Sunday, March 26, 2017

Game Company Redesigns Chess

Last week, "Hasbro Gaming" redesigned Monopoly in order to get some free publicity. They added a T-Rex, a penguin, and a rubber ducky.

This caused us at Sports Mogul to think: "Hey, we
could use some free publicityare good at redesigning games!"

So, as a public service to the world, we've decided to bring the game of chess into the 21st century. With the help of the internet.

Step 1. We asked the internet to name their least favorite chess piece. The results:

Rank Least Favorite Piece Votes Percent
11 The Knight 652,510 3.16%
10 The "Horsie" 998,602 4.50%
9 The Rook 1,257,993 6.65%
8 The Unicorn 1,400,590 7.98%
7 The Pawn 2,042,532 9.66%
6 Ringo 2,272,338 10.91%
5 Charmander 2,654,760 12.10%
4 The Queen 2,996,974 14.10%
3 The King 3,110,278 17.09%
2 Fluttershy 4,110,707 22.56%
1 The Bishop 4,169,452 22.70%

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Adding Stadium Art to Baseball Mogul

I got an email this morning with the following question:
  1. I am trying to use this photo of Jarry Park in Baseball Mogul, but all the numbers are skewed. The batter is nowhere near home plate, the first baseman is almost on the pitchers mound... what can I do to fix this?
They attached a file called PBP-Stadium-Montreal.jpg:

To verify the problem, I copied this file to my 'Stadiums' folder and started a new game as the 1974 Expos. When I went into Play-By-Play mode for their first home game, the field looked like this:

As reported, the ratings for all the fielders are in the wrong place on the field (as are the outfield fence distances). This is because every stadium photo requires a matching text file that specifies the coordinates that Baseball Mogul needs to use when drawing these labels.

To get these coordinates, open the photo in a graphical editing program. I use the "Paint" program included with Windows. Baseball Mogul assumes a photo size of 640 x 480 pixels, so you should resize your photo before proceeding.

Microsoft Paint displays the coordinates of your cursor in the lower left corner of the window. Start by placing your cursor over home plate and record the coordinates to a text file. Continue this process for each of the following locations on the field, typing each set of coordinates on it's own line. (If the foul poles are outside the picture, estimate their coordinates.)

Home Plate
First Base
Second Base
Third Base
Left Field Corner
Center Field Wall
Right Field Corner

After each pair of coordinates, you can add a comment by typing '//' and the following it with a useful label. When done with PBP-Stadium-Montreal.jpg, my text file looks like this:

318,351 // HOME_PLATE_COORDINATES Bottom corner
515,290 // FIRST_BASE_COORDINATES Outside corner
321,250 // SECOND_BASE_COORDINATES Top corner
128,285 // THIRD_BASE_COORDINATES Outside corner
-47,221 // LEFT_FIELD_COORDINATES Base of foul pole
324,194 // CENTER_FIELD_COORDINATES Base of CF wall
700,229 // RIGHT_FIELD_COORDINATES Base of foul pole

Save this file with the same filename as the stadium photo, but add the ".ini" file extension (e.g. PBP-Stadium-Montreal.ini).

When I go back into Baseball Mogul 2016 and resumed the game with the 1974 Expos, the stadium view now looks like this:

Much better!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Baseball Mogul is Horse Shit"

We got the following tweet a couple months ago:

... and then this (by someone else) ...

... and this (by yet another person):

I should be pissed off, but these made me smile. I love that people get emotionally invested into their Mogul teams. And it's nice to see people so angry about something other than politics.

These tweets also illustrate what people mean when they say that a game "cheats" or is "rigged". It's not just that the game is difficult — it's that the sim engine has "catch up" code — it waits until you get ahead (in a game or in a season) and then turns on the afterburners to kick your ass.

I briefly worked on the PC version of Madden in the 1990s, and know that it had strong catch-up code (and probably still does). On MLB Slugfest, we created different difficulty levels, but the game didn't cheat — the results were the same regardless of whether you were winning big or losing badly.

I assure you that Baseball Mogul isn't "rigged". There isn't a single line of code in the game that looks at the score (or the standings) and then adjusts the results accordingly. If your team goes 16-8 in April and then 9-18 in May, I guarantee that it's just bad luck. The cheating described in these tweets is purely in the minds of the players. And Baseball Mogul has never contained any catch-up code, so there isn't anything hiding deep in the simulation code that I somehow forgot to remove.

Although the simulation doesn't cheat, the diffculty level does affect the computer GMs' desire to do a deal with you. For example, GMs on "Fan" level will actually make trades with you that they would normally turn down (if offered by another computer-controlled team). Difficulty level also affects the revenue earned by any human-controlled teams.

Difficulty Level Artificial Intelligence
(Computer GMs)
Revenue Adjustment
(Human-Controlled Teams)
Fan Biased in favor of trades offered by human-controlled teams. +5%
Coach No
Manager No
Mogul Biased against trades offered by human-controlled teams. -10%

As you can see, Baseball Mogul cheats in your favor on "Fan" level, and cheats against you on "Mogul" level. But this adjustment only affect your revenue stream — it doesn't pump up the losing team in order to keep things interesting, and it doesn't penalize your team just because you are on pace to win 100 games.