by Max Barry

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Domestic Tutorial pt. 4 - Formatting

FORMATTING
This one kind of got out of hand.

THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE PEOPLE CARE
Here is a league table.

What can you glean from this? Really. I mean... it seems to me that a club caled Valletta is good. And Balzan is pretty good. And Lija are terrible. I guess it's pretty rad that Floriana chalked up the best goal difference in the league and only lost four times but are still stranded in midtable. And... that's... about it. Unless you are Maltese, you probably don't really care about what you're seeing here, and your life is not going to be significantly changed by the knowledge that St. Andrews stayed up in the 2017/18 Maltese Premier League despite scoring the fewest goals in the league.

LinkNow watch this video. Hope you like dance music, the original soundtrack got taken down through a copyright claim, but I digress.

Notice how things are actually happening. Same clubs! Same country! But suddenly there's a narrative. There's excitement. Apparently Birkirkara, in the yellow and red, are in the centre of these a lot. I like Birkirkara now! I'm glad they managed to come fourth now. Maybe next year they'll even push Valletta for the title.

The results are the results. The video - the fluff, the jazz - it can't happen without the skeleton of the results to sustain it. But it is, in the end, nothing more than that. And, look, there's nothing wrong with just wanting to have a domestic league as something to check off - you have a big country that is good at football in the WCC, it makes IC sense for them to have a league, so you phone something in just to have some names to send to CH just to have a place your guys come from. Genuinely there is nothing wrong with that. But those guys probably aren't still reading this tutorial.

This section is about making people CARE.

THE SEASON PREVIEW
So, you have your names, or at least an idea to get to them. You don't necessarily need to write anything up before slamming results down on the page. But for people reading along, it's going to be really hard to write about your clubs and how they play football without having access - so it's usual to have a season preview to let people get to know your clubs and their expectations. What you establish here, you'll reinforce throughout the season; repetition is the key.

The preview is where you really start to showcase what those clubs are about. You have the reader's attention, but nobody has the focus to take in everything at once. So you have to get your foot in the door with the people who matter and the things you want to stick in the mind. If you mention your hotshot striker, Silas Slamdown, once in a roster, he'll blend in the crowd. But if you put Silas Slamdown in the roster, mention they just bought hotshot striker Silas Slamdown, say their big threat going into the season is Silas Slamdown and then repeatedly credit goals throughout the season to Silas Slamdown, people aren't gonna forget Silas Slamdown. Granted, do have some sense of moderation - it's not the best look to have an obvious 'RPer's pet' character - but on the whole, repetition is the key.

Using the framework from the Rosters post, here's one I prepared earlier. It's not one I prepared earlier; I slapped it together in three hours. But it establishes visual and historical identities, lists relevant figures, and outlines the realistic chances of the season. It's probably going to take more than a season for individual clubs to stick in someone's mind, and that's okay. Repetition is, after all, the key.

RANKINGS
So now you have to figure out how good each club is. But how to communicate this to the scorinator? This is going to depend to some degree on your personality, and to personal preference. A lot of people don't want a say in their rankings - they want to base it on numbers, one way or another, whether making a formula where past results cough up a club's approximate strength - like the KPB rankings for the WCC, or indeed the coefficients of UICA - or rating individual players on their ability out of 5 or 10, then using that to evaluate clubs as a whole, which is how me and Apox ranked our sides against one another when we ran a joint league for a while.

Me, though, I'm not great with numbers. I lucked into a pretty reliably good way of making rankings work with my initial guess and I haven't had to deviate much since. I just set my max rank to 100 and array the clubs of a given league from a range, usually between 100 and 40. Sometimes an especially good club will weigh in at a 105 or 110; yes, without changing the max rank from 100 (this might not work in xkoranate). Sometimes an especially weak club will be a mere 30 or 35, and an almost certain relegation. I used 25 as an occasional floor for a while until I had a team go through a 0-3-27 season which was really funny at first but then just kind of got sad. For the most part, though, 100-35 or so will produce results with a fair degree of variance, a fair few shocks but, for the most part, final results that can be explained.

