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TURNAROUND - Sunday 26th March 2017 Top

Gameplan and NuGameplan are done and sent. Pinted turns went in the post on Friday: I had the devil of a time getting the printer to work. Apologies for the short deadline: I set it to Friday 31st when I started running the games (on the Tuesday, in good time for that deadline) but then ran into more delays. Given the long turnarounds you can reasonably expect to input turns over the weekend.

COACHES LIST & CHANGES - Tuesday 2nd February 2016 Top

The coaches list is NuGameplan continues to give trouble - anyone trying to sign a defensive coordinator this time will probably have failed. Or it might have worked with you getting a different scheme to what you expected. Hopefully the coaches with invalid coaching schemes have been now corrected, and the defensive coaches will now have one scheme and stick to it - it just might not be the same one they had before.

Recent changes are mainly converting the reports for the game and league balance from printouts to generate spreadsheets instead, so not anything with impact at gametime... unless/until they highlight changes being needed elsewhere. Usually those reports only show the game balance is the result of the balance of rosters and gameplan, mostly decided by the coaches (I can adjust it a bit over time by changing the balance of the high value players in the draft but mostly you decide these things yourselves).

There were some actual changes last time that might affect the game balance, as I've smoothed the way player skills are added: I think some partial skills and experience may have been getting lost due to integer cutoffs.

OFFENSIVE SCHEMES - Thursday 26th November 2015 Top

The scheme changes are now done. The schemes we're removing (ACE and WEST COAST) are unchanged and stay in play - there will just be no new coaches available that use them. The new schemes should appear on the coaching list in the normal way. The new west coast and vertical schemes should modify the primary and dumpoff completion rates to reflect the progressions used by quarterbacks in those schemes.

The new schemes are:-
WEST COAST 21, base formation is two backs, one tight end, two receivers
WEST COAST 12, base formation is one back, two tight ends, two receivers
WEST COAST 11, base formation is one back, one tight end, three receivers
The west coast schemes are for a ball control offence with short passing.
VERTICAL 21, base formation is two backs, one tight end, two receivers
VERTICAL 12, base formation is one back, two tight ends, two receivers
VERTICAL 11, base formation is one back, one tight end, three receivers
The vertical schemes emphasise the longer passing game with reduced dumpoff rates.

When a coach retires he should now leave his scheme in place - to be efficient you still need to replace him with someone capable of operating it but the immediate impact on your gameplan won't be so bad. I've also increased the ability of the defence to adjust to the opposing offence playing outside their scheme (if they do it a bit, then no change, but as they do more the defence will start to read and react the way you would if you were there to make the calls yourself).

Another option with schemes and coaches would be to add some signature plays. My first thought was to add these to the coaches, but then I pictured Chip Kelly running a fly pattern to the post... no. Probably if we go this way we make the extra signature plays part of the scheme, the same for every coach that uses it. But it might be an unncessary complication, so we'll leave that on the shelf for now.

PLAYBOOKS - Tuesday 17th November 2015 Top

As we go forward we're going to need to break the playbook into different versions for different versions of the game, so there would be an initial playbook, a basic playbook and an advanced playbook.

For the initial playbook I'm inclined to take the playbook from the original version of Gameplan and see if we need to add anything to it. And whether there's anything we could leave out. The point being to break it down into manageable chunks for people just starting out. It's a waste of time thinking people are going to start in the game by jumping straight into a version that's tailored to suit a bunch of grognards who have been playing for years.

I think the basis for the basic playbook would be the one used in Gameplan, with the NuGameplan additions stripped out. But maybe there are some new plays that are needed and some old ones that aren't. But we'd want to strip out anything you can't use effectively in a basic gameplan. That would make the basic version a lot more playable, as I think it needs to be.

The advanced playbook would be everything, like now. With some focus on what plays start being useful when they're written into a properly defined situations. And we need to start adding the extra methods of defining situations in the advanced game, because that is likely to make some play calls more effective. Or at least make it more interesting for coaches who can handle the logic.

FIREFOX PROBLEMS - Wednesday 11th November 2015 Top

Currently there's a fault in Firefox (introduced very recently, I think) so that the login on the softsim website is not working properly - it can hang up on the authentication page (which is blank). If you hit your bookmark again when that page is displayed then you'll be back to normal (ie. logged in with the normal page navigation available).

OFFENSIVE SCHEMES - Tuesday 10th November 2015 Top

It's time to revisit the current set of offensive schemes, to see how they're working and rework them into something better. I see two problems with the current set, which are the lack of a scheme with three receivers in the base formation, and the poor definition of the West Coast scheme.

Since the coaching jargon for identifying the "personnel" grouping is creeping more and more into commentaries I think we probably want to have that reflected in Gameplan. But not fundamental to to it, since we don't want to restrict the game to people who have picked up the jargon and understood it. Up to now I've stuck to going by the most important part of the formation, that's obvious to anyone following the game, which is the number of wide receivers - something the coaching jargon implies but doesn't state (they say "21" meaning two backs and one tight end, the most important thing being that it means there are two wide receivers).

The big problem with the west coast offence is there isn't one. There are several. What the media calls west coast is usually a possession scheme derived from the Bill Walsh coaching tree, but the term was previously applied to the vertical schemes used by Dan Coryell and his disciples. And those schemes aren't similar at all. And they both come in different versions with different base formations.

By my reckoning we need to offer three different versions of each of those two schemes, each with a different base formation, one of 21 (two backs), 12 (two tight ends) and 11 (three receivers). We could maybe get away with only two (the one-back and two-back variants) since the three back versions tend to have a lot of options where one of the receivers is a tight end, but I think we actually want to see how they go with a three-receiver base formation.

Then we'd need to make them different in play. Currently the impact of your scheme is only by up or down rating the impact of your roster strengths according to your formation selected on the play (the formation has a lot of impact during a play, obviously) but schemes could reach further into the play by play logic or numbers if we choose.

An important difference between different schemes is the way a QB is supposed to choose his target on a passing play. Currently we operate on the basis that the primary receiver is the one assigned to the play call selected and if he's not open then the QB looks for other options and changes the play (usually to a dumpoff pass, always shorter than the primary receiver).

Not all passing schemes actually do that - there are some where the QB audibles pre-snap according to how the defence lines up, some where the QB selects a receiver according to how the defence reacts after the snap and what the receivers are supposed to do in response, and some where the QB looks for the possession play first and the deep receiver is an option only if the primary receiver is covered.

You guys would hate to play against a team with a short-to-long progression - picture the response we'd see when you successfully defended the primary receiver only to be beaten by a longer play than the one your opponent called in the first place. We'd probably better not do that one. I don't think it would provide a positive experience in play. It's tempting as an actual play call, though. Probably a derivative play.

ASSISTANT COACHES - Monday 9th November 2015 Top

I'm changing the way assistant coaches and co-ordinators are valued - the coaching skill will now be valued as a "main" strength not an "extra" strength. The effect should be that the nominal value of a coach is the same as his actual value, and LP costs and values will be 10 per value instead or 10 for a one pointer and 12 or 15 for a two pointer,

The change should be reflected in listings this week but any actions this week should be processed at the old values. The new values values will be applied in actions (signings etc) after the current round of games. It may be that the nominal values shown won't update immediately, but we'll see what happens with those.

TRAINING - Sunday 8th November 2015 Top

Currently we have training on formations and training on plays, separately. That's not very sensible - the training you do should depend on which people are involved in the play, and that depends on the formation. If we were being fussy it should even depend on the alignment.

Thinking it's time we did something about this, we need to decide how much detail we want to get into. At one level we could change training to be every combination of formation-alignment-play call seperately. So training on 2A-PW is different from 2I-PW, say. Or for practicality we could maybe go by either the number of backs (so in the previously example they're the same play for training purposes, but 2A-DR and B-DR are different) or the number of receivers (both previous examples are the same for training, but 2A-SI and 3S-SI are different).

As a first step I'm tempted to have running plays go by the number of backs and passing plays by the number of receivers. That's going to be pretty straight forward in a listing and easy to work with. Opinions?

REDZONE DEFENCE - Saturday 7th November 2015 Top

I've added REDZONE as a new defensive scheme to tighten the defence close the the goal line (because some coaches seem to be good at using the shortended field to put pressure on the offence and it seems like an interesting idea). Coaches who play this scheme should show up in due course, and then we'll see what happens when one of them gets signed.

DECISION TIME - Saturday 17th January 2015 Top

The change I hoped for in December didn't happen, and if anything the situation has worsened. As things stand I need to find another 5-10 hours a week. That's obviously not going to happen. Currently I have no spare time to myself... if I get time to sit down with a cup of tea or try to watch a game of football I fall asleep. For the time being there's no chance of me doing any further work developing NuGameplan. If I do manage to find any extra time and energy my first priority will be my health and fitness, both of which need attention.

For a little while at least I will try to keep the NuGameplan leagues running, at least to get them to a more convenient stopping point (the end of the season, with the pre-season up next as the possible restart... like a real league). I will use longer deadlines that are more appropriate to games with unreliable turnaround times.

We do need a slight change in policy, that if you have IT problems then you need to deal with those yourself (that probably means you pay someone: that's a business opportunity for the right person). We can't afford to provide IT support, spending hundreds of pounds per turn in time and money fixing things that aren't our problem. Do report things that might be a fault at our end, but we can only fix our own stuff. We check our stuff works and if yours doesn't then that's outside our scope.

It may turn out that running games has returned to being just a hobby (in which case I'll do it differently). Currently I can only justify it being a business on the grounds it may return to profit in the future - if that's not the case then I can't continue to write the losses into my accounts.

Do transfer credits out to non-development games if you want (talk to Danny in the first instance).

IT PROBLEMS - Sunday 30th November 2014 Top

Gameplan and Run Chase are done, NuGaemplan is still unable to run, with what little time I have available being taken up trying to solve other people's IT problems. So far all we're proving with this project is that the internet and IT in general are too unreliable and not just fit for their purpose. Sometime in December we'll need to make a decision on what to do. Closing the game down is one of the options. Maybe permanently, maybe just for a while until circumstances change.

I've had three reports of people having problems inputting their turns in NuGameplan this time around. One said he couldn't log on (probably just an intermittent connection or server problem), a second was using an out of date bookmark, and the third can log on but the turnsheet links are greyed out (using Safari on a Mac). I can log on fine and there aren't any greyed out links (and we don't do that - the links are customised for each user so any links you're not allowed to use aren't going to be on the page). Meanwhile, plenty of other people are putting their turns in as normal, including coaches using Macs and Safari.

If you encounter a problem, send us a screenshot. Show us what you actually saw. Saying what operating system you're using and what browser.

WEBSITES - Saturday 11th October 2014 Top

I have access to the website restored, after nearly a month. We're hoping to finish the server changes this weekend, and that should improve reliability, security and capacity. I also have a change in routine that might mean we can get turnaround times back on track, but on the other hand I'm going to have to organise some building work and that will makes things worse.

TURNSHEETS - Sunday 7th September 2014 Top

It looks like we need to create yet another turnsheet - this one for the playoff round in the college format (last week had someone input a free agent bid in week 12, because they could, and of course it didn't work right because you're not supposed to be doing that). No idea what to call it, mind.

BULLSHIT EMAIL BOLLOX - Sunday 17th August 2014 Top

The problem turns out to be a large greedy American corporation introducing new "security" features that are nothing about security and all about trying to lock customers into using their software and paying subs or reading their paid-for advertising. Suddenly non-Google software can't access gmail servers, and the same appears to be true of Outlook and the outlook servers. So it's actually two large greedy American corporations competing to see which is the more shit.

The current solution is a temporary one. In a bit we'll finish updating our own servers and the normal reply address will reappear. In the meantime don't try to email me on the gmail address as I won't see it.

I'll also look at bringing forward the plan to deliver game reports on the website so you'll download them from a link instead of getting an email. I wasn't going to do that until we change over to generating reports on demand, but maybe it would be a good idea to bring it forward and get away from email entirely.

FORUM - Saturday 19th July 2014 Top

The turnaround last time was slowed more than it needed to be because I had to eject an interloper and go though the input turns to check they all came from legitimate coaches, His justification for registering himself for a team that wasn't his was that someone on the forum said it was okay. If you're a forum user and you see something like that then you need to intercede.

DEADLINES & TURNAROUND TIMES - Sunday 6th July 2014 Top

Turnaround times are likely to be slow and variable for some time. The alternative would be to halt the games until circumstances change.

PLAYBOOK LISTINGS - Monday 14th April 2014 Top

Remember the playbook listing in game reports normally shows only plays that are in your gameplan. Plays you don't use are likely to be not reported.

CRICKET STATS - Wednesday 26th March 2014 Top

The key parts of the stats-keeping software are now done, and the rest can catch up in the next week or two, so it looks like we can go ahead and try to relaunch the game.

CRICKET STATS - Monday 24th March 2014 Top

It looks like the stats keeping can't be done with the old software - web pages have beecome so bloated with formatting commands and scripts and adverts that the old software doesn't have the capacity to hold a page (in fact, there are single lines - many thousands ofn characters wide - that exceed the available capacity). So it will take a couple of extra days for me to verify the game can run - I have to rewrite the stats-keeping software to work NuGameplan-fashion.

CRICKET STATS - Friday 21st March 2014 Top

We achieved the first milestone towards bringing Cricket Stats back into play, as the old software now runs okay on Linux. The next step is to verify I can find scorecards I can process for the stats keeping, and once I've done that we'll be able to set up a league. At present I'm assuming we'll go with the rules unchanged and with the stats based on the county championship and domestic test series as before.

Once it's running we can look at the worldwide schedule and see what we can do with other first class games, one day games, internationals and T20 games. Maybe we'll have a bunch of separate games, or maybe we'll have one game that floats around the world and from format to format. Or both.

ASSISTANT COACHES - Sunday 9th March 2014 Top

Assistant coaches in the roundup and scouting reports are being listed with their names instead of their schemes (that's already fixed) and I think the names of coaches are not always correct. There are some whose name is set for their position instead of their scheme (those are ones who've been in place ever since they were first allocated) and some whose name is set for the scheme of the guy they replaced (those are ones who were replaced during the draft). Please keep an eye out for ones that are wrong so I can fix them.

PURPLE PROSE - Tuesday 25th February 2014 Top

I've changed the colour scheme slightly so that the only text that appears on a purple background is debugging information. The parts of the report that were purple before will now be other colours. The scouting report should use blue for you (easy to remember because it's a song title) and opponents in orange (easy to remember because it's alliterative) the same as the league stats, which might actually make it easier to follow.

ROSTER LISTINGS - Monday 24th February 2014 Top

I'm changing the order of players in roster listings again, trying to higlight the important spots. The current plan is to list the starters together, then the coordinator and then the backups, on offence and then defence, then the two special teams players. There's a similar scheme for scouting reports, but I'm leaving the draft planners alone until after the format has settled down.

I'm still experimenting with the depth charts - the current layout often doesn't work. I'm not sure if they're really going to be part of the game report in the long run. For experienced coaches I'm sure a table layout is better, but if/when we have newbie coaches trying to get into the game a layout that shows where everyone plays is probably better.

NEW PLAY CALLS - Sunday 23rd February 2014 Top

I've added three new play calls on defence, as below.

FZ - FIRE ZONE - This is a zone blitz with a lineman dropping off into the pass defence. It's the zone version of a linebacker drop.
LZ - LB FIRE STRONG - This is a fire zone version of the linebacker strong, hunting a running back flaring out as receiver.
ZM - MIDDLE ZONE - This is the Tampa 2 zone with the MLB covering the deep middle and both corners rolled up.

The middle zone is rated especially according to the skills of your middle linebacker - the value of the rest of your defence and other strengths has a reduced role. The point of the corners rolling up (ie. staying close to the outside receivers) is it removes the easy catch on the sideline where the corner is otherwise having to drop into a deep zone (it's the safeties cover the outer deep zones, in their natural habitat).

SEASON BONUS STRENGTHS - Monday 17th February 2014 Top

I've added two season bonus strengths to the training camp selections. These work mostly the same as the week-to-week bonus categories but they apply for the whole season. Their effect is variable according to the average form gains across the league - they work at full strength only when working against the league balance (eg. DRI works best if the league has more form gains on ORI than DRI - OQB does most if the league has more DBZ form gains than OQB, and so on).

Basically you want to use these to guess and prepare to play against the league balance for the coming season. There's also an extra action you can use to set these if they've not been assigned (the action code is BC - put the strength code in the name box) but once you've set them you can make changes only in training camp.

LINEUPS & SIGNATURE PLAYS - Monday 10th February 2014 Top

In the page showing lineups and signature plays I've added a column which is supposed to show if the guy with the signature play is a runner, receiver, passer or blocker on the play. Do let me know how it goes.

PLAY BY PLAY REPORT - Sunday 9th February 2014 Top

I'm putting in a tweak for the descriptions in the play by play listing to see if we can handle the occasions when the description runs over into the score column. It'll probably need further work and is quite likely to make a mess in the meantime, but do let me know when it doesn't work - or if it trips in and doesn't seem necessary. The text with the purple background is debugging info.

BLZ - DB BLITZ SKILLS - Wednesday 5th February 2014 Top

I've added a new "extra" blitz skill for defensive backs that applies only when the player is blitzing, or showing a blitz (according to the play call or the defensive alignment). This will gradually replace the DBZ strength for defensive backs. DBZ won't be allocated for DBs and new players - the BLZ skill should turn up instead. Existing skills should work normally up until the player retires or the skill is stepped.

That will be much more interesting than what we have now, where DBs have the "main" DBZ skill that adds to the push and shove on the line of scrimmage even when the guy is lurking deep or covering a wide receiver. To some extent that's proper, due to the need to take extra guys into account in the blocking scheme, but the idea now is to restrict that to when you actually threaten to send them.

SNAP, CRACKLE, POP! - Tuesday 21st January 2014 Top

Well, that was an interesting several days with limited computer access after my main desktop machine exploded with a loud POP! and a flash and a puff of acrid blue smoke, but a new power supply seems to have done the trick (touch wood).

Reminder to self, keep the backups up to date.

HAIL MARY DEFENCE - Friday 17th January 2014 Top

Has anyone actually set their hail mary defence at all? And if anyone did, has it stayed set to the play you assigned? Did it work? We must have had some hail mary calls by now... currently it's looking like it was fine with the old turnsheets but changes using the new turnsheet probably weren't working (should now be fixed).

MORE NEW SKILLS - Wednesday 15th January 2014 Top

I've added five new player strengths as below. These are all available immediately and can be coached with development actions. They won't be on draft lists already created, but new free agents might have them.

CUT - breakout ability for running backs on option, counter and gap plays
PWR - ability to run over tacklers for running backs and tight ends
ODR - additional blocking skill for offensive linemen on draw plays
RIP - for defensive linemen to cause fumbles on sacks and stuffs
DOP - for defensive linemen dropping into pass defence

BASE DEFENCES - Tuesday 14th January 2014 Top

On the related subject of base formations, with both Urlacher and his backup gone this season the Bears decided to go with the weakside linebacker calling adjustments on defence. You saw the result? Everybody missing their assignments week after week and setting new team records for bad defence (and the Bears have a loooonnngggg history, not all of which has involved playing good defence) and the season got killed on a long touchdown conceded on 4th & 8 when the far safety failed to get a defensive overcall. I think we'll stick with the idea that a 4-3 defence needs a strong middle linebacker.

DEFENCE ALIGNMENTS - Monday 13th January 2014 Top

I'm updating the way defensive alignments are handled in the software (the ones used for customising plays on defence). The change should not result in anything different happening and there's no changes in the rules except I'll try to make sure all the references are to alignments and not formations (and also that references to defence formations say "base formation" more often).

In the meantime you should see your defensive alignments listed twice in your gameplan listing, and the two lines should be the same (except for being in different colours). Please shout out if they're not. Also if you change any alignments then please let me know if that works correctly, that both lines change the same in the game report.

