You are in Control: Player Settings

You are in Control: Player Settings

In another post, we talked about the settings parents have over their children’s accounts. It’s important to us the game devs for not only the parents to have control over settings in the game, but also for the players to have control over the settings in the game. That’s why we want to have a comprehensive game settings menu.

First, the settings that affect game playability and lag. The player should be able to control things such as if they’re full screen or not and be able to tell the game what size their screen is. Maybe they want to set a max FPS setting. Or want to adjust the ‘field of view’ and thus how close they have to be to assets for them to load completely.

Games like MMOs also have a lot of ‘back end’ style filters that may or may not affect the loading time of the game, like vertical sync, bloom, post effects, or even shadows. Whether or not these back end programs are  actually helpful to the player depends on the player. (Game dev Ginny finds they tend to make the game blurry and hurt her eyes, and Game dev Becca’s current PC can’t handle them.)

If we have more than one camera angle in the game, such as third person, first person, or bird’s eye view, it could be changed in settings. Some players like to be close behind their characters. Others want to see from overhead. And yet others might want a first person view where they don’t see their character at all but the top of the head of their horse.

Players should also be able to control whether or not they want to deal with friend requests, group requests, club invites, and any other type of ‘request’ that’s put into the game. If the parents have blocked these controls in the parental menu already, then they’ll be grey and unable to be changed.

Sound would also be controlled in settings. Games often have two or three layers of sound. Players should be able to control the volume of all the layers. Maybe they don’t want to hear the music. Maybe they need to hear the ambient noise in order to find an object! If the game has a radio function, they’d be able to change the station from this menu. (Or another feature could be added into the phone somewhere too so they can flip through radio stations by pressing on a button on the phone.)

We also want to be inclusive of all players and well, customization can be fun. In the settings, the players would be able to change the color of glows for ‘active quest’ objects, arrow indicators between racing gates or on the ground, and race markers such as wooden arrows or trail pillars to tell players where to turn or go on the race tracks and trails. Maybe there can be a setting for custom colors for health, magic, and faction bars.

Sometimes, standard set glow colors can be hard to see, especially if your glows are candy colored and the environment is brightly candy colored. We hope to negate this problem some by having a game environment color palette that is more muted in shades and tones than extreme bright colors. (Game dev Ginny finds bright colors everywhere without any differentiation and depth also make her tired because they give her eyes no place to rest. Resting is important!)

Lastly, we have some ‘fun’ and optional game settings that have been in demand in other horse games. For instance, whether or not you want to see your character’s hat. Maybe, you want to hide your character entirely and play as a ‘wild’ horse.

Other options in this section would be turning the grazing animation for your horse on and off, turning on and off emotes, turning on and off other player names (good for making videos), and the dialog boxes for things such as changing your clothes between the Mirror World and the normal world, or ‘are you sure you want to spend real world money?’

There are probably other settings we just haven’t thought about yet! While we don’t want to overwhelm the player with so many settings they don’t know what to do with them, we want to give them enough settings they can play the game easily and find everything they need to find. This also has the benefit of if someone is color blind to a particular spectrum, they can adjust the game to where they can see things clearly. Because everyone should be allowed to play the game if we can make it so.

All the King’s Horses: Horse Customization

All the King’s Horses: Horse Customization

Every horse is unique and different. And because this is a video game, we can’t exactly replicate that to a tee. However, we want to give the characters a chance to be able to make their horses as special and different as possible. Or to be able to replicate their favorite horse!

The most important horse to the game, of course, is the starter horse. Our starter horse is based off the Fjord horse and comes in 26 variations of dun. When the player enters the mirror world, they’re in for a colorful surprise and probably a long conversation.

Once the player buys the game and unlocks their My Farm/My Stable, they can start buying horses from breeders around the districts of Astranar. Each district has three special horses that they sell. The player is going to need a draft horse and a pony as well as their starter to be able to get the full experience of the game.

Don’t worry. There will be quests to help them earn enough credits to buy their first draft and pony.

