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Author Topic: Instant vs live matches  (Read 3573 times)
champinoman
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« on: February 08, 2011, 04:41:28 PM »

I just stumbled upon this forum as a new user and must say that this looks exciting! Can't wait to see more of it and will be checking back daily thats for sure.

One thing I did want to ask though is in regards to the changes that can be made during the breaks. I have played many management games and although this game will be oriented to 1 or 2 timezones there is always the issue of people being able to be online every single week to make these changes at the correct time.

Have you considered the option of having conditional changes that are all set before the game starts? ie. If TeamA is more than 30 points down then ChangeTactic, or if weather changes do xxxxxxx. Having all these things preset before the game will give more people access to the game if they are busy around game time. It may seem really easy and a great idea to be online to make live changes but nobody knows how their life will change in a month. It would be such a shame to be at a disadvantage because of some silly reason preventing you from accessing computer.

Just a quick thought that I thought I would mention. You may have already debated this one out but I hadn't seen it mentioned anywhere.

Keep up the great work. Can't wait to see new demo tomorrow. The current ones have been given a workout! :)
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m0nty
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 06:20:56 PM »

I just stumbled upon this forum as a new user and must say that this looks exciting! Can't wait to see more of it and will be checking back daily thats for sure.

One thing I did want to ask though is in regards to the changes that can be made during the breaks. I have played many management games and although this game will be oriented to 1 or 2 timezones there is always the issue of people being able to be online every single week to make these changes at the correct time.

Have you considered the option of having conditional changes that are all set before the game starts? ie. If TeamA is more than 30 points down then ChangeTactic, or if weather changes do xxxxxxx. Having all these things preset before the game will give more people access to the game if they are busy around game time. It may seem really easy and a great idea to be online to make live changes but nobody knows how their life will change in a month. It would be such a shame to be at a disadvantage because of some silly reason preventing you from accessing computer.

Just a quick thought that I thought I would mention. You may have already debated this one out but I hadn't seen it mentioned anywhere.

Keep up the great work. Can't wait to see new demo tomorrow. The current ones have been given a workout! :)

This brings up a very important issue which I have been thinking about a lot in the last day or two. In existing Facebook games like the EA ones and the Atomic Moguls ones, all of the games are what is called "asynchronous": i.e. they may involve multiple people playing against teams each other have created, but none of it is in real time. You "play" by clicking to set up a match, then watch as your team battles the other team in a completely randomised manner with no tactical input from you (apart from the "gamechanger" in the EA games which adds to your score). The obvious advantage of this is that the game can be played at your own pace at times that suit you. On the other hand, it's less exciting and engaging than playing live head-to-head with real people and chatting with people as you playing. In Blood Bowl, however, it's all "synchronous", in that while you can do the between-game management stuff at any time, to play the matches you have to challenge another player and then play the game out in real time, like it's an online FPS or MMOG with all the excitement that entails. Unfortunately, that method works against people who aren't in the popular timezones or can't be at their computer for long.

My original concept for Mr Football is that all the matches would be synchronous, but I'm starting to waver on this. Perhaps both "instant" matches against robotically controlled opponents which play out much like the demo matches now, plus a simultaneous option for "live" matches with tactics and interchanges might be the way to go. Maybe have a division set aside where all matches are instant, then make other divisions with the option for live matches. It's a hard one to balance, because some people might get antsy if it looks like one division is favoured over another in terms of new features.

I would really appreciate more feedback on this.
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champinoman
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 08:18:38 PM »

I guess there are so many factors that would influence this decision that make it a hard thing to comment on.

One thing that did cross my mind is why don't you make every change that can be made during the game available pregame with sets of conditions on when to apply them. This doesn't mean you can't still make changes midgame if your online but it allows people to know their game is still going to plan if they can't be online to watch.

And are games set to go off at certain times every week? or is it a user setup time to suit both parties involved? or is it instant with anyone else who is online at that specific time.

