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 Improvements to schedule and AI 
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Group 2 winner

Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 3:50 pm
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Post Improvements to schedule and AI
After playing the game with the new UK schedule properly for the first time, I've noticed some problems, that if they can be improved will make a huge difference I think. These are not meant to be criticisms, but constructive criticisms and suggestions that I think will improve the game.

-Firstly, and most importantly is regarding the novice races. I think they are great and its great to see lots of them for 3 year olds early in the season, especially as they attract newcomers or very lightly raced horses as they do in real life. So I am loving this addition.
However, the way they currently are is almost pointless, as horses coming from the novice races don't go on to run in other races, particularly feature races. Feature races, whether handicaps or pattern races are filled with horses with lots of runs and bad form.
I think it might be because horses coming from novice races have such low ratings, the novice races don't seem to be very well valued to the handicappers, with horses winning novice races getting ratings in the 50's, this falls way below the ratings of horses that have ran in maidens, handicaps etc, even if they have ran badly in these races. As a result, the feature races are filled with these horses instead of the lightly races, good formed novice winners.
I think this should be fixed, by encouraging these lightly raced novice graduates to run in feature races as they do in real life, when it comes to classic trials and 2 year old group races etc, maybe by increasing the ratings of the horses coming from the novices might help with.

-On a similar point, maiden races seem similar, although horses running in maidens tend to get higher ratings than those running in novice races, they still get ratings below those that have ran poorly, but often. I think horses that run a lot in feature races get higher ratings regardless of how well they run, this means that they continue to fill the feature races over those with better form but lower ratings.
I think this should be improved and represent real life, where horses that win maidens and novices well get high ratings and fill the group races instead of horses that have bad form, but have simply ran lots of times.

-I've noticed that during January, February and March there are lots of 3 year old novice races, which is great, however when the turf season comes in, the number of novice races for 3 year olds reduces significantly, which is the opposite to real life, in which the number increases with the coming of the turf season.
I think one of the reasons this happens on the game is because at the same time the 2 year old races begin, and there is a lot of 2 year old races! Too many I think.
I think probably half of the 2 year old novice/maiden races during April and May could be removed and at least partly replaced with more 3 year old races.

-Handicaps in the early season tend to be mostly for 3YOUP, whereas I think they should be either 4YOUP or 3YO, as in the early season 3 year olds tend to be able to stick to their own age group, even in handicaps, so I think more handicaps just for 3 year olds would be useful.

-There are a lot of 3 year old maidens and novices in the early season at long distances, from 1m4f upwards. Races of these distances for 3 year olds don't tend to come in until around late May/June in real life, so perhaps this could be changed in the game to reflect real life. Although, I do appreciate these races give opportunities to horses that like further distances that may not run in shorter races otherwise.

-Finally, horses running too often has been mentioned over and over again, but it is still an issue. There seems to be a big divide, with half of the horses running way too many times, and the other half running far too fewer times. As mentioned above there seems to be a trend in the game that leads to feature races attracting horses that have ran more often, this of course leads to them running even more often and to this divide. This goes back to the first point, as in real life the best horses are very rarely overraced as they are on the game, and instead the best horses tend to go into races lightly raced and unexposed.
It seems the game has everything in place to make this possible, but just the AI race entries and ratings perhaps, are stopping this from happening.


Sorry for the long post. If anyone agrees with any of the points above please mention it as the more of us that share similar thoughts, the more of a case there is for Mark to implement the changes.

SO7 is a big improvement on SO6 in many areas, and I appreciate the development is still ongoing, so hopefully some of these points can be looked at and be implemented.

Thank you!


Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:21 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
I wholeheartedly agree.

Mark has stated several times that the schedule and AI are getting an overhaul, we're just waiting for this to happen. It is such a major part of the game and one that has been largely neglected for the past few instalments of SO. They are in need of more than just tweaking, and, as you say, they would then make a major difference to the game. If things are left as they are then I believe many players may be put off the game as these improvements have been promised for a while now, and were listed in the major improvements list when SO7 was advertised. I hope Mark does deliver.


Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:22 am
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Group 2 winner

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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
Some other points I've noticed about the novice races;

Horses that win a novice first time out seem to struggle to find another race. It doesn't seem that horses winning a novice in their first race are eligible for novice races again, which they should be, as these will be one of their only options as they don't yet have handicap ratings.

Also, horses winning maidens on their first run don't seem to be eligible for novice races after, again they should be, as they too struggle for options as they don't have handicap ratings yet too.

There seems to be horses running and winning multiple novice races, ive seen horses winning up to 6 novice races. Novice races I believe are only open to horses that have won a maximum of twice, correct me if I'm wrong. So I think this needs to be looked at.

Also, I will reiterate the very low ratings horses are getting off the back of novice races.

I really think these things need fixing for novice races to be realistic and effective in the game.

Thanks


Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:07 pm
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Group 2 winner

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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
Thanks for addressing some of these issues in the latest patch Mark!