NO FULLBACK - Saturday 11th January 2014 Top

If you want to run the ball without a full back in the formation, either because you don't have one or because you're using a formation with only one back, then I think the list of running plays that don't mention a FB (either carrying the ball, or lead blocking) is RH, RT, LT, RO, DR, DT, DW, LW, TR, TW, CW, OR, EV, RV, DV, OT, OW, OK and RN.

For some of these a second back is desirable, but it doesn't need to a full back, and on many plays a full back may be helpful even if he isn't necessary. The playbook description for RN mentions the FB on misdirection, but actually another HB will do. Note that on passing plays your full back may be a significantly better blocker than your HB if you want someone to pick up blitzes.

I'd be interested in discussions of which of the plays that do ask for a FB need to have variants that would allow a second halfback or an H-Back to play the FB role. When you're watching games, do look out for what plays are being used in one-back formations (mostly they're using draws, traps and counter plays) and see if tbey fit our playbook.

ANNUAL UPDATES - Thursday 2nd January 2014 Top

Some coaches in Gameplan waste a lot of time trying to analyse the end of season roster update to work out ways of manipulating it to their advantage or cheating it. That's a waste of time. It has a lot of variables and it changes frequently. Even the basic structure of the calculations changes from year to year and league to league. All the obvious fiddles are catered for and any more we spot are soon dealt with.

The best way to deal with roster development and the annual update is to let it happen. Don't expect your roster to get bigger every year. We've spent so much time over the years fighting that trend - you should expect to work just to stand pat, and if you want to add in one area you'll probably need to let another drift. Put your time into writing gameplans and relating your play calling to your roster instead of trying to fiddle the draft process.

It used to be that quarterback was the only position where you could plan ahead, but that has changed in this version. Rookies can step up, can grow with development actions, have potential that makes coaching more cost effective and and can now have development strengths as well. If we add the extra assistant coaches then the effect will be even stronger.

DEVELOPMENT & VERSATILITY - Wednesday 1st January 2014 Top

Currently the development actions work only for "extra" and special teams strengths, because we want to see more of those in play, but in the long term they might be allowed for main strengths as well (probably with an extra cost or the bean-counters will insist they can't afford to coach the extra strengths because the main strengths are worth more in waiver values).

There are a lot of versatility skills on rosters at present and quite a few are doing little but adding to the waiver value of the players carrying them. On the other hand they are favoured as targets for step losses. Losing a VER strength means that's an actual playing strength you didn't lose or need to fix.

COMPENSATION LPS - 29th December 2013 Top

I think rule 3.8 in the Rosters Guide is entirely clear, and it would help a lot of coaches to go and read it. Compensation is for excessive reductions and retirenments. It's not for just above-average reductions and retirements, and there is definitely not going to be any "compensation" for below-average reductions and retirements.

I remind everyone that the purpose of these leagues is to develop and test prospective changes for a new version, and coaches who do not contribute to that process - or obstruct it - are not wanted. There are going to be faults and bugs that create real problems that coaches genuinely need help with, and there is a lot of real work still be done, and I'm not going to waste the time and money available on people sulking about imaginary injustices. Remember, it's not about you. It's about the game. If that's not what you care about, then you have no business being involved in this project.

BUGWATCH - Saturday 28th December 2013 Top

The week 16 rosters listings in NFLCA are messed up a little, as they're showing last season's age and reduced status etc instead of the current ones. Last turn's reports are fine, and next turn's reports should be fine as well (and I've fixed the fault for week 16 in future). The draft planners show rosters correctly, as they stand after the season update.

The free agent list should always include all varieties of assistant coaches, but the one in NFLCA currently may have some missing as it's been clogged up with people waiving their coaches and not replacing them. It should come right as soon as gaps start to appear, and that should happen when the teams currently with no assistant coaches decide to play properly and fill those gaps. In the meantime I'll see if we can squeeze some extra guys on the end of the list.

The schedule and scouting reports are missing from the college league, and it's going to take a lot of work to fix it (fixing the orighinal fault is already done, but generating the schedule and the scouting reports is going mean writing and testing some extra software). I could re-run the week just gone, and that would be done in no time at all, but then the results of the games would probably change and I think we want to avoid that.

RUNNERS, RECEIVERS, FATIGUE & OVERWORK - Wednesday 25th December 2013 Top

I'm going ahead with deleting the actions to select runners and receivers together with the rules for fatigue, overtraining, overplaying, overloading and overwork. They're not adding anything to the game, just a lot of pointless book-keeping. Changing to an in-game penalty would not be helpful - it would make matters worse because coaches would have to do all that book-keeping every game, just in case, instead of just dealing with the problem when it happens.

The selection of who is the runner or receiver on each play will revert to being entirely decided by the computer. Normally it will select the runner or receiver who has that play as a signature play, and after that it will make the selection according to workloads (but that will only matter for the allocation of player stats, with no impact on playing strengths). You'll still have a measure of control over your runners and receivers, according to how you coach your signature plays, but otherwise the stats allocations will be just part of the results and not something the coaches will be tinkering with.

The DUR strength is also being deleted and any of those on rosters or draft lists will be replaced with the new DEV strengths.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT - Tuesday 24th December 2013 Top

I'm going to rename the "Free Coaching" actions as "Development" actions. The action codes will change from FC and FP to DC and DP. I've added a new player strength called DEV for development. This is a non-playing skill that has no impact at gametime, but instead it can be exchanged for another strength using the player development actions. You make the action as normal, but developing a player with the DEV strength doesn't count as your once-a-season and isn't limited to rookies and second year players. The new strength REPLACES the DEV strength.

BUGWATCH - Wednesday 18th December 2013 Top

I've removed the wombat. The only way to get rid of it in reports already written would have been to re-run the games, and I think that would have been inappropriate (you'd get some changed results, just for the benefit of fixing the layout). Assistant coaches weren't getting their conditional waivers last turn, but I think that is now fixed. The scouting report has been adjusted to deal with higher totals, but how well that turns out remains to be seen. In the team stats page the attempts and completions are now the right way around.

ASSISTANT COACHES - Tuesday 3rd December 2013 Top

I haven't had any feedback as to whether the automatic waiver of assistant coaches is working or not. The idea is they're always under a conditional waiver (you don't have to make a CW action to order it) and just signing a new one waives the old guy and recovers your LPs in the normal way. We really need to know that's working okay. In the meantime I have changed the waive action so that offensive and defensive coordinators can't be waived outright. There's no need to do it and it's a really bad idea.

The process of signing and listing coaches seems to be working well enough that we can go agead with adding the position coaches. I think the effect of position coaches would be to add experience in your playing strengths (something you want when you have players who have little experience, especially at quarterback), to add potential when you draft or sign undrafted free agents in their area, and also to bias form gains in the favour of the strengths that apply in their area.

Other additions might be marketing & merchandising to invest in increasing your LP income and to look again at stadium types and weather and home advantage. And maybe let you hire cheerleaders (no, you don't get pictures...) or drumlines to increase your home advantage and maybe the marketing and merchandising.

COACHING BOOTH - Monday 2nd December 2013 Top

At present the information you get from a game report is limited to what we can put in the text of the play-by-play report, or what shows up in the stats. Real life coaches have a shed load of assistants and other staff in the coaching booth - they study the game as it plays and send down their analysis of trends and observation of adjustments.

My thinking is we could add some coaching notes to the end of each quarter, pointing out problems and opportunities, guessing at adjustments made by the opposition (eg. the defence is cheating up to play the run, the corners are playing off, are biting on the base plays that open up some derivative plays, etc).

What we'd need first is for coaches to look at the rules and playbook and ask questions about what could or couldn't show up in the coaching notes. Look at the play by play and think about what events and background information would help you understand what's happening. While I look at the software and see what variables impact your performance at gametime and think of ways of translating them into coaching reports.

GAME BALANCE - Sunday 1st December 2013 Top

The game balance in both the current NuGameplan leagues appears to be much in favour of defences, but a look at rosters and playing strengths lends me to think that's mostly because coaches are favouring defence. Some of that is due to the introduction of offensive and defensive coordinators - there are quite a few 2-star defensive coordinators in play and a whole bunch of teams have no offensive coordinator at all. That's like taking a couple of points off your offence across the board, while the opposition is adding the same in the chosen areas of their defences.

And then the form gains kick in and shift the balance further, if you're not careful about what you do with bonus categories. Lots of coaches go with putting their weight behind what seems to works best already, instead of working out how to stop or beat what works best.

Playing without an offensive coordinator probably impacts your passing game more than the running game because that's when you're mostly likely to vary your formation "out of scheme". It hits your passing game three times over by ruining all of your pass protection, completion percentage and yardage. On running plays it'll show only in your yardage and tackles for loss. Don't forget in this version you're also losing the ability to put extra wide receivers on the field while still counting strengths attached to your tight ends and running backs.

I also looked closely at the impact of derivative plays, but they're not doing a lot, one way or the other, and we may need to ramp up how they're reported or how much effect they have, or both, before they become more important in the game.

Has anyone compared the penalty stats between NuGameplan and Gameplan? Bad formations would show up in confusion penalities against the offence. Do we need the type of penalties to be highlighted in the stats so as to warn you when you're doing something wrong? Show offence and defence and pre-snap/confusion penalities?

BONUS & SIGNATURE PLAYS - Saturday 30th November 2013 Top

I have extended the use of bonus plays to count as signature plays, the same as with the season bonus plays. That means you can use the bonus play boxes to add a play to your playbook temporarily without having to worry about whether you have a player with a suitable signature play or not. That's what the bonus plays are for - they are the extra oomph for plays being added that week, including ones you're using this week and forgetting again after, or that you're trying out and aren't ready to commit to.

DERIVATIVE PLAYS - Friday 29th November 2013 Top

I've updated the rules section for deriviative plays and moved it from the playbook to the rules update (it's at the bottom of the first column). It belongs in the playbook really, but people have been having trouble finding it.

TANKING - Wednesday 27th November 2013 Top

Remember the end of season routine does contain anti-tanking measures, so that your ability to collect compensation LPs is affected by your results late in the season. If you're not in contention for the playoffs, your best strategy is to try to win some late season games, especially against teams with higher standings. If you're a playoff contender then stick with it, even wild card teams win titles and it isn't always the best team wins.

Late season and out of contention is also a good time to be working on changes to your gameplan, introducing new plays and working out good combinations - that might not help your balance of LPs and draft but it might mean you have a better gameplan ready for next season. This is a game about writing game plans, after all. The roster building stuff is only setting the scene.

RULEBOOKS - Monday 11th November 2013 Top

We have a new set of Rulebooks updated for Gameplan version 2.17. It's really only the Rosters Guide that changed in that version, and I've re-issued the others with new version numbers mainly because I've changed the software we use to write and maintain them. If anyone has any time to do some checking and improving of those rulebooks then that would be useful. I'll start work on some updated rulebooks for NuGameplan shortly, using these rulebooks as a starting point, so any feedback that's going to apply to both versions would be better sooner than later.

OVERPLAYED & OVERTRAINED LIMITS - Tuesday 29th October 2013 Top

I've simplified the limits for overplaying to be 30 running and 30 receiving, and those for over training to be 30 for running, 30 for receiving and 60 for passing. The limits should now appear in the workloads listing in the game report (but it doesn't yet highlight the players who are immune to overwork). I am tempted to increase the limits by adding the individual plays-in-plan allowance to the training and playing limits - although it's making it more complicated again those are already calculated and available.

UTILITY BACKS - Friday 25th October 2013 Top

A small change this week is that if the utility back slot on your roster is empty (that is, not even a shirt number) then it will be filled automatically with a no-star dummy player. For any play call where you have no valid runner or receiver available (not even a no-star player) then your utility back will get the call (even if the play calls for a receiver or tight end). It would be better to fill out the skill positions on your roster - you may be needing those no-star players to spread the workload.

ACCUMULATED TRAINING - Thursday 24th October 2013 Top

A few teams are starting to have problems with over-training, usually due to piling up too much training on each play. The software currently allows the total up to 9, which is more than you need. Previously Gameplan only allowed it up to 7, and even that was only allowed to go that high so you could push the total up late in the season and get more training to carry over into the next season.

There are two things we can do about it - we can bring the limit down again or we can widen the range of training that is valid and increase the total training allowed for overtraining. Widening the range means reducing the value of each point (or the balance between roster strengths, training and play calling would change, perhaps dramatically). Any views on which you'd prefer?

ASSISTANT COACHES - Wednesday 23rd October 2013 Top

Since the sensible way of replacing an assistant coach is a conditional waiver and a free agent bid, and there isn't any other way to sign a coach, I think we'll change the rules so that coaches are treated as always on a conditional waiver (so you just sign a new one, and the old one is waived, without you having to waste another action to make it happen). Anyone see a downside to that?

Don't forget, a change of scheme when you sign a new coach during the season means you lose form, same as when you change base formation on defence or change quarterbacks.

BOB, BOK, BOK - Monday 14th October 2013 Top

Lots of chickens are using the old turnsheets without trying the new ones... that isn't going to help get the new website tested and ready for us to work on developing it. Want new stuff? Got to be ready and willing to test it when it appears.

WEBSITE CHANGES - Thursday 10th October 2013 Top

On the softsim website there are now two sets of links for the NuGameplan turnsheets. The old versions of the turnsheets are still there under Gameplan as before, but there's a new set under the NuGameplan link. Right now they're supposed to work the same, but the new versions are completely re-coded in a new scripting language and these are the ones that will develop to become the first version of the interactive system (that is, you'll eventualy be able to work directly with your actual plan and team data, stats etc). There are lots of things we can add when that happens.

Please try out the new turnsheets, and report any problems you encounter. The old versions are still there in case you need to revert to those to get your turn in, but the first steps are to ensure the turnsheets can do the things we could already do and chase out any gremlins that have snuck in during the rewrite. I'm also interested in whether the error responses have improved (when you get something wrong, we want it to tell you what's wrong and not just shout ERROR at you).

ACCUMULATED TRAINING - Wednesday 9th October 2013 Top

I've made a small change so that for any offence play call that isn't in your gameplan and isn't in your current training or bonus plays you lose one point of accumulated training (if you've got any). You don't have to actually use it, so long as it's till in your plan somewhere. That's basically to help tidy up some clutter and to provide a way of getting rid of excess training,

OVERTRAINING - Tuesday 8th October 2013 Top

If a player is overtrained the solution is to reallocate a play call to someone else (or maybe just de-allocate it, if that's why it's assigned) or change your play calling (a play that isn't in your gameplan doesn't count). Note that the penalty for a player being overworked is such that it only matters for star value players. Those no-star journeymen can be worked as hard as you like.

NEW LEAGUES - Sunday 29th September 2013 Top

I've opened waiting lists for two new leagues, on basic and one advanced, since we'll need them in a bit to work through the changes in the startup routines. I'll be aiming to have the startups processed interactively on the new website. I'll probably do the starts once that's ready whether the list has actually field or not. It's first come, first served on team preferences (the link to the waiting lists is above) and I'll do a few trial mailings of ex players to see if the game has come far enough to bring some old timers back into play.

BANKERS! - Thursday 19th September 2013 Top

Rhyming slang, innit. Not accidental, that. The incompetent complacent annoying stupid people at HSBC sent me a letter saying they're going to close one of my accounts and steal the money in it if I don't ring them. So I ring them. And they refuse to do anything - close the account, keep it open, refund the money in it, even log the fact I called them - because they say they can't verify I'm me. Of course they can't, it's not an online or telephone account. So why waste my time by demanding I ring them?

Bankers! I hope they dislocate their wrists and go blind.

BOOKMARKS - Wednesday 18th September 2013 Top

If you haven't discovered them already, the PDF version of the game report is equipped with bookmarks for navigating around the game report. I think Adobe Reader normally shows a shortcut to open the bookmarks list (left hand side, a blue icon with a bookmark hanging over the normal page icon) and if it doesn't then it probably will if you find the right toggles (see the navigation panels selection in the view menu - that seems a likely choice).

STAR CHASE - Tuesday 17h August 2013 Top

In Star Chase the first dreadnoughts are now appearing and soon we'll see how the new attack actions and battle routines work...

REPORT FORMATS - Tuesday 3rd September 2013 Top

It doesn't look like anyone has managed to do anything about the old report readers not being able to handle the new game reports and write proper PDFs, so instead I've tweaked our emailer to recognise text reports and send a PDF version in a separate email.

LP COSTS - Wednesday 21st August 2013 Top

I have put the cost of FX actions back to their old values (10 LPs for step losses, 5 LPs per nominal value for reductions or CFAs, 2 LPs for signature plays) and reduced the cost of CP actions to 5 LPs. The discount for potential still applies. That's just to save having to remember a rules difference that isn't really needed. There's so much to spend your LPs on these days I don't think we need the extra costs.

FORMATIONS & ALIGNMENTS - Friday 9th August 2013 Top

The initial changes to formations and alignments have had a few weeks, so it'll be time to revisit them very soon. The first thing is to extend the A, I, K and O alignments to formations G and 1, and that means everyone in the advanced game needs to check their defences to see they're not assuming the formation is 2 just because the alignment is A, I, K or O (up to now that would have been a good assumption, but that's about to change). I think we'll also allow the combination of formation G with alignment T (three backs and no receivers) and then add the 2H Slot formation (code M, three WRs, two H-Backs, empty backfield) so you need to be ready to deal with those as well.

GAME REPORTS - Monday 5th August 2013 Top

Turns this week should see some changes in game reports. I've expanded the "Workloads" section in the playbook page and moved the accumulated player stats for your team from the end of the game stats page to a new "Team Stats" page of their own. There's a new "Depth Chart" page which contains the expanded depth chart setion from the test page, and that should now vary according to your base formation. There's probably scope to list players who aren't in the starting lineup the same way - maybe later, I'm not sure if the depth chart layout is actually useful, but I've always wanted to do the team listings that way.

Also new this time is the "Lineups" page, which shows all the combinations of formations and plays in your gameplan and which players are on the field when that combination is called. It also shows the runner/receiver for the play, your current training total for that play call and whether the lineup includes a signature play (and who has it).

When we swap to an interactive website some of these pages will disappear from game reports and will instead be things you can display when you're online, but for now I'm just bunging things in the PDF report as it's the only way of provding them. Assuming you're using a sensible PDF reader you should be able to navigate the file without too much hassle, using the bookmarks.

BUGSPOTTING - Friday 2nd August 2013 Top

The gremlin is now fish food - I tracked it down, nailed it to a board and floated it down the river to the sea. Had to set up up full scale offline test with a dummy test league and modified software, but it's a good thing I did as it would have taken many weeks to find the fix the normal way. Even so, none of you have spotted it.

CHANGING SCHEMES - Thursday 1st August 2013 Top

The loss of form for changing scheme on offence and defence (when you change your offensive or defensive coordinator to a coach using a different scheme) doesn't apply in the first season of a new league starting up. It also doesn't apply in pre-seasaon or at draft time (during the draft the change should be held back until minicamp like other free agent signings).

FATIGUE & OVERWORK - Wednesday 31st July 2013 Top

We have three ways of triggering the overwork/fatigue rules and we'll start out with all three in play and see which ones are manageable and what the thresholds should be. I'm not going to apply fatigue during the game - it's way too complicated to have rosters changing at gametime and have the changes reported effectively (bearing in mind you can't react and deal with the problem until you update your gameplan).

Instead, if a player is overworked then that will be flagged with an alert for your next game. If the same player is overworked in that game as well then you lose form for each of his main playing strengths and training for each of his signature plays. If he isn't overworked then you're in the clear the following week. On top of that, the number of times he's flagged as overworked is added to his risk of being reduced/retired at the end of the season. That means you'll need to be careful about over-using individual players - especially ones who are already reduced.

For this rule "overworked" means a player is over-loaded or over-played or over-trained, any of the three, according to the definitions below. I expect to refine these as we go along, once we see how often they happen and how difficult they are to manage. Note that all can be controlled by modifying your gameplan - plays that aren't in your plan can't be called and shouldn't count for overloading or overtraining - and players with the durability strength can be overworked at will (with no penalty).

