Difference between revisions of "Hattrick News (January/February 2008)"

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(and kudos to EchoMan for this and the previous issue!)
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{{Interwiki/Hattrick News (January/February 2008)}}
 
{{Interwiki/Hattrick News (January/February 2008)}}
  
''Note: If you have the English version of this or any of the 4 issues of the Hattrick News, please contact [[User_talk:Mod-Karlthegreat]] asap.''
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== Editorial ==
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It's time for a new edition of the Hattrick News and like editorials traditionally do I’d like to start off with a little reflection. When the texts for the previous edition were finished they were passed on to the LAs (Language Administrators or volunteer translators). It was a very special feeling when they came back translated into more than 30 languages. I knew what every text said but I couldn’t understand anything. But still I couldn’t resist “reading” the texts in these, to me, foreign languages. It was equally entertaining reading my own texts in Swedish (I originally wrote them in English), to read my own words translated into my own language was a peculiar feeling. The whole experience triggered this edition's interview with the Super-LAs and also further enhanced to me just how global Hattrick and its community are. As you'll see when you read on it also showed off the efficiency and pride of Hattrick volunteers, in this case the LAs.
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During 2007 we saw quite a few additions and changes to Hattrick and I think 2008 will be a very productive year too but perhaps in a different way. I hope that you, like me, are looking forward to the new Hattrick year and what it may bring us.
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I've received a number of mails (ht-newsletter@hattrick.org (please write in English)) and because I've been on vacation I haven't yet had the time to answer them all. It's been very interesting reading the feedback and suggestions. We'll never be able to please you all but we'll try to meet some requests. For instance, the statistics in this edition are all based on requests from readers. Please keep sending feedback, suggestions and more.
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 +
[[HT-Klas]], Hattrick Newsletter editor
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 +
== Hattrick Economy - the Inside Story! ==
 +
The first but hopefully not the last article where we go in-depth about game design and different aspects of Hattrick. To begin with HT-Johan sheds some light over the economics and what's been going on with the in-game economy lately as well as reveals the thoughts behind the changes last year.
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One of the more fascinating aspects of Hattrick is the way it works like a society in its own right. Nowhere is this more evident than in the in-game economy of Hattrick. While it may be very simplistic compared to the real world, it still has the most important sign of any working economy: that it is shaped by the independent economical decisions of all its participants. This makes it dynamic, changing, and a challenge to predict.
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The beauty of any working economic system is that it has the ability to balance itself around the given circumstances. In Soviet Russia, a black market emerged to solve the problems the official economy couldn't. In capitalistic countries, entire industries thrive or die based on consumer preferences. In Hattrick, the prices of special types of players may rise or fall depending on what their perceived value to the users may be. Every decision we take, helps shape the economy we live in.
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What's different is that in Hattrick, only very few parameters in the economy are open to this dynamic. You can't find an alternative sponsor for your Hattrick team if you are unhappy with the money the current one is paying you. Like almost every other game, Hattrick is a regulated economy, and for good reason: it's more important for us to make the game understandable and fun than to create the perfect economic simulation. Realism is not an end to itself, but it does help to understand real world economic mechanics, because they are at work in Hattrick as well.
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About one year ago, we initiated two research projects about Hattrick and its in-game economy. One was led by a group of macro economists at the University of Stockholm, the other we did together with a Hattrick user, Ron Brandes or flameron on HT, who is an Israeli computer engineer with a background in economics and statistics.
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The reason for the studies was that the economy in Hattrick showed signs of being in a permanent negative spiral of sinking player prices and shrinking incentives to train new players. This seemed to be part of a structural problem that we couldn't deal with in the same way we had dealt with similar symptoms in the past. Hattrick was maturing as a game, the average team was getting older, the average player was getting better, and the average salaries was increasing. But still the fundamentals were the same, specifically the income possibilities. The markets still worked, but it had severe effects on the game fun.
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We asked the macro economists to study Hattrick as they would any real world economic system, to look at the money coming in and out from the Hattrick world, and to look at the development of the transfer market specifically. We asked Ron to do much the same thing, but from a game design and user perspective, to see how the current state of the economy affected different parts of the Hattrick world.
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The analysis of the university team was pretty clear: With more or less fixed incomes in the game, but open-ended costs, such as salaries, and with the average player in Hattrick getting higher and higher skills every season, the Hattrick world was taking on more costs than it could handle, and money was leaking out of the game at an alarming rate. While any individual team with a smart manager could benefit from such situation, for the game as a whole it was a distressing situation, one that directly led to more bankruptcies, and probably also to users giving up their teams voluntarily. What's more, what had always stabilized the system in the past was the growth of the game - more users coming in than old ones leaving. This growth had slowed down, which meant fewer teams that could buy and pay salaries for existing players. The Hattrick recession was even a negative spiral, since the economy lacked the flexibility a real world one would have, for example by lowering salaries in times of little demand for labour.
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Our university economists told us that, from a purely economic point of view, the best thing would be to remove salaries altogether. This would create a real player market, where the teams with the most money would be able to get the best players. Artificial salaries would be taken out of the equation. This was however not something we wished for from a game design perspective. But there were many other things we could do, such as easing down salaries over time and also find ways to make income a bit more flexible. Most importantly, we knew the leakage of money had to stop immediately, and this was what led us to the economy changes we did in July.
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Ron's study was more detailed, and we have also continued working with him throughout this whole period. We focused on how to find ways to control the player supply in Hattrick, which was ultimately what triggered both the rising costs and the low transfer prices. We also believed it would be a way to reduce the risk of certain anomalies in the game, such as kamikaze teams, "divine monsters", and so on. The reason why we needed to look at this area is not that surprising, really - the training and salary system in Hattrick basically dates back to when the game had a few hundred users only. It worked remarkably well for a long time. But we are now ten years older, have nearly a million users, and understandably need a more predictable way to control player supply in Hattrick than merely hoping for the game to double in size every year.
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The bulk of our game design changes in the past 9 months have aimed at establishing a more stable long-term platform for Hattrick. We wanted to motivate users to train differently, in ways that would not only be healthier for the game economy but also - with the new match engine - make their teams better. We aimed to reduce the number of extremely high mono-skilled players and encourage creating broader, more versatile players. We wanted the natural mechanics of the game to help us avoid kamikaze teams, "divine monsters" that no sound teams can afford, rather than having a system where such anomalies seemed to be a logical end point.
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With the stamina change, for example, we saw a way to introduce a natural ageing mechanism onto players, which doesn't "kill" an ageing player overnight but rather makes him increasingly superfluous to your requirements. You can keep an old dear player and maybe use him as a substitute, but to keep the punch in your team you also need to recruit new players, and maybe keep a broader squad.
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With the new match engine, we put an increased emphasis on multi-skilled players, making it less profitable to train players in a single skill. Rather than concentrating all training on one skill, it will pay to spread it over two, three or even four skills - allowing each player to absorb a lot more training before becoming "fully trained" in the eyes of the manager. The result of this, combined with the need for broader squad, will be a shorter supply of good players, and a higher demand for those that exist.
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The new training system further emphasized this. Even though we made training faster for most trainable skills, we made it less worthwhile to train the skills that were already high. In the "old" Hattrick, it made sense to boost a player on one skill for a very long time. Once the player got older, his high cost was offset against shrinking salaries due to age, which meant many teams focused on players over the age of 30. This further decreased the demand for newly trained players, and wasn't a good tendency for the game.
