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The wonderful Hattrick community

This article has been submitted for HT Press in Oceania. As loyal readers, you get an advanced sneak peek :)

 

 

The home page of Hattrick states that the “community is a huge part of Hattrick. Check out our lively forums and make friends from around the world.”. The impact of this community is different for everyone, but for me, it is key to keeping people in the game and the main reason why I am still playing after 10 years.

It took me a while to find the forums. Unless you are a strong extrovert, it does take time to integrate yourself into the machinations of regular forum activity. There are standards to learn and abide by, and topical routines to learn. While it is perfectly legitimate to lurk and shy away from getting involved, it is fun to start posting and become part of the group. After a while, you get to know the in-jokes and become part of the history that is happening before your fingertips.

Through the forums I’ve sent coins and football tickets to add to people’s collections. I’ve learned how to bake buttermilk rusks. I’ve sent and received Christmas presents and postcards from people I only know through the game. I’ve fixed laptops with assistance provided over HT mail. I grieved when I learned zambora, a popular Oceanian manager, had passed away. I’ve asked lots of questions about topics I was not familiar with, and came away enlightened. This community aspect is a major motivator that helps relieve the stress of GM work.

Meeting people from behind the keyboard has been a real highlight. Many a beer has been bought and demolished, much bacon has been devoured, and all of this over the lightweight banter of Hattrick. It surprises me, although it shouldn’t, that many people are attached to their digital players – they can recall all their skills and what stage they are at with development. People are happy to boast of their favourite players, the close wins they achieved through tactical masterstrokes, and the unfairness of a late goal in a qualification match that sealed their demise. National teams are also a topic of discussion, along with election wins and loses and what the squad should do next.

I’ve also had the pleasure of attending football games with those I’ve met through the forums. Jumping and singing shoulder to shoulder with those have a shared passion for your local football club is amazing. An interest in the round ball game is what brought us all to Hattrick in the beginning, but there is so much more that keeps us there.

Get involved in your local community, and if you dare, perhaps even the communities of other nations. You’ll never know what heights it will take you.

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National team player protection

As an NTA I get to ‘rescue’ a lot of national team players from the golf courses and infomercials that they could have potentially headed to. The amount of rescues varies – it is usually a few a week. Unfortunately with the declining number of users all too often we see NT players consigned to the fate of playing for an inactive team… and eventually disappear after the team goes bot.

 

There are rules around who we can release and when. We are mindful of releasing players from top divisions where the loss of a key player can upset the balance of the series. We also look at the supporter status of the owner – after all, with supporter immortality, the manager can potentially log in months after they go on hiatus and expect their team to be (mostly) in the same shape that they left it in. But the key thing about releasing player is this: are they in the squad, or not?

 

National team coaches have 26 spots available in the roster. With two or three coaches, this cuts the number down to 23/24. There is limited wriggle room to add the next generation of national team players, which means a lot of potentials don’t get much game time until a whole generational change is performed. There are so many players that have the potential to become part of the national team squad with the right training, so the manager has to pick the best and focus on them. However, with a limited number of positions on the roster, a lot of players can, and will, be left out.

 

Currently, users are in full control of how they manage their team. They are able to buy and sell players, choose their training, and, if needed, fire players they no longer need. National team players are protected from being fired, but those outside the squad are not. It is important to point out that the players are owned by their clubs – not the country. Users have every right to fire players as they see fit – it is all part of managing their team.

 

Having additional rules about protecting possible national team players is convoluted and  unnecessary. The “in the squad or not” question answers everything we need to know about the player – are they worthwhile having in the national team squad? If the answer is yes, then we can do something about players that are owned by inactive teams. It is not up to the NTAs to judge who should be in the squad or who has the potential – that needs to be managed by the national team coach. The trouble with expanding the rules on protecting players, is that there are so many that could potentially make the national team squad. I mentioned in a recent blog post that “clear cut easy to discern guidelines makes things a lot easy” (grammar note, I probably should have written a lot easier). That is exactly the situation here.

 

Unless the HTs have a change of heart there won’t be any changes to how the protection of national team players currently works.

 

 

 

5

10 years of Kitto

An entry in the club’s history books shows:

19-01-2004 The club changed owner as GM-Kitto took control and renamed it Mumi United.

10 years today! Wow. It’s been an absolute roller-coaster. I joined whilst at Wollongong Uni in the computer labs with two others – elfalot who manages Hillside War Goats, and madskillz who is no longer playing. We had no idea what we were in for :)

I can recall printing out my team and looking at all the weak and poor skills – there were even a few passables. I remember losing my first 18 or so competitive games straight, as I was put into division 4 for a season and a half. I almost went into bankruptcy, however a second week 17 year old solid defender got me out of financial mess. This was back before days were added to the age of players – a week 1 or 2 youth pull via the lottery was a path to riches.

