More information about Hattrick Open

Johan wrote a post in the Global English forum late last night, providing more information about Hattrick Open which I think you’ll find very interesting as well even though I’ve . Here it is (with a few minor edits). /Tjecken

Hattrick Open can be described as very open-ended tournament system for Hattrick. You can create your own cups and leagues, play with your own Hattrick team or teams created in other ways, play at any time you wish and how often you wish. It is an independent system (in the sense that matches take place on another site and on another server) but one can say it is really up to you if you play it as an extension of Hattrick or as a game in itself. Where Hattrick is very structured and scheduled and all rules apply the same way to all users, in Open you have the option to be more flexible. This is possible because what happens in Open will never affect your team in regular Hattrick.

At the same time, Open is built to provide more flexibility for the core game as well. There are two main things we have worked on in this project. The first is the tournament system itself, how to create leagues and Cups on the fly, and how to manage such competitions. This is something that we will have great use for in the core game as well. the second is the live match experience. It goes without saying that in a game scenario that means that more matches are played, and more frequently, and more often with all competing teams around at the same time, it is a good idea to make it more interesting to follow games live. Improvements in this area can and will be applied in the core game as well.

The idea for Open is a long way coming. Already in the first spec for Hattrick in 1999 we included some rudimentary ideas for separate league systems, with the idea for some kind of private leagues in the future. Cup organizers have been a part of CHPP for a long time, but the limitation for these have always been that there are so few games in the week – and that some of the friends in your group may still be in the Cup. It is not easy to put together a tournament to play with your friends just for the fun of it.

There has always been good ideas to improve other competition types as well, but many times the fact that it all has to co-inhabit the same world, with hundreds of different dependencies, makes it very difficult to create smooth new ways to compete inside Hattrick that does not have some kind of drawbacks elsewhere. Take National teams for example. They are a great part of the “metagame”, and a natural part of the community. But they also cause problems for the regular game that we could do without: Farm teams, various kinds of sabotage attempts on NT players, election cheaters – and so on. It would not necessarily be a bad idea to let NTs run separately from the rest of the game, but that is not an option we have today.

The way we see it, Open is a sandbox for both users and developers. The flexibility extends also to how tournaments are paid for.

We have stated from the outset that Open is a pay-per-play game. Since Hattrick is slow and very structured, we know exactly what kind of server load we have to budget and prepare for. With Open, this is not the case. We want users to decide themselves how Open should be used. Our aim to make the cost of a tournament very reasonable, the cost per participant will be comparable to the cost of getting SMS notifications for one game to your mobile. Since one users can, in theory, play 1000 tournaments a month, or none, we think pay-per-play is the right basis for Hattrick Open. But this does not mean that it will be the only way to play Open, and it does particularly not mean that you will have to pay to even try the game out.

Before the beta rolls out next week, all users will get the chance to join up as beta testers. We will keep one queue for Supporters and one for non-Supporters, with the ultimate goal of giving everyone the chance to play the game, even though Supporters will on average get their chance earlier. As with any major launch, we want to make sure we scale correctly. The pay options will be disabled when the beta opens.

Going forward, paying means you can play as much as you want and with any options you like. But this will still not be the only way to play. We are just as happy to use Open to create new features in Hattrick. One such idea, that would have been impossible in the old structure, and which encouraged us to get going with the Open project, is a free worldwide Cup for all Supporters.

Let me also add a few words about the dev team. We are 22 people on the team today,13 of which are developers, and 3 of these have been working full time on Hattrick Open since September. During a two-week period in March the whole team worked on Open, to help finish some loose ends, and also to get a chance to know the system better. Some code, like the live series tables, have already worked its way into Hattrick. Other things will follow. The main focus of our team is the core game of Hattrick and we would not have given Open the green light if we were not convinced it would help us drive Hattrick forward as well.

We know we have annoyed many of you with the launch campaign and the new background, promoting something that is “not Hattrick”. We apologize for this, and you now have the option to remove the Open background using the Preferences page. Open is something new, and it looks quite different from the regular game. We wanted give it a separate identity in order to have the freedom to rethink the user experience of Hattrick. But over time, we hope it will become clear to everyone that there is a lot of Hattrick DNA in Open, and that the two will benefit from each other.