IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

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YZG
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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by YZG » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:09 pm

Hey all,

I thought I'd create a blog to talk about the progresses of my massive fictive db project, IIHF 2080 for EHM 1. Thanks to the game's newest iteration and Archi's outstanding editor, I'm finally able to create a working db for an idea I'd been having pop up in my head every now and then for years. This db, as the name suggests, is set in the future and aims to:

1. create a totally different EHM experience than what we are familiar with;
2. push the limits of db editing;
3. be fun! :)

The story behind the db
Set in the year 2080, this db explores an era of renewal in the hockey world. For well over a century and a half, the NHL stood as the world's elite hockey league. Competitor leagues arose at various points in history, such as the World Hockey Association, the Kontinental Hockey League or the Global Hockey League in 2055, but at all times, the NHL managed to outcompete its rivals, either directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, it never joined the fold of the IIHF and relations between the two have always been more or less tense, even after the Bettman era. The arrogance of the league - at all times justified by its unarguably superior budgets and competition level - reached a limit in the 2060s. The rest of the world, indeed, never quite stopped getting better at the game, and, as new technologies allowed for the maintenance of ice rinks at vastly inferior costs that those of today, more nations picked up the game, more players laced up skates and improved by leaps and bounds over time. This tendency was accelerated by the consolidation of Asia as the world's top economic power. Where pockets of hockey enthusiasts exist in many Asian countries nowadays, more money and accessible technology introduced the sports to the masses in Asia and helped develop the game over there.

This led to a most interesting situation, where many countries ended up with very good domestic leagues. With good attendance figures, the top leagues could in time afford to offer players salaries that compete with the NHL's. This encouraged a good many of the best European and Asian players to stay home. This also encouraged the various national federations to drop out of the agreement that lets the NHL draft and sign their top youngsters for a meager fee. The NHL, of course, could do without these players, as North American players largely remained. Overall level dropped a little bit, but the league remained interesting, especially since the greater gap in skill between the best players in the league and the worst fostered higher scoring games. But, the tensions we see today between the NHLPA and the owners never quite disappeared. This proved to be the league's downfall. CBA negotiations could never happen without partial or total lockouts, which helped drive the public away; if the NHL's hockey spectacle was not so reliably available, other leagues of similar calibre existed elsewhere and were worth following. The ultimate NHL lockout, which stretched for all of three seasons from 2073 to 2076, simply killed the league off.

With globalization even stronger then than in 2018, the IIHF came up in 2077 with a bold plan that was presented to all of its members. They would merge and realign all of the domestic leagues to form 20 international superleagues. The goal: limit the number of major leagues worldwide and facilitate the following of them all by greater numbers of hockey enthusiasts. Superleagues would have 20 or 30 teams, and most would have several lower divisions, linked together by promotion and relegation. The top teams of each of these leagues would then play in a worldwide tournament similar in concept to the UEFA's Champions League in football (and indeed to the Champions Hockey League) in order to determine a global champion team. The proposal was studied thoroughly, drafts were made, debates were had, all kinds of emotions were felt, but in the end, by May 13th 2078, every member nation had accepted the proposal. In an increasingly global world, the IIHF also allowed subnational regions to apply for full membership, as if they were sovereign countries, even if they, in fact, are still part of a larger country. These regions are typically regions with significantly different culture than that of the country they are in. About 20 of these had been granted membership by 2080. Many of these regions, such as Wales or Cornwall, have experienced a cultural revival in the previous decades and felt they would fit in as full members. Others, such as Québec or South Tyrol, have always been distinct from the rest of their country and keenly interested in hockey. These memberships were accepted by every IIHF member, albeit not always without some amount of protest, especially among the federations where losing these players somewhat weakened the national teams. It was however felt that this would provide opportunities to let more players develop into stars, so in the end, it was accepted.

It is in this context, that the World Hockey League is set to hold its inaugural season for 2080-81, that is, 102 years after Wayne Gretzky started his legendary career.

The structure
2,000 professional or semi-professional teams from 117 countries and regions are playable from the start. These are spread into four 20 teams leagues and sixty four 30 teams leagues, arranged into 20 superleague systems. Each of these superleagues is made up of an elite league; fourteen of these have at least one playable lower tier. The number of playable lower divisions varies from superleague to superleague and ranges between 1 and 7. All superleague systems with a 30 teams elite league also features one non-playable, amateur division, linked to the rest via promotion and relegation, that further increases the number of potentially playable teams. The hockey enthusiast of 2018 will recognize many of the teams, as they are indeed often contemporary teams that were relocated to new leagues. Many more adopted names of defunct teams that played in their city. And, of course, a lot of new teams appeared, especially in regions where the sport is more developped in 2080 than today, namely, for instance, East and Central Asia, the Middle East or the Balkans. Each team comes with a farm team (that plays in a separate national reserve league) and a junior team. A bunch more junior teams are independant, meaning that there is, worldwide, a total of 3,500 junior teams to scout for talent. Despite the large numbers, thanks to spreadsheets, adding all of these clubs took much less time than one might think. In fact, the one thing that takes the longest... is deciding colours for all of the pro teams!

