An interview with Kalimar
Hello Kalimar, and thank you taking the time to answer these questions for us. The GLN is about to be relaunched, as is the FUMBBL community as a whole. You are one of the makers of this change, you are the man behind the new LRB5 client, but how did it start?
GLN: What was your first contact with Blood Bowl (and online Blood Bowl)?
Kalimar: I've played a lot of Blood Bowl (and other GW games) during my time at the university. We had a league going back then (way before FUMBBL) and published the results via (handmade) web pages. Part of the attraction of FUMBBL to me was the possibility to bring that old league back to live after 10 years with the members scattered all over germany.
GLN: Where did you gather the computer skills that are needed to create such a client?
Kalimar: I'm a software engineer by profession and have been doing java development for the past 12 years.
GLN: You haven't played as many games as some of our addicts, so where did the idea to start this project come from?
Kalimar: I'm currently working as an IT consultant in the banking field, where stability and compatibility issues cause the technology to "hang behind" a bit. The original intention for starting the client has been to play around a bit with some of the newer java advancements (generics, non-blocking io, java 2d). I've actually never thought that I would really finish what started as a little pet project combining two of my interests (Blood Bowl and java). The reason I play less than a lot of folks here is quite simple: I don't have all that much spare time. I work full-time and have two little ones at home plus much of the time I could perhaps spend playing is now spent on coding the client. :-)
GLN: Today I spectated a testing match for the new client. It looks like a lot changed, especially regarding the graphics. Have you done that all by yourself or did others work on that as well?
Kalimar: The actual java code for client and server is 100% mine, with a few selected sniplets donated by Christer (path-finding, entropy-gathering). Lately WhatBall has joined the project and done a lot to improve the look of the client, for which I am very grateful as I have no artistic talent myself. BattleLore (who is a RL colleague of mine) has helped from the beginning of the project with criticism, ideas, testing and countless discussions, for which I owe him a lot.
GLN: The path-finding gadget is a first step into the direction of a "smarter" client. Could you imagine having an AI implemented one day? Would that be technically possible or would that require a complete recoding?
Kalimar: The path-finding is simply to increase ease-of-use and not really the starting of an AI. Creating a realistic computer opponent for Fantasy Football will be incredibly hard. It's not like chess where you have straight rules and tactics and no randomization. In Fantasy Football lots of different tactics are possible, depending on team, skills, player positioning and the roll of the dice. The pure technical side is less of a problem. I could well imagine having different "bot clients" one day that behave (or try to do) like human players. I think Grod wants to look into that more closely, but for me personally it's not a goal of any priority right now.
GLN: Currently, as to my knowledge, FUMBBL uses SkiJunkie's client, but there is nothing more to the connection than that. Do you plan the same for your client as well, or could you imagine having a closer link to FUMBBL, perhaps to exchange data (I have the information your client gathers in mind, eg when players got injured, which could be a big feature fluff-wise)?
Kalimar: I've been in a dialogue with Christer for as long as I've been developing the client - which is close to 2.5 years, so the interaction is going to be as good as it can possibly be. There is much more room for configuration than in the old client: you are going to be able to have your own player icons (as well as portraits) and your own pitch for example. Because of the GW issues from last year we need to keep FUMBBL and the client two separated entities however. That is why the client will be available via plaffb.net and not directly via fumbbl.com. And that's also why it is Fantasy Football and not Blood Bowl. :-)
GLN: Do you "fear" GW might take any actions against your project?
Kalimar: Why should they do so? It is Fantasy Football with no reference to GW trademarks or graphics. :-) FUMBBL and playffb.net are different legal entities, so any agreements made by one are not in any way binding for the other.
GLN: Have you ever played, or considered playing, the Cyanide game? Why or why not?
Kalimar: Actually I haven't. I don't own a console and haven't got enough time for playing computer games as it is. I'm somewhat curious about it though and would like to try it first hand sometime.
GLN: Lately the amount of games dropped significantly, mainly due to the Cyanide game coming out. Do you hope for an effect on the community, to get people back to play here, or even draw the attention of some Blood Bowl players that never played FUMBBL?
Kalimar: I sincerely hope so. I am aspiring to make the use of the client as easy and pleasantly as possible (which has already caused some discussion on how much help a computer interface is allowed to give) and WhatBall has even made it good-looking. Disconnection issues should really be a thing of the past with the server keeping the gamestate (any client - or both - can drop out of the game at any time and resume play later). Fantasy Football is based on the latest ruleset (LRB 6/CRP uncensored, including the lost teams). I don't know if that is going to be enough for a "revival" of FUMBBL in any way (as some even like the old ruleset better), but it's what I can do to help.
GLN: Any last words of wisdom for the comunity?
Kalimar: I've never claimed to be a wise person, really. :-) But I would like to use the opportunity to ask the FUMBBL community to really help this succeed by testing, providing bug reports and being a little patient. We'll have a fully functional client for the latest ruleset, that I promise.
GLN: Thank you very much for your time, and keep us updated!