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Old 06-09-2008, 01:16 AM   #1
Solecismic Software
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Canton, OH
The Role of High Schools in a College Football Simulation

One of the features of The College Years which received the most buzz was the inclusion of nearly 14,000 American high schools, nearly every public school in the country with at least 100 students.

Back in 2001, when the original game came out, that represented a significant portion of the database a computer game could handle without slowing down to the point where the feature caused more annoyance than it created excitement. There was no attempt to rate or model individual schools. It was just a list, with schools divided into small, medium or large student bodies.

That was seven years ago. Today, computers have much more RAM. While games should still run on Windows '98, I'm no longer expecting speed or efficiency on ten-year-old computers. Graphics-oriented gaming companies stretch the limits of computers with respect to frame rate and numbers of polygons. I try to stretch it with regard to the size of the statistical database.

That's essentially the difference between a text-based simulation and a graphics-based simulation. Is new development focused on database or on pictures?

Each new version of Front Office Football has stretched its internal database significantly. When or if The College Years is updated, there's certainly room to expand the memory reserved for information about high schools. So, the question before the panel today is: should the high school model see significant expansion?

There are many ways this feature could be expanded. The simplest is assigning a reputation to each school, along with a little more tracking of how players perform once recruited. The most advanced is adding full rosters for each high school, playing out games and adding every senior to the recruiting database.

Personally, I'm not sure I want to go to that extreme. There are at least 50,000 high school football games played every year. While I'm fairly certain today's computers could handle this simulation, it would take some time, require significant development effort, and I'm not sure it would add a lot to the experience.

More likely, I would favor finding volunteers to refine my database of high schools, providing reputations as well as a more inclusive list of schools which actually field football teams. Each school could then develop a reputation with each college coach, perhaps providing pipelines for recruiting talent.

What would the panel like to see?

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Old 06-09-2008, 11:10 AM   #2
Ben E Lou
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I agree that the model needs to be expanded. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college program, and a high school model that has more connection to real life would help the game's universe feel more immersive. I don't think, however, that a full-fledged sim of every high school game is worth the development effort and processing time required. Even the lesser 1A schools have a wealth of information available to them. Stats are a relatively small piece of the puzzle, so having them generated based on the player's talent as only a part of a picture that includes level of competition, star ranking, and the staff's impression of him from watching film and/or visiting, is fine with me. For the high school reputations, I would suggest using a combination of community volunteers, web research, and a user-editable table. (If someone wants a realistic high school model in general, but wants to give their favorite high school a "100" reputation, I say let 'em.) The list doesn't have to be perfect, since the players should have a bit of randomness anyway. Once in a blue moon, a stud player should come from a horrible high school, but most often they should come from the football factories that are near the top in rankings year-in and year-out.

Chris Sanner
Executive Features Editor

I would have to agree that having every high school modeled with full stats for each player after games are simulated each week would be an insane proposition at this point for an operation that isn't the size of EA Sports. Instead, I'd much rather see the high schools individually modeled with solid reputation ratings and just go from there. With that sort of modeling being done, I'd much rather see a lot more universities and levels of college football make the cut into the game to make it more like a real coaching experience if you wanted to try to climb the coaching ladder. While playing a text sim and managing teams is fun, I think adding that extra element where you have a realistic job market would be icing on the cake and it's something I really wish a text sim would really focus on sooner or later.

Tim Martin
Writing Staff

I also agree the model needs to be expanded, but much more so than Jim is suggesting. Sure, the inclusion of pipelines and knowing which high schools produce more recruits is nice, but those are features, more or less, in NCAA Football, a console game. So, I would actually like to see, in addition to more intricate stat tracking and school reputations, the ability to invite those "prestigious" high schools to your spring game. In the same way a coach woos players, with phone calls and visits, why not add a similar feature to court...the schools themselves? This would add depth to the game at multiple layers. First, let's say you switch coaching jobs, via a firing or career advancement. Why should you have to re-lay the tracks in your recruiting pipeline? Look at how Ron Zook has rejuvenated the Fightin' Illini by summoning his old recruiting connections. Also, this "pipeline" to certain schools should certainly be extended to assistant coaches, as losing a top recruiting coordinator or coordinator could be potentially devastating. I've always felt college football games, text or otherwise, don't give enough credence to the importance of coaching staffs.

Matt Blumenthal
Writing Staff

It would be going overboard to create a full universe for high schools with full rosters and simulations for every game. While it would lead to a more compelling dynasty, those resources could be better used to enhance the college experience. Refining the high school database and strengthening the relationships between high schools and colleges would add more emotion to recruiting. Ben's ideas for expanding the high school model makes sense, as the focus should be on the relationship between the high schools and colleges. High school coaches have tremendous influence over their players and possess the ability to steer their players in the direction of certain college programs. Colleges tap into these relationships to bring in talent, so pipelines would be a fantastic addition.

