The return of Player Manager?

Yes, I am working on a new game. This is the sequel to my 1990 game Player Manager that I have been waiting 20 years to do.

Why so long? That’s a topic for another day. What I want to post here is a progress report.

Why now? Because someone whom I gave an introduction to game programming (in an attempt a long time ago to train an apprentice) recently declared that he would be extremely willing to help me work on a new game. He’s David Athay, who now lives and works in the US.

Yes that’s all it took. Someone to say “I’ll help” who could and would actually help… with actual programming. It’s a psychological thing really. Sure I could code it all myself, but… I don’t want to. It’s a lonely road… and I am sick and tired of wrestling with APIs… I want to make games.

Games that I can sell. For actual money. In a world where most of the audience want everything for free, and would be quick to point out “there’s more to life than money”. Money is life. Without it I die of starvation and exposure. I would be quite happy if I could earn enough to live on. iPhone may provide some glimmer of hope there. Maybe.

Of course, both of us are doing this in our spare time. There is no funding, or salaries. The project at this stage is only a few weeks old.

David is working on iPhone primarily, since the current idea is an iPhone product, and like I said I want to actually spend my time working on a game, not learning Objective-C.

I am, however, building the game on OS X, because it is a lot easier to develop on a computer platform rather than messing about with the iPhone development kit. In order to achieve this, I am using the Allegro library which serves my purposes well. I have a representation of the game running natively on OS X.

David maintains the iPhone version, and does the appropriate integration to make sure that everything I do on OS X ports to the iPhone.

This is not as difficult as it sounds, because I have developed an architecture that hides the game code from the platform. So in theory, a simple recompile for iPhone is all that is required to keep the games in sync.

What have I done so far? Well I dug out the old graphics for the Megadrive game Dino Dini’s Soccer (a.k.a GOAL! on Amiga and ST). I recreated a pitch map out of the tile set. I gave these to David who quickly implemented them on iPhone.

I have set up my own custom IDE around the Emacs editor and ported my CoreLib library (with vector classes, debugging functions and string classes and so on) from MSVC to GCC.

I have ported and extended my Property Tree system (more on that in a future post) so that I can make appropriate parts of the game data driven.

I have ported my PROC system (this is a software threading/hierarchical finite state machine/event driven system for managing complex behaviors… it actually allows one to write scripts directly in C++… again maybe more on that at a later date).

I have created various classes to abstract away platform specific details.

Right now, I have a scrolling pitch with some sprites… and am about to add the sprite animation system.

The game is going to be 2D for a few reasons. First of all, 3D is simply not as good as 2D for this kind of game. Secondly, I am using existing 2D graphics so that I don’t have to find an artist (at least for a while). Finally, I want to focus on gameplay as quickly as possible. This is going to be an iPhone game after all, I am not trying to compete with FIFA or PES in terms of graphics. I want to get going with creating the gameplay and tuning it, because that is what I love to do when I make a game: I focus on the gameplay above all else. It has worked for me in the past too: The graphics on KICK OFF were appalling. Yet it beat off all other games in the UK to win the Industry Dinner award for “Best 16 bit product” in 1989. Yes, it even beat Populous. Perhaps there is a lesson there.

Back then, the computer systems were heavily constrained: 8Mhz 68000 processors and 128K of ram. I wrote everything in assembler out of necessity, and hand optimised critical areas of code in order to keep the game running at 50 FPS.

Things are very different now, not only in terms of computer hardware, but also in terms of my skills. For the past 10 years I have worked on getting the best out of the C++ programming language, and I feel I have reached the point where I have figured out how to get the most out of it: it actually turns out to be a fairly limited set of patterns and design heuristics that enable me to do 90% of everything I need. So, especially since computer hardware is so much faster now, I am using a proper architecture which will hopefully allow me to develop the game quickly, while of course making it easy to port to other platforms. Flexibility is a key part of my strategy.

I am also, for the first time since 1995, working in a completely Microsoft free development environment. Just saying that makes me feel good. Kickoff, Kickoff2 and Player Manager were developed on the ST (cross assembled for Amiga). GOAL! and Dino Dini’s Soccer were developed on a 486 Dell Unix box. This was Unix before Linux came along. I loved that Unix environment: so powerful, so robust. This is back in 1991: it had a 1024×768 display, 300MB hard disk and… I think 8MB of RAM. You don’t want to know how much it cost. But it was worth it; it paid for itself easily.

However, since about 1996 I have lived with the hell known as Microsoft. Although I always had a unix box handy, they have always been used as servers. Problems with hardware compatibility, the necessity of PC development and so on meant that I was stuck with Mr. Gate’s efforts. These past 14 years of servitude to Mr. Gate’s empire have not been fun. And I have had enough.

But a great thing happened: Apple adopted Unix in OSX. Unfortunately I did not pay much attention until (spurred on by the idea of iPhone development) I got my first Mac last year. Sick and tired of how my PCs would keep going wrong and seem to slow to a crawl and take 10 minutes to reboot … I tried to use the Mac, more to get out of the rut than anything. Now… I consider it my primary machine. Yes, it is what I always wanted: an all round usable versatile computer with lots of commercial software and hardware which runs UNIX. I ain’t going back now… except of course when I have to (for example when teaching).