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What we have established now is a controlled player cycle - we can much better anticipate how new players will come into play, how they will be trained, and how their salaries will affect the in-game economy. This has been an important move, but not an easy one. And it is a remedy that will only work over time. We have lots of other things to do as well.
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The overall of aim of the in-game economy can be summarized as stability. We want everyone to have a fair chance to plan for their teams, to invest in players and to train them. That the economy is balanced doesn't mean prices are flat or that everyone makes the same amount of money, it means the overall system evolves in a predictable way - that there is a small seasonal increase of money per team, a predictable supply of players, and a slight inflation in terms of player prices from season to season. Within this market, though, prices may go up and down, and some teams may make lots more money than others, due to their individual decisions.
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Just before Christmas, we announced another new feature for next season, namely the changed fan formula. This will give fans a memory and it will let the fan mood - and thus your income - be influenced by the results of your team. The bank account of teams will also have an effect on fan expectations, and through that on their mood. This is another approach to game design that has grown out of our research last year.
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 +
This improves the game in several ways. First, it creates incentives for users to improve their teams, to invest in players and to win titles, rather than just sit in a comfortable division and collect money. It's a manager game after all, and although it should still be a perfectly possible strategy to sit still and collect money, we wanted there to be an attractive alternative to it.
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The fan feature also gives us a much needed tool to look after the money available in the game. We really strive to get away from the current situation, where any change to the available money in the game has to be done through direct measures - such as increasing arena income or sponsor money. It makes it harder for managers to plan and it's not even a very precise instrument of change - every such action makes the economy work worse, as users now try to anticipate what our next action will be.
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With the fans taking into account how much cash a club has, we as developers get a discreet tool which we can use to influence the amount of savings in the game. Like with an interest rate that sets an income for savings, fan tolerance of unused cash is a cost for savings, but one we can tweak very slowly if need be, making the change count without causing big impact overnight to teams. It's our ambition to find more of these soft factors where we can nudge the economy in the right direction without having to resort to changing incomes and costs directly.
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We know that the past year has contained a lot of changes to the game, and that some of you think the pace has been too quick. It has been quick, but we think these have been necessary changes that will contribute a lot to a better and healthier Hattrick in the future. As for the coming year, we will continue this work, but at a slower pace. The things we will work on now are not as fundamental as changes to the training or match engine have to be. We are looking at player trading, which from an economic point of view is a significant part of Hattrick, and we do see some problems there. We want trading to be possible, but today it comes with very little cost to follow this strategy, especially if you are willing to compromise with your team results. This is a problem because if a strategy like this is too good, managers may feel they have to follow it to keep up with other teams - and that is not something we want from a game design perspective. What we do want is a transfer market that is perfectly accessible for the casual buyer and seller, but where power trading comes with certain trade-offs. This could be in the shape of higher fees, profit taxes, or that teams have to sacrifice other aspects of their development if they want to devote their club to trading.
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To round off, a few words about the current economic status in Hattrick. Last year, we increased revenues and decreased costs, and that has ended the leaking of money out of Hattrick and fuelled a rather strong inflation in player prices. We don't want this to go too far, however, and at the start of next season we will adjust the money flow again. We will do this by reinstating the "end of the year salary week", and we may also adjust ticket prices if this seems necessary.
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Finally, I would also like to add a few words about ease of use. This is a very important part of Hattrick, and something we always will want to preserve. Hattrick should be easy to understand, but with strategic depth if you want to spend a lot of time on the game. I think once the new game changes settle in, you will find this is still the case.
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/HT-Johan
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== HT-portrait: HT-Sarah ==
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Last edition we got to know HT-Thomas a little bit better, this time the questions are thrown at HT-Sarah. Here we go...
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'''When did you start playing and how and when did you get involved in Hattrick?'''
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I wasn't playing Hattrick at all before I started working for Extralives in November 2004. They needed a new developer for Hattrick and HT-Mattias told me to apply since I was working with similar stuff already. I met some of the people in the team and started working here soon after.
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'''Did you have any knowledge of Hattrick prior to becoming an Extralives employee in 2004?'''
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Oh yes, some friends of mine were playing the game and were very eager to tell me all the details of their teams, players etc. I found it all very uninteresting until I got involved myself.
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'''What is your background like? Education and job wise?'''
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When I was 10 years old I decided that I wanted to become an astronomer, and I stuck to that plan and got a master of science degree in engineering physics. After working in a couple of labs I realised that I wasn't ready to be a scientist just yet and since I had done a lot of programming already I started looking for developer jobs instead. I have been working as a developer for a couple of different companies since 2000 and I've also made roughly 75 000 lattes working as a barista when the computer industry was slow in 2003.
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'''What is your role within the HT-team?'''
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I take care of payment methods in the shop and handle the contact with our fantastic customer services staff. When the shop systems are stable, i.e. most of the time, I fix bugs and try to keep everything up and running.
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'''A couple of months ago you became the CEO of Extralives, that must have changed your tasks a bit, right?'''
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Ah, yes, I get to talk to more people now and I got some new paperwork but most of my time is still spent programming and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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'''What's it like to boss a bunch of more or less Hattrick-crazed developers. Any secret tricks you care to share?'''
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Nah, biscuits and candy does the trick, just like with everybody else. We work as a group and I don't feel that anybody is the boss of anybody really, everybody is extremely dedicated to the work we do and although we don't always share the same opinions in everything it's the best possible group of people to work with so my job is very easy in that sense.
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'''What have you been working on lately?'''
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The boardgame "Match of the Season", that will be available in the shop soon, needed some new features to be added to the shop system, some re-writing of procedures that get data from the database, some signup issues, and a lot of minor (but annoying) bugs.
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'''Can you reveal anything about what you’re currently working on?'''
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Oh, I guess I should be all secretive and say: "No comment" but we are all friends here... We are rewriting a lot of pages in asp.net and that will keep me busy, along with bug-fixing, for the next couple of months.
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'''Can you tell us something about your personal life? Family? Hobbies?'''
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I live with my husband, a cat and a guinea pig in Uppsala where I spend most of my time sleeping, jogging, playing video games, watching DVDs, and working. My main hobbies are photography and dancing (boogaloo) and I wish I had more time to spend on them.
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'''It's rumoured that you have a big collection of gaming consoles, true?'''
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I guess that’s true, I’m very much into retro stuff such as the old "Nintendo game & watch" games and other hand held games from NeoGeo, Sega, etc. and I got a couple of old video games as well. It’s not that I’m collecting them… they just end up with me for some reason... The games I play the most are newer and my favourite at the moment is "Super Mario Galaxy", along with my dance mats of course (used with "Dancing Stage Unleashed", not Mario).
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'''Let's wrap this up with a look at your Hattrick team "Oliker"... Whats up with that? (And what does that name mean anyway?)'''
