A cup of tea with Christer and his cat
G.G. Goberson: Thanks Christer for taking time to talk to us at GLN. We know you have been interviewed several times in different formats but with the changes and all the new coaches coming in we figured it was time for another sit down. Can you give us a brief rundown on how FUMBBL came to being?
Christer: Anytime GG. That's a fairly long story. The short version starts somewhere around early 2002. Back then, there were very few options on places where you could play Blood Bowl online. OLBBL was around still (although fairly inactive at that point), and the only real alternative seemed to be Tom Anders' PBeM league MBBL. Due to not really being able to find games on the tabletop, I was looking for a suitable online adaptation and did join MBBL for a short while. The constant mailing of files back and forth when playing PBeM quickly became tedious. Matches took up to a week to finish and as you can imagine, it was very tedious when Nuffle wasn't smiling your way.
G.G. Goberson: Yes I could imagine. Its tough enough somedays to sit an hour with Nuffle laughing at you.
Christer: Indeed. The slow pace of the games wasn't was I was looking for. Around that time, I ran into SkiJunkie's project which was much more aligned with what I wanted from an online client. Mostly everything was automated and games were fast to play. There were lots of missing features at the time but more importantly there were no online leagues I could find for it.
G.G. Goberson: So you built one.
Christer: I did, yes. At first, it was a closed round-robin league among a few participants I connected with through the Talk Blood Bowl forum (now called Talk fantasy Football). Nothing was automated, so participants sent results to me and I entered them into a custom built league manager application
G.G. Goberson: That seems like alot of work on your part.
Christer: At that time, it wasn't too bad actually because there were few people and a fixed schedule. However, when I decided to start an open-play league and accept more coaches, things quickly went out of hand.
G.G. Goberson: I could well imagine considering the amount of games that have been played on FUMBBL since its birth.
Christer: I was spending hours on end entering results and updating other people's rosters (everything was hosted by me even back then, and team rosters were updated by my league manager application)
G.G. Goberson: Obviously, that would cut into your day significantly.
Christer: Absolutely. I was working on a web-based system as much as I could at the time, but it was sort of slow going. However, an ununfortunate event changed things around. At one point, the database I used in the league manager application was corrupted and I effectively lost the ability to continue updates. This was late 2002. My memory fails me, but let's say it was early november of that year
G.G. Goberson: Heh. I can imagine your stress at the time. All that work and unable to continue with it
Christer: This was a bit sad because it meant that the league was effectively halted because of this. So I was faced with the option of restoring all the data somehow, or just push forward with the web based system. I ended up halting the league and focus on the automated system, expecting it to take 3-4 months before I could have things up and running.
G.G. Goberson: Well with the league halted, I would assume you put that time toward the web bases system.
Christer: Indeed. It would have taken a lot of time to restore everything either way. As it turned out, this guy who called himself Mr-Klipp approached me saying that he was also working on the same type of thing. We talked about things over a couple of weeks and ended up pooling our resources. And both him and I spent alot of time to get things up and running as quickly as possible.
G.G. Goberson: Very Fortunate. Twice the productivity with out both doing the same thing.
Christer: After a short beta phase, where people were testing things, we launched on January 3rd, 2003.
G.G. Goberson: Very nice. Jan 3, 2003 a day of joy for gamers, a day of anguish for spouses.
Christer: Hah, indeed.
G.G. Goberson: So obviously you are involved in computer programing. How much of your day is taken up by maintaining FUMBBL?
Christer: It varies alot actually. The time I spend on the site include top-level management and advise, meaning I talk with the rest of the staff about particularly tricky tickets, or deal with high-level issues for tournaments (making sure prizes work, figuring out schedules, fitting them into various other plans for the site) Of course, I am also spending a fair amount of time on the development side, adding features, adding support for the new FFB client and things like that.
G.G. Goberson: I would think that the admin staff picks up alot of the day to day slack with tickets and such. How many admins do we currently have?
Christer: Most of the day-to-day work is taken care of by the staff team. Without them, the site would probably grind to a halt fairly quickly and they deserve great amounts of gratitude from everyone who's on the site. The staff has to deal with the worst sides of people, which is never fun.
