Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Draft: The Sim (Please Steal This Idea)

I was watching the NFL Draft this weekend, and I realized that the draft has become, for me, almost a sport in itself. I had far more interest in the draft than I did in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

I think it has to do with data.

There is a ton of data leading up to the NFL draft. There's so much data that it's ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a good way. And there's a ton of intrigue as well, because every player in the draft has something (real or imagined) wrong with them.

The NFL draft has tremendously flashy presentation now, but at its core, it still has a text-sim feel. So why not make a game out of the draft?

I'm not talking about a football text-sim that has a draft component. I'm talking about a draft sim that has a barebones regular season component (statistics and results, but no playcalling, and no way to watch the games). And the traditional GM role (negotiating contracts, signing free agents) wouldn't exist in this game, either, at least at first. Your role would be entirely limited to the draft.

So what would you do? Well, you'd scout a ton of players--regular season statistics, combine performances, player interviews. Rumors would be frequent (and you'd have to decide if they were valid or not). You'd make decisions about the draft priorities for your team, based on the existing roster. You'd make trades during the draft (but not before, because you wouldn't be in charge, which means you could be preparing for the 10th pick in the draft, then told that you moved up to the 2nd pick thirty minutes before the draft starts, which would be interesting).

The emphasis in this game would be realism, both in terms of generating prospects and having those prospects progress in the NFL. So all the existing data for draft picks and their chances for success (based on round, position, school size, etc.) could be incorporated. It would be a focus instead of an afterthought.

You'd receive a grade after the draft, but you'd also get a grade in succeeding years for every class you drafted, and that grade would change over time--many drafts look great the day they happen, but the players wind up washing out. And you'd get to compare yourself against other GMs (ideally, this could be an online game, because you could match wits with your friends, although it could be played against the CPU as well).

The reason I think a game like this would have a chance to succeed is because it wouldn't be a "me, too" kind of game. Instead of trying to be a full sports game without graphics (which is a hard comparison to win with many people), it would be a niche game focusing on just one part of the football experience.

Plus, and this would be important, it would be easy to mod. The text for commentary would just be in Notepad, and could be easily changed. School and team names? Notepad file. Almost everything in terms of data would be in text files and easily changed.

I think a game like this could sell for $14.95, and it would create a foundation for adding other modules later. So eventually, this could wind up being a "full" football game, but modules could be added along the way.

Like I said in the post title, please steal this idea. Just let me be a beta tester.

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