities


It has been almost a year since I’ve started working on my own horse game prototype. In case you’ve missed it so far, I’ve previously outlined my intentions and goals here and here.

The way I usually pitch the idea is as “Stardev Valley, but with training horses instead of farming”. Unlike many horse games, I want mine to work as a game first and foremost, rather than just giving horse fans a playground to find their own fun. I intend to provide the player with motivating and satisfying short term and long term goals rather than just expect them to be content with any proximity to digital equines.

Recent Efforts

In order to efficiently create a proper prototype in the limited time I can invest, I’ve had to evaluate which aspects I consider the “core” of this game idea. While Exploration, Social Interaction with NPC Villagers and Crafting are all important parts of the vision, I’ve decided to focus creating a basic Economy for now:

Caring for your horse costs money, and upgrading your stable will cost money, so ways to earn and spend said money were what I’ve been working on the past few months:

  • I’ve added a Grandma NPC and a simple dialogue system to provide the player with some starting funds and a first faint hint of “story”

  • I’ve added a store and the option to restock your hay and straw carts by going there and spending money.

  • I’ve created a few small objects that can be found around your farm and sold for money. For now, these objects are branches, antlers and gems of different colors. (I had to add a simple inventory system for this, which took quite some time)

I’ve added a simple Save system so that once the player has gone to sleep (which saves the game), some information will be stored - and restored when next playing. Currently, saving includes the fill amounts of your hay and straw cart, your money, and the counter of how many days have passed.  

All these small “systems” will of course be further expanded: The Save file will grow to contain more relevant information such as how many horses the player owns and what their stats are, once those are options in the game. While you can already run out of hay and straw, there are not currently any consequences yet for simply not feeding your horse. The findable objects should eventually also be usable for crafting, in order to increase their sales value. More NPCs and more dialogue will of course follow as well.


Up Next

One important part of the game that I want to tackle soon-ish is how training horses works. I know I want to add a way of increasing your horse’s skill in individual dressage exercises, starting with things like riding a circle at a walk, trot and canter, turning on the forehand and leg yielding.

The game design of this isn’t fully fleshed out yet and might change in iteration, but I would like to have a system where the player learns a combination of inputs to execute an exercise, and then their proficiency in that exercise (and/or that of the horse) increases with every time they execute it.

In order to pass a test or win a dressage tournament, the player will have to execute the exercises with a higher level of accuracy than your computer controlled opponents.

Another thing I want to add soon is an option to give riding lessons for money. The computer controlled pupil will make a visible mistake (like leaning forward, pulling up their heels, having their reins too tight or too loose etc.) and the player has to correct it by choosing the right “dialogue option”.

As always in this project, my goal is to find a balance between what is realistic and what is fun from a gameplay point of view. The time I can afford to spend on the project is still limited to roughly half an hour per day, which means that my progress is slow, but steady.

I post a video of the week’s changes on Twitter every Saturday, and you can always find the latest version right here.