So, is there too much random in the match engine? To be honest, it’s impossible to answer on as it’s very subjective. There is no right or wrong here, it really depends on what you prefer (which may not be what the guy next to you prefer). But lets make an attempt to break things down a bit at least.
First we have to separate “real random” from what one could call “feeling of random”. Each week more than 1 million matches are played in Hattrick. The vast majority of them are “normal”, but these matches never get recognized. Quite naturally, I mean why would they? Still, you have to remember them as well.
But of course, every week there will be some few matches which are “unnormal” – and they will be recognized. A lot. And after a while recognizing matches like these, you will start to believe that there is a lot of random in the match engine. And each time you get to hear about another one, it will add to this feeling.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not blaming you for feeling things the wrong way – absolutely not. In my belief feelings are what’s important in games and what you should take seriously. But when we talk about this topic we have to try to separate these two from each other, as it’s two separate things. And that any attempt of curing will fail if we don’t know what we’re supposed to cure.
Ok, some facts about “real random” then: During the years we’ve deliberately decreased the random factor a couple of times. In all honesty, there’s also been cases where a feature has affected random as a side effect, and in some cases increased the random factor somewhat. But all in all, fact is that the random factor has been decreased over the years and that ratings are much more important these days.
There also been user studies supporting this, a while ago a user compared the number of “surprise matches” (taken from Alltid) from season to season, and there were indeed fewer cases of surprise matches in present times than in past times. Another user compared Hattrick matches compared to real life football, which naturally is in a way impossible to do but nevertheless very interesting. The result? Hattrick matches had fewer surprises than real life football.
But even though these things say there is less random in the game, the feeling you get from reading the forums is the total opposite. And it seems each time we’ve decreased the random factor in the game (and announced it), it seems this feeling gets bigger. And when you think about it, it’s perhaps not that strange: Because when we say something has been decreased – people start to look more intense on this and especially notice examples of the total opposite.
There is also one thing more that is important to be aware about. Teams are much more matured today compared to the past, we have a lot of more matches where team strengths are leveled and almost equal. And as a result, you may feel that random has a more decisive role.
To conclude: The random factor in the match engine is smaller today compared to the past, but the feeling of random in the game has increased (in my belief). And if we should learn something from the past, it’s that a real decrease of random in the game engine doesn’t necessarily mean users will feel it’s less random – it can actually have a fueling effect (I would actually say that the last time we decreased it, it had just that effect). So, before we do anything about the “real random” we should do something about how you experience random instead. To explain it better, to make you see what’s (un)luck and what really wasn’t. That’s where we have to start, and I think we will be able to have something to show you during this year.
At the end of the day I personally think the amount of random (real random) is at a pretty good level, in case you’re wondering. The real challenge for us lies within explaining it better and making it feel more logical, and I would also say that we probably will have to look at the match engine in regard to leveled/equaled teams at some point. But lets take it one step at a time. And remember, no matter what will happen and how much random decreases – there will still be surprising results. And they will be talked about.