There still seems to be an issue with horses that are winning first time out having nowhere to go, I'm not sure why this is. Horses that run but dont win first time out are fine to enter any novice race or pattern race, but those winning first time out aren't.

I also think the ratings need looking at more, horses are getting high ratings simply by virtue of running a lot, regardless of performance, whereas those that have only had one or a couple of runs in which they've won or placed are only being rated in the 40s and 50s, giving the horses with lots of runs but poor form the edge over the well formed lightly raced horses when it comes to getting into the bigger races.

Hopefully this can continue to be improved as it is getting there.

I really appreciate you looking into these issues and trying to improve the game.

Joe


Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:38 am
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Group 2 winner

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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
Hi Mark, I don't want to keep repeating the same points, but just wondering if the things above are being looked at? It would be good to know if these will be cosidered and improved in future patches.

Thank you


Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:56 pm
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:57 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
One thing I've noticed is the Novice Races seem clustered at the start of the year, and Novice race winners are lower "rated" by the AI then Maiden race winners.

These are both backwards. Novice races are open to horses that have won, so at the start of the year, there are more maiden foals than novice only eligible foals. Late in the year, but before baby handicaps start, the races are all Maidens. Which leaves mid-season Maiden winners nowhere to race, and ironically that is why there are Novice races, to provide just that!

This I think also leads, in concert with the AI rating issue, to Novice winners being too lowly rated.

It should theoretically be harder for a Maiden to win a Novice, since it is up against winners. But the game packs Novice races with maiden foals (since it has to as there are too many Novices early when every foal is a maiden).

So the schedule needs a slight shift early to have more Maiden races/fewer Novice races, and by mid-year to have more Novice races/and fewer Maiden races. That should continue right into the fewer of both as baby Handicaps start in the schedule up. Those non-stayers that are still maidens late year are likely to look toward the handicaps rather than the Maiden/Novice races by then.

And then the AI needs to value a Novice win more, esp. if it was a Maiden winning against winners (of one). As it should be, but now it is not, since the game is running all Maidens to just fill the too early Novices. And the AI should prefer to put maidens in Maiden races, not maidens in Novices where it is against winners.

Just what I see, in both stock UK flat and combo so far.

(edited for clarity, race/foal, novice/maiden).


Last edited by Hechicera on Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
I agree! I think you are right. The AI definitely rates novices too low, and as a consequence novice winners get very low ratings. This leads to horses that have simply ran many times in what the AI considers better races, regardless of how they have performed having higher ratings and therefore the AI choosing/entering these horses into the feature races instead of the novice winners with good form but low ratings.

Also, the issue with horses that have won first time out seems to me to be a bug. From what I have seen almost every horse, if not every horse that wins first time out in a novice, (and maybe maidens too, i haven't looked properly at this) doesn't run again, and if they do its years later. There seems to be perhaps a bug stopping these first time winners from entering novice races or feature races, as they don't have handicap ratings after just one race, these are the only races they are eligible for, which is fine and realistic, but they don't seem to be racing in them.


Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:55 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
Are these things likely to be looked at and improved? It would be good to know because I'd like to start playing the game properly, but don't want to start if these improvements are likely to come, whereas if they're not then I can accept this now and begin working on a schedule that uses the conditions to try to make it as realistic as possible considering some of these slight unrealistic features.


Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:10 pm
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Handicapper

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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
qwsa wrote:
... There seems to be perhaps a bug stopping these first time winners from entering novice races or feature races, as they don't have handicap ratings after just one race, these are the only races they are eligible for, which is fine and realistic, but they don't seem to be racing in them.


Another excellent point. I just bought a fantastic mare from the AI like that. She was 5, it was her second race .. a seller. Two wins, one at 2 one at 5, and amazing bars. AI didn't use her against me, and I have a good broodmare candidate bought dirt cheap. Felt almost like cheating ...


Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:39 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
I see your point Greyhawk, but I think its a realistic change to have no handicap rating after one run, and I see no reason why the AI can't be changed to accommodate this, so far there doesn't seem to have been any changes made to the AI. I think Mark has been busy recently with implementing a game mode or league players, hopefully with that up and running some time can be put into some of the changes that non league players have asked for.

But yes, if this is not going to happen I would admit that bringing back a rating after one run would have to be the best alternative.


Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:52 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
I think changing the schedule's percentages of Maiden/Novice through the early season to be more inline with entries. And the AI properly then filling them with horses most fitting in eligibility. Would go a long way to getting most foals to have two baby runs and a rating by the time baby handicaps start up.

Also, between weighing entries and ratings after run it is backwards. Maidens should be considered easier than Novice (for UK flat) as in Novice you can face winners. Maidens, nope. But first time out Novice winners get rated much lower I've noticed than foals that break the maiden in an actual Maiden race.

