Now, we’ve established that I like Star Stable. (Review Part One & Part Two.) It’s targeted for girls in their horsey stage or girls that never got over their horsey stage. And that’s okay. Boys can play too, just they’ll have to play as girls. It’s fun. There is a lot of content being added weekly and the company is making investments in hardware to make the game run better.
So, what are the downsides?
The chat system for one. It’s a fairly simple chat system with immediate area, friends only, global, group and Club chats going for it. You can carry on multiple conversations in different tabs and by clicking on different friends, have private conversations with them. The downside is that it is heavily censored. Proper names, numbers, swear words, words you would think weren’t swear words but people started using them as such so they got censored, phrases that could be considered sexual or violent, the word stallion and the word road are also both censored as is the plural of stable, stables. . And it is interesting to see the words they choose to use as swear words instead and sometimes I want to start a countdown to see how long it is before those words are censored as well.
I understand the way it is. They are trying to protect the young kids that play this game. (Since I’ve seen one woman proclaim on facebook she lets her five year old play, this is necessary.) Though sometimes the censor has a dirtier mind than I do. That takes doing! It would be nice if people in the game would respect others and not feel the need to swear or say violent things. But we don’t live in a perfect nice world and this is why we can’t have nice things. Sometimes words are censored simply because they are misspelled, so sometimes it’s hard to say if it is that way because of bad spelling or it is really censored. There are ways around it. My friends and I have our own code words for things, but it is hard to carry on a conversation about levels, questing and sometimes pop culture when you’re trying to work around the censor. Just be warned, this isn’t going to change and be prepared to come up with a new phrasebook to deal with it.
Fair warning: The game does crash. There are two types of crashes, one is a simple runtime error that will freeze the game and cause a crash log to come up on the computer. This one is fairly simple. You quit the game and if you are conscientious, you can save the log and email it to customer service. I’ve never really noticed a pattern with the runtime crashes. The second one isn’t as simple. I find it happens the most in the Harvest Counties around the city of Jarlahiem. But it has happened to me other places as well. In this type of crash, it can take place five minutes before the hour or half hour, or quarter after or quarter before and it will freeze the entire computer. You can’t do anything but restart the computer before you can go back into the game. I’ve personally been in contact with the developers over this crash and they are instituting some code to make the game more stable. We hope. The best way to not fall victim to this crash is to figure out when it happens and avoid those areas during that time.
I’ve noticed that the runtime error crashes are almost non-existent. However, these game freezing crashes are a more recent development. But like I said, restart the computer and you can get back into the game fairly quickly. It is always interesting if you can get back in quicker than everyone else, because the areas will be almost empty until everyone else restarts their computers and logs back on. They are working on this. It is a major coding error and I hope they are placing priority on it. Edit: I turned off the IP6 function of my internet and these crashes have stopped completely. Apparently no one is using IP6 yet, but Windows 8 has it and it was interfering with Star Stable.
The only time it becomes a big deal is if you’ve got several quests open that involve a lot of running. Then it becomes frustrating. If you’ve run a race and haven’t actually gotten the reward yet, and the game crashes, you’ll lose that reward. All other quests are reset, except races.
Another source of frustration is the map. The map is heavily pixelated and just about useless. It’s good if you need to know a general direction but if you need something specific, you might as well forget it. And towns are confusing and don’t show up on the map well at all. While major roads are marked in yellow, there are minor roads that are light brown that barely show up against the green. The map is completely worthless in Valley of the Hidden Dinosaur, where the roads aren’t marked at all. Perhaps, there is a plot reason for this (given it is an ‘unexplored’ valley) but for the player, trying to figure out where you are and how to get back without getting lost by using the map is just not doable.
I will admit that the map in Guild Wars is not much better. In fact, in some sections of Guild Wars the map is worse because you can’t even see the where the roads are supposed to be. (Factions is notorious for this in my opinion.) At least with Guild Wars I can buy a Player’s Guide that comes with a huge wall map and try to puzzle it out that way.