When a player buys a new horse, the price is determined by how rare the coat color is in that breed. A common rule of thumb is that brown will be cheapest, and black will be the most expensive. (Price variable won’t be more than a dollar or two.) They’ll also be able to choose the mane and tail color. All horses start off as solid colors. Some special breeds like the Friesian or the American Cream Draft or the Black Forest Horse will come in a ‘range’ of shades of their breed’s only color. Or in the case of the Friesian, a rare chestnut will be included at cost.

If the player wants to customize their horse more by changing the glossiness of the coat, adding markings, or giving the horse feathers at their fetlocks, then they need to visit a Horse Appearance Changer. Here, they can also again change the coat color and mane/tail color if they desire.

The Horse Appearance changer uses credits because these are items that can’t be stored and they’re changing the basic appearance of the horse they bought. Some items, like markings such as pintos, will be restricted to specific breeds. (For instance, if you buy an Arabian and want to make them a pintabian, you’ll need to visit the Horse Appearance Changer. If you want to make your American Quarter Horse an American Paint Horse, the same.)

Once the basics of the horse are nailed down, the player can then go to the Horse Stylist in order to make their horse fashionable.

The stylist will let them style and decorate the mane and tail of their horse. They’ll be able to change the color of the decorations in the manes and tails to their choosing. They’ll be able to clip their horse’s coat and style the horse’s fetlocks if they have feathers.

We are also debating options to let the player use vegetable based dyes to dye the mane and tail of their horse and to use hoof polish for the hooves. These may be update options.

The stylist also uses credits to change the style of your horse. These are things that again, can’t be stored, and would require the player to think about what they’re doing.

There are three gear brand stores in Astranar. The player will find these in every district. They’re broken down into the English Gear Shop, the Western Gear Shop, and the Show/Fancy Gear Shop. If they go to Morganite, they’ll be able to learn leather working and be able to make their own gear that much faster. There are also a horse decoration shop for things such as bridle and tail bows. And then at the florist and stuffed animal shop, they can buy flower bouquets and stuffed animals to put in their saddlebags.

The gear in the shops should match the cloths in the clothing shops enough so the players can mix and match the saddles and saddlepads to match their outfits. As new clothes come to the clothing shops, hopefully so would new gear come to the gear shops. Adding new gear would potentially be an update item.

Because the gear is to match the clothes, hopefully, once again there will be enough items and styles that everyone can find a horse they like and gear they would use.

The In Game You: Player Character Customization

The In Game You: Player Character Customization

At Mystic Riders, we want the players to have as much control over their character as possible, and this includes a commitment to diversity. After the player registers for the game, and takes their quiz to determine their starting district, the player will go through the character creation process.

They will have at least 8 different options to customize their character.

Body Type:

Mystic Riders wants to have three different body types for the game. The difference in body types is going to be the measurements of the hips, bust, and a little bit the waist. We’re giving them shape names so there is hopefully no negative connotations.

The Flower Body is body type with a smaller bust and almost no hips. The Star Body type is the medium body type with a medium bust and some hips. While the Heart Body type is a larger bust, slightly wider waist and big hips. All of these bodies are beautiful and normal!

Skin Tone:

We’ve chosen 20 different skin tones to use in Mystic Riders. 5 Caucasian, 5 Olive, 5 Asian, and 5 African. We want to embrace as many skin tones and undertones as we can from light to dark.

Face:

They can choose their face shape from the standard face shapes like round, heart, square, oval, etc. They won’t be able to choose makeup because they’re arriving on a plane!

Eyes:

They’ll be able to choose a selection of eye colors. Eye colors would be taken from our color palette. In an ideal world, we’d like each section of the face, eyes, lips, and nose to be separate choices. The player would have the options of 5 different eye shapes; almond, round, down turned, up turned, and deep set.

Lips:

If each section of the face is a separate choice, there would be 8 different lip options to choose from. The player would be able to choose lip shapes from a “natural” mouth, thin lips, to “bee stung” and thick “glamour.”

Nose:

Noses would have 6 or 7 options depending on how the noses are sculpted. (Finding good nose references isn’t easy.) Style would include upturned noses, down turned noses, narrow based noses, wide based noses, hook noses, button noses, and hopefully a ‘nubian’ nose.

Hair:

In hair they’ll be able to choose from a selection of “normal” colors (no dye jobs) and from ten basic styles.

