Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Training Module Released!

It's here! The not-so-long awaited improved training module for Trophy Manager (for Pro and otherwise) has been released!

In the Trophy Manager universe, player development through training is essential for the success of your club. Whether you develop players to trade or to use in your own team is beside the point. Training is winning, plain and simple (if only real life were so simple, eh?).

Basically, instead of having 5 training groups, you now have 6 (although a managers participation in training goalkeepers has been reduced to just getting a good gk training coach). For the 5 remaining training groups (you could use less, if you were so inclined), you select a coach and up to 6 training regimes (at least 1, again, the decision is up to you), and you plop your players into the box (which is a huge leap from the individual drop down dialog box of the previous iteration). Easy isn't it? Well, initially that's how it seems.

The graphics are great, intuitively designed and full of color coded convenience for visual appeal and increased functionality. Coach and player stats are cleverly displayed on mouseover popups (gold and silver stars both displaying well for stats at 19 and 20 respectively). Toggle type button icons denoting the various training regimens are well portrayed and reflect a controlled, almost minimalist, feel. Various color and animation changes also help the user to know where to drag/drop the boxes representing the coaches/players, adding to the ease of use and shaving away some degrees from a learning curve that would have been MUCH steeper.

Peeling away the superficial, the meat of the update to the training module is basically a shift of perspective. Previously, the ideal coach would be good at 2 or maybe 3 stats, providing excellent training (an arguable point to some, in light of the volunteer coach issue) at a relatively cheap salary rate. This has shifted, however, and a necessity for coaches with 3-4 (possibly more) exceptional stats has become evident. More well rounded coaches are needed, with higher salaries, sign on fees (2x weekly salary), and search fees.

Just as the perspective has changed, coaches stats have changed dramatically, too.

The new skills win (winger), tec (technique), and hea (heading) replaced the old skill mid (midfield). With these new stats to consider (and include in your search for coaches, i presume), it's clear that another change in perspective intended (as posted by Nielsen himself on the forums) is a greater degree of control for the managers regarding the development of their players.

What do these coach skills do? Each skill represents a training regimen and how well the coach can administer it, on a scale of 20 (as most stats in Trophy Manager are). The exception (life would be a lot less interesting without exceptions, don't you think?) is the skill mot (motivation), which is usually the most important too (if you consider the old training requirements, whether this still holds true has yet to be elucidated) because it represents the degree to which your coach inspires and pushes the players training under him to excel. Freddie Roach, I think, would have a 20 for mot.

The real debate, though (of which there are many swirling about in the forums as you read this), is what the impact of this new system will be on the actual skills of the players. Various computations and feats of mathematics (large and miniscule) have been postulated but, as of this writing, no exact/official formula (so to speak) has been given, especially regarding the random factor/coefficient. A new manual is forthcoming, at any rate, so an answer (which may or may not be what people are looking for or expecting) is definitely possibly in there. = )

All things considered, I think this is exactly what TM needed, a big development to close the 13th season and the year. The timing may have been a little off but, I think the devs were just trying to stick to their word to get it out inside 2 weeks (and to have 6-7 training updates to evaluate the system before the start of next season). It seems a certain synergism is happening between Trophy Manager and Trophy Hockey and perhaps this will lead both communities to further heights. While cynics wonder how long it will be before they turn this into a Pro-only (paying member) feature, guys like me know that good things never really last and it's best not to ask.

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