The youth of today
Article originally published 5th of June 2007
On the 26th of March we opened up the Youth Academy. Now, two months later, there are more than 550.000 youth teams in Hattrick - incredible! During these past two months we have been spending a lot of time in the forums answering questions, explaining small uncertainties and ironing things out. In this editorial I thought I should summarise the launch of the youth academy, what we have said in forums about it, and also inform you about some other good things to know about the youth academy.
When we launched the youth academy, we were very excited to get see how you would respond. We hoped and thought you would like it, but it’s one of those things you really can't tell in advance. Today, more than 550.000 youth teams later, I think we can be quite satisfied with ourselves. Numbers don't say it all and there are still a lot of things left for you to explore - so we'll hold off with the champagne for now. It will not stop us from adding new features to the youth academy, though; some big, some small and some for our Supporters. We said when we opened up the academies that we will take the opportunity to test ideas in the academy and experiment more than we do in the core game, and that's a promise we will stick to. The next big feature coming up is the newly-announced substitutions, and a bunch of other smaller features will most likely see the light of day before that.
In chapter 27 in the rules it’s stated that “sometimes unplanned events occur, such as bugs”, and unfortunately the youth academy wasn’t totally free from bugs either. I think no matter how much you test a new system - and especially as big as this one - you will always have bugs, as a testing environment and a live environment will never be exactly the same. The youth academy was tested by staff members for quite some time in an exaggerated tempo before the release. We also invited some Swedish users for a blind test to see and study their behaviour and make sure they got the hang of the academy. But even if we were well prepared, we knew we would encounter at least some problems in the live environment as it's hard to simulate the load from 60-70.000 online users or slowness in some other part of the Hattrick system for example. This was also a reason for why only some users were able to activate their academy the first days, we wanted to keep the load on the system down as much as possible. That said, we did experience more bugs than expected and that's something we're not so proud as our voluntary workers got an increased workload and many customers may have lost a little bit of trust in us. We have to improve on that area, that's totally clear to us. However I don't think anyone failed to notice that we worked hard to iron out all the problems, starting with the most important ones and moving on to the smaller/individual ones, and today the bug list is in fact close to empty.
The possibility to deactivate your youth academy has also been on the to-do list, and I'm glad to say that's now also possible! You will be able to deactivate your youth academy in between youth seasons or if you're not a member of a youth league at all, but you have got to keep your youth academy for at least six weeks. The reason for this is that we don't like the possibility to start up the academy one week, closing it the next week and then starting up again - we want the academies to be a longer commitment. Moreover, we also don't want to put unnecessary strain on our servers.
On the forums there was an intense pioneer spirit in the beginning, as it should be! Today there's more a mix of analyzing and pioneering, and it's naturally not as intense as the first couple of weeks. The trainer's report has been one of the most discussed topics on the forums, especially that in the beginning it didn't contain that much information for some users. One reason for this was that all players received less training than intended in the beginning, but there are also other natural explanations to why you haven't got so many training events in the report. There are a lot of different training events that can end up in the report, and there's a certain probability for each event. Some will be quite common, and some will be more rare. The skill(s) of a player are also an important factor in most events, which further explains the lack of events as most of your players are local school boys who're often far from talented. When you got more real youth players you will get more events. Moreover we have also increased the chance for certain events to occur.
Another issue on the forums has been the blue stars, since they don't seem to behave in the same way the stars in the senior squads behave. In fact they do, they tell you how well a particular player has performed in an individual game. What differs are two things: The stars obviously use a different scale, as young players are less skilled on average than mature ones, and a higher level of detail is needed to track improvement. And secondly, the blue starts vary more between games, simply because the performance of young players vary more between games. When a young player performs well in a game, you know this is a level of performance he can establish himself at if he trains well. But you can't count on that level of performance in the next game. The mechanics of the stars are the same as they have always been, though.
Last but not least I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff members for their fantastic job prior to and after the launch. As you may understand it’s been an insane amount of work to take care of, so a special thanks to all LAs, GMs and Mods for their superb efforts with translations, bug reports and game help.