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Old 08-19-2009, 09:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Online League Market Research

Proposed 21st Century Baseball league

Part of developing and selling a great product is to determine the wants and needs of the marketplace.

I have been kicking this idea around rather seriously for the last few months, and have run a few dozen leagues trying things out, getting X to do what I want it to do. Most of the time, I fail to get the league to do what I want to do. So, I determine what went wrong, what would be needed to fix it, and then start all over again. I've gotten almost all the kinks worked out, I am happy to say, and my dress rehearsal league has run for 106 seasons so far with great success.

Now that I am getting OOTP to do what I want it to do, I can start asking questions from the pool of GM's. I am not ready today to take this project live. That would require me to spend some cash on domain name registration, and web hosting, getting the plumbing of the league ready to go. I can't afford to right now, having been unemployed for eight months. But, my projected league is moving forward, and I have developed a survey for as many people as possible to fill out.

Here is a link to my set of survey questions:

Proposed 21st Century Baseball league..

Background

I got hooked on playing a baseball game in the spring of 1987. My younger brother Jeremy and I bought the 1986 Strat-o-Matic season set. We had gotten hooked on playing Strat-o-Matic football in the early 80's. We saved our 50 cents a week allowances for two months in order to buy the latest NFL card set. At some point, we bought (or were given) S-o-M Baseball, and I never looked back. Baseball was the game.

Of course, no league was customized enough to suit us, so we tinkered with the league setup, contracted some teams, drafted some players, and even invented some rookies by purchasing the generic cards that were offered. My brother Jeremy and I got a friend named Jeremy involved (in high school, I had two friends named Jeremy, a brother named Jeremy and five friends named Jeff...it was complicated!) and we played about a billion games. We went through a forest in notebook paper.

Eventually, we went to college and our separate ways. My brother got the S-o-M PC game and played it regularly with our friend Jeremy. I enjoyed Front Page Sports (football and baseball), then when my friend Jeremy showed me Front Office Football, I played his copy for about 10 minutes before buying my own copy. Each game was nice (and FOF was incredible) but, they did not scratch my itch the way I wanted it to.

More than six years ago, during the Christmas shopping season, I tried to figure out a cool present to get my friend Jeremy. I decided to get him a copy of OOTP 4. I bought it, and sent him the license info. About a month passed, and my first daughter was born. I took almost 2 1/2 weeks off at work to be with wife and child. This lead to a lot of sitting around with nothing to do, as most of the time they just slept.

I decided to get the OOTP license code from my email, install it, and see what it was like. I got hooked instantly, and bought my own copy with my next paycheck.

I bought 4, 5, and 6 as each was released. I skipped OOTP 6.5, deciding it was little more than a money grab. I was always a solo player, building dynasties and imaginary worlds. At some point, I was invited to work on Play by Play and news story improvement between versions 5 and 6, and wrote a couple hundred lines of text. Like most OOTP fans, I waited and waited for OOTP 2006 to come out. Marc Duffy invited me to beta test the 2006 version about 12 weeks before it was released.

At that point in time, I ignored all PM's, so I did not respond. I ignored it. When I actually looked at the message, I debated to send in the NDA for about 10 seconds before clocking out rather abruptly to go fax my copy in. When I got my first beta build of OOTP 2006, I had a dual revelation. 1) This game could be the one that I had been waiting for since the mid 80's! 2) OOTP 2006 was in atrocious shape. In retrospect, I don't think it was release ready until late that summer. The summer of 2006 was not fun, but, I started a good conversation with two members of the Front Office Football Central forum and learned a lot from them. I had the attitude that the glass was half-full, not half-empty, or as others would say, a toilet bowl.

During the after action review for OOTP 2006, I was struck by how many online league players were complaining loudly about the game. I had never bothered to play online before, as it was not my style. I decided to learn by doing and figure out why online players were so pissed. I decided to join a league. I went hunting for one and found a league called eMLB. They were looking for a couple GM's, and one team that was open was the last-place Cincinnati Reds. That's my favorite team, so I applied. I did some Q&A with the commissioner, and signed on.

I got hooked on the league immediately. I took the Reds to the World Series in my first year.

I learned very quickly that online league play is sweet. The primary reason is that the player management logic comes from 30 human beings and not from the AI. Competing against fellow human beings in drafting, trading, Free Agency, player development, roster management, and the like is intense. No AI can come close.

Online league play was one of the missing parts of the puzzle for me.

Another one of the reasons I applied to take a team over in the eMLB was the genre of the league. I liked taking real world teams, fast simming a decade or more ahead, and playing the game. eMLB was seven years in the future, with a mix of aging real players and young fictional ones. I really liked that. It was pretty close to how I played solo.

So, eventually, I planned on starting my own league, to get the league set up like the way it worked out in my head in 1987. When the advent of feeder leagues came about, I about died and went to heaven. I loved it. Parts of my dream league was coming together.

So, what about my dream league?