 And their 1st Outfit:

Every camp has a camp store with clothing selections available for the player to purchase in the style of their district. The player would be able to choose an outfit from a dress with leggings, 2 blouses, a skirt or a pant and between the district hat or a riding helmet. They wouldn’t be able to show up to camp in the district coats or the muck outfit.

As the game progresses, the player will unlock new clothes to wear and be able to make and buy jewelry. They’ll be able to visit spas to change their hair style and buy makeup and nail polish. They’ll be able to store their new hairstyles, hair colors, and makeup in their vanity on the My Farm/My Stable and keep new clothes and jewelry in the wardrobe.

When a player visits the spa, they’ll be able to play mini games, such as facials, manicures, and hair treatments and hair styling after selecting their new look if they desire. Lip colors and eye makeup will all be drawn from the colors of the color palette. The players will also be able to dye their hair with the same colors. Each district of the game has 7 new hairstyles for the players to buy. This means there is a total of 66 hair styles in the game.

We have 14 clothing store brands planned for the game with clothing styles from basic to vintage to niche styles like steampunk. Each of these store will have mix and match sets for the players to buy. These brands are in every district across Astranar and the island of Argentum. If they go to Ruby, they’ll be able to learn fabric crafts and how to make clothes that much faster.

Clothes, thusly, are level locked rather than zone locked.

Because customizing your character and fashion is so important to the game, we are hopeful that clothing updates to add new styles will be one of the common ‘updates’ to the game. Hopefully, we’ve thought of enough options so everyone can find a look that represents them and things they like to wear.

Let’s Make Something

Let’s Make Something

Now that the player has someplace to live and keep their horses, well, they’re own little farm. They need something to do on their farm. That’s right. Crafting.

In combat MMOs, crafting is now considered one of the basic features of the game. It doesn’t matter that in a combat MMO you’re probably just getting materials to make new armor or put together some potions, crafting is there and part of the experience. In Mystic Riders, crafting is part of what drives the story as the character chases after the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

As the player unlocks camp locations, they can choose to learn new skills. In the beginning, they can learn 3 different skills, one racing, one ‘craft’ skill and one ‘arts’ skill.

The racing skill they choose is determined by their district and the answers they gave to the quiz. (If they don’t like that type of skill, they can always take the quiz again to get a different district.) And then once they are at camp, they can choose two other skills from the different activities offered.

The Craft skills are hiking, running, swimming, gardening, cooking, photography, archery, and fishing. The Art skills are cloth crafts, leather crafts, wood/paper crafts, ceramics, and lastly, metal crafts. As the player uses their skills, they’ll get better at them. The more they craft, the better they’ll be at it. (Exactly the same mechanic used for riding, jumping, or caring for your horse.)

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Some of the craft skills and all of the art skills have trees of knowledge that increase in difficulty. When you first start sewing for example, you’ll be learning to make curtains and pillowcases, but when you become more advanced, you can make tailored clothes! As the player increases in skill, new quests to learn more advanced techniques will open up for them to play, and new items will be available for them to make.

After you learn to hike, you can learn orienteering and eventually go onto geocaching and archaeology. Running leads to the skills of yoga, dance, and fencing or martial arts. Once you learn to swim, you can learn to row a boat. After you learn to garden, you can learn how to take care of animals, and mine responsibly. (I’d consider gardening to be the most basic skill to take and strongly urge players to get it started first.) Once you learn to cook, you can learn to bake, make candy, and brew things such as potions, lotions, and perfumes.

After you learn to sew square things, you can learn to make clothes, and then advanced more tailored clothes and knitting. In leather crafts, first you make belts, handbags, and shoes, and then you can learn to make bridles and saddles. In woodcrafts, you first learn to make paper items, and things such as picture frames. Then you can learn to make furniture and musical instruments. In ceramics, first you learn poured ceramics (like plaster) and slab style ceramics, and then you can learn the pottery wheel, and eventually go onto glass making. In metal crafts, you learn to make jewelry and simple things like nails and decorative objects, then later forging.

Some of this obviously is going to need to be worked out and is subject to change.

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The crafting system is meant to tie in with the story, the professions, the My Farm/My Stable, and even the factions in Mystic Riders. During the story, the character will be asked to use certain skills. And how easily they manage them is going to depend on how much time they’ve put into that skill.