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The name was invented by my sister when she was 5 (and I was 1) and she decided that she didn't like the names in the family and gave us all new ones. Oliker is what she called my dad and for some reason it was the first name I came up with when I needed to find a name for my team. In Swedish "olik" means "different" but Oliker doesn't mean anything as far as I know. My team is in very bad shape but I blame it on work.
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== A look at the LAs ==
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One of the key elements to Hattrick's success must be that the game is available in so many languages and for that we have our Language Administrators (LAs) to thank. The LAs are volunteers dedicating lots of their free time to translating all the lengthy texts that make up Hattrick. It should be noted that it's an ever ongoing job. As soon as a new language goes public there will be new features added, My Hattrick announcements, rule changes and so on that needs the LAs attention and care.
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So what, some might say. Translating is not that hard, anyone with basic knowledge of two languages can translate. Sure, but to really translate is to deliver not only the correct words but also the true meaning and the mood of the original text and that is something different and requires much more than just basic knowledge of two languages. For instance a match event might be a phrasing that lacks a good equivalent in some languages and the LAs are then required to use their skill and imagination to create a new wording that brings the event to life and also correctly describes what just happened so that the manager studying the match report is not misled.
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It's clear that the LAs take great pride in their work and pay attention to detail. I got to know this first hand when the December edition of this newsletter was sent out. I had to make some last minute additions and since I had a deadline running towards me, I didn't want to put unjust pressure on the LAs to translate the late addition over night, so I made them in English for every language and included a little explanation for this. That wasn't at all what the LAs would have wanted me to do, they would have preferred the stress and pressure of another last minute translation task rather than have this inconsistency visible to “their” readers. I think that kind of commitment and pride in a volunteer task is so very admirable. I was proud of and impressed by the LA-crew before this happened, but I must say they managed to climb even higher in my regard due to this reaction and the discussions we had in the aftermath. To have a look at the LAs in this edition was already planned but the motivation and inspiration was enhanced.
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To help you get a good grip of what the LAs are up to I've been talking to two SuperLAs: LA-Tsukumo from Brazil and LA-Rlinney2001 from England.
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'''You're the Super-LAs, that sounds quite advanced in a way, what is your role?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - I think the most super thing is the name itself, he he. It's not a big deal...
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'''Rlinney:''' - I guess this can be split into three main areas: (a) Translation projects. (b) Master Tongue issues (I'll come back to this shortly) and (c) non-specific language questions. From time to time, users undoubtedly notice that some staff members have their language choice set as "Master Tongue". This is simply the language version of HT that allows us to check that up and coming features/tweaks/changes all make sense and give a central language version for everyone to translate from to ensure everyone is telling the users in different countries the same thing! Whilst I keep this up-to-date (with the help of GM-sjohnston), LA-Tsukumo sorts out any new language projects.
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'''Tsukumo:''' - And we all try to give support to all LAs, but this last role is something we share with the rest of the LA community, some are more helpful than we are.
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'''How is the LA sphere organized? Is there a hierarchy?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - I like to think there is no hierarchy aside from the HTs-LAs thing. But I guess each LA team for each language has its own organization. Seriously, it's not that strict.
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'''Rlinney:''' - I think the best word to describe how our part of the HT-family works is "organically". There isn't really a set structure - our main priority is to get things translated. Everyone helps each other where they can! LA-Tsukumo and myself have the ability to harass the HT developers on behalf of the non-GM LAs, so if anyone has any problems or issues they want clarification on we get our poking fingers out and disturb the HTs.
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'''Is there a common background for the ones stepping forward to take on the LA challenge? Do they work as translators or with other text related things for a living too?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - Interesting question. I see a very common profile in the LAs. We all talk a LOT and can't avoid being long winded sometimes. It's also very common we attach to small details and errors (which makes us, after all, good text reviewers). But also, we all seem to like to learn details about other languages. I am very proud to be part of a team where some speak 4 or 5 languages. Another thing I like to mention is that it's also very common to have ex-GMs and ex-MODs remaining as LAs, as I think we have the best work in staff, while it is not so common to have GM-LAs or MOD-LAs giving up their LA job to remain as GMs or MODs only.
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And yes, a few do work as professional translators or have language specific jobs. On top of my mind I can think of LA-Steammer of Brasil-Portuguese and LA-Junnja of Japanese, but I am sure there are some others.
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'''What would you deem to be the most difficult part of the LA-work for Hattrick?'''
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'''Rlinney:''' - The LAs have to sometimes translate things that are isolated from the main game - basically, a lot of the time we are translating things about features we haven't seen yet. This can be "interesting" trying to guess what the mighty HTs are planning in order to make sure our texts make sense! Of course, we know how much we pester the HTs. Poor guys! - not only do they get bombarded with questions if they ever make an appearance on the Global conferences, but there's not even an escape route for them in the staff conferences!
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'''How many LAs are there? (And per language?)'''
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'''Rlinney:''' - Lots! There are still LA user-names that appear occasionally that I don't even recognise!
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'''Tsukumo:''' - Ok, here we go: 13 unofficial LAs, which are in ongoing translation projects. 82 full-time LAs, i.e. exclusively as LAs. 7 MOD-LAs and 26 GM-LAs. If we sum all official LAs, we have 115 LAs, an average of 2 LAs per language, roughly speaking, but a few of these are responsible for more than one language. The maximum is 3 full-time LAs per language, plus 1 or 2 GMs-LAs if needed. But some languages, like Korean or Japanese are lacking LAs, which means the remaining LAs have a hard time translating.
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'''Could you describe (briefly) how a translation project for Hattrick works? How long does it take to get a new language up and running?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - The translation project starts with a volunteer and is/her team asking to translate a language. They write to me and I ask for some personal details. Then the project is submitted to HTs for their approval. Once approved, phase 1 starts with the translation of the rules, which is one of the hardest files to translate. This phase is a test to see if the team has got what it takes to do the job. If the job is done in about 3 months then the project goes to phase 2 and then the amount of time is a bit larger, some projects even took up to 3 years to complete, but we now set a maximum of one and a half year at most. The fastest project we had was Basque, which was done in less than 3 months, including phase 1.
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'''Can you reveal which languages are on the way currently?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - No problem. Right now we have Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Georgian, Faroese, Thai, Friulano, Traditional Chinese, Bosnian, Arabic, Albanian, Macedonian and Cabo Verdian Crioulo. 13 languages in total.
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'''If you are interested about being an LA, who should you turn to? What kinds of competence are required?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - They should contact their current LAs who in turn will check if they have what it takes, which is good English, and a relatively clean sheet (minor flaws are allowed).
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'''What kind of feedback do the LAs receive from the users?'''
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'''Tsukumo:''' - Actually, it's quite good. The recent poll about users satisfaction showed we had a very very good feedback. Sometimes users complain about minor stuff but this only reassures we are doing a good job, since they got used to a good quality and got their standards so high.
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'''Rlinney:''' - Actually, I would say that users make our jobs much easier than if they kept quiet and said nothing - they often send us messages telling us that certain sections of the rules need x or y changing to bring them up-to-date. This is great! Keep 'em coming!
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To wrap up the interview I asked our two Super-LAs if there was something more they wanted to add. Here they both proved Tsukumo to be right when he said LAs like to talk a lot. Below you'll find Tsukumo's answer and Rlinney's sort of ended up as this month's “Did you know?” as yet another proof of the abilities of the LA-crew.