The main disappointment is that I have never been higher than div III. I had two home grown playmakers that I trained all the way up to mythical, but this was long before the loyalty bonus was introduced and I never really pushed myself to reach higher. Looking back, I wish I did. Things seemed so much easier back then.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to this club and helped myself personally throughout the years – there are too many to mention individually. I could not have completed my flag collection by myself (although now with second teams it is a lot easier), met so many people and I have made lots of friends. You are all awesome!

I was going to write a longer post about my recollections of Hattrick in years gone by, with divine keepers selling for $30 million, the fun of the old design and changes in the community, but I might save that for another day. As you can tell from the lack of recent posts on HUTD, the creative flair and perseverance is somewhat wretched at the moment :)

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On absent national coaches

Since it is not possible to document every single predicament in a changing environment, there are some instances where the Hattrick rules do not provide a solution. Where the Hattrick rules do not explicitly cover a situation, the GMs have some discretion in how to apply a remedy within the spirit of the rules. In general, just like common law in real life, we rely on precedent and the opinions of other officials to reach consensus in how to approach the situation.

There are times where it comes to our (NTAs) attention that a national coach is not logging in. If this is during the friendly season, it means missed out matches, no experience boosts or wage reduction for players, and commotion within the community. During the qualification matches, it can mean the difference between getting through to the next round and missing out, or tanking in the rankings which puts the next generation in jeopardy.

Precedent tells us that we wait until a manager is ownerless before holding new elections. There are many good reasons for this. Firstly, a coach is elected for two seasons. This is a serious commitment – two seasons is eight months, and it is an esteemed position within the community to be trusted with the future of the national team. You stay in the position through thick and thin, through good matches and the bad. It is not something to be given up lightly. It is too easy to give up and get demotivated when the luck of the dice do not go your way – but any experienced manager should know this is all part of the game.

Winning an election entitles you to control a national team for two seasons. We know that there are times when things in real life can get in your way, and your own club team management will give you some time without logging in before you lose control of your team. This is the same with national coaching. It is unrealistic to expect managers to log in every day, to participate on the forums, or to extensively scout the opposition. It is up to the individual managers to perform these actions, and if they don’t, there is nothing we can do to force them.

Creating different rules about length of absence is very problematic. I prefer rules and guidelines to be black and white, easy to understand, rather than having 50 shades of grey. Allowing too many clauses around rules creates ambiguity, and can lead to the wrong decision being made. Clear cut easy to discern guidelines makes things a lot easy. If the 7 week no logins policy was refined, what would it be changed to? Since we can never really know what is happening on the other side of the computer, we cannot create clauses around the personal situation of the manager. Would 7 days be acceptable before creating new elections? 14? 28? What if the absent manager logs in again during elections, or shortly afterwards? Having a set 7 week time period removes all doubt and any problems.

I know that the community is an important part of the Hattrick experience. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with, in fact, it is often true that is the most crucial part. But trying to placate a community with new elections that might only lead to more headaches is not the right solution.

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New users to join any country?

There have been some reports on Global of a test currently underway. New users coming to Hattrick are going through an introduction that is different to what has occurred previously. It appears there is the ability to sign up for a team in any country, although it is recommended that you create a team in the country where you live.

There has been the usual predictable hoo-haa from whingers on the Global forum. What must be understood is that Zattikka, the company that owns Hattrick, needs to try something to get new users, and keep them playing the game. Doing nothing will only lead to one thing, and that is continued decreases in user numbers. Although you may alienate a few existing users, it is new users that is the key to the future profitability of the game.

I’m guessing the test will check retention rates, to see if it is more likely that having a team in the league of your dreams increases the connection you have to the game. If I had been able to join any league I probably would have gone to England or Italy, as I had chosen both playing Football Manager back in the day.

Although users complain that the match engine is too random, I don’t think this is the major source of discontent among users leaving the game. People need to be connected to the game, their team and the community, and perhaps allowing users to set up a team where they like will help. I’m all for any initiative that gets more users playing.

3

Logo service

As some of you might know, I have a hidden talent for creating Hattrick logos. These can be for a federation, team, tournament – whatever you need a logo for, I can create a special custom picture that captures the essence of the subject matter.

I’ve created a fancy-pants website with examples of my handiwork. If you like what you see, please let me know if I can offer my logo services to you. With second teams coming up, there will be more opportunities for me to create something unique.

