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Meet the game developers: HT-Tasos

One of the most active HT's in the forums and the guy behind the now extinct (we've got news about it) HT-Tools. We'll also talk about the new World Cup format, Power Ratings, and much, much more.

Please welcome, HT-Tasos!

Written by Mod-Fleming (10382507) and HPE-rikdaan (13289066)

Hello Tasos, thank you so much for joining us! Can you please introduce yourself to those who don't know you yet?
I was wondering about what has changed in my life since I started working in Hattrick. I am 32 years old now, got married 2 years ago and have a 9 months old daughter. I am a Data Scientist and my role in Hattrick has a little bit of data analytics, design and develop new features and community management, mostly in Global forum. Before Hattrick, I was working in academia as a researcher and after that as a game designer for an escape rooms franchise. I love to learn new things and MOOCs are my favourite hobby for several years now.

Before joining the HT-team, you were active as a Greek and global Hattrick Press Editor. In real life however, you are a data scientist. How did Hattrick Press still manage to attract you back then?
When I started playing Hattrick and after a while taking the Editor’s position in Greece, I was still a university student in Mathematics. I was never a real fan of football and what made me addicted to Hattrick was the community and the mathematical part of it. My first articles in HT Press were an attempt to analyze the numbers behind a match and a tutorial with all the steps a new user needs to take. I have written 30+ articles since then for both Greece and Global press. Maybe HT press is the reason I love Data Journalism today!

Do you think that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has affected the roadmap for this summer, in some way?
No. I don’t think we had any serious impact on how we work. We were used to work both in our office and remotely and Covid didn’t change it a lot.

What's the most stimulating task you have to do as a Hattrick worker? And the most boring?
There are four tasks in my working routine. Creating specifications for our new features, participating in our forum, messing with our data and writing code. Let’s start from the most boring part. Writing code. It’s the most boring part in my opinion. It’s no that it has something wrong, but the other tasks I have are far more stimulating. You engage with users in the forum, reading their opinions and arguing with them. You have those Aha moments when you find something interesting, hidden in data. You design something new that users feel happy to play around with. I just don’t have the same feeling when it comes to writing code.

You were the guy behind the CHPP site HT-Tools. Will we see it online ever again?
:( :( I am not happy with that. I loved to build tools for the community and HT-Tools was the way for me to do it. However, since I work on Hattrick now, whenever I have a new CHPP idea, I always debate with myself. Should I implement it as a CHPP app or wait until I have the time and resources to integrate it to Hattrick and all users will get access to it? I still have the domain of HT-Tools since I feel that sooner or later I will do something with it, but honestly, I am not sure when this will be. At least for now, I have my new favorite CHPP app to spend my free time. The HTnini!

A while ago you did a great job together with GM-artod, creating the so-called Hattrick Power Rating. What are some of the statistics that surprised you the most or made you learn new things about the game?
I know Artod in and out of Hattrick and I see him as a good friend. Working with him was a great journey to be honest. I wasn’t heavily involved in the actual design of the Power Rating, but I was mostly his data-buddy. We spent hours chatting about it and saw it growing from a simple idea to something that was implemented to our servers!

What surprised me in the outcome of the project? It’s something I partially expected to see. What came up through the statistical analysis of Power Rating was that a big part of the variability on the results comes from your tactical decisions and not the raw strength of your team. In other words, having higher ratings, doesn't mean that you should win a match, since your opponent can heavily influence the outcome by the right tactical choices. This might be obvious, but it’s always nice to prove it with numbers :)

Let's talk about the new U21/NT setup. Why did you decide to make radical changes to a system that has worked for almost 2 decades?
As many other places in Hattrick, National Teams live in an ancient part of the code which doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility. Changing one single thing could be a matter of an hour or days. It is safer to rewrite it, rather than try to add a patch here and there.

Regarding the recently added countries, HT's chose not to add Kosovo, a 1.8M people state with limited recognition, just like Palestine, and affiliated with UEFA and FIFA. Instead, you added San Marino, a country with 30k inhabitants. Why did you make that choice?
There are several reasons behind our decision. The most important is, when we add a new country which already has a decent amount of users playing Hattrick, we want to provide them a way to move their teams in those new leagues. Without the need to sign up again. We did it in the past, but it was really ages ago. And all the changes we have done since then, makes it almost impossible. So, unless we do a proper rework to the core, we cannot just “enable” it for the current users.

Also, we felt that NTs have a great potential to keep the community active, which made us want to introduce new challenges as well like the Continental and the Nations Cup.

In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles for new players, in addition to the steep learning curve, is related to the huge competitive gap in relation to the teams already established. Are you aware of this situation? Have you thought of a solution to this problem?
This is an issue, not only in Hattrick, but almost in every online game. Different companies tried to handle it in different ways. Some created the concept of “servers” where they open a new one every x years and everyone can start from scratch there. However, this doesn’t work well in long-term games like Hattrick. Also, I don’t think that the problem is the established teams, but the knowledge that old users have compared to the new users. Hattrick has a complex set of rules that if you want to succeed, you need to dig really deep on that. We have seen a big impact with the official, mentoring system. Those users that get a mentor, stay longer with us. Maybe we should improve that part more?

If you had the power and resources to do it, what would be the functionality you would like to implement in Hattrick?
I was always a fan of community/location-based features. As I said before, I met a lot of new friends through Hattrick. What if there was an official way to do it? Maybe a flag collection where you get the flag only if you meet someone from that country and play a friendly match together? I haven’t thought about it.

What does Hattrick mean to you?
Hattrick started as a hobby, a way to spend my free time when I was student. However, it became a part of me. First, we had all the community meetings when I was a simple user. We used to gather 10-15 users once every while, eat together and watch our National Team matches. I made so many friends, some that I still have around in my life. Then, Hattrick changed from a hobby to an official, working position. This change happened to me while I was ready to accept an offer for an academic position abroad. I never liked academia, but the Game Industry wasn’t something that you can just jump in from one day to another. Now, Hattrick and the people around it feel more like part of my Family.

In a previous interview you told about your expectation that "Hattrick will be around for several more years". How do you see this today? Where do you think that Hattrick will stand in, let's say, 3 years?
Back then, we all felt that we were close to stabilizing our user base. We could see the numbers going through that way. However, it was a nice surprise to see the trend keeps improving even after that. I don’t think that we will see growth like the old days when we had almost a million users, but I am sure that 3 years will be just a blink of our eyes in front of Hattrick and we will be around for a few more.

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2020-11-08 20:03:32, 5122 visitas

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