Front Office Football Developer's Corner: Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environment

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:02 AM   #1
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Front Office Football Developer's Corner: Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environment

Jim Gindin, the sole developer of the Front Office Football line of text-based simulations, has once again worked with our Operation Sports staff to put together another Developer's Corner for the community's input into future development of FOF. Head to the thread at FOFC to respond directly to Jim so that your ideas can be taken into account.

"This is one of those areas of the game where I think I can learn a lot from seeing how people view free agency in multi-player leagues, and what they perceive as a good gaming experience versus a frustrating one.

If I can capture the good in that experience and somehow bring it into the single-player version of the game, I think that could add significantly to the depth of Front Office Football. Maybe to a point where the term "house rules" can be retired in much the same way Ryan Leaf left the game.

What do you think would better capture the excitement of free agency without the frustration?"
Platform: PC

Last edited by bronco92; 12-03-2008 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 12-03-2008, 12:02 PM   #2
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In about 1997, the lead developer of Front Page Sports Baseball '98 decided to join a very high profile league called "Sundown". With that followed a series of game programmers and producers at Dynamix. Then, following that, logically, was a series of online journalists, exploiting the social environment of a league for their own professional gain to get to these guys. Those sports journalists included mRob Smolka from PC Gamer and Dave Dial, later to become General Manager of The GA Sports Network.

I'm a commissioner of this whole thing. It was very intense but very social. We managed the games live in the playoffs through live chat with the whole league "attneding" the games and me running it off my machine and following each manager's instructions. We had many other things, such as The Newcomb Archives that extensively followed the history of the league with an interactive Power Point Presentation as well as the most unbelievably vibrant League Newspaper because, basically, the articles were written by professional sports journalists and game developers.

It was all a fluke that these people found "Sundown" and congregated there. And I was in charge of this high powered, very ego driven league. And it was stressful managing all these Alpha personalities in to an enjoyable game experience, multiplayer and online back 11 years ago.

So, I had to invent things, ways of doing things that were NOT in the game. Fortunately, I had some of the brightest minds in programming to advise me.

I devised a method called:

"The Roulette Vault"

This 'concept' was adapted at 20+ leagues at the time of a superior way of handling multiplayer free agency in a baseball environment. Hockey leagues, football leagues .. the format transcended the sport.

It was just too difficult to manage "bidding" and back and forth "Sotheby's" style action.

So, I abstracted the concept of multiplayer, live, league free agency. This was a baseball league that used OOTP after FPS:BB Pro '98 and Markus took a great deal of joy out of this. In fact, if you will look at OOTP 3, maybe 2, it has my name as a contributing developer. Now, I didn't DO any developing. I just got with Steve and said, "Tell Markus to program this in to the game so we can use it at Sundown". Four hours later, the Tennessee Magician would send me Markus' latest build of the game with exactly the items I wanted programmed in. I was shocked and stunned that this happened. I said it .. Markus programmed it in to the game. We later continued this in Sundown Basketball with Brian Nichols of Fast Break Basketball. Great dude, Brian. From the Pacific Northwest.

They were all great dudes. They just stumbled on this place on the web where they could all get together and play their game or a game their buddies programmed or a game they were reporting on. The Golden Age.

So, as I was in charge, I had to raise *my* game and devise some intense things that these guys would respect.

The Roulette Vault consisted of a very simple idea that all could understand but yet, in an abstract way, the concept of moving talent around the league, simulating free agency. It went something like this:

(People can correct me if I'm wrong on some details of a system I designed but was later adopted extensively. I may have some details wrong as I've forgotten exactly how I did it .. )

From your 25 man roster plus two, you had two "Vault" positions where those couldn't be touched. "Franchise Players" before the NFL did it. Players in the minor leagues were exempt unless they had any major league stats that season. Now, there was a draft after the season, inverse in order of finish off regular season records. Every other player on your team that was NOT in "The Vault" was assigned a number from 1-25.

On two selected days, we took the last two numbers from the close of The Dow Jones close, dropping the cents. THAT was the Hot Slot so that all players, across the league, would drop all of those players in to the free agency pool for the draft. We did it again a second day.

(for the record, if the Dow actually ended up at "OO", no Slot Drop, bad free agent crop that year. If it ended above 25, you simply halved or three quatered the number, i.e.: "52" meant slot "2", 81 meant slot "6" (25x3=75 1,2,3,4,5 and *BOOM* six was the slot number that everybody dropped in to free agency from that slot. Everybody could confirm the validity because everybody could see the Dow close and it couldn't be manipulated or cheated on).

You could TRADE Roulette Vault draft positions in season though they were highly coveted.

It just made for a very enjoyable off season and simplified something that could have been a nightmare to keep track of. For the record, we always played with financials off. My line was: "This is a game for fun not an accounting simulation."

People loved it. It kept high powered well positioned people engaged.

We were very progressive at "Sundown" and did many many progressive things because of the people in the league had so many ideas. THEY WERE GAME PROGRAMMERS AND GAME MEDIA. It wasn't hard to be progressive.

I think Shaun played in that league too though he was only writing support apps for FPS BB PRO 98 and hadn't started on PureSim. I kept dogging him about a release date for it, I remembered. It became the Duke Nuke 'em of sports games for quite a while.

Good Times that I thought I would share with the community.

OK .. begin your slamming and spiteful remarks.

I have no agenda and will not reply as I simply don't post much here. Look at my join date and how many times I have actually said something.

Great Site, Stevie. Keep it up, man. We're countin' on ya and The Web wouldn't be the same without Operation Sports.

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Old 12-03-2008, 01:50 PM   #3
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Re: Front Office Football Developer's Corner: Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environme


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Old 12-03-2008, 02:21 PM   #4
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Re: Front Office Football Developer's Corner: Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environme

Yea, Stain, that post was a whole bunch of confusing.
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Old 12-03-2008, 02:35 PM   #5
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:35 PM   #6
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Re: Front Office Football Developer's Corner: Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environme

Stain I like the idea. Back in the days of FbPro we used to randomly select a # then go down every person's roster and select 2-3 players over the age of 6 years (or something like that).

Just like yours we could protect a few players. Before the days of contracts in online games it balanced things out and made the off-season much more exciting.
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