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Old 01-05-2014, 08:09 AM   #1
Sebastian Palkowski
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Sebastian's Update Thread

Please don't be mad with me but in the future I will not answer to questions regarding "the game sucks" (everyone has his own opinion), "the game is unplayable" (not true), "the game is boring" (yes, in some ways that is true, we are aware of it), "EHM is a million times better then FHM" (please play EHM, it is a great game), "you wanted to much for version 1" (we already admitted it and learned our lesson), "a new game should not be less then EHM 2007 and/or OOTP 14" (not realistic) and other comments like that.

The reason is simple: whatever I write, I will not satisfy some people. To be very clear, I respect everyone to have his opinion, I just feel that the time can be used better: to make the game better day by day, patch by patch and version by version.

I know you guys wish better communication from me and I will try to be more active here on the board and talk FHM (and its future) with you. And thats the reason for the statement above, I want to talk game (and its future) and not defend it with every post I make. Everyone who feels not treated right, please contact me and we will work it out!

I will use this (locked) thread to give you 4-5 updates a week. That way you know what we are working on. Most of the time it will be boring updates but I will use this thread to go into more detail when I feel the time is right.
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Old 01-06-2014, 05:37 AM   #2
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Over the weekend I got a PM with 6 rather big bugs in historical mode that we looked into (and fixed most of them). A few points are not really bugs but areas we have to tweak which always takes a bit longer.

We still fix bugs as needed but what changed in the last few weeks was that we started to work on the game again. As I wrote earlier, we want to concentrate more on the main aspects of the game and make them as fun as possible to play (of course we will not forget all other areas, we will fix anything that needs to be fixed and most changes will effect e.g. historical or fictional as well).

About a month ago we sat down and discussed what areas needed a re-design to make them more fun. What we came up with was:

1. Development/Training
2. Scouting
3. Match Engine/In-Game
4. Career Play

Disclaimer: all I say now and later can change and there is no timetable at all other then "it's done when it is done, tested and ready for public".

We know exactly how this 4 areas should work in the future and started to make the necessary changes. Especially point 4 will only be a starting point as it is by far the biggest area that needs changes but we want to make noticeable improvements to it now and take it from there in future updates/versions.

Tomorrow I will post more details about the Development/Training changes. Here we are done with the coding and in the process of tweaking the results (which takes a lot of time as we need to make long-time sims after all tweaks).
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:35 AM   #3
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As promised, here is a writeup from Jeff for Training/Development. It is the smallest of the areas we changed but with Development involved pretty important to be good. The reason we worked on this first was to give us plenty of time to test/tweak it together with our test-team.

Training Focus:

Primary/Secondary training is gone, there are now 10 separate attribute categories (4 new ones, 2 each for physical and mental), which control development, one of which must be selected (via the same right-click system) as the training focus. Attributes are split up between the categories as follows:

Offensive Mental (3) - Offensive Read, Getting Open, Screening
Offensive Skill (4) - Passing, Puckhandling, Shooting Accuracy, Shooting Range
Defensive Mental (3) - Defensive Read, Positioning, Shot Blocking
Defensive Skill (4) - Faceoffs, Hitting, Pokechecking, Checking
Physical Non-Skating (3) - Stamina, Strength, Fighting
Physical Skating (4) - Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Speed
*Mental On-Ice - (4) Aggression, Bravery/Mental Toughness, Teamplayer, Temperament/Stamina
*Mental Off-Ice - (3) Determination , Leadership, Coachability
Goalie Mental - (4) Positioning, Poke Check, Rebound, Puckhandling
Goalie Skill - (3) Blocker, Glove, Reflexes, Skating, Passing

(*These aren't available as selections from the right-click menu, they're only used internally - you can't deliberately train things like leadership and coachability.)

Internally, training is now governed by "Development Points", which are tracked separately for each category (but aren't shown.) Points are added every day, the exact number depending on whether or not it was a game or practice day (each tends to be better at improving different attributes) and various other factors (the training focus gets a bonus, whether the player is in a league appropriate for his skill level, the player's performance, his coaches, etc.) At the end of the month, if the total number of development points in a category is over the amount needed to increase an attribute, one is chosen for improvement (see below). If not, the total for that category is reset to 0 for the start of the next month.

Because of the differentiation between how attributes improve via game and practice experience, there will be a bit of differentiation between shorter-schedule leagues (more practice-based development), and longer-schedule ones will have (more game-based development).

Seriously injured players are severely limited with regard to which attributes they can improve.

Attribute improvement:

When an attribute category is selected for improvement, one of its 3-4 attributes is semi-randomly selected. There are some modifiers to this to reduce the likelihood of improvements in certain attributes that should be slower to improve, and to limit the possibility of attributes increasing beyond 20 (in most cases, an attribute at 20 will only increase about 10% of the time it's selected, otherwise a different attribute will increase instead.)

The amount of points required for improvement varies by age; young players tend to develop quicker in most categories. We've been spending some time getting this tuned right, to keep the junior leagues at a realistic talent level while not flooding senior leagues with young players; it still needs some work but we're getting close.

Monthly reports:

Once a month, the user gets an email message, listing the details of every player on the active roster who improved that month.

Position improvement:

Instead of a training focus category, a new position to train can be selected instead (which sacrifices the development point bonus to training); skaters cannot be trained to be goalies and vice-versa.

Position learning points start at 0 for all positions and are tracked continuously, only getting reset to 0 when they reach 100, at which time the position rating improves by 1. The player gets points based on minutes played at that position in a game and the number of practice days he spends with learning that position as his focus. If a position rating reaches 20, that becomes the new primary position and the previous 20-rated position is reduced to 19.

Timing of Levelling-Off and Decline:

The improvement of "Skill" attributes will stop, for most players, at an age somewhere past the "Player Peak Age" setting (currently 25.) The exact timing is variable, the probability of the levelling-off increasing as the player gets older. Forwards (generally) level off sooner than defencemen, who level off sooner than goalies.

Skill decline operates more or less as it did before - i.e., its start is determined by the aging attribute, which is subject to increases or decreases based on events in the player's career.

"Physical" attribute levelling-off operates the same way as with Skill attributes, but uses the "Physical Peak Age" as a base, instead. There is no positional differentiation.

Physical attribute decline is more variable than skill decline; it's initiated via a random check involving his age and aging attributes. The checks begin a few years after the levelling-off period starts.

"Mental" attributes will typically continue to improve until a variable date determined by a calculation involving the Aging and Physical Peak Age numbers, at which point they will level off for about 3 years before some of them begin to decline.

Effects of Levelling-Off and Decline:

Levelling-off in a given category results in all regular improvements to attributes stopping; the only further changes to attributes during that period should be those cause by special procedures, e.g. adjustments caused by a major injury.

Declining causes attributes to decrease. Once a decline has started, each affected attribute category gets a monthly check to see if a rating in it has declined. The attribute that decline is chosen semi-randomly (there are some safeguards to prevent certain mental attributes from declining, and to limit the ability of some attributes to stay high through sheer luck of the draw when everything else is going downhill.)

