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 Issue 10 - August 13th 2510
Christer Q&A
by Calthor

GLN: There are currently many frictions between Ranked and Blackbox. Some believe that Blackbox should be the main competitive division when FUMBBL switches to Kalimar's new client and the new FFB rules, while others believe that it should more or less be as it is now. How do you see this relationship between Ranked and Blackbox evolve when FFB hits the scene? Will it be a popularity contest, with the winner being the main competitive division, or will it remain as it is now, with both divisions having Majors, but Ranked having the bigger ones?

Christer: Ranked and Blackbox are two fundamentally different divisions with very different core purposes. Yes, they're both competitive divisions and they both use some kind of ranking system. However, the core concept of Ranked (and the site as a whole) has been to allow people to choose their opponents freely. Meanwhile, Blackbox was more or less designed to force you to play against whoever you meet. Ranked allows people to be somewhat more careful in their matchups if they choose to play that way, and prepare their teams for the majors. In Blackbox, you effectively have to roll the dice every time and risk getting paired against a heavy basher team.

Once Kalimar's Fantasy Football client is considered bug-free enough to be officially launched, I don't really see things changing in the short term. I see no reason to not have one open-play division and also allow blackbox style games. To be quite honest, I haven't fully decided how to make this. Most likely, though, the first division will be open play and be similar to Ranked. Once that's up and running, I may look into the blackbox system and migrate this to FFB as well. I might even run the blackbox system in the same division to see how that works.

I don't really compare Ranked and Blackbox in the "main division" sense as it is now. Ranked hosts more games than Blackbox and is the oldest (and first) division we have on the site so it naturally gets a bit more attention from the staff because of that. When it comes to tournaments, we did consider mirroring the major tournaments into the blackbox, but ended up taking a path where tournaments are not shared across the divisions. I, personally, have no objection to extending the tournament scene in Blackbox to be as fleshed out as the one in Ranked. There is, however, a logistical problem with tournaments in that they do require a large amount of work by the staff. Thankfully, PurpleChest is doing the bulk of the organisational work for this together with his staff of tournament staff. He, and the rest of the staff, deserve much more kudos than they get for this mammoth task. It's fantastic to see how the official tournament scene expands under PurpleChest's guidance.

The bottom line here is that the tournaments are bigger in Ranked due to the fact that the division is older, not because it's a "main competitive" division.

GLN: Aside from how Blackbox will look when it is migrated to FFB, how it looks now is not a finalised state of the division either. You have mentioned in the past that Blackbox is still in a state of flux/transition. The best example of this is the Blackbox Central page and the BWR list. Can we expect any significant changes in this respect before Blackbox turns to FFB (such as BWR lists with active coaches only or, as you hinted at in the past, with the old Faction medals being introduced somehow)?

Christer: Improving the state of the blackbox is unfortunately not high on my todo list at the moment. My current focus is on getting Fantasy Football out of the beta state it is in now. After that, I'm looking at continuing the L changes I have planned.

After those two pretty significant undertakings, I'm not entirely sure what I will prioritise next. Blackbox central is one of the things on the list. I am also hoping to be able to get around to improving the overview page at some point. I've also been toying with the idea of putting some more work into the buddy list system, adding coach-based top 10 lists and other various small improvements.

To answer your direct question: No, I don't expect to be able to put alot of effort into improving the blackbox before FFB is in place. You never know though, since I might suddenly get an inspired idea and make an overhaul.

GLN: That brings us to the division that is going to get some love soon: League. You have already hinted that there would be changes to the division, or better yet, options. The question is: what is going to change for L and when can we expect these changes?
Are we talking of an utopian division L that allows for private leagues with custom rosters? More administrative powers for league managers?

Christer: The plan is to start with updating the group page layout to allow for more flexibility. Some of this work is already completed, but the new design isn't fully realised at the moment.

