Pitwall news

Disqualifications, result calculations, tyre compound rules and more

In a long overdue news post, I can talk a bit more about the updates that were recently added in the game. Apart from the bug fixes in the game (bit.ly links and redirection for new users) this was primarily focused on race script fixes and updates.

The biggest change which allowed me to make other changes was the results calculations which has been removed from the race script and inserted into the hour update script. It not only allows us more time to check that everything is right before points are awarded and bonusses are paid. The events in the first division race have proven that, but also that it will probably be even better to move the result calculations to the day update. As long as the calculations haven't been done, the race page now shows the unofficial results with a new view that gives an overview of the race. Also new in this regard is the starting grid before the race.

This change of calculations was also necessary since another new feature is introduced: disqualifications. The game can now disqualify drivers, or hand out time penalties. These have been introduced already, since from now on drivers can get penalties for causing a collision or jumping the start (also new). Time penalties vary from 5 to 10 seconds.
If a car is not legal, then the driver can be disqualified from the race. This is something that is not possible this season yet, but will be next when the new compound rules (also new) come into play. Compound rules have been created so that the team can be required to use a number of different types of compounds. But the rules can also be written so that a certain compounds needs to be used a certain amount of times. For example: it could be required to use the soft tyre 2 times and the hard once. Just like in real life, these compound rules only count if it stays dry. Once there's one rain drop on the track, it's no longer necessary to satisfy these rules.

Luckily, we have a politics system in which you the managers can vote. We will be requiring the usage of 2 compounds just like in real life F1, but the vote is on whether we require the usage of the soft tyre (which will be tweaked to last longer next season). The vote is on and expires at the end of the week.

The next release will shift its focus for one cycle from the race script to the layout and the step it takes to start playing this game. The game has a bit of a step to take when you start playing. This because the tutorial is not great, the layout on some pages is very messy. Because of these reasons I've made a few changes which are currently being implemented on the beta.
First of all, the help system is being ported to a wiki. This will allow the help pages to display content in a more interactive way. The current help pages can only show text, but no tables, images, ... The downside is that we will lose translations, but I think the benefits outweigh that.
Secondly, the tutorial has been removed and will be replaced by one or two popups which guide the player into the direction where to get help. The many changes in the game meant that the tutorial was outdated quite a bit. If the player knows where and how to get help or more information, then that will help. It's also an approach that other games have taken, since it's better than the "hold my hand" approach.
Thirdly, new teams are now entered in a division by default, and get drivers/staff and a developed car by default. These options can be disabled, but the found a team page explicitly advices new players to not disable those options. This will allow new members to get started straight away. A later update in the race script will also mean that they can do a private test on their first day at Pitwall, so that they can get running straight after registering. Other changes in this area are for example that a "car" on the Cars page is automatically created when the first 2 chassis of the season are finished.
Finally, the general layout has been redesigned. The idea was to get rid of the gray website with too many buttons on pages. This change had already started on the current layout, but it will be even more clear on the new layout. I returned to a white website since I feel the original Pitwall still had the best layout, which was also white. The background I feel made me have to use too many layers over each other, which wasn't always great for visibility. So that has been removed as well. An example of a new page can be found here. Some pages have already been designed, but for now I've only focused on the new homepage (see link above), the chat, forum, calendar and career pages. The main design is done, so creating the new pages will go quite quick. Keep an eye on the beta if you're interested in the new designs.

Team merchandise

As was discussed in the chat last week, I pushed development for the fans section forward since there were concerns that it was no longer working as intended. I looked into it, but the truth is that before it wasn't working as intended, and people were getting too much money from it. Because of a fix in something slightly related the bug got fixed.
Managers had obviously already gotten used to and planned in the extra surplus in fans income. So it wouldn't have been fair to say that they're out of luck. Because of those reasons, I pushed the changes that were long overdue for the Fans section.

When Pitwall 2 was created, it was originally planned to introduce what was introduced today. But since other stuff had a higher priority, it was pushed back and honestly not looked at again. Everything on the fans page was quite unclear, and it shows the original direction that I had taken with Pitwall 2; everything is hidden, and you'll have to notice the changes - bad game design idea. It has been my intention and I have been making everything much more transparant in Pitwall, and thus this update also reflects that change of direction in the game.

The old fans page allowed the manager to set a price and an image level. The image level is still there, and it now displays the modifiers which it influences. The team discipline has been slightly tweaked. The fans increase has been tweaked quite a lot.
Before fans would join the team based on the results and this parameter. The parameter was much more extreme before since it was the only parameter. How it works now is can be seen from the "Fanbase" section underneath "Fans modifiers". All the parameters are listed there, which start with the base value which is 100%. After the addition or subtraction of the parameters which play an influence we get to the total. This total is applied to the number of fans who want to join based on the results that you scored. So if there are 100 new fans who want to join after a result, and your fans modifier is set to 85% then you will only have 85 fans who join.