There is a new retirement check that increases the odds of a player retiring if he's physically declined to the point that he can no longer compete in the league where he spent most of his career - that way, you won't see NHL veterans sticking around in the low minors into their 40's.

Monthly reports:

As with improvements, the user will get a monthly PM report on attribute declines.
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Old 01-08-2014, 05:32 PM   #4
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Today we released a new build to our test team. Beside a few fixes and tweaks to development it also included 3 new playable leagues:

Swiss Nationalliga A
Federal Hockey League
Asian League

Early testing worked fine so expect them to be part of the next patch.

Malte and I played around with the Schedule Generator today. Before release we removed it because it did not work as intended with no time to fix it. We took a few hours today to look into it today and fixed a few easy things. At least it generates schedules now without crashing but we have to do a lot more testing of different structures to be sure that it is usable for us.

Disclaimer: Schedule Generators are one of the hardest things to code and it is almost impossible to generate realistic schedules (everyone who used the OOTP schedule generator will know what I'm talking about but at least it works without crashing). We do our best to apply certain restrictions (e.g. number of back to back games, average games per week, ...) but existing schedule templates will always be your best choice. Anyways, as a test I generated a NHL schedule and it looked ok (going from early October to mid April, all teams had the expected number of games). Additionally I generated a DEL schedule (which looks totally different then a NHL schedule with Gamedays on Friday and Sunday and all teams play each other 4 times) and it worked out as intended. Tomorrow we will test as many structures as possible (like expanding the NHL to 31 teams) and analyze the results.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:14 PM   #5
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Just a short update from today:

We did a lot of testing with the schedule generator and it seems to work ok, so it might be usable for the future (it will have some restrictions).

Additional to it we had to upload a new build with new tweaks and a fix to the development system.

Jeff worked out an improved system for the AI to manage roster additions via FA's (during the season). We will start to add it tomorrow.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:14 PM   #6
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Today we made a few more tweaks to development, worked in a few ideas from our testers to scouting and added a table set with player info on development tracking. So beside a monthly report with rating changes you can look at all players actual progress over a month (e.g. to see why a player might not develop as expected).

Next big update will be Monday, then I (or better Jeff) will describe our changes to scouting.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:44 PM   #7
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Sorry, I have to give the scouting update out tomorrow, had an meeting today that took longer then expected.

On a bright side we worked on improvements to the roster management AI today and I continued heavily on the match engine changes, which are way bigger then previously thought. Stay tuned ...
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:04 AM   #8
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Scouting has been heavily reworked, with an emphasis on allowing more precise assignments and providing better feedback.

Assignment of Scouts:

Scouting assignments are now set via a new screen, opened via the right-click menu on a scout's name:


The scout's target can be set to a region, league, specific team, or the user's shortlist. Scouts can also be given short assignments to watch an individual player from the player's right-click menu.

The basic assignment can then be further filtered by in a number of ways: age, position, eligibility for a specific draft, whether his rights are available in the user's team's league, ability and talent ranges (useful, for example, if you want to scout a better league for its weaker players). The methodology of the search can also be specified: looking for current ability vs. potential, and developing accurate reports on the best players available by scouting them repeatedly (quality) or doing minimal evaluations on a larger number of players, trying to avoid looking at the same guy twice (quantity).

Scouts can "watch" a certain numbers of players in a week. The exact number depends on a few different factors, like the scout's location and the team's finance, but will generally be in the range of 1-20 players per week.

Scouting Levels:

The scouting level is indicated for each player as a lower-case letter beside the talent/future talent numbers, e.g. a player scouted 3 times with a talent of 5.0 and a future talent of 9.0 has those numbers displayed as 5.0b and 9.0b. Scouting levels affect the accuracy and amount of information displayed for a player:

e: unscouted, only talent/future talent displayed for player with no reduction in the inherent error (each player has a number to indicate how much he is over/underrated by default)
d: scouted, attributes displayed, error reduced slightly by an amount dependent on the scout's skill
c: scouted twice, error reduced moderately
b: scouted three times, error reduced significantly
a: scouted four times, error reduced heavily, maximum level

The level has to be be maintained: players will eventually regress to the next lowest level, the chance of a regression getting increasingly larger as they go unscouted.

Who Gets Scouted:

The scout will start at the highest-rated player (by ability or potential, depending on which priority is set) in the target group that meets all the priority criteria. If the scout's ability would allow him to look at more players than actually meet his priority list criteria in his target, he'll look at every other player in the target, starting with the best-rated ones and working his way down the list. So, for example, if he can scout 10 players a week and you send him to watch a team but include criteria that only 5 players on the team fit, he'll also scout the five best players on the team that don't meet that criteria. If there still aren't enough players to scout, the excess 'speed' is wasted.

Reports:

Scouts will report back weekly, listing exactly which players they looked at. The "Respond to Message" button allows the scout to be reassigned. Feedback from the testers on the reporting features so far is mixed; we're looking at ways to make it a little more configurable and less spammy.
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Old 01-16-2014, 02:02 PM   #9
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Sebastian's having some computer issues, so I'll do the update today. We've made some progress tuning development, and have hopefully nailed down the remaining issues that were causing runaway increases in attributes in the late teens. That should make it a little easier to judge how the player movement and scouting changes are working; it was a little difficult to identify issues with them when the player pool was getting massively overfilled with talent after a couple of years.

Also added the first version of a system to increase player height and weight as they age and develop now. Height and weight don't affect anything in-game right now, but should now serve as an indicator of whether or not the player is improving physically - they should bulk up as they get older if their physical attributes are developing normally; disproportionately low weight for a given height should be a warning sign. There's also an increase in weight once a player's physical skills start to decline, although that's minimal for the moment - no Keith Tkachuks yet.
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:07 PM   #10
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As Jeff wrote, a corrupted Windows update yesterday destroyed my work PC and I have to setup everything from scratch. Luckily I had everything checked-in, so no data lost! Should be fully back online tomorrow.
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:50 PM   #11
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Last 3 days was mostly bug fixing and working on the match engine. Malte did the usual database update today (always Mondays) and added another playable league, the Finnish Suomi-Sarja. Before people ask: most of the work is done by our excellent researchers and what leagues are added depends on the researcher we get.

One user today sent me a save file I checked out (crash) and found the following bug:

when only one Assistant Captain is assigned, the game will crash over time (there is a random chance each game). It is fixed now but until the patch is released make sure to have both assigned or no Assistant Captains at all!
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:14 PM   #12
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I had to hand-add 20 of this bad boys today:
Code:
5on5 A
Z	LW	C	RW	LD	RD	X
1	4	8	6	1	5	10
2	4	8	6	5	5	11
3	4	8	6	5	3	12
4	7	8	9	4	5	10
5	7	8	9	4	6	11
6	7	8	9	5	6	12
7	10	10	12	7	9	13
8	10	11	12	7	9	14
9	10	12	12	7	9	15
10	13	13	15	10	12	16
11	13	14	15	10	12	17
12	13	15	15	10	12	18
13	13	13	15	10	12	16
14	13	14	15	10	12	17
15	13	15	15	10	12	18
16	19	19	21	16	18	19
17	19	20	21	16	18	20
18	19	21	21	16	18	21
19	19	19	20	16	18	19
20	19	20	21	16	18	20
21	20	21	21	16	18	21
22	22	22	20	16	18	22
23	20	20	20	16	18	20
24	20	24	24	16	18	24
Happy speculating!

