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

Update: We have fixed the problems with Windows 10 and Windows XP that are described below!

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. And 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
Action
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
Power
Rank
Projected
Record
New England Patriots
2
11-5
Miami Dolphins 12 9-7
New York Jets
17
8-8
Buffalo Bills
18
8-8

AFC North
Power
Rank
Projected
Record
Baltimore Ravens
7
10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers
8
10-6
Cincinnati Bengals
10
9-7
Cleveland Browns
30
4-12

AFC South
Power
Rank
Projected
Record
Indianapolis Colts
3
12-4
Houston Texans
21
7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars
28
5-11
Tennessee Titans
31
5-11

AFC West
Power
Rank
Projected
Record
Denver Broncos
5
11-5
Kansas City Chiefs
14
9-7
San Diego Chargers
16
8-8
Oakland Raiders
27
5-11
NFC East
Power Rank
Projected
Record
Dallas Cowboys
6
10-6
Philadelphia Eagles
9
9-7
New York Giants
19
8-8
Washington Redskins
32
4-12

NFC North
Power Rank
Projected
Record
Green Bay Packers
4
11-5
Minnesota Vikings
13
9-7
Detroit Lions
15
8-8
Chicago Bears
26
6-10

NFC South
Power Rank
Projected
Record
New Orleans Saints
22
7-9
Atlanta Falcons
23
7-9
Carolina Panthers
24
7-9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
29
6-10

NFC West
Power Rank
Projected
Record
Seattle Seahawks
1
11-5
Arizona Cardinals
11
9-7
St. Louis Rams
20
7-9
San Francisco 49ers
25
6-10

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Baseball Mogul Goes To Korea!

Three years ago, we were approached by a Korean game company called Neowiz that wanted to license Baseball Mogul for an online game they were building. Neowiz' development team grew up playing Baseball Mogul, and we were at the top of their list of companies to work with.

(Baseball Mogul's Korean popularity didn't come as a complete surprise — we have known for 10 years that about 4-in-10 of the sites driving traffic to SportsMogul.com are based in Korea.)

The game is called 야구의신 (pronounced "yagui sin") which translates as "God of Baseball" (a decent approximation of "Baseball Mogul"). Alas, you can't play it unless you can read Korean. But there is this cool trailer:


... and these screenshots:


   


This has been both good and bad news for Baseball Mogul. The bad news is that I've been busy flying back and forth to Seoul, giving me less time to improve the game.

The good news is that we earned enough money to make it possible for me to work full-time on Baseball Mogul instead of trying to juggle multiple projects (such as Football Mogul and Masters of the Gridiron).

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to talk about this until now, but the entire project was covered by an NDA. Now you know why I've been distracted for the last four years. I'm happy to have this project out the door, and happy to be working full-time on Baseball Mogul 2016.

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.

Why does FIFA still exist?

I know the one reason why the NFL still exists -- because they own the team names. Roger Goodell can make a complete fool of himself as the CEO of a non-profit corporation and still take home more money than 2,800 Wal-Mart employees, because he gets paid by 32 billionnaires who own the rights to the 32 very popular team logos.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski could go start a new league and take all the players with them. But they would be playing for the New England Regulars or the Boston Minutemen. I could argue that the players would eventually win out -- that the fan base would switch from watching scrubs in NFL uniforms to star players on teams with new names (in new stadiums, in many cases). But it's a heavy lift and a huge risk for hundreds of players who worked all their lives just to get to the NFL.

The same is true for the MLB, NBA and NHL. You can't succesfully form a players' league because, at the end of the day, fans root for laundry.




But FIFA ... I don't get why they still exist. They don't own any teams or stadiums. They don't own "world cup" and they don't even control the Laws of the Game (that responsibility falls to the International Football Association Board).

And the logos that they own the trademarks to look like they could have been designed by a 7th grader:

       

Without FIFA, you can still have the World Cup and the European Championship every four years. Brazil and Germany and England would all still have national teams. The Premier League and La Liga and the Bundesliga would all continue without a hitch (and they could even stop worrying about the 2022 World Cup taking a huge chunk out of their seasons). Many fans of Arsenal and Barcelona and Man-U probably wouldn't even notice if FIFA just disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow.

Unlike the NFL, which sets up a struggle between the teams and the players, soccer's constant battle is one with the teams, players and countries all aligned against FIFA's mismanagement, corruption and ridiculous sexism.

