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 SO8 - if it happens 
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
Long Haul Harry wrote:
Interesting comments craigywatt.

Strange you mentioned FM, because it was that game I bought back into last week after a seven year absence. Because there are now different versions on offer, I researched before buying. Mobile was never an option for me because my lifestyle doesn't warrant it but I checked out the reviews nonetheless. Overall it seems to have been well received. The most negatives seemed to be around 'parts missing' from the full fat version (as would likely be the case with SO7 mobile). But pretty much every issue/bug had a response from the FM developers. I know it is ridiculous to compare FM development time with SO development time, but that would be the world the game moved into.


FM is a good example of a paid game that is basically like the full PC version, but with features removed and the UI completely redone for mobile.

Very few games can do that. FM is a huge brand and has a big following. Of course they could have gone the other way and gone full free-to-play mechanics (see Top Eleven Manager etc). Top Eleven seem to be making more money (on mobile) than FM, and FM had a monumental headstart in terms of brand recognition and codebase. Not sure what I'm waffling on about (I'v had a few beers!) but the point is that mobile games are more profitable as Free-To-Play than paid apps.

If you want to see what it would take to make a f2p horse racing game that truly embraces the f2p ecosystem, and has sufficient quality in terms of graphics, features, design, stability and TLC then check out Rival Stars. https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... n_GB&gl=US

You'll swiftly see that:

a) It's way beyond the production values that could be realistically achieved by a 1-man team, e.g. Mark.
b) It bares little resemblance to the horse racing games we know and love. It's a full on f2p with currency systems, linear progression and precious little freedom for the user to do anything.

I don't mean any of this in a negative way or a slight on Mark. I love Starters Orders and have been playing it since the 1st or 2nd version. If you're reading this and you want to pick my brains about anything mobile related, feel free to reach out.


Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:39 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
I think the game would feel a lot more lively again if it used something else besides these ancient forums. If mark made an official discord server I think it would be a fantastic platform to pull together all of the new iterations he is making for SO7. I've never liked these forums... they're really showing their age and their clunky to use.

I honestly could never figure out what was going on with league and stumbling across the few odd threads I found it just seemed like (mostly) they were having hissy fits over the breeding system (???), which I guess has been remedied now?

I've been playing this game for a while now, have played a few other "older" racing style sims. I don't think SO8 is in the near future, as I feel SO7 does most everything perfectly sans scheduling which has always been absolutely terrible without mods. Which should absolutely be addressed at some point. Steam offers a portal to easily access updates and new mods, if the community tab ever gets put up.

But any information currently on the game is buried and spread out on this awful ancient forum and from a new players perspective, or even someone looking to buy this game (for the $$$ it costs) it would be a huge turnoff if you saw this desolate text dump. I got onto the forums when SO6 was still going strong and even then it still felt dead.

The players you're attracting now are like 20-30s and most have a smartphone and or use discord/reddit for chatting about the game. The user base desperately needs a new platform to communicate through. There are absolutely enough people who would be interested in playing this. Good horse racing games are hard to come by, and with the advent of mobile "pay to win" and microtransactions, this game is a gem. I've resigned to the fact I will never see a modern iteration of gallop racer, but I will absolutely always vouch for this game.

But if Mark ever reads this: please give us an official discord server! Plaster it all over steam, all over mobile, everywhere. Give the players a nicer place to talk. The 00's are calling and they want their outdated forum back.


Thu Feb 11, 2021 9:46 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
I don't mind the forum Kings, I do want what these good lads are asking Mark for to be in this great Game though, we are all hardened Starters Orders game players for years and I do agree that the game has died and does need a wee bit of work with all do respect to the author Mark, I also would like this game to keep going for many years to come, maybe the amalgamate two games into one "Thoroughbred & Greyhound Racing into one game" for the future Starters Orders game series.

I don't know! I mean mark could have burned out and may need a wee bit of time, and hey I am fine with that, so many things is happening in the world these days, but I wish he gets back in the saddle again, as some of us do panic when he isn't around as we all do want this great game to continue for a very long time, with a lot of fixes & changes of cause, so mark come out and reveal something so we can know what is coming for the future please.

