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Changes to the Youth Academy

2007-12-04 09:46:00

This is the first in a series of three editorials that present upcoming features in Hattrick. We start with the Youth Academy, since in this area we see the need for immediate fixes. In the coming weeks, we will move on to the other changes we have planned for next season: Arena planning, Crowd formulas, and the role of Set Pieces in the game.

The new Youth Academy has now been running for more than two seasons. It has proven very popular, but also quite difficult to make sense of and to make the most of. In terms of what kind of players the YA produces, it has been a let-down for many managers - and we can only confirm their suspicion that it has been too hard to create decent players in the Academy. This is mainly due to two factors: The starting values of players born in the Academy system, and the tools that the managers have at their disposal to train and analyse their youth squad.

Youth academy players are born with a current skill (much like a senior squad player) and a potential, which is the maximum value he can achieve within the youth squad. This design would ensure us that the quality of players produced in the YA would not exceed the old system too much. In theory, YA players can get better than the players in the "old system", but not by much, and it takes a lot of work to get it right. Too much, as it turns out. With our two-step fix for the YA, we think we will land a lot closer to what we originally wanted the Youth Academies to be. Youth players will be quite a lot better, on average, than they are today - they will be more "promotable" into the senior squad. Finding candidates that could become stars will be easier, but that also makes the choices tougher because you can't give all your players the optimal training.

This is the first step of our fix:

* All existing youth academy players will immediately receive boosted skills and potential to better reflect what our intentions were for Youth Academy players. Future players will start at these new levels.

* Training speed for Youth Academy players will increase compared to the current training speed. Youth Academy players will train faster than players in the regular team, even if their age and skill levels are the same. The Individual training type has been made much more efficient.

* Youth players are born with a Character attribute. This is hidden today and will also influence training speed a little. In the future, it will be possible to reveal this attribute as well.

* Stamina training will be removed from Youth Academy. All players will be fixed at the same level, and youth players born in the "old system" will also start at this level.

* Form will be removed as a factor for Youth Academy players. Youth player performance will however continue to vary from week to week, between their current skill and their potential skill. This is a random factor, showing you the range your player can perform within. Players will perform close to their current skill much more often than they will perform close to their potential.

* The removal of form and stamina as "blind factors" will make it easier to judge what the true potential of each player is, and to focus more on the right kind of training.

* You will never lose your current skill when you promote a player into the regular squad. This “penalty” existed before as a way to discourage users to promote youth players as soon as they turned 17. Since training is now always faster in the Academy, there is a better incentive to keep players in the Academy until they have been fully trained.

As from next season, we will improve a few other things in the Youth Academies:

* Scout reports about potential youth players will contain more useful and precise information

* The training reports will also be changed to give more useful information about the players on your team. We are also looking at ways to give the manager better control over what information is revealed about young players, and new ways to keep track of what you already know about players.

If you feel you would like to get more details about the immediate updates and next season's improvements for the Youth Academies, there will be some additional info on Friday. That info will be more on a nice to know level than on a need to know level though.

One a final note, we have also fixed a bug that did not retire youth players when they reached their 19th birthday. This will now be in effect. However, retirement only happens on a birthday, which means players that have already turned 19 may stay on until they turn 20. If you have a player that you like, and that soon turns 19 (or 20), you should consider promoting him to your senior team right away. We are however considering a "softer" system for retiring 19 year olds, so we may make a tweak to his system in the near future.

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