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Last edited by Ben E Lou : 06-09-2008 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:18 AM   #3
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I would have to say that it is not worth the effort. I think keeping track of a player's hometown is sufficient, as the high school itself really doesn't add much else beyond that.
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:59 AM   #4
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I'm would not be concered with modeling each individual school, but at least the geography. The one think I recall is that certain schools fell off because there wasn't the proporationally amount of talent from their home state or region. For exampl, I thought it was difficult for LSU since Louisiana is such a small state and the competition is strong. However, in reality, Lousiana and the nearby state produce more talent per capita.
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Old 06-09-2008, 01:55 PM   #5
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If it were going to be done with an eye to the future, say creating a game with a single football universe, from high schools to pro, ala FM/WWSM, then I could see putting the effort now into doing a full replica of high school football. However, if the goal was just to feed more data into a college game, then the full simulation would be a bit overboard.
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Old 06-09-2008, 03:18 PM   #6
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To touch on noles_acc's point - I think coaching staff could and should have a lot to play here. Not just on the college side - with various coaches being assigned to recruit areas, and having as much (if not more) impact as the HC in some ways - but coaching profiles for the individual high schools. Player development is already touched on in TCY, but some abstraction of HS coaching staffs (affecting how a player feels towards a particular school, their style of play - a school known primarily for the option, for instance - and possibly a source of coaches for colleges) would be interesting.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:47 PM   #7
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I agree full blown rosters and games (which either leads to box scores and game logs or the desire by some to have those) is too much. I like the idea of recruiting pipelines, and if this is not based on just the head coach alone that is even better. If assistant coaches also had ties to certain high schools, then you are adding a lot to the game. Maybe you bring in an assistant because, despite his lack in one or two areas, he has built a great relationship with a top notch school in your area and you need those recruits. This off course would be helped by expanded coaching staffs at the college level, and not just an O.C. and D.C.

The different levels of prestige of high schools would be great as well. I understand that there would be many guys who would want this to be somewhat accurate. I wouldn't care though if the numbers were generated randomly, as long as they fell within some realistic guidelines based on population. Wyoming shouldn't have a high school which is always producing 5 star talent and helping the the Wyoming Cowboys win national titles.

To link those two points together though I bring up this scenario. I take a job coaching for Wyoming, a team who has not had a lot of success in my TCY universe because of an inability to bring in out of state talent. I come in with some relationships built up with high schools in some other state, say Arizona. I then bring onto my new coaching staff a coach with connections in Colorado, maybe one with connections in Utah and Idaho. From there I can start building my program with some out of state talent.

One good question would be what the criteria for building stronger reltionships with high schools would be? I think visits to that school would be something to increase your 'relationship rating' as well as sending assistants and other types of interactions. Something nice would be the ability to increase your rating with your local high schools quicker then in far off high schools.
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:17 PM   #8
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I think that the accuracy/names of high schools is actually a waste of time. It would be far better if there were more emphasis placed on the actual model of what's intended from the recruiting system. Whether it's developing regional pipelines or simply creating school-based pipelines, I think that the static idea of high schools that you can recruit from is almost a tease without the ability to actually coach at that level.

If you could coach at that level and get immersed in the minutia of trying to recruit 1-star players at lower level schools, it could add an entirely new game experience that models the 'real life' experience as opposed to say, what we see right now where the high schools are merely props for Joe Recruit to be based out of. Trying to model for what schools are better over time versus another seems entirely 1) too random and 2) could cause far more hassle and investment than it would be worth.
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:59 AM   #9
Ben E Lou
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Interesting comments here. To clarify my position a bit, I'd say this: if you're going to have the names of real-life high schools in there, they don't need to be a potential point of distraction for people, and they can be now.

Stewart-Quitman and Cross Keys, for example, have five and six wins respectively this decade, all against horrid opposition. Combined, the two of them gave up 44.7 points per game in the recent season. Seeing either of them with any reputation above 5 on a 1 to 100 scale pretty much ruins any sense of the universe being immersive. But I just fired up TCY, and S-Q had a 52, and CK an 88. So in order to feel any sense of realism whatsoever, I end up ignoring the high schools entirely. It's a shame to have a feature in there like that getting ignored.

Similarly, there are schools that produce D1 prospects nearly every single year. Sure, there's some ebb and flow, but at least in my home state of Georgia (which the last time I checked was #4 in the nation in production of D1 talent), there are at least a dozen or so schools that were D1 factories when I was in high school over 20 years ago that are still D1 factories today. (Tucker has had, what, 9 straight starting tailbacks that have gone D1, and 2 in the NFL now?) And the Stewart-Quitmans of the world were going 0-10 with 50PF and 400PA back then, and still are today.