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'''Tsukumo:''' - It's been a pleasure to work for HT. If users only had an idea on how good the translation system is... HT is currently the only online game in languages like Luxembourgish, Frysk, Flemish and probably in other languages like Galego, Basque and Kyrgyz. If you take a glance at the drop-down menu of language selection, you will get to see a tiny bit of what HT has done so far: Special characters like Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Chinese and Arabic, where some are even written from right to left! Which online game have you seen with such translation system, so dynamic, so multi-language? It's a Babel Tower where we manage to talk to each other, he he he. And then this is a system we take pride to be part of. On top of this, we have so many different cultures, religions and beliefs! It's hard to get the grip of how hard it is to run such a global game. But at the same time, it's exactly because it's so diverse and multicultural it is so fun. I am glad the HTs got that and are enforcing this community aspect of this game. I hope users who are reading this and still don't take part of the community in the conferences, try it out at some point. It's no exaggeration to say it is, in my opinion, the best part of the game. Which is ironic. The best part of this football game is not the football, but the community.
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== Did You Know? ==
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One of the frequently asked about areas of the game is "How did I manage to get a player with this name from my youth squad?! That name doesn't originate from my country!" For an explanation of why such things happen, we must take a peek at a couple of the background systems of Hattrick - specifically those involving population parameters and names databases.
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Hattrick tries to mimic real-life populations of countries, which means that we often have to link several names databases to a particular country - for example, Germany takes names not only from the German names database, but also from the Turkish, Polish and Russian names databases (as well as a few others). We get such population information from several sources, including government agencies and national census information.
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As well as setting the probability of creating a player name from a particular names database, this probability has a further level of complexity which is achieved by defining subsets based on skin colour. Hattrick uses five distinct ethnicities, which are referred to as White, Black, Asian, Indian and Latino.
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For example, the probability of creating a youth player in England with a name of English origin who is White may be 51%, whilst the probability of creating a youth player with a name of English origin who is Black may be 24%. Once again, the data we use to set these ethnic probabilities comes from government agencies and census information.
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Of course, in the world today there is much migration of different nationalities to different countries, but we have to draw the line somewhere, so the nationalities used for particular countries must be permanent residents of that country (as opposed to, for example, people who regularly go on vacation there, or are seasonal migrant workers).
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So, the next time your youth scout identifies that player who has the foreign sounding name, don't worry - he hasn't been wasting the club money on exotic holidays in foreign lands! Examples of real-life equivalents could include the Brazilian born Eduardo who plays for the Croatian national team, the Swiss born Jeff Agoos who played for the USA National team or the Senegalese born French national team player Patrick Vieira.
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The names databases regularly have new names added, but unfortunately we cannot take individual requests from users to add particular names. We would love to be able to do this, but opening the system to such a thing would drown the staff members responsible for this task in hundreds of thousands of requests - because after all, who wouldn't want to see themselves score the winning goal in the Hattrick World Cup final?
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/LA-Rlinney2001
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== Statistically speaking ==
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We'll kick off this edition's statistics with a look at the age of the players (not to be mistaken for you users). In this study we ignore the youth teams and stare directly at the seniors squads. The age distribution looks like this:
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{|
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|-
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| 17 – 19: || 2960042
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|-
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Quite a lot of players hanging around despite high age. But I guess they haven't earned enough money to be able to throw away their football shoes and just relax.
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While speaking of age, let me introduce you to the oldest player in Hattrick: Mr Sven Åkerblad of Sweden. This 86 year old gentleman represents Swedish side “Men on a Mission” and is reported to be healthy. Mr Åkerblad's future doesn't look too optimistic though since his team is for sure on a mission, a mission towards annihilation since it's a bot team nowadays. I guess I don't have to add that he has divine experience...
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There are no less than 17 players who are 80 years or older. 16 of them are Swedish, as expected since the Swedish league is the oldest, but that makes Mr Vibhu Ravichandran so more interesting. This 81-year-old comes from India and represents the team Kolkata.
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Now, let's leave the game world behind and step out (in?) to the real world and look at the language choices of the Hattrick users. At the top, as the most chosen language in Hattrick, we find, as you probably expected: Spanish. No less then139 646 users had Spanish as their HT language at the time of the this investigation. To that we should also add the 40 865 who had chosen South American Spanish and the 4 768 who had opted for Central American Spanish. In total more than 185 000 users. Impressive!
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Other big languages are German with its 118 721 users and Italian with 78 498. French is the way to go for 46 335 and English racks up 55 702 users. Portuguese has 43 529 users and to that we can add the 20 058 users who have chosen the Brazilian version. Dutch and it's cousin Flemish got 46 590 plus 26 206 users. The original language of Hattrick, Swedish, has 30 924 users.
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What would be really interesting is to get the figures for secondary languages. Meaning, besides the preferred language (probably mother tongue), which language would be next in line for the users. My guess is that English has a firm grip of that market. That is why most of you whose language are not available for the Hattrick News will receive it in English.
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Enough of big languages, let's look at the ones with the least amount of users in Hattrick. Basque is in that end of the pool with 204 users. However, that is more than twice as many as the ones currently using Frisian (89), Lëtzebuergesch (80) and Persian (75). But those are still giants compared to Belarusian's 31 users. But the language with the least amount of users currently is Kyrgyz who has no less than 7 proud users.
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It should be added that these statistics only include languages that are public, not ongoing translation projects. And that was all from the statistics department for this edition. Keep the suggestions flowing and we'll see what we can do about them.
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== Ask a HT ==
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Under this headline we will try to answer different questions from the users. We've had a thread like this on the global conference (the English one) and it was appreciated but for a long time we have not been able to keep up with the vast amount of questions. Now we want to try a “light” version of the same concept and we aim to answer one question per edition (no promises though, but our answer will on the other hand be more in depth).
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So, what kind of questions are we looking for? Well, we shouldn't write them for you but a good hint can be that the questions should be of public interest that you think someone from the HT-team could/should answer. Note that questions about your team or account should still be sent to your local GMs, especially since we won't guarantee any answer at all here. We will read the incoming questions and decide which ones should be answered in Hattrick News. The rest will, well, go quietly into the night. Harsh? Perhaps.
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So, if you have a Hattrick related question that you think is of public interest feel free to send it to us at this mail address specifically opened for this purpose: HTquestions@hattrick.org. The only answers will be the ones published in Hattrick News.
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We'll start off with a question collected from the conference thread mentioned above.
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'''Why are the youth leagues stopped twice a HT-season? Once when it is finished itself, and once when the normal HT-season is ended.'''
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If we start with the first "stop", when a youth league is finished (all matches have been played), we have a short stop to allow users to change youth league if they want to and to expand their youth leagues with more teams (or make it smaller), and similar. The other stop, in the normal HT-season's end, has nothing to do with playability though. But this is the only time of year we have a real possibility to do some proper maintenance work on our server system, which is very important in order to keep Hattrick up and running. If matches were played at the same time we would have a hard time to work in an efficient way - and as there are always youth matches going on it would be close to impossible to any maintenance work at all. So, in the normal season's end no matches are played at all, this to allow us to work on our server park.<br>
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Answered by HT-Tjecken
  
