Saturday, September 19, 2015

Football Mogul: 2016 Mock Drafts

To test Football Mogul 16's improved drafting AI, we ran several simulations of the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. These are the ratings for the top college players going into the draft...

... and here is one simulation of the 1st round:

... and another simulation:

... and another:

As you can see, there is no single prediction for the 2016 NFL Draft. Team needs change over the season (as does their draft position) and college players improve or decline in the rankings (because the Football Mogul 16 aging model affects all players, including college players).

Note: New England forfeited their 1st-round pick because of Deflategate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Five Reasons You SHOULDN'T Buy Football Mogul 16

1. You are Running Windows XP

We weren't able to test Football Mogul 16 on multiple Windows XP systems. We aren't specifically aware of any problems, but if you encounter any, please post them to the Football Mogul bug report forum.

2. You are Running Windows 10

We are not the only software publisher to encounter serious problems with Windows 10 (an operating system that is supposed to be "compatible with your existing software").

The first problem is that Windows 10 is likely to complain that we are an "unknown publisher" (even though we just renewed our certificate). This document might help with that problem.

We are also getting some users reporting that Football Mogul 16 simply won't run on Windows 10. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to replicate this problem on our own computers.

This is a high priority, so we will have this fixed as soon as possible (my best guess would be next week: September 21st-25th).

3. You're Waiting for Improvements to Historical Seasons

There are problems with the historical databases used in Football Mogul. For example, if you start the game in 1970, ten teams have fictional kickers that were created by our database tool (because of missing kicker data from 1970 and/or missing stats that they accumulated in the 1950s and 1960s).

Football Mogul in 1970: The top 19 kickers are real; the bottom 10 never existed.
This is something we weren't able to address in Football Mogul 16. If you were waiting to upgrade until these problems were fixed, you should wait another year. Being able to play historical seasons is an important feature, and I do enjoy it myself (especially in the 1980s and 1990s). But the rosters and stats still have holes in them, and these holes get bigger the farther back you go in time.

4. You Wanted a New Interface

We didn't create a new background skin for Football Mogul 16. Instead, we tweaked the "autumn" skin that was available in Football Mogul 2014, and we are also including the "winter" skin that was introduced with Football Mogul 15.
Autumn Skin
Winter Skin
You can still create your skin, or download one from our forums (such as the RoboDark Skin Mod).

5. You Would Rather Spend Your Money on Baseball Mogul

It seems like half the comments about Football Mogul sound something like this:
"Football Mogul would be great if you just invested as much effort into it as you have into Baseball Mogul."
The other half sound like this:
"I love Baseball Mogul! Please stop wasting time on Football Mogul."
The second comment more closely reflects reality. Baseball Mogul is our best product and the one that pays my salary.

However, I'm a huge football fan and I love playing Football Mogul. So I want to continue to improve the game and fix problems that you are kind enough to point out. But my brain needs a break from Baseball Mogul every summer anyway (this is what led to the creation of Masters of the Gridiron).

Football Mogul does pay most of Connor's salary, and it's a product where he is able to do most of work (updating rosters and ratings, reading and collecting bug reports, and regressing bug fixes). And we like having Connor around. He's better with customer support than my wife (Dee) and makes it possible for me to primarily focus on Baseball Mogul.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Football Mogul 16 Preview

There's not a lot to see this year, as most of our work has been under the hood. One new feature is that you can now save and resume the game during Play-By-Play Mode (just as you can in Baseball Mogul).

That means you will no longer be seeing any of these messages:

We've revamped the financial engine to eliminate problems with teams running out of money (or hoarding too much of it). And we've improved the AI so that it's harder to wrest away a team's top draft picks.

We've also added two options to the Calendar Page: Point Spread and Over-Under, to give you a better idea of your odds before each game (and to let you know if you covered the spread).

You can now also see each team's record against the spread. In one replay, the 1985 Bears went 13-3 (compared to 15-1 in real life). But they were only 8-8 against the spread.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Football Mogul 16 Cheat Keys

We added some "Cheat Keys" to Football Mogul 16, to help us with testing the in-game AI.
However, there's no reason you can't use them while playing the game. Maybe you want to make the game situation more interesting. Or perhaps you disagree with a play call, or found a bug, and you want to fix a "mistake" caused by the computer.

