#014 – Horses

Okay, before I start, I’m going to give you some bad news.

I’m running out of ideas, I don’t have time to write about that many ideas anymore for whatever reason, so I’m slowing down my pace to one post per week. It’ll probably be on a Sunday.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have as many ideas. I’ll be even more active than ever as part of the SquishyChallenge, which you can follow on /r/ideasquish.

And, linking in with that, I’ll tell you this. My interest in video/computer-games has declined a little over the past month. You can probably tell. But, it’s been replaced by something better. A love of tabletop gaming! Some people say it’s game designing at its most basic, or going back to the roots of gaming, but I just love the things you can do with physical items, player interaction and interesting challenges that are only offered by tabletop games. So the SquishyChallenge themes will continue with tabletop-friendly topics. You can still try and think of videogame ideas if you want though!

And just some nice links now. Sophie Houlden’s Fishing Jam is on this week, and I’m sure she’ll let you in with both virtual and physical games (I know I’m making a tabletop game!). And for those who are just into analogue games, The Game Chef is on this week too. It’s awesome! It’s like the Ludum Dare of physical games.

Now, to my post.

Horses are pretty awesome. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, they’re smart, they’re poorly represented in games.

In the few games that include horses, they’re just used as mounts. In reality,¬†draught-horses¬†are just as, if not more, common that horses to be ridden. They pull traps, stagecoaches, carriages, chariots, anything! I’ve never played a game with a chariot… But this is just a sidenote.

My main focus of this post is that horses are a bit like people. They have personality. One horse might be faster than another. One horse might be smart, and wouldn’t need as much focus to ride. One might be totally wild and un-rideable at all! If you were to buy a horse, it might look like a good deal because it’s so cheap, but it could be totally useless. If you come across a horse in a field, you can’t just hop right on, because the chances are it’s a wild stallion and that’s why it’s sitting alone in a field.

The only game I’ve really seen focus on a horse is The Legend of Zelda, with Epona. But all that involved was timing when to give her carrots to get a speed boost. The biggest problem in the game is that Link can magically ride a horse without ever having really learned. This is true in pretty much all horse-featuring games. But never mentioned is that horses need to learn to be ridden too.

And horses need to learn to trust their riders. I think it would be really cool if you didn’t want to buy a faster horse because your relationship with your current horse gives you a bonus.

Horse control is another big problem. In most games, it gives you a static speed increase when you get on a horse. But it doesn’t *feel* like a horse. I have an idea for a horse-mounted arena fighting game. Your controls are leaning to either side, steering to either side, leaning forward and backward, and using your weapon.

The leaning is all standard horse-riding logic. I won’t try and teach you how to ride a horse, because there are much better people to teach you, but it’s all about the leaning. Then, if you have a short weapon, you might need to lean down on that side to use it. Or if you’re dodging, you might need to lean. I think the combination of controlling a horse and using a weapon could make a really complex and strategic game. For example, you need to think of your stance (what way you’re leaning and facing), your speed (you can’t suddenly stop, and you need to have some speed to do good damage) and your horse’s injuries as well as the normal arena fighter things.

And yes, that is a horse in an identity crisis. Don’t judge me.

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