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Thread: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

  1. #1
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    The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Hello, everyone.

    We've recently seen an influx of new dynasty writers joining the forum, and as we approach Spring and a new version of Baseball Mogul we can expect to see many more try their hands at it. Dynasty writing can be a lot of fun, but it does take some effort and can be confusing. I thought it would be a good idea if we put our heads together and came up with some tips and tricks writers could use when getting started.

    Ideally, I'd like to see this thread turn into a sort of "help" guide: A place where dynasty writers can go when they're stuck or lost and either find out we've already discussed the topic, or ask a question and have others give them advice to get back on track.

    My next two posts are split into two 'chapters': Things I think apply to any and all dynasties (such as choosing a team), and those that deal more specifically with my personal style. I certainly don't claim to be the only source of wisdom on these boards. We have a lot of talented writers, and I hope you'll respond with your own tips and tricks.
    Retired Dynasties I'm Proud of
    To Rule in Kansas City Part I and Part II (Kansas City Royals 1969-73, Hall of Fame)
    Cardinal Sins (St. Louis Cardinals 1976-78) and it's sequel:
    Diverting Destiny (Montreal Expos 1994)
    Script for my Requiem (New Orleans Blues (fictional) 1954)

  2. #2
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    General Notes

    Okay, so you want to write a dynasty. Great! It can certainly be a lot of fun and bring new depth to your game play, but don't start posting just yet. You have a few decisions to make.

    First, do you have the time to devote to this? Writing a post can take up to an hour depending on what format you use. Your readers would appreciate it if you updated at least once or twice a week. If you do start this, you're making a sort of promise to your readers that you're going to at least try to see this through. If you're already very busy and at your limit, then writing a dynasty here might be too much. On the other hand, it is a good way to relax.

    Note that perfect grammar, spelling and syntax aren't that important. They help, as in all writing, but they aren't dynasty killers. So long as you post consistently and keep readers interested you'll do just fine.
    ------

    Second, what year and team do you want to play? Some people like to put up polls asking readers to choose. I think this is a huge mistake. This is your first chance to choose what direction you want this dynasty to go. Are you going to go with a World Champion and ride their glory? Are you going to take the worst team in the league and try to bring them a championship? Do you have a favorite team, era or player?

    This is an important choice, because you as the writer need to care about this team. It's up to you to make them come alive. If you're interested in them then we readers will be interested, and that's how you build a following and get comments.

    It doesn't really matter what teams we readers like. Sure, I have my preferences... but I'll at least look at anything, and I'll keep reading about any team that you can make interesting for me. I suspect most of us are similar. After all, if I just want to relive the glories of the 1975 BoSox or 1961 Yanks...I can load the team and play through the season myself.
    ------

    Third is what kind of format you want to use. This divides into two areas - style and frequency.

    Style is how you choose to tell me what happens in your game. Some will post boxscores and monthly stats. Others will simply summarize the data, give short entries like in a blog/diary, or actually try to tell a story. Some use a little of all these. Your best bet is to read other dynasties, and if one style appeals to you...not too much information, not too little... try it out. You can always change it later.

    Frequency tells me how often *in game* you post. In other words, do you go game-by-game? Weekly overviews? Biweekly? Monthly? Yearly? The more time you pack into one update, the more general you have to be with your information. I really can't give you boxscores if I only post once a month..

    The real question here is how long you want it to take for YOU to finish a season. For example, if I only post one day at a time, and update twice a week...it's going to take me three real months to get through one season. This is fine if you're writing an epic about what happens to so-and-so during his year with the Rockies....not so good if your imagination is already dreaming up a possible expansion in 2011.
    -------

    Fourth, and fortunately the last decision you need to make from day 1, is what kind of house rules you're going to employ. Will you do anything you want? Or are you going to agree not to do something that would take advantage of the AI? What difficulty level are you playing at? Are you going to equalize your cities, or leave the markets as they are?

    A lot of recent writers put their house rules in their dynasty's second post. It's out of the way of the introduction, but there if your readers are curious. Again, like with style, you can get many good ideas just by looking around and seeing what other writers are trying.
    -------

    Now let's look at your tools of the trade.

    Baseball Mogul. We'll just assume you have this and go on. Go ahead and start your game with the year and team you selected, then save it on April 1. It doesn't really matter, but you might as well get in the habit of loading your saved game rather than starting new now.

    Get a text editor. Notepad works fine. I use a shareware version called Textpad. Word and Wordpad don't work quite so well, because it's harder to format boxscores and monthly reports. If you do use it, switch to 'Courier New' font so everything lines up.

    Don't type your posts directly into sportsmogul.com. Prepare them offline and copy/paste into your thread when you're done. Why? Well, you might be called away and want to save your work. You might lose your connection and when you try to post it gets lost.

