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Friday, November 8, 2013

How to evaluate your players

MyFootballNow is an exciting online game that gives you the opportunity to build a virtual professional football team, developing it from year to year in the pursuit of the league championship. It is essentially a "franchise mode" football game, where you control all aspects of your team. The main difference between MyFootballNow and an arcade style game like Madden is that the games themselves are simulated without interaction. In MyFootballNow, you set up rules that your coaches will use to call plays during the game, and then you can watch the game in real time.

So, there are two significant things to do as you play the game: game planning, and roster management. In this installment, I'm going to talk a little bit about player management, and how to best evaluate your players as you build your roster.

Once you take over a team, you can view your existing roster on your team page.  (Click on your team pretty much anywhere it's mentioned on the site and you will be taken to your team page).  The default view shows your player details, which is sorted by position.  Each position has a color to help identify it - this is not really so you know that the slightly-greenish-yellow color means WR, but really just to help your eye discern the different positions represented on your team.

The "Edit Filter" button on the upper right will allow you to see different columns on your roster.  Most of the time, there is one other view - your contract view - that you will want to look at as you made decisions regarding contracts.  We'll get into how to evaluate your player's contracts and stay under the salary cap in another entry; for now, we're going to talk about how to decide what to do to improve your roster.

Under the "My Team" menu item there is an option called "Position Distribution."  This shows you how many players you have on your team at each position, how many of those players are active, what the suggested count for that position is, how many contract offers you have for a player at that position, and how many players you have at that position that will be cut at the next sim.  You will want to check this as you work on your roster to make sure you have a well-rounded roster.

You can have up to 53 players on your roster during the regular season (60 players during the pre-season).  You will want to make sure that you stay under this limit, because if you don't, the game engine will automatically release players for you, which you probably don't want.  You also have to have a minimum of 45 players on your roster, if you don't then the game engine will sign players for you - which may mean cutting players if necessary to get your salary cap into a position where 45 players can be signed.

When you click on a player's name, his player card will be displayed.  Here you will see bars for his attributes.  Each player is assigned a total of 40 attributes, but only a handful are shown on the player card.  To see all of the player's attributes, click on the "View" button to see his full page.  On the right column is an option to see his ratings - this shows all the player's attributes.

On younger players, you will see a red bar followed by a blue bar.  Above, you might see two numbers such as 45/70.  This means that, at the current time, this player's skill at this attribute is 45, but he is expected to develop to 70.  We reference this as his "Current" value and his "Future" value.

It is important to note that a player's future value is not set in stone.  In fact, you will find that there will be some players whose future value drops steadily until his current value catches up to it.  You will also find that there will be some players whose future value increases steadily, until the current value finally catches up to it.  All players' future values will change over time until they have "maxed out" with their ratings.  On average, the future value will be a good indicator of where they will land.

On the player page, there is a tab labeled "Progress."  Here you can see the entire history of the player's composite attribute values.  The red line indicates his future value at the time, and the blue line indicates his current value at the time.  Notice in the example image here that this player had a significant jump in his current value during each of his two training camps, but his future value has been steadily declining.  You will probably see similar activity with the current values of all players, but the future activity could be very volatile.  When evaluating free agents and potential trades with players that have not yet reached their potential, it is a good idea to look at a player's progress chart to see the direction he appears to be headed.  Of course, just because a player's future value drops in his first year doesn't mean that it will continue to drop, but it's a good indication that it might.

So how is the composite rating calculated, and how are the attributes chosen that display on the player card?  When you first join a league, these values are determined by your head coach.  Each coach has an offensive and defensive coaching style, which primarily determines your team's playbook.  We'll get into more detail about coaches in a future entry, but for now I'll just mention that different coaches will evaluate players slightly differently.  For example, a "Smash Mouth" coach will not be as concerned about the quarterback's passing skills as a "West Coast Offense" coach.  The good news is that you can change these values and evaluate all players using whatever criteria you choose.

Under the "My Team" menu is an option called "Edit Player Attribute Weights."  When you choose this, you will be presented with an interface to assign the weight of each available attribute to each position.  The composite rating for players will be calculated using the values you have selected here.  This gives you complete control over determining what the current and future values mean for each player in the league.  You can also save your settings and load them in any other league, or go back and forth between various groups of settings.

Any attribute that you have a non-zero value will be displayed on the player card.  So, if you want to see your quarterback's kick holding attribute, but don't want it to have an impact on his composite value, set his kick holding attribute to a small value.  If the game engine is forced to make roster moves on your behalf, it will use your player attribute weights to make decisions.

Your players' attributes improve independently during training camp and each game stage.  If an attribute as applicable to his assigned position, he will improve at that attribute until it reaches the future value.  If an attribute is not applicable to his assigned position, he will lose skill in that attribute, both in his current and future values.  It is important to note that you do not have control over what attributes are applicable to each position for this calculation - editing the player attribute weights only effects how the composite rating is displayed to you.

If you have a need at a position, you can find available players through the player search screen.  Choose the position you need to fill, and choose "Free Agents" for the team.  You will be presented a result set that shows all players in the league that are available free agents, and what their rating at the requested position is.  You can then make an offer to the best player, even if he is not currently assigned to the position you need him at.  You can then change his position once he is on your team, and you already know how his ratings will be.  Note that the composite ratings do not take into consideration the player's weight - so be wary of the 140 pound kicker that scores well as an offensive lineman.

Once a player is on your roster, you will see on his player page a "Change Position/Number" button.  Opening this dialog will give you the opportunity to change the player's position.  You will be presented with the composite rating for each position.  As mentioned above, the player will improve best if you assign him to the position you intend to play him at.

I hope this has been a helpful view at player evaluation in MyFootballNow.  If you have any topics you'd like to see discussed in this blog, please feel free to drop me a line here or over in the forums at the game.

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