We are coming back this week with the next stage of work on User Experience. This time, we prepared training-related views, because we feel that this element of the game is currently underdeveloped, and many users monitor the progress of their teams through external programs.
IMPORTANT: the projects you see today are mock-ups - sketches of the new page, showing how its navigation will work, how the elements will be arranged, and what the information architecture will be. These are NOT graphic designs. We are currently working on the new graphic design, and the mock-ups you see are only a starting point. However, this is a separate step in our work. Therefore, when assessing and commenting on these works, remember that we are talking about sketches, not the final project.
Prepared views fulfill several functions:
1. They present changes related to the training reform (10 training slots to be filled) - it shows how it will be possible to assign players to "advanced" training;
2. They add additional views that allow you to track training progress in several different configurations - weekly reports and general statistics for the senior/junior team;
3. They add a table view in the training history of a selected player, showing his progress over time;
4. They show the coaching staff’s view, they also complement it with showing the "effectiveness" of individual members of the staff.
Work is still underway on the view of the charts presenting changes in player attributes.
UX projects can be seen here. Use the cursor (right/left) to switch views.
For these projects, we also ask you to rate and give suggestions that will help us improve the proposed solutions.
The link to the form is here.
At the same time, works related to the visual identity of the game are ongoing parallel to the UX work. In just a week, we will present 3 new designs for discussion and evaluation.
Chapter 1 of the rules about Registration, has changed. The main changes are related to the use of VPNs, TOR, or other IP modifying tools, and some rules about the country where a user is registered and the country where he actually lives.
Please read it as it may affect both new users and current users. If you have any doubts about the changes and how it may affect you and your team, please contact the staff.
The changes are already published in English and will be gradually translated into other languages.
In recent weeks, many linguists have done a great job helping us translate information about the development of the game and distribute our diaries locally. The work of linguists has changed over the weeks from volunteering to a much more professional work, and also more important work - their responsibilities will probably increase in the future due to the essential support in translating of the new game elements that will be introduced.
That is why we decided to give more prestige to the Linguist position and to reward people who support us in this way with PLUS.
Moreover, the number of Linguists will be adjusted to our current capabilities - we decided to support the 20 most key languages (they cover around 95% of all users) - we will work on these languages officially.
Of course, we do not exclude the development of less popular languages - that will be possible under the existing rules, where smaller communities have undertaken the same translations. We will provide solutions that allow it, but they will be additional languages - not covered by an additional benefit in the form of Plus for people who decide to do such work.
At the same time, we will make minor permissions changes in the coming week that will allow Linguists to use the source content - so they can, for example, copy the content of the post intended for the translation along with the original formatting.
Arcade match error - putting the player on TL
The arcade matches bug has been corrected, there will no longer be situations where a player was willing to be placed on the Transfer List after playing these unofficial matches. The error was eliminated at the beginning of the week.
Other bugs related to arcade matches (impact on the ranking & increase of experience and teamwork) already have prepared fixes - however, they are related to the morning Game Updates, which have been completely rewritten into new code and are currently waiting for testing. After carrying out these tests the issues will also disappear.
One of those changes that we mentioned in the early Dev. Diary was the restriction of too intense trading. Sometimes it dominates over other elements of the game, which should be more important in a football manager game.
Therefore, another change we are making is the period preventing the player from being put on the transfer list for a specified time after purchase. To begin with, this period will be set to 4 full weeks from the date the player was brought to the club. Depending on the effects of this restriction, we will decide whether it is satisfactory or should be changed.
The need to keep the player for 4 weeks in our club will force managers to take a more prudent approach to completing their squads, will prevent them from getting players "just for one match" (we do not think that it is good for the game, a much better solution is to encourage users to maintain the appropriate team reserve, the introduced rule will indirectly affect it), but above all - it will significantly reduce the possibility of earning quickly through trade alone.
We analysed various solutions to this problem proposed in the forum. We decided to choose the simplest and working in the same way for everyone. It doesn't complicate the game, it probably changes the approach to many decisions that have to be made as part of the game (e.g. a different approach to the bench, but also a different approach to "bargains" on the market, where in addition to buying a player you will need to think about its wage, usefulness and/or the ability to find place in the team), but such dilemmas and decisions will be equally interesting.
At the same time, we do not think that it blocks development for business managers. The search for opportunities will continue without change, it will still be possible to earn on trade - we only eliminate transfers that were unreal (selling a player within the week of purchase).