All of this goes back to why I suggest a user-editable high school reputation table. Just slap a starting point in there based on the current year's national rankings. (There's a least one web site out there that ranks all American high schools from 1 to 16,000 or however many there are now.) It shouldn't take much development time, the people who don't care won't have to do anything, and the people who do care can edit the states that they care about pretty quickly, adding much to the experience. It took me less than 45 minutes to set all of the Georgia high schools and the ones in surrounding states that I cared about to my liking in BBCF, and it makes the game feel much more immersive than the current TCY setup, where in any given gamestart, I may be recruiting from Cross Keys and/or Stewart-Quitman every year--schools that because of their demographics and resources are very unlikely to have a single D1 prospect any time in the next 10 years, and probably never will in my lifetime.

So, in summation, I wouldn't spend any time at all updating the list if you're not going do something to make it more realistic-feeling. The names are already in there, so there's not a compelling reason to delete them. However, the bar has been set higher than it was 7 years ago, when just having them in the game was enough.
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Last edited by Ben E Lou : 06-10-2008 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:19 PM   #10
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I’d like to see a more realistic representation of the states that produce the majority of the top high school talent. I might be wrong, but it seems that the TCY recruiting pool was based strictly on population. New York is the third most populous state, but in real life it doesn’t produce a lot of blue chip talent in football.
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:20 AM   #11
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I'd agree with the above, particularly Celeval's comment on coaches rising from the High Schools to college. It would be interesting to recruit a player and have his coach come aboard too in some capacity (legally, of course).

Whether having the high school games simulated or not is a waste of time is a matter of opinion. Immersion would appeal to a wide audience. FOF and TCY are great statistical games, but they severely lack the immersion factor. That being said, I think that the development time could be spent on immersion in other areas other than high schools.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:41 PM   #12
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Simming the actual high school games would be a total overkill for me as my primary concern with HS is how it affects the college game. In other words, for my gaming experience, the time could be better spent fine-tuning which states produce the most talent and realistic roster representations for different regions and programs.

I'd rather see program by program adjustments and state by state adjustments to get it right. Has Oklahoma had an average of 50%-75% of their roster come from Texas over the last decade? How about Rutgers getting about 20% from Florida? Meanwhile a school like Texas gets 90-95% from in state. Obviously, these are trends that can and will change over time, but I'd rather have these kinds of things accurately reflect college football than particular high schools actually reflected (which also changes over time) as that just wouldn't mean as much to me and my program. I see it as first a state by state adjustment to get talent trends right (populous states in the South produce more and better talent than populous states in the Northeast, for example) and then a program by program adjustment. I don't want it to be dead on with no room for movement or anything, but "Oklahoma as a powerhouse that goes out of state often while Texas stays almost exclusively in state" is a start toward what I'd like, and I think it can get a little more specific than that. (I'm a WVU fan, and our recruiting has really picked up in VA over the past year, where it really didn't exist before. Other schools from out of the region like Pitt and Rutgers, have pretty strong pipelines in Florida. Maybe one way to accomplish this would be each program having hot spots where recruiting costs are lower or maybe recruiting is automatically slightly more effective? I'm thinking this would be something that could change over time?)

Having said all that, I do think pipelines at specific high schools could be fun and would be a way that I could be interested in some of the specific high school stuff. Still, that is really a way to make specific high schools potentially have a real impact on my college program, which is the key to this whole issue, in my opinion. Anything done that doesn't directly effect my program wouldn't mean much to me.
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Old 06-13-2008, 02:50 PM   #13
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From what I remember, how the players come to be in TCY was fairly irrelevant to my gameplay experience. As long as it's fast and I don't have to wait for splines to reticulate, I'm happy.

I would love to see new recruiting classes that mirrored real-life recruiting classes with relevant/realistic distribution among top high schools. But I don't think simming high school games or keeping track of their weekly record, stats, or even the schlubs that won't make it to college is neccessary to make that so.

Ultimately, what is important to the gameplay is the end result of those high school years. How do I analyze the prospects? If stats are weighted, let me see that. Green bars, red bars, workouts, what school did they play at. What position did they play. What other positions can I play him at? Is he smart/dumb? How close to my school is he? Can I fight to keep my blue-chip Mississippi prospects from going and playing ball in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia? That's what's important and that's probably where I would suggest recruitment development time should remain focused.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:09 PM   #14
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I think adding stages of "high school relationship building" would be tedious, but if there was a way to implement a "goodwill allocation screen" at the beginning of each season there might be some value. There would probably be a handful of layers to a screen like this. You would allocate your goodwill points based upon general sliders like high school location (state, region, or national) and athletic reputation (ranked in quartiles or quintiles). High prestige, powerhouse programs would have a large budget of goodwill to spend, enabling them to have strong relationships with the schools in their immediate state or region while still having points left over to allocate toward national relationships. A smaller program would focus almost entirely on allocating points locally. At the end of the day, "relationship with player's high school" is another data point that affects recruit decisions just like Prestige, Academics, and Distance were in the old TCY (and conceivably things like Playing Time, Scheme, and Co-Ed Morality would be in a future version), and it might also offer more accurate insight into the player's abilities.

