Star Stable is a 3D MMO based on the fictional island of Jorvik from the eponymous Star Stable Development studio. The game is free-to-play with downloadable clients available for PC and Mac in over 10 languages. The game’s plot takes you on a journey to save the island and the horses of Moorland from a CEO that wants to destroy the land and put up condos.
Star Stable starts out with making your character using a basic character creator currently limited to girls only, giving an indicator of its target demographic (they target 7-17 year old girls). There are 6 head choices, 4 hair colors, and 8 hair and eye styles to pick from. The name creator gives you a list of pre-set first and last names to pick from, but I find it’s easier to just hit random till you’re happy.
You can make your mount too! You are able to pick from 21 breeds in the game, which, with all of the color options available, means you can make one of 94 unique possible horses. The horse gets a name as well, so once more you can pick from a list or hit random until something fun comes up.
The game starts out on the Island of Jorvik where your home stable in the Moorland zone allows you to work and take care of the horses at the Jorvik Equine Institute. The horses are the soul of the island, and there are quests that take you around the land to either help them or sabotage the efforts of the CEO trying to develop the land on the Island.
Star Stable encourages reading and team building by bringing players together in player-created riding guilds.
Star Stable does have items you can get, all of which boost the performance of your horse, enabling the player to get higher scores and win competitions.
One quest I did had me going to a blacksmith for horseshoes, but he wanted special metal so he sent me to a mine. The quest areas are glowing orange on the map, so it’s easy to know where to go, but there’s still a little challenge in looking around for what you need. If you go exploring, you can find hidden star achievements hidden away in bushes around the area. The game encourages exploring and learning without being too punishing; if you get stuck or lost, you can use a cellphone to call for a pick up and get a ride back to Moorland Stables.
The real highlight of the game that had me playing for hours just riding along and relaxing to the scenery is the movement, which is both incredible and spot on. In the many MMOs I’ve played, I’ve never seen a game come close to realistic horse movement – until now. It is amazing to see a relatively simple and low-budget game that has the mount movement perfected while high-end MMOs continue to make mounts feel stiff, unrealistically moving on a dime when the horse would actually need a bit of room to circle. It was so fun just to run around on this little island. The controls on the horse are great. You use the mouse to click and talk to people or NPCs. W or the up arrow will make the mount go faster, S or the down arrow will slow down, A and D or left and right arrows will turn the horse left or right. When you need to come to a full stop, pressing X will make the horse rear up and stop. What I love best is that you can use the mouse wheel to speed the horse up and control the horse if you hold the left button down, and if you turn it right or left, the horse will move left or right too. Movement feels incredibly natural when you use the mouse to control speed and turning of the horse. You need skills in this game to win competitions to earn Shillings (the game’s currency), experience, and reputation.
The clothing you can earn in-game or purchase in the game’s cash shop will give your horse increases in the stats for riding, jumping, command, and caring.
Star Stable teaching players responsibility by requiring them to take care of their horses by cleaning and feeding them. Timing and strategy is required to score high in the races or rescue people trapped in the game world. Now the game isn’t perfect- the movement of the character when you dismount needs work, as it’s very jerky from left to right. You don’t need to dismount much though, as it’s only really required to clean and feed your horse. The graphics are 3D and look fine, but some polishing wouldn’t hurt, either. All in all however, I had a lot of fun just running around and relaxing.
One of the memorable harsh moment in the game was the first time I was running a race and fell off a cliff. It’s a kid’s game so I wasn’t expecting anything but as you hit the ground the entire screen flashes bright red and you get a warning about taking a fall and to be careful in future before respawning. I felt so bad – seeing the whole screen go red was shocking.
Roleplay and socialization is a big part of the game, and is catered to by having clubs to join and many areas in the game well suited to either activity. Social interactions are encouraged by the unique settings and the fun of th experience. My favorite area featured a huge lagoon with a horse diving board, and on the other side of a boardwalk, there was a shark swimming around. On the beach there were umbrellas and towels set up with a little refreshment stand, while along the side of the area there were logs to sit on around a camp fire in a wooded area. Throughout the game there are picnic areas and dance floors set up with music to use the dance emotes with friends. This makes for a fun environment to enjoy roleplay or just hang out with friends.
I had the pleasure of being in contact with Therese, who is the PR and Social Media liaison for Star Stable. She answered a few questions for me that really made the team stand out.
How did you get the horse movement to be so perfect? it is nice to just ride around and enjoy the scenery.
We have a lot of people who works for us that ride and some of them are involved in the equestrian world. So together with their expertise and great animators and developers we managed to make the animation as real as possible.
Security measures for parents to know their kids are safe?
We constantly work with safety like game masters together with a filter that ban words and word combinations in the chat. At the moment we are working on a YouTube safety concept as well, like a YouTube series. We always keep a close dialog with parents and often teach the young players how to behave online with not sharing passwords etc. On our website you can find a parents section.
With MMOs, the community is important. How do you keep in touch or reach out to fans and get involved with the community?
We have a social media team that I’m leading that works close to the community and we often ask the players for advices. It’s important to keep the community “starFam” as we call them close to us. We also have game masters that ride around.
(I want to point out how great this team is in real life – they even went to the Wimbledon Village Stables in London to hang out with fans and have a meet up. This is a game that teaches social skills and the staff genuinely loves horses and it shows in how great their work is, and how much they care about their players. They go out to real riding clubs and have fun! It’s huge testament that this is more than just a game to them,)
Anything that stands out for your game that you would like to add?
We are the only game that actually update once a week. Not only small fixes, we actually add things to the story every week, really unique.
Star Stable is free to register and play till level 5. After that, you can choose to buy a lifetime membership for $64.99, pay monthly at $7.49 per month, every 3 months for $19.50 per month or pay every 6 months for $31.99 per month. I feel that this game justifies its subscription model with weekly updates so it is constantly growing – not just bug fixes but adding to the story almost every week.
Star Stable may seem to be an overlooked MMO just because it is targeted at children, but the game can boast a surprisingly robust player base of over 5 million users. Plus, much like other children’s titles, I’ve discovered that adult MMOs could take a few pages from their book.
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