Hattrick players are getting a big makeover later this year, and today we are giving you a first glimpse. This is a completely new set of player faces, drawn in a more realistic style than the current ones, which you can use as an alternative to the existing ones if you want. If you switch over, your players will keep their visual characteristics – such as “red hair” or “square jaw”, but they will be expressed in a new way. You can see it as a choice between what sunglasses to wear – a pair that gives the world a sharper, more realistic edge or a pair that tweaks things to look more expressive and fun.
Why are we doing this change? It’s a good question, because adding new players faces is quite a lot of work and it has no effect on the actual gameplay in Hattrick. Also, it is in some ways a risky move since we open ourselves up to complaints from those that doesn’t like the new style or just think we should do something else.
However, we know that visuals in the game in general and the player faces in particular have a huge impact on how we relate to our teams and how we see Hattrick as a whole.
In the big web redesign we did in 2008, we threw out an old version of our player faces, which were done in a pixel-art style with a rather realistic feel. There was no question that the faces we introduced then – that is, the current ones we still have today – were of a higher quality. Many users recognised this and liked them straight away. But for others users this was a painful transition, as it disturbed the inner picture they had formed about their team and “forced” them to think about their players in a new way. Some quit, others stayed but never forgave us for making Hattrick feel “less serious”. And while we never regretted the changes we did, those discussions still left a lingering feeling that at some point, we might want to revisit this question again.
There are several reasons we think now is a good time to give the faces another ago. The last few years we have been reworking many important pages in Hattrick – such as the Match Orders, Live Viewer, Player and Transfer pages – giving them a more consistent, modern design while also adding lots of functionality. We think the new faces will look great in this new environment, as well in our apps, that are getting more and more popular. But they are also an invitation to users old and new to reevaluate how they see Hattrick, giving them the possibility to have back that “more serious” Hattrick of old, if they prefer it. Another factor is the amazing fact that after ten years of a shrinking user base, Hattrick is growing again – organically, that is, before any marketing or reinvitation campaigns that we do. Now we can see what all those new and unbiased users actually prefers, the more humorous style of today or the more realistic, maybe even heroic, new set of faces.
It is also worth mentioning that this is not a project that takes much time out of the regular development team. Almost all the work is done by our old friend Beach, who has been the main illustrator of Hattrick since the year 2000. So in a way this is part of a natural evolution, for both Hattrick and for our illustrator, who keeps reinterpreting our game for us.
How will all this work? A main lesson from 2008, when we last changed the faces, is that we will not force this change onto anyone. By all means we can discuss the pros and cons of these two styles, but ultimately this will be a personal decision how each and every users prefers to see Hattrick. Make the switch, and all players will have the new look. Stay with the old, and nothing changes. Move between the two if you find that this makes you happy.
The work is already well underway, and you can see a first example of how the old faces “translate” to new ones above. The first step will simply be to match the variety of faces we have today, to make sure that all face shapes, hair styles, and skin colours have a corresponding version in the new set of faces. But later on, we will probably push on for a while longer, and also add in new “features” for the faces, such as the much-coveted facial hairs. No promises as to what that will look like, or when it will happen, but now that we have opened this box of candy, we are unlikely to close it for a while.
That’s all for now!