The Wild West RP server to the Red Dead Online is a private community with one rule: you have to stay in character. So it was very strange for many of these players to have to play an unusual role on Tuesday – a flock of cows. Much like the cover of an Animorphs book, a group of five cowboys turned into cattle so they could partake in a grander story.
This is the story of the first cattle transfer on the Wild West RP server. The broadcast was a daunting effort to portray an actual barter between two player-run businesses. No money changed hands, but the players exchanged the cows for 30 linen sacks containing coffee beans and four musical instruments.
Usually locales in Red Dead Online owned by NPCs who hand out a series of quests written and programmed by Rockstar. On this private server, companies owned and operated by players claim landmarks on the map. These players play out their roles, establishing trade routes, doing business, and using custom tools like shovels, axes, and loadable wagons to fully embody the operation of a Wild West ranch. And ranchers always have cows, don’t they?
under normal circumstances, Red Dead Online does not allow you to own or manage livestock, but mods make it possible on this server. When the players decided to swap their cows, they had to escort the animals from one ranch to another to make the transaction feel authentic and lasting. You may think that playing a cow in a video game is a humble task, but in the end these players were there hours set up and complete.
Fans had to get carts, guns, and server staff to solve technical problems, but strangely enough, they needed volunteers to reject humanity and become cows. While mods allow cow ownership, players only have that much control. LtVictory, who plays Varun Torino for Wild West RP, told Polygon on Twitter, “Employees couldn’t just spawn in cows because the cows wouldn’t follow or obey orders.”
Cowboys searched ahead to clear the enemy’s trade route for the player-controlled cows. The human players with their two legs, opposite thumbs and artificial tools had to make sure that the cow players got safely from point A to point B even though the cows were … not interested in the trip at all. “[The cow volunteers] Still did an incredible job and didn’t make it easy for us, ”said LtVictory. “When they saw gaps in the horses, they tried to escape many times.”
There are also threats in the game to be concerned about, such as wild animals or enemy criminals. However, the players on the server turned out to be the biggest threat. One player who was feeling a little noisy gave peyote to a beef named Sassy Cow. The Sassy Cow player decided to lean into the role of an extremely tall, confused cow and ran off a cliff twice. The second time proved fatal and Sassy Cow had to be euthanized.
Other malicious parties also tried to sabotage the entire effort. While the server administration had prepared itself with DDoS protection, the saboteurs still managed to shut down the server with an interruption. The group, cows and everyone else, had to crouch in the camp and wait for everyone to return. The journey took long enough for a storm to descend on the players, and a player who had taken on the role of a bull began attacking cowboys in a panic of lightning strikes and gunfire.
Even so, LtVic thinks the experience was well worth the effort. “It turned out to be an even better RP scenario, allowing us to have unexpected camp interactions and more time to interact with the cows and each other rather than just herding,” LtVic said. “So thank you, DDoSer.”
This first cattle run is just the beginning. After this proves possible, players will re-examine the concept to try to refine and improve the process. Not every problem was a DDoS or force-fed medication. The trip ended without further ado. “When we got to the ranch, we had to complete the fix and lock the gate,” LtVic said. But they broke the fence – and the cows took the chance to flee. The hour-long journey ended with herding the cows again, loading a cart with wood and rebuilding the fence.
Each player logged off and returned their cow containers to the standard AI. The struggle en route from the tragic death of Sassy Cow to the downtime at the campfire made the experience all the sweeter.