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MLB SportsClix» Forums » Variants

Subject: Sportsclix 2010/design thread rss

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Pat Senechal
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There's been some talk about revisiting the game engine, and it's probably a better idea to split this out, and have a thread here, before too much info gets passed by e-mail.

There are two current big topics of debate... one is the hitting results, and the other is spray charts.


HITTING

In terms of hitting results, 2004 and 2005 did pretty much two different things, and got two wildly varying results. I assume we're interested in some measure of statistical accuracy, both on the league scale and on the individual scale, so we can start with either engine and move it towards the other.

But long story short, each PA is a walk, a SO, or a ball in play (HRs are somewhat in play). Some results may be guaranteed, but it seems we want the defense to handle most of the balls in play. We'll leave it there for now.


SPRAY CHARTS

Right now, the field is divided into 6 parts, and you get to place 3 outfielders and 4 infielders. Incidentally, the dice that generates it is also 6-sided, which means you either have dead zones, or a perfectly level field.

We know we need to change it, and we were looking at 7 and 8-part fields instead, with larger dice to determine the actual area. But I got to thinking, what exactly does the spray chart do?

As far as I can tell, it establishes whether a ball is routine or not, and it determines where the ball is coming from on subsequent plays.

However, because plays in zones with fielders are routine, the range of fielders only matters in zones without fielders, and players can set up so that their best fielders can handle all the hard plays, hiding half of their defense. Or maybe I'm interpreting the rules wrong.

This is probably what we should address first, trying to get a more realistic spread of fielding checks. I'll take a look at writing a quick sim for the 2005 set over the next week, and try to get some numbers to back up my thoughts.

(EDIT: changed the title, so we can keep design discussions and previews separate).
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I dabbled with the 8 zones .. Left Line, Left, Left Center, Center, Right Center, Right, Right Line... seemed ok.. except the 10-sided die still had dead zones if you wanted a better spread.

6-zones with the d10 was a good-looking spray chart. But, as you said, the need for good defense wasn't there.

7-zones with the d10 made for a chart that better matched the player's actual spray chart AND eliminated dead zones AND made defensive placement more important. It was possible to have a ball hit where it took 2 zones to get the ball.... making "Great Range" have more implications.. and eliminating the need for automatic doubles as the batter could hit a double by finding an empty zone. (bonuses to speed given for extra zone or penalty to fielding for extra zone.

Oh.. duh.. the 7 zones: Left Line, Left, Left Center, Center, Right Center, Right, Right Line.

The zones also, for me, have proved to be a good solution to the glut of Home Runs in 2005. (BTW, I like the 2005 starting point.. but that's a different story).

The way Home Runs are in 2005 a guy like David Eckstein could end up with a multi-homer game.. and a lot of Homers for the season if you played him a certain way. Well, I don't think Eck would be hitting the way he does in real life if he could just crank out dingers.

My solution hooks into the zones. The spray charts at mlb.com show where players hit their Home Runs. I've placed a symbol in the zones where a Home Run is possible. For big power hitters they have a good chance of hitting it one no matter where they hit. But for Eck, he has to hit it down the left field line or it ain't ever going out.

...

Now.. the downside. More zones makes more holes.. which should lead to more hits. That's actually a blessing in disguise. With more holes and placement of players being more important and DEFENSE being more important it's possible to eliminate the automatic hits.

The basic automatic hit is a Single. ... a single is basically a well placed ball that takes a fielder too long to play allowing the runner to reach first base. I'm starting to playtest with Singles being Ground Ball +3 or Fly Ball +3... the +3 being added to the fielding attempt. This makes a single _almost_ automatic. Hit right at a guy that makes a great play and it may be an out.

Doubles... well.. they are "automatic" singles with a +3 to the runner's speed making a double _almost_ automatic for most runners. (BTW some runners should be slower than 8).. and if they want a Triple their speed will be normal after reaching second base.

Yikes.. I've typed a lot and haven't even addressed how to get Home Runs yet.

Why don't I stop here and give my Home Run notes separately and later.