1. Imperial Falston (100, 2)
2. New Rozelle (95, 1)
3. Roschester City (90, 0)
4. Freeport Sharks (85, 3)
5. Roschester Pride (80, 2)
6. Brunswick Town (75, -1)
7. Falston Bohemians (70, 1)
8. AFC Shroveshore (65, 0)
9. Meade Rovers (60, 1)
10. Wyndham Athletic (55, -1)
11. Shrove Wanderers (50, 0)
12. AFC Mosstown (45, -1)

SETTING IT ALL UP
If you're using NSFS, your league should look something like Linkthis. As far as tiebreakers go, I recommend having goal difference and goals for as one of them - whether you want this to be higher- or lower-priority than head-to-head is up to personal preference.

If you aren't using NSFS... well, this is going to assume xkoranate largely works the same way for leagues. Xkora is almost universally considered the best way to scorinate competitive tournaments between users, because the numbers are fairer (don't ask me, I don't know why) but for my money, NSFS' quality of life and interface make it superior for domestic leagues, and especially cups.

Got it all set up? Good. SAVE. It's going to be a whole lot easier setting this up again next season if you already have your league framework saved, season-by-season.

TIME TO SCORE!
Alright, so I have the Ceynes Super League set up. How many matchdays would I like to scorinate? NSFS asks me. This comes down to how many posts you want to break your season down to. The league is going to come to 33 matches in all, and I'm going to break it into three posts - so I'll want to score my league in batches of 16, 16 and then 1, for the finale. I always recommend making the final day its own thing, so you can make it nice and special.


And now we're looking at this. Whew, Wyndham cannot score for beans. Okay. That's great. Now you're going to want to take this brick of text and put it into a GoogleDoc or an Evernote or whatever word processor you want to use. I strongly strongly strongly strongly strongly recommend never drafting up anything in NS itself. It goes down constantly and doesn't autosave, and there's so many horror stories of people just closing a tab and losing everything, this goes for WCC stuff too. Write stuff on word processors, then paste it into the thing. Okay. Soapbox moment over.

Now that you have these results in a word processor - worry about formatting them later - Save League In Progress. Not Results. That just makes a text document that will be useless to you unless you also save league in progress. Then hit done, cancel league creation and Continue League In Progress on the main menu. Open the thing you just made.


Then take that baby for another spin. From here, you don't have to close out and save and re-open again; you can just score for 16, then 1, right after one another... just make sure to always copy and paste all your results somewhere.

THE CUP
Most leagues have Cups, because small clubs want to take a shot at big clubs, and big clubs want more silverware to fight over. The Cup is where the game reaches its most primal form, 11 v 11 under the same rules, no matter the disparity in quality; where heroic David v Goliath performances are the norm. Sometimes David knocks Goliath off his perch. Sometimes Goliath annihilates David 13-0. Either way, it's a good day out for the neutral, and a breath of fresh air from the league. I covered most of the basics in the Structure section.

For the Ceynes Cup, 12 on its own is a really awkward number to try and turn into a factor of 64. Is... that what the term is, I don't know, I haven't taken a maths class since 2010. If this was a serious nation, though, you could easily have a top tier of 12 and then a second and third with 10 each, no staggered entry - boom, that's 32, done. For these purposes I'm going to fudge it - say there's preliminary rounds for all clubs below the top tier, and that there are four survivors which I will choose arbitrarily - and, hey presto, 16. To reflect the openness of the Cup, I'm going to rank the top six CSL sides by league performance 100, the bottom six 75, and the four randoms 50.

LinkThe result looks something like this. You almost definitely want to randomise any rounds in which new teams are entering, you may or may not want to have any particular rounds take place over two legs, you probably want your final to be on neutral ground. It's fairly intuitive. Keep in mind there's a known bug with the NSFS Cup feature - do not scorinate before you save. Save, scorinate, get your results, then cancel out. LinkOtherwise weird things happen.

So, you have your league scored, you have your cup scored, and if applicable you have your results from international tournaments such as UICA, the Cup Winners' Cup or a regional tournament like the AOCL, CdC or CEdC. You have your results. How do you turn this into a video? We'll be going over two basic methods, which you can adapt or frankenstein however you like into whatever you decide you want to write. While it's important to keep your readers hooked, ultimately this is about what makes you happy to produce every two or three months. And don't worry about settling on something that will last the test of time - you can change elements in and out freely, to find what does or doesn't work for you. That goes for previews as well.