Superleagues (rules, teams, etc.) will be detailed in future posts.

The players and non-players
Close to 250,000 players and non-players are in the db. As impressive as this number looks, it's important to remember that most of them are totally irrelevant. Indeed, a majority is made up of unrated free agents that the game tends to ignores at startup (or at best turn into naff players that are irrelevant for anything but the very lowest tiers). Indeed, their only use is to add names to the database, so that new players created as the game recycles retirees have a wide variety of realistic names. Again, while it took time to create all of these folks, it took less time than one might think. Indeed, in spreadsheets, it's easy to randomly match first and last names, give them all a generic 1.2.1900 birth date, an appropriate nation and contract them to a team (or not). As most players are, as I said, irrelevant, once that's done, most players are effectively done after this step. Those who are contracted require further attention; they can be updated progressively, over time. The actual number of relevant players (i.e. players with at least a CA and/or PA) will probably be closer to 70 or 80,000. Again, a fair amount of randomization is involved so that the process takes a reasonable amount of time and "skill guidelines" have been calculated for all leagues, in order for them all to be of appropriate strength when compared to each other. More on that in a future post.

Current state of progress
- All leagues created;
- All teams created;
- Most players created;
- Affiliations between the various clubs largely left to do;
- League rules imperfect, but working;
- Players with at least a CA/PA for 20 leagues at this point;
- Financial aspects and other such important details largely left to do.

There we are! I hope this project interests you guys; as far as I go, it's fascinated me for months now and progresses are steady.

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YZG
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The superleagues: an overview and a selection concept

Post by YZG » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:32 pm

As mentioned in the opening post, 20 superleague systems are included in the new world structure. These correspond to broad geographical and/or cultural areas and were chosen so rivalries between teams, often of different countries, can be natural. The number of teams to be included in each of the superleagues depends on the following factors:

1. The overall skill level of each country represented;
2. The number of people living in the country;
3. The economic strength of a country;
4. The existence of a hockey culture;
5. The number of cities and towns in a geographically suitable area, i.e. areas where winters get cold enough to make ice hockey a natural attraction.

Therefore, superleagues based in, say, Canada, the US, Russia, the Nordic countries and the Alps are the deepest in terms of number of divisions and teams; superleagues in more "exotic" areas such as Southern Africa, Northern Africa, South America or the Himalayas area are small 20 teams leagues without lower tiers. Superleagues do not all have the same reputation and teams of course do not either, so there are always obvious worst leagues, obvious best leagues, and a bunch of leagues inbetween.

Selecting the cities and towns to be granted teams was a relatively straightforward process: selection was first based on population (as of the 2010s, I preferred not to try to predict global population trends over 62 years, as so many things can happen). This preliminary list of towns was then modified to include towns in geographically "suitable" places for hockey (for instance, a lot of large Chinese cities were dropped in favour of cities in the northern provinces, where winters make hockey an attractive choice). This list was further edited to include towns where a strong hockey tradition already exists, even if the population is small (this includes, for instance, places like Ambri-Piotta or Arosa in Switzerland).

Elite leagues were manually seeded with capital cities, select large cities and towns with a strong hockey history. Remaining places were randomly filled. For lower divisions, team attribution was either random, based on population, or a mix of both. In most leagues, towns with a stronger hockey tradition were often placed higher than random or population would have seeded them.

Rules are not 100% final, but fairly simple: in 30 teams leagues, each team plays each other twice (once at home, once away), for a total of 58 games per season. There are no divisions or conferences. Top ten games qualify for the playoffs (all best-of-seven); teams placed 7-10 play in a first round, while places 1-6 get a bye to the next round. Bottom two teams face in a best-of-seven relegation playoffs. In lower divisions, playoffs finalist and winner are entitled to face each other (again) to determine who will get promoted. I'd vastly prefer the winner of the playoffs to get promoted directly, with the loser of the relegation playoffs from the league above being relegated to take its place, but somehow, I never got it to work correctly. All I could get is the way its setup, or direct promotion/relegation of the playoffs winner with the bottom team of the league above. More testing will be required. Game results are weighted as follows:

Win: 3 points
Loss: 0 points
Tie: no tie allowed
OT win: 2 points
OT loss: 0 point
SO win: 2 points
SO loss: 1 point


Schedules are tight, with games every two days, to accomodate a large gap in November/December. This gap is meant to be when the Elite Tournament (the Champions League of the time) is held. The rationale is that we want participating teams to be at 100%. I've never managed to make it work anywhere else than in Spring though, and again, it worked only once, so there's still a lot of work to be done. Schedules do not seem very logical, as teams will probably end up playing in a country on a given date, playing in another on the next date, then perhaps return to country 1 in the date after. No schedule IRL can work like that, especially given the distances involved. Sadly, it's terribly complicated and time-consuming to make it work while accounting for geography, and with promotion and relegation, every new season would require a custom schedule that cannot be planned in advance. Best workaround was to completely ignore geography and assume that, in 62 years of time, traveling will have become much faster and cheaper.