I like the core of 2005. It's easy to play. Fast and Fun.. Fun being the key word. You feel like your control the destiny and aren't just being the number cruncher for a computer simulation.

These added rules really don't change gameplay. It's still fast and fun.. I think more fun. With the spray chart at 7-zones it just opens up a ton of possibilities.
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Oh.. before I lose this thought to the growing mound of notes I have..

Keeping with the 7-zone chart.. it's possible to have a + or minus for the handedness of the batter or pitcher... to shift the ball over.. but I haven't messed with that yet...

Oh.. lol.. and the hits to the line zones I roll a die. Odd = foul .. Even = Fair ... but fouls should be addressed later in this discussion.
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Ok.. here's a link to two dials I made for my Padres ... neither of these guys have power to speak of.. but Jerry can hit them out on occasion.. and Eck can if it's right down the line.

I used an old Wordpress blog to post it up..

http://davesnot.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/mlb-sportsclix/
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I've been looking at the zones, and unless I'm missing something, it seems too easy to hide bad fielders and end up with completely unrealistic distributions of plays.

With 6 zones, and current rules, I don't see why we can't put
3B __ SS __ 2B 1B,
end up with four routine plays, and have all the hard plays done by the SS. Even with your 8-zone outfield, there's no reason for anyone to move more than one zone. Place fielders __ LF __ CF __ __ RF __, and you have one play by LF, two by CF and two by RF.

I was toying with another idea... keep 6 zones, but let players either stay in a zone or put between two. This allows up to 11 effective zones without changing the field. We'll set it up so that if you're in a zone, the play is almost automatic, if you're between two zones, you have a good chance in each (better if you're a rangy player like SS-CF-2B), and if you have to move a full zone or more, you get a rather big penalty. This'll allow for more fine tuning without adding zones.

I also think that using 2d6 instead of d8 or d10 would be better for zones, as it'll give us the possibility of making 'almost dead' zones, which will make players decide whether they want to spread thinner, or leave that far left zone and risk that bloop double over the 3B's head.


That's part of the problem... for players to have control, they need to make decisions. The way it's currently set up, you just move fielders and roll dice. For all intents and purposes, the odds are locked once you set them up. It just looks like you can control things because of the dice.

So the goal is to try to give more decisions in the safe play vs risky play category. You can play it safe, or try to gamble for a bigger payoff. And as long as we keep the plays varied enough, the odds will change often enough that there isn't a dominant strategy. I know it doesn't make too much sense now, but I'll try to build a quick prototype this weekend to show what I mean.

There are a lot of ways this can go, so it's good to have different ideas, and the option to try them all out, see what works and what doesn't. And like I said, I'll try to build a quick prototype, so we can play it out and see what happens.

Oh, and how do you get your spray charts, look at MLB and guess, or are there numbers we can play with?

Pat
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Also, for ballpark factors, I was thinking of making a result on the charts, 'deep fly'. This would be a warning track shot, and on one of those, you roll a d6 depending on the piece of park, and it'll give the result (such as HR, 2B, FB...)

We can set those up so that players can customize their parks with pre-made parts (with various stats), and we can also make premade parks based on the current 30 MLB parks, and other interesting parks. It'd be a step up from the green-yellow-red system, and if it's done right, it'll allow for rich park customization.

But one thing I want to try to make sure of is to make various rules to the game optional, so that we can gracefully degrade from the full game, to a simpler set of rules, so people can pick their level of precision. The more rules they make, the more skill is involved, the more accurate the stats get, but the longer it takes, so it's up to the player how involved they want to be.

Pat
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I have a couple of prototypes already built.. a hint in making one... use string for the zone dividers.. then your field can be changed to 7 zones quickly..

The 6 zone with the option to play between two can lead to the old, "oh.. he's not on the line.. he's only in that zone," disagreement.

2d6 works well for the bell-shaped distribution.. but on the player's base you get some weird stuff.. because the 7 needs to be where the ball is most often hit.. so if you just increase and decrease the numbers around the zones you have one-dimensional hitters that don't hit opposite field. And if you don't do it that way you have lots of little number ranges that are hard to figure out and take a long time to read.

