Hattrick News (December 2007)
Greetings fellow Hattricker!
I hope you’re having a good time and that this new addition to the Hattrick world brings you some good reading too. So, what is this? It’s the very first edition of the Hattrick Newsletter, in which we’ll aim to give you a variety of material. We will of course use it to provide you with information about what’s going on with the game, we’ll have follow ups of new features, community related articles and certainly material from users around the world. I should stress that the information needed to play the game will still be presented on the site as usual. The newsletter will not replace the My Hattrick announcements but aim to give you more depth and new angles which has no place in the cold fact world that My Hattrick often needs to be.
Back in August Hattrick turned 10 years old, quite an impressive age for an online game. In 1997 computer gaming was still pretty much something asocial and not something that would bring hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe of different ages into a community. Today this kind of social gaming has become huge. The idea of facing real opponents and being able to get friends globally proved to be a good one. This also means that much of what is Hattrick is something the users have created be that homemade club logos, meetings of all sizes or perhaps manager programs. So Hattrick turning 10 also means you should celebrate yourself a bit.
My personal Hattrick saga is not as old as 10 years. I first signed up sometime during spring 1999 but the queue was massive and Hattrick still a very small and only very slowly growing game. I forgot all about it until an October day in 2000 when HT5 had been launched and the league system was bigger than before, meaning I could finally take control of a team. And since then Hattrick has been a companion through out my life. I don’t dare to even try and sum up all the hours I’ve spent with Hattrick or all the hours I’ve spent talking about Hattrick. I think the amount would be a bit scary but on the other hand it should be compared to what my Hattrick days have given in return - such as fun times, new friends and so on.
Hattrick has come a long way over the years. Not only am I thinking about the amount of users but also about the actual game play. It may sometimes feel like nothing happens, like when looking at yourself in the mirror every morning. You can’t see that your hair is a bit longer than it was the day before. With Hattrick it can be like that and one may think it’s always looked and worked like it’s doing right now but a glance down the memory lane (the history page that can be found under Community in the site’s menu) tells a different story. A lot has happened and will continue to happen, one small step at a time.
No matter if you’re one of the rare 10 year veterans or just recently started out your career as a HT-manager I hope you’ve found this Autumn of Celebration rewarding. The developers have worked hard to prepare the big and small releases that have been happening during the last couple of months. Enjoy reading the rest of this newsletter and if you want to contact the Newsletter editor in chief, in essence me, you can send an e-mail to HT-Newsletter@hattrick.org (in english, please).
HT-Klas, Hattrick Newsletter editor
The Hattrick book
As announced during the spring we’re currently creating a book about Hattrick to celebrate and sum up the first 10 years. The work with the book has been ongoing for a few months now and a bunch of articles have been delivered by our professional journalist Filip Andersson and it looks really promising. He has travelled quite a bit over the world, meeting hattrickers on different continents gathering stories of all kinds. Those articles will team up with some articles we create ourselves, like the history of Hattrick and loads of statistics.
The book will also feature contributions from you, the users. We’ve had a competition during the spring and that gave us a bunch of interesting articles. We’re still looking for more contributions so if you have a good Hattrick related story you can send it to us. We’re also keen on more pictures. It can be just you in your HT-shirt or your local HT-friends at a ever so small meeting. If you’ve created your own team shirt or a cool poster or perhaps painted your car green with yellow stars, please send your pictures to us.
So far I’ve noticed that some think that their pictures and stories are too small and unimportant for a big project like a global book but it’s not like that. In the Hattrick community small and big things are equally important, so in order for the book to show what Hattrick is we need pictures and stories about both the big and the small pieces of the jigsaw.
Please send your contribution to email@example.com and please write in English (poor English can always be improved prior to the publishing, as long as we can understand what your story is about). Please include a line or two that you accept that we can publish the story or picture(s) without compensation. Every user that has a contribution that makes it into the book will receive a little reward that will be revealed later on. Please note that we won’t have time to answer all the mails and it may take a long time before you hear from us if your contribution is going to be part of the book.
There are more than 1 million logins to Hattrick on an average day. More than 450 000 unique users login to their teams every day. You’re never alone in Hattrick.
On average more than 110 000 ht-mails are being sent every day. This means more than 3 million of them are sent each month. Thankfully no stamps are needed since the Hattrick Postal Service is a very generous company.
There are on average more than 740 000 matches played each week, youth teams not included. That means that if the matches were spread evenly over the week we’d have more than 70 matches each minute. Currently we have no knowledge regarding how many referees there are and when they find the time to rest.