A player is "overloaded" according to the number of different plays in your gamneplan where he's the runner or receiver. There's no limit for passing. The limits are different for each player, equal to age plus experience plus two for each main strength and one for each other strength.

A player is "overplayed" according to the number of plays called in the game where he's the runner or receiver. The limits are 30 running and 20 receiving, with no limit for passing.

A player is "overtrained" according to the total training on plays in your gamneplan where he's the runner or receiver. The limits are 30 running and 20 receiving. There is also a limit of 50 for quarterbacks (running and passing combined).

RUNNERS & RECEIVERS - Tuesday 30th July 2013 Top

The current process for selecting runners and receivers is that any selections made by the coach are retained and get priority, and then any plays you haven't made selections for are assigned at gametime. These "default" selections are liable to change from game to game as your roster changes and if you change your own selections (also when the software changes). They don't actually matter at the moment, as all they do is control how the player stats are allocated, but that will change with the fatigue and overwork rules (and also when team strengths are assessed by formations instead of your whole roster).

I've put in one change that when a player is waived or retired then his play selections are cleared. Example: If you waive no 34 then all the plays where you've set 34 as the runner or receiver will be reset and returned to the pool for default selections each game.

Another possible change would be to provide an option for coaches to take full control of their runners and receivers, in which case the defaults would no longer be changed at gametime. Your runners and receivers would be fixed and change only when you change them yourself - but be warned that's going to make it difficult to control your players and their workloads and will mean you have to take extra care to ensure players with signature plays are selected when they need to be.

I think there would also be an option for coaches to clear the coach selections at a stroke and just use the defaults.

NCLA STARTUP - Thursday 18th July 2013 Top

I've reworked and re-sent the reports for the startup turn today. The only data that should have changed is the addition of random offensive and defensive coordinators and update initial allocations of LPs, but this time the reports should include draft planners and the pre-season schedule. The deadline fell off, but you already know about that.

The online turnsheet already includes the section for free agent bids and it looks like it always has done (even though free agent bids don't work in the college format). It must have been like that since the mid Jurassic without anyone noticing. I think I'll go ahead and change the software so that free agents bids do work (you need them for signing coaches so we might as well have them for players as well) and the fewer differences there are between the formats the simpler the software. Watch this space.

NCLA STARTUP - Wednesday 17th July 2013 Top

I gave up trying to get the NCLA college league startup to work properly (with a league report of all the pre-season games played) and let it run without. We'll probably find plenty of other things aren't working or need updating as we go along - so much has changed since we last did a league startup. Let me know when you spot anything strange.

The first round of games is scheduled pre-season (see below) with an initial training camp as normal and I guess the schedule and draft planners would have appeared as part of the missing league report.

The games this week are:- GT at ND, LV at US, NW at OC, NC at AS, OD at WB, and MI at TE.

I don't know what caused the silly form totals in the league summary - probably something wrong in one of the reformatting updates (a couple of teams had random looking negative form totals). I've cleaned those up and we'll just hope it doesn't happen again.

I'll see if I can generate the missing draft planners during the week. There aren't any assistant coaches allocated so I'll do that as well, and you should be able to change them after that (the guy allocated will be worth LPs when you replace him so don't try to sign any until after you know what you've got).

The free agent list should disappear (you don't sign free agents in this version, you coach players up from scratch instead) unless we decide to keep it (we'll need to connect up the bidding routines for you to be able to sign coaches, unless we add coaches to the coaching and recruiting routines, so it might be simpler just to tweak the player ages and enable the free agent list like in a normal league) and the minimum bid values should be corrected in the first turn.

COLLEGE RECRUITING - Tuesday 16th July 2013 Top

I've eliminated the old recruiting process (which was restricted to training camp and the old coaching codes) and we'll use an expanded version of the CR (create free agent) action instead. In a college league you can use the CR action any time during the season (not just in training camp) to specify any legal combination of player position and strength and the player should sign directly into your roster at a cost of 10 LPs per strength.

FORM - Saturday 13th July 2013 Top

If you change scheme on offence or defence during the season you should lose form the same way as when you change your starting QB, MLB or NT. Hiring a new coordinator with the same scheme as the previous guy should not reduce your form. Home and road form should now be combined and listed in one set of totals.

CHANGES - Sunday 7th July 2013 Top

After the coming turn I'll recombine home and road form into one total. In the advanced game the column for situation codes should appear in gameplans (initially all set to "X" for "ignore", meaning use the other columns instead), and then I'll start adding the actual codes a bit at a time along with the boxes on the turnsheet). I'll also be revisiting the update to limit team strengths by formations, which I think will now be coming in during the next few turns.

VERSATILITY - Sunday 30th June 2013 Top

For now the draft and free agent lists will show versatile players as simply OL, DL, LB or DB. That means you won't know their actual player type unless you get a workout report, but provided the recent changes work correctly (we don't know they do, yet) then it mostly doesn't matter. If you're trying to get two different players into similar positions and draft the versatile one first, he might block the slot where you want the other guy, but you've still got the reserve slot available to help sort that out - other than that I don't think it will be a problem.

NEW SCHEDULE, UPDATED - Wednesday 26th June 2013 Top

I've re-jigged the schedule (for future seasons) to avoid long road trips and reduce the variations in the number of home and road games in the first half of the season. Perfect balance isn't possible within the constraints - the schedule is made up of three parts, divisional games, conference games and inter-conference games, and the latter have a separate schedule that rotates year on year (that's supposed to happen in Gameplan too - it looks like the software was written about ten years ago but never deployed).

VERSATILITY - Tuesday 25th June 2013 Top

I've tweaked the draft and free agency routines so that players with the versatility skill will change player type if necessary to find a place on your roster (they'll try first for a gap with their current player type and if they don't find one they'll try again with their changed player type). A versatile offensive lineman can end up in any OL slot (I've extended it since yesterday).

I might change from having guards and centers as two different player types to just one. There's been a long running discussion over whether a center is a different player type or just an interior lineman with a skill for handling snaps. I think that would be simpler in terms of rules and more realistic. There's a reason teams don't have a backup center on gameday - there's always a guard who can step in (and a tackle who can play guard). You won't see a center moving to tackle, but there are plenty of guards who used to be tackles. You'll be able to do it (move a versatile tackle, or a guard without the snap skill, to center) but you won't want to. Same as you can shift a DL or LB with the wrong skills to NT or MLB.

PLAYER & ROSTER LISTINGS - Sunday 23rd June 2013 Top

In the draft and free agent lists, and in roundups and scouting reports we're still listing nominal categories the same old way with the most obvious strength first. Would it be more interesting to list the most obvious category only if it's the only one, or provide a warning if it's missing? Or simply move some of the more interesting "extra" skills to the front of the order? That would emphasise which players are different and have an unusual skill set. Feedback?

I'll do some experiments with how to indicate in the draft and free agents lists which players have the versatility skill. Initially it should be an astetisk after the nominal strength and category, but that's not going to look right. I considered listing versatile players with ambiguous player types (ie. a versatile DE or DT gets listed as a DL) but then you wouldn't know which is his original player type. Maybe that doesn't matter until you've signed him, and once you've done that you can see what space he's been allocated to.

In the next few weeks you should find some extra bits of listings turn up in reports - this week it'll be a list of "gaps" in your starting lineups. That might seems pointless to you, but it's probably going to be hepful if/when there are inexperienced coaches around. It's also likely to interact with how I go about producing customised versions of draft lists etc.

It's likely I will be increasing the use of colour (coloured backgrounds and coloured text) so those of you who use plain text reports and your own PDF utilities are going to need to do something about updating them. I understand there is a new play-by-play viewer already, so actually all that's needed is to disable the outdated PDF utility and use our PDFs instead.

FORM & DRAFT FEEDBACK - Monday 17th June 2013 Top

We've had enough time with some of the changes to take a look and see how they're working. Looking at the home and road form my feeling is that it's added a complication but not really added anything to the game and it would be better to revert to having the same set of form totals at home and on the road. If we still want home and road form we could simply use the win-loss record of each team and apply that, perhaps to special teams and penalties. That way it'd actually be easier to tell how your team is playing.

I'm also thinking the diversification of player types has made the draft rather difficult and untidy, and we're going to need to provide coaches with more help to analyse draft choices. The current setup demands too much work and puts the more casual coaches (the majority) at a disadvantage. It might be we leave this until we go over to an interactive website, so you'd be able to look at the draft data any which way - we could rearrange it however you like by having you press a few buttons, but in the meantime...

I think coaches need to know at a glance who fits on their roster (who would go into a starting spot, who would fit in a backup slot, who could replace a conditional free agent or conditional waiver, and who they can't draft without making a space for them. You also need to be able to scan the draft list quickly by position. The same maybe goes for the free agent list. And I think we want to highlight the versatile players and be able to draft them straight into any position they're allowed to play. Feedback?


The listing of most used formations in league reports should change this coming week - the new format should show the most used formation and the most used alignment - plus a third which is either a formation or an aligment, which is used the next most.

ROSTER LISTINGS - Monday 3rd June 2013 Top

I'm making a few changes in the roster listings to make them a bit easier to use - those should come through a bit at a time over the next few weeks. I'll also be experimenting with a new format for roster listings and I'll put that in the test page first (we'll need to see if it fits, and then decide if we like it or not).

BUGWATCH - Saturday 1st June 2013 Top

Only one coach so far spotted that alignments weren't being correctly handled on defence this turn (so that defence situations were selected wrongly when an alignment was used). I guess that shows how useful the catchall defence is. Should be fixed next time.

In the playbook page the reactions on defence are shown as offence reactions (ie. a +ve number means the offence was good) which is probably opposite of what you're expecting, so I'll swap them around from next time. I'm also changing the way pre-season training is handled, but you'll probably never notice so I won't bother yapping about it.

PLAYING UP - Sunday 18th May 2013 Top

Here's an idea that came up recently. At present we have the rule for playing up, which allows you to pick the games where you're going to commit your best stuff - to use the tricks and wrinkles you can't use every week because once they're in your game tape your opponents will know to prepare for them. It currently works by tweaking the way your playing strengths are assessed.

These days we've got data space and processing power to do more things, and one of them might be to change the way playing up works by actually introducing some of those tactical tricks and wrinkles. You'd maybe have a list of them, or have them trained and ready, and they'd kick in when you play up. And their effectiveness would drop off (rapidly) if they're re-used. The first thing to do would be to compile a list of interesting tricks and wrinkles, mainly on special teams but also including some razzle dazzle plays.

TURN CREDITS - Saturday 18th May 2013 Top

When making card payments please allow some processing time - really we need you to do these a week in advance of the deadline. They don't come through quickly (we don't do enough business to pay for a fancy instant online payment system) and Danny often isn't in the office during the week to do the book keeping and pass them on. Right now there's several batches of turn credits backed up waiting for next turn.

ADVANCED DEFENCE - Wednesday 15th May 2013 Top

When making changes to your definitions of formations and alignments on defence you need to be thinking about the new versions, not thinking about the old rules and then trying to convert them. They don't match up like that. Especially as the old rules aren’t going to work any more when we start to relax the rules about which alignments can be used in which formations.

You need to think in terms of the number of receivers, and whether to include H-Backs and/or tight ends as receivers or not. And then think separately about whether you care about the alignment. Mostly when you’re dealing with extra receivers you’re also interested in whether the offence is in shotgun or not, and when you’re interested in the alignment of the backs you know there are two receivers because at present formation 2 is the only formation that's allowed with those alignments. But later we'll likely be able to use backfield alignments in formations 1 and G as well.

Once you get used to looking at the new version you'll find it's actually simpler.

At present if the alignment is T you know the formation is 1. Later we’ll probably allow formation G with T (three backs and no receivers with an extra tackle or blocking tight end). You can't have T with B or U. If you set up with three backs, two tight ends and two receivers along with a QB and five linemen the zebras are going to notice you've got 13 men on the field (the point being that B and U aren't simply formations with two tight ends, they're two tight ends, two receivers and one back).

WEBSITE - Monday 13th May 2013 Top

The training camp turnsheet for the advanced version had a layout problem (which should now be fixed) that the defence overcall and catchall situations were not properly aligned with the rest of the defence - but all the right boxes were there and appeared to be working correctly. There are no formations and alignments boxes in the defence overcall and catchall situatuions, for obvious reasons. There are four play calls boxes and one reactions box.

FORMATIONS & ALIGNMENTS - Friday 10th May 2013 Top

The website has been updated to allow for formations in the new format, although initially they're restricted to combinations that are the same as we could do before (for the usual reason - first we try to check it works the same as before, then we start introducing changes after). On offence you pick a formation and an optional alignment (in the two character formations box).

On defence in the advanced game you define the situation with two boxes, one for formations and the other for alignments, each having the optional X at the front for an exclusion list (so that X on it's own is "exclude none") the same way as the formations box in previous versions of Gameplan. The special cases previously in this version no longer apply because the formations and alignments are now in separate boxes.

G is no WRs, 1 is one WR, 2 is two WRs, 3 is three WRs, 4 is four WRs,
H is two WRs and an H-Back, Z is three WRs and an H-back, 5 is four WRs and an H-Back,
L is two WRs and two H-backs, B is two WRs and two TEs balanced and U is two Wrs and two TEs unbalanced.

S is shotgun, allowed with any formation
T is three backs, allowed only with formation 1
The A-Near, K-Far and O-Open and I alignments are allowed only with formation 2

S is okay in Pro Set, West Coast, Ace and Option Spread
I is okay in Heavy, Power and Pro Set, and T is okay only in Bone
A, K, and O are okay in Heavy, Power, Pro Set and West Coast

The Formations in each scheme are
1 in Bone
0 & 1 in Heavy Run
2 B & U in Power Run
2 & L in Pro Set
2 3 L & Z in West Coast
H B & U in Ace
4 & 5 in Run & Shoot and Option Spread

STARTING QUARTERBACKS - Saturday 4th May 2013 Top

Danny found the rule about not being able to waive your starting QB is actually in the version 2.17 rules update, so I've put it back into play. You can still waive a starting QB with a conditional waiver, but bear in mind a new QB signed should appear in the BQ slot if it's open, even if your starter has a conditional waiver.

MINICAMP FAULTS - Friday 3rd May 2013 Top

Retired coaches didn't get deleted in minicamp, and that should get fixed at the start of training camp. If your new coach is sitting in your reserve slot then he should get promoted automatically. If he isn't there then he got waived and you need to tell me so I can dig him out of the dead pile and recover the LPs you'll have been paid for waiving him. Don't go spending them until I've confirmed your correct LP total.

Players changing position were being made reduced. They shouldn't be, although I have considered making the reduction the cost of a position change and deleting the LP cost. Or maybe we can have two versions of the action and see which you prefer (paying the LPs, or getting the player reduced for changing his position on the fly).

The routine that shuffles your starting lineup made a mess of some rosters by promoting guys from HB to FB. I've fixed the fault for future minicamps, but you'll need to tell me if you need to have someone returned to their proper position. If you actually like the guy at FB then you can leave him there and maybe no-one will notice.

LP balances change in minicamp due to the trade bonus being paid on players you've waived being signed by other teams during the draft turns, and for the 10 LP bonus provided for signing undrafted free agents (who are available for only one turn before they give up and get proper jobs). You don't have to sign any UFAs - you can use the LPs for something else. And you might not get the guy you want even if you do make any offers.

WAIVERS & STEP LOSSES - Wednesday 1st May 2013 Top

Remember, if you waive a player with a step loss then the step loss is applied immediately. That's a bad idea if the skill is one you're relying on (the assumption is that skills which matter will be fixed or left until minicamp or you're out of the playoffs). You should all know already that waiving your starting quarterback is a really bad idea, to the extent that I think it shouldn't be allowed. It's certainly not necessary. The backup quarterback slot is there and has all the special rules that apply so as to encourage you to use it. If you need a new QB, sign him to the backup slot. Preferably ahead of time. If you want your BQ to start, swap them over. If you have a BQ that's no use, waive him. All separate decisions. Never waive the starter.

FORMATIONS & ALIGNMENTS - Friday 12th April 2013 Top

I've finished the outline of the changes to formations and alignments, which turned out to be quite complicated. I figure to introduce immediately after week 20 in NFLCA so the playoffs are not at risk. That'll be week 16 in NFLCB, with the playoffs just starting, but the risk level is NFLCB is much lower. I'll probably run the advanced league first the following week with a delay so that we can see if anything strange is happening in NFLCA pre-season games before running the NFLCVB wild card games. That week you'll have to hold off from inputting turns until after the website is updated to handle the new scheme.

TEST PAGE - Sunday 31st March 2013 Top

I've reworked the test page (the Scout/Report stats, now with an updated bookmark) and now you should get a test page whether you have a game or not. There's the usual risk of gremlins getting in during the update. I also moved the "Workload" section into the playbook and rewrote the Formations & Signature Plays section - there's a high risk of faults in that part of the report.

SIGNATURE PLAYS - Monday 25th March 2013 Top

We have a fault in the listing of signature plays in the playbook page of game reports so that the Yes/No/Bonus annotation is wrong. It won't have had any effect on the games themselves (I checked the gametime routines and they look at the player data directly and correctly) so don't be fooled into thinking you have signature plays missing just because the playbook says so (if you need to check, go back to a previous game report - it's not like they change that much).

FORMATIONS & ALIGNMENTS - Monday 18th March 2013 Top

I think we now need to push on with the changes to formations and alignments, probably immediately after the next turn. It's a bit of a risk doing it during the playoffs (because of the risk of faults impacting the results) but I think we need to push on with the remaining changes (formations, play by play roster strengths, fatigue and advanced time and scores) and get to work work on the new website and rules. And if we wait for the playoffs to finish in NFLCA then NFLCB will have started the playoffs too (and so on). But I will look at what I can do with the website changes while still fiddling with NuGameplan (we need the formations because they'll be in one of the top layers of the rules).

RUSHING STATS, NAME & NUMBER CHANGES - Tuesday 12th March 2013 Top

I think I found the error in the rushing stats, and it's not actually something new introduced in the changes to the stats-keeping. It's also not limited to the rushing stats. I think if you check you'll find any play with training above 7 (which used to be the top limit) doesn't have a runner or receiver assigned and consequently is missing from the player stats. Should now be fixed but I'm not going back to recover any lost stats (because I don't think it's possible).

The new name ane number boxes weren't allowing names to change without a change of shirt number, but that's now fixed. Be aware that doing that will mean the new player will add any stats he gains to the stats already recorded in the season so far (if that's not what you want, rename him with a different shirt number, preferably to be a different player entirely).

PLAYER STATS - Monday 4th March 2013 Top

I'm working on upgrading the player stats to be able to track each player through multiple seasons and separate different players with the same shirt number. That means we need to make some decisions on the protocol. Firstly when you waive a player his shirt number and name remain on your roster and he still accumulates stats. I think we let that continue, as otherwise we have to keep finding new shirt numbers for no-star players. Or maybe we want that?

Secondly if you've re-used any shirt numbers (during this season, or between this season and last) those players will probably be in the accumulated stats as one player. That's probably not a problem unless they were on offence last season and are on defence this season Or the shirt number has moved between QB and WR. Ugh.

The third question is whether to ban shirt numbers being re-used during the season. That would be a bit tiresome, but I think it is workable. The alternative is to put up with stats being generated by different players being lumped together if they have the same shirt number, or having stats lost when players are waived or renumbered.

At present I think if you re-number someone his old stats stay with his old shirt number and he starts making new stats with his new shirt number (which I think is correct - you've reallocated the strengths and skills to a different player).

RESERVE SLOT - Sunday 3rd March 2013 Top

I've added a new "reserve" slot to rosters. It's optional, so to use it you must first make an RS action to activate it (later we might make it automatic, depending on feedback and how many problems we find, but for now it's a bit experimental and I think some of you won't want to mess with it). The same RS action can be used to toggle the feature off again if you decide you don't want it.

