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We've been looking at whether we can raise enough support to run an Australian Rules game for almost as long as we've been running Gameplan. And that's a long time. We haven't done it, even though it's a game I'm absolutely itching to work on, because we can't see how it would pay for itself. We did build "Play On", which is a stats-based game that's very similar to our other stats games, and that's quite successful, and up to now we've had to settle for that.


As many of you already know I only got into Gridiron by chance, because Channel Four started showing it in a slot where they'd previously been covering Aussie Rules. Footy is the game I played and followed as a youngster. It's actually quite an achievement for American Football, that it managed to capture my attention. I wasn't best pleased about getting gridiron on the telly instead of proper football. And proper football isn't played with a round ball. Unless you're an Irishman, of course.


Things are changing. We've now got a good proportion of players using the website for orders and receiving game reports by email as well. We've got Australian players in games that are running in the UK, and UK players in games in Australia. For an email game it doesn't matter that the players are on the other side of the world from the GM.


The first thing we can do is look at whether there's enough support for us to run a league or two or "Play On" in the UK. If you've got Sky and watch the coverage there, and are prepared to spend some time chasing around on the net (the AFL and club websites are useful) then that's all you really need. But you probably need to be able to make email work both ways: the deadline is effectively Thursday (UK time) and game reports arrive Monday or Tuesday morning, even using email (they might get quicker if we are ever able to go over to email only, since the delay is waiting for the mail to arrive).

The coverage on Sky is usually Saturday lunchtime, with repeats at odd times and the occasional Friday night. There's also a game midweek in the middle of the night on Channel Five (probably only watchable if you've already got into the routine of watching games via your VCR). The AFL website is at at afl.com.au.

Email peter@pbmsports.com and let me know if you'd be interested in a UK league of Play On.


It seems obvious that we could run an Aussie Rules simulation game in Australia. What we can't do effectively is develop one in Australia. The cost of updating the software and the difficulties of running tests remotely makes it impractical. In the early stages of a new game we usually make a lot of changes, and we usually make them on the fly while the game is in progress. It's essential we get a lot of feedback from the players, and that the players get a lot of attention from us.

So, how many players would we get for this game if we were to run it in the UK? Bear in mind that for a game of this type you don't need to know a lot about the game, just as most of the people that originally signed up for Gameplan didn't know much about American Football. You play the game, you learn about the sport. And getting for a feel for this game and understanding what's happening is worth it. It's the best football in the world. And probably the oldest, as well.

One of the things I'd do is put into practice the things we think we've learned about how we could combine a roster-building game with a tactical simulation (there's a lot of waffle about this, and the difficulties of combining short term tactical elements with long term roster-building strategies, on the Gameplan pages elsewhere on this site). In some ways this game would be a prototype for a roster-driven version of Gameplan.

As well as players in the UK, how many players have we got in Australia who use email both ways and who would be able to play in the game even while it's being run only in the UK? And want to? Are there enough who would take the risk of stumping up for some turn credits in advance? Customers waiting with cash in hand could move this project to the top of our list of priorities very quickly.

Email peter@pbmsports.com and let me know if you'd be interested in an Australian Rules simulation or strategy game running in the UK.

I've always wanted to call this game "Punt & Pass", although the name has already been used for an American Football game. Which is odd, because it doesn't describe what you do in American Football and it is a fair description of what happens in Australian Rules. So perhaps we stick with a boring name. Or maybe someone else has an idea for a better one.

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