I rewrote the football game simulation engine to fix weird bugs and improve penalties

One frustrating thing about Football GM, both for me and for users of the game, is all the game simluation bugs. There are fewer than there used to be. I try to track them down and fix them when people report them to me. But sometimes, that doesn't work very well.

Like I got a bug report that sometimes the ball carrier would cross the first down line, fumble, the offense recovers the fumble behind the first down line, and yet it still counted as a first down.

I investigated it, found the part of the code that was doing the wrong thing, and... I couldn't fix it. The bug was ultimately caused not by a little typo or mistake, but a fundamental problem in how game simulation worked. Specifically, the problem was that there was no sense of history. All of the "state" of the game (possession, down, distance, score, etc.) was stored just once. As the game progressed, state was updated. But what if you need to go backwards? Like the aforementioned first down line example. Or, even more troubling, penalties. With penalties, there is always the possibility that anything that happens in the game could be reversed. I had some hacky code to handle some of that, but it was limited, mostly by the fundamental problem mentioned above.


Slam dunk contest

September 13, 2021-

Do you like text-based basketball simulation? Then you'll love the new text-based slam dunk contest in Basketball GM!

The All-Star Game has been in BBGM for a while. Now, before the All-Star Game is played, you can also simulate the slam dunk contest.

The slam dunk contest has no impact on any other part of your league. It's just a fun little mini-game. But honestly, it's pretty fun. I probably spent way too much time working on it, but the end result is that it has a ton of nice little features that I hope you enjoy!

But first, here's what it looks like:


Basketball GM now supports the play-in tournament

September 1, 2021-

Version 2021.09.01.0705 of Basketball GM finally supports the play-in tournament. The play-in tournament is the weird pre-playoffs thing the NBA recently added, where the last two seeds in each conference are determined by a tournament involving the 7th through 10th best teams in the conference. First, the 7/8 and 9/10 teams play. The winner of the 7/8 game becomes the 7 seed in the real playoffs. Then the loser of the 7/8 game plays the winner of the 9/10 game for the final playoff spot.

It works the same way in BBGM, just generalized to all league types. So if you have only 4 teams per conference making the playoffs, then the play-in tournament will be between the 3-6 seeds. And if you set the playoffs to not be determined by conference, there will just be one play-in bracket to determine the bottom 2 overall playoff teams.

What does it look like in the game?


New playoff settings: "Split By Conference", "# Guaranteed Per Division", and "Reseed Rounds"

August 14, 2021-

I just added three new playoff settings in version 2021.08.14.1172. The first two in this screenshot have been there for a while, but the last three are new.

How exactly do they work?


No more hard cutoff in three point shooting tendency

August 11, 2021-

You may have noticed a funny thing about the number of three pointers that certain players take. There was a hard cutoff at about 35 in the 3 point rating. Slightly above that cutoff and players would take a few three pointers per game. Slightly below and players would take none. This has never made any sense.

It was particularly annoying for players barely above the cutoff, since they are bad three point shooters, so you don't actually want them taking a bunch of threes. That puts you in a situation where you may be hoping a player's three point rating does not improve, so they can stay below the cutoff rather than chucking up a bunch of inefficient shots.

Now, finally, that hard cutoff is gone. The number of three point shots is now continuous. Players with ratings from 35-45 will shoot fewer three pointers (most noticeable towards the lower end of that range), and players with ratings below 35 will shoot more. Not a lot, but more than the 0 they shot previously.

Some people may think a better solution would be a more fundamental change in how shot selection works, and they might be right. The advantage of what I did here is that it's a quick little fix that mostly leaves the game alone, except to address this one annoying issue.

Improved identification of rookie contracts in real players leagues

The new player mood system introduced last year is working pretty well overall, but there are some small issues with it. One is related to a mood bonus given to players on rookie contracts, where it says "Eager to sign first non-rookie contract" and gives a big +8 bonus. This gives BBGM something like the NBA's restricted free agency, because it results in your drafted players being less likely to refuse to re-sign. (For FBGM and ZGMH, it only applies if you diasble the hard cap setting.)

Some people have noticed that the bonus was not correctly applied for some real players in historical leagues. Why? Because it was kind of hacky code. It identified "rookie contract" by comparing a player's draft year, the expiration year of their contract, and the length of a default rookie contract for their draft round.

This works fine for random players, since their rookie contracts all are generated by the game and all follow that same formula for length. But it's a bit tricky for real players leagues, or for custom league files, because they may have different length rookie contracts.

Today I have changed how rookie contracts are stored in the game. There is now an explicit rookie flag in the contract, so a player contract looks like this internally if it is a rookie contract:


Randomize built-in teams when starting a new random players league

There are now 50 different built-in teams. But when starting a new random players league, you always get the same 30, unless you manually select some other teams.

Now in version 2021.07.11.0740, there is an easy way to randomize the teams in your league, and it's pretty cool how it works. Thank you nicidob for the idea!

Access it by clicking "Customize" next to the list of teams when creating a new random players league:


Players can now play through minor injuries

May 31, 2021-

New feature in version 2021.05.31.0967 - players can now play through minor injuries.

You can control what your team does with these new sliders on the roster page:

Screenshot of the Play Through Injuries sliders


Automatic ticket prices

Over at zengm.com it says:

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.

One area where my games have failed in that regard is finances. Finances can be optimized through micromanagement, and that sucks. Today one area of finance micromanagement has been removed: ticket prices.


Built-in teams update: new teams, secondary logos, and more

May 17, 2021-

There's a few new things related to the built-in teams: