04 December 2009

Racing dev Blog

(Originally posted here)

I think we have learned a thing or two during the last couple of seasons... like, we are still too few racing and even fewer organizing, and that organizing does take a lot of time. That we need to keep the attention of spectators, sponsors and, if possible, of ISD (I wonder if that piece on Season 7 will ever be published?). We have learned that it is not good to race during holidays -wait... I think we knew that one already.

We also learned that we are not Gyra. We have been trying to do things Gyra-style and while she was good at that, we will never be as good as she was.

So we will change the rules.

We have been thinking about how to make ISRC-style racing more appealing to more racers, how to make it a bit less dependent on so few organizers, how to bring in and involve sponsors, how to make the calendar more flexible.

Finally, we have learned that sometimes good things in life come with dev blogs. A dev blog is a statement that says that what we are doing is not baked but under construction... under constant improvement, if you will. A dev blog says 'change!' and gives you the chance to prepare. A dev blog represents opportunity to change and the will to improve. It gives people (that's YOU) the chance to discuss what is on their mind and a forum to influence what kind of changes will come in the future.

So with this in mind, I give you the first ISRC dev blog.

Out of the comfort zone, shoo!

One of the issues that has plagued the ISGC first and then the ISRC have been related to the multiple-class racing format. I mean the part where ships of different classes like Interceptors, Frigates and AFS run on the same track at the same time.

One of the problems is that people tend to stick to the same classes so we would never truly know how great a racer is, for example the Frigates Champion vs. the Interceptors Champion? Also, there have been semi-deserted racing classes, first a destroyer class and then an AF class (with what, one race out of four having, you know, racers?). We have frigates and assault frigates overtake Interceptors because of team tactics, which is actually cool if you are on a good team, but maybe it lends lots of impact to team makeup. Finally, we have the same people winning the same classes season after season.

Based on the "Exhibition Race" concept that we have been running once in a while, it is actually fun when people step out of their comfort zone and race something different like Cruisers, Industrials or that little Frigate on the 0.0 rally. Also, we have found that more rookies tend to show up for exhibition races, maybe because the field is even, as opposed to season races where teams and scores are important.

So the idea is that now each race (or most of them) should be a single-class race. We would vary the class from race to race, but now everyone get to compete head-to-head with everyone else!

Update: Optional slowboating? KJ has suggested that we could allow out-of-class racers compete, as long as they fly a slower class. In other words, you could enter the Interceptors race on a T1 Frigate. It allows rookies to participate and gain experience, while keeping the competitiveness of the class race intact.

Roleplay Races

We will be giving each race a unique personality. Up to Season 7, we had ultimate bland "Race 1, Race 2, Race 3..."

Next season will see these, for example:

The Federation Grand Prix (Frigates)
The State Open (Interceptors - the Gariushi Cup?)
The Empire Championship (Assault Frigates)
The Republic Derby (Faction Frigates)

These would be our four big events. Each race will be held once yearly; 200M prize each one and, say, 2000 ISRC points to the winner (1200 to the 2nd place, etc, etc) . We go out there and get regional sponsorship and stuff, maybe local celebrities to host or race or just give it some flavour. Heavy ISRC publicity would be devoted to the race the region and the sponsors.

Then we could have the little ones: Interceptor races, Frigate races, AF races, 0.0 Rally, whatever races, worth 1000, 500 points and with varying prizes. Depending on the race and the score awarded, we could have the new hires (see the Organisation part) start out with the smaller races and earn the right to host the big ones. And if someday someone wants to scam us, like EBANK was, at least he would have to host a whole lot of races.

What changes with this?

Entry is easier. Anyone joining has a shot at a cup and a prize, no need to play the entire season.

Easier to skip races. We schedule the Grand Slams for dates no one has trouble with. We schedule little cups for conflicting dates. We could do this bi-weekly.

Vacant classes are no longer an issue. Everyone runs the same class on a given race. Or they can skip it if they do not like flying AF's or whatnot.

((At Roland Garros people either play on clay, or stay home.))

More Roleplay. Some of the ISRC executives, whom I am not going to name by name ;) , object to having races in the Amarr Empire. I feel this is a legitimate position to take... and I really look forward to working this out together. Maybe this is a challenge that the ISRC will have to meet?

Update: Militia? Eek. I thought I had no issues but then someone comes along and offers to sponsor in the name of a Government-sponsored Militia. I am not sure why, but I am not comfortable with that... we will see what happens.


Did I mention score changes? We are currently thinking of having yearly scores. You add 52 weeks of scores back, and that is your ISRC ranking at any given time.

This has a couple of cool things. Someone may be the champion at any given time; at the same time, someone else may still be the unbeaten ace of the Republic Derby. Maybe winning all Grand Slams is an achievement worth looking forward to...