I tried to make the NHL as non-existent as possible, since it folded in 2076. I didn't dare making it extinct, out of fear of just crashing everything, but I removed it from the list of playable (along with every contemporary league featured in EHM). I'll possibly try at some point to make it fully extinct with a backup db, but I suspect the amount of hardcoding related to it will just lead to crashes. Making it as invisible as possible seems like a good compromise, for a lack of better options.

Ah, for those who care about such kind of details (who will surely recognize themselves if they read this entry :razz: ):
1. there is a grand total of 0 teams based on the Moon or other planets;
2. there is a single team named the St. Louis Blues;
3. only human players are allowed in the league.
:-D

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StormCloudsGathering
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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by StormCloudsGathering » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:08 am

Definitely looking forward to this. Sounds like a totally new experience, would love to try it!

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martin20
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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by martin20 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:48 am

Sounds like an amazing idea just wondering how far along you are with it.

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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by occam72 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:34 am

So I guess this never ended up materializing? Shame

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YZG
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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by YZG » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:02 pm

Just a little post to announce that this project is currently being worked on again. Real life has been highly busy this past year, with major changes happening, but with things now well settled, I can resume work here. No ETA for release; it's ready when it is.

Main task for the upcoming times, besides getting familiar again with the editor and my massive spreadsheets, is to give a CA and PA to all new players. "Only" 35,600 players had been given one as of last time I worked on the project.There is still quite a long way to go despite the randomisation.

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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by YZG » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:53 am

Regarding CA/PA allocation:

Not all players created is given a CA and/or a PA. A majority of players will receive neither and only serve as a mean to add more forenames and lastnames to the database. EHM db works in such a way that you can't add a bunch of names on their own; you need to have a staff of some sort with a given name, for a given nation, for that name to be available for regens. Football Manager works similarly (at least, as of 2012, I didn't buy a more recent iteration). Overall, perhaps 25%-30% of all created players will have either a CA or a PA. That amounts to all players starting at a club (pro, semi-pro or junior) plus a bunch of FAs. The rest will be left with 0 and 0 and be set as FA or as Retiring. This will, a vast majority of time, mean that the player in question will simply never be created in the game, but his name will be available for regens. The broader the names db is, the least likely we are of have regens getting the same handful of names.

Speaking of player names, I briefly considered the option of including female players in the db. Two impossible-to-solve problems would however have arisen: 1. the game assumes all players are male and uses masculine pronouns, and 2. several ethnic groups conjugate female lastnames (Russian, Czech, Slovak, Latvian and Lithuanian are some examples). With the way regens are named, it wouldn't take long before we end up with regens names, for instance, "Anna Komarov", or "Igor Komarova", which are both grammatically wrong.

The number of players within a given bracket of CAs and PAs has been calculed by studying FM 2012's db. I picked that one because it features a fully international db, closer to what I aimed for that EHM's. I counted the number of players within each CA bracket (200 - 190, 189 - 180, etc.) and established a percentage of the total number of players. Results I got are as follows:

CA Bracket # Percentage
190 – 200 2 0,00073%
180 – 190 4 0,00146%
170 – 180 29 0,01062%
160 – 170 66 0,02417%
150 – 160 177 0,06483%
140 – 150 525 0,19228%
130 – 140 1471 0,53875%
120 – 130 3191 1,16869%
110 – 120 6821 2,49817%
100 – 110 10443 3,82471%
90 – 100 16630 6,09068%
80 – 90 23975 8,78076%
70 – 80 33125 12,13192%
60 – 70 38543 14,11625%
50 – 60 35832 13,12335%
40 – 50 32267 11,81768%
30 – 40 28282 10,35819%
20 – 30 24192 8,86024%
10 – 20 13110 4,80149%
0 – 10 4355 1,59500%

I applied these percentages to the total number of players meant to be in the db, so that I know how many players, on a global scale, should fall within each CA bracket.

Of course, I obtain global percentages. Each country is more or less strong, so each should have its own proportion so that it translates into the game. This is achieved by applying weighting the skills of each league and each team. Each league has a range of CA that differs more or less of that of the other leagues, to denote the stronger and weaker ones. It is predetermined which team should have the highest chance of success and which is likelier to be a bottom dweller. Better teams get, on average better players, worse teams get, on average, worse ones. Each team is given 30 players to start the game on Day 1. The exact number of players, per league, within each CA bracket is perfectly known. All teams get 30 players from the nation it's based in, so it is also known how many players per country should fall within each CA bracket, per country.

Youth players were weighted through a similar process.

I hope this will result in a balanced db in the long term. Much testing is required to validate my strategy is correct, though. Possible pitfalls are: the game making players overall too young (I don't decide their ages myself) and thus delaying the arrival of regens, regens taking longer before having an impact than I expect, regens not following the patterns I set up, etc.

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martin20
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IIHF 2080: the making of of a realistic db set in the future

Post by martin20 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:14 pm

If you ever need someone to help test or anything I'd be very willing to help

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