If you want to take part in a certain profession in the game and get the special items, you’re going to need skill and reputation with the groups related to that profession. The more work you put into your skills, the bigger and better your farm and stable can become. If you want better horse shoes, it’s going to be much cheaper to learn to forge your own than to buy them. And there are certain items you can only make if you’re with one faction or the other.

The items they make and grow can be food for them or their horses, it can be clothing or gear, or jewelry to help with their magic abilities. They can create items to decorate their My Farm/My Stable inside and out.

As the player runs around the world and does the quests and as they level up in their skill levels, they’ll discover, be given, or can buy different crafting recipes or patterns. These they can keep in their library at their My Farm/My Stable for reference later.

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They can grow the items they need at the My Farm/My Stable, forage them from the world around them, or be able to buy items in shops if they’re pressed for time. Just because one player is going to want to make their outfit from growing the cotton to finished product, doesn’t mean another player is going to want to do that, and we can accommodate both.

Because crafting is going to be a large part of the game, we have set some limits on how long things will take to grow in the garden for instance. Nothing should take more than fifteen minutes and when the server resets, everything will be instantly ready. We don’t want to frustrate our players or make them babysit the game waiting for things to finish. Certain areas of the game will have items the player can forage. The items will be refreshed when the player leaves that area and returns. And so it’s not all drag and drop mechanics, we hope to use different mini games to liven up the experience.

For instance, in sewing you could trace the pattern on the screen. For forging, there could be a slide bar mini game where you need to hit the mouse at a certain time. For cooking, you could take the ingredients and make sure each row of ingredients has the right number of them and possibly in the right order.

We want people to have fun and hopefully relax during the game. Farming and crafting and using the items that result to decorate your My Farm/My Stable can be very relaxing activities! Crafting is yet another way we want to give the players more control over their experience to enjoy the game they want to enjoy it without making it a grind or tedious and mind numbing.

A Place to Live

A Place to Live

One of the main buildings in the My Farm/My Stable is the farm house, or, well, in the beginning, the farm cottage. When the player first sets up their My Farm/My Stable after purchasing the game, they receive what is essentially a 1 bedroom cottage. They have a choice over whether or not the cottage is on the ground or is a tree house and what architectural style the cottage is going to be or at least, grow into.

Because as they play through the game and go through quests learning different skills, the player will be able to upgrade and expand their cottage to have more rooms for different crafting skills. They’ll be able to buy or create decorations and plants so that they can choose how their cottage is going to look on the outside.

They will also have the option of decorating their cottage on the inside. This starts when the player gets a room or a cabin at camp. They are allowed to choose from the district’s basic colors and patterns on how to decorate their room. Once they buy the game, they’ll be able to choose from every districts colors, patterns, and mix and match from the different Victorian style wall paper and furniture themes available. And by learning crafting skills, they can make or buy at stores, drag and drop decorations to personalize their home even more.

The cottage begins as a small one bedroom cottage with a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bath. Your living room may have a small area for whatever your first crafting specialty that you chose at camp. If you chose clothes, there might be a body form and a sewing machine for example.

As the player learns more about their skill they’ll be able to add onto the cottage by adding an entire room for the skill. They might want to add a wardrobe room to keep all of their clothes. (Like, they’ll want to add on a display tack room for their horse’s equipment in the stable.) They might want a room for paper crafts and wood working or to put in an art room for their pottery wheel and kiln or glass blowing supplies. Maybe, they’ll want to collect books and have a library. Or they need a case for all their findings in archeology. They might want to upgrade their kitchen so they have better ovens or more than one counter in order to do cooking and baking in one area, but making dyes, paint, and spa products (and other inedible things) on another counter.

One of the most useful rooms in the player’s cottage is their bedroom. The bedroom contains several mechanics of the game that deal with their inventory and game progression; the wardrobe, the vanity, the safe, the computer, the bedside table, and the bed.myfarmcloset

The wardrobe is where the player can keep their clothes, hand items outside of pets, and jewelry. The wardrobe will allow them to organize their clothes and to create outfits if they desire. When the player enters the wardrobe, they should be able to see themselves and their clothing inventory. They can either double click on items or drag and drop them to create outfits. There should be an option for them to be able to see their total stats depending on the outfit that they’re wearing.

