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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Random MFN Trivia

Did you know...?

  • Player and coach names are generated from US Census data, driven by probabilities of each name actually appearing in the United States population.
  • When testing the random name generator, the 5th name generated was "James Bond."
  • Weather data is not randomly generated, but is using actual historical weather conditions for the location. So if you notice all the teams in the same region experiencing similar inclement weather, it's not a coincidence.  Each season is mapped to a specific year in history and weather data for that location is looked up via Visual Crossing. Each league will use a different year-to-year mapping.
  • League championship game locations are chosen randomly based on the average weather conditions for games played in each city in the league during the months of December and January. A league championship venue will not be repeated for 7 seasons.
  • While many football text simulations generate the overall result of each play by using probabilities based on the players on the field, in MyFootballNow each player in the simulation is autonomous, meaning that they make independent decisions based on information that only they are aware of.
  • A secret "development" simulation environment runs through a full season every two days. This is used to test the long-term effects of changes to the game engine.  Because of the complexity of the simulations, simming a whole season nonstop takes about 13 hours.
  • Each season of each league contains about 1GB of data, including all of the game playback information and the player historical attributes.
  • Early in development, an idea was floated out where the players would not be rated numerically, but the users would be required to actually study game film to make personnel decisions. This clearly would have been too time consuming to play.
  • Another idea in the early development was to simulate the referees on the field in addition to the players.  The plan was to only call penalties if the referees saw it, and also to add the possibility for referees to impact the play. Referees were going to be assigned attributes like players and would be more or less likely to call various penalties based on those attributes. There would have been bad refs and good refs, and they would have moved up and down the chain like players and coaches do.
  • If those scrapped ideas were not enough, one idea was to simulate every second of the real time game and allow watching the players run to and from the sidelines, into huddles, etc. This was dropped when it became apparent that the time it would take and the playback data it would require would be prohibitive.
  • The game engine alone took a full calendar year to bring to a point where it would be acceptable for testing.  Early testing with human testers saw games with scores in the three digits, which obviously meant that there was much to be done.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Short, Medium, and Long - what do they really mean?

The offensive and defensive game plan screens have a seemingly subjective value that you will use to define the conditions for your play calling: Short, Medium, and Long. You may have seen this and wondered why you don't have the ability to specify specific distances ranges (you can, by the way, by setting up game plan rules).  I wanted to take this opportunity to explain how this works and the ways you can control it.

The basis for this categorization is the idea that your team is going to adjust its play calling during the game based on how successful you are.  The very generic description is that a "Medium" distance play is the distance that you would expect to achieve a first down if you used all downs available.  So if you are expect to gain 4 yards per play, first and 12 would be classified as first and medium; second and 8 would be medium; and third and 4 would be medium as well.  Short and long are used on the other sides of this logic.

The game begins where first and 5-15 is medium, second and 4-11 is medium, 3rd and 3-9 is medium, and 4th and 2-7 is medium.  So, for example, 3rd and long would be 3rd and more than 9 yards to go.  But, as the game progresses, if you are averaging more than 5 yards per play, your "short" distance will be lengthened, pushing your "medium"distance to a longer placement, as well as the "long" distance.  Conversely, if you are averaging fewer than 5 yards per play it goes in the other direction.

Now, once you have played your first play you obviously don't want to consider that your average; if you throw an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, you don't want the rest of the game to be stuck in the "short" distance category because it takes so long for that average to come back down. Instead of doing a pure average, your coaches will make the adjustment slowly.  This is based on the "GP Distance Adjustment Speed" in your Misc Gameplan settings.  The default is 5 - and we recommend you leave it there.  You may set it to 0, which will completely disable any changes - leaving short, medium, and long constant throughout your entire game - which will give you more of the predictability you would expect from being able to specifically define these ranges.  If you set it to 100, well, you'll get some craziness in your play calling.  Using the default of 5, however, allows you to very slowly adjust your short, medium, and long ranges.  Let's talk briefly about what this number actually means.

When the game begins, your "average" play distance starts at 5 yards, which as stated above, sets your very first play as a first and medium. Let's also assume that you have your adjustment speed set to the default of 5. If you immediately have a 10-yard gain, the new "average" play distance is 5% of the most recent play plus 95% of the previous "average" - 0.5 + 4.75 = 5.25.  As you see, the "average" grows a small amount toward the most recent play without moving it significantly.  If on the next play you gain another 10 yards, you'll grow a little more - 0.5 + 4.98 = 5.48.  If you then take a sack for 20 yards, the "average" adjusts to 5.206 - 1 = 4.206.  So, if you are moving the ball down the field well you will begin to use more short distance plays, and if you can't get the ball moving at all you'll start to inch into the long distance plays.

The defensive side of the ball reacts to the offense's decision for distance. So when your opponent calls a "short" distance play, your defense will also call a "short" distance play.  So your defense technically is using your opponent's GP Distance Adjustment Speed, only because that is necessary to keep the tables even between the teams.

Hopefully this has cleared up some of the confusion regarding the gameplan distance and what the GP Distance Adjustment Speed means. As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comments here or in the help area of the community forums.