    Generally it's just a good idea to save your work offline. If you tend to use the same formats over and over, then it can save you typing the same template over and over as well.

    Some of the major codes Sports Mogul's forums use, are: (Ignore the period in all cases)

    [.b]Bold[./b]
    [.u]Underline[./u]
    [.i]Italics[./i]
    [.center]Center[./center]
    [.color=red]Colors[./color] (Change 'red' to whatever you want)
    Note that all colors don't show up particularly well on SM's light background. Choose carefully.

    [.size="4"]Text Size[./size] (3 is default, 4-6is bigger, 1-2 smaller)
    [.font="times new roman"]Change Font[./font]

    [.code] or [.html]
    Code:
          Makes                    Text
          Like                     Boxscores or
          Player Stats             Line Up
          Correctly
    [./code] or [./html]

    You can do most of this within the Sports Mogul screen and save yourself typing in the codes. Just remember to highlight the text you want to change before hitting the button.
    -------

    To add a boxscore, in BM go to League > Options. From there you'll see a box marked 'View as HTML.' Uncheck this. Now whenever you get a boxscore from the calendar, it'll be very plain looking text. This is what you put between the code tags.

    To add player stats, first you need to export them. Go to Tools > Output Stats. Pick what information you want, pick a filename and hit Output. It will save as a seperate file within the Output subdirectory of Baseball Mogul. Go there, copy the information, paste it between your code tags, and you're good to go.
    -------

    To add PICTURES, first you must upload them. I guess SportsMogul will let you attach a image file, but I use a free image hosting service called Photobucket. (Imageshack is also pretty good.) Photobucket gives me the code I need (it begins with [.IMG] without the period) and I just insert this in my post. Screenshots work the same way. Hit Control+Print Screen to copy your screenshot to your clipboard, then paste it into any graphics editor like Paint. Save it in any format but .bmp (uses up too much memory) and upload.
    -------

    One more piece of advice: I told you to read other dynasties to see what styles appeal to you. Comment in them as well. Tell the author what you like. Even tell them what you didn't like. (If you can be nice about it.) First, this makes them want to keep writing. It's nice to have a dynamic, interested audience. Second, it gets YOUR name out there, and maybe people will be more inclined to see what story you've come up with.


    That's probably enough to get you started. It helps to have a little bit of a plan before you get started...but don't feel bound to it either. If you start with the '69 Giants and decide the Indians look really interesting...have yourself 'transferred.' If you start with monthly posts and decide you're not getting a good feel for your team, slow down. What's important is that you do this in a way that pleases you. That means you're more likely to want to come back here and keep telling us your story. We as readers will sense your excitement and read to see what happens next.
    Last edited by CatKnight; 02-24-2008 at 01:47 AM.
    Retired Dynasties I'm Proud of
    To Rule in Kansas City Part I and Part II (Kansas City Royals 1969-73, Hall of Fame)
    Cardinal Sins (St. Louis Cardinals 1976-78) and it's sequel:
    Diverting Destiny (Montreal Expos 1994)
    Script for my Requiem (New Orleans Blues (fictional) 1954)

  3. #3
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Narrative Dynasties


    My own style borrows heavily from petrel's "Even the Braves." Whereas my last post dealt with general tactics that I think apply to any dynasty, now we're getting into the nuts and bolts of how *I* do it. It's by no means the only answer out there...just mine.

    I'm defining a narrative dynasty as one where the writer is trying to immerse you into his universe by describing characters, places and interactions. Reggie Jackson is no longer just a right fielder batting .301 with 30 HR, now he's aggressive, self confident, arrogant and inclined to let your field manager know what he thinks.

    I don't really tell stories. Stories require plots, and my plotting is minimal. I have a general idea where I want to go or what's coming down the road, but I let my characters (or my dice!) tell me how or even if we get there. For example, I know historically the American League institutes the DH in 1973. Will they in my dynasty? ...maybe. I can name a few owners who probably like the idea and a few more who don't, but I don't know who will win yet.

    Further, my scenes tend to be one-shots, or vignettes. I may write chatting with my manager about a roster change..then suddenly it's two weeks later. What happened in those two weeks? Other than telling you who won or lost, I probably don't care.

    To write a good narrative (IMHO) you need to do the following:

    Get some Characters Determine who the major players were in baseball in your time period. At the very least you need the Commissioner, League Presidents (before 2000), your team's field manager, and your team's owner. Look them up using Wikipedia or some other source. You're looking for clues into their personality. Often you pick these up by seeing how they handled (or didn't handle) crises. For example, NL President Chub Feeney fought hard to keep the DH out of his league. Sounds a bit traditional to me, the kind of man who likes to keep baseball pure.

