Hi. My name is Jeremy aka dumbmatter. Two of my favorite things are basketball and programming, so I created Basketball GM. That sounds simple, but it took a long time to get to where we are today!
When I was a kid, I got hooked on a game called Baseball Mogul. I had always enjoyed the "GM mode" of sports games like Madden, but Baseball Mogul was different. It was a pure sports management sim, nothing more. And it was so much better than any "GM mode" I had played before.
For a long time, I had this idea in the back of my head... what if I could make something like Baseball Mogul for my favorite sport, basketball? As a kid, that was an intimidating idea. I didn't really know where to start, and I didn't think I was a good enough programmer to do it. (If you feel the same way today, read this blog post.)
Finally I decided to give it a shot. In 2008, right after I finished college and before I started grad school. I thought most likely nothing would come of it - either I would fail to actually complete a game, or it wouldn't be a very good game, or nobody would care about it. Turns out I was wrong about all of those things.
I could go on and on about everything that happened between 2008 and today. And I've done that before... but wow, even that blog post is really old! So here, let me give you a quick timeline of what all happened:
2008: Basketball GM version 0.1 was released. You can give it a try if you want.
2012: I started working on a new version of Basketball GM that would run in a web browser.
2013: The new web version was released. This is what it looked like back in 2013.
2013: Up until this point, I had basically no users. That started to change with this post on /r/nba, and it's been steady growth since then.
2017: My greatest technical achievement while working on Basketball GM was Project Iverson, which required rewriting a lot of code but resulted in a 10x improvement in game simulation performance.
2019: Football GM was released, built from the same codebase as Basketball GM.
2020: Basketball GM got its first user from North Korea, meaning it has now been played in 189 of 193 countries in the world.
2021: ZenGM Hockey was released, built from the same codebase as Basketball GM and Football GM.
2022: ZenGM Baseball was released, built from the same codebase as my other games.
All throughout that time, my games have been improving and my userbase has been growing. And it's still really fun for me to work on. There's no such thing as a sports simulation game being "done", there's always something to do.
At this point, I think my games have a pretty clear niche:
No in-game purchases, no "pay to win", no microtransactions. You don't even have to log in or make an account to play.
Simulation games need depth, but they need the right amount of depth with a UI to help you make sense of it. We seek to avoid mandatory micromanagement as much as possible. Video games should be fun, not tedious.
Our games are deeply customizable through an in-game "God Mode" or custom league files. We also make our source code available so you can see how our games work and play around with the internals.
Play our games in any web browser on any device. Desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile - it all works. No downloads, no installation, no special permissions needed.
There's plenty of other great sports sim games out there filling different niches, many of which are superior to my games in various ways. But I don't think any of them quite check all the same boxes as my games.
What's next? Who knows. Since I'm my own boss now, in theory I should know what's next, but I'm really bad at planning. I can only promise that ZenGM will continue to grow and improve!
Links to some pages hosted on zengm.com that I'm not sure where else to put:
Disclaimer: Basketball GM is not sponsored by or endorsed by the National Basketball Association, the National Basketball Players Association, any individual NBA players, or any of their affiliates. All league trademarks are property of their respective owners and are used under the doctrine of trademark nominative fair use.