In the time in between World Cup matches and work, I got visited by a muse of a strange kind of creativity. For a year or so or maybe more, I’ve watched a homebrew computer game called Bygfoot develop into something pretty amazing and versatile.
Bygfoot is a clone of a game called Football Manager, which is a computer simulation of the English Football Association (and later, other countries, but it is decidedly a European game) and, as best as I can explain it… when I first found a different clone of Football Manager, it taught me how to understand a game that I only was able to see as filler on television when I came home from high school. It taught me the competition formats and player development systems of Europe, and I loved the way it played. The nearest equivalent experience I had at that time was Micro League Baseball and its pointy-balled companion, Micro League Football.
There’s something very neat, like, the feeling of watching a SimCity grow, that goes with growing a lesser team into a greater one, or trying to keep a greater team afloat.
In later sims, the Front Page Sports series made it super-easy to invent leagues in fictitious cities or of rediculous size, making for a gigantic game of what-if that you watch unfold when you push the button for the next set of games. I had a Front Page Football league based on the cities of the Ultima computer roleplaying games (Trinsic were champions four years in a row) but that was of the pointy-ball variety.
Bygfoot has a very simple system for programming the football association of your choice (or invention) into it, and I somehow got this idea that I could program a better demonstration of USA’s system than what was already there, and I coded it. I’ll share it with anyone that asks for it, but…
I’ve been talking with its author, Gyozo Both, on and off, giving suggestions on how certain quirks in some of the stranger leagues can be implemented, and trying out changes in my own definition scripts. I have a working representation for Japan now, a semi-working Argentina, and I eventually want to accomplish Mexico. It’s all rather plain and easy-to-understand XML; Both has written a very powerful interpreter.
I’m hoping it all ends up in a future release soon.
Open Source is a beautiful place for a sim game, since it technically gives every aspect of the simulation to the user- you can even change the rules in the main code if you want, and the freedom to program and alter your simulation is vital for the genre itself to make sense. It can be as real or fantastic and/or unrealistic as you want, and that’s the whole fun of such a game, whether you’re controlling a sport franchise, a city, a world, or a suburban family.
Information about Bygfoot at http://www.bygfoot.com/, please frequent the forums if you like the game, and by the way, it runs on Windows, too.
My last entry started with a rant on how poorly USA did in their first World Cup match, now there are only two matches left in the whole tournament- the third place match and the final. Regrettably, USA were indeed eliminated in the first round, but the bold performance against Italy more than made it worthwhile, because unlike France 1998, we saw a team that cared about the end result.
There’s no shame in finally losing to a team that ended up being one of the warmer and softer stories of the World Cup, and frankly, watching how far the so-called lesser continents have come in the world’s game is telling of the kind of world we live in today. The powers are balancing ever so slightly, and as a result, people who want to think in terms of ‘superpowers’ or ‘who’s in charge’ will be more and more baffled as time passes.
Ghana and Australia were downright inspiring, playing the game like they’d been to the World Cup before. Australia were particularly match fit, despite having an impossible travel and qualification schedule that finally leads to… a play-in match against Uruguay for the last spot. Oceania deserve a better path to qualification.
In 2010, USA will be able to play Freddie Adu and perhaps Taylor Twellman as the main goal scorers, Landon Donovan will be the captain and attacking midfielder, perhaps Jim Curtin will play in the back. Perhaps DeMarcus Beasley wil have learned to become the roving defensive midfielder that coach Bruce Arena wanted him to be this time but.. Well, a lot can change in four years.
Second guesses are all over the place. Arena thinks USA soccer’s development setup is not adequate, and he’s mostly right, not that it hasn’t come a long way, and won’t get better, but I have to agree on some points-
Young players that have contracts in the USA need to be lent to other countries so they can know what it’s like to play in Copa Libertadores with Boca Juniors, or play with Arsenal in the Champion’s League, because without these experiences, the World Cup will always seem overwhelming to these players.
Remember that Landon Donovan is lent to Los Angeles by a German side (Bayer Leverkusen I think.) In fact, borrowing Americans that don’t get enough face time in Europe is a pretty good tactic too.
US Soccer have to do more to make the rest of the North American confederation (CONCACAF) stronger, too, because they represent about 75% of the competition for the next three years. We can’t schedule Mexico eight times a year just to keep the team fit.
The hosts did really well to get as far as they did. Klose seems to be a faster and smarter striker than his coach was, and I really wanted to see them defeat scandalous Italy, who, to Americans may look a lot like Eight Men Out soon. I’m really hoping that Totti gets knocked on his ass a few more times.
Brazil were supposed to be the big heroes, and though it’s so easy to second guess an eventual failure, I think we needed to see more Ronaldinho and less Renaldo. Yeah, Renaldo still has his shot, but Ronaldinho is the fastest player in the world, his speed wasted when he passes the ball within a second of his first touch to a striker that usually was not prepared to take the ball. He’d have done better to dribble all the way to the goal himself.
I don’t know why Zinadine Zidane has the key that destroys Brazil at will, but France have proven they can dissect any team and bring about its defeat by any means necessary. In time, we’ll know if the greatest person to kick the roundball was indeed not a drug-addicted Argentine, not the brightest smiling Brazilian man that showed the world how fun it can be to play a game so well, but perhaps the greatest to play is a Frenchman that has a Final Fantasy hero named after him.
We’ll find out on Sunday.
Of course, I’ll be up to other things, soon, too…
I hope everyone is doing well.
See you next time.