Looking at the team fan clubs we find that there are currently more than 1,6 billion (1 600 000 000) inhabitants in the Hattrick universe that are members of a fan club. The number of members in each fan club ranges from 100 up to 3726 (at the time of writing). If all of these virtual fans screamed at the same time you wouldn’t notice it at all. Mainly because they’re virtual.
There are just over 20 million specialists currently employed throughout the clubs in Hattrick. 5,3 million of them have chosen assistant trainer as career path which makes them the largest specialist group. One can only imagine what would happen if they formed a union. The smallest of the specialist groups are the economists, just over 1 million strong.
Do you have suggestions what kind of statistics you’d like to see in the next edition? Send your suggestion in an email (preferably in English) to HT-Newsletter@hattrick.org.
A look at the appeal system
One of the hottest topics in the Hattrick world is, and most probably always will be, Game Master decisions. It’s inevitable, natural and also important that people with power are questioned and scrutinised and Hattrick being “just a game” makes it no exception. But being a game also makes it a bit different when compared to real life juridical systems, a comparison often made throughout the conferences but not an entirely fair comparison. We can’t have the Game Masters (from now on referred to as GMs) travel the world questioning people, shadowing them and so on. The investigations that take place when the Hattrick GMs suspect cheating must be carried out at a distance, in some cases we have the language barrier and there are other difficulties as well. In essence, being a GM is not an easy task. It’s a voluntary job that can be quite time consuming and, I’m sad to say, includes getting a lot of verbal abuse and sometimes even threats.
I think 99,9% of you agree that a game needs to have rules and someone must act as a referee and see that the rules are followed. Without this our users wouldn’t get a fair and equal chance in the game and I have no doubt in my mind when I say that Hattrick wouldn’t be around today if there had not been users prepared to take a step forward and act as GMs. With hundreds of GMs working and thousands of cases (reported by the users or detected by the GMs) ongoing every day there are bound to be cases where the user(s) feel justice has not been served, feel that the punishment is too hard or for some other reason just want to bring their case to a higher instance. For a long time this has been carried out in a pretty unknown manner, mainly with GMs passing cases on to the more experienced themselves, but since earlier this year there is a more public appeal system in place. Not public as in everyone gets to know what has happened but public as in the Senior GM organisation being made more well known.
I was curious how this has been working out so far and asked some questions to one of the Senior GMs, GM-CableGuy of Belgium. First I asked to have some statistics describing the activity so far and he handed me some statistics put together by the Seniors during the first months showing what kind of messages they had received so far. Here we see the distribution between different types of messages. Note that quite a lot of them were misplaced messages or cases not yet in a position where an appeal was possible (local GMs must have a say first, of course).
- Real appeal cases: 33%
- Other complaints about staff: 3%
- User advised to contact local staff first before appealing: 30%
- Forwarded to Senior Mods: 3%
- Hattrick related issues (bugs, improvements): 10%
- Spam, newbie questions, good luck messages: 21%
If we look closer at the 33% that are real appeal cases that the Seniors could work with we get a new set of statistics.
- Case rejected: 14%
- GM decision was okay: 80%
- GM decision was changed: 6%
Rejected means that it wasn't the user that made the appeal but someone else appealed for them (as always with cheating investigations it’s the involved users we want to be in touch with). Rejected can also mean that there were duplicate appeals or that the case was already solved locally.
GM-CableGuy explained that in a case where the decision was changed this doesn't necessarily mean that the original decision was totally wrong, but that there was for instance a mistake in a transfer price adjustment which needed more research from experts. This seems to be the most common cause for appeals. In some cases the decision was harsher than the original one.
Continuing, CableGuy says: "-All in all, I think we can say that the real number of justified appeals is rather small, which is as we hoped, and also expected." If one compares the amount of appeals with the total amount of investigations, the real appeal cases are very few. The real appeal cases number less than 5 per day and the number of GM decisions per day amounts to thousands.
All the Seniors GMs pitch in and work with the appeal cases. There’s no internal hierarchy so appealing in an appeal case is not possible. And that makes sense too, a case must be closed at some point. GM-CableGuy says that it can be quite tiresome to work with the appeals. Obvious lies and insults are part of the routine just as with the local GMs. Despite this, the Seniors feel that the appeal system is important and improves the whole GM-system.
CableGuy says "-Many users do accept our second opinion about their case, even if we confirm the original decision. Sometimes, I guess we explain it in another, more acceptable way. And sometimes, the initial anger is already gone, and the user himself is more calm than immediately after the fine or closure".