While your reserve slot is activated any player you try to sign that doesn't fit in your roster goes to your reserve slot instead (if it's empty) but while he's there he doesn't play (he shouldn't show up in teams strengths etc). You can move a player from the reserve slot to your roster proper by using a CP (change position) or SS (select starter) action in the normal way. It should work the same for free agent signings and draft picks, but it is likely to take time to work all the bugs out because there are so many different combinations of data it has to work on.

The idea is this allows you to sign a player you want, and make a space on your roster later, either by waiving a player who's blocking him, or by changing the position of the blocking player, or by changing the position of the new guy.

TEAM & PLAYER STATS - Friday 1st March 2013 Top

In the coming weeks please keep a close eye on the game stats, play call stats, player stats, teams stats, all kinds of stats. I've just finished a major rewrite of the way the stats are handled and there's a high risk of errors (either in the way they've been converted from the old format, or in the way new stats are added). They should look the same, add up the same, etc, but now they should be easier to update and it should be easier to add new ones.

TURNSHEETS - Sunday 24th February 2013 Top

Since there aren't any turnsheets in the game report, and there are four different turnsheets on the website, I've modified the league report and the scouting report to show which turnsheet to use (it's obvious if you know the game well, but if you don't it's not obvious at all). If anyone has any better ideas for how to indicate which one to use then let me know (we can't automate it in this version as the website isn't allowed to have any game data, but it won't be long before we start work on the new website).

FORMATIONS FEEDBACK - Tuesday 19th February 2013 Top

Not much feedback on the proposed formations changes. The note in the message file last time was left over from the previous round of changes and the changes aren't being implemented this turn. I think coaches in the advanced version need some time to look at their defence definitions and see if the updated formations will work as expected. Mainly I think defence situations that react to a mixture of formations and alignments might not work right - you're probably going to have to use different situations. And maybe make some changes to allow them to convert more easily.

I'm still in two minds over whether we want a code for a one-back alignment. On offence you don't need it, because the numner of backs is decided by the formation, and I think defences need to play the different kinds of one-back formation differently (there are six, but ones with two TEs or a TE and an H-Back are just replacing the lead blocker with someone at the point of attack - not as big a change as putting in an extra wide receiver). So at present I'm against it - it's the formation that matters and not the alignment.

I'm hoping to get away without increasing the maximum number of situations at this stage as I think we need to hold the extra ones back for when we add the extended time-and-score column. When those are available you'll want new situations to use them.

FORMATION CHANGES - Wednesday 6th February 2013 Top

The initial version of the new scheme has eleven formations and six alignments (I've got another formation and eight more alignments or modifiers to add later). The formations are G unchanged (no WRs), 1 for J (one WR), 2 for A I K O (two WRs), 3 for C (three WRs), 4 for E (four WRs), H unchanged (2 WRs and an H-Back), Z unchanged (3 WRs and an H-back), 5 for D (4 WRs and an H-Back), L unchanged (2 WRs and 2 H-backs), B for T (two TEs, balanced) and U unchanged (two TEs, unbalanced).

The alignments are S-Shotgun, A-Near, K-Far, O-Open, I for I-formation and T for Triple (three backs, a "full house" backfield). This scheme seems to leave very few illegal or nonsensical combinations, these being three backs with three or more receivers, and any of the two back alignments with four or five receivers (receivers in this sense meaning WRs or H-Backs or TEs). Before you rush and tell me you want to use the two back alignments with two tight ends - those are 1A, 1K, 1O and 1I. I think we're not going to allow U and B with two back alignments because it will make defences too complicated.

The conversion should be simple enough on offence. For advanced defences I've done my best to make a conversion scheme that will have most situations handling the same offences as before BUT some of you have got some quite surprising combinations on defence that I can't easily match and those may need special attention from you. For everyone the tricky part is where you have formations and alignments mixed in the same situation definition - those won't easily work the same in the new scheme. And once opponents start putting different formations and alignments together you'll need to have changed your defences to cope (mostly that applies to two back alignments being used in the "heavy" 1 and G packages).

And there's a +3 LP bonus for the first person to email me with a correct description of the missing formation.

OPEN SET & SPLIT FORMATIONS - Sunday 3rd February 2013 Top

I found an error with the the Open Set (O) and Split (L) where the rules have the open set with no full back but the software had the split is as the double half back formation. No-one seems to have noticed. I've fixed it by changing BOTH to be dual half back formations with no full back. You can still swap the FB in by nominating him as the runner or receiver, and one of the new modifiers will allow you to put the full back in the lineup when he wouldn't be (mostly in the one back formations, but it should work in these as well). This combination will give you outside running and pass formations with either combination of backs.

OFFENCE FORMATIONS - Sunday 27th January 2013 Top

I think we're going to revisit the offence formations again shortly, as I'm not happy with the way they're working out. Separating out the shotgun alignment isn't the best way to add more flexibility and there' stuff I want to add that still doesn't fit in the current format.

The new plan would be to divide the formation into two separate selections. One would be primarily the number of wide receivers and the other would cover the selection and alignment of the backs and tight ends (etc). That's different from how real life teams do it. They have the numeric part of the formation declaring the number of backs and blockers, but that means making multiple selections for similar formations when the first thing you need to know is whether you need extra defensive backs, or can get away with fewer (or are free to commit a safety or two to do something more interesting).

The up and down sides of this plan would be more flexibility and a greater range of usable formations, but it'll look more complicated at first sight. Quite a lot of the current formation codes wouldn't be needed. G is what you get with 0 wide receivers, J is 1 receiver, C is 3 receivers, E is 4 receivers, D is 4 receivers and an H-Back, Z is 3 receivers and an H-Back, and so on. On the heavy formations you'd now be able to set the alignment as well as the personnel (eg. on G formation you could use near, far, split, open, I-formation) and we could put in more codes to shift people around (H-Backs, F-backs, TEs in the slot, RBs wide etc) or swap them in and out (FBs in single back formations, double HBs in two back formations, etc).

For situation definitions in the advanced game you'd then have two selections for the formation - the number of receivers would be one and the rest of the alignment would be the other. Way simpler. Most of the time you just want to know how many receivers there are, but this would it easier for defences to respond to the alignment.

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Sunday 20th January 2013 Top

I've started setting defence formations on plays that don't have them assigned by by setting WC to D6 (if you set a different formation that should be retained, but if you don't set anything then it'll update to D6). Can't be much argument that you add extra DBs for wide coverage - though you might well decide you want P7 or that N5 is enough). I'll add others when I see this one works okay - I'm not sure there are many defences where this can be applied but I'll work through the list and see what happens.

TRAINING ON FORMATIONS - Saturday 19th January 2013 Top

Training on formations is now connected up. Your training counts on both offence and defence (ie. if you train on "A" formation that counts when you're on offence and use the formation and also when you're on defence and the opposition use it). There's also a roster element, looking at whether or not you have the players needed for each formation. I think the one training box (together with feedback from your stats) should be sufficient given you don't use many different formations (there aren't many when you compare them with the number of play calls used).

LP BALANCES - Friday 11th January 2013 Top

I think I've now corrected the LP balances from last time to the correct values, and I'm guessing you're mostly capable of looking at your previous report and what you did last time to know what your it should be. If not, email me and ask what your balance is now.

ENDURANCE & VERSATILITY - Tuesday 8th January 2013 Top

There are two new player strengths added this week. Versatility is the ability to change betwen "similar" positions with no cost in LPs (ie. using CP actions to move around like they did before we added the new player positions) and Endurance is the ability to rack up lots of plays without wearing down (not that players do at that present, but the fatigue rules will be added soon and when they are these players will be immune). Versatility should appear on exisiting rosters this week (free) but endurance will only be allocated to new players. Neither will be available on the existing draft list.

SF & HD ACTIONS - Sunday 6th January 2013 Top

I've now deleted the SF (starting formation) and HD (play hard) actions as they're superceded by your choice of assistant coaches (offensive and defensive coaches respectively).

FREE COACHING ACTIONS - Saturday 5th January 2013 Top

I've added a new secton to the scout/report test page which attempts to list which free coaching actions are available (in the sense of which players can be coached in what). I don't expect it will come out right first time (if anyone has time to check them, once they start looking reasonably sensible, please do).

PLAY SKILLS & SIGNATURE PLAYS - Friday 4th January 2013 Top

I've started converting "play skills" to "signature plays", same rules, different but better name. I think it's clearer as it's pretty obvious what it means for a player to have signature plays, and it'll be harder to get confused over play skills (which are plays ) and player skills or playing skills (phrases which usually just mean player strengths or other characteristics).

ASSISTANT COACHES - Thursday 3rd January 2013 Top

It looks like any assistant coaches released so far (by ordinary waivers or conditional waivers) will have retired on the spot due to their ages (as they would if they were players that age). Conditional waivers haven't been showing up in the league report - up to now they've not needed to because they probably only happened during the draft. Both should be fixed/changed this time.

The ages for assistant coaches were messed up last turn but should settle down this time. Some ages will have changed (could be older, could be younger) but they will now be reported correctly and they should stop changing about.

TANKING - Wednesday 2nd January 2013 Top

Playing down at the end of the season for earlier draft picks is a really bad idea. It's heavily penalised in the end of season routine (always has been in all versions of the game, not just this one). If you want "friendly" compensation totals you need to post some late season wins. Games you lose are handing a bonus to your opponents.

If you think that's surprising then have a think about how happy you'd be to miss a title or a playoff chance because your opponent is playing to win while your rival is playing someone who is trying to lose.

NAMES & NUMBERS - Tuesday 1st January 2013 Top

The turnsheets for regular season turns should now include some boxes for writing player names and numbers straight into your roster. You give the player position (ie. which slot on your roster) and a shirt number and name. That's so you can fill out the empty slots on your roster with sensible names and numbers. If either the shirt number or the name is blank then it'll be ignored. If necessary I'll insert a GM check-and-conhirm to disallow unsuitable names.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN - Wednesday 26th December 2012 Top

Offensive linemen on the draft and free agent lists this time should be updated to the new player types (they should be assigned as OC, OG and OT at random) and players on rosters should be updated next time (they should be updated according to which roster slot they're in).

DEFENCE STATS - Friday 21st December 2012 Top

I've added tackles and tackles-for-loss on defence. Fumbles forced and fumbles recovered will be added later. No-one has yet picked out any bad stats but I'm sure you will eventually - and tackles are more complicated than they look.

BUGWATCH - Sunday 16th December 2012 Top

Free agent bids for assistant coaches failed this time - the website accepts them correctly, but the interface between it and my software didn't (just a typo in the code, fixed for next time). Conditional waivers of assistants coaches do appear to work, but don't show up in game reports (it looks like conditional waivers never have been visible during the season, but only in draft turns - maybe no-one has done them in-season before).

Play stats on defence were miscounted this time, with the yardage on each play being counted a second time under "plays made" instead of once as plays made and once under "plays called" (on defence they're only different when there's a penalty flagged).

DEFENCE STATS - Sunday 9th December 2012 Top

I've added hurries, interceptions, passes defended and tipped to the player stats on defence. I'm not sure whether to make tipped passes a separate item or the same as passes defended (there's a limited number of stats categories available unless I do a lot of work reformating things again). I'll already be treating stuffs and tackles-for-loss the same to save room.

COLLEGE LEAGUE - Saturday 8th December 2012 Top

The NCLA college league is now full and will be up and runnng shortly - all the team selections are done and we're missing only one gameplan so I'll only allow a week or two for unscheduled games (it is an advanced league, after all, so most coaches will need to do some work getting their gameplans right) before I issue the league startup.

DEFENCE STATS - Friday 7th December 2012 Top

I've started adding player stats on defence, beginning with sacks (which look the simplest to do). So far they're allocated in the stats routine and listed in the game stats - the player isn't identified in the play by play and they're not included in the league stats yet. I'll add those later. Not all possible stats will be allocated to named and numbered players if your roster has gaps in it (the no-name no-number players will get some stats allocated to them and those won't be recorded).

It would be a good idea to identify the situations where player names and numbers get deleted from rosters and stop that happening (so we get fewer gaps appearing in normal play). I'll probably add some boxes on the turnsheet for player names so you can fill in any gaps as you go along.

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS - Wednesday 5th December 2012 Top

I've made a quick change to the way the draft list works so that the undrafted free agents will remain available for bids all through the early part of the season (instead of being wiped off the list after training camp). This year's undrafted free agents already went to the glue factory so I made a new batch and with a bit of luck they'll show up with the free agents and coaches lists this time.

Now they should remain available until the new draft list is created. Don't forget you get 10 LPs extra in minicamp, mainly for the purprose of signing undrafted free agents (but you can spend it on other things instead if you prefer).

FREE AGENT BIDS - Monday 3rd December 2012 Top

The website should now be accepting free agent bids for the coaching list (you need still to use a conditional waiver or a waiver to release the current guy first, however).

I've made some experimental changes to the way bids and actions are processed to see if waivers, conditional waivers and position changes can be made before bids are processed. If it works you will be able to use LPs from waivers for bids the same turn, and also make a conditional waiver the same turn as a bid that needs the space you're clearing (you still can't use the LPs from a conditional waiver on a bid, but I'll look at that again if it seems the other changes are working okay).

ASSISTANT COACHES - Wednesday 28th November 2012 Top

An option for more data for assistant coaches would be for them to have "signature plays" since that's a common part of how people see offensive and defensive coordinators working. Those would be the same as the player play skills. In fact, we might rename those as "signature plays" because that's a better name.

UPDATE - Tuesday 27th November 2012 Top

Not much has changed this week - we need to see the assistant coaches stuff go through correctly before adding anything else. The website is still enforcing the minimum bid value of 10 LPs on free agent bids, so I think I'll reinstate that in the listings. I think we still want coaches to focus on developing rosters and players rather than swapping them around all the time, and having signings cost more than waivers helps to emphasise that (as people have noticed, a low value player with potential at 8 LPs can easily be worth more in LPs than it costs to sign him, and that's not right).

Next will be splitting up the offensive line into three separate player types (tackle, guard and center). Initially this will impact your team only in terms of making it harder to sign new players (if both tackle spots are filled then you can't sign a tackle, for example) but later we might look more closely at who does what om the offensive line so you might want to shuffle people around before it happens.

It's quite likely I'll add a new "versatility" player skill that will probably have no impact at game time but mean a player can be moved between "similar" positions for free. That will also mean looking at how to make use of positional changes with conditional waivers or conditional sigings (at present you can use a conditional waiver to replace someone at the same position, but we'll also want to be able to sign someone that can swap to a different position, or to play a position where the current player can be swapped out).

ASSISTANT COACHES - Thursday 15th November 2012 Top

It looks like the offensive coordinators assigned correctly, but their scheme doesn't show up in roster listings - only in the short form in the scouting reports. That's fixed for next time - for now the scheme will apear in the signature plays section.

The defensive coordinators seem to have been assigned with no schemes (they did have them, but assigned wrong) so I'll have to redo those for next time. Interestingly that means this week your offensive coordinators did count and the defensive coordinators didn't, which means you can get some idea of their effect on the game balance.

EXTRA ACTION - Thursday 8th November 2012 Top

We'll be adding a temporary extra action to the turnsheet, to be used only for the new free coaching, season bonus and keys and bonus quarter actions (that's FC FP SB SK QO QD and QX). It isn't there yet, but I hope it will be soon... avoid renaming or swapping actions in the same turn for obvious reasons.

ASSISTANT COACHES - Wednesday 7th November 2012 Top

I've added the blurb for assistant coaches to the rules page, and that provides more information on what the effect of each scheme. I expect it will take some feedback to get these right. I wondered about having the defensive coordinators assigned with conditional waivers already in place, since I think a lot of you will want to swap them around.

I'd advise against trying to use your defensive coordinator to plug gaps in your defence - to get the benefit of the scheme they need to have the players necessary to carry it out (same as your choice of NT or MLB - your defensive coordinator adds emphasis on the skills you've already got but doesn't substitute for them).

FREE COACHING ACTIONS - Sunday 28th October 2012 Top

I've added two new coaching actions which are FREE but can be used only once per season and only on rookies and year 2 players. The FC action allows you to add a special teams or "extra" strength to any suitable player (the same combinations as when creating free agents but not any of the main strengths) and the FP action allows you to add any signature plays to any suitable player (for running plays the ball carrier or any offensive lineman, for passing plays the receiver or the quarterback, and for defense anyone mentioned in the play name or descripton). Coaching no-star players isn't allowed.

EXTRA ACTIONS - Saturday 27th October 2012 Top

The SB action can be used to set a season bonus play and the SK action can be used to set a season key play but only for selections that have not yet been used (you can't use it to change one, only for one that's never been used - these are temporary actions because we didn't get to set these things in training camp this time). Put the play call (offence or defence for SB, offence only for SK) in the name box. The QO, QD and QX actions can be used to set bonus quarters that haven't yet been assigned (you can't use an action to change one that's already in use). Put the choice of quarter (a value 1-4) in the shirt box.

USING NEW PLAY CALLS - Thursday 25th October 2012 Top

Had a quick look at adding extra accumulated training the first time you use any of the new play calls, by way of encouraging coaches to be more adventurous, but I'm not sure if it's necessary or not. The system as it stands already does the same thing, because when you introduce new play calls you can be sure your opponent doesn't have any accumulated keys to match against them so the amount of accumulated training you need is less than for plays they've seen lots of times before. And if you use your bonus plays to support any new play calls you're adding then that helps too, and saves any risk of wasting any accumulated training if the play turns out not to work for you (that's what bonus plays are for, by the way).

TRAINING CAMP - Tuesday 23rd October 2012 Top

There's a new section being added to the turnsheet for training camp with season bonus plays, season key plays and bonus quarters. These apply all through the season and you can change them only in training camp. There will be some temporary actions to allow you to set them this season (since training camp is already gone).

The season bonus plays can be offence or defence and work in lieu of signature plays (ie. for these plays you count as having a player signature play, whether you actually have a player with that skill or not).

The season keys are offence plays the same as the weekly keys, except they apply for the whole season and they have less effect on the play than the weekly keys (they also don't have the spillover effect on similar plays that normal keys have). Basically they allow you to downrate a couple of plays you think are a threat over the season, without reference to your current opponent. They don't add to your accumulated keys.

The bonus quarters apply separately to offence, defence and special teams, and you play up in that phase during the quarter selected. There's no downside - your team just plays better during that quarter. But you may have to think hard about these, whether to hit your opponent early and try to knock him out of his gameplan, in the middle of the game when you can still play a balanced game - or save it until later when the game is on line.

The extra bonus plays used in the setup phase will be available in training camp as well (any training camp, not just the first one).

LP VALUES & COSTS - Monday 22nd October 2012 Top

I've changed the minimum bid values for free agents to be the same as the LP values for waivers, just to make things simpler, and reduced the cost of the CX action (which adds extra form) from 5 LPs to 3 LPs.

BASE OFFENCE - Sunday 21st October 2012 Top

Don't forget you need your base offence assigned correctly in order to get the right offensive coordinator assigned when I add them (probably after the coming turn). You need the SF action to set your base formation. See the entry for 1st September for the list of what formations to set according to what scheme you want your offensive coordinator to use.

BUGWATCH - Friday 19th October 2012 Top

The free agent coaches were missing from the game report in NFLCA but I fixed it in time for NFLCB, which looks okay. It looks like some elements of the coaching scheme tripped in early and wrong and that will have raised extra confusion penalties against teams using more extreme formations - which should revert to normal next time (provided you've bothered to set your base formation on offence).

ASSISTANT COACHES - Monday 15th October 2012 Top

There shouldn't be much different in games this week, although there are a lot of hidden changes behind the scenes (of the sort that you won't know anything about unless they go wrong). The visible changes should be the addition of the assistant coaches list and the spaces for those in the roundup and scouting reports (already done last turn in roster listings). I decided to put coaches on a separate list to the free agent players, although you'll use the same bids & actions to sign and release them, but I'm holding off adding them to rosters and the bids & actions won't work, yet.