I personally like the 'championship' mode you outlined. I have played hattrick and gpro and both implement a similar system where you promote and relegate. Its the challenge of getting to the top division that keeps you involved in the game for the long term rather than a short season. It also allows for different training strategies. Using this system you could set 2 days a week as match days with set game times and get through a season in 10 weeks (play each team once, 4 round finals and a draft week?). Hattrick only has 1 game a week and feels a little slow.
This would be more of a career mode where you start with rookies and develop them as you head upwards in divisions. You could have some kind of salary restriction in each division to prevent a world class team being in the lowest division.

Anyway, I went slightly off topic but I think the mode type is greatly influencial on the question you asked.

I think that you can please both parties by allowing mid game changes but also allowing preset conditions (maybe not as thorough) before hand. But this relies on matches having a set time every week and not being at random times.

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m0nty
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 11:18:28 PM »

I guess there are so many factors that would influence this decision that make it a hard thing to comment on.

One thing that did cross my mind is why don't you make every change that can be made during the game available pregame with sets of conditions on when to apply them. This doesn't mean you can't still make changes midgame if your online but it allows people to know their game is still going to plan if they can't be online to watch.

And are games set to go off at certain times every week? or is it a user setup time to suit both parties involved? or is it instant with anyone else who is online at that specific time.

I personally like the 'championship' mode you outlined. I have played hattrick and gpro and both implement a similar system where you promote and relegate. Its the challenge of getting to the top division that keeps you involved in the game for the long term rather than a short season. It also allows for different training strategies. Using this system you could set 2 days a week as match days with set game times and get through a season in 10 weeks (play each team once, 4 round finals and a draft week?). Hattrick only has 1 game a week and feels a little slow.
This would be more of a career mode where you start with rookies and develop them as you head upwards in divisions. You could have some kind of salary restriction in each division to prevent a world class team being in the lowest division.

Anyway, I went slightly off topic but I think the mode type is greatly influencial on the question you asked.

I think that you can please both parties by allowing mid game changes but also allowing preset conditions (maybe not as thorough) before hand. But this relies on matches having a set time every week and not being at random times.

The original idea was that all matches would be instant, but you would be able to choose your opponent from a range who were looking for a game and were around your team's level, using a lobby system. You would nominate your teams that you wanted to use, and then get sent to a list of other teams that coaches also wanted to play with. FUMBBL do that partly through their Web site but also in a set of IRC channels on a private server... I wasn't going to go that hardcore, so it was a technical problem on the horizon I hadn't quite solved yet.

I don't like the idea of scheduled games, as such, as in Hattrick or similar games. The vast majority of Facebook games slow usage down through only allowing you to play a certain amount before you run out of energy, or credits, or whatever they call it, and you have to wait for it to recharge for you to resume playing. I'll probably end up doing something like that, even though I'm not a huge fan of it.

The more I think about it, the more I think I probably should develop it as an asynchronous game first, if only because it's easier and quicker, and then work on the harder synchronous version.
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champinoman
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 01:21:28 AM »

I don't like the idea of scheduled games, as such, as in Hattrick or similar games. The vast majority of Facebook games slow usage down through only allowing you to play a certain amount before you run out of energy, or credits, or whatever they call it, and you have to wait for it to recharge for you to resume playing. I'll probably end up doing something like that, even though I'm not a huge fan of it.
An idea might be to use the fatigue system to do this instead of having dedicated credits. If players take time outside of a match to regain their stamina then people are not going to be playing 100 games in a row because they will start getting smashed by the 3rd game even if they are superior.

The original idea was that all matches would be instant, but you would be able to choose your opponent from a range who were looking for a game and were around your team's level, using a lobby system. You would nominate your teams that you wanted to use, and then get sent to a list of other teams that coaches also wanted to play with. FUMBBL do that partly through their Web site but also in a set of IRC channels on a private server... I wasn't going to go that hardcore, so it was a technical problem on the horizon I hadn't quite solved yet.
The one thing I don't understand is how the league (or similar) will work with the walk up and play style of live games. If you are required to play certain teams in your league wouldn't it just become hit and miss in regards to catching them online to get a game in? Wouldn't some sort of scheduling need to come into effect eventually? Wouldn't it be better to have a formal system if this is the case?

