New Fantasy Movie League Options

If you’re reading this you are probably aware that Fantasy Movie League has been a thing around here for nearly a year at this point.  Over that time it quickly became a weekly post and there is now a TAGN league you can join and all that.  It has been fun… for me at least… and has kept me more aware than I have ever really been about movie releases.

But there have been some problematic aspects to the way FML runs its seasons.  There are features that sit wrong with myself or others, things like the Friday morning lockout deadline which allows the canny to get the Thursday night preview numbers (which count towards Friday totals) and change their lineup at the last moment to account for any unexpected performance.

However, now just two weeks before the Summer blockbuster season starts up, FML has announced a big upgrade to their league features.  You will now be able to alter the parameters of the leagues you create.  The options include:

  • Lock Deadline. You can keep the lock time at the default Noon ET/9am PT Friday setting, or move it up all the way to 6pm ET/9pm PT on Monday (just an hour after new movies and prices come out!).
  • Season Length. You can keep the default 12- to 14-week long season that FML uses for the Season Showdown competitions, or you can select a shorter season length from 2 to 12 weeks.
  • Scoring Settings. You now have control over the following options:
    • Perfect Cineplex Bonus
    • Best Performer Bonus
    • Empty Screen Penalty
    • Worst Performer Penalty. This bonus category is new to FML! The Worst Performer is the Best Performer in reverse: the movie that had the worst box-office-to-FML-Bux ratio. The value can be set to whatever number is desired, or the feature turned off.

This seems to allow a league to be setup to cover all the various objections that people, including myself, have about the default way FML seasons are run.  There is enough there to make for some interesting scenarios.  What if, for example, you gave people a reverse “worst performer” penalty, that is to say, a worst performer bonus?  I am not sure you can do that, but that might shake things up.

Anyway I am going to propose a change to the TAGN league for the summer season.  This is what I am thinking of:

  • Earlier Lock Deadline

This is the obvious one.  Make people pick and lock their choices before Thursday night previews.  The question is how early is early enough but not too early.  Part of me would like to see a really early lock, before previews or theater counts are out, which would be Wednesday morning at the latest.

However, I wouldn’t want to lock too early as that makes it more likely that people will forget to pick.  As fun/funny as a Tuesday morning lock would be, I wouldn’t want to do it before my weekly post goes up to remind people that the game is on and that they need to pick.  So I think the earliest optimal time is Wednesday night.  (Or I could move the post to Tuesday, which might not be a bad idea anyway.  I generally have it done Monday night.

Anyway, if you’re interested, I’d like to hear what time you think it ought to lock.

Then the second thing I am considering:

  • No Bonuses

This is something that triggers a bit of my inner Bernie I think.  Giving a bonus to the person who got the best score strikes me a bit as the rich getting richer.  You already beat everybody and now you want more?  As a DM once said to me, “Gold is its own reward!” when explaining why he wasn’t dishing out xp with gold the way it said he was supposed to back in the era of AD&D 1.0.  Winning is its own reward.  You don’t need a bonus to extend your lead.

Or such are my thoughts.  I’d be good with other people’s input on this.  I’ll put up a poll about this in case you just want to click a radio button rather than write a comment.

There is a poll between this line and the word “comment” above.  If you do not see it AdBlock may be hiding it or you are using Firefox as your browser.

There are also some complications.  If you are in multiple leagues, as I am, you will need to make multiple cineplexes, since each may have to conform to different rule.  Fortunately, that is now supported as well.  If you’re only in the TAGN league I don’t think you will have to change anything, but we shall see.

12 thoughts on “New Fantasy Movie League Options

  1. Anonymous

    Just happy to be here man.

    I would not mind the earlier lockout as I TRY to have my picks in on Wednesday as Thur-Fri is hectic and I have missed selections before (oops!)

    I have a deep, burning apathy towards Christmas, er Bonuses. Heck if you want to pummel me with the loser’s tax, I’ll still tick around!

    -Skar’s Movie and Meatpies

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  2. Quain

    I’m not a big fan of No Bonuses. I think there’s some interesting decision making that results from building your lineup around the possibility of an efficient, but bad fit dollar-wise choice scoring best pick.

    I’m a fan of earlier lock, even as someone who probably does more analytics on this (and has almost zero actual market sense) than most, so this hurts my ability to do well. Partly because it absolves me of having to spend as much time thinking about it and partly because I do think it ruins some people’s interest in playing to get crushed because they didn’t obsessively check Friday morning to find out Film A did 2x its weekend forecast in Thursday previews, or something silly.

    So that’s basically my vote, yea bonuses, yea earlier lock.