BUGWATCH - Sunday 14th October 2012 Top

Found and fixed a spurious error report on the new defence formation actions (the action worked okay and it was just the game report was wrong) and also some processing errors on scouting actions (failing to recognise the player type for safeties).

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS - Friday 12th October 2012 Top

To make the leftover players on the draft list available there's an extra 10 LPs will be added to all teams in minicamp every season to ensure everyone has LPs on hand to bid for undrafted free agents (you don't have to spend them on that, of course, but this ensures you can). I think you can also bid on the undrafted players in minicamp itself (if you have any LPs available) but I don't think I've ever seen anyone do it so I don't know if it actually works).

COLLEGE LEAGUE - Friday 5th October 2012 Top

We only need two more teams/coaches to get the advanced college league under way and I'd like to see it started soon (there are some changes I want to make that can't be done until after the league is out of the setup stage). The two-for-one offer applies. Some rosters are already selected, some unscheduled pre-season games have been played, and it would be a good venue for experimenting with game plans and formations and play calls. You can develop a gameplan and play warmup games before making your roster selection, and once you've made it you can play unscheduled pre-seaspon games against other teams or scrimmage games (pre-season games againmst the warmup teams - but they use the other side of your roster against you).

FORMATION TRAINING - Tuesday 2nd October 2012 Top

Formation training wasn't updated with the changes to formations, which doesn't really matter as it isn't connected up yet, but I've fixed it anyway (new H is old B and E, new C is old C and H, new E is old S, new B is old W - S and W are now zero).

ADVANCED GAME FORMATIONS & DEFENCE - Saturday 29th September 2012 Top

Not much feednack on the subject so we'll go ahead with treating X, XS and S as special cases, as follows :-
  "X"   means any formation
  "S"   means any shotgun formation
  "XS" means any formation but not shotgun

The normal combinations are as in the following examples :-
  "AO" means A or O formation, whether or shotgun not (eg. A and AS are included)
  "XAO" means anything other than A or O, shotgun or not (eg. A and AS are excluded)
  "AOS" means AS or OS (eg. AS is included, A is not)
  "XAOS" means anything other than AS or OS (eg. A is included, AS is not)

What you can't do is mix different shotgun and non-shogtun formations in the same line (you can still do it with two lines, obviously)

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Thursday 27th September 2012 Top

The new section for customising defence plays using the two letter formation names/codes instead of number codes didn't work right first time out, should be right next time (it mostly worked, but put the updated formation in the wrong place).

ADVANCED GAME FORMATIONS & DEFENCE - Tuesday 25th September 2012 Top

The handling of formations on defence in the advanced game was wrong in the week just gone - when I took the logic of the defence situations apart it turned out I make a complete mess of it (it's more complicated than it looks and I was trying to take care of the more awkward combinations - see the next paragraph) so lots of teams spent all or most of the game in their catchall situations. I reckon it's correct now (but see below).

For selecting situations on defence according to the offence formation some clear thinking is required. "X" means the situation applies if the formation used isn't in the list so "X" on it's own means "exclude none" (which is the same as "any") and "not shotgun". "S" means the situation applies if the formation includes shotgun, so "S" on it's own means "shotgun and no other formation" which isn't possible and can't happen, and "XS" means "shotgun and any formation" which is probably the opposite of what you're expecting (it reads like XS should mean "exclude shotgun").

Maybe we could clean this up by giving "X" and "S" and "XS" special meanings so that "X" means "any", "S" means "any shotgun" and "XS" means "any not shotgun". Makes the software more complicated but makes the gameplan easier to read and easier to use, and that's what's important. Opinions?

If you're interested in logic problems and HMI issues it's the hidden "and" between the formations list and the shotgun flag that makes it difficult. If you were identifying shotgun situations with an input box it wouldn't seem complicated at all (but that would get very untidy if we added other formation modifiers and you'd need three settings for the shotgun box - yes, no and ignore).

OFFENSIVE LINES - Saturday 22nd September 2012 Top

Where you've got spare actions you might want to pay attention to moving the guys on your OL to the roster slots you want them to occupy when we split the OL player type into three (tackle, guard and center. Initially the only consideration will be the impact on your ability to sign new players since free agents and draftees will be more restricted in which roster slot they go into, but later we'll be able to look at making the different positions do different things (and interact differently with the opposing defensive linemen). You might even want to put signature plays in their most sensible positions, just in case.

PLAY SKILLS - Wednesday 19th September 2012 Top

There are some players in circulation who have no signature plays. I think I've fixed that so that no more appear, and for players on the free agent list I've filled out their missing skills, but ones already signed on rosters I'll leave as they are. Bear in mind that if they have no signature plays then the first one you coach will cost nothing (yes, I checked it doesn't cost any potential if it doesn't save any LPs) and the free action is probably well worth having. Choice of any legal play, no cost, you pobably want that.

WEBSITE UPDATE & PLAY CALL ANALYSIS - Tuesday 18th September 2012 Top

Uploaded the first turns with the changed formations, no problems so far. Ran a test game and that worked fine. No-one in the basic game has tried a shotgun formation yet, but there are some interesting combinations in the advanced.

Also made a study of what plays you guys called in the 2011 season and got slightly surprising results. Three plays were called more than a thousand times in NFLCA, but none of those got anywhere near in NFLCB. One of the thousand-plus calls in NFLCB was used hardly at all in NFLCA (in spite of getting 7.3 yards a pop). The play with the best yards-per-call in NFLCB wasn't called at all in the NFLCA, while the best in the NFLCB got a total of 14 yards and a sack from three calls in NFLCB.

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Sunday 16th September 2012 Top

We've also added a new section to the turnsheet to replace the DE action (customising defence plays with modified formations) and that allows you to use the two letter formation names/codes instead of number codes. I'll delete the DE action shortly.

FORMATIONS UPDATED - Friday 14th September 2012 Top

The softsim website should now be up to date with the new formations, so what it needs now is for some guinea pigs to give it a spin and see what happens (turns look good in testing offline, but road tests are always another matter). Best not to leave it to the last minute or you risk missing the deadline if you find a problem.

Gameplans on file are already updated to use the new formations (offence, advanced defences, base formations and formation training) and you don't need to make those changes yourselves. You can see the preview of the changes made in the "Formation Changes" section of the last page of yur game report. But any orders you do this time need to use the new formations (see the entry for the 16th August for the details).

Formations are now one letter codes (formation without shotgun) or two letter codes (the second one being S for shotgun). In the advanced game on defence if you include an "S" in the list of formations that means the shotgun versions of any of the other formations listed, and if you don't include "S" in the list it means any of those formations whether shotgun or not. Shotgun isn't allowed in selections for base formations or training.

FORMATIONS & COACHES - Saturday 1st September 2012 Top

The changes to formations should kick in after the coming turn - so don't input orders for the turn after until the website and software have been updated. Any turns that arrive before the website is ready with the changes will be unusable.

The upcoming changes to the formations are as follows
Old :     B    C    D    E     H     S     W  
New :     HS   CS   DS   H     C     E     B  

As soon as possible after that (probably a couple of turns later) I'll aim to kick the offensive and defensive coordinators into play. Everyone will get coaches allocated - on offence what you get will depend on your base formation but on defence it will be random (a lot of you are going to want to change defensive coordinators right away, but will be able to raise most of the LPs you need from ditching the guy you got for free - there will be a selection of coaches added to the free agent list and available for bids).

Note this list is just which base formation to pick to control which sort of offensive coordinator you get - it isn't the list of which formations fit each scheme (some formations fit more than one scheme).

The selection of offensive coordinators according to base formations will be as follows
Formation :   A K O L   B   C Z   D   E   G J   H T U   I
Scheme :   Pro Set       Bone     West Coast   Spread   Option Spread   Heavy     Ace       Power

On defence you'll get a random choice from the list of Attack, Balance, Blitz, Cover2, Cover3, Deep, Front, Hard, Inside, Long, Outside, Pass, Press, Prevent, Shallow, Short and Takeaway. If your base formation is 4-3 you'll probably get something early in the list and if your base formation is 3-4 you'll probably get something late in the list.

NEW PLAY CALLS - Saturday 25th August 2012 Top

The Double A Blitz (AB) is like a BZ except both blitzers are linebackers and they're coming straight up the middle. The Double A Drop (AD) is the same with someone dropping off the line into a passing lane, possibly unseen.

The Double A Slant (AS) has the run defence slanting in from both sides (ie. an under shift from the strong side and an over shift from the weak side) to meet in the middle. It should be poor both sides, but hopefully will create mayhem in the A gaps (it could be named as a Pinch Defence and be grouped with the OV and UN but I couldn't find a play code to go with that).

The Weak Zone (ZK) is the same as the Zone defence (ZD) except the weak side corner is rolled up while the strong side corner drops into the deep zone. The ZD is a Strong Zone with the weak side corner dropping off and the strong side corner staying short.

The Zone Over (ZV) is a zone with the defensive front in an overshift trying to break up running plays to the strong side. The Zone Under (ZN) is a zone with the defensive front in an undershift trying to break up running plays to the weak side. The Zone Pinch (ZA) is a zone with the defensive front pinching in to the middle, trying to break up running plays in the A gaps. These should all have a reduced pass rush and be vulnerable to guessing wrong on the running plays, but otherwise they're regular zone defences.

BUGWATCH - Friday 24th August 2012 Top

Some SC actions are failing with an error on the website, allowing incorrect input and then sending the action wrongly formatted. It seems to be working okay with correct input. Also still hunting down the last of the TE-ORI players, replacing the ORI strength with one that actually makes sense for tight ends.

We've got a small correction in assessing signature plays to allow for a player who is not normally in a formation to be substituted in to the lineup if he's wanted for a signature plays as a blocker (we already did this for the selected runner or receiver, but we weren't doing it for players who were only blockers). Mostly it applies to tight ends on running plays since offensive linemen don't substitute and a running back who isn't in the formation usually can't get on the field without removing the runner.

And we've been mis-counting pass attempts for ages.

NEW ACTIONS - Saturday 18th August 2012 Top

I've added a new scouting action SP which works the same as the SC scouting action except you input a player type and play call rather than a player type and strength. It scouts for a player of that type and with the signature play (eg. SP WR-SI).

I've added a new action CP to change player types between "similar" positions (ie. DE-DT, ILB-OLB. S-DB, FB-RB). The format is the same as the select starter action except it must be an empty or no-star slot you're moving him to (eg. CP 25 LCB). The cost is 6 LPs with potential counting as usual. You probably shouldn't be thinking about using this action except for players with high potential unless you're really sure the player is going to be more effective in his new position.

NEW PLAY CALLS - Friday 17th August 2012 Top

I've added two new new option runs (OK is the option keeper and OW is the option sweep) and a weakside draw sweep (which is LW) to expand the range of plays available in shotgun formations. See the playbook page for blurb. Note that all four option runs are misdirection plays which will work best if you first establish the base play from which they're derived (those are DW for OK, LW for OW, TW for OR and RO for OT).

NEW FORMATIONS - Thursday 16th August 2012 Top

Don't forget you need to prepare for the upcoming change in offence formations. It won't happen while NFLCB is in the playoffs, but I will go ahead soon after and then you'll have to get your heads around the changes. On offence your formations should be converted to the new system with no problems - you just have to get used to the ones that are different.

On defence in the advanced game I think you need to look at the listing in the test page and change any situations where you've mixed both shotgun and non-shotgun formations - unless they're the same formation and you really did mean to be defending that personnel group irrespective of whether they're in shotgun or not (as well you might).

Examples would be BE, CH and BCEH - these will convert correctly. The SD combination will also work out in a similar way - you probably mean "four receivers, shotgun or not" and you'll get the same thing and even pick up the new combinations (shotgun stretch and non-shotgun spread) without changing anything. The ones you'll need to change are where you've mixed shotgun sets with fewer receivers together with non-shotgun sets with more. And you'll also need to work out what to do with the combinations we didn't have before, like TS, US and ZS formations.

Where you do want to separate the shotgun and non-shotgun formations you need to put the shotgun situation in front of the other or it won't work the way you want. You'll probably find you do have enough situations because you can fit a wider range of formations in each situation (you still list up to five, but you don't have to include shotgun and non-shotgun formations separately except where you mean them to be different).

The upcoming changes to the formations are as follows
OLD     B    C    D    E     H     S     W  
NEW     HS   CS   DS   H     C     E     B  

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Wednesday 15th August 2012 Top

I shall go ahead with setting a bunch of standard formations on defence. Those of you who like to think about such things might like to offer your views on which defences should have formation modifiers automatically and which shouldn't (otherwise don't complain if you don't like what you get). Initially some teams will get them assigned, others won't, and we'll see if the difference shows. You'll be able to unset formations you don't like, or set different ones, of course. I'll add an action that allows you to set them en masse if you want them later.

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Tuesday 14th August 2012 Top

What feedback do we have on the use of formations to customise defensive plays so far? Do we need to try stepping up the effect to make it more visible? Are the number crunchers amongst you watching how different plays go with and without the formation modifiers? Should we give it more use by introducing a bunch of default selections? Currently we have lots of people running WC and IX with the same personnel, which doesn't make a lot of sense.

At present we use a special action for modifying defensive plays and we're overdue for adding a new section to the turnsheet to replace it. Then we could use proper names (single, double, nickel, heavy, jumbo) or codes (B1, B2, N5, H1, J2) for the formations instead of numbers (currently needed because we're using the shirt box). How many do we need? One pair is enough?

OFFENCE & DEFENCE CO-ORDINATORS - Moday 13th August 2012 Top

We're getting close to the point where I can get on with introducing assistant coaches, starting with offensive and defensive coordinators. The plan is to tie the OC and DC to the starting formation on both sides of the ball. Instead of picking a formation you'll sign an OC or DC. Assistant coaches will be signed (also waived, reduced, retired, subject to step losses and free agency) in the same way as players (albeit with a different age range).

Each OC or DC will come with his own scheme, so if you want to run a West Coast style offence you sign a West Coast coach and that will tie you to using formations that fit his scheme (not absolutely, but you'll play better in scheme and worse outside it).

On defence we'd still have the two current selections (the 4-3 and 3-4) but we'd add a bunch more schemes that work in similar ways to emphasise strengths in different parts of the field or different skills. That would allow you to declare an attacking style of defence, a prevent, a bend-don't-break, takeaway or prevent defence... the list is long) and to target those between the run or pass or a balance, or a specific area of defence. The "play hard" option would be one of the schemes instead of a separate rule.

FREE AGENTS - Sunday 12th August 2012 Top

I've tweaked the report for free agent signings (the one in your team report, not the one in the league report) to show the roster spot into which the the player was placed and also the name and number assigned. Please keep an eye on these to see they're correct and the bids are still processed correctly. I'm working towards expanding the turnsheet for free agent bids to allow you to input a new shirt number and name with a free agent bid and also assign the roster spot he's to occupy if signed (but you've already seen how often the part of the software dealing with roster actions goes wrong when I make changes.. we'll go in easy stages).

BACKUPS - Sunday 5th August 2012 Top

I've reworked the system of backups to keep two separate backups independently and also a backup of the runtime backup. I'm also keeping a backup of the software as it was during the last run. I've had to discard the network storage which doesn't really work (not reliable in either Windoze or Linux) and instead I bought a box of old USB Zip Drives on eBay. They're unfashionable, outdated and obsolete... but they work. Well, on Linux they do. On Windoze you can't trust USB storage devices.

But now we'll have backups that are physically separate and cannot be overwritten (because they're in a box the other side of the room) and can't be missed out because the unused disk would still be sitting on the desk waiting to be used).

BUGWATCH - Saturday 28th July 2012 Top

Got a few of the usual minor things, all fixed for next time. Some reports of actions show LP values when they shouldn't (it's only in the report and any action actually involving LPs the value should be correct). A couple of coaches had a free agent they signed fail to pick up a name and number but the rest all seem to have worked okay.

The playbook page only shows plays where there's something to show - any plays not in it should be all blanks (that's not a fault, it's supposed to be like that). The grouping of the short and long passes in the playbook page came out wrong. I'm not sure they really need to be split into two groups, although there are enough pass plays for the listing to go off the edge of the page if you use them all - they should be grouped correctly next time.

TEAM HISTORY & REPORTS - Friday 19th July 2012 Top

I'm just in the process of adding the record keeping and listings for keeping team history data (this is team data, not player stats) and currently I'm keeping season, coach, league standings, position in the league, position in the division, divisional standings, wild card status, division titles, conference titles and bowl titles. Anything else we want to add?

I'm also reorganising the first two pages of the game reports (which currently show your gameplan and your roster) to be three pages (gameplan, playbook and roster) trying to gather the play-related informtion into one place (training, runners and receivers, signature plays, usage etc). It will take some time to settle down as I try to refine the layout and content. Feedback on what things you're currently having to correlate between different pages would be helpful.

PLAYER NAMES - Thursday 19th July 2012 Top

I found another couple of gremlins nesting in the minicamp routine - they were causing players to pick up wrong names and numbers. So far it's always been the name and number of the utility back getting used for an offensive lineman, and sometimes those not being available for the running back they properly belong to. It's fixed, and players work the same whether they have good names and numbers or silly ones, so I'll leave the cleanup to be done with normal rename actions.

I'm hoping when these gremlins have all been put down and the changes are working I'll be able to show player names and numbers in the "players signed" part of the draft planner so you'll be able to see which roster slots those players are set to go into.

CHANGES - Wednesday 18th July 2012 Top

The changes to formations won't kick in until after you've had a chance to preview them (there's a section in the test page) and get your head round any changes you need to make (and I already told you that...). On offence the changes are simple - it's only when formations are used to define situations on defence that's it's complicated.

Signature plays now apply in the advanced game (they've already been working in the basic game). There's a section in the test page to show which plays you're using in which formations and whether you have the signature plays in those combinations or not. I'll be improving that part of the report later.

POSITION CHANGES - Tuesday 17th July 2012 Top

Currently if you change your defensive formation (or possibly just if you change your choice of NT or MLB - I haven't checked) then your other DLs and LBs may change position as well, and that can include shifting from ILB to OLB or from DT to DE (ie. from a backup slot to what is now a starting spot in the new formation). I'm letting that stand for now but in a while we'll be adding actions for position changes and then I'll change it so you have to make those changes yourself.

BUGWATCH - Monday 16th July 2012 Top

Not much to report so far this week. The layout of the league summary in NFLCA was bad but that should now be fixed and isn't important. Also the league stats don't work in minicamp week but they shouldn't be appearing after the end of the regular season anyway (they only did this time because they sneak in as part of the scouting report).

The only real Friday the 13th effort was a pig of a problem with how players were added to rosters from the draft and free agent lists. That turned out to be three separate gremlins working together but I think I've now tracked them all down and squashed them. The effect seems to be only that players have arrived on rosters in "wrong" but "similar" positions. I don't think a fix is required - they've only moved about between defensive end and tackle, inside and outside linebacker, and nickel/dime back and safety (usually in ways that are to your advantage and were legal up to a few weeks ago).

DEFENCE FORMATIONS - Tuesday 10th July 2012 Top

To clarify the changes coaches will need to make on defence, if you have situations that include both shotgun and non-shotgun formations then you'll need to revised them unless the shogtun formation and the non-shotgun version of the same formation are together. Examples:
- CH means slot and shotgun-slot and that will convert to just C meaning slot whether shotgun or not,
- S meaning shotgun stretch would turn into ES meaning stretch-and-shotgun,
- DS meaning spread and shotgun-stretch will convert to DE meaning spread or stretch whether shotgun or not.
I think it most cases you will get something that means the same as you intended - mostly when you've mixed shotgun and non-shotgun formations in a situation you're trying to pick out the personnel and ignore whether it's a shotgun situation or not - it's the old system that's clumsy and the new one is going to be simpler once you get used to it.

BAD FORMATIONS - Monday 9th July 2012 Top

The remaining question is whether to allow the offence to use the really stupid combinations or not (ones where the QB and the RBs would be in each other's way). I think that would be any of G I J and W/B with shotgun - the pro sets and one-back formations don't need to have anyone directly behind the QB but I'm assuming the heavy run formations are Power-I formations with the backs piled up behind the QB. We could go with just having bad things happen, but it would be simpler to limit the options on input so we don't have to deal with it on the field.