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:46 AM   #13
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The last few days was a lot of iOOTP for me but of course we still worked hard on FHM. Development seems to be pretty close to "finished" now with only small tweaks each new build. Scouting the same, looks like this two areas are ready to go in the near future. Malte took a few hours to concentrate on reported game crashes and fixed them. I continue to code the improved match engine. Jeff wrote a few lines to describe it:

The new match engine is something that originally was planned for the second version of the game. But after considering the amount of work that would be lost if we continued to develop the old system this year and then completely replaced it season, it made more sense to move up the implementation, which will free up some time for other new things in version 2 that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

The new engine is based around a zonal system. The ice is divided in 24 sectors - 6 in the neutral zone, 9 each in the offensive/defensive zones. As Sebastian mentioned after I first showed it to him, the way the ice is divided is similar to a hockey board game he had once played. I hadn't seen it, though, and my actual inspirations for using the zone system were somewhat older: a simple game published in a hockey magazine in the early 80's (the title of which I've long since forgotten, unfortunately), an older tradition (dating back to the 30's-40's) of zone-based games, and some non-hockey boardgames that use the concept (notably, Statis-Pro Football.) The popularity of a zone system for such games isn't surprising: it's visually appealing and communicates information well because it's a fairly direct interpretation of what's happening on the ice. Of course, being boardgames, all of those were limited to very simple depictions of puck movement and player actions. We're not constrained by that, so we can back the system up with a much more detailed (and statistically accurate) engine while still retaining the comfortable look and feel of a simpler system.

The puck's current zone is always identified, as well as the player in possession of the puck (if there is one at the moment. A key defending player (or lack of one) is also identified, and is chosen based on a variety of factors: the play location, the player carrying the puck, tactical settings of the defending team, player ratings, size of the ice surface, etc. - so the exact player defending the play will vary for a variety of reasons: tactical choices like checking assignments might assign a specific defender to shadow a particular puck carrier, play in the zones in the middle of the ice might be more likely to result in the centre being the chosen defender (assuming the centre is assigned there in the team's tactical setup), a shorthanded situation or tactical choices might leave the player undefended, and so on.

Play occurs one second at a time, and the exact event happening in that second is determined by a random check that will include possibilities based on the game summary data we already use, as well as some additional data from other sources and some original research we've done from surveying game videos for the frequency of certain events. The exact chances of those event occurring will be adjusted based on the position on the ice (e.g. the vast majority of offside calls will occur in the zones touching the defending team's blueline), player ratings (e.g. an aggressive defender might be more likely to take a penalty, a good shot blocker will increase the chance of a blocked shot occurring if he's in a position to do so, etc.), tactical choices (e.g. teams set to shoot rather than pass will be more likely to get a shot result), and other situationally relevant factors.

However, the basic possibilities of stats-generating events (once adjusted to a per-second rate) will never total anywhere near to 100% of the 3600 seconds in a regulation-time game - there usually aren't more than 30-40 events recorded per period in the NHL game summaries. So the total will be filled to 100% with "movement" events filling up the shortfall. These will include anything done to change the location of the puck that doesn't normally show up in a game summary - passing, carrying it, dumping it in, clearing/icing it; the exact chances of each depending, again, on location, ratings, and tactics. A movement event will change the location of the puck (or possibly keep it in the same place) and may change the identity of the puck carrier - e.g., a pass will result in a new puck carrier from the same team, probably in a different sector. Some events (both movement and otherwise) may require play to skip forward multiple seconds, e.g. icing the puck while killing a penalty will have take several seconds off the clock while the puck travels down the ice before possession is re-established by the power play team in their own end of the ice.

Since there isn't much in the way of official documentation about how often such "movement" events occur, we needed to do some additional research. Sebastian dug up some existing studies, and I watched a lot of game video from a variety of leagues and game situations and manually recorded what was happening but not showing up in the stats. Happily, my research and the stuff he found matched pretty well, so we're fairly confident we've got the frequencies right to depict games in a realistic way at any level of play.

The box sizes are appropriate for the 1-second time intervals: a player at average NHL speeds will typically move about 8-9 m/s, and the sector boxes are roughly that size on each side (except for the corners/behind the net, but play tends to slow down in those areas.) Slower rates of play or a larger ice surface can be simulated by increasing the chance of the puck carrier not moving forward based on his skating speed or tactical decisions ("slow the game down") by the coach, or by increasing the chance of multiple-second plays.

Speaking of big ice: the system is designed to be compatible with future enhancements like varying ice-surface sizes and changes in specific on-ice rules, which will allow more accurate on-ice models of different leagues and, particularly, different eras. Even very significant rules variations, like the lack of forward passing in hockey's early years, can be dealt with by adjusting the basic decision-making logic on a zone-by-zone basis.

The system for determining when and how fighting takes place is completely new. It includes the possibility of a variety of multi-fight line brawls, but no bench-clearing brawls (yet).

The new match engine will, of course, require a new tactical system to draw up your game strategies. More on that later.
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Old 02-11-2014, 07:06 AM   #14
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Sebastian's swamped with work at the moment, and I was out sick most of last week, so the updates got skipped for a while, but here's what we've been up to:

We overhauled the scouting reports to interface properly with the new scouting system and be a lot more descriptive; I've rewritten most of the text, added more, and we've added (and continue to add) some additional types of descriptions, including a "plays like" comparison similar to the one in FHM. Aside from that, we're still working out a few quirks in the scouting system; Geckon's been doing a lot of testing of that and finding bits and pieces that need fixing or could be a little more user-friendly. We're fighting for a little bit of Daniela's time (at a premium right now, with the OOTP release coming up) to get some new graphical elements added to it; right now, a lot of the new scouting and development stuff is more text- and placeholder- heavy than we want it to be.

Player development is just about where I want it to be, but one thing that's still lagging behind is development of young players in non-playable leagues. I think I've got a good fix for that; we'll find out in the next build. Taking that into consideration, I'm seeing more believable careers for players after 10-15 years of game time, which is a good sign. Finally seeing reasonable goalie development after I figured out a flaw in the original scheme for them, although it's looking like it could be a little slower in the immediate pre-/post-20 age brackets.

Realistic retirements for top players are still proving elusive, for some reason the system that's supposed to get good NHLers to quit rather than linger on in the AHL isn't quite getting it done in many cases. If all else fails, we can go to a system that records peak ability and pulls the plug once it falls too far, but that's got its own pitfalls.

Contract systems have been getting a lot of work, Malte's dug out some old bugs that have been brought to light by other changes (particularly the addition of new leagues.) I'm still not happy with the RFA situation, trying to think of an approach that'll reflect the fact that, while those signings are very rare, the possibility of them has various influences on signing behaviour.