 
[[Category:Hattrick documents]]
 
[[Category:Hattrick documents]]

Revision as of 15:59, 23 February 2009

INTERWIKI

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Editorial

It's time for a new edition of the Hattrick News and like editorials traditionally do I’d like to start off with a little reflection. When the texts for the previous edition were finished they were passed on to the LAs (Language Administrators or volunteer translators). It was a very special feeling when they came back translated into more than 30 languages. I knew what every text said but I couldn’t understand anything. But still I couldn’t resist “reading” the texts in these, to me, foreign languages. It was equally entertaining reading my own texts in Swedish (I originally wrote them in English), to read my own words translated into my own language was a peculiar feeling. The whole experience triggered this edition's interview with the Super-LAs and also further enhanced to me just how global Hattrick and its community are. As you'll see when you read on it also showed off the efficiency and pride of Hattrick volunteers, in this case the LAs.

During 2007 we saw quite a few additions and changes to Hattrick and I think 2008 will be a very productive year too but perhaps in a different way. I hope that you, like me, are looking forward to the new Hattrick year and what it may bring us.

I've received a number of mails (ht-newsletter@hattrick.org (please write in English)) and because I've been on vacation I haven't yet had the time to answer them all. It's been very interesting reading the feedback and suggestions. We'll never be able to please you all but we'll try to meet some requests. For instance, the statistics in this edition are all based on requests from readers. Please keep sending feedback, suggestions and more.

HT-Klas, Hattrick Newsletter editor

Hattrick Economy - the Inside Story!

The first but hopefully not the last article where we go in-depth about game design and different aspects of Hattrick. To begin with HT-Johan sheds some light over the economics and what's been going on with the in-game economy lately as well as reveals the thoughts behind the changes last year.

One of the more fascinating aspects of Hattrick is the way it works like a society in its own right. Nowhere is this more evident than in the in-game economy of Hattrick. While it may be very simplistic compared to the real world, it still has the most important sign of any working economy: that it is shaped by the independent economical decisions of all its participants. This makes it dynamic, changing, and a challenge to predict.

The beauty of any working economic system is that it has the ability to balance itself around the given circumstances. In Soviet Russia, a black market emerged to solve the problems the official economy couldn't. In capitalistic countries, entire industries thrive or die based on consumer preferences. In Hattrick, the prices of special types of players may rise or fall depending on what their perceived value to the users may be. Every decision we take, helps shape the economy we live in.

What's different is that in Hattrick, only very few parameters in the economy are open to this dynamic. You can't find an alternative sponsor for your Hattrick team if you are unhappy with the money the current one is paying you. Like almost every other game, Hattrick is a regulated economy, and for good reason: it's more important for us to make the game understandable and fun than to create the perfect economic simulation. Realism is not an end to itself, but it does help to understand real world economic mechanics, because they are at work in Hattrick as well.

About one year ago, we initiated two research projects about Hattrick and its in-game economy. One was led by a group of macro economists at the University of Stockholm, the other we did together with a Hattrick user, Ron Brandes or flameron on HT, who is an Israeli computer engineer with a background in economics and statistics.

The reason for the studies was that the economy in Hattrick showed signs of being in a permanent negative spiral of sinking player prices and shrinking incentives to train new players. This seemed to be part of a structural problem that we couldn't deal with in the same way we had dealt with similar symptoms in the past. Hattrick was maturing as a game, the average team was getting older, the average player was getting better, and the average salaries was increasing. But still the fundamentals were the same, specifically the income possibilities. The markets still worked, but it had severe effects on the game fun.

We asked the macro economists to study Hattrick as they would any real world economic system, to look at the money coming in and out from the Hattrick world, and to look at the development of the transfer market specifically. We asked Ron to do much the same thing, but from a game design and user perspective, to see how the current state of the economy affected different parts of the Hattrick world.

The analysis of the university team was pretty clear: With more or less fixed incomes in the game, but open-ended costs, such as salaries, and with the average player in Hattrick getting higher and higher skills every season, the Hattrick world was taking on more costs than it could handle, and money was leaking out of the game at an alarming rate. While any individual team with a smart manager could benefit from such situation, for the game as a whole it was a distressing situation, one that directly led to more bankruptcies, and probably also to users giving up their teams voluntarily. What's more, what had always stabilized the system in the past was the growth of the game - more users coming in than old ones leaving. This growth had slowed down, which meant fewer teams that could buy and pay salaries for existing players. The Hattrick recession was even a negative spiral, since the economy lacked the flexibility a real world one would have, for example by lowering salaries in times of little demand for labour.

Our university economists told us that, from a purely economic point of view, the best thing would be to remove salaries altogether. This would create a real player market, where the teams with the most money would be able to get the best players. Artificial salaries would be taken out of the equation. This was however not something we wished for from a game design perspective. But there were many other things we could do, such as easing down salaries over time and also find ways to make income a bit more flexible. Most importantly, we knew the leakage of money had to stop immediately, and this was what led us to the economy changes we did in July.

Ron's study was more detailed, and we have also continued working with him throughout this whole period. We focused on how to find ways to control the player supply in Hattrick, which was ultimately what triggered both the rising costs and the low transfer prices. We also believed it would be a way to reduce the risk of certain anomalies in the game, such as kamikaze teams, "divine monsters", and so on. The reason why we needed to look at this area is not that surprising, really - the training and salary system in Hattrick basically dates back to when the game had a few hundred users only. It worked remarkably well for a long time. But we are now ten years older, have nearly a million users, and understandably need a more predictable way to control player supply in Hattrick than merely hoping for the game to double in size every year.

The bulk of our game design changes in the past 9 months have aimed at establishing a more stable long-term platform for Hattrick. We wanted to motivate users to train differently, in ways that would not only be healthier for the game economy but also - with the new match engine - make their teams better. We aimed to reduce the number of extremely high mono-skilled players and encourage creating broader, more versatile players. We wanted the natural mechanics of the game to help us avoid kamikaze teams, "divine monsters" that no sound teams can afford, rather than having a system where such anomalies seemed to be a logical end point.

With the stamina change, for example, we saw a way to introduce a natural ageing mechanism onto players, which doesn't "kill" an ageing player overnight but rather makes him increasingly superfluous to your requirements. You can keep an old dear player and maybe use him as a substitute, but to keep the punch in your team you also need to recruit new players, and maybe keep a broader squad.

With the new match engine, we put an increased emphasis on multi-skilled players, making it less profitable to train players in a single skill. Rather than concentrating all training on one skill, it will pay to spread it over two, three or even four skills - allowing each player to absorb a lot more training before becoming "fully trained" in the eyes of the manager. The result of this, combined with the need for broader squad, will be a shorter supply of good players, and a higher demand for those that exist.