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Fri Feb 12, 2021 1:34 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
The game isn't going anywhere though, that's the thing. It feels like people don't understand this is a single player game. League, and anything remotely related to multiplayer is a structure created around the core game, built for a single player experience. When I read (the very old posts) about people whining about whatever issues they had (again it felt like it was mostly league players, idk), it seemed like that core point has been kind of forgotten.

I've never personally had huge issues with breeding. I do wish I had more options to sort through things and make my life easier but whatever. I personally enjoy the challenge this system brings. There are so many other watered-down racing games people can play if they literally want to just have 2+2=4.
I take breaks from playing and coming back to the forums but I'm so happy he held his ground on the current system. People were just spoon fed with the old SO6 system and it shows. But anyways...

Do you think the people on this forum are an accurate representation of the current player base? I personally believe this is a small holding of people that are leftover from previous iterations when forums where the main method of chatting. This thing is a relic as far as I'm concerned.

I just wish there was a better, more cohesive, less draconian way of attempting to learn information about this game. There is a lot of reading between the lines that you only get from playing hours and hours and it's disheartening seeing "newbie" help posts go completely unanswered, because there are absolutely people here but it seems like everyone has resigned?

Dwarf fortress is a great example of a very "similar" type of single player experience, that is super niche but the community is what absolutely takes that game to another level, experience wise.

I'm assuming most of the people here, or who where here, also played TK. Look how that game has gone, it's dated and it absolutely shows, even though the bones are good and the structure is there. The community is dwindling.

But I think the way this (SO) is structured still gives it replayability, and endless hours of working stuff out, as it is right now. With a non-vanilla schedule that is lol. It just needs a facelift to breathe some life back into it.

As for greyhound racing, idk. From what I understand the last vestiges of it are finally being cleaned out of Florida. I can't imagine making a new iteration of it would be in good taste. But I've never personally played that game so I can't much speak for it.


Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:45 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
To answer a few points from this thread.

Regarding the forums. This board is very old and the database has issues. It's often very slow and posts time out and get repeated etc. The board fails to update due to database issues that can’t be resolved and I have had to close new registrations on a number of occasions which will obviously impact traffic and currently new registrations are off and have been for a while. I was getting a lot of spam issues I don’t have time to deal with them. I may have to introduce a completely new forum at some point but need to spend some time on it so it will have to wait.

Some good points regarding mobile gaming and it's suitability to a niche horse racing sim. As stated I'm rewriting all the GUI code and creating a mobile version of Starters Orders using a new SDK. If all goes well it will run on iOS and Android. Starters Orders has never been available on Android so this is a big deal and something I want to get done. I'm aware of the issues mentioned with mobile. We will see how it goes. I see the mobile as a return to basics in terms of game play with some sim improvements aimed more at mobile but retaining sim elements packaged with a much more usable UI. The underlying rendering engine will change and this game is likely to be 2D which will appeal to some and not others but fits in with the game I want to produce and will give me the time to move the game forward on this sim front. I should say the new rendering engine also supports desktop so the Apple Mac may get some kind of release. Since Apple broke 32 app compatibility Mac owners no longer have access to earlier Starters Orders games so this is on my list.

I know people want to know where this leaves the desktop version in general. I always enjoyed desktop and see it as the platform for the hardcore player. There are major issues going forward mostly relating to the race sequence and old (now buggy) SDK. To create a new 3D race sequence with the multitude of realistic racecourse presented to a modern standard that will keep gamers happy with a new rendering engine is now out of the question on a number of fronts for the current development setup. Cost, time and legal issues/licences mainly but there are other factors. The gaming world is very different from 2003 when SO1 was created. An option would be to enter into partnerships and get some decent funding behind the game. This has a number of downsides though and there has always been limited enthusiasm for horse racing games within the games industry. Obviously I could just stick with the current race sequence and engine but that is a dead end in terms of development and probably won’t wash in terms of visual quality modern players expect. Desktop is not currently the focus but when it is there is a lot to think about but I don’t intend to abandon desktop.

As for this particular development forum keep posting.


Fri Feb 12, 2021 1:03 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
Mark will the game always be a Microsoft going forward? I am sorry but I am not to good with computers like some people on here,
and also would it be easier to mod "courses & schedule in future Starters Orders versions"?
Thank You for showing up.

