Well guys, it's the interview I've been hyping!! There's a good reason, too: Our developer, Norbert, has graciously agreed to give a few minutes of his time to an interview, where he reveals a little bit about himself and his vision for GD. I am very excited and pleased to bring you Caesari's My Take, Special Edition- NORBERT!
Caesari's questions are bolded font
Norbert's responses are normal font
First of all, tell us a little about yourself. Who are you outside of GD?
I’m 40-something and I’ve been a software developer for over 20 years. I started at WIS about 10 years ago. I’m not a super sports nut, but I like football and will watch some other sports like soccer, hockey, and sometimes baseball. Although I prefer watching hockey live. I am a gamer, but I like playing board games and strategy games about as much as I play video games. I like watching movies and TV. Married with two “grown-up” kids, and I’m a Virgo.
What career path have you followed? What brought you to WIS, and how did you get involved with GD?
I had worked several places before coming to WIS, everything from big companies to contracting, and all sorts of software. I had worked with Tarek (founder of WIS) and got the offer to work at WIS. I started working on a new online game for WIS which turned out to be SimLeagues Live. After that, I reworked the old, old football engine for SimLeagues Football and sort of stayed on SLF, and still on it even though it’s kind of running as-is. I worked on many other WIS products here and there, pretty much all of them at some point. Built FC Dynasty from the ground up with some other developers and that was interesting because we were trying a game using the free-to-play model, but the sponsorship we had lined up fell through (long story). We were bought by Fox, and I worked on many games we had on Fox. Designed the architecture for the new football engine, and JConte and I worked on it. I worked on the structure and some decision making and he worked on the play simulation, results and the non-engine GD updates. When he left, since I knew the most about GD (which wasn’t much at the time), it fell to me. Now I am excited to get some updates in the game. It’s been running for quite a while and the engine has had it’s tires kicked (and sometimes deflated) and I think it’s time we take what we have learned and move forward.
Do you view GD as a realistic sports simulation or a game? What is your overall vision for GD’s future?
I’d hope it’s a little bit of both. It has to be realistic in that people can recognize it as football and that strategies and knowledge of football in real life should apply. Results of games should be recognizable as being possible football results. It has to be a game in that there is competition and it’s fun. I want a reason to come back next season.
I hope the future of GD is to get closer to those two ideas. This next update is to help address the realistic issues we see with the engine. We’d like to see more results come from the match ups on the field. Sure there will still be randomness, but it should be contained to smaller result sets based on the match ups than where it is now. Hopefully that allows more strategy in setting up game plans on both offense and defense, as well as minimizing the “random” upset.
The next step would be to address the game itself. I’d like to see it be fun and interesting throughout the whole season and not just a game about recruiting. But we can’t look at other parts of the game without addressing the engine.
What do you like best about your job?
It’s a lot more interesting and creative than any of the other jobs I’ve had. A good bunch of people to work with as well.
How do you leverage the other WIS games to make improvements to GD and vice-versa?
Each game is fairly unique, but there are always parts that are similar, especially between GD and HD. But really we learn from different parts of the other games what worked and what didn’t work. We have a few different models of player development, for instance, and there are parts we like and don’t like of each model.
How many coaches are there actively playing GD? What is the max/min/average number of seasons they have been playing?
We have 2700 unique users playing. Over 3000 active teams. Over 500 in their first season. Active users have an average of 22 seasons played. Most total seasons is around 480.
If GD was being built from the ground up, with no previous model, how would you build it?
That’s sort of been the topic of conversation here about both our college dynasty games. One thing I think we are taking a hard look at is the idea of moving from DIII to DI. It’s a cool thing on paper and it’s fun, but there are all sorts of problems with it when dealing with it on a multi-user scale. The biggest thing is that it tends to create many Sim AI teams as the game matures, as we have been seeing. There are other issues we run into that stem from the multiple division structure. If we had it to do over, that might be part of the game we try to work around or find an equally appealing feature.
Do you enjoy playing GD yourself? What is your favorite WIS game?
I do enjoy GD, especially playing with friends. Obviously a lot of things I think could be improved, but still fun. I’ve been playing Hoops Dynasty since season 1 and still in DIII with a couple other users that have also been there since season 1. I’d like to say I’m pretty good in HD by now, but I don’t think that would be the truth. I also like Hardball, but I just didn’t have the time to play it. I’ve also played all of the SimLeagues, but haven’t played any recently.
Marquette, Depaul, and GD re-alignment? Thoughts?
Not going to happen anytime soon. The game is built from the very core to deal with 12 team conferences, so we wouldn’t be able to match conferences as they exist.
Does GD have any current marketing plans, and if so, what are they? What can users do to contribute to this effort?
Word of mouth is always good marketing. There is also a Facebook “Like” button on the GD home page, so that wouldn’t hurt. One of the good things about us working on the FOX Sports stuff is the chance to throw up some WIS advertising here and there. GD is one of the games we put up on FOX Sports and in their mailings. For GD, we tend to go heavier on marketing at the beginning of college football season and towards the end when people are thinking a lot about it. But we don’t have anything super special in the works at this time. We’ll probably work on some plans when we get this upcoming major update out and stable.
Thank you, Norbert, for spending the time to do this interview. It means a lot to the community as a whole to see the developer do things like this, and I hope to hear from you soon. Maybe a follow up interview after the update??