The new training system further emphasized this. Even though we made training faster for most trainable skills, we made it less worthwhile to train the skills that were already high. In the "old" Hattrick, it made sense to boost a player on one skill for a very long time. Once the player got older, his high cost was offset against shrinking salaries due to age, which meant many teams focused on players over the age of 30. This further decreased the demand for newly trained players, and wasn't a good tendency for the game.

What we have established now is a controlled player cycle - we can much better anticipate how new players will come into play, how they will be trained, and how their salaries will affect the in-game economy. This has been an important move, but not an easy one. And it is a remedy that will only work over time. We have lots of other things to do as well.

The overall of aim of the in-game economy can be summarized as stability. We want everyone to have a fair chance to plan for their teams, to invest in players and to train them. That the economy is balanced doesn't mean prices are flat or that everyone makes the same amount of money, it means the overall system evolves in a predictable way - that there is a small seasonal increase of money per team, a predictable supply of players, and a slight inflation in terms of player prices from season to season. Within this market, though, prices may go up and down, and some teams may make lots more money than others, due to their individual decisions.

Just before Christmas, we announced another new feature for next season, namely the changed fan formula. This will give fans a memory and it will let the fan mood - and thus your income - be influenced by the results of your team. The bank account of teams will also have an effect on fan expectations, and through that on their mood. This is another approach to game design that has grown out of our research last year.

This improves the game in several ways. First, it creates incentives for users to improve their teams, to invest in players and to win titles, rather than just sit in a comfortable division and collect money. It's a manager game after all, and although it should still be a perfectly possible strategy to sit still and collect money, we wanted there to be an attractive alternative to it.

The fan feature also gives us a much needed tool to look after the money available in the game. We really strive to get away from the current situation, where any change to the available money in the game has to be done through direct measures - such as increasing arena income or sponsor money. It makes it harder for managers to plan and it's not even a very precise instrument of change - every such action makes the economy work worse, as users now try to anticipate what our next action will be.

With the fans taking into account how much cash a club has, we as developers get a discreet tool which we can use to influence the amount of savings in the game. Like with an interest rate that sets an income for savings, fan tolerance of unused cash is a cost for savings, but one we can tweak very slowly if need be, making the change count without causing big impact overnight to teams. It's our ambition to find more of these soft factors where we can nudge the economy in the right direction without having to resort to changing incomes and costs directly.

We know that the past year has contained a lot of changes to the game, and that some of you think the pace has been too quick. It has been quick, but we think these have been necessary changes that will contribute a lot to a better and healthier Hattrick in the future. As for the coming year, we will continue this work, but at a slower pace. The things we will work on now are not as fundamental as changes to the training or match engine have to be. We are looking at player trading, which from an economic point of view is a significant part of Hattrick, and we do see some problems there. We want trading to be possible, but today it comes with very little cost to follow this strategy, especially if you are willing to compromise with your team results. This is a problem because if a strategy like this is too good, managers may feel they have to follow it to keep up with other teams - and that is not something we want from a game design perspective. What we do want is a transfer market that is perfectly accessible for the casual buyer and seller, but where power trading comes with certain trade-offs. This could be in the shape of higher fees, profit taxes, or that teams have to sacrifice other aspects of their development if they want to devote their club to trading.

To round off, a few words about the current economic status in Hattrick. Last year, we increased revenues and decreased costs, and that has ended the leaking of money out of Hattrick and fuelled a rather strong inflation in player prices. We don't want this to go too far, however, and at the start of next season we will adjust the money flow again. We will do this by reinstating the "end of the year salary week", and we may also adjust ticket prices if this seems necessary.

Finally, I would also like to add a few words about ease of use. This is a very important part of Hattrick, and something we always will want to preserve. Hattrick should be easy to understand, but with strategic depth if you want to spend a lot of time on the game. I think once the new game changes settle in, you will find this is still the case.

/HT-Johan

HT-portrait: HT-Sarah

Last edition we got to know HT-Thomas a little bit better, this time the questions are thrown at HT-Sarah. Here we go...

When did you start playing and how and when did you get involved in Hattrick?

I wasn't playing Hattrick at all before I started working for Extralives in November 2004. They needed a new developer for Hattrick and HT-Mattias told me to apply since I was working with similar stuff already. I met some of the people in the team and started working here soon after.

Did you have any knowledge of Hattrick prior to becoming an Extralives employee in 2004?

Oh yes, some friends of mine were playing the game and were very eager to tell me all the details of their teams, players etc. I found it all very uninteresting until I got involved myself.

What is your background like? Education and job wise?

When I was 10 years old I decided that I wanted to become an astronomer, and I stuck to that plan and got a master of science degree in engineering physics. After working in a couple of labs I realised that I wasn't ready to be a scientist just yet and since I had done a lot of programming already I started looking for developer jobs instead. I have been working as a developer for a couple of different companies since 2000 and I've also made roughly 75 000 lattes working as a barista when the computer industry was slow in 2003.

What is your role within the HT-team?

I take care of payment methods in the shop and handle the contact with our fantastic customer services staff. When the shop systems are stable, i.e. most of the time, I fix bugs and try to keep everything up and running.

A couple of months ago you became the CEO of Extralives, that must have changed your tasks a bit, right?

Ah, yes, I get to talk to more people now and I got some new paperwork but most of my time is still spent programming and I wouldn't have it any other way.

What's it like to boss a bunch of more or less Hattrick-crazed developers. Any secret tricks you care to share?

Nah, biscuits and candy does the trick, just like with everybody else. We work as a group and I don't feel that anybody is the boss of anybody really, everybody is extremely dedicated to the work we do and although we don't always share the same opinions in everything it's the best possible group of people to work with so my job is very easy in that sense.

What have you been working on lately?

The boardgame "Match of the Season", that will be available in the shop soon, needed some new features to be added to the shop system, some re-writing of procedures that get data from the database, some signup issues, and a lot of minor (but annoying) bugs.

Can you reveal anything about what you’re currently working on?

Oh, I guess I should be all secretive and say: "No comment" but we are all friends here... We are rewriting a lot of pages in asp.net and that will keep me busy, along with bug-fixing, for the next couple of months.

Can you tell us something about your personal life? Family? Hobbies?

I live with my husband, a cat and a guinea pig in Uppsala where I spend most of my time sleeping, jogging, playing video games, watching DVDs, and working. My main hobbies are photography and dancing (boogaloo) and I wish I had more time to spend on them.

It's rumoured that you have a big collection of gaming consoles, true?

I guess that’s true, I’m very much into retro stuff such as the old "Nintendo game & watch" games and other hand held games from NeoGeo, Sega, etc. and I got a couple of old video games as well. It’s not that I’m collecting them… they just end up with me for some reason... The games I play the most are newer and my favourite at the moment is "Super Mario Galaxy", along with my dance mats of course (used with "Dancing Stage Unleashed", not Mario).

Let's wrap this up with a look at your Hattrick team "Oliker"... Whats up with that? (And what does that name mean anyway?)

The name was invented by my sister when she was 5 (and I was 1) and she decided that she didn't like the names in the family and gave us all new ones. Oliker is what she called my dad and for some reason it was the first name I came up with when I needed to find a name for my team. In Swedish "olik" means "different" but Oliker doesn't mean anything as far as I know. My team is in very bad shape but I blame it on work.