Cheat Key
Ctrl - F1
Reduce the Away Team score by 1 point.
Ctrl - F2 Increase the Away Team score by 1 point.
Ctrl - F3 Reduce the Home Team score by 1 point.
Ctrl - F4 Increase the Home Team score by 1 point.
Ctrl - F5 Move the ball 10 yards to left on the screen.
Ctrl - F6 Move the ball 10 yards to right on the screen.
Ctrl - F7 Take 10 seconds off the clock.
Ctrl - F8 Put 10 seconds back on the clock.
Ctrl - F9 Decrease "Yards To Go" by 1 yard.
Ctrl - F10 Increase "Yards To Go" by 1 yard.
Ctrl - F11 Decrease current down by 1 (minimum = 1st down).
Ctrl - F12 Increase current down by 1 (maximum = 4th down).

Note: The Away Team is always displayed on the left side of the Play-By-Play screen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 NFL Projections

Teams are listed by division; rankings are for the entire NFL (out of 32 teams).

Note that Power Rankings may differ from predicted record, because projected standings were determined by simulating the actual 2015 NFL schedule using Football Mogul 16. For example, the Colts are projected to win more games than the Patriots, despite having a lower Power Rank, because the Colts play in a weaker division.

AFC East
New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins 12 9-7
New York Jets
Buffalo Bills

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Oakland Raiders
NFC East
Power Rank
Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Power Rank
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears

NFC South
Power Rank
New Orleans Saints
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Power Rank
Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers

Items of note:
The AFC North is the strongest division, with 3 teams ranked in the top 10 (and the most likely division to send 3 teams to the playoffs).

All four NFC South teams are coming off losing seasons, and their struggles will probably continue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Offense vs. Defense

Dave Cameron at FanGraphs writes about the Blue Jays adding Tulo to a lineup that already scores the most runs: "There are no diminishing returns to scoring more runs; there is no point on offense to where the marginal value of a run scored is worth less than preventing a run from being allowed on defense."

This is an excellent article with lots of research, so I hate to nitpick. But the above statement isn't true. For any team that scores more runs that it allows (which includes pretty much every team that makes the playoffs), preventing a run is more valuable than scoring an additional run.

It's because of the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, which states that the ratio of a team's wins to losses corresponds to the ratio of their runs scored to runs allowed (actually, to the SQUARE of these numbers, but that's not essential to this analysis).

Take a team that's on pace to score 600 runs and allow 550 runs. Their ratio of wins to losses should be (600 x 600) : (550 x 550) or 3600:3025. Or, to put it another way, their winning percentage should be:

(600 x 600) / (600 x 600) + (550 x 550) = .543
(that's a record of 88-74 over a 162-game season)

Let's imagine they have a choice to add a hitter that will give them 50 extra runs, or add a pitcher than will prevent 50 runs.

After adding the hitter, they score 650 runs but still allow 550. Their new projected winning percentage is:

(650 x 650) / ((650 x 650) + (550 x 550)) = .583 (94 wins)

After adding the pitcher, they still score 600 runs but now they allow only 500. Their new projected winning percentage is:

(600 x 600) / ((600 x 600) + (500 x 500)) = .590 (96 wins).

That's a difference of two wins. This may not sound like a lot, but the difference between making the playoffs and going home has averaged just 1.5 games in the American League over the last 4 seasons.

The interesting thing about this fact is that it doesn't matter if you are a great offensive team or a mediocre one. As long as you are a good team, one that scores more runs than it allows, it's always more valuable to prevent a run than to score a run.

And ... for fans of the Red Sox or Phillies ... the reverse is also true. If you are allowing more runs than you are scoring, you will improve your team more by adding offense than by adding the equivalent amount of defense.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MLB licensing and the First Amendment

Fans often ask how Baseball Mogul is able to use team names and player names without securing a license with either the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) or Major League Baseball (MLB). As this topic of discussion has come up again over at Steam, I am re-posting the information here.

Under United States law, fantasy sports games and computer games have a right to use team and player names and statistics, protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and no license is required to enjoy this right.

This right was unambiguously upheld in the case of C.B.C. Distribution v. Major League Baseball (United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2006).

The judges ruled unanimously "that the First Amendment applies to fantasy baseball games, so that even if the players and teams did have a right of publicity in their names and playing records, game developers and publishers would have a free speech right to use them".

Major League Baseball appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but were denied a writ of certiori, leaving the 8th District Court's ruling as the law of the land.

I am not a lawyer. I just know that we have followed that ruling for the last 9 years, and our own legal counsel strongly affirms that we are well within the law.