First the questions:
1) I just started my second year playing on the 'Pro' level. All four players had taken a break around Christmas and were heading out for a new season in the southern hemisphere. Emily left a week earlier than the rest because she needed to appear in a qualifier, and I didn't notice anything odd with her, but when the other three arrived at their tournaments the following week (one joining Emily and two going to Hobart, all leaving from France) their mental skills had all dropped by around 10%. Emily may have also been affected, but I didn't notice with her because the other three all had trained their mental skills up to their potential, and Emily had not.
I assume this was a design decision, but I'm wondering why it happened. Was it because of the long trip? Because a new year began? Is there any way for me to anticipate when this might happen again?
2) This ties in with the suggestion 5 below.
I noticed that when one of my players spars with her doubles partner who is NOT one of the players I have under contract, her partner does not increase in skill. This led me to wonder what happens when two of my players spar with each other. Do both of them get increases, or only the one whose screen was selected when I chose the sparring option?
3) Do tournament matches count as sparring sets for skill increases? I can see arguements either for or against this, but see 5 below.
4) When you spar at a tournament you automatically improve the surface skills that apply to that surface, regardless of where you click in the surface skils area. How does that work when you are at a training center with multiple surfaces available? It would make sense to me that if I click on the 'slow' bar Emily is training for a clay court ('normal' for cement, 'mid-fast' for indoor hard and 'fast' for grass), but what would I click on to train for synthetic, blue-green cement or indoor carpet? And what happens if my training center only has clay and cement courts and I click on 'fast'? Help!
These suggestions would be for the next major edition of the game, not things easily added to the current version:
5) I know from a baseball management game I enjoy that it is very possible (which is not to say very easy) for the computer to be keeping track in the background of frequent changes to players not under contract. This would seem to be a good way to enhance the realism of a game that continues over a third of a century. It is lovely that I can spend eight weeks in intense training and come back to crush someone who defeated me in the first round of my last tournament, but what has my opponent been doing during that time.
Since the game engine appears to be playing out all of the tournaments, whether any of my players are entered or not, it should be possible for it to treat them all in a simplified version of how I treat the players under contract.
For some examples: Currently in the game I can have two of my players attending the same tournament each spar six hours against the same computer opponent. Shouldn't the computer opponent also only have six hours of sparring time available? And shouldn't she set some of that time aside to rest? (Especially so I can't cheat by tiring her out just before my quarterfinal match with her.
) Perhaps most importantly, shouldn't she improve her skills when she spars with me? And even if sets in matches don't normally count as sparring (see 3 above), for the non-contract players they should — especially at higher levels of difficulty.
In the same way the non-contract players should accrue experience points as the contract players do. Without actually having the engine decide when each player uses her points to boost against which other computer player (which is inconsequential in how it affects the contract players), you could just have a simple calculation run that in tournaments with no contract players, each player spends her points as soon as 10 accrue. That way each will end the tournament with 0-9 points, plus the number they earn for their last match. In between tournaments they can spend some time traing their mental skills with the points left over. If that makes them advance too quickly, you could only have them spend the remaining points which are in excess of 10 and save the rest for boosting in their next tournament. Or you could vary it depending upon the level of difficulty.
In tournaments with contract players, you might have the non-contract players spend their points as soon as they accumulate 10, or save them until they play contract players and expend as much as they can in one boost. Again, it might work differently depending upon level of difficulty. (I wouldn't be surprised if you said that you were doing this now. That would satisfactorily explain why Pauline keeps losing to players with barely half her skills.)
The ideal, of course, would be for the engine to 'cheat' and calculate the likely winners of each match, then decide which player boosts based on that, but that would be asking much, and would possibly slow the game down. Still, it could be doing those calculations while waiting for me to do other things. Again, for higher levels of difficulty it could wait until after I decide whether to boost and by how much before making the decisions for the non-contract players.
There is more to this, but you probably get the idea by now. You could become as involved as you wished.
Perhaps at the Club level the non-contract players would be run as they are now, and at each higher level additional benefits are given to them.
At the Pro level perhaps they spar a few sets at tournaments to improve their surface skills, but not enough to tire.
At the next-to-highest level perhaps they do a minimal amount of training technical and physical skills between tournaments (working on those skills that most benefit their style of play), but make sure to rest enough to always start a tournament at 100% short term form.
At the highest level you might (in your prodigious free time
) work out a formula to balance training in their style, training to reduce their weaknesses, sparring and resting, including such things as how often and how many weeks they take off between tournaments (or how many tournamts they enter without taking time off).
It staggers the imagination.
These last two would be much simpler, but I would guess you would be less likely to implement them.
6) I would like the ability to change around the order in which the contract player's screens appear. Currently they appear in the order in which their contracts were signed, which is perfectly reasonable. As it happens, my first and third players are a doubles team and travel to tournaments together, as are my second and fourth. This means having to pay particular attention to which screen I am looking at (especially because two of them are Emily B. and Emilie B.), and having to click through all four of them every time I look something up. If I was able to reverse players two and three my life would be simpler, and my mouse would live longer.
7) Because I am a scatter-brain, I never know what surface I am playing on when I arrive at a tournament, so I don't know whether I need to spar to improve my surface skills. It would be very helpful if the bars for the surfaces at each player's current site were in a contrasting color. ('slow' for a clay court, 'mid-slow' and 'normal' for a synthetic court, and so on)
I leave in your capable hands what to do when you are at your training center and there are multiple surfaces available.
I am sorry to take up so much of your time. As you can see, I have too much free time of my own until my seasonal job begins.