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Fri Feb 12, 2021 2:19 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
That's exciting to hear.

It's a real shame about the forum spam, hopefully when everything else gets ironed out it can get some TLC. I am always an advocate for Discord because it is very "set it and forget it" in terms of moderation and whatnot, and I use it for communication 90% of the time. But I'd be happy with anything at this point :lol: as I experience a lot of fussyness being mainly a mobile user.

Would there be any future quality of life updates for PC once the other things are taken care of? Small things like sorting tabs and small options when it comes to mail, etc?


Fri Feb 12, 2021 2:35 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
I agree with the opening post. The schedule needs a complete overhaul and should be done by the developer.

The handicaps seem to mainly attract horses at the lower end of the weights. For example a 0-90 race has a top weight rated say 87, then the next ten are often between 60-70. In reality the horses congregate to the high end of the handicap rating bracket, so a 0-90 race should have all or most horses rated 80-90.

There are numerous examples of these types of races with half the field out of the handicap - which is of course ridiculous.

Seems the developer has dropped his core group of players who have been loyal to the series for a very long time in favour of other more casual players on other platforms.


Tue Feb 16, 2021 5:09 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
I really don't think you need to be concerned with redesigning the entire game engine Mark. Little things make a big difference, As far as the racecourses go, let us continue to add in our photos and ad boards, but if you could look at using cleaner and brighter textures. Just look at some of MJs courses and he's already taken this quite far. Just using a brighter green turf makes a massive different to the visuals of the game. As far as development goes, I would settle for you just redesigning all of the tracks, I would like the actual horses to be redesigned slightly, another member on here already had a go at that and made slight improvements. And then the biggy is the crowds, they need redesigning, but again this is just an improvement in the photo images you have. The game engine works fine as is, so please continue to work on desktop versions, because I for one could not sit there and play this game on a mobile phone. I don't know how others feel about this, but for me that just wouldn't be fun at all.


Wed Mar 24, 2021 11:23 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
Doesn't sound too good for the future of SO desktop. SO7 graphically was a copy and paste from SO6. SO8 would be a good game if certain things were improved on such as simulation. Most of my top G1 winners would randomly lose races when the race is simmed and lose to horses rated 20-30lb inferior. That just kills realism. It makes you want to ride your own horses to get the best out of them but then that has its flaws also. The in race potential/stamina bar's etc they all need work. The is no way to cruise into a race, you have to keep pushing and whipping to win the race. No race is different from the other. Big races don't stand out, there is no difference in this game from a seller to a group race which also kills realism. The commentary where it was good to hear your horses name being called, it was never updated and was same every race and the accent was god awful. At least add new phrases to it every now and then. The breeding system was a let down also and was impossible to breed full potential 2yo unlike previous games. I've made the move to Zed run which is on the block chain where you can pay for and own your own horse and breed it and run it in races and win actual prize money.


Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:55 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
Three things from my perspective:

1. Don't @ me with this one, I don't care what you think of my negative attitude - without a major overhaul of UI and quality, no player on mobile is going to see a reason to choose Starter's Orders when the already well entrenched and successful game Rival Stars is dominating the market. Like, hundreds of thousands of players across both platforms. For mobile players, they're not going to see a reason to choose Starters Orders when Rival Stars is already at the top of every search for "horse racing game". Especially not when there's nothing like a wiki to get information from or a Facebook group or an official Discord. Or a place to go to offer criticism where I don't get told by another player that "if I have so many ideas, why don't I go make my own game?" - bad reviews and criticism is part of sharing a game with the public, it's how you respond to them that makes the difference.

2. What makes me so negative sometimes is that I am in a Discord with other horse game players and there are 700 players in there, which is more than this game has according to SteamDB. I'd say a fair percentage of them have tried Rival Stars or give any new horse game a look over when it comes out. I've recommended SO to multiple people and they've all come back with the same answers - they feel like the horses aren't different enough (there's a lot of people who breed for colour in Rival Stars) and the learning curve is too step, because even simple things like entering a race or breeding a horse has to be figured out. I've offered to stream myself playing the game to help new players get into it and they're just too intimidated by the UI. I've seen these gamers spend hours upon hours breeding horses in games, make spreadsheets, even use Google Translate to play an old Gallop Racer game. They're not afraid of information, SO just presents it in a way that is too hard to figure out.