The next build (hoping to see that today) will have the first attempt at performance-based effects on contract demands; it's pretty conservative at the moment because I don't want to throw the whole contract system off with a radical change, but it should mean fewer cases of productive players accepting very cheap contracts.

A couple of bugs got cleaned up in the last few days regarding the way major junior teams manage rosters; that combined with some database changes I'm making this week and the addition of proper farm/affiliate teams has me fairly optimistic about how they'll be working after the data update next week. The addition of major junior farm teams necessitated a change in the number of allowed parent teams for a club, so that'll also fix a few unrealistic situations in the low minors where teams with 3+ working agreements with higher-level teams only had a couple of them represented. That'll probably help somewhat with realism in minor-league AI roster management.

Sebastian continues to work on the match engine, and has gotten to the point where I've been able to add play-by-play for several classes of events (and he says he'll have more ready for me today.) I'm aiming for at least a dozen variations on the text for everything that can happen in-game, so the text shouldn't get too repetitive. Still a lot to be done; it's a big job and will take a while longer to get to the point where we can start fine-tuning it to get the stats right.

Since we're in the position of having a large portion of what we want to do finished, or close to it, but one big thing (the match engine) still a ways off and relatively independent of everything else, we may take a look at changing the format this patch is released in. I don't want to make any specific promises in that regard yet, though.

Thanks to everyone who's provided crash saves recently, those continue to be useful in weeding out rare bugs.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:45 AM   #15
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One more update from me:

Development changes should, barring anything unexpected, be all but finished now. I'm seeing more or less what I was aiming for, aside from some display issues (e.g. when scouts overestimate a player, it results in them being shown as ridiculously good, so good that it's obvious the scout has to be wrong.)

As for scouting, I think that's pretty much done, I just need to add a few more phrases (for variety) to the text the scouting report uses.

We wound up scrapping the part of the retirement system that tried to get guys to quit when they'd declined too far to play in the league they spent most of their career in; it just wasn't very effective, probably because it was a little too rigid (using games played totals) in how it determined the league in question. Rather than trying to come up with an elaborate fix for that, we're instead going to track what the player's peak ability was, and then have a retirement possibility trigger when it declines a certain amount (the probability increasing as the decline continues.)

Research update deadline was last night, so we can now get the various systems-affecting database changes (more farm teams, changes to junior roster rules, a bunch of adjustments I made to player movement in nonplayable leagues to break up bottlenecks that were starving some leagues of players, etc.) that depended on that update into the next build. Also waiting on that build to evaluate the recent changes to contract systems.

We've added one more big overhaul to the patch: the coach and GM hiring and firing system, which was some of the oldest code in the game, is getting some significant changes. The frequency and timing of firings should be a lot more realistic now. End-of-season firings will still come without much warning; the computer will evaluate the GM's recent performance based on a variety of factors and make a change if it doesn't like the direction the team is going in. In-season firings, however, will work a little differently - when the team is in serious trouble, underachieving and in a slump, the GM and/or coach's job has a chance of becoming in jeopardy. There'll be a news item announcing that (the text may be a little sparse for now, we'll try to add a little variety later.) If that happens, every subsequent loss will bring the chance of a firing, until it either happens or the team manages to win a couple in a row, ending the jeopardy status (for the moment.)

The hiring improvements will try to emulate real hiring patterns: some of the time, teams will simply decide to promote from within. If they don't, they'll shortlist five candidates, the highest-reputation ones that make sense for their level (i.e., no NHL coaches showing up in the Federal League) and have appropriate resumes (e.g. not choosing unemployed assistant coaches for GM jobs, and favouring nationalities from the country or countries where their league is based), and then choose one of them. Hiring directly from other teams' staff is possible in the offseason, but will be limited to hiring from teams in lower-level leagues and staff that will be getting a promotion within the same level of league (e.g., one NHL team hiring another's assistant as its head coach.) Human GM's will be at a slight advantage in the hiring process, but you won't be getting badgered with job offers from lower-level teams; computer teams will avoid you while you're employed in a better league.

Staff generation is getting some small changes, mainly to give them lower starting reputations and limiting the full 1-20 range of attributes to coaches in the major hockey countries - smaller countries get a more restricted range. Reputations will also be driven more by the ability to stay employed - as long as a GM/coach/scout keeps their job, their reputation will tend to go up (but not beyond a level governed by the quality of the league they're currently in.) New staff will also only generate as scouts or assistant coaches - getting the "Head Coach" or "GM" role requires being hired for that position by someone. I've got some more long-term plans for generating staff and handling their movement on non-playable teams, but there won't be time to get those into this version.

Finally, the match engine: Sebastian continues to make progress, and I continue to write text for it (watching the Olympics is handy for that, I can watch the CBC feed and tab over to the text editor whenever I hear him use a description that'll work in the game.) However, it's going to be a while before it's ready, which leads me to something I hinted at last time: we've decided to do this big update in two patches, one with everything that's been done up to this point, and one that'll be mainly the match engine. It doesn't make sense, given all the changes and bug fixing that's been done in the last few months, to leave all of that on the shelf while we wait for one more thing to get done - even if it's a pretty huge addition. So we're going to combine the planned trading deadline data update with a patch containing all the new stuff except the match engine. It won't be out immediately on deadline day, which is March 5, since we'll need to do some testing to make sure nothing went wrong when the database is updated with the late roster moves, but it'll be very soon after that.
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:20 PM   #16
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A very brief update, because I'm extremely pressed for time right now:

Testing has been going fairly well. Today's build still has some things that need to be dealt with, but in general the problems we're finding are getting smaller and less urgent. I think the worst thing going on right now is the AI getting very trigger-happy with firing coaches (20+ NHL firings each season.) The first fix for the problem seems to have had actually made the issue worse, so I think we're going to need to dig a little deeper into the issue; I'll be talking to the guys about it when they get up tomorrow morning.

I'll be updating the database with tomorrow's trades (hopefully keeping busy will numb the pain of watching my Canucks get dismantled), and that'll be the final data changes for this update. That'll get mated to a new build shortly thereafter, exactly when depending on when Malte and Sebastian can complete the fixes that get reported tonight. Then more testing, and if that goes well, a patch release not long after that. We're down to a matter of days, but I don't want to promise it'll be out before the weekend and then run into an issue that takes a day or more to deal with.

(Edit: forgot to mention, it's unlikely I'll publish patch notes before the release as I've done in the past. They're going to be pretty enormous this time, as I'll need to include long explanations of new systems in addition to all the other stuff we've changed. So that'll probably get completed while we're in the process of preparing the final release-candidate build and I won't have it ready until right around the time the patch comes out.)

Last edited by JeffR; 03-04-2014 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 03-07-2014, 09:11 PM   #17
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Testing continues, we're basically dealing with final-polish issues at this point. The new systems all look good, and stability seems very solid in the last few builds. Assuming no major issues emerge, the next build may be a viable release candidate (but will still require thorough testing.)

With OOTP and iOOTP development in full swing, we may also run into some small delays in getting the patch finalized because we need to use some shared resources for that, but I don't expect that to be a major issue.

