Best of all the animals   Leave a comment

Except in survivability.

Monday the 2nd was a day off work. Hurrah! They’re my favourite days.

It went pretty much as you might guess; I played Forza 4, and finished off my Secret of the Magic Crystal(s) diary on Sekrit. The link is probably pointless, because I’d actually finished it before I posted the first time on the subject, but there you go.

The game actually annoys me because you could make an interesting horsey game, but (if you discount Red Dead Redemption, which has the best horseys of any game I’ve ever played, although I’ve not ridden a dobbin in Skyrim yet and apparently the Sims 3 Pets expansion is quite good) nobody’s ever bothered. They only make crappy shovelware aimed at the pester-power of young girls (yay sexism). Yes, stereotypically they’re the demographic interested in ponies, but even if you take that as absolutely true then there’s still no excuse to only make it shovelware; for example, when she was in her early teens my sister loved horses, and played one of the shovelware dobbin games of the time to death, but her favourite games were, and still are, Settlers 2 and Master of Orion 2. If there had been a decent horsey game, she might never have been seen again and I could have had my MoO 2 CD back*. And if you make an interesting game, then you won’t be relying on naive kids who’ll covet anything with a horse on it. How many people have an interest in horse-racing or equestrianism?

What game could you make, then? Well, for any “riding the horse” bit, ripping off Red Dead wouldn’t be a bad start. But if you wanted something a bit more realistic, a modern pad’s triggers could map to reins, shoulder buttons to legs, and one of the sticks to body position. It’s not perfect; you’d really want leg position as well as pressure; but it’s not a bad start, and a damn sight better than cursor keys and space to jump, or SotMC’s rhythm-action rubbish. (You could argue that rhythm-action could represent dressage fairly well, in spirit at least, but not the way SotMC does it.)

Otherwise, some combination of a Theme- or Tycoon-style game (Theme Riding School? Stable Tycoon?) with Football Manager (with horses and jockeys/instructors/whatever replacing the over-paid whiny rapists) could be brilliant. You could even use quite similar mechanics to do various different styles of game that would appeal to different people, from those who just want to groom and ride a pet pony and design their own imaginary stable, to those who want to manage a realistic racing stable.

You’d probably want an adjustable “Realism” (or possibly “Brutality”) slider, or you might accidentally release a game that would make more girls cry than murdering Justin Bieber. “Flicka broke her leg in an accident at the Gymkhana and had to be put down. You were charged £100.”, “I’m sorry, but because you couldn’t afford the £3,000 vet fee your uninsured horse died from colic after eating a crab apple”, etc. Still, it would serve as an introduction to pet ownership.

But why make a decent game when shovelware is easier and probably less risk? I expect that the problem is that the intersection between game designers and horse lovers is quite small, alas.

Anyhow, the only other thing I got up to was scoffing nosh before it went out of date. Oh, the tyranny of Use By! The honey-filled Brie-a-like cheese was good, as was brandy cream on Christmas cake.

* Or I could have been playing the horsey game whilst she was playing MoO 2.

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