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Behind the scenes on College Basketball
Can you describe yourself?
My name is Steve and I live and work in San Diego. Writing browser-based sports games is a hobby, I have a real job as a firmware engineer. I was inspired to write the game after joining Hattrick more than 15 years ago. I’ve played a lot of different sports-related games, but am mostly focused on game development and improving my current games - plus all the life stuff.
Can you describe your team?
It’s just me. Writing and maintaining/improving the game is just a hobby, there is no big corporation or team behind the development of Hardwood. It's really a labor of love since the game is entirely free and has no advertising on it.
Did you have any previous experience building games?
I‘d played a lot of games beforehand and I had a lot programming experience. But I pretty much self-taught myself HTML/PHP, mySQL and Apache server etc. to develop games. Also, there is a fair amount of mathematics and modeling required to make accurate sports simulation.
How did Hardwood Online College Basketball start for you?
About ten years ago, I created a baseball game called Broken Bat from scratch. So the code and design from Broken Bat was leveraged to create an online college basketball game. Everything is pretty much written by me – there isn’t some underlying CMS framework like Drupal or Joomla.
If you look at this screen capture from Broken Bat, you can see how the Hardwood just adopted the structure from Broken Bat and the underlying game engine and features changed to support a college basketball simulation.
What do you consider to be the most unique feature?
Basically, it’s the only game I’m aware of that is a college basketball simulation. So it has the challenges of recruiting and high player turnover.
Additionally, I think it has one of the most accurate basketball game engines. You don’t have unrealistic monster players nor game strategies that guarantee victory. Statistically, players perform very similar to real basketball players.
How would you describe Hardwood Online College Basketball?
It’s like being in charge of your own college basketball program. You have to recruit players, develop them and then coach them in the games. If you’re successful, you can win your conference and compete in the National Tournament – just like real college basketball!
What is the biggest issue / problem you encountered?
There are always a lot of little technical issues. But like most online platforms, it’s not the technical issues that are most challenging. It’s just getting all the users to play nicely together and not destroy each other in the forum.
When you have hundreds of users, then you have hundreds of different opinions on how things should work and evolve. Trying to weigh the input from the users, still be responsive to their suggestions but also stay true to your vision and path forward for the game. That’s a different balancing act sometimes.
How many players currently play the game?
Currently 500-600 people play the game. Players can communicate either via in-game mail or the discussion forums.
Any future plans?
I think most of the near-term improvements will be in the recruiting model and perhaps enhancement to the pro teams play. Would also like to provide more game management and tactical options.