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The vanity is where the player can keep their hairstyles and makeup options. If they desire, they can play a mini game in order to do their hair, nails, and makeup, after they decide what they want to do, or they can opt out of the mini-game and do a ‘magical’ quick change.

The safe is where the player can keep extra credits and coins that they don’t want to carry around in their inventory. This lets the player save coins and credits beyond the maximum limit. The safe would have an extra password that the player would set as a double protection just in case. This way, if the player doesn’t have anything they want to buy and are almost maxed out on the credit or coin limit, they can store those currencies and keep earning until there is something they do want to buy in an update, or dare I say it, the next expansion.

The computer is similar to the phone user interface for the player. The computer does everything that the phone does, as well as gives the player options to replay story arcs for coins (not experience), keeps track of story progression, allows them to replay story cinematics, and gives them the option to change their My Farm/My Stable/Cottage/Dorm appearance. Here they can keep track of their skills and skill trees, have a database of met NPCs, horses, and district information, see the webpages for different in game riding clubs, and unlock game concept art. And because a computer should also be fun, they can also practice the mini games such as bubble shooter and whack-a-mole, etc.

The bedside table is important for its large stack of magazines. These magazines form a dress up game for both the player and the horses. These magazines are advertisements for clothing, hair styles, makeup, and horse equipment items that they can either buy in the shops or create themselves. They can use the magazines to plan outfits for them and their horses, and the magazines can tell them where to find the items, if they have restrictions, the stats, and how much the entire outfit is going to cost.

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Lastly, there is the bed. The bed is simply a place for the player to sleep. If they’ve finished the quests for that day, and want to progress to the next day’s quests, then they can pay a fee to sleep and wake up “the next day.” When they wake up the next day, all their items in the garden will be grown, and they’ll be able to proceed in any story or crafting quests. Mystic Riders is going to be designed so the player will spend at most an hour every day doing horse care and quests. If they desire to spend more time in the game foraging or farming or shopping outside of quests, that is on the player and if they desire to do more quests outside of the 45 minutes to an hour, they can sleep in their bed to progress the game.

While the cottage at the My Farm/My Stable isn’t going to be a place where the player spends a huge amount of time, it is designed to let them have as much control over it as possible and assist them in their farming and crafting endeavors.

A Place of Your Own

A Place of Your Own

A large part of Mystic Riders involves the ability to grow and make your own items. And in order to do that, you need a place of your own to be able to grow your own ingredients or store things that you’ve foraged. Plus, you can’t keep all your horses at the camp forever. You need your own place and that is the My Farm/My Stable.

The My Farm/My Stable is available to players who buy a pass to leave the camp (or in essence, buy the game). Once they have a pass, the mentor of their camp will show them their own Farm and Stable and walk the player through choosing a set up for a Farm and Stable of their own.

The My Farm/My Stable exist in well, magic space. What the player needs to access their farm and stable is their magical key, and a special gate. When they put the key into the special gate, a portal appears to their bit of land in Astranar. They can either keep the key with them, or set it up in one of permanent gates on the map. (Going home to your stable is always a free transportation jump that doesn’t require using a train.)

The key to their farm and stable is a snow globe! (Snow globes are very magical in Astranar.) The player has the opportunity to customize their snow globe key by choosing one of the districts symbols for the middle and a color from the color palette. (These can always be changed later.)

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When the player drags and drops their key onto the gate for the first time, they’ll be prompted to choose a style of farm that they want. While the player won’t be able to choose the placement of the buildings on their farm, they’ll be able to choose whether or not they have a cottage or a tree house and about a half a dozen styles ranging from French Empire, Queen Anne, Modern Eco Victorian, and so on and so forth to choose from, and they can choose if they want stone or stucco or painted clapboard. There will also be decorations to make or buy so they can decorate to their heart’s content.

The player will also be prompted to name their My Farm/My Stable.

The player will start with a small 1 bedroom cottage, a stable with 3 stalls that looks like a country church without a steeple, and a patch of dirt. As they do quests around the districts, they’ll be able to upgrade and add buildings and animal enclosures to their farm. Some of the first quests after the player acquires their farm will be to fill the stalls of their stable with a draft horse and a pony!