FORMATIONS UPDATED - Saturday 7th July 2012 Top

I think I've settled on the plan for the first set of changes to formations which will be to change offence formations to be one or two characters where the first is the formation and the second is the modifier (if any). Initially the only modifier available would be shotgun. The changed formations would be B for Wishbone, C for Slot, D for Spread, E for Stretch and H for Ace.
Formations in existing gameplans would be updated to B to HS, C ts CS, D to DS, E to H, H to C, S to E and W to B.

It's a fairly simple change in the basic version, and on offence in both versions, but on defence (in the advanced game) including S in the formation list would mean shotgun AND one of the other formations. I think you wouldn't be able to have a defence situation for shotgun without specifying another formation, nor shotgun OR something else (but you wouldn't want to - opponents will be able to apply shotgun on any formation, including two-back formations).

The update of existing gameplans on defence will be to include shotgun in the formations list if all the formations given use shotgun and leave it out if there are any that don't - some coaches will want to change their gameplans in advance to ensure that doesn't happen. Mainly you'll want to decide if you're trying to pick out shotgun formations (and which ones) or the number of receivers and what to do about the new combinations that will be possible.

I'm adding a preview of the proposed changes in the test page with warnings about possible problems so you can address the changes needed on defence ahead of the changes kicking in (you'll have a few weeks for that). Before you ask, H is for Ace because it has an RB at H-Back and B is for Bone because we'd like to use the W for something else.

SPECIAL TEAMS FORMATIONS - Wednesday 4th July 2012 Top

I've changed the play by play listing to show the formation column blank on special teams plays - you can't actually call punt and field goal formations, the same as you can't call kick formations, so there's no need to have them in the rules or in the game report. When we get to work on adding punt and field goal fakes (later) we'll pick them by using different play calls, not by using ordinary play calls from funny formations.

TURNSHEETS - Tuesday 3rd July 2012 Top

The softsim website now has expanded turnsheets for the minicamp and training camp turns. Try it out soonest and let us know if there are any problems.

BUGWATCH - Saturday 30th June 2012 Top

The spurious LX lost plays seem to have affected CFA signings (but not other types of fix actions - normal step losses went fine) but CFA fixes are fairly easy to check and do manually so let me know if yours were affected and you need them cleaned up. I've still no idea where those lost plays came from, but I've put in some code to remove them and ensure they don't reappear.

A bunch of waived players appeared on the free agent list with DNG values high enough to flatten an elephant, and that turns out to be a follow-on error from players with the spurious LX plays being waived (I've cleaned up the ding values and added some extra defences against that sort of cascade - the old compiler did that automatically but this one is a lot weaker).

CUSTOMISED FORMATIONS & MOTION - Wednesday 27th June 2012 Top

At present we have three formations (B, C and D) that are the same as three other formations (E, H and S) except for the QB being in the shotgun. How many coaches in Gameplan use both B & E, or C & H, or S & D? Could we eliminate three formations by taking the shotgun out of the formation definition and making it a variation instead, either using it to customise the formation or the play call or by adding it to the situation (in which case you'd call a formation and maybe call shotgun as well - expanding the formation code to two letters).

I'd favour making it a formation modifier, so that your Ace formation either includes the shotgun or not, your Slot formation uses shotgun or it doesn't, and your Spread is shotgun or not. You could apply the shotgun modifier to any or all or none, and other formations could have the same choice. Other modifiers handled the same way might include player substitutions (backs and tight ends lining up wide, F-back tight ends in the backfield, H-back running backs lining up in place of tight ends etc) and I don't fancy those being part of the situation definition. But they might be just as good as play call modifiers or as extra play calls.

It would be nice to get motion into the game as well, either by customising formations or play calls or both (or by linking the two, by having play calls that locate a player somewhere different at the snap from where they started in the formation).

FREE AGENTS & SIGNING BONUS - Wednesday 27th June 2012 Top

When a player is signed from the free agent list the last team he played for (if any and different) will now get a bonus of 2 LPs per nominal value and 1 LP for each extra value. That's so you can use the free agent list to exchange players between teams (since the expanded player data means different players will be more or less useful on different teams) without suffering a loss of LPs. But players still sign for the highest bidder on the open market - you can't control who a player signs for.

Be warned that players waived don't always get added to the free agent list. Older ones sometimes retire instead (especially those with lower values and players who have someone younger with the same description already on the free agent list).

SCOUTING FOR PLAY SKILLS - Tuesday 26th June 2012 Top

The "Scout Play" action to scout for signature plays will be available soon. It should work the same as the existing "Scout Category" scouting action except it will look for the given player position and a matching signature play. The text in the name box is the player type and the play (in that order and with a dash in between, eg. WR-SI) and nothing else. The website won't stop you trying silly combinations - but the action will fail when I process it.

At first sight I thought we wouldn't need the position when scouting for signature plays, but on further thought it's obvious you do - if you want a receiver to run a particular pattern you don't want a load of quarterbacks offering to throw it for you. It's usually going to be a particular roster slot you're thinking of filling. Sometimes you'll have a choice of positions - later I'll look at whether I can extend the action to allow for that (probably by having it look for "similar" players if none are found in the position you give).

SEASON PLAY STATS - Monday 25th June 2012 Top

I've cobbled together an end-of-season report of play stats which you can find here at NFLCA - Season 2011. NFLCB will follow when it completes week 16. We could have a think about whether we want this in normal game reports, probably in the minicamp or training camp turn or even as a running report. I don't have the equivalent stats for the defence by the way, although I've added them for next season. The useful part of these stats is probably how much the different plays are being used - the yardage depends so much on how and when the plays are called and what the defence called that it's barely relevant.

The stats used are the play calls and outcomes so things like sacks and penalties count in the totals. That's why there's two sets, even for running plays. In the "game stats" they usually don't, even when they should.

LOST SIGNATURE PLAYS - Wednesday 20th June 2012 Top

I've added player signature plays as additional step losses at season end. They'll be random (not apportioned) and won't count towards compensation since they apply only to players who are not conditional free agents or reduced and have no step loss or gain. The cost of fixing a lost signature play with a fix action is 3 LPs with potential being applied as normal. Mostly I'm expecting a lot of step losses of signature plays to be welcome since first analysis shows a lot of signature plays won't be used and getting rid of them will make adding new ones less expensive.

CHANGING PLAYER TYPES - Saturday 16th June 2012 Top

The "Change Position" action for changing player types will be available soon and will involve moving a player into a chosen roster slot (one that's empty or containing a no star player - you won't be able to swap player types between players, only change one at a time). It won't be allowed during the draft. The cost in LPs will be equal to his total value (ie. nominal value plus extra strengths) with the usual adjustment and cost for potential and an extra cost of one year of extra experience (if he has any). In addition the player will become reduced effectiveness (if he wasn't already).

Curently changing player types will be allowed only for "similar" player types, which means player types that were previously the same type (ie. inside and outside linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle, cornerback and safety, full back and running back). Extending it beyond that would mean having a check of player data to ensure we can't get strengths that aren't valid - I'd prefer to deal with position changes at that level by expanding the playbook instead (changing how players are deployed by adding new plays and formations - this is an area you could be thinking about what sort of things we want added).

BUGWATCH - Friday 15th June 2012 Top

Some teams had actions 3-5 overwritten with the regular season "fixed action" codes (this will have happened if you had a manual edit after your turn arrived). Fixed for future turns so only blank action codes get filled in.

The draft planner is showing blanks for players drafted this week - I swapped it to use the standard routine for listing player data and it decided they were no star players (because they haven't got shirt numbers or names). Have cleaned that up for next time.

STAR CHASE - Tuesday 12th June 2012 Top

Star Chase appears to be ready to run using the DOS version in a Dos Box the same as I'm running retro Gameplan and Run Chase. There would be an option to convert to run under Linux proper later so I can add stuff that previously wasn't possible, provided it fits into the cracks in the NuGameplan project. If this goes okay I'll look at restarting Spaceplan and Empies as well. Dark Age is already up and running in a Linux conversion more thorough than Gameplan - we did that first as a test project.

Special offer for NuGameplanners if you've got ten or more turn credits in hand (or buy them now) you can have a startup and ten turns free in Star Chase. Subsequent turns are half price if you're playing online (ie. input on softsim and reports by email).

There should be a quick start - no more than afew weeks - info needed is an empire name and the email address you want to use. It isn't usually a problem starting a few turns late in this one but sooner is usually better than later and you probably don't want to miss the early part of the exploration phase. See also the Star Chase waiting list page.

If you're not already acquainted with Star Chase it's a fairly early game with not a lot of complexity using our system of interleaved actions (same as Dark Age, Empires, Spaceplan). The PDF version of the rulebook should be linked in the Rulebooks page.

BIDS & SPECIAL ACTIONS - Monday 11th June 2012 Top

I've moved the repeat back of free agent bids and special actions from the team sheet to the draft planner during draft turns (since you don't get a team sheet if you don't have a game - although I think that's just the division winners in the wild card round- and the actions etc apply to your future roster and not your current roster). I'll maybe put the draft planner at the front of the report instead of the back so the first page is still something with your name on it - for some reason this seems to have have confused some of you even though it's exactly the same as in all previous versions.

COACHING - Sunday 3rd June 2012 Top

I've deleted the coaching actions for special teams strengths (that's the FK, PN, KR, PR, WK and WP coaching codes for OFG, OPN, DPR and DKR) so the actions available are now just for the main strengths and their normal player positions. That means special teams strengths can be obtained only from the draft and the free agents list, the same as the other "extra" skills.

BUGWATCH - Friday 1st June 2012 Top

I've corrected the roster listing in the draft planner for next time (this time it's showing your current roster rather than your projected future roster) and expanded the listing of players drafted and free agents signed to use the same format. Individual player stats next time should only list the players with relevant stats (rather than all the possible players, as it did this week).

The change to scouting reports to show the parts of the report that are available (and only miss the parts that can't be done) seems to have worked okay except the game summary part went missing (if your opponent didn't have a game you don't get one, but if they did then you should). Fixed next time. There's still work to be done on the test page - the signature plays looks to be right (next might be to add a note of which other ones are available but not used) but the player deployment section still looks like complete garbage (I think I found the problem, and a real doozy it was too).

PLAYER STATS - Monday 28th May 2012 Top

Take a close look at your player stats in games this week as I've just completed a major overhaul of the way those are stored (mainly to increase capacity, but also to make things simpler) and there's the usual risk of errors (especially where I've converted stats stored in the old format to the new format). Afterwards we can start adding new player stats where we want them.

DRAFT PLANNING - Friday 25th May 2012 Top

Time for some feedback on what to do with the "draft planner" page in the game report. I think we need more space for the roster listing - I had to cut down the information on each player to make it fit and I think you want the full player data. Which means one line per player. I don't think the old turnsheet sections are needed - certainly not the free agent bid and special actions.

Do you need scribble boxes to remind you how many picks you need to make? Your position in the draft order is shown on top of the draft list, after all. If I wipe all those out there's room for a full roster listing and your picks and projected team strengths - and that's what I'll do unless I get some feedback that says something different.

PLAYOFF TURNS - Wednesday 23rd May 2012 Top

The online turnsheet for playoff turns has been updated/expanded to include the full set of plan and playing calling items. It seems to work okay in an offline test, so please go look and see if anything is missing - and try it out if you're happy.

Formation training should be on the draft, minicamp and training camp turnsheets now as well.

CREDITS - Tuesday 22nd May 2012 Top

I'm now allocating credits with the more normal two-extra-for-every-ten discount since the game is working mostly okay and I'm taking it fairly slow so as to keep it that way. I probably should be pushing on a bit faster and we may need to pick up the pace with some elements in the coming season - but I think the stuff most likely to cause problems for coaches are already done, or are known quantities.

SIGNATURE PLAYS - Monday 21st May 2012 Top

I think I found the fault in the listing of signature plays so that should be right next time. Some feedback on the format of the report would be helpful. Mainly I think we want to issue warnings about the bad combinations so you know what you want to change.

RETIREMENTS - Saturday 19th May 2012 Top

Coaches whining about needing "compensation" when they have no players retiring will deserve what they get (ie. nothing). For the future I'm going to apply reductions to initial roster selections so there will be no free first draft (there will be players reduced during the first season and retiring in the first draft).

MORE UPDATES - Monday 14th May 2012 Top

Lots of fiddling with reports and layouts this week. I've removed the report stats from the experimental page since they seem to be okay in the scouting report and had a go at cleaning up the scouting report. The newest section in the test page should show the formations and plays in your gameplan and which play calls have a play player skill and which don't - later we could use it to highlight which players are on the sidelines in each formation/play combination if we decide that's needed.

Mostly I've been working on things that aren't visible (now we process incoming emails, what the uncoached teams do, the internal formats of game reports and some extra stats keeping) so I haven't had much to tell you about.

I've connected up the signature plays in NFLCB but I'll hold them back in NFLCA until after the playoffs. It's maybe a bit early, since we haven't really seen the CO and CD actions working yet and they may need debugging, but it shouldn't be that critical at this stage of the season where most teams have over-trained on the plays they're actually using (and there's a few more turns before you kick into the playoffs).

In NFLCA we should have draftsheets appearing in game reports this week, but in the form of a "draft planner". We'll see how we need to change them and what information needs to be included as we go along. To start with I haven't changed anything except the name. Feedback will be needed if the draft planner is to be useful.

PLAYER RATINGS & RANKINGS - Saturday 28th Apr 2012 Top

There should be rankings and QB ratings added in the player stats this turn but I haven't tested them so they'll probably be silly. The rankings are based on the top stats in each category (the best in the top 20) with each player being rated for what percentage of that score they achieved (so to rank 100% a rusher has to have the best total yards, best average yards, most TDs and fewest fumbles). That means the rankings are always relative to the rest of the current player group, and comparing the rankings from different leagues or different seasons makes no sense, but it is a fairly simple and flexible system.

Converting the ranking points to a system that works like QB ratings would be just a matter of replacing the dynamic part (best value in the top 20) with fixed values representing the "ideal" player (that's pretty much what the QB rating calculation does). Then you'd have values that could be compared between leagues and seasons.

I don't know if we can do career stats and "best ever" season stats as well as best stats on the season - it depends what we need to do if you cut a player and then sign someone else with the same shirt number. We'd have to start dropping stats into a proper database to do that and I'm not sure it's worth it.

COACHING SIGNATURE PLAYS - Friday 27th Apr 2012 Top

We now have two actions for coaching signature plays. CO on offence and CD on defence (see the Version 2.18 rules page for details). The LP cost is the number of signature plays the player already has and potential does count as normal (this means the action could easily be LP-free if a player has lots of potential, but that means it'll cost potential instead). Note that players can only have up to five signature plays and the action is available the same turns as other coaching actions (I think that means not during the draft).

EMAIL TURNS - Thursday 26th Apr 2012 Top

Anyone who gets their turns in early this time shouldn't be surprised if they show up in the report as multiple inputs (especially if you actually input multiple turns, obviously) as I'm working on a new version of the turn reader (much more efficient than the old one) and I'm processing turns in dribs and drabs (instead of leaving them all until deadline day) and doing lots of re-runs. I'll be trying to keep the data tidy, but that means manual edits and you should all know what that means.

It's not just a cosmetic issue, mind. If you submit two turns they might both get loaded and you end up with a mess (if the second one doesn't completly cover the first). It's not an interactive system - you're supposed to input your orders only once... .

BUGWATCH - Friday 20th Apr 2012 Top

NuGameplan turns are done and sent. There are layout problems in the new sections, as always, and the last page (the one with the supplementary stuff for testing and checking) is missing but is already fixed for next time (I can redo and resend reports if anyone cares but I'm guessing you don't). The final score in the fourth quarter stats context line should be corrected next week, as should the number of catches in the receiving stats.

PLAYERS & FORMATIONS - Tuesday 17th Apr 2012 Top

I've been running some investigations into how teams will be affected when roster skills and strengths are limited by formations and finding it's mostly a lot simpler than I expected. The complications appear only when you target a wide receiver who isn't in the default lineup according to the formation, because it's not obvious who he replaces (if he's the selected receiver for that play call then he will be on the field, provided the formation does include someone he can swap with).

By way of examples, if you call a pass for which the selected receiver is TE2 it's obvious he must be in and TE1 is out (unless you're in a formation with two tight ends and they're both in the lineup) but what when you call a pass for WR3 in a formation with only two wide receivers? Who came out when he came in?

The most practical method is just to take out the lowest ranked player, so WR1 is your #1 receiver and he stays on the field almost all the time. I think that corresponds to how most fans think the game works, although coaches actually see the split end, flanker and slot as different positions needing different skills and they'll have different schemes of substitutions. I figure it'll work well enough for us - WR3 is added when you go to three or more receivers, and he replaces WR2 in a two receiver set when he's the receiver selected on the play call. If you want the skills of WR2 and WR3 together on the same play then you go to a three or four receiver set - or move one of them to WR1.

If we decide we want something more sophisticated then we'll need to do that through the play definition by having a second player selected on the play (normally a key blocker, but maybe a selected decoy on a misdirection play or a combination route). But I'm hoping we can get by without that. It would appear very daunting for someone new to the game.

FATIGUE - Saturday 14th Apr 2012 Top

It'll be time to be looking at adding the fatigue rules soon, which should help encourage more balanced play calling and make the player stats look more realistic. First up, be thinking about whether your gameplan is going to be giving you problems (stuff about wearing the defence down is already in there, of course, so I hope we don't need to bother about that).

I think there should be three elements, based on how many different plays are used where a particular player is the designated runner or receiver (which could make him less effective right from the start) how many times each player takes a handoff or is the target on a pass (so his individual skills could drop off later in the game) and how many stats a player generates over the season (which could impact his reduction and retirement risk).

We just have to pick some limits in each case and see what happens, so I'll be sticking my nose in everyone's stats and trying to decide what doesn't look realistic. I'm going to assume that modern one-back offences are over-using their half backs and that's the reason they now have such short careers (so you might find following the current fashion isn't that good an idea - our limit is going to be below what a lot of modern running backs are having to cope with).

KEY SKILLS ON OFFENCE - Thursday 12th Apr 2012 Top

For the special/extra skills to qualify for coaching signature plays on offence, see the table below. This isn't a list of all the skills, only the extra ones picked out to allow coaching of signature plays in addition to the runners or receivers permitted for the play (I might restrict that to just the runner or receiver actually selected). Feedback?


SCOUTING REPORTS - Sunday 8th Apr 2012 Top

I've start moving the report stats to the scouting report and those will need checking once you see them. I've added a line to the fourth quarter stats to give you some idea of their context - it's supposed to show the biggest winning and losing margins and the result, and also the number of times the score was tied. It's also written into the play by play log at the end of the fourth quarter (after the quarter stats) not because it's needed but so we can see whether it's right or not.

FREE AGENT TRADES - Thursday 29th Mar 2012 Top

An option for us to consider is to add "compensation" when a free agent from one team is picked up by another. In this game the value would be small since you already get good value for a player when you release him - the extra might be one or two points per strength and I think it would apply only to uninjured players - but enough that you can release a player wanted somehwere else and get full value to spend on someone new. But you wouldn't get to restrict were the player goes after - free agency is an open market.

KEY SKILLS ON DEFENCE - Wednesday 28th Mar 2012 - Part 1/3 Top

Looking the extra "key" skills on each play call (because I want to link them to the coaching actions for adding signature plays) is throwing up some interesting questions. For the most extreme defences (IX, OX, BZ, WC, ZB, ZD, ZS) I haven't been able to identify key players and "extra" skills at all (one player doing something of particular interest, over and above the fundamental team/positional strengths defined for the play). Those plays are all about your main team strengths and coordination, so they're probably going to be uncoachable for individual players.