    If you're making characters up - and you'll need to sooner or later, especially if you want to really take off with this dynasty - then there are plenty of random generators, personality adjective lists and so forth to help you. Just choose two or three words that describe your character. Is he laid back and gentle, a 'Good ol' Boy?' Or is he a hard-nosed, win-at-all-costs guy?

    Characters Trump Game Play In every post find SOMETHING to do with your characters. Let them argue. Let them joke. Let them plot. (Please let them plot, or you'll get bored fast!) Don't let them just stand there and become random numbers on a computer screen. Use what you learned or made up about these people, then start writing. Maybe your respected third baseman has just wound up on the bench and wants to know why. Maybe your ambitious assistant is looking for ways to get in with the owner so he'll get rid of YOU!

    Personally I do provide a two sentence summary of every game, because I found if I don't I don't feel connected to my team, but my emphasis is on what these characters are up to. That's also why I usually run two weeks at a time....so the characters have time to develop and plot.

    General Research I know. Ugh. Besides knowing a little about the major personalities in your game, you need to know what's happening in the world around them. Are tensions between the union and management running high? Is the country at war? Is a major hurricane about to tear New Orleans to pieces? If it won't affect your baseball world (the Seven Day War in Israel for example) I wouldn't worry about it too much...but sometimes the outside world does intervene.

    Baseball Research If this is a historical dynasty, go to the Baseball Chronology and find out what's about to happen historically. Go to Chris Creamer's SportsLogo page or the Hall of Fame "Dressed to the Nines" site to see if anyone's about to play with their logo or uniform. Now...decide if it still happens in your universe.

    I ignore the Chronology when it comes to big injuries, as BM can simulate that - or anything involving game play. Ditto with trades unless there are extenuating circumstances, for example I might go ahead and have a team trade away a player if the Chronology says he's having fights with management.

    Long suspensions, deaths, team moves and such I roll for - it probably happens that way, but not necessarily. Especially if my characters have been doing their job and making a mark on my world.

    Listen to your Readers If you're lucky enough to get comments, listen very closely to what they have to say. They'll tell you what they want...and while you shouldn't cater to their every whim, you should at least hear them out. For example, in my Cardinals dynasty one reader mentioned manager Vern Rapp. I never even heard of the man, but looked him up and liked him enough to bring him on board. He became one of my favorite characters.

    In the End, it's Your Call Now...look at what's happening in game. Glance through your research. Look through any notes you have on these characters, whatever your readers have to say and (if you're like me) the dice as well. Then pull the trigger. Make a decision. Even if it's a bad decision, at least it's yours.

    Author Mark Harris wrote some baseball fiction books mostly in the 1950s. In one of his afterwords he wrote that he was the commissioner, as well as all the managers, owners and players. This is your dynasty. If you don't want Bonds doing steroids, Thurman Munson to die, or the Strike of 1994 to occur...then that's alright. If you need to go into commissioner mode because so and so has been suspended for ten games for giving his manager a wedgie, then that's okay too.

    Personally, unless something in my story would directly changes what the game has to work with (such as a suspended player being unavailable), I go with what the BM sim engine tells me about games played. That keeps it fun for me. I don't know who's going to win, and I don't really want to know until I reach that point.

    In the end this is your baby. Everything I've just written about - research, talking to your readers, making characters and Baseball Mogul itself, are just tools to help you immerse yourself and your readers in your story. Everything is negotiable, so long as you're willing to step up every few days or week and tell us what happens next.
    *******

    Some Sites
    Team Logos
    Baseball Chronology
    Team Histories (set to Atlanta)
    Baseball Almanac
    Uniforms
    Baseball Reference
    Minor League Teams (set to 1969 Royals)
    Last edited by CatKnight; 02-24-2008 at 01:54 AM.
    Retired Dynasties I'm Proud of
    To Rule in Kansas City Part I and Part II (Kansas City Royals 1969-73, Hall of Fame)
    Cardinal Sins (St. Louis Cardinals 1976-78) and it's sequel:
    Diverting Destiny (Montreal Expos 1994)
    Script for my Requiem (New Orleans Blues (fictional) 1954)

  4. #4
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Dude, that was amazazing. I even found somethings I can work on in my dyansty to help get people more interested.
    Quote Originally Posted by President View Post
    For some reason I thought rockies was a big black guy.

    I was wrong.
    Back at this dynasty thing again: Resurrecting The Rockies: 2001 Onward

  5. #5
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    I agree with Rockies, and hopefully these will help me in my dynasty!


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    Thumbs up Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Congratulations on a splendid tutorial, Cat Knight!
    "Whate'er should be our Zodiac's star
    We all are born to make or mar.
    To each is gi'en a bag of tools
    Some mentors, and a set of rules:
    And each must carve, ere life has flown,
    A stumbling block, or a stepping-stone"

    (Author unknown)

    Generation 35.

    "Spikes" The cleats on baseball boots
    "Spikes" On which newspaper editors impale copy for future reference, or ultimate destruction.

  7. #7
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    nice now i can do better dynastys
    Lakers/Cardinals/Patriots/Penguins


  8. #8
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by CatKnight View Post
    Narrative Dynasties

    Listen to your Readers If you're lucky enough to get comments, listen very closely to what they have to say. They'll tell you what they want...and while you shouldn't cater to their every whim, you should at least hear them out. For example, in my Cardinals dynasty one reader mentioned manager Vern Rapp. I never even heard of the man, but looked him up and liked him enough to bring him on board. He became one of my favorite characters.
    What's that supposed to mean, Cat?

  9. #9
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Thank you so much for posting this guide. I've been reading a lot of these dynasties and found them to be really interesting. I'll probably write one of my own one day, and I can't wait to utilize some of these tips!

  10. #10
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    thanks for posting this, now I know how to a better dynasty.

  11. #11
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Thanks for this Cat. It'll come in handy for the dynasty I hope to start soon.

  12. #12
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Coach: Um...nothing actually.

    Thanks everyone for the compliments. I hope others will post here and add their own tips, tricks and advice - and I look forward to reading all of your dynasties soon

    If you have any questions or need any help, I'm just a PM away.
    Retired Dynasties I'm Proud of
    To Rule in Kansas City Part I and Part II (Kansas City Royals 1969-73, Hall of Fame)
    Cardinal Sins (St. Louis Cardinals 1976-78) and it's sequel:
    Diverting Destiny (Montreal Expos 1994)
    Script for my Requiem (New Orleans Blues (fictional) 1954)

  13. #13
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    Great job Cat! Maybe this should be stickied. One of my bookmarks is some useful tips and links yourself and Petrel added a while ago in his Braves dynasty. I know I found it incredibly useful.

    I'm one of those new dynasty writers so I don't have too much to add myself. Apart from definitely use a text editor and save often!

    I've been hanging around here for some time, following all the dynasties. I read all of them and I even printed a few out so I could read them anywhere. (I'm not kidding, I had to get new cartridges ) When I decided to write one myself I had a few 'dry-runs', experimenting with different styles, teams and eras until I found one I felt comfortable with. Other people may have more confidence than me though, so shouldn't be shy about jumping right in.

    I prefer the narrative driven stories but my dynasty is a bit before my time (not much though) so a couple of resources I've found useful:

    Paper of Record If I'm not mistaken this is another one of Petrel's tips. This is just incredible. It's a searchable database of various newspapers. The one of interest to dynasty writers is The Sporting News, going back to 1886! Enter a name and a date and you can see every page where that name is mentioned. Great for getting a feel for a particula era, what the players and other characters were like, and getting ideas to develop the storyline.

    Ultimate Mets Database This is a fansite for the Mets. As well as the usual stats etc. every Mets player has their own section "Memories of....". Again, really useful for developing characters. This is just the Mets but I wouldn't be surprised if every team has a similar fansite.

    What else.....? Oh yes, I have a folder on my desktop "BM STUFF." It has everything I need for my dynasty. The BM game itself, the dynasty text file, various other text files with notes I've made (management changes, franchise moves, things like that), a spreadsheet I use for revenue sharing, and lots and lots of links to useful websites. I need this folder as I'm usually very disorganised. With everything in one place I'm not getting myself frustrated searching for things.
    Can Roy Crabtree turn around the hapless Mets?? Find out in

    An Englishman in New York (or, British Invasion:The Second Echelon)

    1967: 10th (64-98)
    1968: 6th (79-83)

  14. #14
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    I carry a legal pad of paper everywhere so incase I think of something for my dynasty in the middle of school or something I can write it down and start developing a story.
    Quote Originally Posted by President View Post
    For some reason I thought rockies was a big black guy.

    I was wrong.
    Back at this dynasty thing again: Resurrecting The Rockies: 2001 Onward

  15. #15
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    Re: The Dugout: Dynasty Tips and Tricks

    One great part of a dynasty is a cast of supporting characters. Whether or not these characters are players (example: a computer-generated players dynasty), coaches, or staff members of your own creation, you can write about the goings on behind the scenes as well as the results of the games.

    Many of the supporting characters in ETB are based on real people that I know or knew in my own life. Others are based on characters entirely of my own creation. Just remember...if it happened in real life to someone you knew, it can happen to your character, too. If it happened in real life while you were playing baseball...well...maybe it can also happen in your dynasty. The sky's the limit.

    --Pet

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