Thursday, 19 February 2015

Update on Howrse

I've ranted about how good Howrse was just over two years ago and I now feel it is time to update you on my experiences, from the very beginning.

As you may know, I've been a Howrse player for many many years. My first account was back around 2007 when I was young and was completely horse obsessed with my best friends. I enjoyed the game then but in truth it was a bit complicated and boring in the sense that it was slow-moving. I don't remember a lot of the game back then but I do distinctly remember that it took a while loading every time you did an action with your horse (which honestly put me off playing some days) and that you had to replace horseshoes like every third day or so. My first Howrse was a chestnut Connemara mare named Marian, named after Lucy Griffith's character in the BBC version of Robin Hood. Yes, Robin Hood was a huge hit with my sister and I back in the day. Back to Howrse, my account was automatically deleted when I didn't log in after a certain amount of time. To be blunt, I think my main reason for not going on the game was because it felt really annoying waiting so long between actions and the act of buying more horseshoes, vaccinations and boarding for your horses was quite troublesome, especially if you dropped in to check your horses every second day or so.

Two days after my birthday in 2010, I set up my second Howrse account. My "first" horse was a chestnut Quarter Horse named Marian, after my first horse in my first Howrse account (haha that sounds funny). This account is the same account I've had since. Over the past four and a bit years Howrse has changed dramatically. When I started, it was a bit complicated but I managed to find my way around the site. The site was not as slow and it had kept the same layout I remember from years ago. They had changed horse equipment so you did not have to replace them at all, to my relief. I made online friends from around the globe and we've had a good run.

In the last two years of high school, I used Howrse as a way of de-stressing - which did cause me to become rather obsessed with the game. At the height of my game in early 2014, I was ranked 1558th in the world. When you get to this point, the majority of other players will start (or have already started) paying real money for passes. As I was determined to reach higher rankings, I too started paying for passes with my own money. Unfortunately after spending quite a sizeable amount of money (which I had earned from my part-time work while on break from my tight university schedule), Howrse had begun to change greatly.

The start of the changes that annoyed me was the rather constant contests. The contests lasted around three weeks each and allowed players to "win" divine horses. I use "win" because I do not think that players are actually winning them, they were more like buying them. The general outline for each contest is that a player must reach a goal for the day (like groom two horses, enter into 10 competitions, congratulate 3 players etc.) then they may click on something (a button, a picture, a knob etc) to advance. Every, say, 12 hours the player comes back online to again complete a mission then click. As you progress through the contest the time between missions decreases until you are meant to come on every hour or so. And here is why I think that players aren't exactly winning them. Even if you do come online every single time to click as soon as you can, you won't reach the end of the missions, let alone the prize. During the contest, there are large banners that state if you use passes (which generally players pay for with real cash) you will advance a little more.
Personally, I tried my hardest to win a divine horse once when I was on end-of-year break without using any passes by setting an alarm for whenever I needed to click again - even in the middle of the night, but I never got to the end of that contest. Oh, I was so close! I had I think it would have been around 25 more clicks.

The biggest turn-off from Howrse and the main reason why I'm not on it all the time is because Howrse changed it's formula/the way it calculates rankings. I dropped from 1558th in the world to 2509th worldwide in just one day. I don't remember specifics on the exact formula but a large part of the new calculation is on the number of passes that player has purchased. Because of this change, I watched the number 1 player worldwide drop to number 10, the number 2 ranked player quit the game and a well-known top 5 player drop to 100 then quit.

More recently, Howrse has changed yet again. They got rid of so-called unnecessary pages and joined them with other pages for "easier navigation". I don't agree. It's made my life more complicated since tabs and links have switched places. One example, I've always accessed the market from Breeding>Store or Equestrian Centre>Store but now I have to go down to Trade>Store. They've also begun to run contests simultaneously!

As an older Howrse player aka "Howrse Original", I find that the changes overwhelming because as soon as you get used to a change, something else is moved. The higher you reach in the ranks or the more divine horses you get, the more annoying players message you about giving them a horse or bidding passes on horses that are not worth it. I also do not agree with how they run contests and how often they run them. For a brand new player, it may be worth because there are more opportunities to win rare or divine horses and get a good start from the beginning but the way I've grown up with Howrse, in my opinion, doesn't exist any more. We used to "work hard" for our special horses and now that there are probably quadriple the amount of contests and the ability for players to purchase special horses through their direct sale for passes straight from the game creator, it seems almost unfair in comparison to the amount of effort we used to have to get one of these horses.

What did Howrse look like years ago?
Howrse, 2007. Image not my own.
Howrse, 2008. Image not my own.
What I miss the most about the old Howrse?
You could put comments on your horses in the auctions! Even though most of the comments were "Good horse" or "Good home only" or "Sad sale, need money" or similar.

Something I'm glad Howrse changed?
If you didn't log on, have the horse boarded and look after her, your mare if she were about to give birth would lose the foal AND you get a karma point taken away!

Visit here if you want to know more about the old Howrse.
I hope this clarifies why I left Howrse for good,

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