Running a Successful Online Dynasty

Every year about this time I see the mad scramble of coaches clamoring to get into legitimate, active Online Dynasty's. They join, they play for bit and then they watch that dynasty slowly die for one reason or another. Inactivity, arguments, poor leadership, etc. Those are a few of the issues that plague the success and longevity of an Online Dynasty.

This is why I wanted to stop down and lay out the 10 steps to creating a killer online dynasty in NCAA Football 13. I've been running online leagues for over 13 years now and have really pinpointed the aspects of management that are crucial for success. Take a few minutes, whether you’re a commissioner or just a coach, and learn about the proper way to run an Online Dynasty.

Planning

You must start here. Have a general idea of what type of dynasty you want to run. Do you want a lot of user vs. user games or do you want a faster moving dynasty with more user vs. cpu games? Do you want to run a favorite team’s dynasty or do you want to balance the user teams across multiple conferences? These decisions will dictate the framework of everything else you will do as a commissioner. 

Often you will find the setup is what will help drive the members that decide to join. For your next step, it’s best if you have a clear plan for how you want to lay out your online dynasty. You will find that the good coaches are attracted to a commissioner with vision and priorities. With planning, you can make sure to represent yourself in that manner.

Marketing

If you’re starting from scratch or with a couple of buddies, you might find yourself looking for additional coaches to add to your dynasty. A good place to start is the EA SPORTS NCAA Football forums. There is a sub forum that is specifically designated for this type of interaction. Users will post if they are looking for a Dynasty and you should also post a thread recruiting for your dynasty. Make sure to let the coaches know about the planning steps you have taken already and what will differentiate the experience they will get in your league from any other dynasty.

There are other sites where you can find coaches but you need to be careful about posting unwanted advertisements (spam) that break the terms of service of the site you are visiting. Make sure to read the posting rules and/or contact a site admin or moderator to ask permission first.

Tools

With the games growing in functionality every year, the need for supplemental tools is certainly diminishing, but there a several things that you must provide your coaches to supplement your online dynasty. First and foremost is a forum home. You must have a place that provided the tools for your coaches to communicate, schedule, update and build those bonds that we discuss later in our list. There are several free forum sites out there that allow you to get up and running quickly. You can also look to other fan sites like Tradition Sports Online or The Gaming Tailgate to help you facilitate a forum setup.

You also need to make sure to leverage social media tools to help spread the word and keep everyone informed on league happenings and updates. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a huge asset to growing your league footprint. Be creative with it, use it for draft hi jinx or trade rumors. The possibilities are endless.

Rules

Regardless of what type of player you are. You want to define a rule set that you are comfortable with enforcing. If you’re a tournament style player, then set the rules accordingly. If your more of a strategist and play/caller type, what some call “sim”, then do the same. You can look around and find versions of rules already being successfully utilized by long running dynasty’s of either type. The most important thing is make the rules themselves as black and white as possible. Make it easy to define when someone crosses the line.

I always write the rule set but preach the mind set. You don’t want to have to police a bunch of coaches that are constantly testing the limits of your rules and finding ways to skirt around them. You want guys that are going to play within the rules naturally because that is how they think about the game. You only need 12 guys for a full league, make it 12 that have the same mindset.

Respect

This is mandatory. We all expect a certain level of decorum in our real world lives right? It’s no different here. You must have coaches that respect each other, you, and what you are trying to accomplish with your Online Dynasty. There is nothing that will tear down your hard work faster than coaches undermining each other with inappropriate comments or publicly flaming gameplay tendencies. You must develop a bond with each coach and have an open door policy that allows them to vent to you instead of doing it publicly. From there you can handle the situation accordingly without either coach directly confronting the other.

The more time passes and games get played the easier this should get. But in general, if you notice a guy who seems pretty care free with how he talks to people, that should be a warning sign. Let him know what is expected early on and most guys will conform.

Communication

This is the cornerstone of a healthy Online Dynasty. If guys are communicating, games are getting scheduled… and dynasties keep moving. You must put in some requirements for how guys should utilize the tools you have provided to schedule their user games in an efficient manner.  Then you can track which coaches are making the effort to schedule games proactively and which guys are just not cutting it. You have to have coaches who will independently seek out their opponents each week.

It’s also an important part of building that transparent cohesion that you need for all coaches in the dynasty to continue grinding out the seasons. It will also play a huge part in the offseason process and how quickly you are able to get from playing season to playing season. Communication will expedite the down time and get you back on the sticks quicker.

Content

Putting in some content requirements has always been a priority of mine. We are here to be entertained right? So let’s create some of that immersion factor that is so lacking in most Online Dynasty’s. Promote team previews each year, push your coaches to create power rankings, come up with a feature article that highlights the bio of each of your coaches over the season. Content drives the fun factor and ultimately the longevity of your Online Dynasty.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help here. Get your coaches to participate and let them know up front that you expect them to be actively posting about their team and league activities.

History

Make sure to diligently track the history of your dynasty and make it visible to your coaches. Championships, rankings, Heisman trophies all should be tracked over the course of your league. I would even recommend that you track your user versus user standings throughout the years. It gives guys a sense of belonging to something as they see their own personal history in the league begin to pile up. It also allows them to continually measure their game and accomplishments in your dynasty.

You might even go as far as creating little icons or badges for certain achievements so guys can display them proudly on the forums.

Rivals

Play up the big rivalries in your dynasty in a friendly, competitive manner. There is nothing wrong with two guys who lock horns all the time developing a little bit of healthy distaste for each other’s team. As long as it’s kept in fun, smack talk and general ribbing of coaches should be allowed and encouraged once you have established a solid group that respects each other off the virtual field.

You will find that these big games will start to take on a life of their own and really add to that immersion factor we talked about earlier. This is why most guys play, that competitive spirit inside is looking for an outlet.

Friends

As important as developing rivalries on the field, you must encourage and promote friendship off of it. The best leagues I have been a part of have developed into a fraternity type environment where I can be myself and let go of the day’s stresses. Encouraging group meet ups and live events for guys in close proximity is always a great way to set those online friendships in stone. Some of my best friends I have today I met online through playing in Online Dynasty’s.

Developing true friendships is far more rewarding than any video game win or loss and that is the true benefit of taking your game online. There is a whole world of other coaches out there, I assure you; you can find 11 guys that you can compete against in a way that will enhance your gaming experience tenfold from playing offline.