Patch notes are up to 10 single-spaced pages and aren't finished yet (although a lot of that is lengthy descriptions of new systems that will get moved over to the manual when I have time.) Contrary to what I said last time, I think I might actually be able to post some of it before the release, although I still have things to add and also need to create a cut-down version for Brad to use.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:41 PM   #18
JeffR
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(I worked some more on these overnight, while I had a long-term test running, and I think it's presentable enough to show now - with the caveat that it's still not complete. The usual "how to install the patch, savegames are compatible, etc." boilerplate hasn't been added yet, changes made in the last few days aren't listed, and I need to comb through various documents and correspondence for things I've missed, which I'm sure I have. And I also should come up with some better formatting, improve the introduction, and do a more thorough job of proofreading than the one I just did after being up all night. But it should give you a pretty good idea of what's coming in this patch, and let me see if there's anything potentially confusing in my explanations of new systems, which I'm thinking might require some more detail.

Nothing that significant to report about the testing since last night's update, just a newly-discovered apparent issue with major junior rights behaving oddly for a few players, which needs to be checked out. And I just talked to Sebastian and he's working on getting PP and PK stats working properly and displayed in a proper % format in time for the release version of the patch.)

Preliminary 1.6.0 Patch Notes

Introduction:

This is by far the largest single update to FHM. We've replaced some major parts of the game, primarily training and scouting, with new systems that should allow more user input and generate better feedback. Four new leagues have been added, a wide variety of bug fixes and adjustments made, and the game's overall stability improved.

We intend to do one more big patch like this (as well as smaller ones if urgent fixes are needed before or after either.) The primary focus of the next one will be the addition of a completely new match engine, with an accompanying tactical interface, to the game. For that reason, there are few changes to things directly related to game simulations in this patch - e.g., stats, lineup selection, tactics, and so on. It didn't make much sense to make changes there when it's all going to be replaced soon. Originally, we'd planned to release all the new changes together, but the match engine development was taking longer than everything else, so it made more sense to split it up and give you a patch with the things that have been completed.

1. New Training System

The game's training mechanics and interface have been overhauled. The primary input the user has in training his players is still somewhat similar to the previous method: the choice of training focus. However, there is now much more feedback provided and training effectiveness depends on a broader array of factors.

There are eight focus categories to choose from, selectable by right-clicking on the player's name. The attributes related to each category are:

Offensive Mental - Offensive Read, Getting Open, Screening
Offensive Skill - Passing, Puckhandling, Shooting Accuracy, Shooting Range
Defensive Mental - Defensive Read, Positioning, Shot Blocking
Defensive Skill - Faceoffs, Hitting, Pokechecking, Checking
Physical Non-Skating - Stamina, Strength, Fighting
Physical Skating - Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Speed
Goalie Mental - Positioning, Poke Check, Rebound, Puckhandling
Goalie Skill - Recovery, Reflexes, Skating, Passing

These are listed in training screen tooltips for easy reference. There are also two categories for mental ratings that are only used internally by game and can't be selected as a training focus - you can't deliberately train things like leadership and coachability. The six skater categories are not available to goalies, only skaters, and vice-versa for the two goalie categories. You'll also notice Glove, Blocker, and Low Shots missing from the goalie categories; those are handled separately, evolving roughly in tandem with overall level of the goalie's other attributes and maintaining, approximately, their relation to each other, so the goalie's style tends to stay consistent.

You may switch between these categories as often as you wish, but it's generally best to stick with one focus per month, to ensure the maximum chance of getting an attribute to improve. If you have a young team, though, with players who are improving rapidly, you may wish to move the focus around to try to get multiple attribute improvements.

The player's chance of improvement is controlled by a points system, which isn't displayed directly, but adds points to the player every day, the exact number depending on whether or not it was a game or practice day (each tends to be better at improving different attributes, so players in leagues with long schedules will tend to develop a little differently than those in ones with fewer games played) and various other factors:

-the training focus gets a large bonus
-whether the player is in a league appropriate for his skill level is considered - a player who's much better than his competition won't improve as quickly
-the player's happiness is considered, an unhappy player is less likely to improve
-the player's performance: playing well, as long as it's against decent competition, will help the player improve (so a regular role on a top line or starting in goal can boost improvement chances)
-coaching: the player will get a bonus if he responds well to coaching and has a good coach available ("good" meaning one with a high rating in coaching the player's position, or coaching prospects if the player is under 23); this bonus applies to all players contracted to a team, so it's beneficial for an NHL-level team to employ a "consultant" type of coach who's good with prospects so their young players on the farm or in junior can benefit.
-injuries may limit the player's ability to train and/or participate in practice
-playing time: the more, the better, as long as the player isn't overwhelmed by the level of competition

At the end of the month, if the total number of development points in a category is over the amount needed to increase an attribute, one is chosen for improvement. If not, the total for that category is reset to 0 for the start of the next month. You can get a rough idea of how the player's development for the month is progresssing by looking at the new Training roster view on the Roster Screen. It gives you a color-coded circle to indicate how the player's devleopment is progressing this month:

Red: No chance of an improvement, either because the player has reached his peak (all attribute categories have a hard cap) and cannot improve further, or severely inadequate training.
Orange: Very little chance of an improvement. A change in focus early in the month might reverse the situation, but later in the month it's likely a lost cause.
Yellow: Some chance of an improvement. Unlikely to improve if the player is left to his own devices, but a change in circumstances and/or focus could get it into the green zone.
Green: Probable improvement. Not guaranteed to increase an attribute (particularly if there are multiple greens for a player), but highly likely.

Additionally, there are three columns in this view that provide specific warnings if a player's development is being hindered by three factors: "U" if he's unhappy, "C" if he's too good for his competition, and "T" if the teaching skills of his coaches are too inadequate to help him significantly. If one or more of these situations applies to the player, a red X will appear in the appropriate column(s).

Important note: Movement between rosters is disruptive to training. Players only retain the points they accumulated with their current team this month, there is no carryover from other teams he may have been with during the month. So consider that when deciding whether or not to shuffle players betwen your main roster and a farm team.

Attribute Improvement:

When an attribute category is selected for improvement, one of its attributes is semi-randomly selected as the one to increase. There are some modifiers to this to reduce the likelihood of improvements in certain attributes that should be slower to improve, to limit the possibility of attributes increasing beyond 20 (in most cases, an attribute at 20 will only increase about 10% of the time it's selected, otherwise a different attribute will increase instead), and to keep certain attributes in a sensible relationship with each other. You will receive a monthly note from your staff that will describe which players appear to have improved and in which areas.

Position Improvement:

Instead of a training focus category, a new position to train can be selected instead (which sacrifices the development point bonus to training); skaters cannot be trained to be goalies and vice-versa.

Position learning points (which, like development points, aren't displayed directly) start at 0 for all positions and are tracked continuously (not resetting at the end of the month.) When they reach 100, the position rating in question improves by 1 and the points are reset to 0. The player gets a certain number of points based on minutes played at that position in a game and the number of practice days he spends with learning that position as his focus. If a position rating reaches 20, that becomes the new primary position and the previous 20-rated position is reduced to 19.