For example, as a player does farming quests around the district, they’ll be able to upgrade their patch of dirt so it has less rocks, or they learn how to improve the soil, thus letting plants grow faster or yield more. By learning about animals from farmers and veterinarians, they can build enclosures for bunnies, chickens, and an animal pen for bigger animals like sheep, cows, alpaca, and goats. (This is going to depend on their crafting specialty what animals they find more important. A player that takes up doing clothing is more likely to have an alpaca over say a goat, unless the goat is a cashmere goat.)

Once the player goes to the Diamond District and learns about hot houses, they’ll be able to build a conservatory in their farm if they so desire. When they learn forging, they’ll be able to build a forge on their farm. And if they want a pony cart, they can build a building specifically to hold their pony cart.

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When they complete a quest to make friends or capture one of the fantasy horses in the mirror world, they’ll be able to open a gate to the mirror world from their farm to a magical glade. This magical glade will have a pavilion for them to take care of their magical horses, a garden, and enclosures for magical animals.

The My Farm/My Stable is intended as a place for the player to be able to continually improve as the game progresses. It is “their” space in the game to make it look the way they want. They can use the farm to grow plants in order not to have to buy them at the stores and as a place to keep extra inventory and pets. Lastly, the My Stable is a place for them to house the completely optional horses (outside one draft and one pony) they can collect in the game.

Can You Hear Me Now? (Main UI)

Can You Hear Me Now? (Main UI)

Astranar is a rather magical place, so much so that cellphones from out of the country don’t work! When the player arrives at camp, they’re given a cellphone that is connected to Argentum’s cellphone network and works in the magical area. This cellphone is the main user interface for Mystic Riders.

The cellphone looks like your typical smart phone. And it has different icon apps that open up different functions in the game. In short, the cellphone is the game’s main menu. So, what features are in our main menu? A lot.

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(Rough Idea of Menu design)

One of the biggest functions of the cellphone is that it contains the game map. The player is going to need this map to be able to orient themselves around Astranar. The map will be a 3D style map they can zoom in and out of, and hopefully, will have a road map overlay. There should be marked locations where there are important NPCs, train stations, and shops and restaurants, etc. As the player explores more of the map, fog will lift on the 3D map for them.

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(The Map While Riding Around; Not Full Screen)

The menu also has the Quest Log Book. Here the player can bring up the quests available to them, select which ones they want to do (markers will appear on the map) and the gold calculator will tell them how many coins they’ll earn from doing those quests. (Always helpful if you need to buy something.)

The player can also access their inventory. The player has two saddlebags on their horse. One saddlebag is for their pet, and the other saddlebag is for their inventory. They can keep everything from feed, to different crafting kits, to their brush, pick, and foldable shovel.

There will be the character menu and the horse menu. These open up interfaces that show the character or horse and what they are wearing. These menus also keep track of the player’s level, care status, currency, and statistics. The player can look at their skill menu, track their achievements in the achievement sticker book, and see how each group in the game feels about them with the reputation tab.

They also will have a friends menu to invite and manage their friends. There will be a club management section if they are part of or run a riding club. They can keep track of their competition results in another menu. They can take pictures with the in-game camera, open the chat function, or send private messages in the in-game email. Lastly, they can access their game settings or get their questions answered in the game help with a report function to message customer support.

If there is an in game radio, the player should be able to access and control what channel they want to listen to through the phone. Channels might include things like orchestral epic soundtrack music, Rose Neptuna’s channel, or channels dedicated to her rivals like Hi-Fidelity (or even an Astranar’s Top 40 that’s a mix of them all? Future thought to chew on).

The player would have the options of being able to customize the phone wallpaper background with game art pictures or pictures from they’ve taken on their in-game camera and to be able to customize the phone case with in-game patterns and colors.

We hope that this style of user interface will be easy to understand and flexible enough that things can be added to it with little trouble if needed. (Maybe we need a game news function for updates, or a section for the game credits.) There are a lot of things going on in an MMO and the in-game phone is the hub for a great deal of it without cluttering the player’s view of the game itself!

Light or Shadow: Which Faction Do You Choose?