I don't want to sound like I'm hating the idea because I'm actually quite interested in a live version. I'd love to be online to make changes 'on the fly'. But if there isn't a clear way to get certain games played then it might have an annoyance factor attributed to it and that will drive people away.

Or maybe I'm looking at the league in the wrong way. AFL dreamteam league format is at the front of my mind and might be whats causing this confusion. Is there a different way to run a league I'm not thinking about?
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m0nty
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 10:25:30 AM »

I don't like the idea of scheduled games, as such, as in Hattrick or similar games. The vast majority of Facebook games slow usage down through only allowing you to play a certain amount before you run out of energy, or credits, or whatever they call it, and you have to wait for it to recharge for you to resume playing. I'll probably end up doing something like that, even though I'm not a huge fan of it.
An idea might be to use the fatigue system to do this instead of having dedicated credits. If players take time outside of a match to regain their stamina then people are not going to be playing 100 games in a row because they will start getting smashed by the 3rd game even if they are superior.

I hear what you are saying, it's not a bad idea. My concern would be that it would enable tanking (i.e. losing deliberately to get better draft picks), which I suspect is going to be a big concern if I don't get the rules right. Although maybe not as much if the games are all asynchronous, because it won't affect others. Hmm.

The original idea was that all matches would be instant, but you would be able to choose your opponent from a range who were looking for a game and were around your team's level, using a lobby system. You would nominate your teams that you wanted to use, and then get sent to a list of other teams that coaches also wanted to play with. FUMBBL do that partly through their Web site but also in a set of IRC channels on a private server... I wasn't going to go that hardcore, so it was a technical problem on the horizon I hadn't quite solved yet.
The one thing I don't understand is how the league (or similar) will work with the walk up and play style of live games. If you are required to play certain teams in your league wouldn't it just become hit and miss in regards to catching them online to get a game in? Wouldn't some sort of scheduling need to come into effect eventually? Wouldn't it be better to have a formal system if this is the case?

I don't want to sound like I'm hating the idea because I'm actually quite interested in a live version. I'd love to be online to make changes 'on the fly'. But if there isn't a clear way to get certain games played then it might have an annoyance factor attributed to it and that will drive people away.

Or maybe I'm looking at the league in the wrong way. AFL dreamteam league format is at the front of my mind and might be whats causing this confusion. Is there a different way to run a league I'm not thinking about?

The way it worked in the Faction division of FUMBBL back when it was successful, which itself was based on soccer leagues, was that you had a certain allocation of games that you could play in a certain time period, in their case 10 matches over two weeks. There was not a set fixture where someone has to play someone else in a specific order, it was just free for all... albeit that you could only play an opponent once per fortnight.

The key to this was that each "faction", i.e. soccer division, had more than 11 teams in it, so that even if you couldn't be in the right time zone to catch all of them, you'd have a good chance to get enough matches in with others. If you played all 10 matches, you maximised your ability to score points for the ladder. If you didn't play all 10, you forfeited your opportunity. Once the two weeks were up, the team at the top of the ladder won the gold medal. I won four of them myself!

Of course, this lead to what they called "cherrypicking", i.e. choosing teams to play that provided an easier matchup. It's a difficult design flaw to avoid in this type of game. But all their matches were synchronous, so if the Mr Football championship division allowed asynchronous matches, I could see no problem with imposing a home-and-away fixture on the division to prevent cherrypicking. If you didn't play all the games in a season, you'd be a big chance to get relegated.
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MTTY
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2011, 11:43:00 AM »

m0nty what you could do to avoid the cherry picking is to have the same format as mentioned but instead of not being able to play a team once per fortnight set it so that you are unable to play that team until you have played the rest of the teams in the league so for example if you had a league of 16 teams then say each team has to play every other team in the league twice but say that you want the season to go for say 16 weeks allowing 2 matches per week but set it out so that after 8 weeks each team has to play every other team but is unable to play the same team in that 8 week period
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champinoman
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2011, 01:14:09 PM »