We don't have a skill for defensive linemen who drop out into short zones or to "spy" (essentially swapping roles with linebackers). Neither DPS or HWK seem suitable - I'm not convinced we could justify a DPS DL adding to overall team strengths (it's not an every down strength) and HWK is too specific. Maybe we could redefine the DOR "Option Read" skill (which currently applies only to linebackers) as a more general DRR "Read & React" skill that could apply to defensive linemen - that would fit okay with drops and spies. Or we can leave it as a skill that applies only to linebackers, who already have the necessary skills, as it doesn't really impact the game that much.

The current list of combinations is below. Feedback? Different from what you expected?
DE - FD GL ES - - -
DT - FD GL TS - - -

Now to do the same on offence. Erk.

PLAY CALL ORDERS - Wednesday 28th Mar 2012 - Part 2/3 Top

Where we have lists of play calls (training, stats etc) they're currently listed in an order that is fairly arbitrary (mostly the order in which the plays have been added to the game) and maybe it's time to sort that out and either put them into logical groups or in alphabetical order, or maybe in groups and then alphabetical order within each group. Opinions? What's going to make the listings easiest to read and understand?

OPTION DRAW & DELAY - Wednesday 28th Mar 2012 - Part 3/3 Top

The option draw (which is defined as a passing play, in spite of the name) is primarily a feature of multi-receiver spread offences, and we've got it handing off to a DE (Delay) play for the fullback even though in the spread the back is normally going to be a half back (although blitz pickups are a major part of the skillset for a spead option half back, he's still an RB in our terms, not a FB). It probably isn't affecting the game at present but it's going to be a problem in the future - one day you'll wake up with lots of confusion penalties on offence (or maybe fumbles when the QB tries to hand off to a FB who isn't in the formation).

So we're going to need another play, a halfback delay audible. Or we rename the option draw (pass) as a passing play and then use OD as the draw play like the name suggests. We could probably make the audible hand off to the full back if present or the half back if he isn't (on the grounds that if you do it with a full back in the formation then he's the blocking back and your half back is probably a receiver). We could do the same with the option screen (where the OS is the downfield pass and the DC is the screen, which I think it confusing for anyone getting into the playbook for the first time).

We may need extra formations (or play calls) to allow coaches to decide whether to keep the full back in a single back formation. We could maybe have one or more formations with two half backs and no full back - or for dropping a tight end into the backfield instead of a fullback. But I don't think these are a priority.

SCOUTING REPORTS - Sunday 25th Mar 2012 Top

I've made some changes in scouting reports to provide give the run-pass balance of the opposition according to downs and formations. The balance by downs data should have been accumulating ever since those first appeared in the game stats, but the balance by formations (actually personnel groupings rather than formations) is new and will only start accummulating next week. As usual, please keep on eye on those stats to see if they look right. It's very easy to get them wrong. In the formation breakdown the TE-2 column is two wideouts and two tight ends - the other columns are just about the number of wide receivers).

At present I'm only giving these stats for the opposition and not giving self-scouting stats. Have a think about whether being able to see your own stats is worth the extra space in the report. Real life scouting reports do include self scouting data (I think that's what quality control coaches are for).

CUSTOMISED PLAY CALLS - Wednesday 21st Mar 2012 Top

Currently you can select the runner or receiver for each play call on offence, or allow the software to make the selection for you. A next step might be to add a further player selection for another key player on each play. That might be a key blocker, but it could also be a key player on a defence play (picking a blitzer or a spy or the doubled corner etc) or something else when necessary. It'd mean going through the whole playbook and deciding on a key player for each play (and probably a key skill at the same time).

SIGNATURE PLAYS - Saturday 17th Mar 2012, St Patrick's Day (begorrah) Top

I'm adding the actions to coach additional signature plays. The cost in LPs is equal to however many signature plays the player already has (it's not allowed for no-star players). Potential reduces the cost and is reduced the same as for other coaching actions. But do we want some rules for which players you can coach on which play? I'm tempted to make the choice quite limited by restricting it to runners and receivers - and then add a few other specific skill matches. Opinions? Ideas?

DRAFT LIST - Friday 16th Mar 2012 Top

Not much feedback on LP values on the draft and free agent lists - I will go ahead and change the minimum bid values (for free agent signings) to be the same as the waiver value of the player (except the 10 LP minimum will still apply) and the same value will be the one quoted on the draft list. That eliminates a rule that I think we don't really need any more.

There's also not been much feedback on setting values for draft picks when drafting down - I've settled for using the actual waiver values of the players on the draft list. Again, it avoids having to make up a rule with a formula or a big table of draft values. A coach can see the expected value of a pick just by looking it up on the draft list itself. We'll drop the adjustment for the most vaulable player available - the value we use will be the value of the player at your position in the draft order (ie. if you're picking 9th then the expected value for your 1st round pick is that of the guy at number 9 on the list, for your 2nd round pick look at the guy at 33).

A possibility might be to activate it only if the difference is more than a few points - but I'll only put that rule in if it seems necessary and at the moment I'm thinking it isn't. We've added enough extra things that you want to spend LPs on (that won't bung up your rosters) that I think the ability to beg a few extra LPs a going to be useful.

BUGWATCH - Saturday 10th Mar 2012 Top

Scouting actions this time ignored the draft list and scanned only the free agent list (that's correct in NFLCB but not in NFLCA) because I didn't update the action to know the draft list was available (it was working according to whether the draft was in progress, which it isn't).

The LP values in the NFLCA draft list are wrong - what appeared this week are the mimimum bid values (again, confused because the draft hasn't actually started). Should be fixed next time. It seems like having two different values is a complication we could remove, either by using minimum bid values on the draft list (ugly) or by the changing minimum bid values to be the same as waiver values (that being what the LP values are). I think player strengths and skills are a lot more varied in this version so there doesn't really need to be a premium on minimun bid values anyway - there's no reason you should pay more to sign someone than you get when you release him. Especially as the values are only different for players who don't have extra or special teams skills.

DEFENCE FORMATIONS- Monday 5th Mar 2012 Top

In order to integrate the defence formations properly I think we will need to set some default formations - there are defences it makes little or no sense to call from a base formation. The trick is going to be to decide which ones, and whether to make a "no selection" different from an actual selection of base formation (eg. if you want to call wide coverage width only four DBs then we want that to be possible, but if you haven't made a decision then your defence formation should presumably be a dime).

One option is to simply decide which standard defence formations are needed and have those set when a gameplan is first created (and also applied to any where it hasn't already been done) and then leave it alone after that. That's simplest. It would be annoying for anyone who's reset any plays to their base defence and really wants them that way, but I doubt there are many of those.

OPTION DRAW - Sunday 4th Mar 2012 Top

I'm still working on the balance for option draws - don't forget this is a completely new form of play call (it's not like an option pass or an option run because it has an audible before the snap instead of an option in execution) and it may take some time to get it working right. Giving it some exercise and analysis would be a good idea.

You may find you need to think differently about how you defend against an option draw attack. Rather than look for a killer defence (which the offence may be able to read and react to) you need to be smarter. They're going to run or pass according to what the defence appears to be doing, so use defences that disguise what you're doing and use defensive formations that don't match your play call. Bring unexpected or delayed blitzers. Put a man in the box and then drop him into coverage. Throw defensive backs into run defence from outside the box.

I'm not promising those will work, but they all have elements that tip the odds in favour of the defence - whether that will be enough, I don't know. When these offences first appeared (as the "run and shoot") the preferred defence was all out aggression. That might work. But maybe fiddle with the formation as you do it so as to avoid showing your hand.

WORKOUT ACTIONS - Saturday 3rd Mar 2012 Top

The new WORKOUT action (code is WO) should be available in the special actions box on the online turnsheet. You put the draft (1-99) or free agent (100-170) number of the player you want to look at it in the SHIRT box and that gets you a full report of the strengths and skills of the player you've asked for. Workout actions should be listed in the league report so coaches can all see who's looking at what. An action to create a free agent or a scout action that finds only one player should provide a workout report as well (these aren't listed in the league report). There's an extra fixed action for workouts as well.

NEW PLAYER SKILLS - Friday 2nd Mar 2012 Top

I've been designing an easter egg hunt today, so for you guys I have an alternative to search this site for the new player skills I added this week. They're already in the software but no-one has them on their rosters and they're not on the draft or free agent lists. I haven't added them to the turnsheets either since there aren't yet any players to scout for.

DRAFT CHANGES - Thursday 1st Mar 2012 Top

I've extended the changes to the layout of the draft list - the way nominal and extra values are shown in old Gameplan looks pretty untidy in this version so I've changed it to show two values all the time as main-extra (eg. ILB 2-1 DRO for a 2-point ILB with an extra strength) and I'm including LP values in the draft list as well (I think the order players are shown on the draft list is the order of their LP values). I've removed the age column to show potential instead.

We'll need to do something to replace the current rule for drafting down since the new skills mean actual player values are higher and nominal values are not as relevant as they were. We probably need something based on the draft order (how many places you drop relative to the top man available) or on LP values (the difference between the highest value available and the player you actually draft) or maybe assigning an LP value to each pick (which is closer to what happens in a real draft, but seems less useful than using the LP values of the players actually available).

If we can't think of anything smarter I'll change it to go by LP values instead of nominal values (simplest to go 30, 20, 10 for each round instead if 3, 2, 1) although that does mean drafting a 3-0 or a 2-3 in the first round would be worth compensation - unless we treat the players on the draft list as being full effectiveness or value them by minimum bid values instead.

In NuGameplan we're going to stick to 24 team leagues, so we have the option of extending the draft with a fourth rounds (24 teams => 96 players and we have 99 on a draft list). The late picks would might often find themselves with no-one available they can use, but the rules already cope with that.

SIGNATURE PLAYS - Wednesday 29th Feb 2012 Top

In the end I decided to revise the signature plays the same on offence as on defence and I've re-done them this time. Depending on feedback this may be the final run and we can start looking at connecting them up and deciding what actions we want for adding or deleting them. The next step is going to be to add the same data to the players on the draft and free agent lists.

The online turnsheet has been updated to allow the new player types in free agent actions (scout and create) and we're working on adding the workout action. I haven't yet decided which extra actions (if any) are needed for scouting and workouts. At present I'm leaning towards no extra scouting action (you use the special action) but adding either one or two workout actions and/or adapting the free agent bid box for workouts (so any failed bid, including one with a blank price, would involve a workout - which seems reasonably logical).

BUGWATCH - Saturday 25th Feb 2012 Top

The signature plays will need to be re-done again next week, but I think we're mostly done fiddling with those. I will be taking out the old FS and FA actions (scouting and creating free agents using the draft codes) and then I will eliminate the draft codes from the rules (the coaching codes will remain).

If you do any coaching you should find the LB codes work on both inside and outside linebackers, the DL codes work on defensive tackles and ends, the DB codes on both corners and safeties and the RB codes should now work on both FBs and RBs.

At least two coaches had actions fail due to the player types - one a select starter and the other a scouting action (you need to use the new player types - the website doesn't know about those yet but it will soon).

PLAY BY PLAY - Monday 30th Jan 2012 Top

I've tweaked the "breakout" description on running plays to appear only on the second missed tackle. If only one tackler misses a FB he'll be described as "powers for gain..." (could be imnproved) and an HB will be "cutback for gain..." (not sure that shouldn't really be a tactical description that depends on the play call). Haven't thought of suitable text for WRs or QBs.

BUGWATCH - Saturday 28th Jan 2012 Top

Not much to report so far. The league stats part of the scouting has a large font size - if you need it changed I can fix that and re-send the turn easy enough in NFLCB (in NFLCA you've got the full league stats anyway so that part of the report is already redundant). The fourth quarter stats in the scouting report showed the whole game stats instead of only the fourth quarter, should be fixed next time. Didn't see many of you shifting players around ahead of the upcoming changes in player types.

I will disable the free scouting action for anyone that moans about it.

KICK & PUNT RETURNS - Saturday 21st Jan 2012 Top

If I add a rare tackling skill for kickers and punters covering their own kicks and punts what field position do we think you can reach before they get to join in? They're only effective on long returns, obviously.

PLAYER TYPES - Friday 20th Jan 2012 Top

The RB-FB split turned out to be simpler than I expected (I hope I'm not temping fate by saying that) and it's the most complicated of the position and player type changes, so I think we can push on with the other changes very soon. This means you need to attend to your rosters and get people swappled into the spots you want them (corners vs safeties, inside vs outside linebackers, defensive tackles vs ends, offensive tackles vs interior linemen).

Among defensive backs we have to decide which player types to assign for the NCB and DCB. To make roster management easy it's tempting to go for one of each, but star rated safeties are rare and adequate corners are common so I'm tempted to go for both backups being corners. Which would mean replacing a safety is going to be harder to manage since the next guy up isn't going to be already on your roster. But that's not going to be a problem unless rosters fill up in this version like they did in the old one.

I intend that centers and guards will be interchangeable but I will introduce a SNAP skill that you will want for your center (so linemen that have it are good centers but can also play guard, ones that don't have it are only guards). I might even go for separate skills for shotgun and long snaps, although the latter would mean adding an otherwise not very interesting long snapper to the roster and doesn't really add much to the game except some extra rules.

Later we can think about what actions we want for selecting players out of position (which I think I like better than changing player types). The obvious things to fiddle with are reduced/full effectiveness, potential and experience.

PLAYER STATS ON DEFENCE - Thursday 19th Jan 2012 Top

At some point, probably not very soon, I will want to look at adding some player stats on defence, and that's going to mean finding a way of selecting individual players on each play. The method on offence is based on the play call, and that obviously ins't going to work on defence: I'm going to have to assign players according to where the event occurred and what the offence was trying to do and the skills of the players on defence - except sometimes it'll be about what the defence was doing. It's not going to be simple. I might stop short of allocating tackles and passes defended, at least to start with, and just go for sacks, safeties, interceptions, fumbles caused and recovered, and return yardage.

SCOUTING - Wednesday 18th Jan 2012 Top

The next thing to look at is scouting the free agent and draft lists - we're only a few weeks from the first draft list appearing in the advanced league. You can already scan for particular combinations of player type and strength/skill and that will be the easiest way to get the information you're looking for - but I'm thinking we might add a new action to take a closer look at a particular player by bringing them in for a workout (to get most or all the same data you get on signing someone). The wrinkle would be the other coaches would see you did it and they'd know who you're interested in.

I think I'd like to push ahead and delete the old actions for scouting and for creating free agents, as well as most or all of the draft codes (the new ones, at least, but probably all of them). The idea being that you're supposed to scout in advance of making your draft picks and the draft codes should no longer be needed. So that's a rather clunky and cumbersome rule we could get rid off.

FULLBACKS - Tuesday 17th Jan 2012 Top

I'm going ahead now with updating play definitions and team strengths to separate FBs and RBs properly. This means you need to be clear who you're giving the ball to (and how) as your running backs are no longer interchangeable (eg. an FB-OPS will have little effect on a pass to a HB) and you need to know which players are effective in which formations (currently your FB is only on the field when you have two backs together in the backfield). Any existing selections of runners or receivers that are the "wrong" player type shouldn't be affected, but you shouldn't be able to order any new ones.

The plays being changed are
RG, LG, FI, FO, FP, FL and FC are FB plays so the individual/key skills are FB only
RT, LT, HI, HO, HL, HP, HC and SC are RB/HB plays so the individual/key skills are RBs only.

Eventually I think we might need to add extra formations according to which backs are doing what, or we might be able to get away with modifying some of the ones we've already got. In the long run we may need separate plays for RBs lining up at HB or TB and backs lining up as H-Backs or up-backs or wing-backs. Or we do something clever with using them on plays for tight ends since that's pretty much the position they're playing.

SCOUTING REPORT & LEAGUE STATS - Monday 16th Jan 2012 Top

At present the comparison of the seasons stats takes up about a third of a page in the scouting report, but we could put out the same information by including the whole season stats every week and highlighting the two teams inside that. That would be better since the numbers would be in context with the other 22 teams and I could put other stuff in the scouting report. The downside is two extra pages in the report but all the feedback I've had so far is from people who are happy with the idea, so I'll go ahead and phase it in. We could also look at what's in the game stats that would be useful in the league stats or in the scouting report.

PLAY DESCRIPTIONS - Sunday 15th Jan 2012 Top

I'm making small changes to the text of the play by play report, and adding some extra stats keeping. Anyone with any ideas along those lines, now would be a good time to let me know. At the moment I'm trying to think of a play description of an pass that's incomplete when the receiver is dinged (at present I think you only get the description if he fumbles it) and we also need text to highlight when a receiver drops a pass due to being dinged previously (as they do). We should probably have a toughness skill for receivers who don't care about being dinged (or even being resistant to being dinged in the first place) although it's more noticeable for the players who lack it.

The changes so far are that when the defence makes a play on the ball to defend a pass, the description should read "pass defended" and when they ding the receiver for an incomplete pass the description should be "pass broken up". We only say "dinged" or "popped" etc when they catch and fumble. For the time being you can't hold on to a pass when you're dinged (not because you can't do it but because it wouldn't count as a ding if you still have the ball). You should see "pass dropped" only when a receiver is hearing footsteps (most of the previous dropped pases should come out as "defended"). Passes defended and dropped are now in the game stats.

Dumpoff receivers still only get reported when they catch a pass, so they still don't get dings or jump balls or sticky hands catches, and also don't get the blame on incomplete or dropped passes.


Every time I see a real life team stuff up by putting a bad prevent defence in place I wonder if we do that adequately in Gameplan. In real life we usually see the offence is up for it - good offences look smooth and well practised against defences that look unready and unpractised. I guess that's partly because of the change in personnel and partly because their in-game adjustments go out the door. Offences live and breath those situations, defences focus on getting into them but not on what to do when they get there.

How about we have a separate set of bonus plays, strengths and keys for late in the game? That apply always in the fourth quarter? That would give coaches some tough nasty decisions to make. The first ones being whether to use those orders to support your offence or your defence, and to chase the game or protect the lead. Or some of each, for balance. And there would be nothing to stop you having the same bonus and keys in the fourth quarter as the rest of the game (ie. same as now).

And yes I already thought about doing it only in hurry up and prevent, but in that case you need two sets and there are awkward interactions with how your write your gameplan and limiting how the situations are defined - some coaches will be using fake hurry-ups and disguised hurry-ups etc. We don't want the choices made by one coach to control how the gameplan written by the opponent is interpreted. Also, if the choices depend on the situation they're pretty much automatic and not interesting.

FULL BACKS - Saturday 7th Jan 2012 Top

I'm going ahead with introducing FB as a separate player type with immediate effect. Those of you who have an RB in the FB slot on your roster will need to tell me if you don't want his player type changed from RB to FB (say what and why so I can look at tweaking the rules for everyone). Same goes if you've got a back you want at FB and he's in one of the other slots as you won't be able to swap FBs and RBs around (unless or until we have actions for changing player types, which won't be happening anytime soon). I've done a quick scan of the rosters in both leagues and I don't see any teams that should have a problem. You need to let me know in good time - well before the coming round of turns - so I can make the necessary adjustments.

I'm adding a new set of play calls (HI, HO, HL, HP and both HC ad FC) which are currently exact copies of the existing FI, FO, FL, FP and SC passes. This week both FBs and RBs should count their skills on both sets of plays but after that the "F" plays will be passes to the fullback and the H plays and SC will go to the RBs (halfbacks or utility back). Note the HC & SC screen pases will still be duplicates after the FB change but it seems best to have a consistent set of names for the new play calls. Training already done on the old play calls should appear on the new ones as well.

For coaching codes the FB code is for the FB (the only thing you can coach a FB in is ORI) and the other RB codes are for RBs only (so those guys can be coached in ORO and OPS but not in ORI).

A little bit down the line we may run into some issues over which backs are on the field in which formation, either when you have only one back and want it to be your FB or when you have two backs and don't want your FB. Maybe we'll need more formations, or maybe we'll be able to make the choices automatic, depending on team/training strengths The RR action is limited by the player types, so you won't be able to use that to exchange roles unless we make a deliberate tweak so that you can - but I think any selections you've already made will be unaffected.

