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Old 09-21-2018, 05:22 AM   #1
Jim Gindin
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Update from 9/21/18

Given recent discussion, I thought it was time to post a few of my thoughts regarding the direction of Front Office Football Nine, as well as our progress.

First and foremost, we want a finished game that's playable. Sounds easy, right? However, games get larger and more complex every year and the days when a solo developer could perform every task seem to have ended.

As I wrote more than ten years ago, with software, the jump from one coder to two is larger and more complex (those words again) than going from two to ten.

OOTP brings exactly what the Front Office franchise needs. Similar experiences and goals, but also familiarity with those growing pains. When I first talked about this project with Markus and Andreas last year, all of us shared enthusiasm for the potential of what we could do. It's now a matter of executing that vision.

We're doing well. We're still perfecting the art of fitting our development cycle in with the different projects OOTP has under its wing. We're making good progress.

That said, I can tell you where we are now. The Front Office Football internals are converted to a form that works for a multi-platform environment and for anticipated future structural changes. The GUI framework is taking shape and we're ready for the potent magic of graphic design.

I'll go into a little detail about one of those structural changes, because it illustrates exactly the kinds of long-term goals we have for this project. One complaint about FOF is that it is limited to the current 32-team, eight division pro football structure. Yet some customers want to play with different league formats.

The original plan was to convert Front Office Football function as is, then move to more flexible league formats for future versions. But because we've had extra development time in recent months, we'll be able to fully support a few league formats (meaning scheduling, playoff structure, AI) right out of the gate. With the potential of adding more before the release and eventually (this part I can't promise in FOF9 because I've only done a little bit of work on it) the ability to add your own custom league structures and schedules (which means those of you who love spreadsheets and embrace adventure will gladly share them with the rest of the community).

I've also been able to add some more features that I've wanted to do for some time, but never quite found room in the schedule. Another example (and I won't share them all, because not everything is tested and sometimes you add something and it just doesn't feel right) is implementing the OOTP calendar structure. You'll play FOF9 day-by-day rather than the stage-oriented approach of FOF8.

As Markus wrote recently, we're months away from being able to show off this work. There is no release date scheduled, nor do we have anything settled right now. It's done when it's ready. Our merger makes sense only if we have something you'll enjoy year after year. This means it has to be up to our standards. No more, no less, no quick fixes.

Andreas posted that we couldn't guarantee multi-player function for the release. That's true. We can't guarantee anything that isn't currently working, and out of the hundreds of thousands of lines of code in FOF8, multi-player function is the piece that translates least efficiently to FOF9. The FOF8 multi-player code is Windows-specific and the snippets of multi-player instruction are all in pieces that react to GUI interaction.

It will be among the last pieces I work on. Since multi-player mirrors single-player, it's by design a good candidate for a feature implemented later in the development cycle when everything's more settled. It's also one of the true hybrid pieces of the new game, in that I have code that defines the scope and execution of multi-player commands, but it will end up working in a way that's familiar for those who play multi-player OOTP. So it's not a simple add. It requires a lot of coordination.

I know you want concrete answers, and we don't have them. It would be a poor business decision to hold up a finished product to add a new function. However, it would also be a poor business decision to completely abandon something that we know has brought people enjoyment for a long time. We're thinking about how best to serve everyone's desires.

The only correct answer is to say it's something we would like to provide, but it's not something we can work on at this stage of development and it's not guaranteed to be in the inital release. It's also correct to say that we recognize that for many people, it's a feature that they won't do without. We want customers, so we're certainly not crossing it off any list.

We have also discussed how best to serve existing FOF8 customers. The plan, if we provide multi-player function for FOF9, is to write an internal tool to convert existing multi-player leagues. Commissioners will upload their game files and we'll convert them and provide a detailed explanation of how we're handling the extensive internal structural changes from FOF8. Front Office Football commissioners are familiar with this routine.

Moving forward, OOTP games have automatic conversion routines built in. So we've added the basic support for this when we go from FOF9 to FOF10. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Finally, while I'd like to provide frequent updates on progress, I'm also aware of the dangers of talking too much about something that isn't yet completed. I'm never going to tell you this is the "best" anything or promise that something will be in the game that we haven't yet programmed. I'm not going to be posting much while we're busy with development. Once we are closer to our goals, those around here who are more experienced with the product release process will start doing their thing and I assume I'll be here to answer questions and explain more about the product.