From an organisation perspective, this allows us to run stuff in a more flexible schedule too... as opposed to having two yearly seasons with weekly races that should not overlap summer nor holidays. We did not want to interrupt the season because of holidays, nor wanted to spend the best days of summer laying track no one would race. With the yearly thing, the pressure to keep going during holidays goes away. If you race, you are scored, as simple as that.

What do we lose? The seasonal aspect. Bye-bye Season 8, hello ISRC Circuit. There is some sense of loss there, maybe you guys have some comments about that?

No more remedial races

We tried this officially for Season 7: best 10 races out of 12 are scored. The result was people skipping races, less racers showing up, less competition and less excitement.

Well, no more remedial races.

That's why we are also setting up a handful of big races and many small ones, so the pros can skip small ones if they want, and the rookies may catch everything and still have a fighting chance. So you can still skip races if you are ahead enough...

More people and mini-professions

There has never been enough people organising. From Season 1 to 5 we had Gyra Rho and her many alts. That's one person -albeit with superpowers- organizing the entire thing for a full five seasons and then half of season 6.

Starting Season 6 and then 7, we had Killjoy Tseng organizing the races, with some help by myself on the PR side. But, we were not truly backing each other up, he was race host and I was racer. But now that I have retired, we are two.

I do not think that two is enough.

So for season 8 we are introducing the mini-professions "Race Host" and "Race Designer" for all of you to play with.

(Yah, we could have called these 'roles' but, if we are already stealing the devblog concept, why not go all the way and steal some more? Plus, mini-profession sounds cooler.)

Someone willing to help as a Race Host will have the opportunity to, well, host any of a number of races. In the host role, he or she will be present during race time (Sunday 20:00 usually), act as referee for that race, call the start, make judgement calls during the race (ohmygosh, the waypoint is not here!) and note the official times. Two hours of work in exchange for the princely sum of... well, we are thinking about that. Maybe 20 million, but don't quote me on that.

Someone willing to help as Race Designer will have the opportunity to design and lay the racetrack. This has a theory part which is easy and a practical part that sucks. First, think where the real and fake waypoints go, some fifteen minutes. Then, prepare the waypoint cans and go anchor them, some 3-4 hours. Again, there is money on this one but we are thinking how much and how.

Eventually we could put a tutorial up on EVElopedia about these aspects of organizing. And speaking of tutorials, we could have one for racers too (it is a profession after all, right?)

Points exchange

The racing community is more than just the ISRC. We have friends in the House Rigel races (hi Julius!) and would love to make more. With all these different leagues and racers, the wild thought is that maybe we could have some other races assign ISRC points on a per-race basis.

In this mode, owners of the race would organize and operate the race as usual, ISRC would do some checks to confirm the race adheres to our so very strict quality standards (Got track? Check. Got racers? Check. No cheating, mkay? Good to go.) There would be some cross-sponsorship and publicity, and racers would get points for the ISRC circuit. Maybe ISRC could help run the race if needed.

This gives ISRC more people, more visibility, gives other races more visibility and staff, and bring the racing community together.

Update: Keeping it simple. Julius had told us it looks like a great idea but that we seem to be throwing too much complication into this. I guess there is only one way to find out...

The Official ISRC Pace Frigate

The Gallente Navy Comet has a blinky on top. That's our new official pace car.

We are withdrawing our petition for ISD to lend us some Polaris frigates. We did not want them anyway ;)

(Credit to Julius Rigel for having the same idea before we did and, no, we did not ask for Polaris frigates. Teleport feature on the Comet would be nice though. Killjoy must train Gallente Frig up to 3 now :P)

Live Race Tracker

It is an insanely cool idea of Killjoy's and coded by Takashi, this one: sometime in Season 7 we started testing a live tracker. Basically each racer opens a browser window to the Racer URL, this will update the racer's location as the race progresses. Meanwhile the Spectator URL has a list of all the racers and where they are, and constantly updates the overall location.

We would like to make the Racer URL mandatory now...

Early on, this means that the Race Host will have a picture of what is happening with the race. As he knows the track layout, this enables him to do... live commentary!

Eventually, if we do this right, this could result in a cool live tracker in NOHi-color for the general ticket-buying public ;)

Update: The dog ate my tracker! Really. We got word from some of our racers in Singularity that the tracker would no longer work and, sure enough, come Dominion it stopped working. It has something to do with session changes not being reported anymore.

So, bad Moondoggie, bad!

We will have to send the code back to Tak for fixing, or wait for Moondoggie to learn this trick, or have the Teleport ability added to the Comet (so we can track everyone, right?).

Racing bets

Some time ago there have been several efforts to run bets on the ISRC circuit. It has sort of worked but it has never been permanent. It would be nice to have it done on a more official/permanent basis.

Personally, I have absolutely no idea how betting works... so I would be asking the expert: Kazuo, what would it take to make the betting side of races permanent?

So these are our ideas for now... The floor is still open!



1 comment:

  1. excellent write up quin. lots of good idea's. hope everything goes well your racing league.