Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fighting Eleven #3: Recruiting

Man, going through a period when you have zero ideas is tough.

I've been working with recruiting for at least a month, but it hasn't been going well. There's a standard recruiting model that's been used in college football games forever, and it mirrors reality fairly well.

The problem, though, is that at least a dozen games (or two dozen) have done it almost exactly the same way. If I do it that way, there's no point.

The standard model has always been recruiting "points" that can be allocated each week during the season in pursuit of a recruit. Different "actions" (phone call, recruiting letter, in-person visit, etc.) all have a cost associated with them, so recruiting is balancing how many points you want to spend on each recruit, all the time checking how other schools are doing.

There's nothing wrong with that, but like I said, I didn't want to just copy what everyone else has already done. Plus, I want recruiting to play out in one period of time, not make weekly decisions during the season.

Yesterday, I suddenly had an idea.

I want battles.

What if three other schools are interested in a player, so four teams (including you) are recruiting him? What if you create a four-team bracket, based on the player's interest level? You have a mini-game, and if you win the bracket (by winning twice in the mini-game), you get the player?

Plus, the better the recruit, the longer the "tournament" for his commitment. Have a max of eight teams interested--for a five-star recruit, for example--and you'd have to win three rounds to get one of the premium players. For a two-star player, though, you might only have one opponent and one round to win.

I like the anticipation building as you win rounds.

For a while, I went into a ditch after that, thinking that I could use some sort of dice format for the mini-games. There was no correspondence to football, though.

Deep, deep ditch.

Last night, though, I think I figured it out.

A college football program is a sum of individual qualities. Each of those qualities means more/less to recruits, depending on their personality and what they value.

Why not represent that in the game?

Here are a few school "qualities" that matter in the real world:
--available playing time
--coaching quality
--stadium (quality and age)
--fan support
--path to NFL

I have more (about fifteen in total), but that's a sample. Here's how this would work (at a conceptual level, anyway).
--Schools rated anywhere from 1-3 (or a wider range--I don't know yet) for each quality.
--"Badges" are awarded based on the rating. So if a school has a 3-star academic program, they get three academic badges that they can use in battle.
--when a school "battles" another school in a recruiting round, they can play up to 3 badges in a turn-based format against the other school. The recruit's interest changes based on how important a particular badge is to him.
--once a badge is used in battle, it cannot be reused.
--a player will have anywhere from 3 to 6 interests. Schools can see 3 of those interests, but if they play a badge that matches an unknown interest, they get a bigger bonus in terms of player interest.
--At the end of the round, whichever team has more of the player's interest wins that round.
--if there are multiple rounds of battle for a highly-rated recruit, schools with more badges have an advantage in battle, as they should. So having a three-star academic program could be hugely important versus having a one-star program, for example.

I think that's going to work. Lots and lots of balancing issues, obviously, but it corresponds to football and it's interesting (to me, at least). Plus there's very much a strategic element in terms of which badges you want to use based on a recruit's current interest level versus the other team in the battle.

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