m0nty what you could do to avoid the cherry picking is to have the same format as mentioned but instead of not being able to play a team once per fortnight set it so that you are unable to play that team until you have played the rest of the teams in the league so for example if you had a league of 16 teams then say each team has to play every other team in the league twice but say that you want the season to go for say 16 weeks allowing 2 matches per week but set it out so that after 8 weeks each team has to play every other team but is unable to play the same team in that 8 week period
The problem with this is it can't be synchronous because towards the end it would be very hard to be online at the right time with the couple of opponents you have left. And also what happens if someone leaves?

Another system that *might* work could be:
Have a league of say 100 people (using 100 for easy conversions to percentage).
Have a ladder based on wins/losses and restrict people from only being able to play games with the people within 10 positions of you. ie. A player sitting in 50th could challenge the 20 teams from 40th to 60th.

Or even use the ELO ranking system from chess where if you win you gain more points by playing a higher ranked player and less points if you picked an easy target. This way it also rewards people taking on harder opponents with less penalties if they do lose. Its a step away from a football win/loss system though.
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m0nty
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2011, 01:42:42 PM »

I have split this very interesting discussion out into its own thread.
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m0nty
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2011, 01:52:07 PM »

MTTY: that system sounds good, but it breaks down a little when you have a relegation/promotion system where you might not play each team twice before the season is concluded.

champinoman: the ELO system is what FUMBBL uses for its coach rankings, which is something similar to what I will develop - but I will use it also for overall coach rankings, not individual team ladders.

One issue that just cropped up in my mind: if I do offer both instant and live matches, there is a big problem with competitive people preferring instant ones because they would perceive it to be easier as they don't have a live opponent countering their moves. The AI for the robot coach would have to be pretty good to compensate, unless I impose a set bonus for robot opponents. Or, as champinoman first said, a system of coach-defined conditional tactics. That could get insanely complex, which is potentially a good and bad thing.
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Justin Bieber
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2011, 01:58:03 PM »

I'd prefer live matches but could be hard to make it work if we want to have divisions. Unless we do want Champ wants have have a big league in which people are able to challenge others are around your rank. This could work quite well as their is always bound to be people on and gives you a decent range of people around your level rather than being like Eagles vs Collingwood (Ladder reference) where the results are pretty one sided more often than not right now.

If we want small divisions (e.g 18 teams) could make different leagues for different time zones. So people can join the zones that would suit times they'd be able to make more times than not. If they can't, could have an option to set tactics beforehand if not on at the time. Not like complex tactics but more simple tactics (this person off for him and position changes as well as attacking/defensive). Does mean you are disadvantaged but can have some effort to not get hammered. I would love for this to happen as it means you will be in a league that other people would also be on at similar time to you. Since many have work or school, does seem like a good option at this stage. Is this possible m0nty?
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Boomz
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2011, 02:08:23 PM »

I'd prefer live matches but could be hard to make it work if we want to have divisions. Unless we do want Champ wants have have a big league in which people are able to challenge others are around your rank. This could work quite well as their is always bound to be people on and gives you a decent range of people around your level rather than being like Eagles vs Collingwood (Ladder reference) where the results are pretty one sided more often than not right now.

If we want small divisions (e.g 18 teams) could make different leagues for different time zones. So people can join the zones that would suit times they'd be able to make more times than not. If they can't, could have an option to set tactics beforehand if not on at the time. Not like complex tactics but more simple tactics (this person off for him and position changes as well as attacking/defensive). Does mean you are disadvantaged but can have some effort to not get hammered. I would love for this to happen as it means you will be in a league that other people would also be on at similar time to you. Since many have work or school, does seem like a good option at this stage. Is this possible m0nty?

