Saturday, 24 March 2007

Bygfoot: an open source soccer manager game

I've never been a lot into gaming, so the relative lack of good Linux games never bothered me much. The only game I really loved was Civilization, and Freeciv is, for me, a perfect replacement for it. Sport games were usually the ones I disliked more. Nevertheless I remember myself playing a game called "Soccer Manager" on a DOS box when I was 10-12 years old. I enjoyed it, since it was a purely micromanagement thing. In that game you played the character of a football manager that decides the team formation, sells and buys players looking at their age and skills, maintains the stadium etc. You don't actively play football, like in "Sensible Soccer": you manage the football team.



It came to me as a nice surprise when I only recently discovered Bygfoot, a free soccer management game, was available on Linux. I decided to give it a spin and come back to my childhood memories.


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Bygfoot is actively maintained and has recently hit release 2.1, with new features added at each release. It is based on the GTK toolkit. You can find precompiled packages for Bygfoot for Windows as well for most Linux distributions and there are official FreeBSD ports. The game has one playing as a manager of a football team, training the players, buying and selling them, contracting loans, maintaining the stadium, and so on. Teams can be promoted or relegated, and a player can be fired if their skills are not up to scratch.



I played some days with Bygfoot and my reactions are mixed. There is a lot of positive to say. The GUI is overall very well thought, elegant and simple; anyone that already played a soccer manager should master most basic game's controls in less than half an hour. I've tested versions from 1.8 to 2.1 on different machines and I'm pleased with the visible fast progress of development, both in terms of functionality and user interface. The number of teams available is enormous, thanks to many contributors, albeit the names are not 100% real due to "copyright problems" (I don't really understand that one, since it baffles my mind on how someone can have copyright on the names of players in a soccer team, but so says Wikipedia). The latest versions of the game are quite stable (the 1.9.2 version available on Ubuntu Dapper had a horrible memory leak, however) and at a casual look seem quite bug-free and fast.


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On the other hand, the gaming experience is nice but not impressive. It must be said that Bygfoot is eerily addictive, at least at the beginning, and the game is well thought up to be both playable and challenging at first. However the game itself becomes repetitive too rapidly. There are not that much options to gain money apart from improving the stadium and waiting for people to come in or selling your players. Exchanging players with other teams, as far as I've seen, is not possible (if I'm wrong, tell me please!). The idea of the "Youth academy" is nice, but players coming from there take an excruciatingly long time to improve their skills as to be significant players. The recent addition of betting is nice but doesn't really spice up the game. More often than not the game is a repetitive "play match-play match-play match-substitute injured player-play match" with little or no user interaction.


Overall, Bygfoot is a good free soccer manager makes for a fun and well done casual game to play here and there, let's say, in breaks at work. However it is still not at the point to be a real challenge to spend your night with.

2 comments:

sc said...

Very interesting adaptation for a really unique open source project in this moment: thank you! Salvatore

Shawn Deny said...

I enjoyed it, since it was a purely micromanagement thing. In that game you played the character of a football manager that decides the team formation, sells and buys players looking at their age and skills, maintains the stadium etc. You don't actively play football, like in "Sensible Soccer": you manage the football team.
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