The d10 still technically gives you a way to play the percentages .. it's just not a bell curve.

I'll put some pictures of my 7 zone set-up on my blog and then edit this post with the link...

I've been playing with this thing for a few months now.. I have to say I'm excited that someone else is interested. But, I do feel nervous about sharing my baby. blush

I'm rushing to get my notes up online so you can see what I've done in a way that makes enough sense for you to test things in a simulator .. or better yet with someone!

Ok.. gotta go take some photos. (Edit: shot the photos.) http://davesnot.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/my-2010-sportsclix-...

 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I've also been posting to my old thread... This seems a more appropriate place for it, eh?!

Here's a link to my alpha set of rules.. but beware.. I'm updating them all the time.

http://davesnot.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/2010-mlb-sportsclix...

Enjoy!!
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
patsen29 wrote:
I've been looking at the zones, and unless I'm missing something, it seems too easy to hide bad fielders and end up with completely unrealistic distributions of plays.

With 6 zones, and current rules, I don't see why we can't put
3B __ SS __ 2B 1B,
end up with four routine plays, and have all the hard plays done by the SS. Even with your 8-zone outfield, there's no reason for anyone to move more than one zone. Place fielders __ LF __ CF __ __ RF __, and you have one play by LF, two by CF and two by RF.

....


Oh, and how do you get your spray charts, look at MLB and guess, or are there numbers we can play with?

Pat


Yeah.. with the 6 zones and normal rules you put a good fielder and he covers everything.. with my 7 zones I'm also considering infield in/back.. and shallow and deep outfield.

The effect should be to make the runner have to think before advancing.. and the defense gets a chance to rob a hit... or protect the lines.

To address where I get the spray charts.. I go here:
http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_hitti...

and then pick last year and the player's home field.. then look where most of the balls went... the power categories relate to where they hit balls out... if a player has been on one team for a while, the ALL YEARS selection is good.. though it could have too much data as well.
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
A way to gracefully switch to the 7-zone system would be with an appendix with a conversion table for 6 zone charts. That would keep it optional.

The Dead Center Field zone is the added zone.. thus without using newly converted optional players the new zone rules are easily dropped. .. though it is also one of the easier rules to implement.
 
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John R
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Gentlemen,
I stumbled across this today and would like to let you know I am also interested. I haven't played the game in a few years now. I can never get anyone to play. I'll have to dust it off and finish my homemade diamond and get playing again. I don't know if / what I can contribute to the discussion/development but I will certainly be lurking. Maybe lurking is not the right word...sounds menacing. Anyway I'm here.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Don't worry, anything you have to say is valuable. One thing we do need is a good idea of what people think about the game, what they think was good or bad, so we can try to find what turned people on or off.

While we're talking about a lot of theory, we're trying to develop a new set of dice that should lead to a more balanced and realistic game, once that and any new fielding rules are in play, we'll be able to test things, and get firsthand experience in what changed.

So, feel free to add anything you want, your expectations, your ideas, all is welcome.
 
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John R
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I will play a few games this weekend to refresh my memory on what I did and didn't like about the game.

Thanks for nicely opening the door, I appreciate the kindness.
 
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Steve Gorman
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Been watching this from afar with great interest. Alas my set is from 2004! cry

Steve G.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
We don't think that we can simply convert the figurines, we'd likely be doing a lot of things from scratch, but we want to keep as much of the game intact as possible.

And while we're mostly basing things off the 05 season, we'll likely try to get the best of both rulesets, and come up with the best game we can make. You can help out if you can be more specific about the parts you like. But we do want to bring the 'park effects' back, but a slightly different way.


But odds are, we'll be creating 'cards' to use for the player ratings, so you can use your old figurines as new players, and read the cards instead of the bases. So, your Moises Alou figurine could become Ryan Braun, your Randy Johnson could become Tim Lincecum, and so forth.

