Dedicated horse fans, disappointed with modern horse game offerings, have taken to modding popular games with horses in them, like RDR2 and The Sims.
Dedicated horse fans have been using mods to create in-depth horse simulators out of pre-existing games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Sims 3. These gamers bemoan the tragic drought of high-quality games centered around the care, training, and riding of horses. Most horse-focused titles are low-quality shovelware games, developed on the cheap and targeted at ill-informed parents looking for an affordable and child-friendly game to give their kids.
Even though there aren’t many horse-focused games, there are a lot of games that prominently feature horses. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one such game, and is widely considered to contain some of the most intricate and in-depth horse programming in modern gaming. The horse behavior in that game is so realistic and intricately designed that one could write a paper about it. In fact, someone did; one player spent two months researching in-game horse behavior and compiled a scholarly article, which was then published to Reddit. The resulting horse thesis is surprisingly thorough; this was clearly a passion project.
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Unfortunately, despite the intricacies of horse behavior in Red Dead Redemption 2, the creatures still have very little function in the game besides transportation. And that isn’t enough for a lot of horse fans, including video game producer Alice Ruppert, who shared her frustrations on Polygon. Ruppert manages a website called The Mane Quest which catalogs any and all video games about horses or which prominently feature horses. In her article on Polygon Ruppert elaborated on a surprisingly large community of dedicated equestrians who are disappointed with modern gaming’s horse offerings. In order to get their fill of horse games, these fans have begun building communities and mods inside pre-existing titles. One such horse-based community exists in Red Dead Redemption 2‘s multiplayer expansion Red Dead Online. Fans formed the Trail Rides group in Facebook and Discord, and use it to arrange peaceful rides through the wilderness of the game, simply enjoying the scenery and the experience of riding horseback. Modders in games like Skyrim and The Sims 3 have drastically improved the horse experience in those titles, and games like Minecraft and ARK feature whole servers of players dedicated to horse-focused gameplay.
As impressive as these endeavors are, Ruppert does take the time to bemoan the state of horse games in the industry. One can only imagine how delighted these fans would be if there was an actual high-quality game based around breeding horses, taking care of them, entering them in competitions, and selling them to other players. Furthermore one can imagine how many more horse fans are out there, unaware of or unwilling to engage with this in-depth community, who would come out of the woodwork to invest in such a title.
Rockstar Games has done some remarkable work with the horse realism in Red Dead Redemption 2. But there is still a lot to be done for horses in video games. The ideal game envisioned by Ruppert could expand the appeal of horses and give a lot of gamers the chance to learn about them and interact with them in ways they may never be able to do in real life. In the meantime, at least horse fans can enjoy Red Dead Redemption 2, The Sims 3, and every other game where players have focused in on those beautiful equine steeds.
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