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In the making

2011-02-04 09:30:00

Last week I presented you with the new HT team. This time I will focus on what we’re currently working on, and what we will be working on in the near future. And perhaps most importantly for you all, this editorial also includes what will happen in the season break and what’s lined up for next season.

For the last months we have taken it slowly in introducing new features to the game, and focused on other improvements instead, such as the reopening of CHPP. We’re now in a position to speed up and during the next few months we will focus more on game improvements again.

But before moving on, let’s start with what’s happening next season. It will be quite a calm season’s end, just like last time, but there are two things coming up.

Changes for next season

- The second step of the salary discount change for older players.
In the first step we changed the discount from 1/8 to 1/9 of a player’s normal salary. Next season this discount will be 1/10. For full details, read the editorial from Oct 5th last year.

- The option to swap series in the lowest division.
If you play in the lowest division in your country, you can swap places with a bot team in another series within the same division before a new season starts. Perfect for you as either a new user who wants to team up with a friend, or just wants to find a more active series.

This will only be possible in the lowest division - and only for level VII or lower. You can only swap places with a bot. We'll let you know exactly when this swapping window will be open closer to the end of the season.

We will also investigate if more managers can be given the option to change series in the coming seasons.

That’s it?
"Is that all we have in store?" you may think. Well, for the season break, yes, but we also have some improvements planned that don’t need to be introduced between seasons.

Let me first comment on something I think everyone has noticed; we’ve been losing users lately. This has naturally been discussed on the forums, where all possible things get the blame. To make the picture clearer for you, I'd like to share a few facts.

Stay rate among older users better than ever
Last season we saw the best stay rate among old users for many years. In other words, fewer old users left the game compared to past seasons. So contrary to the perhaps general belief it’s not that old managers leave in exodus, quite the opposite.
What’s the reason for the loss then? Well, if it’s not because we lose older managers, it’s naturally because of the lower influx of new users. To be more precise, we have a lower stay rate among users newly signed up to Hattrick than in the past.

Time for a new game introduction
We have had plans to improve the newbie experience for quite some time, but with the above facts in mind it was obvious that this should be prioritized. At the start of this year, we began working on a redesigned game introduction for new users. A story based introduction, which includes a better game tutorial and game help. The main focus however is to give new users a really great game experience during their first month. And from the sounds of blog and forum reactions (and newbie colleagues) to this project, it seems it will do just that.

Now, you will quite logically not see much of this project as you already play the game, but if you’re interested in it anyway, I recommend you to read our dev blog.

Match presentation and feedback
The new game introduction is the biggest project right now and the most important one, but even so we have other things in the making. Things designed for you, our current managers. Top priority in this department is match presentation and match feedback. Simply put, we wanr to give you a better and deeper experience from your matches.

This is primarily about giving you better and more detailed ratings; team ratings in particular. We want to make it possible for you to not only get your average ratings, but also the ratings for a particular time in the match. That way, it will be easier for you to see how stamina affects your team and what impact your substitutions are having. Essentially, it will take your ability to analyze a match and your team performance to a whole new level, and increase your understanding of the game. And – I dare say – it will also increase your game enjoyment for sure.

While better ratings are the larger part here, we will also look at increasing your understanding of the game by improving the feedback you get from different match events and other things happening in the match. This will make you a better manager and make you better aware of the times when you lose a match you should’ve won, and vice versa.

Staff project
I mentioned this project in my earlier editorials, and this is the next bigger game change project we will take on. We will most likely start working on it for real after we finish the new game introduction mentioned above. "And when might that be?" I can hear you thinking out loud.
Well, it kind of depends on how smoothly the game introduction project goes, but I hope we can start working (coding) on it during the spring, which means it can be ready for release in late 2011. You’ll get more information when we can give a more concrete release date for this.

What we want for the new staff system is for it to be more than just an update of the old one. It should be more alive and personal, provide you with better information and feedback about the effect of different staff. In short, it should be more of a strategic choice than it is today and open up new possibilities as well. Much of the charm in Hattrick and other such games lies in the decision-making, and this new staff system will be just about that. It will be a place where you can choose how you want to play Hattrick, and which options you want to explore.

Balancing strategies
The new staff system will also be designed to better balance different strategies against each other. We want your success to largely depend on how good you are at executing a certain strategy, and not on how many paths you have the time and will to follow. As mentioned earlier, with the new staff system it will not possible to do everything at once, you will have to make a choice. And to make this choice really interesting for you, we also want to get a better balance against different strategies.

There are some strategies we want to see more use of in the game. We want to make it more beneficial for you to keep players in your team over a longer period of time, and make your own youth players more valuable as well. Many (most?) managers already play Hattrick this way and it’s also a way we like the game to be played, but today it’s more beneficial to use other strategies. Hence why we will look to slowly and gradually making it more beneficial in the future.

At the other end, there are some strategies we see a need to make less beneficial. One is hoarding money. Not hoarding in itself perhaps, but the gain and what you can achieve by doing it. And trading will also meet some limits; you will still be able to trade, but there will be limits on how much you can trade (which currently isn’t the case).

You will hear more about the staff system later on, well in advance of the release.

This is all for this time, and until the next time - have a very nice time on Hattrick!

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