Breed Spotlight: New Forest Pony

Breed Spotlight: New Forest Pony

New Forest Pony

Another quasi-feral breed (it’s complicated), the New Forest Pony is far more regulated than its prior two contemporaries. Only purebloods can be added to the registry anymore, so Astranar is quite lucky to be able to start their own breed book. As a pony, the New Forest pony is one of the options for a pony-mount the player will need to complete the game and will be given a quest line for funds. Unfortunately, that isn’t in the same district as this pony resides. Maybe you can arrange your play-order of districts to help you pick it for your own pony friend?

This pony dates all the way back to the Ice Age! It is indigenous to the New Forest in southern England, where it continues to thrive to this day. They are amusingly enough described as being workman-like in their composition by the registry. They have a sloping shoulder, powerful hindquarters, and straight legs that end in rounded hooves. Their gates can be described as “free,” without being too over-exaggerated, so no dramatics here. They are usually intelligent, agile workers known for their sure-footed steps and speed.

New Forest 1

Despite being quite beloved in their home region for work and agility work, including gymkhana, show jumping, dressage, and other eventing, the New Forest Pony has been labeled a minority breed. Steps were taken to improve the quality of foals, and then in 1960, the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society began to publish their stud book. The pony found itself being exported throughout the world, and other countries began their own studbooks and registries that have helped the breed. Being from England, the moors and craggy shorelines of Citrine must feel like home, and they have their own studbook there.

New Forest 2

Breed Characteristics:
New Forest ponies are most commonly found in chestnut (red coat and mane for Mystic Rider purposes), bay, or grey. Other solid colors are possible, though blue eyes and excessive white markings (i.e. paints) are not allowed. Lighter coats palomino and sorrel (red coat with blonde mane, again for our purposes, see above) are only allowed in mares and geldings.

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                    1                                              Discipline:        3
Endurance:         2                                               Agility:             6
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!”

Let’s Talk Racing!

Let’s Talk Racing!

As a horse themed game, one of the most prevalent mini-games that we feel should be in Mystic Riders is the different types of races. We don’t want the game to be focused on one type of race. We want to have different types of races to reflect different horse disciplines and give them different mechanics in the mini-games.

To be clear, when the player is out and exploring the world on their own, we don’t really care how well they clear a jump or how fast they get from one area to the other. They are discovering the map of the game and such things shouldn’t matter. When they enter a story race, or a competition race, or a daily race to train their horse, then the mechanics matter.

In Mystic Riders, we have decided on four different racing tracks: Agility, Dressage, Racing, and Show Jumping. Each of these tracks require different stat combinations between the horse and the rider.

The Agility track is Western riding including gymkhana. This is slalom gate racing, pole-bending, and barrel racing with pony flag racing as an experienced skill. The mechanics of these are doing them quickly and not hitting the equipment. The player would be using their standard movement keys. Just because there is no extra mechanics doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy to take those tight turns.

The Dressage track is cavaletti, dressage, reining, and trail riding as an experienced skill. These are skills that require the horse to have discipline. The player would be prompted to go at certain speeds and to follow a mini-game where they have to hit keys in a certain sequence in order to complete the moves. To get from one area to another, there can be arrows on the ground to tell them where to go and the colors could indicate speed.

The Racing track is flat racing, endurance racing, cross country, and steeple chase as an experienced skill. In the racing track, they’d have to learn to conserve their horse’s strength by keeping watch on an endurance meter. In cross country racing where there are jumps, they would have to jump by hitting the space bar in the right spot on gauge meter.

Lastly, the Show Jumping track is about the different types of show jumping: basic, six bar, faults, and for the experienced, faults converted. (We can cover what each of those means later.) In the show jumping mini game, the player would be required to approach the jump at the right angle and the right speed. As they approach the jump, there would be spots on the ground that they’d have to hit with their mouse at the right time. If they don’t, they miss the jump.

Hopefully, these mini-games will be familiar and at the same time, have a balance of being challenging enough to be interesting and easy enough not to be frustrating. Having seen similar mechanics in other games, these mechanics are possible. They’ve simply not been used in a MMORPG setting before.

We want the mechanics of the races to show how these different races take skill to succeed. And at the same time, give the players freedom to explore the world on their own at will. (Getting from point A to point B shouldn’t be a frustrating endeavor.)