Dev. Diary 11: New Interface - First Mock-ups
This week we would like to share with you the first page views of the new interface prepared by the UX designer. They are the result of extended work both on a group of new users (whom we asked to set up accounts and analyze places where they get lost, problems with navigation, understanding of the game, etc.), and also taking into account the comments of current users.
IMPORTANT: the projects you see today are mock-ups - sketches of the new website, showing how it's navigation will work, how the individual elements will be arranged and what the information architecture will be. These are NOT graphic designs. The new graphic design is currently under work and the mock-ups you see are a starting point for it. However, this is a separate step in our work, therefore, when judging or commenting on these works, remember that we are talking about a sketch, not the final product.
New navigation – layout
Currently, we have several possible page settings in Sokker - the old interface and the newer version. Each of them can be modified with graphic skins and menu layouts. Most users use the newer version of the interface (nearly 80%), and most of them use bottom navigation. This layout is also default for new players.
During the audit, it turned out that it is also a basic barrier because of which new players do not stay in the game. The bottom icons are lacking descriptions and as consequence new players quickly get lost. They are unable to navigate the game and give up Sokker very quickly, practically not reaching most of the game elements.
As you will see in the new projects, the main navigation of the new interface will be pinned to the left, complementary navigation will appear at the top of the individual tabs. This organization will make it much easier for new players to engage in the game (instead of icons we have full descriptions of the tabs, this is also a layout commonly used in this type of games).
Club view, mobile browser view
In the link below you can see the basic view - the view of the selected club. As you can see it has been slightly expanded so that more key information about a given team was available on its first page.
Club page views
The link contains several views - use left mouse click or keyboard arrows to see all of them. The first is the view of the player's club (Tornado Pirates). By scrolling the page down you can see how the horizontal tabs move to the top bar.
The next view is the site of another club we visit (Almost Religious). As you can see, the layouts are the same, the club view is universal, and we want the home page of each club in the game to look the same.
The following screens show the mobile view. By now, almost 40% of the access to Sokker is from mobile devices so we pay a lot of attention to this element. As you can see, the game will encourage the user to turn the phone, thanks to which the display of elements will be the most effective (this is how other mobile managers work, from Football Manager, to Top Eleven, and many others).
Another view is the press room - a completely new Sokker feature that will add a story element to the game. You can find various types of information here, examples can be seen in the sketch. Basically, here you will receive messages generated by the game itself (match summaries, information about records, training reports, and many others), as well as your own publications (club's newsletter), and have the ability to follow other teams (selcting them as "watched").
Press room page view
Next, we want to present mock-ups prepared for the match view. We also have a lot of changes here. First of all, the match loading page looks different (first view). After loading the match, we see players running out onto the pitch, preparing for the match - and we get several short intro screens previewing the match, such as displaying match settings, line-ups, key information about clubs or games. In further views (switch using keyboard arrows) you can also see the match half time screen and a new view of camera mode settings, along with a possible choice between 2D and 3D.
Match page views
Comments and next steps
Finally, we share with you a link to the form in which you can leave your opinions, suggestions and ideas regarding the presented views.
Work is currently underway on further screens (including training). Sketches of individual elements of the game will be created in succession.
Dev. Diary 10: Further planned implementations
Today we would like to share with you a list of several changes and improvements that we have planned for further work. They are planned and probably will be introduced prior to the general game update planned for a later period, but of course they require time and testing so we ask for some patience in this case.
The system of removing bots from leagues after the end of each season
We want the game to concern primarily real players, therefore we want to remove bots from higher leagues so that real users can replace them. Bots will be deleted from the league tables at the end of the season (and their points will be zeroed), which will be followed by direct promotions of the teams from the lower leagues. This rule applies to the higher leagues - on the lowest levels bots are obviously needed so that leagues are full and that there is room for new users.
Possibility of playing a friendly match instead of a play-off match
One of the ideas gathered on the Sokker Development forum is the possibility of playing matches on the days when play-offs are played to avoid the training disadvantage (sometimes it pays off to intentionally take part in play-offs to get additional training). We will add this option. It was already planned in the new schedule, but we hope that we will manage to implement this before the main update of the game.
Determining of the length of a light injury
We will add information showing how many days is left to heal a minor injury.
Seasonal summary of the club's finances
We will add one more financial perspective showing the status of club finances on a seasonal basis compared to the previous season.
Interface - direction of the changes
Finally, important information about the game interface (primarily the navigation system and the page template, where you can then apply a skin – graphics). Currently Sokker has two interfaces - the oldest, known from the beginning of the game and the newer. Both interfaces will be replaced with the new one, developed by experts for User Experience, which means that the website will receive a new template and navigation. It will be possible to apply different graphics to this template. A new graphic design will be developed (the job has already been contracted), but it will also be possible to use old graphics (in other words, the navigation and the page layout will change, but the old graphics will be possible in the new version as a retro option).