Levelling-Off Period and Decline:

The improvement of attributes in the "Skill" categories will stop, for most players, at an age somewhere past the Player Peak Age setting (visible in the Setup/Options Screen, and currently set to 25.) The exact timing is variable, the probability of the levelling-off increasing as the player gets older. Forwards (generally) level off sooner than defencemen, who level off sooner than goalies.

The player's (hidden) Aging attribute heavily influences the exact point at which the player levels off, and is itself subject to increases or decreases based on events in the player's career - injuries, for example, may reduce it, leading to an earlier end to improvements.

The levelling-off of attributes in the "Physical" categories operates the same way as with Skill attributes, but uses the Physical Peak Age (currently 24) as a base, instead, and there is no positional differentiation.

Physical attribute decline is more variable than skill decline; it's initiated via a random check involving his age and aging attributes. The checks begin a few years after the levelling-off period starts.

Attributes in the "Mental" categories will typically continue to improve until a variable date determined by a calculation involving the Aging and Physical Peak Age numbers.

Once the player stops improving, a few years later (the exact amoung again being based on his Aging attribute, with some degree of randomness) he'll enter his decline. At that point, attributes will begin to decrease. Once a decline has started, each affected attribute category gets a monthly check to see if a rating in it has declined. The attribute that decline is chosen semi-randomly (there are some safeguards to prevent certain mental attributes from declining, and to limit the ability of some attributes to stay high through sheer luck of the draw when everything else is going downhill.) Any declines will be noted in your monthly training report.

Note that physical, skill, and mental levelling-off and decline are timed independently of each other, so a player may still be improving in some areas while his development is frozen or declining in others.

Retirement:

There is a new retirement check that increases the odds of a player retiring if he's declined significantly past the highest ability level he achieved. Previously, very good players were hanging around much too long, moving down through lower-level leagues until they finally couldn't get a job anymore. This will still happen occasionally, but it'll be much more rare now.

2. New Scouting Sytem

The scouting system has been completely replaced with a much more interactive one. Players still have an inherent consensus about their abilities, representing the general opinion of the hockey world towards them, which has to be corrected (assuming it's wrong) by scouting. Player abilities and potentials are now displayed with a scouting qualifier, ranging from A to E. A-scouted players have been scouted to the maximum possible level, correcting the errors in their assessment by as much as the skill of your scout will allow. E-level scouting means the player hasn't been seen by your staff at all, and you're just going on what you've heard from other sources. The D- through B- levels indicate increasing levels of scouting; each week a scout spends watching a player raises his scouting level by one letter category and corrects the inherent error a little more.

Scouting levels will decline over time - it's not set to a specific length of time, but the longer you go without watching a player, the more of a chance his scouting level will decline. If that happens, you'll need to have someone scout him again to refresh your report and raise his level back to what it was.

Players belonging to your own team will always be advanced to the maximum scouting level when joining you (which may lead to surprise changes in their perceived ability, if your previous evaluation was wrong); additionally, anyone that plays in a game against you has their scouting level increased by one.

Scouts can be assigned either by right-clicking on a player name to scout that specific player, or by right-clicking on the scout's name in the Scouting screen. The latter brings up a new scouting assignment screen, with a large variety of options, broken down into three sections:

The top section determines the broad target for the scout. He can be assigned to a region, a specific league, a specific team, your shortlist (he'll only scout players you've actually listed there), or to the free agent pool (the free agent pool tends to be small during the season, when scouting occurs, in normal mode so this is primarily useful in historical mode, when there will be many more players available but no other leagues to scout.) Scouts have a fixed number of players they can watch in a week, dependent on their skill, their team's resources, and whether or not the scout is in his 'home' territory. Regions and leagues that will get the 'home' bonus for that particular scout are displayed in red.

The middle section adds qualifiers to narrow the search. The scout's targets can be restricted by a range of birth years, their positions, their draft eligibility (not necessarily for your own league's draft, you can set it to another league's if desired), a range of abilities and/or potentials, and "foreign" status in your league. The final two options, Ability/Potential and Quality/Quantity, are particularly important: these determine the way in which a scout approaches his task. Ability will use the scout's "Evaluate Ability" rating and is primarily useful when scouting players whose current level of play is the priority (trade or free agent targets, for example.) Potential uses the "Evaluate Potential" rating, and is better used for long-term targets, such as potential draft picks.

Quality vs. Quantity determines who goes on the scout's target list for a given week. Choosing Quality will make him start with the best players in his current target (subject to the other qualifiers), and then scout them repeatedly until they're all at the A-level before moving on to the next group of players. This ensures the best players get reviewed thoroughly. Quantity takes a much more broad approach: it finds the players in the target group with the lowest scouting level, and attempts to raise them all to a higher level before moving on to that level and doing the same, until the scout's time runs out or they're all at A-level. It's more useful if you've narrowed your target list down using the other qualifiers and want to make sure everyone on it gets looked at.

The final section of the assignment screen determines the length of the scout's trip, and the frequency of his reports to you. Every time he emails a report, there'll be an option to respond by reassigning him to a new set of instructions; you can also manually recall and reassign him at any time via the team scouting screen.

Scouting Reports:

The Scouting tab on the player screen now provides much more detail. E-level scouted players will have a blank report, but anyone at a higher level will get a detailed description of the player, as well as a reminder of when he was scouted last. The report is broken down into six sections. The Personality section gives you some hints about his hidden ratings; Current Role tells you what type of player he is (if you own a similar one to compare him to) and how he fits into the league he's currently playing in; Strengths and Weaknesses describe his best and worst skills; Ability tells you how good he is right now, relative to one of your players and your league in general; and Potential tells you if he's likely to improve, and, if so, what kind of skill level you can eventually expect out of him.

When you are unemployed, you will always see players from the "general consensus" viewpoint, with no scouting correction, and will not be able to read scouting reports.

3. New Staff/Personnel System

The way the game handles GM and Head Coach GM hiring and firing has received significant changes. The frequency and timing of firings should be a lot more realistic now. End-of-season firings will still come without much warning; the computer will evaluate the GM's recent performance based on a variety of factors and make a change if it doesn't like the direction the team is going in. In-season firings, however, will work a little differently - when the team is in serious trouble, underachieving and in a slump, the GM and/or coach's job has a chance of becoming in jeopardy. If that happens, there'll be a news item announcing that he's in trouble. From that point on, every subsequent loss will bring the chance of a firing, until it either happens or the team manages to win a couple of games in a row, ending the jeopardy status (for the moment.)

Staff hiring has been adjusted to better emulate real hiring patterns: some of the time, teams will simply decide to promote from within, in which case they'll fill the job vacancy with an appropriate member of the current staff. If they don't, they'll shortlist five candidates, the highest-reputation ones that make sense for their level (i.e., no NHL coaches showing up in the Federal League) and have appropriate resumes (e.g. not choosing unemployed assistant coaches for GM jobs, and favouring nationalities from the country or countries where their league is based.) The team will then choose from within those five, based on their reputation, recent job status, and a random element.