Light or Shadow: Which Faction Do You Choose?

One of the issues with MMORPGs is that the story can often feel railroaded or set in stone as a player goes through the game. No matter what type of profession they are or race, they end up playing the same story. MMORPGs aren’t at the point yet of, say, Detroit Become Human, where every option creates a myriad of other options and endings. However, Mystic Riders has a couple ideas in mind to allow the player to have more ‘control’ over their adventure.

One of these is our faction system.

In Mystic Riders, there are two groups of magical riders; the Light Riders, and the Shadow Riders. They’re at odds with each other and don’t know how to get along. The Light Riders control the mastery of the elements and some say thought itself, while the Shadow Riders control things such as petrification and decay, and they’re rumored to control fear and nightmares.

Why there are two factions is something of a mystery. Once upon a time, there didn’t seem to be Light or Shadow magicians at all. There were simply magicians. No one knows what happened. Now, it is what it is, and the Light Riders and Shadow Riders vie for control of the Mirror World.

Nobody is sure what would happen if one side gained more control of the other, though both sides are determined to try.

During the game, the player will be given choices on what side they want to be part of: the Light or the Shadow. And from that point on in the story, they will experience different story quests as they proceed in the game (until they’re prompted on whether or not they want to switch sides again). The player is allowed to choose and decide their own motivations for doing so. Do they really believe one faction is better than the other? Maybe they’re a spy?

On top of having different story quests, each side will have different areas of the Mirror World that they can enter and exit safely. A Light Rider better be stealthy and quick if they want to enter an area of the Mirror World controlled by the Shadow. If not, they’ll have to hope they can race back home without being caught. The vice versa is also true.

The appearance of the “My Glade,” the Mirror World section of the “My Farm,” will also change depending on whether or not the player is a Light Rider or a Shadow Rider. And when the player has enough experience to open up a gate to a Mirror World town, what town they have will depend on which faction they’re part of.

Of course, it is a horse game so there are different special magical horses for Light Riders and for Shadow Riders. In Astranar, there are whispers of unicorns and pegasi if you can enter the Mirror World and win their trust. However, white unicorns only come to riders of the Light, and dark unicorns are attracted to riders of the Shadow. The same can be said of the pegasi. White, pastels, and true colors love Light Riders. While black, greys, and muted colors adore Shadow Riders.

While there are other magical horses, one doesn’t truly care about alignment and a couple only come around a very special lucky holiday.

There is also one special pet for each faction. Light Riders can keep rabbits of all varities for pets. While Shadow Riders can keep certain species of the weasel family including weasels, stoats, ferrets, mink, and pine martens. These pets ride along in the saddle bag, can be held by the player, or run along after the player while they’re walking. And if the player has more than one pet, they stay at the “My Farm/My Stable.”

Each faction has their own special equipment and gear for horses and humans alike. For those in the know, wearing these special styles can hint what side you’re on or have been on in the past.

Hopefully, by adding factions to the game and giving them different rewards will encourage replayability and give the player more freedom and customization in how they choose the play their story and craft their own adventure.

Breed Spotlight: Astranar Wild Horse

Breed Spotlight: Astranar Wild Horse

Astranar Wild Horse

Your starting horse, the Astranar Wild Horse is a unique breed with plenty to offer and secrets that the locals are careful to keep away from the rest of the world.

Physically similar to the Fjord horses of Norway, a possible sign the two breeds developed independently in similar fashions, the Astranar Wild Horse can only be found on the continent of Argentum, with the wild herds only being sighted in the country of Astranar. Some horses paired with a rider will travel the other countries on the continent, but most wild horse sightings in Zablana or Nospos are written off as false sightings.

Fjord 2

Curiously enough, this breed is well known for only bonding with female riders. While occasionally one will tolerate a male rider, it is usually with ill grace and doesn’t last long. Locals have stopped trying. But when they find the right person, these horses are the most loyal mount one could ask for, and they will always try their hardest for them.

The biggest secret about the Astranar Wild Horse is known only to locals or their riders: they are the only breed of horse that can cross between the barrier between our world and that of the Mirror World. On our side, they are handsome horses, but on the other, they reveal their real, bright colors…and snarky comebacks. (Yep, they talk, and they are bursting with opinions.) Herd hierarchy can get a bit biting at times, but really, you get a group together of anything that can talk, and gossip is going to follow.