The new interface will be introduced along with the general game update. Until then, our work will continue only on the current interface (used by 70% of players), support for the old interface will be suspended (because it would require 2x more work and thus would generate high costs). For this reason, we recommend players who are still using the old interface to upgrade to the current version, as the older one will become less efficient with each subsequent change (some changed elements on the old interface are not working anymore - e.g. a new view of stadiums that have been rewritten from Flash to HTML).
Dev. Diary 9: Test server and code upgrade
This week, we want to briefly summarize the status of work that is taking place in the background of the game. It can be invisible to users, but it is absolutely crucial so that more substantial implementations can be done as soon as possible. On the occasion of the last small corrections (mainly the replacement of some Flash elements - like stadiums, shirts), the server crashed several times (we had interruptions in access to the game), which shows that even small changes can affect Sokker's stability. In order to minimize the number of such situations, we intend to further use the test environment before implementing improvements to the official version of the game.
Purchase of a new server and setting up a testing environment
In recent weeks we have bought a new server with a stronger configuration, which will be used in the first step to test our implementations. The test environment is being set up this week and in the coming weeks we will be able to work in it - this will improve our work and allow us to quickly share its effects on the game.
Game code upgrade
Over the last months, work on the Sokker code has been ongoing - obsolete elements of the code from PHP 5.3 (not already supported) have been rewritten to a newer version (PHP 7.4), while the code of the morning game update mechanism has been updated (waiting for test stage). These changes were necessary to allow any more advanced changes to be implemented.
A team of programmers
Meanwhile, we plan to expand the programming team with another two people - to work on frontend and backend. Recruitment for these two positions is ongoing and we hope that the final interviews will take place soon.
Works on the new game interface (UX)
At the same time, work on the new interface has been underway for over a month, general assumptions for the new navigation have already been made, as well as the first views of a few selected pages (club page, club news, match view, home page). At the moment we are talking about mockups - black and white sketches of elements of the page. They are the starting point for new graphics. Work on the graphic design has also been contracted.
After improving the code and preparing the test environment, we will be able to accelerate with changes that will be "visible" to players. On the top of the list will be repairing several errors (such as the impact of arcade matches on the ranking or the desire to place a player on TL), and some minor improvements in the page view (such as the ability to remove the observed bidding from the secretary's office).
Dev. Diary 8: The Game System - The Final Decision
The game system – research
Last week, we asked you to fill out another survey and share comments on the two final proposals. Thank you for plenty of votes, comments and discussions. As the final result it turned out to be very tough to make a final decision.
During the week we will publish a more detailed report to share detailed results with you and today's Developers Diary will focus on key conclusions and our decision.
Key conclusions from the study:
* Option 1 won with around 50% of all votes, turning out to be the most popular. Your second choice was option 2 with 35%. Enthusiasts of no change is 15%.
* It is quite clear that we have two strong camps - it can be seen when we compare the analysis of the assessed options - both proposals receive a maximum rating (7) among their supporters, while opponents usually do not like the opposite option rating it at the lowest possible level (1).
* There are fears of playing 4 matches a week - the option to play with such a frequency received only half the number of votes than the option to play 3 matches a week.
* The most definite results we got from the poll on the number of teams in the country’s leagues - over 61% of participants voted for the option of 12 team leagues and this was the most popular answer. Greater extension of leagues did not get your approval - about 14% of voters voted for 14 team leagues, about 17% for 16.
It is quite clear to us that with such divided votes it will be difficult for us to choose an option that is satisfactory to all but at the same time we have to move on with further work and make the final decision.
New game system
We are deciding to choose a calendar based on Option 1 but for now we are giving up the international cup (we are expanding leagues to 12 teams and introducing two league matches per week) - this means up to 3 official matches per week as preferred by most of you. Only after implementing this system and getting to know what your acceptance is, we will be making further decisions about the possible addition of other games for all players (international).
Below is the final calendar.
Here are some additional elements / ideas that are important to us and may explain the proposed calendar.
Inter-season break : For now we do not want to give up the inter-season break. A pre-season-week seems to be sensible, considering the shorter length of the season. It should be taken into account that this is a period of average attractiveness in the game (and slower training) so a special kind of friendly matches should be introduced for this period.
