Monday, February 10, 2014

Gridiron Solitaire #93: Connections

1.02 (which I discussed last week) is currently being tested and will likely be released Tuesday night or Wednesday. It includes the new sack mechanic as well as the "Big Stop" play.

The last week or so, I've been thinking about the offseason player cards.

As a quick review, you have an opportunity in the offseason to "buy" player cards that will affect your team ratings. The player names on these cards get used in text events, but other than that, they're essentially just a 1-3 point boost in a rating (if the card doesn't bust, which is always possible).

What I wanted to do was strengthen the attachment that people had to individual players. How could I get them to make decisions--even occasionally--based on something other than pure spreadsheet logic?

After thinking about this for a few days, I came up with a set of new features.

To start with, and this is the core of everything that follows, team records and statistics are now going to be tied to a player. So if Blaze McShuckins is your quarterback, he's going to have a career total for passing yards, and every team is going to have career leaders in the major statistical categories. So on the team records card in the Team History screen, there will be entries like ("Career Passing: Blaze McShuckins, 12799 yards"). And more statistical categories are going to be tracked, so--for example--there will be career TD passes as well. With the new sack mechanic, there will be team sack leaders, too.

I know, that doesn't seem like much, but stay with me.

This opens up the possibility of a team Hall of Fame. Since a rating degrades by 1 point each year a player isn't replaced, it means that giving that player all of the rushing or passing yardage actually works out fine if you're talking about the accumulation of career statistics. So a running back gaining 4,500 yards a year is not realistic, but a running back who plays for four years and accumulates 18,000 career yards? That would put him number two in all time rushing yards in NFL history.

So on the Team History page, there will be a tab for the Hall of Fame.

Even as I write this, I know it's going to create a more interesting set of decisions for players. Do they keep their aging running back for one more year to get him enough yards to become the career leader in rushing for his team, or has their team rating dropped far enough where he needs to be replaced immediately?

Is it still mostly going to be spreadsheet logic driven? Yes, but I'm not concerned about that--I just wanted to introduce an environment where edge cases are going to happen in the normal course of play, and I think that will happen now.

Here's the last piece of this. Now, when players get replaced, they have an actual "end destiny" in the game. So I'll look at the career stats of the player, decide what kind of career he had in terms of quality, and create a spectrum of his possible reactions to the announcement that he's been released. Then I'll roll the dice to determine his reaction, and write a message that briefly describes how he handled being released. Some players will retire, some will be honored by the team--and some will take it badly. Fredrik is creating some images that I can use as backgrounds for the destiny messages, and hopefully I can write some that are amusing.

There are a fair number of moving pieces in this, so even though it's easy to describe, it's not going to be as easy to implement. It's also certainly behind any on-field gameplay changes as well, so it's not on the top of any list right now. I do hope, though, that it's going to add more texture and richness to the game world.

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