G.G. Goberson: YA HEAR THAT COACHES!!! APPRECITATE YOUR ADMINS STAFF!!! ahem.....
Christer: Currently, we have 15 staff members, myself included. This doesn't include the team of people who handle tournaments and people who moderate the forums
G.G. Goberson: I have to bring this up since its a personal obersvation. Since I have been on FUMBBL, I have noticed that some of the miscreants of old have now come on board and are working with the site as staff. How do you decide who gets to help?
Christer: It's not so much a decision on who gets to help as it is a decision on who I should beg for help from. Joking aside, I truly appreciate the work the staff does and I fully realise that it's not always a fun job. As for deciding who I approach, I have used various methods over the years.The most common way, however, is to simply look at the current user base and identify people who do alot to help others, who have been around for a long time and is generally someone who seems to fit the rest of the staff group. After finding one or a few suitable people, I usually approach the other staff members to hear their opinion. It's very important to me that the staff members are able to work as a team, and that there are no major inter-personal issues between an old staff member and a new one.
G.G. Goberson: That makes sense as they have enough site issues to deal with. Non staff members can help out too. Answer questions, play new coaches, write tactics, submit to GLN.(Shameless Plug)
Christer: Absolutely. It's the helpful type of players that in general are approached to hear if they are interested in joining the staff team as well. Being known in the community (or sub-community in case we're looking for specific language skills for example) is a big bonus. It's impossible for the staff team to evaluate someone who they don't know.
G.G. Goberson: Exactly. Any memorable coaches that stick out in your mind?
Christer: The 14 others on the current staff team? Actually, anyone who's been on the staff team in the past as well.
G.G. Goberson: well um ya... alright then... Do you still play on site? There is an urban legend you have a second account no one knows about.
Christer: I do play every now and again. More lately with the introduction of the FFB client. As for a second account, I don't have one.
G.G. Goberson: Because its against the rules.
Christer: Well, that too. But the thing is, I think it adds flavour to the site to play as myself. People seem to enjoy meeting me on the field
G.G. Goberson: I know I did. Its one of those status things I think to say you played the big man himself. So FFB was born out of a letter from GW?
Christer: Oh, not at all.The FFB client had been in development for 2 years prior to that letter. In fact, the client was almost scrapped because of the cease and desist.
G.G. Goberson: Really? How come?
Christer: Because kalimar isn't exactly interested in a legal battle. The thing is, getting cease and desist letters is somewhat scary. A fairly big company is effectively threatening to take you to court, which is not something normal people are interested in.
G.G. Goberson: understandable. Yet we have FFB.
Christer: We do, and I am very happy we came to this point in the end.
G.G. Goberson: Even with the Khem nerf?
Christer: The cease and desist letter pushed back development a couple of months though. All images and sounds had to be replaced and verified to be copyright free. I've been a fan of the khemri team from very early on. There's something about the basic theme of them that makes me enjoy them. Maybe it's the 20 hours straight of glueing a team of them together that's talking, but I really enjoy the look and feel of them
G.G. Goberson: Well I play Khem alot. I find the challenge of thier play style rewarding.
Christer: The fact that they are nerfed, even though they were weak at the upper end even in LRB4, doesn't matter much to me. Yeah, I usually don't play them as killers which seems to be popular. I actually try to play properly
G.G. Goberson: One mistake at high end and you give up a td. Thats the challenge I like.
Christer: It requires a lot of discipline to play well defensively
G.G. Goberson: lol You mean the 8 dp skellie teams.
Christer: No, no. I mean that it's extremely easy to get caught far from the ball It takes a lot of planning and thinking to keep the players where the action is, and in particular the tomb guardians.
G.G. Goberson: I was refering to the standard build of Khem but ya easy to get caught.
Christer: Personally, I usually don't go completely overboard with DP. 2-3 is more than enough.
G.G. Goberson: I find 2 is enough. So now FFB is live in box. Are you finding many issues or problems now that a majority of games are ffb?
Christer: There are a few here and there obviously. However, considering that FFB is still young compared to JavaBBowl the issues aren't really that major. Most major game-breakers have been ironed out and I'm quite happy with how things are running now
G.G. Goberson: When can we expect the move for the rest of the site?
