Let the work begin!

It’s Monday and while the voting polls have not yet closed, it seems very likely that the results are already final – as of right now 7208 out of 14038 votes (0r 51,3 %) have been in favour of our option E, “Remove the Golden Goal rule”. In fact it was clear from the very start that this would be the favourite of the community, so I guess no one is very surprised. The runner-up as it looks right now will be “Use Hall of Fame players as youth trainers and scouts”, at 27 %, and “More memorable events” at 12,3 %. Given the comments in the forum during the vote my own analysis is that the Golden Goal is seen as something of an annoyance in the game, and that the fact that it is part of the core match simulation makes it a much higher priority to remove than the more “soft”, story-telling features that came in at second and third place, which are more “nice to haves”. On the other hand, a lot of users didn’t really want to choose just one – they wanted us to do all of the features” I choose to see that as a sign that we did a good selection of options, there was something in there for everyone. Anyways it is worth repeating that what we wanted to do here was to find ONE feature that we knew we would be able to commit to get done in just one week. Built, tested, and released. And that is just what we will do with the Golden Goal.

This job ends up in the able hands of HT-Daniel, which is almost always the case when we want to make changes to the core match simulation or other key game mechanics. Back in 1999, the HT team consisted of just two persons, and we didn’t even have a name for ourselves. It was me and Björn, and we tried to figure out how the heck we could turn his brilliant but technically limited game prototype Hattrick into something that would be able to grow into a big, reliable site. When Björn built Hattrick in 1997 it was as a FileMaker database site on a Mac server. Anyone who has ever dealt with professional web development can probably see the humour in this – it was obviously a terrible choice for a big successful web game, but at the time it was the tool Björn had to work with and he got it done. But the site could not grow beyond 1800 users. We needed someone who was a superstar database developer, who could solve all our hardware needs for no money at all, and who would work for free for the foreseeable future to get the new Hattrick software built and then up and running. Along came Daniel, who was the friend of a friend of mine from journalism school. He was the 20-something web guru of Sweden’s public service radio, and somehow we managed to sell the idea of Hattrick to him. We met, we agreed to work together, he took Björn’s paper sketches explaining how Hattrick should work, and with very little exaggeration, when we next met five months later he brought a fully working new generation Hattrick with him, everything built from the ground up on Microsoft SQL Server, ready to run and ready to grow to a million users within that original system design. Simply put, no one has put more of himself into the Hattrick platform of today than HT-Daniel, he knows every nook and cranny of it, and the rest of us would be pretty lost without him 🙂

Anyway, in all honestly, removing the Golden Goal rule may not be the trickiest of programming tasks ever put before Daniel. But the coding rarely is the trickiest part anyway. The challenge is rather to understand what a code change will do to your system in the short and long term, if it may cause any bugs to the system and if it may cause imbalances to the game itself. If you as a user wonder why changes you would like to see never seem to happen, it is most often because of these “hidden” factors rather than because we don’t have the time to write the code. In this analysis, what we need to know is that once we change the Golden Goal code in the match simulation, it won’t cause matches to bug out. So we will run tests, and that is what will take most time this week. We can be fairly sure there are no issues with the long-term balancing of the game, since basically the only change to Hattrick is that some matches may have a different winner than before. It will change the game experience for those users, but not affect the game economy or long-term dynamics in anyway whatsoever.

That’s all for me today – the work for our Anniversary feature is underway and we will keep you posted during the week how the work progresses!