No doubt this will have many of my students (and some colleagues) shaking their heads. Hey, but that is normal. I’m used to it. At least there’s a context to it now, perhaps. I love UNIX. So I love my Mac.

Anyway, I digress.

I am making a public statement that I am developing a new game, in part to make sure I actually do it. But I have no idea how long it will take at this time. It’s early days. About 21 or so in fact. Stay tuned for more…

46 Responses to “The return of Player Manager?”

  1. Darren. Gurney ( stainy) Says:

    Can’t wait for this. :-)

  2. fox Says:

    ciao dino, volevo farti tantissimi auguri per questo tuo nuovo progetto!!!

    anche io nel (poco) tempo libero sto cercando di finire un puzzle game per iphone :)

    buon lavoro,
    ancora auguri,
    marco

    • Dino Dini Says:

      Hi Marco… Grazie!

      Marco is a very capable programmer who worked on Soccer 2 at Trecision. Soccer 2 is one of those failed to be published games that Alkis was alluding too. One day I’ll tell the story.

      Oh, and remember your seat and row number when you watched the second Matrix film? hehe :)

      • fox Says:

        wow do you remember the seat number?? which was?
        I almost don’t remember “where” I watched the 2nd matrix ^__^

        I’m glad to have worked with you and the other guys at soccer 2, it’s a shame we weren’t able to publish it in any way!!

      • fox Says:

        mmm was the seat number related to the binary numbers? :p

      • Dino Dini Says:

        It was row 11, seat 11 :)

      • fox Says:

        a true programmer’s seat :D
        I wonder who were seated on row 11 seat 10 :p
        bye

  3. Marc Says:

    Wow! This is fabulous news! (Both the new game and the Microsoft hate ;) )

    All the best for the long road ahead, and keep us posted!

  4. samo79 Says:

    This is an awesome news thanks Dino !!

    I loved this game and I continue to play with it quite everyday since 1990 !!

    You don’t know how this news make me happy, personally i don’t have an IPhone but as Amiga user and after read that you use Allegro Library i’m curious to know if you can (in some kind) port in on modern Amiga too (such AmigaOS 4.x, MorphOS and the open source AROS operative system)

    I know you make it also to earn money, the actual Amiga community are so small, but i’m sure that a lot of amigans would be happy to donate and support you as before

    http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=development/game/allegro_sdk.lha

    Allegro library for AmigaOS4
    http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=development/game/allegro_sdk.lha

    Other info:
    MorphOS, an AmigaOS like system was recently ported on various Mac PowerPC
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MorphOS

    Info about AmigaOS 4.x
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmigaOS_4

    Info about AROS (an AmigaOS open source replacment)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AROS_Research_Operating_System

  5. samo79 Says:

    Ah dimenticavo un saluto dall’Italia :-)

  6. Billy R Says:

    Im currently playing player manager on a winuea emulator!
    I was an amiga user in the 90`s and I loved Player manager and Kick Off
    Im looking forward to this game!
    good luck

    • Joe O Says:

      Billy R,

      Can you please explain to me how to get player manager on winuea i tried to use it before downloaded winuae but could never get the game to work.

      If possible could you email a detailed breakdown of how to do it to jod129@hotmail.com as i would love to get reaquainted with the original player manager.

      Kind regards

      Joe

  7. PC Gamepads Says:

    Any new options for an ipad version?

  8. Diogenes Says:

    This is great news. I played the SNES version of Player Manager back then and I’ve hoped that someday a true sequel to this game would be made.
    I wish you good luck and I hope you will be able to release your game on as many plattforms as possible once it is finished.

  9. Darren Says:

    Hey Dino..

    Any news or updates? any more little vids etc ?? :)