To top this off, towns outside of Fort Pinta and Moorland are seemingly built to be confusing. You can’t really tell from the map that Silverglade Village is virtually three squares shoved into each other with gates on three of the four sides. Jarlaheim happens to be three levels, though it could be four given that the mezzanine is split into two heights. And Cape West is squished onto an island and is just as bad. There is no option to switch to a better town map. When I have Savvy cursing for a better map in the diary, it’s a whole hearted felt emotion. I’m fairly decent at orienteering. I can leave the road and not get lost. But I have to be careful when I’m in a group with others, because they can’t! Give me a few days of exploring and I can remember things fairly well. But not everyone can! Of all the maps, the Jorvik Mall map is the best. It’s clearly labelled and limited in scope.
The camera is also trouble. Most of the time, the camera is fine. It hovers behind you as you ride. You can move the camera around by holding down the right mouse button and moving the mouse. But the camera will usually move right back behind you when you let go. However, it’s slow. This doesn’t matter, until you’re racing and need to take a tight turn. Then the camera cannot keep up with you at all and you’re more likely to hit a wall than actually make the turn. On jump courses this is twice as bad because the jump courses are nothing but tight turns.
The most egregious example of this is once you get to the point where you are taking training with the Keepers of Aideen: The Sun Circle and their jump carousel. The jump carousel has you jumping in a circle over moving posts, while behind you is a higher post that will knock you off the horse if you don’t keep ahead of it. In order to do the training, you have to move the camera manually with one hand, while using the left hand to steer and jump the horse over the obstacles. If you don’t have a mouse, you literally cannot do the jump carousel. Even with a mouse it is nerve wracking. There doesn’t seem to be a shortcut button to put the camera right behind you either.
The last bit of camera game play mechanics that is frustrating is that when you are fishing or closing pandoric rifts, the camera moves. Now, when you’re closing pandoric rifts, it is a mini game where blue stars appear on the screen and move around and you need to hit them to unpower the rift and close it. Well, because the blue stars can appear anywhere in the pink, it means that they can appear off screen and that might just be off screen because the camera has moved. Now, when fishing and the camera moves to hide the bobber behind the inventory screen or a reed or some such, there is a second angle to change too. However, most the time this second angle isn’t as good of an angle as the one you had.
I also wish that hay and food stuffs for the horses wasn’t so expensive Jorvik Shilling’s wise. It’s hard to set a good exchange rate between Star Coins/Jorvik Shillings/Dollars because all things seemed to be assigned prices randomly. However, it would take 500 JS a day to feed the horses if you had a full stable, which means you’d have to do six sets of stable chores to keep ahead of them. There are only 7 stables in the game! An apple for 100 JS is way too much. Cutting the cost of feed in half would help greatly, cutting it by 90% would be better. Fodder isn’t that costly!
Most of these concerns are negligible or could be fixed relatively easily. (Even just a quick button to center the camera on the back of you again would do wonders!) The game is extremely enjoyable even with these quirks. They are trying to fix the bugs and are giving reports on their facebook about their progress. They are trying to make it a better game. Kudos to them, and internet cookies.
As you can see, this next section got too long. So, there will be a part four where I will put out what I would like to see in the game!
Addendum as of Sept. 2015: It’s been about six months or so since I’ve finished the story quest part of this game. While the weekly updates continue, and they are ‘remodeling’ areas of the game, it’s rather frustrating that story quests, or quests that are recognizable as story quests aren’t appearing on a more regular basis. Looking at past years, they seem to put out two batches of story quests a year (with at least one that opens a new area.) So far, this year none of the quests have appeared to be story related. Supposedly something is coming out this fall, probably in the end of November. However, they’ve got a dozen story threads hanging and business wise they need to be putting out story at least once a quarter or three times a year, to keep their longstanding players playing. Horses and remodeled areas are nice, but story is the long term money maker. There feels like a major lack of organization going on. I hope this isn’t so, but that is what it feels like. So, for a person like me who enjoys fun and likes organization, it is extremely frustrating.