There'll be a news announcement on the site too, but for you lot here's a more in-depth rundown of what's new and changed for 2015.
The back end of the game (which very few of you ever see of course) has been completely overhauled, and the game engine has had some fairly fundamental changes too. The most fundamental is that a tour is now a separate thing from a competition, so one tour can have more than one competition running at the same time. Tour Down under has three: standard, purist and an Aussies only one (we'll be doing those for the grand tours and the Tour of Britain too. Not Aussies, mind). Before it was a user that had multiple teams, and it was a bit of a hack to be honest. This is a much more elegant and versatile way of doing things.
It gives us a load more flexibility to offer different competitions, and we can now select in the back end what leagues different competitions count towards. so just-for-fun comps like the Tour de San Luis purist and the Aussies-only comp won't count towards your overall season score. That also means that down the line we should be able to offer some user-run competitions alongside the ones we're doing in-house.
So each user only has one team now. Premium is different, then, in that it simply allows you to enter as many competitions as you like. If you're a standard player, you can only enter eight in a season. Realistically that means standard users will be entering the competitions they were allowed to last year, so it shouldn't work out that different.
Also pretty fundamental is the change to the way transfers are handled. This season you'll get a set number of transfers for a standard race, and you can use them in whatever way you see fit. We tried this out with the Skoda game last year and found it a much more interesting way to play because there's more strategies available, and it opens the possibility of bigger changes at the end of a competition if different users have employed different transfer strategies, or just run out...
We now have the ability to select the team size for any competition too, as well as the budget. Generally, races will be teams of eight, with nine riders for the Grand Tours and fewer for things like the country-specific fun competitions; we've gone with five for the Aussies only one.
The roster changes thread has been replaced by an email system that will automatically send you updates of any changes affecting your team - check the checkbox in your account page if you want them. There's also the option to automatically receive stage updates, and the game will email you each time a new competition is opened if you have general updates enabled.
The overall leagues have changed. There's a standard season league for all standard comps, and a purist season league for the purist comps. As well as that there's a road.cc monuments competition which is just the big stuff: Spring Classics and the Grand Tours, presently. We may add a couple more to it but it won't be more than eight competitions so you'll be able to play it as a standard user. There aren't any specific non-premium leagues as there aren't any specific non-premium competitions any more.
Rider stats we've simplified a bit to make it easier to understand for new users, and we've also added stats to the transfers page so you can get an overall idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
There will be plenty of prizes on offer this year, but we haven't teamed up with anyone to offer prizes for every stage. We're still working through some missing ones from last year, and it's better if we handle the prizes in house. There will be prizes for the Tour Down Under, news on that soon.
There's a bunch of stuff on the to-do list and there's some things that will no doubt need fixing. If you have any issues with the site functionality, comment on here and we'll have a look at them.