I don't get it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Baseball Mogul Diamond: Head-To-Head Records

I just got an email from a customer suggesting that we show head-to-head records between each team during the season. Well, Baseball Mogul already does that (and we've made some improvements with Baseball Mogul Diamond). So here's a quick primer for anyone who wasn't aware of the "Head-To-Head" button on the Calendar Screen:

Near the top of the Calendar Screen is a rectangle with the words "Head-To-Head". It doesn't really look like a button, but it is.


Clicking the button brings up the head-to-head records for every team, divided by league (and with a section for "Interleague Play", if applicable). An example of just the National League is shown here:


My team (the Cubs) are shown in blue. Our record against Cincinnati was 5-14. We went 4-2 against Colorado, 2-5 versus the Dodgers, and so on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Baseball Mogul’s League Builder Feature

Although we are busy working on Baseball Mogul Diamond, we often get questions asking about existing features in Baseball Mogul. I got an email yesterday asking if it was possible to "combine teams from different years".

It is possible. It's called the "League Builder" and it's one of the primary ways you can customize your league. The League Builder lets you build a league with any team from the 1901 season through the present day. To access this feature, you first must choose to “Start a New Game” in Baseball Mogul. Then select “Custom” (as shown below):


After selecting the “Custom” option, you will be prompted with four more choices to build a league. Choose the “League Builder”:


The League Builder consists of a dialog box that lets you select any season and any team from that season. Then click "Add Team >>" to add that team to your league.


Continue until your league is complete. You can use teams from all different years, or have a few from the same year. You can even pick 30 different years from the same franchise, letting you test which year was the best team for any select organization, like this:


The League Builder supports leagues as small as four or as large as thirty. When you finish selecting the teams of your choosing, click “Done” and the league will finish setting up, after which you’ll be able to play with or against your favorite teams of all time from year to year.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Baseball Mogul Diamond: The "Skip" Button

Baseball Mogul gives you multiple ways to manage players in the last year of their contract (including those eligible for arbitration). The easiest way is to select "Expiring Contracts" in the Sortable Stats Dialog (on the Team Menu):


Then open the player's Scouting Report and click the "Negotiate" button:


However, if you still have expiring contracts at the end of the season, the game will force you to sign or release each of your players. This is frustrating, because you have to decide (for example) whether to sign Jon Lester before you know how much Felix Doubront is going to ask for in arbitration.

So ... we are adding a "Skip" button for Baseball Mogul Diamond.


It's a small feature, but for folks (like me) who wait until the end of the year to deal with expiring contracts, it makes it easier to keep your best players and still stay within your payroll budget.

Monday, January 19, 2015

9 Random Thoughts On Deflategate


1. Even though it rhymes, "deflategate" is a boring name. We should call it "ballgate".

2. The NFL requires that balls be inflated to a pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. If you inflate a ball to 13.0 psi in an 85-degree room and then take it outdoors on a 50-degree day, the pressure will drop below 12.2 psi.

3. Aaron Rodgers claims that the refs themselves actually take air out of the balls. Weird.

4. The rule specifies that the refs check the balls exactly two hours and fifteen minutes before the game. As shown above, a team could inflate the balls with hot air and just let them deflate. This would appear to not violate the rules, although one could argue that it violates the spirit of the rules.

5. "The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications" and "the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game." In other words, if the balls weren't properly inflated at halftime, any blame should fall on the Referee.

6. Troy Aikman has officially lost it, as proven by his absurd claim that "deflategate" is a more serious offense than "bountygate".

7. During the press conference on ESPN, Belichick came across as somewhat credible. However, when I listen to just the audio, I can hear serious stress in his voice. If I had to bet, I'd put my money on "Bill is lying". I don't think he ordered it, but he is so detail-oriented that I'm sure he was aware of the possibility that his staff might be doing something like this on a regular basis.

8. Nevertheless, I think it's unlikely we'll find any hard evidence against Brady or Belichick.

9. Regardless of how this turns out, the NFL should reduce the amount of air in the ball anyway. This would do three things:
  • Increase receptions and interceptions (and decrease incompletions). This would increase offense and scoring, and also increase the excitement and drama that comes from interceptions and pick sixes. These are all good things.
  • Decrease fumbles. If fumbles went down by 40%, we would see teams shifting away from "average running backs who rarely fumble" (like BenJarvus Green-Ellis) and back towards dynamic superstars (like Barry Sanders). Again, this is good for the game.
  • Decrease field goals. Flatter balls are harder to kick. The NFL has been bending themselves in knots trying to cut down on field goals, from changing where to put the ball after a missed field goal to fucking up the overtime rules. It would be much easier to just deflate the balls a bit.