The website: Logos by Kitto

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Interview for HTU Managers federation

I am a part of the Hattrick United Managers federation. I was interviewed recently about a few different matters.

You can read it here: In The Spotlight – Kitto

 

Thanks to Horus70!

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More thoughts on second teams

I recently wrote about my thoughts on the new Supporter packages, and in particular the effect second teams would have. After meditating on those thoughts, and reading more from others on the forums, I’ve somewhat changed my mind.

I really don’t think there will be much effect on the local community, at least not in the forums. Only a small percentage of people post in the forum, and for small countries, most posters are foreigners anyway.

There are at least 4100 people who have platinum (that many are in the Platinum Supporters forum). In the poll up on that forum, 33.8% said they will start in a country of less than 100 users. That means an extra 1386 teams in 35 countries. Assuming they are equally spread (which is a bad assumption, but anyway) that means 40 new teams per country. That seems like a reasonable increase, and won’t really increase the traffic on the forums to any major effect.

There are many questions that are unanswered. Will second team applications be restricted, and if so, how much? What happens if you cannot get into the country of your choice? There will be many unhappy people if restrictions are too harsh. Will it be possible to buy a player from the other team through an intermediary?

Hopefully we will get some answers soon.

 

4

New Supporter Packages

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. I must admit my passion for Hattrick has diminished a little of late, with the doom and gloom of the Global (English) forum slowly seeping into my mind. Seeing the number of users drop is a bit unsettling. But all that changed in an instant…

Supporter has split into three tiers, with some special features in Platinum. These changes sparked a very big debate among officials. You can read more about the changes through MyHT.

Hardcore flag chasing has been incapacitated. Not quite dead, but the life has been sucked out of it. It will still be a great achievement to aim for, after all, obtaining 256 flags still takes almost 5 years (assuming you don’t play any cup games!), but the thrill of the chase has significantly decreased. I think overall this is good news. Too many users from small countries get spammed, and getting flags through random challenges, rather than gaining favours through flag traders, is much better imo.

For me, the main debate centres around destruction of local communities. Perhaps destruction is too strong a word to use in this situation, but the effect will definitely be felt. There will be users who open teams in ‘rare’ countries and not participate in the local forums, either because they don’t understand the local language, or just not interested in contributing to a country they feel no connection to.

My input from an NTA point of view is that the ability to vote in a second country should be removed, or at least severely restricted. Without it, a group of users could effectively take over a small country and control the U20/NT teams. The higher the number of users in a country, the less likely this will happen, but having a large block vote in a small country would be a huge detriment to the genuine local users who feel an attachment to their country. Thankfully, the HTs have listened and you can only vote in the country of your first team.

There are unlimited federation slots in the platinum package. With flag chasing almost over, I’m guessing some flag federations will end up dying out. Those that have created strong networks of friends, or diversify into other areas of interest, will remain. I know I’ve joined four flag chasing feds just to have a chance at getting my remaining flags – but I’m guessing they won’t be needed for much longer.

Whether the changes in Supporter and the game makes a difference in user numbers remains to be seen. I’m not as glum about the future as much anymore. I’m just trying to figure out where to stick a second team…

3

The first week as elected coach

Elections have finished and the dust has settled. Now it’s time for the newly elected winners to take charge and lead their country to glory. There are quite a few things to do.

After the elections have finished and all the winners have received their new ‘hat’ (HT admin speak for given their new roles by the system) a newsletter is sent by the National Team Administrators welcoming them to their role. We provide links to the National Coaches forum (accessible only by national coaches, NTAs and HTs), player release rules, a FAQ and details on how to contact the NTAs.

By far the most asked question every single season is “when does the team spirit get reset for national teams?”.

The new manager will have a mad scramble to find the best 26 players for the squad, as well as newly promoted coaches. HT-World is a great resource to find players. Hundreds of players will be called up to find their skills, hundreds of HT mails sent and received, and almost a hundred hours spent trying to find the best squad and scouting the opposition. This first week is the most labour intensive week for new coaches – once the squad is selected the focus can switch on scouting the opposition.

I remember my first game as U20 coach, 3rd of August 2007. The night before I proposed to my girlfriend (now my wife), and spent the night away from home. I could hardly sleep. My thoughts were not on the proposal, but the U20 game. I had ordered match reports to be sent to my phone, and was relieved to read that we beat Luxembourg 1-0. The nerves decreased significantly for the games thereafter.

It is a great honour and privilege to manage a national team. I wish all newly elected managers good luck.