Christer: My current plan is to migrate R as soon as possible. Quite possibly as early as the weekend of the 12th to 13th of february (next weekend). The R migration is a bit trickier than blackbox though, since I am aiming to give coaches the option to move the team to a LRB4 only division rather than get migrated over. Shortly after that, Academy will be migrated. Once the migrations are completed, the divisional structure will be pretty much the same as now, with all divisions using FFB. The only addition will be a LRB4 division, which will probably function much like L does today.
G.G. Goberson: Im guessing L is gonna be the tough one. With so many different formats and groups to deal with.
Christer: The hardest part of L is that it includes a number of "odd" teams. Stunty Leeg teams for example. Most likely, L will be handled much like R, giving coaches the option of choosing to go to the LRB4 division, or migrating over to FFB.
G.G. Goberson: Now there has been a long going debate about merging divisions. You have stated several times that this wont happen. How do you decide whats best for the masses? It cant be easy
Christer: It's not easy, no. At first, I generally avoid forming an opinion myself, but instead let the issue be discussed on the forums Then I read as many opinions as I can find and try to collect it all, keeping track of all sides' thoughts
G.G. Goberson: filtering out the Pie option im sure.
Christer: Then I analyze the issue, try to come up with different scenarios for what would happen if I chose various courses of action. Finally, I come up with an opinion of my own. I want to think that I have a fairly unique perspective on things based on the history of the site.
G.G. Goberson: Nice to see you take into account the opinions of the site. Most of us long termers consider it our site even though its yours. The forums tend to get heated and there has been some comments about the mods being too quick to lock threads. Your thoughts?
Christer: I think the forum moderators are doing a good job overall. Sure, there are occasions where threads are locked a bit too early but even then there's usually a high probability that the thread will diverge off topic. It's a really hard job to keep things moderated properly, and to me it's mostly a matter of evening out the reports of too much locking against the support tickets and complaints about rude behaviour.
G.G. Goberson: Heh. No one on the internet is ever rude. ahem..
Christer: Right, I forgot about that
G.G. Goberson: With the launch of FFB there has been an influx of new coaches and some old ones back. Has there been an upswing in games?
Christer: Absolutely. The effect has been nothing but remarkable. The number of games per day have more or less tripled since the blackbox division was migrated over to FFB.
G.G. Goberson: Thats awesome. Its good to see the site headed back to the days of a full games page. Any advice to a new coach?
Christer: Absolutely. It's a good feeling to see so many people enjoying the site after all the effort, both from myself and from kalimar.
G.G. Goberson: Speaking of effort.... Ya all see that pay pal button at the top of your page. Im not sayin but Im just saying if ya enjoy what you get here.....
Christer: My advice would be to enjoy themselves and not worry so much about their pixels. It's easy to create new teams around here, and there's plenty of fun to be had
G.G. Goberson: FUMBBL pretty much boasts a play style for anyone. Thats one of your main themes. People can play how they want as long as it is in the rules
Christer: That's the idea, yes. We try to not dictate too much how people play the game. In the end, it's about having fun.
G.G. Goberson: Ok another legend. Did you build the Admin client into FFB?
Christer: The funny thing is, there is actually an admin part of FFB. However, it has nothing to do with getting an advantage, but is more there to assist with administrative tasks.
G.G. Goberson: You heard it here first folks. The Admin client exists......
Christer: And let's not talk about the fact that I wrote the RNG for FFB.
G.G. Goberson: hehe. So can we expect the WO once Ranked becomes FFB?
Christer: The official tournaments will resume as soon as it's possible.There are a couple of minor technical issues that's preventing them as it is now, but these will be ironed out fairly soon.
G.G. Goberson: Fantastic. Will they be seperate B and R or will there be crossovers again?
Christer: That's something that hasn't been discussed yet. The R/B crossover tournament was meant to be a one-off thing
G.G. Goberson: Fair enough. Well Boss any final words to FUMBBL before we sign off?
Christer: Keep playing, bring your friends and spread the word.
G.G. Goberson: This has been GG Goberson with Christer, his cat and a cup of tea. Be nice to your staff, help out new guys and have fun.