My league would be start approximately five years in the future. Likely, it would use high school and college players to populate the draft pool. It would minimize the use of the scouting system by being talent only, or using a scale like 1-5 or 2-8. It would have a complete alternate simmed history. I am a bit of a counter-factual history fan; my bookshelves are full of alternate history. I like the idea of having a long history to draw upon, just not the history you read about on baseball-reference.com.

The league will resemble Major League Baseball, but not be a slave to it. Over time, teams should consider relocation or renaming. For instance, one great crime is the forced relocation of the Montreal Expos to the Washington DC market. Do I have to allow that in my league? Probably not. Could the DH rule be revoked in the AL? I could see it happening. Could the DH rule be added to the NL? I doubt it, but, that could be left to the GM's to vote on. Baseball is a game in constant flux; the balance between batters and pitchers has shifted back and forth. In today's game, I see pitching starting to make inroads on batting, with scoring going down. If an OOTP commish leaves the league totals alone, their leagues will turn in remarkably similar season stats, year after year. I don't plan on that happening. I have in mind a few small changes in the game based on history. You'll have to see for yourself how things change over time.

Questions and comments?
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Old 08-24-2009, 03:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raidergoo View Post
I am now analyzing the data I have collected.

Here are some points:

  • Initially, draft pick trading will be prohibited. There are two possible ways to change this. One would be by amending the rule set, the other would happen if trading of draft picks became permitted by new collective bargaining between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. I think the likelihood of MLB/MLBPA negotiations to allow pick trading to be pretty high. But, for the time being, draft pick trading will be disallowed in this league.
  • Initially, scouting will be turned off. The split in the poll is about 50-50 to use scouts. That's not high enough for me, and the intensity of those who dislike vs. like is clear, too. One of the ideas behind my league is to make things work-friendly, and scouting really puts a dampener on that.
  • Initially, coaching will be turned off. The split is better than using scouting, but it is not decisive. The effects of coaching in OOTP are not really measurable, and with all the minor league teams, there would be a whole lot of them required. I'd rather put the focus on the players than the coaches.
  • Free Agency rules will not change. A player may be granted Free Agency after completing six seasons in the big leagues.
  • There will be compensation for the loss of Free Agents.
  • No decision has been reached on how to compensate for the loss of a Free Agent.
  • There is soft support for the DH in the AL, and very, very little adding it to the NL. No decisionhas been reached yet. I am leaning towards polling the AL GM's before the league starts play to check their interest on continuing the use of the DH rule in American League play.
  • There will be a special conference before the league starts play to handle the populating of the Hall of Fame. This question had a decisive answer, with 80% support for calling for a special conference to select HoF members.
  • There will be a salary cap, and media contracts will be equal. The cap will be a soft cap, using a luxury tax to share the wealth.
  • Trading of recently drafted players will be permitted.
  • Teams will be permitted to relocate their teams. I will have to give a good deal of thought to this. I would want only about 3 teams (out of 30) to even consider this as a possibility.
  • The Expos will be kept in Montreal. Polling for was actually just slightly better than 50% to keep the Expos in place. Private discussions with people led me to this answer. Keeping the Expos makes my league a little different. The Toronto Blue Jays were the second-most requested club (Yankees were first), and the email addresses for guys requesting TOR were from Canadian in origin. Having two clubs in Canada throws the Canucks a bone. Besides, a lot of my in-laws are Canadian, so take off, eh?
  • Hidden players will not be used.
  • A team will not have the right to override a player refusing to be DFA. You will have to suck it up, and either carry the player on the main roster, or release them.
  • Utilities are considered nice luxuries. No preference is shown for either Getch or Statslab. IM will not be mandatory.
  • A full five levels of minors will be used. We'll be using ghost players too, so you don't have to field full clubs, nor will you have to worry about the pitching coach in Missoula, Montana.
  • A writing component will be mandatory. It will be one article per season. A GM should be able to write something like this article on the 2018 Tigers Hot Stove League. It's short and sweet. Since the (current) projected pace is two OOTP seasons per calendar year, a GM would have to spend 10 minutes on this twice a year.
  • GM's that choose to be more involved will be generously compensated. Cash and budget will be awarded to people who create stories and graphics for others to enjoy.
  • Feeder leagues will be used. College level feeder leagues will come from NCAA teams. This was a rather decisive result, with nearly 80% support. High School feeders will be used, but no decision on how to name them. The current math has 40 college level and 40 HS level teams. This is subject to change.
  • The league will be a talent only league. Not enough people are willing to go the Full Monty with stats only. The ratings scale has not been chosen.
A clever observer will note that not all polled questions have been answered.

I do not have an estimate when the league will launch. I do expect it to be before the start of the MLB postseason. I am starting to contact people to confirm their interest and team.

Additional details will follow, with a formal announcement concerning this in the future.


I have started to confirm GM spots from people that have asked.
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Old 08-27-2009, 10:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have recruited a full slate of GM's, and I am now gathering names for a waiting list.
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wait list is found here:

Continental Baseball League wait list request..

League starts history building tomorrow.
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