Because of their magical traits, Astranar Wild Horses are considered a banned export–they rely on the magic of the Mirror World to exist, so they can’t leave the continent. This makes them highly sought after mounts by new arrivals who don’t always realize what they are getting into. They learn.

                   Fjord 1           Fjord 3

Breed Characteristics:
A solid all-around horse, the breed comes in all shades of dun, with a thick mane and tail of usually a mixture of a lighter color and a darker color. (Exact mixing and matching will be customizable by the player at start up.) Their manes can be cut into patterns similar to a Fjord, or allowed to hang loose and mixed, depending on theirs and their rider’s preferences. While the occasional blaze or sock can be seen, most horses have solid coats. Because they are a such a rare breed and require as high of genetic diversity as possible (at least on paper), geldings are not available. (Players will be able to pick between mares and stallions.)

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                    3                                              Discipline:       3
Endurance:         3                                               Agility:             3
Strength:             3

* Note, these numbers aren’t set in stone. They are Becca’s way of trying to reduce her knowledge/research of breeds and their particular skills and traits into numbers so when animators and programmers have to look at these horses, they can go, “Oh, this horse can’t turn worth beans but this one can on a dime, noted!”

Statistics! The Game Character Sheet

Statistics! The Game Character Sheet

Every good RPG has statistics. These statistics are numbers assigned to the player that determines their various levels of expertise in different skills. They’re assigned points when they first create their character from the type of racing they chose in their placement quiz, and are given more as they ‘level up.’

One of Mystic Riders goals is to have as much customizable content as possible and one of the basic customization types that we want to give players over is their own statistics. That way they can choose what type of rider that they’re going to be! They will also have control over the statistics of their horse, and how they want their magic to work.

Statistics are the game version of a character’s player game sheet in a table top RPG. They determine the strengths and weaknesses of the character. But instead of rolling dice, they are applied to how well the character does things in the game.

The player has five basic ability stats: Speed, Stamina, Strength, Command, and Agility.

Speed is how fast can your character move at a walk or a run. Stamina is how long can your character ride without eating, run, or withstand the heat and cold. Strength is how much can your character lift or pull. Command is how well do animals obey them. And Agility is how quickly and how tight does your character turn.

There are three magical ability stats that the player also has control over and can change when they level up; Accuracy, Cast Time, and Power.

Accuracy is how on target the cast spell ends up being and if it works or not. Cast time is how quickly the player can cast the spell. And Power is how much oomph goes into the spell.

The horses also have five basic stats that the player can customize: Speed, Endurance, Strength, Discipline, and Agility.

Speed is how fast can the horse go. Endurance is how far can the horse go without care, and how well do they adapt to heat or cold, and how far can they walk through a boggy marsh. Strength is how much can a horse pull or carry, and how high can they jump. Discipline is how well does a horse take commands and how fast do they change their paces or stop. Agility is how quickly and tightly can the horse turn.

Certain breeds of horses will have higher stats in different things depending on if they are good showjumping horses, or good western horses, or good dressage horses, etc.

When the horse levels up, the player will be prompted to put the new points they’ve earned into the different horse statistic slots.

The player will have skill tracks that level up as they do things in the game. For instance, they have three skills that are related to horses. Ride, Jump, and Care. The more they ride, the better they’ll get at it as the more points they’ll accumulate. The more jumps they take, the better they’ll get at jumping with their horse. And Care, the more they clean stables and care for their horses, the faster they’ll get at it. Arts and Crafting skills falls under this kind of leveling.

The player’s statistics and the horse’s statistics will be able to work together to do certain things in the game better than others. A player with a good level of command is going to get better results out of a horse with low discipline and outstanding results with a horse with high discipline for example. Better ride stat, the more balanced you are on the horse and the faster it can go.

Players will be able to create characters with vastly different skill sets and abilities by playing the game in different ways. A player who spends more time in crafting is going to be a lot faster at it and have more items to craft than a player who primarily plays for racing. Creating a more customized and hopefully enjoyable experience that will want to make them play the game again so they can try out doing different styles of play and different story lines.