If people want to get really creative, they can try to make 'rings' to fit over miniatures. The dice will need to be a custom job, and while printing and folding are the easiest way, painting wooden dice might make a more permanent solution. I know I'll be doing a bit of shopping at the hardware and arts/crafts store once we have a working prototype.


But we need people's opinions and thoughts to make sure we're making the game that people will want. We'll also be designing some extra optional rules for people who want to get more involved, but the sky's the limit. Keep it coming, while I try to finish the new dice prototype (the math behind it is tricky, and I haven't had much time this week to tackle that, but hopefully the long weekend lets me finish it).

Pat
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I've been using cards for my opponents and I've customized my main team by printing the new data on a piece of paper and gluing it over the top with glue sticks that don't permanently mess up the stuff underneath.

for the dials, I make new dials and then put a hole punch hole in the middle, pop open the figure's base and use the same glue to put the new dial over the old. Works pretty good.

I've been messing with Pat's program to figure out if we can get the dice to give us more realistic results.

I've also been playtesting my 2010 rules that I've put up here: http://davesnot.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/2010-mlb-sportsclix...

It's up to alpha 1.1 ... and has been playing fairly well..

For those with 2004 players.. well.. that's what I've been converting. The overlays work just fine.

A chart for the dice works ok.. and wooden cubes work well too(home school supplies stores have these for teaching math.. blank, wood cubes).

I'm starting to get confused as to which thread has what .. aparently I haven't subscribed to them all

Thanks for all the interest in this, folks!!

Dave
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Ok, going over 2009 stats, I broke it up to all the different batted ball types. I do want to add in the deep fly result, by cannibalizing most of the FB and LD results, but this should give us a good idea what we're going for:

Type PA Out BB/1B 2B 3B HR OBP Slg
Walk 18210 0 18210 0 0 0 1.000 -
Line dr. 25511 6887 13330 4384 365 545 .730 .995
Fly ball 38612 28194 2180 3223 519 4496 .270 .729
Grounder 57917 44220 12591 1041 65 0 .236 .257
Pop-up 10080 9886 144 50 0 0 .019 .024
Strikeout 33491 33491 0 0 0 0 .000 .000


This means ideally, each of the batted ball types would have about these rates. These include ROE and FC as outs.

However, it doesn't make sense for HRs to come on plays where the fielder is involved. Those are very rare. I assume most of the HRs will come from the 'deep fly' result, and we'll likely need some guaranteed results as well, but obviously, rarer than we're used to.

But, this is where trial and error will come in. We'll have to try things, and see what happens, but it seems we have enough degrees of freedom to have options.

Tomorrow, I'll see if I can go over some of the game theory, and try to see how we place results, and see what happens. I have a list of requirements in my head, which I'll elaborate on tomorrow, and we'll see which ones we can fit, and what simply wouldn't fit. But, it should allow us the first real prototypes.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Well, there's good news. I was looking at the current dice, and seems they applied most of the things I was thinking of.

If we don't put bad results on dice, then some dice will need to have higher numbers than others. And if good results are getting on base, and bad results (for hitters) are outs, then the power dice can't win too often (but when they do, they win big), and the on-base dice has to win pretty often. And, it's nice to know they do.

The odd thing is that all the pitching dice have the same numbers, so that might need to be tweaked a tad, but not too much. Control needs to win a bit more often, to diminish walks allowed, but that can be balanced by putting more balls in play (less Ks.)

Tomorrow, I'll modify my little tester to show the results of the nine dice combinations, since that's important in tying into the game theory bit.

I'll keep to the basic results for now (BB, K, GB, FB, LD, PU), but we will need to figure out the spread of parks to figure out how we handle the deep fly (FB+ ? FB! ?). I also think the outright HR result is inevitable, but it'll be controlled better.
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Sounds good.

I've been playtesting the rules I posted some while wallowing in the sorrow that the Padres GM did what everyone says are good trades.. but it has stolen the soul of our team..

I don't wanna re-open the results can of worms.. but the playtesting is going well and is fun. .. we used some stars with bronze bases.. they have speed numbers as high as 11 which seems way too high. I think they padded the players with special bases. If we stick to stats the game seems pretty good.