Warm-up matches : This is a special type of friendly match that will be possible to play during the season break and play-offs only (for teams that do not take part in the play-off-matches). They will differ from the classic friendlies in training effectiveness - they will allow you to train your players in a similar way to official matches.
Structure of a number of divisions : Currently the leading multiplier of common league levels is x4. In the new system of enlarged leagues, we will be more flexible, and we will adjust league levels to the current situation in a given country, so as to ensure that teams of similar levels will play on the same league levels and the lowest level will be beginner friendly.
Enlargement of divisions and small countries (containing a few users): We agree that for small countries, enlarging leagues is not as attractive as for larger countries. But along with the changes, we plan to conduct intensive marketing activities that are also more focused on the markets which currently have the smallest amount of users. Thus, the problem should be reduced when we are recruiting new players. However, if this shall not happen - we will consider various ideas to solve this problem (such as ideas of merging countries into large groups).
A new calendar will be introduced in 2-3 seasons, along with the training reform. Preparation requires time spent on development but also a large number of tests and simulations to make sure that everything works together, and the game is well balanced.
We intentionally started presenting changes from these two elements (calendar and training) because these are the most comprehensive changes we have planned and consultations regarding those had to be performed first.
Once again, thank you for filling the survey, a large number of comments which finally contributed significantly to our decision in this regard.
Dev. Diary 7: Season calendar - final voting
The game system – research
Three weeks ago, we asked you to complete a survey and share your comments on the proposals for the new competition calendar. Thank you for the extensive discussion. Many comments and new ideas were extremely helpful and some of them we included in the final proposal.
The winner of the survey is option 3 - a calendar based on increased number of teams in the league to 12 and 2 league matches a week. The calendar is completed by two further types of games - the International Cup (with group stage) and the National Cup. This option obtained over 60% of all votes and the choice of this option was supported by over 450 people. The results can be viewed at the survey link (we have just unveiled them for you). Here is the summary.
We are also pleased that only about 15% of users chose the option to leave the system unchanged – it shows us that you are open to see changes in the game.
At the same time, we know that some of you have submitted your own proposals on the Sokker Development forum as you were not satisfied with proposals 1 and 2 in the survey. We can see that these proposals have clarified into one fairly coherent alternative with 3 matches a week.
For this reason, we would like to introduce to you two final proposals for the vote.
Before you vote, here is some important information. First of all - we need to systematise the discussion because it is currently taking place at very different levels of generality - from the very general assumptions of the season, through the structure of individual types of competitions, to very detailed elements (such as promotions, relegations system, number of play-off matches, etc.).
At the moment, we are interested in the highest level of this discussion - mainly regarding the general system of matches (how many matches per week) and the number of matches in which we will participate, plus the structure of the league (how many teams in the league). These are the most important problems that we want to resolve first and then proceed to refining individual competitions or other, more detailed issues.
Therefore, when assessing two calendars, look at them primarily as a proposal for the number of matches per week and the number of teams in the leagues. We are still open to discuss the other elements (e.g. play-offs).
Other information relevant to your choice:
1. It is worth remembering the training system announced two weeks ago.
2. Elements related to the length of the season - will be adapted to the chosen solution (i.e. the length of the time of the injury, training pace, age of juniors, etc.) Try not to let these aspects of the game to suggest you anything when choosing your preferred system.
3. The graphics present "guaranteed" matches - those in which we will certainly play. Black frames additionally show where the next rounds of cups end. This makes it easier to assess the actual level of game intensity (remember that in cup competitions 50% less teams play at each subsequent stage).
4. Friendly matches can be placed in slots freed by cups, but they will lose significantly impact on training.
5. There was an interesting idea for a special "warm up" match which would be an alternative for teams not playing in the play-off, where the training effect would be similar to an official match. It will be considered but at the moment it is not the subject of the survey.
National Cup - is announced in the option presented a week ago, where all teams start playing in the National Cup and then the teams from the lower leagues have a chance to compete in the cups of individual league levels.
The International Cup - is announced in the initial proposal for further discussion - the cup combined with the group phase, which desire is to give each manager a certain number of guaranteed official matches, then the games take place on the basis of play-offs.
Cup discussions take place independently and are not subject to review in this survey.
Two system options
Option 1: (4 matches a week –> 12 teams in the league)
This is the winning line from the first vote, it remains largely unchanged. Its key assumptions are two league matches a week – they allow to increase the number of teams to 12 in each league.
Option 2: (3 matches a week –> league system unchanged)
This version is inspired by discussions on the Sokker Development forum. It is included in the 14-week calendar and maintains the league system in its current shape (one league match per week).