Hiring directly from other teams' staff is possible in the offseason, but will be limited to hiring from teams in lower-level leagues and staff that will be getting a promotion within the same level of league (e.g., one NHL team hiring another's assistant as its head coach.) Human GM's will be at a slight advantage in the hiring process, but you won't be getting badgered with job offers from lower-level teams; computer teams will avoid you while you're employed in a better league. Unemployed human GM's will get an additional advantage beyond that.

Important note: the reputation you set for yourself at the start of the game will affect what kind of offers you get. If you choose "Greenhorn" and then start as unemployed, don't expect offers from the NHL (you'll probably need to be in the top 3-4 levels to get those.) This is the only effect of that reputation choice - it doesn't increase or decrease difficulty in any other way.

Unclicking the "Exit Auto-Play when you receive a personal message" box in the manager settings will result in the game not being interrupted when you get a job offer. This is useful if you want to advance the game for a while without interruption, but be aware that job offers made to you must be answered the same day or are considered rejected. So if you autoplay for a month and then find an offer that's a few days old, it's too late (although you may be able to reapply for the job if it's still open.) If you start unemployed, you'll usually have at least one job offer at the start of the game.

The Owner/Board Confidence emails and status screen have been integrated into the new hiring and firing system, the information given in them should give you a fairly accurate picture of where you stand (at least during the season - offseason firings may be a little more abrupt.)

Generation of new staff has been adjusted, mainly to give them lower starting reputations and limiting the full 1-20 range of attributes to coaches in the major hockey countries - smaller countries get a more restricted range. Staff reputation improvement will now be driven mainly by the ability to stay employed - as long as a GM/coach/scout keeps their job, their reputation will tend to go up (but not beyond a level governed by the quality of the league they're currently in.) New staff will also only generate as scouts or assistant coaches - getting the "Head Coach" or "GM" role requires being hired for that position by someone.

GM and Coaching W-L-T histories are now shown on the staff member's record. Data entry for these is a work in progress, the research takes a while because there isn't any comprehensive source for these records - it requires a lot of digging through various sources to piece them together, especially at lower levels.

While making these changes, it became apparent that the non-playing personnel are still modeled in a fairly clumsy way. We improved that situation quite a bit, but that realization is probably going to drive some major changes in this area in the second version of FHM, hopefully to the point where staff and their development and careers are modeled in a way comparable to the treatment players get.

4. New Leagues

We've added four new playable leagues:

Swiss Nationalliga A (top-level Swiss league)
Asia League Ice Hockey (Japan, South Korea, and China, our first league outside of Europe and North America)
Federal Hockey League (Northeastern US-based low-level minor league)
Suomi-Sarja (Finnish third level)

The first three can be selected independently, but the Suomi-Sarja requires the two higher-level Finnish leagues to be playable as well. The Asian league tends to run a little low on players in later (15+ years from the start) seasons - not to the point of being unplayable, but somewhat noticeable. It's a problem common to the French and Norwegian playable leagues, caused by the lack of a proper second-level league (or leagues in Asia's case, they need Korean, Japanese, and Chinese leagues) below it. We'll be rectifying that in the future, but it'll take a while to get the data added, so it won't happen until the next patch.

5. Miscellaneous Major Changes

Blind Mode: This is a new setup option that will disable the ability to view attributes directly. If this is activated, the user's ability to evalutate players is limited to seeing only the vaguer skill indicators (each comprised of multiple attributes) on the player profile, the text descriptions he finds in the scouting reports, and whatever he can glean from statistics. This should be a little more challenging than being able to see precise numbers for everyone.

Player height and weight can now increase as players age. Height improvements are based on data from the US Center for Disease Control, creating realistic increases in younger players that slow and stop as they reach their late teens. The maximum theoretical height is 7 feet, but you're unlikely to ever see someone that tall in the game, it's literally a one in a billion chance. Weight can continue to increase after height increases end, until the player has peaked physically, and then may increase a little again at the end of the player's career, putting on extra pounds as he declines. Additionally, there's now a closer relationship between size and strength in newly-generated players.

National talent pools have been adjusted a little, primarily to lower the odds of a good player emerging from outside the traditional hockey powers. We were getting a few too many of those popping up in the draft. It's also much more rare for a player in a lesser hockey power to be overrated by scouts, since they're developing in relative obscurity.

Player contract demands are now increased somewhat if they've played well in recent seasons. This primarily applies to guys who've been getting a lot of points, and goalies who've started frequently.

Major Junior (CHL, OHL, and QMJHL) teams now have farm "teams" rather than a reserve list - they aren't actual teams, but rather generic regional Junior B leagues that are shared between 3-4 nearby junior teams. Limitations on the number of contracts major junior teams can sign have also been reduced to more accurately reflect the number of players the teams typically use in a season. Finally, negotiation has been removed from junior contracts - every player gets a contract worth $3000 annually, and the contract duration always runs through the end of the player's overage season (but they can still be released prior to that.) That's helped considerably in maintaining the long-term roster quality in those leagues - it's no longer dropping off significantly after a few years.

Playable teams will now have a much easier time signing players away from amateur teams. The exact scope of this varies from league-to-league, but in general it's a lot easier, for example, for a Finnish team to acquire junior-aged Finns and players in low-level leagues like II- and III-divisioona.

The text for news items has been modified significantly and should have more variety now, and a few old typos and grammatical and formatting errors have been removed.

The database has been updated as of the end of the NHL trade deadline on March 5. This will be the latest date for the "current" version of the startup; we'll continue to work on and improve the data and include those changes in future patches, but real-life player moves happening after March 5 won't be included (with some leagues at or near the end of their seasons while others have months to go, the database would become very chaotic if we tried to do otherwise.)

AI-run teams now have a pseudo-training camp in early September where they assess their roster, sign players whose rights they own (and occasionally free agents) that might improve their lineup, and cut very poor players that have found their way onto their roster. They also check the free agent market more frequently during the season. The net effect is that AI teams, particularly at high levels, are much more efficient at maintaining (and improving) the quality level of their lineups.

There is now a startup option to select metric units instead of imperial for player height and weight.

Teams can now have more than two affiliations, allowing ECHL-AHL relationships (among others) to be fully modeled.

The NHL salary cap now moves to the projected $70.1 million in 2014-15, and fluctuates slightly every year after that, generally moving up slightly. This isn't tied to revenues, the game's financial system isn't quite developed well enough yet to model that.

6. Bug Fixes and Minor Adjustments

Transactions, Contracts, and Rosters:
-AI teams now hold some cap space in reserve during an ongoing negotiation, rather than using it all up by signing other players before the negotiation is completed
-players will now refuse to sign long-term contracts if the salary involved is close to the league minimum, and will only sign very long-term (5+ years) if the salary is well above the league average
-NHL star-caliber players who sign overseas will generally only sign short-term deals
-entry-level contracts now have appropriate age restrictions on their use
-proper number of players with the "college" junior preference now generated
-AI teams will no longer occasionally frequently keep 9 defencemen active on a 23-man roster
-emergency tryout signings now limited to low-quality players (relative to league strength)
-players will now reject contracts from leagues with a standard of play significantly lower than their talent level
-AI teams now change their player training priorities regularly, and use the full range of options
-players with experience playing on another continent will now always consider offers to return there, rather than possibly rejecting any overseas moves
-age limits in junior leagues no longer occasionally being ignored
-certain leagues should no longer ignore foreign player limits
-extreme roster sizes in low-level UK leagues corrected
-slightly lowered contracts demands of players with above-average skills (relative to their league)
-increased contract demands for players who've performed well in recent seasons
-goalie coaches less likely to be hired as head coaches
-staff salary scale adjusted for some leagues
-custom leagues should now get appropriate staff budgets
-players should no longer occasionally sign new contracts while having multiple years left on their current one
-league rights to players should now terminate properly once the player becomes too old for the league
-teams should no longer re-hire staff they just fired
-user should no longer be told he's reached the contract limit before he actually does

Player and Staff Ratings, Development, and Performance:
-bug fixed that resulted in injury proneness ratings being largely irrelevant to the injury frequency
-negative ability scores no longer possible
-potential should no longer be lower than ability in some cases
-generated players now get a broader range of mental stats
-initial scouting error now generated with a more realistic spread, fewer players will get extreme numbers
-goalie recovery system adjusted slightly to increase the frequency of starts by the backup (in the appropriate era, and not in the playoffs)
-database settings for some staff no longer overwritten during startup
-"?" characters in some names fixed, was caused by an unusable special character in one of the name files
-random name generation files expanded
-chance of elite player generation outside the traditional hockey powers reduced

League-Specific Issues:
-NHL teams now get accelerated responses to their offers during the first two weeks of free agency, giving them a bit of an edge over other leagues and moving signings closer to the start of the free agency period
-SHL relegation fixed
-NHL teams should no longer be sending under-20 players whose major junior rights are owned to the AHL
-increased likelihood of elite European juniors wanting to play Major Junior or college hockey in North America
-AHL teams no longer signing KHL players in mid-season
-players from the former USSR nations are now selectable in the CHL Import Draft
-promotion candidates from nonplayable leagues should now be varied, instead of always using the same ones
-Liiga players no longer occasionally getting contracts far in excess of the normal salary structure
-excess number of minimum-level salaries at startup in some leagues fixed
-transfers should no longer become impossible after the first season in the EPIHL

News, History, and Related Issues:
-criteria for several awards changed significantly to get more reasonable results; rookie of the year is still not implemented yet, but will likely come in the next patch
-data errors in league histories corrected
-stats generated for non-playable leagues now include icetime, including special teams time
-presets file updated to correct starting injuries
-milestone watch now only shows players currently active (or out with injuries) in the league
-goals-against leaders fixed

Gameplay:
-occasional crash when only one alternate captain is selected fixed
-playoff-related crashes in certain leagues fixed
-end-of-year (June 30-July 1) crashes fixed
-March 25 crash fixed
-saves with corrupted names.dat files appear to function properly after the game version is updated, although we recommend against continuing them for stability reasons
-crash after editing league rules fixed
-occasional crashes when making trade offers fixed
-game should no longer crash during 1999 draft in historical mode
-crashes when clicking on some player names in trade screen fixed
-re-offering a trade after the deadline should no longer result in a crash (or be possible)
-crash when looking at protected list using the training view fixed
-second-season crash when trying to buy players as a Liiga team fixed

Graphical/UI:
-"Last 4" display on the player screen should no longer omit the current season
-various misspellings and typos fixed
-switched certain spellings from American usage to the proper Canadian English versions any self-respecting hockey game should use
-user can no longer force acceptance of rejected contract offers by changing years and offer amount after the rejection
-CHL Import Draft now displayed properly in league histories (instead of repeating the bantam/midget draft)
-option to limit search by talent range added to filter
-calculation of Conditioning display attribute now correctly uses Injury Proneness rating, it previously had it backwards
-"Season" leaderboards in league histories now display the correct leader list the same way the Career boards do
-broken streak display in league standings screen fixed
-"days lost to injury" stat for teams should now reset properly at the start of a new season
-amount of money offered in a transfer should now be able to be reduced using the arrow buttons
-manager news subscription setting should now be able to be selected/unselected properly

7. An Important Note on Editing

We're finding that allowing certain things to be edited "on the fly" during the season via commissioner mode changing a player's team, altering contract data, making large changes to ratings or other vital player data, etc.) are causing a large percentage of the crashes reported to us. For that reason, in the next patch we're going to be switching to a system that only permits that sort of editing in a narrow annual window, likely on the first day (July 1) of a new season, so the game can properly respond to major data changes in a controlled way. At the moment, this is only partly implemented, and the current editing tools may cause issues with some of the new systems, since those were developed in anticipation of the new editing system. So for the time being, please be aware that using commissioner mode to make changes while the season is in progress carries a substantial risk of creating long-term issues, including unrecoverable crashes, in your savegame. So we strongly recommend that you save your game under a new name (Game Menu - Save Game As...) before undertaking any editing. That way, if something goes wrong, you can always return to the original unedited save.

Last edited by JeffR; 03-08-2014 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:10 PM   #19
JeffR
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Slight hiccup over the weekend - since we rely mainly on volunteer testers, that's the time they get the most testing done. And, true to form, they discovered a few new and problematic things on Saturday and Sunday. Nothing really disastrous, but that did set us back by a few hours, but Malte worked on it all day and night today and we're testing the resulting release-candidate build right now.

At this point, the only things that will get changed are major, game-breaking bugs, or stuff that's so trivial and risk-free to fix (e.g. spelling and other formatting errors) that we can implement it without needing a lot of testing. Assuming we get none of the former, we'll make the minor changes and be ready to go immediately thereafter. But I do want to have some 15-20 season tests to verify nothing got seriously broken in this build (there were no issues related to long-term play in the previous build, so I suspect not), which will take at least a day to get done.
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Old 03-12-2014, 02:03 AM   #20
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Update: Testing of yesterday's build picked up a few problems, but all of them are either stuff that doesn't have a serious impact on the game (e.g., AI-run teams firing coaches a little too quickly), or can be fixed with with a minimal amount of code changes and won't require long to test. The only thing that's really worrying me right now is a bug that's preventing some CHL (junior, not the Central League) players from being demoted to their club's affiliate team, but I think I've narrowed down the cause of that, and, if I'm right, it should be something that Malte can deal with fairly easily - and it's testable right from the start of the game, so it's not something we'll need a day to verify as fixed.

We've got a couple of test games in the 10-15 year range now (that I know about, there may be more that testers haven't reported in on yet) with no crashes; we'll be combing through those in the next couple of hours to look for long-term problems with roster maintenance and league stability.

After that, assuming no serious issues are evident, there'll be one more build with the minor fixes, brief testing to ensure they all worked, and if we're OK at that point, that'll be the one we release. Getting it ready for download will take a while (and Sebastian mentioned to me today that the Mac version is going to require a little longer than normal to prepare this time around, so that may hold things up slightly), so a release in the next 24 hours isn't a given, but it's within sight at this point.
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