Last edited by Jim Gindin; 09-21-2018 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:41 AM   #2
Ben E Lou
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Thanks for the update, Jim! Thread stickied.







Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
I'll go into a little detail about one of those structural changes, because it illustrates exactly the kinds of long-term goals we have for this project. One complaint about FOF is that it is limited to the current 32-team, eight division pro football structure. Yet some customers want to play with different league formats.

The original plan was to convert Front Office Football function as is, then move to more flexible league formats for future versions. But because we've had extra development time in recent months, we'll be able to fully support a few league formats (meaning scheduling, playoff structure, AI) right out of the gate. With the potential of adding more before the release and eventually (this part I can't promise in FOF9 because I've only done a little bit of work on it) the ability to add your own custom league structures and schedules (which means those of you who love spreadsheets and embrace adventure will gladly share them with the rest of the community).
Wow. I wasn't expecting this in the first release.

Quote:
You'll play FOF9 day-by-day rather than the stage-oriented approach of FOF8.
This sounds like an exciting change in both SP and MP, especially with regard to free agent signings. I wonder if it might also mean some overlapping stages like OOTP has. That'd be a significant strategy-changer.

Last edited by Ben E Lou; 09-21-2018 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:49 AM   #3
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Thanks for the update. Cant wait
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:05 AM   #4
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Thanks for the update. Very excited to hear the game will have at least some customization options as it relates to league structure.

Also appreciate the detailed explanation of the challenges of implementing MP. I sure hope it is something that can be done sooner than later. However, I also am very satisfied by the rationale why it may not be in initial release and hope it also quells the concerns of the forum members who seemed to be under the impression the decision was some kind of vendetta agaisnt the MP/existing FOF community.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:13 AM   #5
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Very disappointed to see that multiplayer isn't near or at the top of your list....

Edit : I actually did feel the need to say more... My long running Draft Day Sports league was really looking forward to converting. That's 32 purchases likely out the window... But I know, we can be replaced.

However! Thanks for the update.. Any update is appreciated...

Last edited by Robmeister89; 09-21-2018 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:24 AM   #6
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I'm a fictional league guy obsessed with immersion, so the three things I'm looking for most are
1. obviously fictional league play with the ability to have my own custom teams

2. Facegen for all my fictional guys

3. detailed record keeping

and to a lesser extent

1. awards
2. news stories
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosco Peabody View Post
I'm a fictional league guy obsessed with immersion, so the three things I'm looking for most are
1. obviously fictional league play with the ability to have my own custom teams

2. Facegen for all my fictional guys

3. detailed record keeping

and to a lesser extent

1. awards
2. news stories
FWIW, Fictional leagues, custom teams, and detailed record keeping have been part of the core game since at least 2003, maybe farther back than that. I don't recall off the top of my head how much further back those things go, but I know that I'm in a league started with FOF2K4 that has been 100% fictional teams and players since then, and that game was released in Fall 2003. Awards have also been part of the game since FOF2K1 for sure, and perhaps since FOF1.

News stories would be huge, yeah. Facegen would be cool as well, but I wonder about the limitations mentioned earlier regarding hair.

Last edited by Ben E Lou; 09-21-2018 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 10:46 AM   #8
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I appreciate the reasoned and fairly detailed post, even if I'm still a bit bummed that mp might not make the initial release.

The fact we're getting a release at all is still kinda mind blowing to me because I thought FOF might've died with FOF8.

The one thing that stuck out to me, and I meant to say as much in the Online Leagues thread before it got locked, is that mp is generally a late add in most games. This is different from a back end architecture which will facilitate mp, but the actual implementation of mp in a game usually comes quite late because it requires a playable game first and only then can the net code or whatever be brought in.

With FOF moving to a day-to-day sim I can see how mp will come way far down on the list because the rest of the way the game acts needs to be firmed up before mp code is created.
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Old 09-21-2018, 11:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robmeister89 View Post
Very disappointed to see that multiplayer isn't near or at the top of your list....

Edit : I actually did feel the need to say more... My long running Draft Day Sports league was really looking forward to converting. That's 32 purchases likely out the window... But I know, we can be replaced.

However! Thanks for the update.. Any update is appreciated...

This!
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Old 09-21-2018, 12:16 PM   #10
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Great to hear development is ongoing. That's what the fanbase mostly wants to know.

