How It’s Made: Tack
One of our larger art projects has been adding tack into the game. Back when we first began re-coding Eqcetera, we had lots of feedback about adding in things to equip the horses like tack, backgrounds, companions etc.. We decided to begin phasing in equipable items back in 2020 when we first introduced the Cherry Blossom Background in March. We knew adding equipable items would require a couple of phases before adding in tack. We decided to start small which included adding backgrounds and companions before tack.
Once we managed the base of equipping items we had to search for a tack artist. Luckily for us, Darya was available and agreed to do an example set. The first tack set completed was done on the Welsh B! We decided on the Welsh B since it was one of the new breeds we had added which means we had been planning and artist hunting for tack all the way back in June of 2020!
Welsh B example set.
Once we had everything planned, coded, and art made, it was time to add in tack! In total the first round of tack was 105 layers, 3 per breed in-game at the time (35). Part 1 of tack was launched in December of 2020 as part of rounding out our 2020 year. Little did we know how huge of an undertaking part 2 of tack would be….
The Great Gem Addition
Phase 2 of tack included adding in encrusting tack through crafting. Darya did a fantastic job of adding in gem layers for us! This required an extra 21 layers per breed and adding in new code for crafting. In order to create items to be crafted we had to add in “recipes”. This means for every possible combination of tack + gem, there is an item recipe and a new item that has to be added.
Adding in a “recipe” has a few steps to fill out.
Visual of the back end of a few added recipes.
Visual of the back end where items are input.
In total there were 98 image layers per breed that needed to be added and tested for crafting and equipping across 39 breeds or 3,822 image layer combinations! Doing so took an extra amount of effort due to re-doing our file names to better suit crafting meaning, yes, I saved, re-named, and added over 3,000 image files. This was all done in 1 week along with….
The Great Valentines Tack Addition & How It’s Made!
Single-handedly the most mundane thing I have ever done in my life has been saving, editing, and renaming thousands of image files. But! I did get to be creative with it and decided to add in Valentines’ Tack alongside gem tack. Over the course of a week, I was splitting time between coloring greyscales, adding items, renaming files, adding item recipes, and testing. I spent the larger part of the day in file work and in my downtime colored tack. So…how is it done?
Step 1! Make a GIANT image file.
I created a giant image file in Krita which holds every greyscale layer for every breed. This meant downloading and renaming even more files but, in the long run, was well worth it. When new breeds are added they are added to this file and must have all current tack pieces made for them.
Step 2! Pick some colors!
It took a while to decide on colors since, of course, every color would be amazing to add. Here are a couple of rejects! Are those gradients I see?
Test run of a darker leather color on a gradient pad.
Going for more of a pink vibe but accidentally leaning a bit toward a carousel horse aesthetic.
Trying to decide on a leather color and just enjoying some very vibrant pad and bridle colors.
Step 3! Get coloring!
It takes about 1 hour to color all of the english pads and save them in the correct files and an additional 15 minutes to upload them all to our database. Every saddle pad added to the game takes me about 1 to 1 ½ hours to make once a design is chosen. Saddles and bridles take slightly longer at about 1 ½ hours to 2 hours to get done for all breeds and 30 minutes to upload.
I use Krita for all of the tack art and add an overlay layer per tack piece. Tack pieces with lots of embellishments take awhile to add since every metal piece or saddle pad edging must be colored properly.
A quick extra example of tack colors. This took about 1 minute to do!
Overall, tack has a few basic steps to be added to the game.
- Open the greyscale image file. (2 seconds)
- Decide on the colors. (1 to 8 hours)
- Color every tack piece per breed. (3 to 5 hours)
- Save files and upload them in the correct files in the database. (1 to 1 /12 hours)
- Add the new tack item on the back end. (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- Add in all recipes for the tack pieces. (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- Test on the testing site each tack piece per breed. (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- Await launch day. (Typically 1 week sometimes 1 day!)
- Push the tack from the test site to live! (5 minutes)
- Post news, pull back up the site, post to the Discord & social media. (15 minutes)
- Sit back and enjoy the excitement!
This has been a very long blog post but, to continue this blog post, I will be hosting an event *date and time* where you may join us on our Discord and help me make a new tack set. The tack set created by the community will be added to the game on Sunday!
Q & A
Q: What were the first original breeds in the game when it started?
A: The first breeds added to V3 were the Friesian and Clydesdale. Before that, we have versions 1 and 2 which had quite a few breeds like Clydesdales, Arabians, Andalusians, Paints etc.
Q: I like the idea of a horse that is only available one month out the year, super rare. Will you incorporate that in the game?
A: This sounds like a great idea and has actually occurred previously in a slightly different way. Part of balancing the game for rare breeds requires them to be hard to acquire and to keep their population total down. With being able to breed horses there is the issue of keeping the rare breed numbers down over a long period of time. We discovered this when we had Marwaris in the foundation store once a month. It’s been almost 1 year since the Marwaris haven’t been released as foundations and they still are ranked above several breeds that are available year-round. There are lots of ways to avoid this like limiting breedings, limit how many you can purchase, or even increasing their failed breeding %. All of which are controversial to a game and take lots of consideration as to what works to keep numbers down but what makes them worth having.