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Note on the "New Game"

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  Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Note on the "New Game"
    Posted: 22 Jul 2012 at 2:41pm
Hey folks!

I'm not much a "here's my life story" type of guy, but I felt it was necessary with the conversion to the new game being around the corner.

Many old players can recall the moment I added credits to the game (I honestly don't recall the date, but it's been around 10 years ago or so I believe).   I posted a detailed explanation about that decision (a preemptive strike against the slowing of internet advertising revenue) and why, regardless of public opinion on the change, the change was necessary to perform as immediately as possible.     I don't make many posts like that, but we're at a similarly defining moment in the evolution of our game.

As most of you are aware, I have been working diligently on a "new version" of the game. This was not a "by choice" endeavor; the current front-end and back-end of the game was originally written during a time that free, robust database alternatives were not available.  Due to the game's growth, it was never an option to "convert it quickly"; I needed time to redesign the entire thing.  As a single, younger game developer, time was abundant.  As a married-with-children, older game developer, time was practically nil.  

With the free time I could muster (which included taking a necessary break from "real employment" to finish things), I tried to incorporate a football game into my site in hopes that I could make this "SimulatedSports.com" endeavor a lifelong, full-time profession.    That attempt, as most of you know, didn't pan out quite as nicely as I had hoped.  Saddled with mounting debt, I had no choice but to continue pushing the rewrite of the horse-racing game back and return to "real world employment".   

Once I was able to turn my financial situation around to some degree, I decided to fulfill my promise of rewriting the horse racing game.  The decision was two-fold: the current game interfaces have not aged well and the back-end processing had become too time-consuming.   Upon my resignation from my "other-job", I received, yet rebuffed, the best opportunity for employment I have ever been offered.  Had I accepted said offer with the game in its current state, I simply would have had to turn DerbyFever.com over to someone else to operate.  Rest assured, however, that I'm as committed as ever to this endeavor, and simply could not allow that to happen after 20 years of work.  It was an easy decision for me to make, though obviously not the wisest for my family.

On that note, I moved forward and began working on the rewrite.  I've had to take a few other contract positions to combat typical financial stuff (car troubles.. a new central air unit for my home), but have somehow gotten to a point that the rewrite is literally around the corner.

I had hoped to have a "very slow" conversion, allowing people to get acclimated with everything in the new game well before conversion.  Unfortunately, that may or may not be completely possible for several reasons.  Most notably, I am very bullish on a new employment opportunity that won't exist forever.  I simply can't ignore an opportunity like this again (unless I want to live with a disgruntled wife, which is pretty low on my priority list), and will begin pursuing it very shortly.  As before, there is simply no way I can continue running the "old game" if I get this job.  The good news again, however, is that the new game is very close to being finished, and running it will be much easier (as it is completely automated – no more uploads for me to screw up!).

There are a few other reasons as well.  We are quickly approaching 1 million overall races, and  I am a bit fearful that a "R1M" bug may hit if I do not convert the old game before that "magic number" hits.  Also, I simply must get this converted before year end, as rolling the game over is never easy (and there's no way I could roll over a new version and an old version again).  Finally, I simply need more cash to support my family.
 
I believe the majority of the current players that are testing the new version would agree that most interfaces and methodologies are greatly improved.  There will be no more "clickfests", and the dreaded "jockey selection" is much easier than before.  There are a lot of other improvements as well, and I will make the documentation available immediately after I write it (which will happen after I finish of a handful of other "drop dead conversion" issues).

All I ask is that you give the new version a fair chance.    The good news is that all of your current horses and stables will be available, and all of the stats firmly intact.  Credits and points will move seamlessly over, so there's no reason to "go ape" before moving.   The "race code" has been left almost unchanged, so don't expect a sudden change in the way horses run.    I'm not  "rewriting" the guts;  I am "rewriting" the front and back-end interfaces.  So, once you get familiar with things, it should be "business as usual."  Well, except for that fact that everything should be easier and you can actually race every day.  :)

With all that said, I realize that some players like things "the way they are", and there will be some natural attrition due to this conversion.   I simply can't help that.   Financially, the game has been earning less over the last month than at any point over the last 10 years, and it's time for me to get honest with the state of things.  I have already discussed the fact that the current game is too time consuming for me to personally operate with a full-time job, and that it's also rather clunky and non-intuitive to new users.    Cleaning up the interfaces can only improve the user-retention, and I believe I will see more new users stick than ever before.    Unlike the actual horse racing industry in the United States, I am not willing to stand pat with a half-broken product.  Long term viability requires long term thinking and some level of risk-taking.  It's now or never for my game to reach a new audience.

I will be making some announcements over the next few weeks about the actual time-frame for the conversion.  Until then, I want to personally thank everyone that has stuck with the game over the years even though it has, in all honesty, been a bit of an internet eye-sore for years.   I hope to see everyone convert happily to the new version for an improved, sleeker, less-frustrating, and less time-consuming experience.

Onward and forward!

--Mike

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