Still struggling with a formula for pitchers.

Power die might hinge off of K/9, .. Blue = BAA .. and Black off of WHIP.


 
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John R
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Hey guys, who says we have to use d6's. Why d8's, 10's or even 12's for results. Perhaps even going to 2d6's. That way you will have a statistically greater chance of getting numbers in the 5-9 range alot more than the outer fringe numbers. Just starting to fully read everything you guys are throwing up. ...that didn't really type out right!

Anyway, I do like the idea of opening the field up into more zones. I played an inning and a half the other day and I have to say that, in my opinion, the offense is way too strong. I want to have the opportunity to throw a no hitter and I don't see that happening with the current rules. I am more of a pitchers duel and small ball type fan than a homerun type fan. I want to see the pitchers become stronger.

I am using the 2004 rules. I don't know anything about the differences relative to the 2005 rules.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I considered using other types of dice, but because one of our goals is to keep the results on the dice, we need to make custom dice. And it's much easier to make custom d6 than other dice.

The more I look into it, I think we can offer enough variance using this model. The player vs player model actually helps support the load, so if +1 to a rating would be +.030, the actual effect is only +.010, because it's 'split' over three dice.

The main difference between the 2004 and 2005 rules is that the AB results are stored on the dice, and tied to a number, so you could roll 2B 7 on the power dice, for instance,
There are now three dice for each player, giving another option.
The ratings on the players are bonuses. So, a batter could be +5 to power, +3 to contact, and +4 to on base; and they add the result to the dice rolls. Pitchers work the same way.
So, both players simultaneously roll a dice of their choice, read the result off the dice, and add their rating for that dice. If both dice are the same colour, the batter has +3 to the roll. The rest is pretty much the same.

We'll want to mix and match some of the best parts of both sets, as well as add some of our own innovations, and listen for any suggestions.

I'll try writing up a quickie prototype tonight, and try showing some examples off it.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I've got a feeling we've got some conflicting ideas on a few things, and it might come with our strategy for solving problems. You're trying to make changes to the existing system to fix existing problems, and I'm trying to rebuild a core part of the game.

A lot of the new innovations are to fix things that were wrong with the previous game, but if we can rebalance the base, most of those problems go away. Too many HRs? Don't add some bombs on the chart that force a reroll unless you found one, lower the number of HRs on the chart. Too much offense? We don't need to add zones, we try to make sure fielding is realistic by realigning the fielding rolls.

Over the last month, I found a lot of nice things with how the engine worked, and they really had something going. They just made some mistakes balancing the whole thing.

In MLB, about 30% of all balls in play become hits, the rest are outs. So, if we give a bunch of results to let the fielders get outs, and hits fall 30% of the time, it should work. But, if you then add guaranteed hits on top of that, you can see where the problem comes from.

So, once that part of the game is rebalanced, a lot of the game's issues should go away on their own. At that point, we can focus our efforts on new innovations to improve the game, instead of trying to fix parts.
 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
All that, and I forgot a key point. Sorry for the triple post!

I'm not too worried about formulas at this point, because if we know the results chart, and the batter's speed, we can make a pretty good estimate of how the player should do average average opposition.

For batters, we know their speed, so we can compensate for them turning more outs into hits by beating out grounders and stretching doubles. We can assume they face average defense. For pitchers, we'll assume they face average speed, and we can use their team's actual defense to try to separate their defense from their ability.

Since there are only so many combinations, we'll compare the player to each possibility, and use the closest one as his rating. Once we see a lot of them, we can probably figure out some shortcuts so we can rate them by hand, but we need to know the expected results first.


I also have some musings on park effects, I'll wrap it in a spoiler tag, if people want to skip over.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I was also looking at park factors quick. Let's assume that LF-CF-RF have different factors, and on a 'deep fly', they need to roll d6, and see what result comes. It'll probably be a combination of HR-FB-LD, so we can control HR and H. We might also have results like 2B for Boston's wall, on unplayable balls, but those would be the exception, not the norm.

