This post is intended to inform the community that my NHL ratings for the 2.1 engine will be released around the beginning of August as per usual.
These are the only ratings available that are specifically designed for use with the 2.1 Sim engine. Others may claim to have ratings for this engine, but those ratings all have one thing in common, they don't provide a realistic simulation experience.
This forum is littered with examples of people who have tried using the 2.1 engine in combination with such ratings that weren’t designed for it. They bemoan the engine and how it just doesn’t work properly. Well, the outcome will only ever be as good as the input you provide. If you buy a brand new diesel car and fill it with petrol, you wouldn’t expect that car to run very well would you? That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the car; it just means you’ve made a mistake trying to run it on the wrong type of fuel. The same thing applies here; the 2.1 engine requires a completely different type of ratings in order to run properly.
And, as I stated above: these are the only ratings available that are purpose made to run with the 2.1 engine. The ratings have been around for a number of years now without a single complaint from the people who have bought them. In fact, everyone who bought them in the past returned to buy them again the following season. Would a product really have a 100% renewal rate with its customers if it didn’t deliver everything it claims to do?
While some producers of ratings focus on speed of release, these ratings are built with a very different focus in mind; realism. The objective is to always provide a product that delivers the most realistic simulation experience possible to its customers. A lot of people in the Sim-hockey community devote countless hours to their leagues and teams, only to end up with unrealistic simulations and/or seemingly random results. The main source of frustration, in my experience, is the fact that people still cling to the outdated and simply unbearable 1.5 engine. That was why I first decided to make these ratings available to others, an attempt to get the community to finally start migrating away from the 1.5 to the far superior simulation experience of the 2.1 engine. It’s an uphill struggle as preconceived notions and falsehoods are still being voiced by those who conclude that since they themselves haven’t been able to make the 2.1 function, nobody else could do it either. But with each passing year more and more people are making the jump which is really pleasing and keeps me motivated to continue developing and improving the ratings.
For me, the concept of realism in the simulation is a multilayered one. Breaking it down, we can identify five dimensions of realism which all need to be fulfilled in order to create a simulation experience worthy of release.
- League level realism. Refers to how well the simulation corresponds to the real life hockey it is based on and supposed to mimic. Quantified by various stats such as goals per game, shots per game, average powerplay percentage and number of powerplays per game to name a few.
- Positional realism. This is closely linked to the league level realism and quantified as the distribution of various stats (such as goals, assists, hits, blocked shots etc.) between forwards and defensemen.
- Team level realism. All testing of these ratings is done using 100% accurate NHL rosters and line combinations (including ice-time distributions) in order to ensure an accurate level of competitiveness for the 30 NHL clubs.
- Individual stylistic realism. One of the things that most annoy me with poorly made ratings is that there can be a complete lack of correlation between how a player plays the game in the real world, and how he plays it in the Sim. I’ve seen examples where Nicklas Backstrom would routinely register more shots (and goals) than Ovechkin! The horror. What the 2.1 engine provides for, in combination with specialized ratings, is an opportunity to mold each individual player so that his in-Sim performance will stylistically match his real world performance. Snipers will snipe, playmakers will pass and so on. Stylistic realism is absolutely essential to the enjoyment of a league experience, both in terms of the actual simulations but also, and perhaps even more so, when it comes to building a team. If players behave like they do in real life, building a team with specific roles in mind for each player becomes much easier to do.
- Individual productivity realism. While the previous four levels are to various degrees largely ignored by other makers of ratings, they usually at least tend to pay some attention to this one. It simply means that players are expected to produce offensively (or in the case of goaltenders, as goaltenders) on par with what they did in real life.
While this philosophy of a multilayered concept of realism, and the attention to detail associated with it, forms the overall theme of these ratings, achieving it requires a meticulous approach to all phases of the construction.
How they are made
You need a few things to build ratings of this kind.
First, you need to have a strong understanding of the simulation engine you’re working with. What does each individual rating actually do? In what way will an adjustment to one rating effect the rest of that player’s game? What drives the balance of play forward? The reason there are no other acceptable rating packs available for the 2.1 engine is because they all fail at this very first hurdle.