PLAYER SKILLS - Thursday 5th Jan 2012 Top

A small change for new players created is the HWK skill for linebackers (interceptions) should associate only with a DPS strength as it doesn't make much sense for a LB who can't cover passes to be good at intercepting them. This won't impact players who already have the skill added (for now). Some of the existing strengths have always been linked this way - and there are also some that are exclusive (if a player has the one, he won't have the other). Anybody got ideas for more skills that should interact with each other like this? Combinations that go together, and combinations that don't go together?

PLANNING - Thursday 5th Jan 2012 Top

Now there's no turnsheet I think using a layout/planning sheet for writing your orders is a sensible thing to do (although I think most coaches just write on the previous gameplan) but there’s no reason for it to be part of the game report. It won’t all fit on a turnsheet any more anyway. Anyone have any good ideas for things to put on a planning sheet? It'll probably be multiple pages. I can have it turned out as a PDF and downloadable if you guys want to knock it together.

The average and relative strengths on the listing apply to your roster, not including form. We could have values for average and relative home and road strengths, but in practice would we want your home strengths against everyone else’s home strengths? Or against their road strengths? Those are what you’d be playing against if you meet them. And your road strengths and their road strengths? Or against their home strengths? That all seems too complicated to be worth doing. Better you have your roster strengths compared and leave it to you to judge whether your form is good enough to fill in the gaps.

BUGWATCH - Monday 2nd Jan 2012 Top

The listing of game stats and training for dumpoffs and bootlegs were still wrong this week - but at least they were wrong in different ways to last time. The team schedule listing is still not reliable. Should be fixed for next turn. The scout/report stats keeping is wrong for defences in a rather random manner and the quick fix is to delete this week's stats and try again by starting over next time. The tally of best plays didn't work right but that should come right next time.

The logic on option draws didn't work right this week so I've done a rewrite. The changes are quite major, of the sort that might have unintended impact on other events (especially in relation to how we handle making plays that are different to the original play call - like on options, scrambles and dumpoffs - so keep an eye on those in the coming weeks). At present I'm not completely sure we can use this play without defence formations being assigned on every play - it might be we'll need to assign default formations for any defence calls where the coaches haven't made a selection. It doesn't make much sense to have the formation modifiers without using them on plays where the change is personnel is obvious. But we'll see what happens with the revised version.

Expect the new play calls to take a while to settle down as I work on the balance and definitions and you guys work out how to use them and scheme against them. Don't forget this is an experimental version of the game - work on new features takes priority over fairness and you can win or lose games due to me fiddling about. Although I do try to keep it within reasonable bounds, the priority is working towards a future stable version. More mess now means getting a better game later.

PLAYBOOK - Thursday 22nd Dec 2011 Top

The new playbook is in place and the play calls are available on the turnsheet. Some of the new skills will become more relevant now the corresponding play calls are available. I hope you've noticed where some of the old play calls might be more useful where they use the new skills.

I've modified the way new players are added to rosters, aiming to get them to drop into the highest empty slot (previously they often took the second slot when there were two places available).

I've also changed the way fumbles are assigned with fewer fumbled snaps in shotgun formations but more fumbled handoff - and more fumbled snaps when the QB under centre as you seem to have all managed to eliminate those entirely.

BUGWATCH - Friday 16th Dec 2011 Top

The listing of game stats and training for dumpoffs and bootlegs were wrong this week - it repeated all the other offensive plays instead. The defensive confusion penalities still showed zero yards in reports but were assessed correctly and the formation training box if left blank was reverting to "A" formation instead of repeating the previous selection. All these should be fixed for next time.

MEDIUM RANGE PASSES - Wednesday 14th Dec 2011 Top

People sometimes think we are missing intermediate and medium range passes in Gameplan because we classify pass plays as being either short or long, but we're not - the meium range paases are the short-and-go and the the deep-and-comeback patterns. Either you're running a pattern into the short zones and go beyond - or a pattern goes into the deep zones for a catch in front of the safeties. Some of these depend on OPL skills and some need a combination of OPS & OPL together (or another speed skill).

FREE AGENTS, DRAFT & SCOUTING CODES - Tuesday 13th Dec 2011 Top

I've decided not to implement the new draft/scouting codes as they're too clunky. We've got two new actions instead - CR creates a new free agent (like the FA action) and SC scouts for players already on the free agent list (like the FS action). On Create you can enter a value in the shirt number box, the same as for the FA action.

The new element with the CR and SC actions is the text in the name box is the player type and the strength (in that order and with a dash in between, eg. QB-OPL) and nothing else. The website won't stop you trying silly combinations - but the action will fail when I process it. The coaching codes and actions are still valid (for coaching and drafting by type) as before. The FA and FS actions are still working - they just can't see the new skills and combinations because they're stuck with the same old draft codes.

FREE AGENTS - Sunday 11th Dec 2011 Top

Currently the FA action that creates new free agents is not allowed during the draft, but I can't see why. You're allowed to bid for them, and your only advantage is that you have a scouting report and the other coaches probably don't. Any guesses? Maybe it could be allowed. We have more than enough rules already, so removing some pointless ones would be a good idea. Opinions?

NEXT CHANGES - Friday 9th Dec 9011 Top

I think we can put the new playbook into place after this coming turn so don't be in a rush to get your turn next time (because we'll need the website to be updated and that sometimes takes a while). Either that or do your turn without using the new play calls.

This turn I think it makes sense to go around and add some of the new player skills to rosters and see if those introduce any obvious problems. The plan is to add a fixed number of skills to each roster, but they'll be very random. Anyone that doesn't get their full quota (three) should get extra LPs instead. I'll leave the free agent list without updates as usual - new arrivals might have the new skills but the guys already there will still be who you expect them to be.

CHANGES TO DRAFT - Thursday 8 Dec 2011 Top

We'll need to start looking at changes to the draft fairly soon. The major one is creating the draft list earlier in the season and allowing you to scout it properly. Then I can eliminate the draft codes and drafting by type - you'd have to scout the players you want beforehand and then pick by number. That would make the rules and processing simpler (replacing a very clunky rule with something a lot more natural) and it would give you something else useful and forward looking to do at the tail end of a season.

MORE PLAYER SKILLS & DRAFT CODES - Wednesday 7th Dec 2011 Top

Also added, but not yet having any effect because they're not included on rosters are new player skills
  SPD for speed, set against the breakout skill,
  COV for coverage when playing tight man to man, WRs and DBs,
  HWK for ball hawks when playing for interceptions
  DOR for option read, defending against run options and misdirections,
  JMP is also available for DBs defending against jump balls, and
  SCR for scramble is also available for running backs scrambling on broken plays

The corresponding draft/scout codes will be
  DC for DB-COV, DX for DB-SPD, DA for DB-HWK, DJ for DB-JMP, LA for LB-HWK, LR for LB-DOR and
  WC for WR-COV, RS for RB-SCR.

BUGWATCH - Tuesday 6th Dec 2011 Top

Not much reported so far this week - I've actually spent more time chasing false error reports than real ones. The defensive confusion penalties weren't formatted right but they do seem to have worked correctly. The team fixtures list (half of you are saying "what?" because you haven't seen it) needs work but it's not a high priority and I'll continue tinkering with it as we go. There is/was an obscure path by which defensive play calls could get into your catchall situation on offence and that's been fixed. But I shouldn't think many of you are using catchalls and if you are then you've probably put your own play calls in place (it's only the default ones could be wrong). There was also a problem with renaming actions, now fixed.

Free agents who were already on the list won't have new skills added because that would change their minimum bid values. Newly created free agents CAN have the new skills, even before I've added them on existing rosters.

REPORT FORMATS - Tuesday 6th Dec 2011 Top

If your game reports aren't coming out right, check if you've got the font installed on your computer. I dunno how it goes on a Mac, but Windows and Linux both seem unable to find suitable fonts to use instead (although they claim they do). At the moment the the font I'm using is Lucida Sans Typewriter (LST). If you don't have this then pick one you do have (there's a box at the bottom of the turnsheet) or selected EMBED so you don't need it (that puts the font information inside your game report - the downside is the file is that much bigger). If you want the font we use in the old version then pick COURIER.

FORMATION CHANGES - Thursday 1st Dec 2011 Top

I did notice during a recent update that I already included a tweak in the basic game that downrates your training for a situation if you make drastic changes in formation for that situation relative to your previous game - because a big change like that would need lots of practice. I might do something similar for changes in first down formations inside a gameplan as well, so that they need to be reasonably similar (to each other, or each sepaartely relative to your base offence).

That's all a bit clunky, so it would probably be a good idea to revisit this when we're looking at how to apply training on formations. I'm also not ruling out doing similar things in the advanced game, but they're probably not necessary in that as the opposing defence can read your formation before making their play call. The logic that justifies it still applies, though.

SCOUTING REPORTS - Tuesday 29th Nov 2011 Top

I've extended the scouting reports to separate the weakside runs from the other outside runs (the distinction up to now has just been inside or not). I haven't changed the quarter stats - they still show inside and outside - but there isn't room there for more information and I think the quarter stats should probably be just run, pass short and pass long. More interesting if we were to extend those would be information on defence - blitzes, hurries, zones etc.

Here's a project - let's replace the standard teams with new ones that have different (named) playing styles and team strengths. A power team, a west coast offence, a run and shoot, a trapping offence, an option team, a cover 2 takeway defence, an aggressive defence, whatever themes we can come up with to make the warmup phase more interesting and useful (especially important in the future when there are new coaches starting up).

PLAYER SKILLS & DRAFT CODES - Sunday 27th Nov 2011 Top

Also added, but not yet having any effect because they're not included on rosters are new player skills
  QPA for play action, QPF for pump fakes,
  TIP for Passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, DNG for ding, causing fumbles, OTR for trap blocks,
  RBI for lead blocks inside, RBO for lead blocks outside, HAN for sticky hands and JMP for catching jump balls.

The corresponding draft codes will be
  QP for QB-QPA, QF for QB-QPF,
  OT for OL-OTR, DT for DL-TIP, LD for LB-DNG, DD for DB-DNG,
  RH for RB-HAN, RI for RB-RBI, RO for RB-RBO, TH for TE-HAN,
  WB for WR-RBO, WH for WR-HAN, TJ for TE-JMP and WJ for WR-JMP.

We still lack draft codes for DPC, DKC and BRK (because those are spread across so many different player types - maybe we need to introduce a different order format).

SHIRT NUMBERS - Friday 25th Nov 2011 Top

We also have shirt numbers in the play by play listing from this week (for the nominated runner or receiver) and I expect to have to do some work to get these to come out tidy. I need you guys to let me know if silly things turn up, or are badly formatted or when the shirt numbers are missing and stuff like that. At present I've put the number where available together with the position (eg. pass complete to WR 82) although the point of putting the position in the listing originally was that it would be a placeholder for where the shirt nubmer would go later.

PLAYBOOK, STICKY HANDS & JUMP BALLS - Thursday 24th Nov 2011 Top

You can find descriptions of the new play calls in this version in the Version 2.18 Playbook page (there's a link at the top of this page). These plays are not yet available but they could be added very soon. In the meantime you might want to think whether any of the new things give you ideas about what else might be added.

I've added the path for dealing with jump balls on the sideline. We haven't yet added the skill needed for catching them (for big and agile basketball-style receivers) but you should see a small number happen on out patterns to wide receivers and tight ends anyway. I'm not adding separate play calls - instead a proportion of out passes will be catchable as jump balls and not otherwise.

The modifier for sticky hands has also been added - this is a second chance at a catch on incompletions that would otherwise be dropped. But how do we want these catches described in the play by play? I've done the same as with jump balls by allowing a small number even when the skill is absent, and then the number will increase later when we add it.

I've inserted a small change that might limit the number of very long gains on end arounds and reverses without having much impact on the more modest long gains (10-20 yards). Keep an eye on these plays and let me know if the change is visible.

CONFUSION PENALTIES - Wednesday 23 Nov 2011 Top

I've stepped up the rate of "confusion penalities" on offence a little. Those are the ones you get when you call plays that don't match the formation - and they could probably go further still. I've also added confusion penalities against the defence where you call run defences with extra defensive backs in the formation (so a GL D6 might result in someone jumping offside when he realises he's plugging two gaps instead of one). I figure what's good for the offence is good for the defence.

BREAKOUT SKILLS - Wednesday 23 Nov 2011 Top

I'm in the middle of separating the punt and kick return skills from the "breakout" skill (running in open field and after the catch). That will make it possible to make the breakout skill available to players who aren't eligible as returners (tight ends, michael vicks, etc). Players already on rosters with punt or kick return skills should have the new breakout skill added, but new players created could have either (and can still have both).

DERIVATIVE PLAYS - Sunday 20th Nov 2011 Top

I'm introducing an additional feature where some play calls are up-rated for other play calls you've made previously. That's where one specific play sets up the defence for some other play (over and above the generic stuff like rushing sets up play action etc). So how about you guys have a think and provide some feedback on what plays you think set up which other plays (and by that I mean say why, don't just give me a list). We'll see which ones match the plays I've got already and whether I've missed any. Some of the new play calls to be introduced soon use the feature, so you can also think about play calls we don't already have.

And no, I won't be telling you the answers, or which ones are included and which aren't. Real coaches have to work it out for themselves - but thinking about it now might help when it comes to deciding what to try later.

We could think about having derivative plays on defence as well. Some defensive coordinators and schemes are known for setting up offences by tempting them into unfortunate adjustments.

UPDATES - Tuesday 8th Nov 2011 Top

Scripts, the catchall situation, overcalls and hail mary plays should all be enabled and working, and available on turn sheets. There was also a fault with setting situation names last time (the turnsheet was sending your yards to line setting in the situation name field) but that should now be fixed.

I'm currently looking at how to introduce max protection, which I think to be a small set of play calls (a very small set - there's really very little you can do once you decide to keep everyone home to protect the QB) and a tackle eligible pass play (existing calls look sufficient for the running and scrambling that already benefit from the extra blocker).

BUG HUNTING - Monday 7th Nov 2011 Top

It looks like the DE Play 0 to reset a defence to base formation wasn't working, should now be fixed. There was at least one actual FS action that found a suitable free agent, and said so, but failed to report back which one (duuuh...). If you made a bid this week for a free agent with extra skills (special teams, scrambling) according to the minimum bid values reported last time then the correction already in place will have meant you didn't get you man (because his minimum bid value will have been corrected) and his description should have changed with the extra strengths and value now showing in the game report.

Note that when I'm updating player data for new skills the routine for players on rosters is different from the one for players on the free agent list or draft list. On rosters you might gain strengths and LP values might change, but for free agents I try to preserve the LP value of the player so that anyone bidding still gets what they bid for (the issue with bids this time was the reporting error last week, not the player data actually changing, but it does show why it needs to be this way).

Incidentally, if players on your roster are updated ways that increase their LP values then then that will feed into the allocations of LPs at the end of season (at the start of the draft) except when I'm adding strengths for everyone (as I will be doing shortly - I'll roll out some of the new skills by handing out a set number to each team).

CHANGES PENDING - Wednesday 2nd Nov 2011 Top

After the turns this week I think we'll be able to put all the pending changes into play. That's scripted situations, overcalls, the catchall situation and hail mary plays. Probably all in the turnsheet by the weekend.

You'll probably notice new play calls appearing in parts of the game report - I'll let you know when they're available for use. Some will probably be available after next turn (in a couple of weeks). The CP play is already in use - it's a Checkdown Pass that currently is an exact copy of the DP play (you can't call it anyway so it doesn't matter whether it's available on the turnsheet or not). Later I might adjust the yardage function on the two plays so it's slightly different. The ability of a secondary receiver to get open deep or by breaking off in comeback pattern might be different as well.

It's mainly to de-clump the receiving stats - the routine making that matches receivers to play calls will try to allocate the SP, CP and DP plays to different receivers (when we add a fatigue rule you'll want to give it a hand so not all the plays go to the same guy).

NFLCB BASIC STARTUP - Saturday 29th Oct 2011 Top

The final round up of warmup and unscheduled pre-season games and the league startup for NFLCB are coming out today. The last team selection turned out to be a coach who decided ages ago not to bother and also decided not to bother telling us. Nice. Ever wondered why GMs are not quite as player-friendly as you'd like us to be?

Anyone who didn't already have a gameplan will have had one written by the computer and then had a pre-season game against a warmup team (so as to generate a report with your gameplan in it). Perhaps in NuGameplan the league startup could include a round of unscheduled games as a matter of routine since it doesn't cost extra paper and postage and handling like it would have done in the old version. I've set a longish deadline so that both leagues will run together.

Let me know about any gremlins you spot. I already know about some dates coming out silly, and I think I've hunted that one down and squashed it. And you already know what day it is, so no problem.

The values of the scrambling QBs on the free agent list aren't right, but should be corrected before you can do anything about it - so leave them alone. It looks like the same goes for players with kick and punt coverage skills (since there are none that are visible) and probably all the special teams skills (I can't see any kick or punt returners, and the kickers and punters look under valued). I've run some tests and I think it's fixed.

ADVANCED TURNSHEETS - Thursday 27th Oct 2011 Top

Work on adding stuff for the recent additions to the turnsheets is in progress, but the new things won't actually work (they should input okay but not be read into your gameplans) until I connect them up - and that can't be done until after NFLCB has started (I'm waiting on one last coach) and I've processed all the turns written before the website changed.

THERE'S A SQUIRREL IN THE ENDZONE - Tuesday 25th Oct 2011 Top

Still chasing gremlins... the "fixed" DE and RR actions weren't processed this week. I think the normal action should have been (except blanks ones, see below) and the fixed SS action should have been okay as well.

I'm considering adding a module to introduce some really rare random events, perhaps including punt returners distracted by rodents on the field of play and probably some more sensible ones. Perhaps we should start making a list of interesting things that might happen? Or that have happened? Onfield events for sure, maybe off-field events as well.

BUG HUNTING - Friday 21st Oct 2011 Top

There's a fault in NuGameplan game reports (looks like it's been there a while) so that play timings are wrongly reported when the number of seconds in the time gone is less than ten (the zero to pad the number of seconds was being inserted one character to the right, so if time gone was 59:08 it would appear as 59:80). Actual timings aren't affected, just the report, now fixed.

Surprisingly considering you guys played a squintillion pre-season games, no-one noticed that sorting in advanced gameplan wasn't working (it works okay with manual input, but not with online turns in NuGameplan). Now fixed.

And I inserted the wrong standby coach. Bears coach is John Coleman, not Iain George, who is already at the Dolphins. This was way easier when we had paperwork, I could only process it once.

I tweaked some of the static rules and changes pages a little while ago so you might find some of the waffle has changed a bit. Mostly just with stuff that has appeared on this page (otherwise you have to do a text search with your browser...) but also with a few things I thought I'd written about but only in emails.

REGULAR SEASON - Thursday 20th Oct 2011 Top

It's the first round of regular season games this week, so various bits of the software and reports that we haven't used up to now will kick in and there will probably be a whole herd of gremlins for me to chase. Little ones, I hope. If you've got a scrambling QB please pay particular attention to what he's doing to see it's changed much from before (the data definition and access methods are completely different so all sorts of mistakes are possible).

The email utility failed part way through having done most reports but not all, but the log file failed as well so I don't know which ones worked and which ones didn't. Let me know if you didn't get yours. Also let me know if you got two copies: I made a guess at which ones didn't make it and re-sent them.

So far I've cleaned up the messy listings of special actions in the league report. The strange FS actions in your game reports are because if you make no actions you get a repeat of your last scouting action - but you don't have any previous scouting actions so it repeats a blank one. I'll tweak it to do a random one if you didn't do one before.

A soon as I'm happy with this round of games I'll run the final batch of unshceduled games in the NFLCB and issue the startup turn for that. Once that's been done we'll be able to start moving some other things forward. I will be trying to put in some new play calls as soon as I can: most of the changes so far are in the advanced game and I think we need a bit more activity in the basic version.

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