Looking at some ballpark factors, it seems that HR rates vary from about 70% to 130%, so we can probably have the parks cover 60-140%. If we do it this way, it means that 60% of HR are guaranteed and park-independent, and the other 40% of HR come on deep flies that are park-affected.

So, a park like Coors may be almost full of HR (1-6 HR in LF and RF; 1-4 HR in CF, 5-6 LD) would lead to about 131% HR, while Petco might have a lot of FB results (1 HR, 2-6 FB in LF and RF; 1-5 FB, 6 LD in CF), which would lead to about 69% HR. You can also see how by moving LF-RF separately, we can do L/R splits.

It's still on the drawing board, but it would allow to bring back a solid mechanic from 04, while giving us an out if people choose not to use it (roll d6 on deep fly, 1-3-5 HR, 2-4-6 FB).
 
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Dave C
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
I like the work you are doing. And I'm very interested in your results!!!

What I have done is kinda based on what you said about making things easy on those that already own the game.. I had already done all this stuff before we started to dig into the dice.

That, and the fact that my almost-8-year-old doesn't really wanna do much more than just play the game, we've been having fun playing the game almost as it shipped. We have added shallow and deep to the extra zones... we've added rolls that seem to make singles, doubles and homers more realistic.. and with singles being shallow and doubles being deep we've come up with a way to play with outfield in to erase singles.. or deep to protect from the extra base hit...

Please don't take my responses to mean I'm not excited about the work you are doing. I believe we can get the results on the dice.

I do like the 7 zones with a d10... it's just a lot of fun. The "bombs" also work out well.. since we use the deep fly results unless the guy has a track record of hitting dingers in that zone.. it's fast and has been delivering accurate results. The different parks results would seem to work well with this system too.. The bombs mean to accept the home run already rolled without any re-roll.. The reason for them is to keep guys like Tony Gwynn Jr from hitting dingers every game.

We may be dealing a bit in semantics as well.. My "Single +3" probably equates to a Line Drive .. etc.

Keep up the good work! I have a whole shipment of 2004 guys enroute that I'll be reworking shortly.

 
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Pat Senechal
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Re: Sportsclix 2010
Alright, I got some analysis in, and realized that the difference between a 3 and a 4 rating was actually really big, so unless we want our players to hover very tightly between two or three numbers, we'll need to spread out the numbers on the dice a bit more.

What I've mostly been working on was trying to decrypt the game theory bit, and I've realized that the effect of a +1 to a rating is too strong.

Let's look at a chart quick. This uses the old dice, and assumes K=GB=FB to give the pitcher some slack. In all these scenarios, the batter picks a row, and the pitcher picks a column. And, the numbers are wOBA, OPS weighted properly, and scaled to OBP.

Test: Bat 3-3-3 vs Pit 4-4-4.
Pow Ctl Chg
Pow 576 194 194
Con 322 631 322
OnB 305 305 506


The first thing you'll see is that the +3 to guessing right is huge. Guess right: .571, guess wrong: .274. That's a difference of about .300 points, or about +.100 for each point of rating.

So, say the average player is a .335 batter, and we rate him 3-3-3. Pujols is the best hitter in the league, and he's about a .445. That's .110 points better than average, that means he'd get somewhere between 4-4-4 and 5-4-4.

If we want more spread in ratings, we'll need to spread out the numbers more, so that we can have more precision, otherwise, a lot of players would get the same ratings for lack of options.

So, I need opinion, what should be the range of ratings on charts? This affects how the dice will be built. We said 3 is about average, how high should we go? Under the current system, I wouldn't see a single 6 happening.

We can also pick the baseline for pitchers. For the time being, I had batters being 3, to a pitcher's 4, to help balance things, but we can equate them to make it easier to compare.

So, what kind of ratings do we want to see?

Pat

Edit: Also, this is a good time to talk about a few things, since I'm accumulating quite a few things. If you want to talk this weekend, let me know. I'll keep gmail running.
 
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