Quote Originally Posted by Xyril View Post
Umm, you realize that my sources generally support the conclusion that your friends all pulled out of their asses, right? Also, we're talking about your friends, who hopefully aren't representative of people in general, but with respect to them I've already answered your question right there in your quoted texts--horses are, in general, as fast as or faster than cheetahs at sustained speeds.

Like I pointed out, it all depends on how you set things up or draw the line at what is "sustained" speeds. If, for example, you set up circumstances where a cheetah would try to chase down a horse, it seems like the cheetah might naturally run at about the same speed as the horse, if not slower, waiting for the moments where its sprint is most likely to achieve a kill, while conserving its energy to maximize the distance over which it can wait for these opportunities. However, if you have a cheetah who's apparently just trained to run at full speed for its own sake (such as the zoo cheetah) and put him in a foot race against a horse, there's some distance over which the cheetah easily wins.

As for your broader question, what people think, I guess that depends on how you define "people." In terms of game designers, or gamers who care enough about these rules to look deeply into them, one would hope that they have greater baseline knowledge than how you characterized your friends, or would at least put in a little bit of effort into educating themselves before spouting off on how the rules do or do not reflect reality.

As for more general audiences or populations, I couldn't begin to guess. I gave you what the facts are, in terms of research available that isn't hidden behind academic paywalls. Your uninformed friends stumbled upon an answer that is much closer to right than wrong, just based on gut feelings, or "common sense," or whatever, so it's possible that a general, equally uninformed audience might have reached the same conclusion. However, the general population isn't equally uninformed--there are segments of the population who are educated in fields that touch on biology or zoology, or just interested in animals for their own sake. For that matter, I grew up around horses, so a disproportionate number of my friends probably knew much of the information on the horse end that I had to look up. In terms of gaming audiences, though, I think it's worth noting that we probably have a disproportionate number of folks who are obsessively interested in something or another (like obscure archaic weapons, or space, like you mentioned.) The very fact that this thread exists testifies to the fact that in a geeky gaming group, there's a good chance you'll find someone who knows enough about animals to start raising questions.

Since gamers probably also have a disproportionate number of folks who like learning about new things and/or obsessing over how disparate aspects of systems do or do not make sense, it's pretty likely that a decent number of the folks questioning the animal speed rules will find a receptive audience willing to pull that thread with them. In that respect, it doesn't actually matter what the typical gamer would guess if asked whether a horse could outrun a cheetah: If the collective knowledge of the group is enough to recognize an inconsistency, then than inconsistency becomes a problem.
There's a bit of cherry picking going on with the horse side of the argument to be fair.

The fastest horse ever recorded was a Quarter Horse going 55 mph. There is a reason that it is Thoroughbreds and not Quarter Horses that race in the Kentucky Derby -- which is 1.25 miles, and Arabians race in long distance races. The argument being made for horses here grabs the Quarter Horse with a 55 mph world record and applies that to everything. The trouble is, the Quarter Horse has the same problem as the cheetah. It has a quick burst of speed, but can't sustain that speed over distances. They're called the Quarter Horses because they race the quarter mile. The fastest horse on earth has about the same full on sprint range as the cheetah.

If you want your horse to run all day, then you want an Arabian. The fastest Arabian ever recorded is 40 mph, quite a bit slower than your Quarter Horse -- the sprinting specialist. With a bit less focused selective breeding and public interest, the fastest greyhound ever is 45 mph. Faster than the fastest Arabian but slower than the fastest Quarter Horse. So with similar amounts of human meddling over the centuries, the dog -- same species as the wolf -- ends up about as fast as the horse. And when you come right down to averages, the average wolf can outrun the average horse.

Horses are not the fastest creature in the world by a long shot. Not in short sprints. Not over distances. They were ridden for millennia because they are pretty fast, that can be well trained, and carry a human body on their back.