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  3. RohanV

    I’m not involved in the leagues, but a bonus for victory in an individual round serves a specific purpose when a game consists of multiple rounds.

    Consider the following scenario: Anna places 1st in week 1, 4th in week 2, and 1st in week 3. Betty places 2nd in all three weeks. If their overall totals are the same, who should win? A bonus for winning gives a slight advantage to Anna. It adds an incentive for making higher-risk, higher-reward picks rather than safe picks which give you a consistently high total, but won’t win the league in any given week.

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  4. SynCaine

    Early lock. I think its ok to allow the early preview posts that come out on Wed or whenever as they are often pretty off. The updating on Friday morning to get 8 screens of an overperformer out of the clouds needs to go though.

    Bonuses I could do without, as they tend to push the people ahead too far and separates people too much on the leaderboard.

    I think a bonus for lowest score per week would be cool, especially if it was somewhat significant (10-20?)

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @RohanV – That is the theory, I am not sure it works out so in practice. The bonus isn’t for first place, but for picking the best performing film based on price/revenue and getting what ends up being the perfect pick for the week. But that can lead to goofy results.

    This week, for example, the current tentative results have two people with the perfect pick. But it is only the prefect pick because it includes the extra boost for screens of a film that got the best performer bonus. In raw numbers, several other people have better picks, but the bonus changes that.

    So who really deserves the win? The people who actually picked the lineup that did the best, or the people who picked the best performer and got boosted past the first group by virtue of the bonus?

    @SynCaine – That 8 screen double bonus thing only happened once, last year with Baby Driver. But yeah, that was pretty bad. That week is an argument in favor of earlier lock and reducing or eliminating bonuses.

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  6. Quain

    To amend my prior statement, I’m completely OK with dumping the perfect cinema bonus. That’s nothing but a win more allotment.

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  7. SynCaine

    I was thinking the week Miracle or something did like double the expected result, and the winning scores that week were 200k+, while a ‘normal’ score was 100 or less. Basically if you picked that movie in all 8 slots, you not only won, but you basically got so far ahead you won the league vs those who did not.

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  8. anypo8

    I’m in favor of a 8:30 PM Wednesday (EST) lock. That gives two full days to make picks, which should be plenty of time. A few hours earlier or later that that doesn’t matter much, I think.

    The chief idea of bonuses, I suspect, is to give folks who are far behind some feeling that they could possibly still catch up with a miracle week or two. The problem is that a lot of them got behind in the first place by missing some giant bonus week in a completely plausible way. Another way to achieve end-of-season competitiveness might be to just go to shorter seasons: say six weeks. In that amount of time, nobody should get too far behind with bonuses turned off. A shorter season would also be a shorter-term commitment; one could take a season off with some chance of coming back.

    The Best Performer bonus has mostly been so random lately; it’s basically a dice roll. I don’t care much about the Perfect Pick bonus, as it comes up so rarely. I think the blank screen penalty is a good thing, but would support halving it, which would give more strategic options. I agree with @Quain that having the BP bonus makes the tactics more interesting; I am actually up for more casual rather than super-analytical, though. :-)

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  9. Onwuka

    Earlier or later lockout time makes no difference to me. With the phone app I haven’t had trouble finding a couple minutes Friday mornings to quickly scan the main chatter to see if I’ve missed something. Whether or not Friday changes have actually improved my lineup is probably a toss-up, I’ve screwed it up as often as I’ve improved it.

    I agree with Quain regarding bonuses. I think the perfect cinema bonus adds nothing, but the best performer bonus (and to a lesser extent empty screen penalty) adds depth that the game would sorely lack otherwise. Weeks that unexpected results lead to big performance gaps aren’t a reflection of a bad game mechanic, just bad pricing.

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  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I like the idea of no bonuses because it seems more raw, it mitigates some of the imbalance when FML prices things badly, and the current tools available work with bonuses turned off.

    The best performer bonus also becomes pretty random when you have a blockbuster out for the week and a bunch of really cheap options at the lower end. One of them just has to blip by a bit and suddenly that $10 pick is worth an extra $2 million. I could reduce the best performer bonus, but then the tools are off.

    Anyway, that is my thinking on it. It does sound like losing the perfect pick bonus is agreeable to everybody.

    For a lockout time I am thinking Thursday morning at 9am PST, which just rolls it back 24 hours from the current. At that point you won’t get preview numbers or the final theater counts.

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  11. anypo8

    “I could reduce the best performer bonus, but then the tools are off.” Which means that I would then be compelled to finally write the web version of my tool. Please no. :-)

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