I think this would work best... I'd prefer live matches & I think that would be the easiest way for it to work.
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champinoman
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2011, 02:41:58 PM »

One issue that just cropped up in my mind: if I do offer both instant and live matches, there is a big problem with competitive people preferring instant ones because they would perceive it to be easier as they don't have a live opponent countering their moves. The AI for the robot coach would have to be pretty good to compensate, unless I impose a set bonus for robot opponents.
When you mentioned live matches previously I had still imagined them as being against real people who are online at the time and not robots. I thought you meant there would be some kind of automated lobby that matches you up against other people currently online and also seeking a quick match.
And for those times where not enough people are online you could have a robot match as a practice match to refine your tactics and such. These games could be unlimited with no lasting effects beyond the games end (fatigue, injury, etc.). Keeps people interested and offers a way to learn the game without having to join a league and being terrible for the first few games.
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m0nty
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2011, 06:50:30 PM »

I'd prefer live matches but could be hard to make it work if we want to have divisions. Unless we do want Champ wants have have a big league in which people are able to challenge others are around your rank. This could work quite well as their is always bound to be people on and gives you a decent range of people around your level rather than being like Eagles vs Collingwood (Ladder reference) where the results are pretty one sided more often than not right now.

If we want small divisions (e.g 18 teams) could make different leagues for different time zones. So people can join the zones that would suit times they'd be able to make more times than not. If they can't, could have an option to set tactics beforehand if not on at the time. Not like complex tactics but more simple tactics (this person off for him and position changes as well as attacking/defensive). Does mean you are disadvantaged but can have some effort to not get hammered. I would love for this to happen as it means you will be in a league that other people would also be on at similar time to you. Since many have work or school, does seem like a good option at this stage. Is this possible m0nty?

Since the majority of people are going to be in the AET time zone, I don't see geography as a huge problem. FUMBBL had half its users in America and most of the other half in Europe, and they never split into time zone divisions. WA people will catch enough of the eastern primetime period.

The main technical problem in such systems with competitiveness of games comes from division design, but these can all be solved with more and more numbers of users. You can have the best-designed system but if there aren't any users, it's all for nought. You can have the ugliest design possible but if enough users are there to play games, it usually works out okay. The issues come when you have divisions that start with huge popularity and then people dwindle away for whatever reason and move to another division. It's a constantly shifting dynamic. That's actually what the division system is there for, in some ways: to test out new ways of combining new challenges and keeping competitiveness. Some will work, some will fail. It's an iterative process.

I guess we're getting a little too deep into the nitty-gritty rules of individual divisions. The point of this thread is really to debate how much emphasis I should place on instant vs live matches. For the Facebook version, I think it's pretty obvious that I should stick to the asynchronous version, as that is what works for Facebook users who "snack" on their usage. For the Web version, that should probably be where the live matches stay, what they call "appointment" gaming. As for the mobile versions, not sure about those yet.
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m0nty
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2011, 07:02:08 PM »

One issue that just cropped up in my mind: if I do offer both instant and live matches, there is a big problem with competitive people preferring instant ones because they would perceive it to be easier as they don't have a live opponent countering their moves. The AI for the robot coach would have to be pretty good to compensate, unless I impose a set bonus for robot opponents.
When you mentioned live matches previously I had still imagined them as being against real people who are online at the time and not robots. I thought you meant there would be some kind of automated lobby that matches you up against other people currently online and also seeking a quick match.
And for those times where not enough people are online you could have a robot match as a practice match to refine your tactics and such. These games could be unlimited with no lasting effects beyond the games end (fatigue, injury, etc.). Keeps people interested and offers a way to learn the game without having to join a league and being terrible for the first few games.

Your vision of how live matches would work is pretty much correct.

Practice matches are definitely a good idea, though I'd probably confine those to before a season starts.

I certainly hear what you say about instant games being a backup option for when you can't find a good live game. Rather than doing that with the same team, though, I'd prefer having some teams which are instant-only, which you'd fall back on when you can't participate with a team in a live-only division/league.
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