A look at the LAs

One of the key elements to Hattrick's success must be that the game is available in so many languages and for that we have our Language Administrators (LAs) to thank. The LAs are volunteers dedicating lots of their free time to translating all the lengthy texts that make up Hattrick. It should be noted that it's an ever ongoing job. As soon as a new language goes public there will be new features added, My Hattrick announcements, rule changes and so on that needs the LAs attention and care.

So what, some might say. Translating is not that hard, anyone with basic knowledge of two languages can translate. Sure, but to really translate is to deliver not only the correct words but also the true meaning and the mood of the original text and that is something different and requires much more than just basic knowledge of two languages. For instance a match event might be a phrasing that lacks a good equivalent in some languages and the LAs are then required to use their skill and imagination to create a new wording that brings the event to life and also correctly describes what just happened so that the manager studying the match report is not misled.

It's clear that the LAs take great pride in their work and pay attention to detail. I got to know this first hand when the December edition of this newsletter was sent out. I had to make some last minute additions and since I had a deadline running towards me, I didn't want to put unjust pressure on the LAs to translate the late addition over night, so I made them in English for every language and included a little explanation for this. That wasn't at all what the LAs would have wanted me to do, they would have preferred the stress and pressure of another last minute translation task rather than have this inconsistency visible to “their” readers. I think that kind of commitment and pride in a volunteer task is so very admirable. I was proud of and impressed by the LA-crew before this happened, but I must say they managed to climb even higher in my regard due to this reaction and the discussions we had in the aftermath. To have a look at the LAs in this edition was already planned but the motivation and inspiration was enhanced.

To help you get a good grip of what the LAs are up to I've been talking to two SuperLAs: LA-Tsukumo from Brazil and LA-Rlinney2001 from England.

You're the Super-LAs, that sounds quite advanced in a way, what is your role? Tsukumo: - I think the most super thing is the name itself, he he. It's not a big deal... Rlinney: - I guess this can be split into three main areas: (a) Translation projects. (b) Master Tongue issues (I'll come back to this shortly) and (c) non-specific language questions. From time to time, users undoubtedly notice that some staff members have their language choice set as "Master Tongue". This is simply the language version of HT that allows us to check that up and coming features/tweaks/changes all make sense and give a central language version for everyone to translate from to ensure everyone is telling the users in different countries the same thing! Whilst I keep this up-to-date (with the help of GM-sjohnston), LA-Tsukumo sorts out any new language projects. Tsukumo: - And we all try to give support to all LAs, but this last role is something we share with the rest of the LA community, some are more helpful than we are.

How is the LA sphere organized? Is there a hierarchy? Tsukumo: - I like to think there is no hierarchy aside from the HTs-LAs thing. But I guess each LA team for each language has its own organization. Seriously, it's not that strict. Rlinney: - I think the best word to describe how our part of the HT-family works is "organically". There isn't really a set structure - our main priority is to get things translated. Everyone helps each other where they can! LA-Tsukumo and myself have the ability to harass the HT developers on behalf of the non-GM LAs, so if anyone has any problems or issues they want clarification on we get our poking fingers out and disturb the HTs.

Is there a common background for the ones stepping forward to take on the LA challenge? Do they work as translators or with other text related things for a living too? Tsukumo: - Interesting question. I see a very common profile in the LAs. We all talk a LOT and can't avoid being long winded sometimes. It's also very common we attach to small details and errors (which makes us, after all, good text reviewers). But also, we all seem to like to learn details about other languages. I am very proud to be part of a team where some speak 4 or 5 languages. Another thing I like to mention is that it's also very common to have ex-GMs and ex-MODs remaining as LAs, as I think we have the best work in staff, while it is not so common to have GM-LAs or MOD-LAs giving up their LA job to remain as GMs or MODs only. And yes, a few do work as professional translators or have language specific jobs. On top of my mind I can think of LA-Steammer of Brasil-Portuguese and LA-Junnja of Japanese, but I am sure there are some others.

What would you deem to be the most difficult part of the LA-work for Hattrick? Rlinney: - The LAs have to sometimes translate things that are isolated from the main game - basically, a lot of the time we are translating things about features we haven't seen yet. This can be "interesting" trying to guess what the mighty HTs are planning in order to make sure our texts make sense! Of course, we know how much we pester the HTs. Poor guys! - not only do they get bombarded with questions if they ever make an appearance on the Global conferences, but there's not even an escape route for them in the staff conferences!

How many LAs are there? (And per language?) Rlinney: - Lots! There are still LA user-names that appear occasionally that I don't even recognise! Tsukumo: - Ok, here we go: 13 unofficial LAs, which are in ongoing translation projects. 82 full-time LAs, i.e. exclusively as LAs. 7 MOD-LAs and 26 GM-LAs. If we sum all official LAs, we have 115 LAs, an average of 2 LAs per language, roughly speaking, but a few of these are responsible for more than one language. The maximum is 3 full-time LAs per language, plus 1 or 2 GMs-LAs if needed. But some languages, like Korean or Japanese are lacking LAs, which means the remaining LAs have a hard time translating.

Could you describe (briefly) how a translation project for Hattrick works? How long does it take to get a new language up and running? Tsukumo: - The translation project starts with a volunteer and is/her team asking to translate a language. They write to me and I ask for some personal details. Then the project is submitted to HTs for their approval. Once approved, phase 1 starts with the translation of the rules, which is one of the hardest files to translate. This phase is a test to see if the team has got what it takes to do the job. If the job is done in about 3 months then the project goes to phase 2 and then the amount of time is a bit larger, some projects even took up to 3 years to complete, but we now set a maximum of one and a half year at most. The fastest project we had was Basque, which was done in less than 3 months, including phase 1.

Can you reveal which languages are on the way currently? Tsukumo: - No problem. Right now we have Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Georgian, Faroese, Thai, Friulano, Traditional Chinese, Bosnian, Arabic, Albanian, Macedonian and Cabo Verdian Crioulo. 13 languages in total.

If you are interested about being an LA, who should you turn to? What kinds of competence are required? Tsukumo: - They should contact their current LAs who in turn will check if they have what it takes, which is good English, and a relatively clean sheet (minor flaws are allowed).

What kind of feedback do the LAs receive from the users? Tsukumo: - Actually, it's quite good. The recent poll about users satisfaction showed we had a very very good feedback. Sometimes users complain about minor stuff but this only reassures we are doing a good job, since they got used to a good quality and got their standards so high. Rlinney: - Actually, I would say that users make our jobs much easier than if they kept quiet and said nothing - they often send us messages telling us that certain sections of the rules need x or y changing to bring them up-to-date. This is great! Keep 'em coming!

To wrap up the interview I asked our two Super-LAs if there was something more they wanted to add. Here they both proved Tsukumo to be right when he said LAs like to talk a lot. Below you'll find Tsukumo's answer and Rlinney's sort of ended up as this month's “Did you know?” as yet another proof of the abilities of the LA-crew.