After that, I'll get into the more complex features I have considered. I am planning to give league admins the ability to add custom rosters, allow creation of teams outside the 100TR/1000TV rule and give group staff the ability to give out prizes to teams such as gold, FF and possibly even special positionals. Outside that, I'm planning to add new ways of communicating with the group members, and make the group page a better "home" page for the league. For example, staff will be able to add custom pages to the group (rules, various top lists etc), and also have the ability to post news entries that are local to the group. I'm also considering the possibility of having the site track statistics for groups and leagues.

I can't really tell when these changes are going to be completed. My plan is to roll them out one feature at a time to allow some time to fix bugs and give the community ability to give feedback.

GLN: When you asked in the forum for artwork for the new client, you probably weren't expecting the art that is now being presented to us by Knut_Rockie and ryanfitz. What do you think of it and how important do you think it is to have artwork of that quality for the new client?

Christer: The artwork is truly awesome. I'm very happy that someone stepped forward and put in the crazy amount of work it involves to create a full set of images. While it's not truly essential to have the images, it adds a lot to the overall feel of the game. It's also very good to be sure that we won't get any trouble from the copyright holder of those images in the future.

GLN: In this same GLN issue, there is an interview with Tom Anders, who is involved with the company that makes Elfball. Do you think it is possible that in the distant future, a game like Elfball and possibly Blood Bowl variants like Dungeon Bowl, Doom Bowl and others might be playable on FUMBBL as well? Would you think that would be a desirable goal? In other words, if someone was prepared to code a client for it, would FUMBBL make room for this?

Christer: It's certainly possible that we could add support for other games here. However, it would be a truly massive amount of work to implement the site support for it, but it's certainly not out of the question. I am absolutely open for a dialogue with some developer about that possibility.

GLN: You have been playing Blood Bowl since 1995 and invested in FUMBBL since around 2002. Are you ever tired of the game or tired of putting all the effort in running the site? If so, how do you deal with these Blood Bowl blues?

Christer: Of course I get a bit tired of working on the site at times. The thing is that the site is sort of like a hobby to me. I enjoy developing things and have fun adding stuff to the site. The main thing that keeps me going is the fact that I can work on whatever part of the site I feel like, without feeling I absolutely MUST finish some part of it. I'm sure you've noticed that things tend to happen in bursts. Sometimes I feel inspired and push out lots of things, while at other times nothing much changes. What I do to "recharge" is to simply spend time on other games. The same goes for playing the actual game itself. I still find it to be quite fun, even though I haven't had time to actually play much lately. Maybe that'll change once we get fantasy football properly up and running. Although I'm sure there will always be new projects for me to work on... Wink

GLN: It has been the object of much discussion in the forum (the thread made it to 24 pages so far):
How will old teams be converted to the new rules when time comes? Considering how divided opinions are on this matter, it is a good thing FUMBBL is not a democracy. However, it is also means everyone is very eager to learn the answer. Will there be a 'complete reset', with only new teams arriving to the scene? Will old teams be reset to 1000 TV? Or will there be a system of grandfathering of some sorts?
If you are not certain of the answer yet, is it possible that you could still share your thoughts so far?

Christer: I haven't fully decided yet to be quite honest. As you said, everyone has an opinion and I have to figure out something that keeps as many as possible happy. That being said, I'm pretty sure I won't reset old teams. That would serve absolutely no purpose at all in my opinion. I'm leaning towards a model where old teams can be transferred to the new division, possibly with a tag on the teams in case they were in a grandfathered state.

One of my major concerns with the transition is that I don't want people to throw away the extensive background and history of their teams in order to progress. The rulebook even implies that old teams can be grandfathered in and I'd like to be able to find a way to do this in a nice and easy way.

Another thing I have been considering is the possibility of allowing teams to be copied rather than transferred. That is; allowing a team to exist in both R and F at the same time. We'll see though.

GLN: How do you feel about the return of the GLN?

Christer: I've always been a big fan of the GLN. It's a lot of fun to read and I'm always happy when the members of the community get involved and add content to the site, be it portraits, help out with tournaments or staff duties or articles to the GLN. It makes all the work I put in myself feel worthwhile.

If you enjoyed this article, or found it interesting/useful, feel free to let us know in this thread

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