3. Desktop would be a hell of a lot more successful with advertising, social media that isn't an empty Twitter profile and a Steam page that actually looks finished. I spend a lot of time talking to game devs about scope and honestly, I think mobile is a bad idea that won't return enough profit when desktop SO is a game that has potential to be great with some love and full focus. If you don't like advertising or social media Mark, I implore you to try out a service that will do that for you. I also implore you with all my heart to contact the owner of the blog The Mane Quest (https://www.themanequest.com), she is a game consultant who is working with at least two horse game projects at the moment. She has enough reach and influence that a horse game with over 150,000 players a day personally acknowledged her recent complaint when they removed Pride Month-friendly language. She is also a personal friend and only knows about Starters Orders because I won't shut up about it. She might be able to give you advice about finding sources of funding for future development and the feasibility of moving to a different engine like Unity that would deal with cross-developement deployment for you.


Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:26 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
twilightramblings wrote:
Three things from my perspective:

1. Don't @ me with this one, I don't care what you think of my negative attitude - without a major overhaul of UI and quality, no player on mobile is going to see a reason to choose Starter's Orders when the already well entrenched and successful game Rival Stars is dominating the market. Like, hundreds of thousands of players across both platforms. For mobile players, they're not going to see a reason to choose Starters Orders when Rival Stars is already at the top of every search for "horse racing game". Especially not when there's nothing like a wiki to get information from or a Facebook group or an official Discord. Or a place to go to offer criticism where I don't get told by another player that "if I have so many ideas, why don't I go make my own game?" - bad reviews and criticism is part of sharing a game with the public, it's how you respond to them that makes the difference.

2. What makes me so negative sometimes is that I am in a Discord with other horse game players and there are 700 players in there, which is more than this game has according to SteamDB. I'd say a fair percentage of them have tried Rival Stars or give any new horse game a look over when it comes out. I've recommended SO to multiple people and they've all come back with the same answers - they feel like the horses aren't different enough (there's a lot of people who breed for colour in Rival Stars) and the learning curve is too step, because even simple things like entering a race or breeding a horse has to be figured out. I've offered to stream myself playing the game to help new players get into it and they're just too intimidated by the UI. I've seen these gamers spend hours upon hours breeding horses in games, make spreadsheets, even use Google Translate to play an old Gallop Racer game. They're not afraid of information, SO just presents it in a way that is too hard to figure out.

3. Desktop would be a hell of a lot more successful with advertising, social media that isn't an empty Twitter profile and a Steam page that actually looks finished. I spend a lot of time talking to game devs about scope and honestly, I think mobile is a bad idea that won't return enough profit when desktop SO is a game that has potential to be great with some love and full focus. If you don't like advertising or social media Mark, I implore you to try out a service that will do that for you. I also implore you with all my heart to contact the owner of the blog The Mane Quest (https://www.themanequest.com), she is a game consultant who is working with at least two horse game projects at the moment. She has enough reach and influence that a horse game with over 150,000 players a day personally acknowledged her recent complaint when they removed Pride Month-friendly language. She is also a personal friend and only knows about Starters Orders because I won't shut up about it. She might be able to give you advice about finding sources of funding for future development and the feasibility of moving to a different engine like Unity that would deal with cross-developement deployment for you.


You cannot compare the two games twilightramblings, give me Starters Orders any day for the rest of my life and I will always be playing it, and why? well don't you think we have been there before with a games like the one your advertising on here.
nothing will top the strategic side of Starters Orders mate.
in my Opinion.

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Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:37 am
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
I get where you're coming from Twilight but you're trying to compare a game for kids with a game that's actually trying to simulate horse racing. But yes you're absolutely right that the mobile would need a massive UI improvement, hell the desktop version needs it too! And yes, that's just my guess from observing the whole horse games market for many years, but here I have to agree as well. The mobile version of SO7 is bound to fail, I don't say it lightly as I wish Mark all the best but I just can't see it succeeding. Sure some people who are already fans of SO and often travel or something will pick it up, but how many is that? I guess what I'm trying to say is people who would enjoy SO are already playing it.