Tsukumo: - It's been a pleasure to work for HT. If users only had an idea on how good the translation system is... HT is currently the only online game in languages like Luxembourgish, Frysk, Flemish and probably in other languages like Galego, Basque and Kyrgyz. If you take a glance at the drop-down menu of language selection, you will get to see a tiny bit of what HT has done so far: Special characters like Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Chinese and Arabic, where some are even written from right to left! Which online game have you seen with such translation system, so dynamic, so multi-language? It's a Babel Tower where we manage to talk to each other, he he he. And then this is a system we take pride to be part of. On top of this, we have so many different cultures, religions and beliefs! It's hard to get the grip of how hard it is to run such a global game. But at the same time, it's exactly because it's so diverse and multicultural it is so fun. I am glad the HTs got that and are enforcing this community aspect of this game. I hope users who are reading this and still don't take part of the community in the conferences, try it out at some point. It's no exaggeration to say it is, in my opinion, the best part of the game. Which is ironic. The best part of this football game is not the football, but the community.

Did You Know?

One of the frequently asked about areas of the game is "How did I manage to get a player with this name from my youth squad?! That name doesn't originate from my country!" For an explanation of why such things happen, we must take a peek at a couple of the background systems of Hattrick - specifically those involving population parameters and names databases.

Hattrick tries to mimic real-life populations of countries, which means that we often have to link several names databases to a particular country - for example, Germany takes names not only from the German names database, but also from the Turkish, Polish and Russian names databases (as well as a few others). We get such population information from several sources, including government agencies and national census information.

As well as setting the probability of creating a player name from a particular names database, this probability has a further level of complexity which is achieved by defining subsets based on skin colour. Hattrick uses five distinct ethnicities, which are referred to as White, Black, Asian, Indian and Latino.

For example, the probability of creating a youth player in England with a name of English origin who is White may be 51%, whilst the probability of creating a youth player with a name of English origin who is Black may be 24%. Once again, the data we use to set these ethnic probabilities comes from government agencies and census information.

Of course, in the world today there is much migration of different nationalities to different countries, but we have to draw the line somewhere, so the nationalities used for particular countries must be permanent residents of that country (as opposed to, for example, people who regularly go on vacation there, or are seasonal migrant workers).

So, the next time your youth scout identifies that player who has the foreign sounding name, don't worry - he hasn't been wasting the club money on exotic holidays in foreign lands! Examples of real-life equivalents could include the Brazilian born Eduardo who plays for the Croatian national team, the Swiss born Jeff Agoos who played for the USA National team or the Senegalese born French national team player Patrick Vieira.

The names databases regularly have new names added, but unfortunately we cannot take individual requests from users to add particular names. We would love to be able to do this, but opening the system to such a thing would drown the staff members responsible for this task in hundreds of thousands of requests - because after all, who wouldn't want to see themselves score the winning goal in the Hattrick World Cup final?

/LA-Rlinney2001

Statistically speaking

We'll kick off this edition's statistics with a look at the age of the players (not to be mistaken for you users). In this study we ignore the youth teams and stare directly at the seniors squads. The age distribution looks like this:

17 – 19: 2960042
20 – 24: 11896428
25 – 29: 16239341
30 – 34: 8040918
35 – 39: 1987684
40 – 44: 772105
45 – 49: 689839
50 – 54: 644286
55 – 59: 430629
60 – 86: 274658

Quite a lot of players hanging around despite high age. But I guess they haven't earned enough money to be able to throw away their football shoes and just relax.

While speaking of age, let me introduce you to the oldest player in Hattrick: Mr Sven Åkerblad of Sweden. This 86 year old gentleman represents Swedish side “Men on a Mission” and is reported to be healthy. Mr Åkerblad's future doesn't look too optimistic though since his team is for sure on a mission, a mission towards annihilation since it's a bot team nowadays. I guess I don't have to add that he has divine experience...

There are no less than 17 players who are 80 years or older. 16 of them are Swedish, as expected since the Swedish league is the oldest, but that makes Mr Vibhu Ravichandran so more interesting. This 81-year-old comes from India and represents the team Kolkata.

Now, let's leave the game world behind and step out (in?) to the real world and look at the language choices of the Hattrick users. At the top, as the most chosen language in Hattrick, we find, as you probably expected: Spanish. No less then139 646 users had Spanish as their HT language at the time of the this investigation. To that we should also add the 40 865 who had chosen South American Spanish and the 4 768 who had opted for Central American Spanish. In total more than 185 000 users. Impressive!

Other big languages are German with its 118 721 users and Italian with 78 498. French is the way to go for 46 335 and English racks up 55 702 users. Portuguese has 43 529 users and to that we can add the 20 058 users who have chosen the Brazilian version. Dutch and it's cousin Flemish got 46 590 plus 26 206 users. The original language of Hattrick, Swedish, has 30 924 users.

What would be really interesting is to get the figures for secondary languages. Meaning, besides the preferred language (probably mother tongue), which language would be next in line for the users. My guess is that English has a firm grip of that market. That is why most of you whose language are not available for the Hattrick News will receive it in English.

Enough of big languages, let's look at the ones with the least amount of users in Hattrick. Basque is in that end of the pool with 204 users. However, that is more than twice as many as the ones currently using Frisian (89), Lëtzebuergesch (80) and Persian (75). But those are still giants compared to Belarusian's 31 users. But the language with the least amount of users currently is Kyrgyz who has no less than 7 proud users.

It should be added that these statistics only include languages that are public, not ongoing translation projects. And that was all from the statistics department for this edition. Keep the suggestions flowing and we'll see what we can do about them.

Ask a HT

Under this headline we will try to answer different questions from the users. We've had a thread like this on the global conference (the English one) and it was appreciated but for a long time we have not been able to keep up with the vast amount of questions. Now we want to try a “light” version of the same concept and we aim to answer one question per edition (no promises though, but our answer will on the other hand be more in depth).

So, what kind of questions are we looking for? Well, we shouldn't write them for you but a good hint can be that the questions should be of public interest that you think someone from the HT-team could/should answer. Note that questions about your team or account should still be sent to your local GMs, especially since we won't guarantee any answer at all here. We will read the incoming questions and decide which ones should be answered in Hattrick News. The rest will, well, go quietly into the night. Harsh? Perhaps.

So, if you have a Hattrick related question that you think is of public interest feel free to send it to us at this mail address specifically opened for this purpose: HTquestions@hattrick.org. The only answers will be the ones published in Hattrick News.

We'll start off with a question collected from the conference thread mentioned above.

Why are the youth leagues stopped twice a HT-season? Once when it is finished itself, and once when the normal HT-season is ended.

If we start with the first "stop", when a youth league is finished (all matches have been played), we have a short stop to allow users to change youth league if they want to and to expand their youth leagues with more teams (or make it smaller), and similar. The other stop, in the normal HT-season's end, has nothing to do with playability though. But this is the only time of year we have a real possibility to do some proper maintenance work on our server system, which is very important in order to keep Hattrick up and running. If matches were played at the same time we would have a hard time to work in an efficient way - and as there are always youth matches going on it would be close to impossible to any maintenance work at all. So, in the normal season's end no matches are played at all, this to allow us to work on our server park.
Answered by HT-Tjecken