Monday, June 18, 2012

Gridiron Solitaire #10: Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction

Let's start with the "satisfaction" part first.

I started the season last week with the weakest team in the game (hello, Maine Lobsters), a 2-star team (on a scale of 1 to 5). With the play balancing I've been working on recently, I wanted to see how a poor team would do over the course of the season. I want the game to be challenging, but I tell on you to go 0-16. There's a difference between challenging and unfair.

Over the last few days, I've played 2-3 games a day, and with three games left in the regular season, I still have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.

However, I've been very fortunate.

Three overtime games, two of which I won. Two additional wins on the last play of the game (both times, big pass plays). So right now, I'm 8-4, but I could be anything from 9-3 to 3-9, given how many games were decided in the last four minutes. Plus, I certainly have an advantage in terms of strategy, because I know the odds of everything happening, so that's helped as well.

Out of those 12 games, only two have been decided by more than 14 points, and 6 have been decided on the last play. The games have been exciting, with big momentum shifts (thank you, deck of cards), and it feels more like a football game than I could ever have hoped.

That doesn't mean it's done, which brings us to the "dissatisfaction" part.

If you've done any programming, you probably had a list of things that needed to be hunted down that is absolutely excruciating to work on (hell, that's true for any pursuit or profession, not just programming). It's excruciating because it can take you several hours on each item, and you're fixing things that only rarely pop up during games.

For me, the killer is a Hail Mary. It's a play that the CPU can only call on the last play of the half or game, and only then in very specific circumstances. In other words, it's fairly rare, but there have been a host of things to hunt down involving that specific play type that have driven me crazy.

Having said that, the Hail Mary has to be in the game, because it can be incredibly dramatic in real football. There's nothing like winning or losing a game on the last play because of a desperation heave into the end zone with six guys fighting for the ball.

It's not easy for the CPU to complete a Hail Mary--it's quite difficult, really--but the possibility has to exist.

Given what's left on the list (not much, thankfully), I'm hoping to start the "friends and family" beta next week. I've gotten to the point where people need to start playing it, even if it's only a small group of 5-8 at first. I just need to fix the last few items on this list, and Fredrik is revising a couple of the cards (he sent me a new deck last week with additional action poses, and they look terrific).

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