So if I were a Sol8 team I'd set my location sliders at 90% in my state and 10% in my region. And I'd skew my athletic reputation sliders toward the average high schools or below, knowing that bigger schools are going to nab the best talent from the factory schools but that I might be able to steal the occasional star from a lesser school by investing in a relationship.

As long as this post is, I see this as a fairly minor and quick piece of a game. Coupled with the ability to edit high school reputations to suit our preferences, I think this would be a decent addition without adding a bunch of clicks.
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:17 AM   #15
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I would like to see recruiting pipelines tied into head coaches and assistant coaches as others have said. Possibly we could eliminate scouts and have the assistant coaches take over scouting? I.E. Joe Schmoe has high contacts in Georgia and hence can really scout that area as well as recruit it because of those contacts. Just a thought.

Also, I'd love to see the ability for high school reputations to evolve over time. Yes, a lot of the top schools and bottom schools tend to stay the same as Ben noted, but there still is some flux, with greater variance in the middle schools I would imagine. I think allowance for such naturally occuring shifts in the game would add to the immersion factor, rather than just a rote "Okay, go look at the same schools ever year first". It'd make the world and recruiting seem a lot less static and more dynamic.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:28 PM   #16
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I don't follow HS football at all, so it would not bother me at all if the HSs were not modeled properly in TCY2. However, I also have no problem if they are correct. Ben's point about it being easy to do by starting with a ranking site and then allowing the user to edit it seems like a good one. Also, if you use an external site to get your rankings, then you don't need to worry about customers complaining that "My High School is better than you made it." You can just point to website X and tell them to lodge their complaint over there.

As to the other point that has developed in this discussion--whether the player should be allowed to/forced to invest in "relationships" with high schools: this feature should be done roubustly or not done at all. I think that modeling something like "relationships" with other coaches must be very complex. It could add a wonderful immersive element of the game if done well. It could, however, just add annoying button clicking if it becomes "every offseason click on 'socalize with HS head coach' for the five biggest high schools in your area"

Basically, this seems like the kind of thing that would be amazing if done well, but that would be very very hard to do well. Not that I don't have faith.
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Old 09-01-2008, 01:17 PM   #17
Join Date: Aug 2008
I do not want to see the sim slowed by trying to model all of the HS teams and games. I do want to see more connection with realistic recruiting and scouting through

- Pipeline relationships tied to both schools and coaches with a bigger positive impact from those relationships in recruiting success, esp for coach connections out of the local area

- More accurate scouting information when a pipeline relationship exists

- Bigger impact of HS reputation and player development - someone from De La Salle (CA) or Hoover (AL) will be likely to have much better skills right out of HS than someone from Lawrence HS (KS) - and less unexpected upside due to the amount of exposure and constant evaluation by fairly savvy HS coaches. I would think that a model built on the last 5-10 years of recruits from those schools would be pretty realistic.
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:25 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
There are many ways this feature could be expanded. The simplest is assigning a reputation to each school, along with a little more tracking of how players perform once recruited. The most advanced is adding full rosters for each high school, playing out games and adding every senior to the recruiting database.

I would agree that simming the highschool game is too extreme. Assigning them reputations would be sufficient I'd think.

The aspect of the highschool influence that I'd be more interested in would be coaches having relationships with certain schools that would give them a bonus/penalty to recruiting there. This would ebb/flow over time and depending on where the guy was coaching.
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Old 09-11-2008, 11:05 PM   #19
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Definitely pipelines and a more realistic representation of the reputations of high schools. I would be more than happy to lend a hand here in the two states I have coached in (Utah and Arizona) I think we could probably get a solid group of volunteers to assist here and it would definitely increase the enjoyment IMO.

One cool thing would be to have an occasional College player land a high school coaching job after he was done playing, giving his alma mater a definite "in" at the school.
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Old 10-24-2008, 06:14 AM   #20
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Sounds to me like this would be more "work" and less "fun".

Instead of simulating every game or providing intense database work in the background, maybe just giving every high school a generic title which would help define how that recruit is affected by his background.

If he comes from a "Blue Chip HS" he may be more developed than a normal player. Or maybe a WR in a "Ground and Pound HS" may need to be redshirted as his current skills are low because he did not get much chance to develop in high school.

That way we're not forced to follow 16,000 teams, but where the player comes from still has an impact of some sort into who he will be.
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