Interview with Éric Bergeron of WebSimHockey.com
Research & Development
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
website : www.websimhockey.com
“Web Sim Hockey is an online simulated hockey game made for NHL hockey fans, powered by a custom-built simulator system; providing an environment for the armchair GMs out there.”
(GMGames) – So how exactly does your game work? Is it similar to game simulation engines like Eastside Hockey Manager?
(Éric Bergeron) – Yes, we developed the engine from scratch and tweaked it for a few years before we went officially online. Each game includes about 3,000 plays.
(GMGames) – Is there a precise simulation that takes place that users can analyze the realism of your game?
(Éric Bergeron) – You get full boxscores and results but currently there is no play by play description of the game. It is to be added in the future. We feature a full array of statistics. Turnovers, blocked shots, faceoff %, body checks, pretty much any stat you could think of.
(GMGames) – Our understanding is that there are 24 team leagues and the league uses NHL players with a few options (1990, 1993, as well?)
(Éric Bergeron) – For now each and every league is made of 24 teams. We have a very flexible player set concept. We provide attributes from NHL 83-84, 84-85, 97-98, 99-00, 2005 to now. Plus two more ’90 and ’93 which are based on the players careers where-as the others are based on that years stats.
(GMGames) – Are there any issues with the talent pool being too highly skilled? EHM has a problem where setting your own player set resulted in too many skilled players?
(Éric Bergeron) – How it works is there are 2 types of player evolution. Real evolution and Virtual Evolution.
Real Evolution: players attributes are updated once a year only, after each season, using the past 2 seasons statistics only (like 25% and 75% for the past season lets say) – that means that you can play only ONE websim season per NHL season like if you would start a league today in Real evolution, you would use the statistics of season 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 to create the attributes.
We can also play Real evolution with Retro player sets. Let us say you start a season in 1997-1998 as you draft your players, you can actually know their career in advance. You can draft a player that you know will be good in 2 years because as you go forward with your league, the attributes will adjust every year so it adds a nice touch to it. You can have a good idea of your player evolution in advance and that you can play the seasons one after the other with 2 sims per day and eventually get back to current time.
Virtual Evolution: When you start a league, you will also vote for the % of stats to use for previous seasons, just like in real evo mode 50-50, 25-75, whatever from the last two seasons. Once the league started, it is no longer connected to the real world, the attributes will fluctuate twice per season.
Evolution is based on 3 factors: Age, Player development investment (financial aspect) and a little bit of luck. The actual progression is predictable. We have an OV (Overall) attribute and PO (Potential) attribute. PO attribute is the expected OV a player will have at the age of 30 and its solely based on the player’s age.
(GMGames) – Is there any scouting system in the engine or is it up to the GM to look and make his own judgments?
(Éric Bergeron) – From 18 to 25, a player can go up as much as +2 OV per season. No scouting system but we have lots of tools to evaluate the players. From 25 to 29 they could go up +1 OV per season. With Real Evolution mode, nobody knows what the NHL players will do, so no need to scout in the engine there… You can even import NHL rookies in Virtual Evolution mode.
(GMGames) – What are the tactics and coaching options in the engine?
(Éric Bergeron) – Great question. We just revamped the whole concept. It is still in beta mode but I’ll give you a brief overview since it is VERY in-depth. We have team strategy, per-line strategies for example, transition game, defensive pressure, even goalie strategies.
We have an information page for each description of the strategies plus a table to show you the effect strategies have on the plays.
(GMGames) – Lets move to the Management and fun stuff. Give us an idea of life in WebSimHockey?
(Éric Bergeron) – When the league starts a series of polls with majority winner occur. To start there is a 48 hour period of election. The first 24 hours are applications to be commissioner or trade committee personnel. The next 24 hours the people vote. During this time you can submit vote for the name of league, % of stats to use and vote for the 18 custom league rules (salary cap, waivers, etc). All of which is done on the website and automated.
Once the automated draft order per team is complete, you draft a city. Cities have attributes: (Population, popularity, climate, economy, tax rate…) There are 60 North American cities available to choose from and will be where your team will play.
The draft is 26 rounds and has different settings where it can best accommodate people’s schedules.
(GMGames) – Give us an idea of the draft and free agency process using WebSimHockey?
(Éric Bergeron) – Your pro team is made up of exactly 20 dressed players and up to five undressed players. Farm team is made of up to 15 players for a total of 40 players max + prospects – your farm team players. You don’t manage them, but you pay 10% of their salary (but it doesn’t count on the team payroll) It is added to your balance sheet as an expense. Each league vote whether or not they can draft Prospect. A prospect is by definition an NHL player who was drafted in the 1st or 2nd round of the past 3 NHL drafts and never played more than 39 games in one season in the NHL.
For Free Agency there are several factors. Contract negotiations, city climate, loyalty (player has played for you), prestige of your team. Every team must hold on to their signed unrestricted free agents for a specific period to avoid trading the player right away for a profit.
(GMGames) – Would a league determine their own trade rules? Is there a rejection system in place?
(Éric Bergeron) – The trade committee takes care of that. Made up of 4 people who must approve or reject each trade. You can limit draft pick trading to a maximum number of years so people do not ruin teams by selling the future away.
(GMGames) – Since we are dealing with human being’s as all General Manager’s – can the commissioner find replacement GM’s for inactivity?
(Éric Bergeron) – The commish has full control over player movement, rules changing, ownership changes for abandoned teams.
(GMGames) – Is there a league forum set up through the website to communicate and a private messaging system in place?
(Éric Bergeron) – There are league forums and a messaging system. There is a public forum as well to go along with a Live Chat system (from public to private). When a GM’s team logo lightens up, that means the GM is online.
(GMGames) – What options for customization are there? Can you create team name, logo, colors or is that all automated?
(Éric Bergeron) – You can give your team a name, you can upload a logo, there are no team color theme or anything like that though. You can also give a name to your newspaper! You can also create up to 3 journalists that you can impersonate.
On top of your journalists you can create post-game press conferences. This can include your coach, players, trade conference with the GM. People vote on your work and participation points increase.
(GMGames) – Is there a way for the best writers to show their talents and get published to the entire website?
(Éric Bergeron) – Not yet. We plan to review that and will be implementing a global GM ranking system.
(GMGames) – There is a financial aspect to your franchise. Can you explain that in more detail?
(Éric Bergeron) – This is where you set ticket prices, food prices, beer, parking, etc. You have to invest up to 15 million in various areas. From conditioning, medical facilities (for injury recovery), player development (to evolve faster in virtual mode), marketing, sponsors, television network where you can make revenue.
Depending on your market you can get in trouble especially with different financial settings at league creation. You will be limited in investments.
(GMGames) – What is the story behind yourself, and anything else involved in WebSimHockey, how did you get to this point?
(Éric Bergeron) – We are based out of Quebec City and there are over 5,000 teams managed by Quebecois and over 200 leagues to date. English continues to be a great area for growth.
Overall there are 4 of us. I specialize in site design, PR, tech support and bring a great service offering. Initially 2 brothers started it all and needed the proper interface and marketing to grow.
(GMGames) – Thank you Eric for your time. We look forward to testing your product and will provide our users a review of the functionality, price point and fun factor.