He also says that it feels good to be able to clear up misunderstandings and in a way put in a good word for the local GMs. Often when the immediate anger is gone it’s easier for the punished user to understand that the GM actually just followed the rules and made a correct decision.
The appeal system is a big burden for the Seniors, even if the number of cases is rather small, since every investigation is time consuming. But still they find it worth the effort since it has many good sides too. CableGuy concludes "-It is evident that improvements are possible and maybe needed". The HT responsible for the volunteer staff and most senior of them all, HT-Tjecken comments: "-There will be an evaluation of the system shortly to see if this try out of an appeal system should be permanent, and if so, if any improvements to the system should be done".
A recurring feature in the Hattrick Newsletter will be portraits of the HT-team members. We often get questions about who we are, what we do and perhaps most important of all; which ones are still single and up for grabs. We’ll start with HT-Thomas whose full name is Thomas Linde and here is what he had to say.
You played Hattrick prior to becoming a HT, how did you find the game?
Some of my friends at my old employer played Hattrick. They talked so much about it that it caught my interest. Hattrick seemed to be simple enough to attract me.
How did you become a HT? (CHPP development?)
I tried to find a good helper application once I started to play Hattrick. Since I didn't find any that suited my taste I started a new CHPP project (it was actually before the CHPP program started). The result was an application that today 4 years later is very popular and used by roughly 30000 users. I guess that experience was one reason to why Extralives thought I was a good candidate when I applied for the job announced in the Hattrick news column.
What have you been working on lately?
The new Youth Academy was my main project for 6 months. It was a heavy project as we decided to move towards a new platform and everything had to be rewritten from scratch. The resulting framework and platform are now in production and we are developing everything new around it. I'm also involved in a large match data refactoring project where we reduce the amount of data we store by up to 50-60% without losing information. That makes a big difference when we’re talking about tables with over a billion rows and hundreds of gigabytes.
Can you reveal anything about what you're currently working on?
Not really. There are a lot of modifications to the Youth Academy upcoming and I'm involved in that. We are also working hard with planning database upgrades to improve performance further.
If one visits the Extralives office Thomas can easily be found if one follows the trace of different computer related books. How many of those bricks do you read every month?
I knew that would come up... I seldom read them book by book though. I read about an area or technology that's interesting or needs a refresh. Mostly Google will do but sometimes it's nice to lay your eyes on something else than the screen or just as bed lecture.
Let's leave the HT-role and look at the private life. What can you tell us about your interests, hobbies and family?
I'm 30 years old (31 in a couple of months) living in Stockholm together with my girlfriend and two kids. Programming is my hobby too. My friends often ask me if I don't get tired of it, and yes I do, when it's time for a break. Interests would be golf, fast cars and computers. I've almost dislocated my right arm during lunch breaks by bowling with our new office Wii console. Dangerous machine that is...
What about the Hattrick team? What is your ambition?
The team is great! It is the best group of people I've ever been working with, no exceptions. Without such fine, capable, enthusiastic and professional people Hattrick wouldn’'t be what it is today. It's a great inspiration to work in such an atmosphere. As you might have experienced, we are unfortunately not perfect. We've made a lot of mistakes, but we try to learn from them. My ambition is to learn even more from those mistakes, refine my methods, get more structured and deliver a more professional service to our staff and customers.
Did you know?
Under this headline we'll publish short stories from behind the Hattrick curtains, explore legends and perhaps crush a conference myth or two. We'll kick off with a look at the relationship between the two companies Hattrick Limited in Gibraltar and Extralives AB in Sweden.
From the beginning, or rather from the autumn of 2000, there was only Extralives, a company founded by the HT-Björn, HT-Daniel and HT-Johan. In the end of 2003 a split was made when Hattrick was moved into a separate company, Hattrick Limited.
Today Hattrick Ltd buys development of Hattrick from Extralives. HT-Maths is the CEO of Hattrick and work mainly with development of the business while HT-Johan takes on the role as the Hattrick producer, the top dog when it comes to game development issues. Hattrick Ltd also, among other things, handles the customer service for the Hattrick Shop.
Some of the Extralives employees are mainly devoted to work on Hattrick projects while others work only partially or perhaps not at all the greenish football game. Even if spread out over two separate companies the HT-team is a rather tight group since working together over the company borders is the key to success.
In the next edition
Among the plans for the next edition, scheduled for Januray 2008, we have an article by HT-Johan regarding game design and the in-game economy, a new interview with a HT, another glance at the world of the volunteer staff, new statistics and more.
(This text is available in English only because it is a very late addition and the translators had no chance doing their magic)