From the development point of view, we consider both proposals to meet the requirements of our work on the development of Sokker. On the Developers' side, the preferred option is the first one, based on a system of two league matches per week. It seems optimal for us for several reasons:
1. Sets league matches as the primary competition guaranteeing two matches per week.
2. Cup games are additional challenges that enrich the game without creating too much training difference compared to those who drop out (10 available slots will be divided into fewer matches, but they can still be used).
3. Beginners starting the game during the season receive a team with two matches guaranteed.
4. We are shortening the season by 25%. It allows us to accelerate training slightly, while limiting the number of multi-divine players (thanks to faster aging).
5. It makes the main challenge of the game introducing young players to competitions mainly in league matches (giving you at the same time two matches weekly available), cup matches are an additional reward and expand the possibility of training rotation in several matches (we prevent one type of competition from being selected as "training").
6. Despite 4 matches a week, it does not seem too intense to us - remember the quickness of elimination from cup matches with subsequent rounds, only the best and most engaged players will play in such a number of matches.
Option two will require more work related to better matching of training bonuses so as not to give too much advantage to players who will play in cups longer than others (i.e. 3 official matches per week vs. one league), will also require adding bots to the cups (for a new player starting the game during the season to have a more interesting entertainment than just one league match per week). However, these elements are possible to address, which is why we present both options for discussion and assessment, understanding that regardless of which one will be chosen, we will have a significant change in gameplay compared to the current system.
We have expanded the survey with several options that will allow us to better evaluate existing proposals.
In addition to the overall assessment of each of them and the choice between them, it is also possible to answer additional questions:
1. Preferred number of teams in the league
2. Number of matches per week
3. Playoffs (one match or rematch)
4. Inter-seasonal break or lack thereof
In addition, at the end we put a demographics questions that will allow us to better analyse the distribution of votes by country of origin, league level, experience, etc.
The game system – summary
The two proposed systems address many Sokker problems (of course not all, but this is a starting point for solving subsequent ones), give more emotions to all players, keep the important rule of assigning specific games to a selected day of the week. We hope that combined with information on training reform, changes will begin to appear more consistent and clearer.
Date of changes, method of implementation
Finally, we want to assure you – we still have a few seasons to play with the old game system. Changes require preparation and then detailed checking on the test server. We will not decide to introduce any new system until we are sure that all elements work in it, and at the same time it will give you time to think about tactics for the upcoming changes.
Increased game speed – tools
At the same time, given the greater number of matches per week, we will also develop a number of additional tools and improvements that will help you manage your teams faster and more efficiently, so that additional matches are not a problem. Works on the new interface and its improvements are underway, changes will be implemented, e.g. setting the squad for individual types of games, we will increase the reserve bench, we will allow to plan friendly matches in advance, and many more. Access to Sokker from mobile phones will certainly be significantly improved.
VOTE HERE -> Season calendar SURVEY
Dev. Diary 6: Leagues optimisation & National Cups idea
Off-season leagues optimisation
On Wednesday we made small adjustments to the league structures. Abandoned divisions have been deleted, and several users from those divisions promoted to higher levels. Most countries now have 3 division levels, except for a few countries with a large number of users. We reduced the number of teams by almost 100 000.
Unfortunately, we faced technical problems with merging leagues together – and we won’t be able to tighten the number of leagues on the lowest levels. For the upcoming season the number of leagues in the remaining division stays the same, but we will prepare an additional merge for next season (it needs to be developed from scratch).
New season calendar proposal
We still need some time to adjust our final proposal for the new season calendar. Changes will be announced next week, together with quite a wide poll to measure different elements of our idea, to give us detailed data, if there is still need to refine the idea. We hope you can still keep patience :)
New formula for National Cups
According to the discussion about the National Cup and the results of our poll, we are able to announce our final proposal for that competition. The development will take some time, but it’s possible, that the new cup format will be introduced faster, than the general game update, maybe even within the next 4 months. We see, that most users prefer to play for some cup within their “reach”. This motivates us to add an extra cup for lower divisions. However we also think it's good to have a chance to play in one general national cup, too, and compete against the best teams. That’s why we decided to merge both ideas in one system (great thanks for some ideas from Sokker Development Forum that inspired us to do so). Below you can find a short summary of our final proposal.
National cups will be prepared in two versions - the National Cup, where all teams from the country can participate and League Cups, where only teams from the lowest divisions can play. The National Cup will start in the first week of each season, the League Cups a few weeks later. Teams from the lowest divisions, that drop out of the National Cup until the start of their league cup will also start in this cup.