With problems that Mark has already pointed out I know it's wishful thinking but if SO8 desktop happens, there needs to be a way to better filter/categorize your horses. Even a simple set of "tabs" would help greatly. Managing 30 horses gets annoying let alone a hundred or more. I know you can sort the table but with a lot of horses in your yard tabs would be so much more clear. For example some permanent tabs that add horses automatically, like 2yo/3yo/4yo/ and so on and tabs that you name yourself and add horses manually e.g. I've noticed that some horses take less time to get fit than others and also that they generally get into form quicker when they don't workout alone. It's a nice mechanic that I appreciate but again being able to sort them based on how quickly they get fit would make the game a lot more fluid. So after I figure out how to train that one particular horse I add it to a tab I named "10 days of canter/3 gallops if fitness lvl at 60". I can add notes of course but it's not the same thing. That brings us to another point how the training aspect needs some work too. I'm aware that many people don't use manual training but for me in a game like this it's a must. More training options overall would be nice. My vision of ideal system is being able to set a base training programme (like a weekly programme for example) for a particular horse as you gradually find out what's the best for it. Intensity of canters, usage of a pool, things like that, and then simply make little adjustments needed for race prep or post injury getting into shape. It might be a lot but what else to wish for if it's a horse racing sim?
On a side note the creators of Rival Stars seem to be the same developers who created Melbourne Cup Challenge. It was a very promising game, lacked depth but had the graphics. They even did motion capture for horses! In 2006! Such a shame what turn they've taken. But that's where the money in this small niche is it seems, can't blame them.


Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:42 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
To say the least there should not be more then 30 to 40 horses in the stables, I have never got over 30 horse in my stables to say the truth it is way way to many to look after otherwise, so if you are manually training some of them will miss out and you will end up selling good horses that you see winning down the road in future seasons, I say 35 horses at the most and for the league players they can have the over 500 if they do wish too, that will solve the problem in SO8 to do with filtering, otherwise there should be a lad appointed to every horse like the real thing.

and hopefully problem solved.

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Wed Jun 23, 2021 5:09 pm
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Post Re: SO8 - if it happens
With talk about current development being aimed at mobile it's inevitable that comparisons with other mobile games will arise. Starters Orders is primarily a sim and has never really aimed to appeal to the same audience as these games which have a different (but bigger) audience. This put's Starters Orders in what is really a niche of a niche. As long as that small niche continues to pay for development this can continue but there are real questions around breaking out of that niche as it would likely increase sales to a degree where a high quality desktop sim could then be produced. We now live in an age where to create a proper 3D desktop sim with all the racecourses and licences and high quality visuals is very expensive so either that happens or Strategic Designs partners with a third party or the focus remains on the sim and visuals are secondary and players will have to accept that is a price for the focus to remain on realism rather than the game ending up a more shallow experience. All these options are open.

A new menu framework has been developed for mobile but this framework should have utility beyond a mobile Starters Orders game and possibly the mobile platform itself. It should provide a much more friendly user experience on mobile. The underlying SDK I'm currently using does also support desktop platforms (but right now it only supports 2D races).

So it may be the next mobile release will remain a niche title but it should be a much nicer user experience and provide a base for further development. We will see how it turns out. I do have plans to look beyond this niche soon and to expand the game possibly utilising some upcoming technology and emerging gaming related concepts but this is for the future and would be potentially quite a big change of direction. A niche mobile sim is worth releasing based on previous mobile sales (future mobile release should be both iOS and Android) but I also expect to use this new menu framework potentially for other products. I want to update Greyhound Manager at some point as it must be a decade since GM2 was released now. I also have a couple of other potential projects to look at.

I should say at this point it's just me working on Starters Orders and dealing with everything else (development and otherwise) so this has implications for social media, marketing etc. etc. (PS. I have made a note of the marketing link it may be useful - thanks). So at the moment desktop may seem as it is being neglected a little but the focus is currently elsewhere and development takes time. It has not been forgotten.


Thu Jun 24, 2021 11:56 am
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