Here is a new game just released March 21st 2014, that has been brought to our attention from our forum member “sportsfan”. This led to us reaching out to the lead developer Stephen Riviere and his company RiviSoft. Several days ago we shared our Basketball findings about a different Handheld based company InczeTigate. It will be interesting to see how the two games evolve and where they may excel or lag. As with all simulation games, there really isn’t ever an end state and almost everything is a constant work in progress.
We interviewed the game maker Stephen Riviere and below is his take on the fun factor and complexity of the simulation algorithm’s for Hoops Manager Version 1. We were excited to hear that Stephen was a frequent gamer of the Out of the Park Baseball series and Front Page Sports Football and these games inspired him to make his own simulation game.
(GM Games) How realistic is this game to believing you are managing the NBA?
“It is based on NBA reality (as of the beginning of this season), and all the player ratings and details are based on that. It is easy (although a bit time consuming) to edit players and team names so that you can set it up just like the NBA if you want. In fact, it looks like one of our users posted a conversion table people can use to do just that.”
(GM Games) Explain the aspects of being a General Manager in Hoops Manager?
“To explain, if you control a team you are entirely responsible for roster management, meaning you need to draft players, sign free agents, trade players, etc. Additionally, you will need to set your depth chart and player actions for your team (the Strategy page) although the computer can do that for you by pressing the text at the top of that page. Finally, you need to set your training camp focuses each year to drive player development.”
“In the game, you can control any number of teams, with the rest handled by the computer. You do everything a real coach/GM would do, as you try to build a team and implement strategies to make them as good as they can be, all the while dealing with player development (good and bad), drafts, salary cap, bird rights, retirements, trades, etc. During a game (if you choose to play rather than fast sim or sim to watch), you also make substitutions, call time outs, set defenses and offenses, determine coverages, etc. I do believe that this is the type of game that people on your site would enjoy.”
(GM Games) How is Player Evolution in Hoops Manager 2014?
“Player evolution and career mode do exist, and are a core part of the game. Players skills change during the course of the season, in the off season and during training camp. This is a key part of this kind of game (to me at least) as it allows you to really feel the growth (and sad decline) of your players.”
(GM Games) You have a complex Coaching Engine but is there a way to ‘game’ the system?
“My simulation literally plays the game pass by pass, players move around the court, make decisions (if they have the ball, they choose to pass, shoot or drive and if they do not, they choose to move towards the basket, out of the key, to the three point line, etc), and then act them out. As the coach, you can help guide these decisions by getting your guys in positions that suit their skills, along with telling them what to do with/without the ball, giving them a pass to priority, etc. At the end of the day, however, they still make the decisions- just like in real life. I have simmed and played a lot of seasons at this point and am pretty sure there is no way to game it. All you can do is maximize your chances of success by getting alignment between the system, the players and the player settings in concert with understanding your opponents weaknesses. It is actually a lot harder to win then FPS Football was.”
(GM Games) If you do not want to coach, what sim options are available?
“From here, you have a choice. When your team plays, you can choose to fast sim (about 30 seconds, no interaction and you simply watch the scoreboard), sim (much longer, you actually watch the game but the computer makes all the decision but it is based on the settings in your strategy page- same as fast sim), or you actively coach the game, manually do substitutions, strategy changes, etc. For many of my testing time, I simply did fast sim as it using the same algorithms it just does it faster with no user input.”
(GM Games) How accurate or realistic are the statistics generated by Hoops Manager?
“In terms of what I wanted in a game, it is a given that you need a simulation that produces realistic results but I also wanted the hands on aspect of really being able to help drive the results without it being a twitch sports game. I love coaching games in OOTP and that FPS Football was brilliant with their ability to allow you to call plays and really dictate the success of your team on the field. I tried to bring this into Hoops Manager and feel that the myriad of options you have with what each player does as well as the team offense and defense, really does allow to impact the results. After all, if statistical accuracy is all you are looking for, I could make you an excellent Excel spreadsheet!”
(GM Games) What will be your approach in regards to modifying your game?
“In terms of future plans, I do intend to make it easier to mod. It was originally in the project plan, but it turned out that it would have taken a significant amount of new and re-written code to get an easy importation method working, so I scrapped it for now. If the game is popular, I will add it, however, primarily as a way to mass change player names. I am a little hesitant to release the entire player data set, however, is it takes considerable work to put it together. If I do anything regarding changing player ratings, I think I would do it in game instead of allowing people to edit the data set directly, but again we need to see how everything plays out. Finally I originally wanted to allow people to make their own formations instead of sticking with the stock ones I built, and I would like to revisit that as well.”
GM Games has created a forum to chat about the game and share information. We look forward to contributing and seeing the evolution of Hoops Manager. If the simulation engine, coaching and AI is there, this game will be in the spotlight very soon.