THE SEASON REVIEW
A review is when you score the league and take a few stops along the way, looking at what's happened, what the state of play is. Who is at the top? Are they the kind of giants you expect, or is there an underdog fighting at the top table? Are there big teams struggling away from the top? Who's at the bottom? Is anyone dominant? Or, for that matter, notably abysmal? What players are making a name for themselves, and which have been utter busts?

You'll probably also want to at least link the individual results under a spoiler, just for anyone who's curious. Look through them yourself; maybe there's one or two that stand out, or a particular run of form that's made a given club good or terrible. The final result should be a few paragraphs to just put that league table into some kind of context.

If you're already feeling overwhelmed by the world-building and the preview, I recommend you start with a review format.

MATCH BY MATCH
This is the more intensive approach, and takes more effort both to write and to absorb as a reader. You'd best sink your hooks deep. But this is also a deeply rewarding method of RPing your league, one that can let individual storylines flourish, and really pull your readership into the world you've created. This one is for the grognards.

Here's an example of how to put narrative into a bunch of results. Compare these results to a glance at the season review a couple of matches before, and to what we know of the sides generally.

Brunswick Town 2-2 Meade Rovers
AFC Mosstown 1-2 Imperial Falston
New Rozelle 4-1 Freeport Sharks
Roschester City 2-2 Falston Bohemians
Roschester Pride 1-1 Wyndham Athletic
Shrove Wanderers 2-2 AFC Shroveshore
First thought is that Freeport Sharks, who were oh-so-recently ruling the roost, get hammered 4-1 by New Rozelle. That's a nice, juicy scoreline. In fact, reading ahead, you notice that Freeport are about to go on a pretty dismal run of form. Find runs of form as you go, and remark on the patterns you see. Obviously, though, IC nobody knows that the Sharks are about to go into a slump - but this is a fat, juicy result for New Rozelle. Are the Sharks choking? Why has their defence gone to hell? Who's scoring the goals for New Rozelle?

Also, at the bottom of the table, Wyndham and Meade both pick up decent away points against midtable sides. Look at Mosstown's 2-1 defeat at home to giants Imperial - on its own, that's a pretty respectable result. In context, it's a point dropped in the race for survival compared to their peers. So mention that, too. Maybe also mention that Imperial kind of had to work hard for that win. Also, hey, four draws from six games? That's kind of a lot. Individual details like that aren't a bad thing. But what else is here besides league position? Oh, right. Shrove vs. Shroveshore - yeah, a derby. A high-scoring one, too. Maybe it didn't even devolve into bloodshed and fan riots, which is always a classic arc to liven up low-scoring derbies. There's plenty to squeeze a par from out of that, and then move on to the next; you'll be done with the season in no time.

Granted, not every matchday has so many results with immediate relevance. These are the matches where you really get to talk about individual events happening - really cool goals, tempers flaring, rumours swirling off the pitch, crazy red cards. These are important, too - it's not all about cold, hard results, but about making your league fun, vibrant, energetic. These are also, realistically, going to be the only chances for midtable sides to shine. Finding that balance is hard, but you'll get there.

Regarding other tournaments, you might choose to interweave writing about them with the rest of the league, or you might sequestre them into its own sections - or you might ignore them entirely until the finals. I'd recommend at least writing something about them, though. Some of your best moments and narratives are lurking in your Cup, and RPing the results of international tournaments is a great way to really feel a part of the wide world of NSS. Just be mindful not to contradict any RPs your opponents may have written first on the same match!

Of course, every matchday comes in a greater context. Beyond scanning the raw results looking for notable runs of form, good or bad, towards the end of the season teams are going to start to lock themselves in for relegation, UICA or the title. Tracking results on the fly is something that xkoranate apparently does better than NSFS - but even without the aid of that, you can backtrack through results and see when certain outcomes were mathematically assured. If you're very lucky, everything's going to come down to the very end...

THE GRAND FINALE
So you have almost everything done - just 90 minutes remain. Traditionally, the last round of every league's fixtures are played simultaneously, to avoid teams settling for mutually acceptable results and screwing over others. This has the added side benefit of having a ton of drama. Your final post is where you milk the hell out of it. Also, you get to focus on the finals of your Cup and, if applicable, any other tournaments - your big chance all season to really focus on an individual match, WCC-style. And at the end, it's always nice to throw out some awards for top performers. Wrap that all up with your entry form to the UICA and that's done and dusted.

This guide, though, is not. We're going to be closing with a FAQ that should hopefully address anything the rest of the guide did not.

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