Before fans would pay each time they join and that would be it. This has been changed by introducing the merchandise sales. The idea is that your fans will pay for team merchandise on average once every 2 seasons. This depends on two modifiers: supplier and pricing. The supplier can be changed once per season, and plays an influence on the weekly sales and fans increase. The pricing is similar to what we had before, but now the manager can't set his own price any longer. He has to choose ranging from "Very cheap" to "Very expensive", which also play an influence on weekly sales and fans increase, but they also show the average price per product.
As I wrote above, before the fan would pay each time he joined. This has been removed and the fans will pay once every 2 seasons on average. The amount that they pay depends on the "Average product price" for the pricing category that was set, and on the sales modifier. The payout is paid during the weekupdate, and is also shown in the "Merchandise sales" section. A team is allowed to change its pricing for merchandise twice per season. After that they will need to wait until the next season, just like when they hit the limit for suppliers or image level.

Apart from the fans changes, there have been minor layout tweaks such as on buttons, feedback messages, and panels.

Season 24 rules published

The rules for season 24 have just been published. Car wise and racing wise nothing much has been changed. The biggest change is in the prize money. It has been increased quite a lot, but this is coupled with a gameplay change which means that from now on the prize money paid out will vary from division to division. The highest division (1) will get 100% of the stated prize money. Division 2 will get 65%, and division 3 gets 40%. The reason for this change is as it only makes sense since development costs more in the higher division, and we don't want to encourage teams to sandbag in the lower divisions.

Another rule change has been introduced which specifies how many drivers can take part in a session of the same team. Currently this is unlimited which means that a team could run as many different drivers as they want per session by swapping them over all the time in the car. From season 24 this will be limited to 3 drivers in the normal week sessions, and to 2 drivers in the off season testing only weeks. This does not mean that you need to drive with your first and second driver. You can still drive with 2 youth drivers in the testing only weeks. You just need to choose which driver you want to drive with.
From next week on a driver will also be able to participate in just 1 race session per week. This change was necessary to prevent drivers from participating in multiple race sessions per weekend, and potentially gaining much more driver training than was originally planned. This would lead to overpowered youth drivers, which is something that was reduced in recent changes.

The racescript has also had a small tweak, but that change will also be introduced just next week. The pitstop errors were too uncommon and they have been slightly increased. This will make the pit stop practice multiplier more important again.

There have been calls to re-allow refueling, so we will run a politics decision on that this week. It will mean that refueling in the race is allowed again. Since if we push that through I want to keep strategies open, we will not reduce the maximum fuel tank size so that people can still try to finish a race with really short pitstops.

Season 23

Welcome to season 23 everyone! This season was supposed to be the season of the introduction of Parc fermé, but the majority of managers have decided that this rule change should not be adopted and this was of course respected.

Just like in real world, there's a crisis raging in Pitwall. We've had to adopt our calendar to the situation where we can't travel. Therefore, there will be races this season where we race on a track that we've already raced on. Also, the races are in the European area to reduce the amount of travel. Normally, hopefully, things should be back to normal next season.

Suppliers have also been affected, and we've seen the first big changes in suppliers since the leaving and joining of suppliers was announced. Which supplier leaves and joins is determined and discussed by the admins, with me having the final say. The page on the admin panel where we can make changes to who joins/leaves was updated and improved last season to make sure that no changes can be made to suppliers joining or leaving for the next season and the season after that. This was necessary, since if we would make changes now for suppliers of next season, then there would be no warning message for the managers. This is what happened. Changes were made last season for this season (we obviously hadn't thought about the pull out mechanism), and because of this there was no news center announcement for some of the suppliers that pulled out.
Obviously this was our bad, but we won't be making any other changes (refund of admin points, re-instating suppliers, changing supplier contracts, ...) since the game functionality worked as intended, there was just no announcement. In real life this happens as well (many examples to sum up). I will make some changes to the supplier pages so that it's clear which supplier is pulling back.

Enjoy season 23! The focus is still on the race script, and we should have some more changes and fixes (to youth races) coming up to that soon.

Staff skills

In the past development updates it became clear that there was a big issue with the skills of staff that was not correctly updating. In fact, the skills have remained virtually the same since the start of Pitwall, apart from the persuade skill. This was never intended, and had to be corrected.

I removed the faulty code, and created a new system which is much easier than the overly complex system that was in place. The new system updates the skills of each assigned staff each day. There are several factors which play an influence apart from the maximum skill and talent of a person: age is the biggest factor, but the role of the person (head staff gains optimally compared to junior) and the division the person is working in (not that big of a difference).

To correct the incorrect past 21 seasons, I have run a script which has looked at the age the person would have been at that point, and have done corrections. Because of that a lot of staff have jumped in skills and therefore I also ran an extra reputation ranking and rating calculation script. The skills of staff will now improve like they were supposed to all this time.