I don't think the changes are extreme, in list form:

    * Schedule more Maiden races/fewer Novice races at season start maybe 3/4 to 1/4 by midsection of time before handicaps start have it be 1/2 to 1/2 by the time handicaps start it should be 3/4 Novices to 1/4 Maidens.
    * Once baby handicaps start, have them replace most of the Novices. Which they currently do. Late-year two year old, Year three schedule seem fine as is. (so this is not a change even)
    * Have the AI prefer Maidens for non-winners, and prefer Novices only for winners of one race. (this may also not be a change, but most Novices end up filled with non-winners as there aren't enough Maidens for babies early season)
    * Have the AI weigh a Novice win by a maiden foal slightly higher than a Maiden win by a maiden foal.

No need to rewrite guts of AI. But changing perhaps as few as two weights should go a long way. I can't even comment on the handicap thing, as the process for getting a rating on a 2 yo in UK Flat schedule is .. not working as it should. For all I know this would make that work better.


Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:55 pm
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Group 2 winner

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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
I agree! I dont think theres a lot that needs doing! I think if these things you've mentioned are fixed, and horses that win maidens and more so novices get higher ratings then this could help with the issue of feature races having unrealistic fields of horses that have ran too much with poor form. Because at the moment, horses with poor form but lots of runs have higher ratings relative to horses with good form but few runs, therefore these horses are selected by the AI to fill.the entries in feature races, so if the ratings are fixed as you've said above, this could help make races like early season feature 3 year old races such as classic trials be filled with promising, lightly raced horses instead of overexposed, poor formed horses.


Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:35 pm
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
Hechicera wrote:
I don't think the changes are extreme, in list form:

    * Schedule more Maiden races/fewer Novice races at season start maybe 3/4 to 1/4 by midsection of time before handicaps start have it be 1/2 to 1/2 by the time handicaps start it should be 3/4 Novices to 1/4 Maidens.
    * Once baby handicaps start, have them replace most of the Novices. Which they currently do. Late-year two year old, Year three schedule seem fine as is. (so this is not a change even)
    * Have the AI prefer Maidens for non-winners, and prefer Novices only for winners of one race. (this may also not be a change, but most Novices end up filled with non-winners as there aren't enough Maidens for babies early season)
    * Have the AI weigh a Novice win by a maiden foal slightly higher than a Maiden win by a maiden foal.


The thing is, in real life UK racing, novice races for 2yo horse have largely replaced maiden races, or at least they've replaced most of the maiden races. Even at the start of the 2yo season, novice races far outnumber maiden races, and novice races throughout the season are almost entirely contested by maiden horses, along with the occasional horse that has won a low-grade maiden or novice. So, in real life, most novice races basically function as maidens (while technically being open to previous winners). Most horses that win 2yo maidens or novice races would be stepped up to conditions, listed or group races, depending on how good they are.

If you look at the confirmed declarations from Wednesday to Friday this week in the UK, there are 12 novice races for 2yo scheduled to take place, featuring a total of 109 declared horses, only 7 of which are previous winners.

I'm not sure what the best solution is, but my preference would be for Mark to keep it realistic in terms of the spread of races that appear at the daily meetings, but to make further improvements to the AI with regard to the horses that are being entered in 2yo maiden and novice races, the ratings they receive, and how frequently they're running.


Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:04 am
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
A fair point. Then maybe he really only needs to fix entry weighting, and handicap weighting.

Right now it feels like his handicapping is rating Maiden races like they are black-type prep and Novice winners are rated as if claimers. And, yes, they are all the same horses (usually all maidens). If the Novice won had previous winners in it, that should result in a better rating. Now it always seems worse. The AI issues seem to pop up more with horses that break the maiden their first time out, in a Novice race.


Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:31 am
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Post Re: Improvements to schedule and AI
The issue with horses that win first time out in maidens or novices is one that really needs looking at because these horses seem not to be running again, or at least not for a few seasons, by which point they then turn up in a claimer or something.

The thing that has been a problem for a while now, with previous versions too, has been the criticism that horses run too often in general. I really think this is down to the ratings, a horse can run run in a maiden and be placed for example, and then run in a black type race, finish down the field, then run in another black type race and finish down the field, but because he has ran in these good races, the game gives him a high rating compared to a horse that runs in a novice first time out for example and wins, or places, before winning a novice second time out. This means that when it comes to future black type races, the AI favors the entry of the first horse over that of the second because it has a higher rating.

I think this same example is happening all throughout the game, and is the main cause for black type races having fields that look like they could be claiming races as opposed to seeing lightly raced horses with predominantly wins and places in their form.

I don't think this requires a complete rehaul, just fixes that given some of the changes that have been made, don't seem to be especially big fixes to implement, although admitedly, i know nothing about the process of making games!

I think the schedule changes you proposed Hechicera could help, but I also think that if the way the AI works in relation to ratings and entries is fixed/improved then it can work well even with the schedule the way it is now.


Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:48 pm
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