Second, you need to have data to base your ratings on. I love data. You can never have too much of it so the more relevant data you can compile, the better. But just raw data will often not be enough, you need to be able to creatively use and enhance the data in several different ways to get the most out of it.
Thirdly: time. You don’t build a good set of ratings for the 2.1 engine in a day, or even a week. It takes a lot of time, at least a month of dedicated work, usually much more than that. Creating the first draft of the ratings in itself once you have compiled all the data doesn’t take very long by comparison. But running hundreds of test seasons tweaking and adjusting everything down to a level of detail where you end up running 20+ seasons just to get one or two individual players to perform the way they should, that takes time. And that commitment and attention to detail is what makes these ratings so much better than its rivals.
That attention to detail is also why we’ve never had to release a massive upgrade to fix a long list of mistakes and errors in our initial release. We take our time and we get it right.
As an example of how these ratings go above and beyond all others let’s take a closer look at the Penalty shot rating for skaters. This is obviously a very specific rating, quantifying a very specialized singular skill in a hockey player.
Since the NHL introduced the shootout for the 2005/06 season, 1786 games have gone to a shootout. No active player has taken more shootout attempts than Radim Vrbata who has scored 45 goals on 104 attempts. No player in NHL history has scored a better shootout goal than Marek Malik. Daniel Alfredsson scored the first ever shootout goal on the first ever shootout attempt (against Eddie Belfour). Overall though, there’s just not a lot of data to build a large enough sample size to create a very good base from which to quantify each player’s ability in the shootout using only actual shootout stats. You can take overall skill level into account, you can look at various stats for how players perform in pressure situations, but you can also go off the board and create something new, something unique. This is where dedication, creativity and attention to detail once again come into play.
By going through all the NHL shootout games that have been played (all 1786 of them) we’ve generated a database which lists how many NHL games going to a shootout each individual player has participated in. We have then listed how many times the player was selected to take a shot as one of the team’s designated three original shooters (also including games where the player was selected to shoot fourth, fifth, sixth etc. on a sliding scale). We then have what we need to produce a Shootout Selection Ratio and a Shootout Non-selection Ratio, unique for each and every player, to take into account when generating the Penalty shot rating. These stats don’t exist in any other set of ratings you’ll find here or anywhere else for that matter.
This is just one small example of the kind of thinking that typifies the level of detail and dedication behind these ratings. It also exemplifies the amount of time and effort that go into this process which in turn validates the higher selling price (which if you break it down to dollars per week of production puts us at less than half the price of other producers).
The ratings are typically available around the first of August each year.
The ratings are typically based on the previous two NHL seasons (with a few exceptions I’ll outline below), weighted 67% to 33% in favor of the most recent season.
For Experience and Leadership we use our own database where we've tracked the complete careers for each player dating back to minor midget or equivalent play in junior leagues in Europe to make sure everything the player has done in his career is included. Captaincy, individual and team awards, participation in international events, all of it is included to impact the Experience and Leadership of every player.
For Durability we include the complete injury history of every individual player.
Fighting takes into account each player's complete fight card at all levels of play.
Discipline takes into account past suspensions for undisciplined play to some extent.
Penalty shot, as mentioned above, is another category where the rating is based on career figures rather than just the two most previous seasons.
As the ratings are intended to be used in a particular way, use of the Simulators own re-rating feature is not taken into consideration and therefore the Potential rating is not quantified.
The ratings include:
- All players who appeared in at least one NHL regular season or playoff game over the previous two seasons.
- All coaches who coached in at least one NHL regular season or playoff game over the previous two seasons.
- All on-ice officials who appeared in at least one NHL regular season or playoff game over the previous two seasons.
The ratings come in two price categories:
- Standard package: $75 US dollars.
- DeLuxe package: $100 US dollars.
DeLuxe customers who will want to purchase the DeLuxe package again the following year will be able to do so at the Standard package price, meaning the extra $25 dollars spent on the initial purchase will be a nice investment for future seasons.
New feature coming?
It's possible that there will be an AHL add-on available for the first time this season. There's no guarantee that one will be made, but data is being compiled and evaluated and if time can be found to develop an AHL product of high enough caliber (and if there is enough expressed interest in such an add-on from the community) it would most likely become available for purchase.