I'm likely in the minority that plays FOF only in MP mode, and right now I'm neither disappointed nor happy about that area being the hardest to implement. There's no point in releasing a MP-feature if it isn't finished, so I guess I prefer to see it when it'd done rather than when it's "almost done".
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Old 09-21-2018, 12:49 PM   #11
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well said, mijb.

while i love playing mp, i can see myself getting interested in SP if the AI gets stronger -- similar to Ben, I would prefer to play in my own pace, and this is the main challenge of MP to me.

my approach is that we didn't have a new game until some months ago as garion said, so i'm rejoicing with the release coming up in the next months. if it has only SP, i'll enjoy playing the new game, which I hope brings additional challenges.
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:59 PM   #12
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Thanks for the update Jim. Some nice stuff in there for sure.
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Old 09-21-2018, 02:33 PM   #13
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Thanks Jim, can't wait to enjoy your new game!!
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Old 09-21-2018, 02:40 PM   #14
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While I know some may not be totally enthusiastic with some of what you said (like no guarantee of multiplayer support) I’m just thankful of a detailed update! While my sim gaming has been exclusively multiplayer over the last 5+ years, I would consider running my only single player league to get used to the new engine with this game. Keep up the great work!!!


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Old 09-21-2018, 03:32 PM   #15
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I'm not disappointed, since I have zero interest in multiplayer. I just hope nothing is rushed to meet any deadlines. Thanks for the update.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:09 PM   #16
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Really, really happy to get the update. Sounds like progress is being made steadily but that it will still take a few more months before release. If you guys can get it out the door in good condition around the end of the year, or maybe even before, I will be ecstatic.

Finally, we all appreciate getting any update to progress on the project. It would so help the angst regarding patience as we wait for the final program. Would be really happy if we could get updates at least monthly even if they're not as comprehensive as this one.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:17 PM   #17
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The update is really appreciated! It's good to know you're taking your time for all the right reasons. It'll be worth the wait.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:25 PM   #18
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I don't care when the game comes either as long as it is well-made.

And I also would love the periodic updates, even just to pop in to say that development is going well
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:42 PM   #19
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I'm interested in the day-by-day idea. In football, it seems like this could make the free agent market a good deal more immersive. If you're getting a variety of messages when the fur is really flying... WR1 is asking for 4/$24m and his agent insists he wants his big bonus of he's taking the Raiders' offer instead... but the almost as good WR2 is saying he's ready to sign with you right now for 2/$9m...and you don't really have the cap space to sign them both. I could see that becoming a full level more interesting than the free agency process is now, in single-player FOF.

I can't yet envision how this would work in multi-player, but that seems surmountable overall.

If we can retain the core of FOF that makes it work so well under the hood, add in a bit more depth and appeal to the interface, and then work out the "look and feel" things like this, I could be really really happy with the outcome of this partnership.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuikSand View Post
I'm interested in the day-by-day idea. In football, it seems like this could make the free agent market a good deal more immersive. If you're getting a variety of messages when the fur is really flying... WR1 is asking for 4/$24m and his agent insists he wants his big bonus of he's taking the Raiders' offer instead... but the almost as good WR2 is saying he's ready to sign with you right now for 2/$9m...and you don't really have the cap space to sign them both. I could see that becoming a full level more interesting than the free agency process is now, in single-player FOF.
Yeah, you've fleshed precisely what I was talking about in my earlier post. Tough decisions ftw.

Quote:
I can't yet envision how this would work in multi-player, but that seems surmountable overall.
I think this one would be on both the development team and the commishes. The ol' "revoke offer if player signs" type stuff would be crucial, but I'd think a thorough understanding of frequency of signings by the league commish would be critical as well--does the offseason run 5 days, a week, 10 days, 12 days, 20 days, or a month at a time? From the dev end, do top-tier players recognize--as they seem to in OOTP--that they're the subject of a bidding war and therefore wait a bit to be signed? And from the commish end, if there is something like that in place, how do you respond to it in terms of how long each sim entails. Would it end up making sense to have variable sim lengths, even? I suspect there's going to be a fair bit to be learned and explored in this realm, and some trial and error.


Quote:
If we can retain the core of FOF that makes it work so well under the hood, add in a bit more depth and appeal to the interface, and then work out the "look and feel" things like this, I could be really really happy with the outcome of this partnership.
True dat.
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