  10. Nicola Says:

    Che dire Dino, sei un mito! Spero tu riesca a leggere tutte le sfumature che sto scrivendo in italiano. In inglese non ci riuscirei. In ogni modo, vorrei ringraziarti per aver creato Kick Off, compreso tutti gli altri capitoli (Kick Off 2, Final Whistle…ecc…) ed in particolare Player Manager con il quale ho passato tantissimo tempo della mia infanzia, insieme a mio cugino che adesso vive negli Stati Uniti d’America a New York. Definire geniale e splendido quello che hai creato nell’allora 1990 sarebbe riduttivo. Vorrei farti i complimenti per il capitolo “tattica” del gioco, con il quale ho imparato ad amare il calcio ancora di più. Ho creato tantissime tattiche con Player Manager (4-3-1-2; 4-4-2 a zona per il fuorigioco; 4-3-3 offensivo; ecc…) e veder “muovere” i giocatori in campo come desideri tu, a seconda delle zone (zona 1-2-3 per esempio) è stato semplicemente fantastico. Oserei dire che, ancora nel 2010, Winning Eleven o Pro Evolution Soccer, non sono ancora riusciti ad imitarti da questo punto di vista. ALBERTO ROSSINI; e chi se lo può dimenticare :D. Per non parlare di tutti i giocatori che sono passati dalla mia FC LEADER con la quale ho raggiunto l’anno 2016. Incredibile vero? No assolutamente. Io continuavo a giocare e giocare per creare la squadra più forte di tutti i tempi. Pensa che ero riuscito (ancora ho un floppy disk con tutti i dati salvati) a creare una squadra che faceva almeno 4 gol a partita ,con un attaccante F.T.S. Zannoni (il più forte che ho avuto) che era riuscito a segnare addirittura 38 gol. So che sto divagando, ma non potevo non renderti partecipe della mia gioia. Grazie per quello che hai regalato all’umanità ed in particolare alla mia infanzia. Ai tempi, parlo del 1990, dopo il capitolo “Return to Europe” aspettavo con trepidazione “Player Manager 2″. Purtroppo però sei passato dalla “Anco” alla “Virgin” ed il gioco non è mai uscito. Ritengo che “Goal” pur essendo bello, sia inferiore a Kick Off ed a tutti i suoi capitoli. Penso però anche che tu possa creare dal cilindro il gioco più bello di tutti i tempi dal punto di vista manageriale. Cosa dire allora? Forza Dino! Siamo con te!

    Un abbraccio,

    con affetto e stima,

    Nicola

    Translation via Google:

    What about Dino, you’re a legend! I hope you can read all the nuances that I’m writing in Italian. In English I could not. Anyway, I thank you for creating Kick Off, including all the other chapters (Kick Off 2, Final Whistle … etc …) and in particular Player Manager with whom I spent so much time of my childhood with my cousin now living in the United States of America in New York. Define brilliant and beautiful that you created in the then 1990 would be an understatement. I wish you the compliments for the chapter “tactical” game, in which I learned to love football even more. I created many tactical Player Manager (4-3-1-2, 4-4-2 zone for offside, 4-3-3 offensive, etc …) and see “move” the players on the field as you want, depending on the zone (zone 1-2-3 for example) was simply fantastic. I dare say that, in 2010, Winning Eleven or Pro Evolution Soccer, are not yet able to imitate this point of view. ALBERTO ROSSINI, and those who can forget. Not to mention all the players who have switched from my FC leader with whom I have reached the year 2016. Incredible right? Absolutely not. I continued to play and play to create the best team of all time. Do you think I succeeded (I still have a floppy disk with all the saved data) to create a team that was at least 4 goals per game, with striker FTS Zannoni (the strongest I’ve had) that failed to score even netting 38 goals. I know I digress, but I could not make him share in my joy. Thank you for what you gave to humanity and particularly to my childhood. At the time, I speak of 1990, after the chapter “Return to Europe” waiting eagerly “Player Manager 2. Unfortunately, you went from “Anco” the “Virgin” and the game was never released. I believe that “Goal” while beautiful, is less than Kick Off and to all its chapters. But I think also you can create from the cylinder the beautiful game of all time from the management point of view. What about then? Force Dino! We are with you!

    A hug,

    with affection and esteem,

    Nicola

  11. Danne Says:

    Hi Dino! Nice to hear about your new project. Really looking forward to see the result! You are the greatest! /Danne (KOA)

  12. l00k Says:

    Hi Dino,

    Wow! came across this blog looking for a patched version of Dino Dinis soccer for the megadrive/genesis (without the red cards)

    I’ve chased around looking for a mobile KO2 fix since moving out when I was 16 (errr 18 years ago) I’ve been through gamegear, GP32, PSP using various emulators. I had an Iphone but now have a HTC Desire android phone. Needless to say I’m very excited about this new project but not about getting an iphone again.

    Few questions

    - What is the likelihood of PM2 making it to the android platform?

    - Do you still have the patch/link for Dino Dini’s Soccer on the megadrive? Gensoid the emu on android runs at 100% speed and lets me hook up a wii controller over bluetooth to control it. I’m so close to my mobile fix I can taste it.

    - Does your jazz trio tour about at all? Any chance of getting to Nottinghamshire?

    OK back to my quest…

    Cheers

    l00k

  13. Erhan Says:

    The best news in a long time.

    Looking forward to seeing this become a hit on iphone :-)

  14. Nick Cave Says:

    Fantastic news, good luck with it…

  15. Keir Says:

    Great news Dino! – although I may have to buy an Iphone and I’ll curse you for it eternally.

    Good luck and I’ll look forward to the updates…

  16. Gas Says:

    OMG! Ciao Dino! Qui è Gasoldo, vorrei prima di tutto ringraziare i tuoi genitori che ti hanno messo a mondo! (nota la rima)…
    I tuoi fan, tutti i tuoi sostenitori e miliardi di appassionati di calcio, stanno aspettando da 20 anni..il Gioco di calcio DEFINITIVO.
    Qual’è il gioco di calcio definitivo? Tu lo sai!! Tu puoi!!
    Immenso Dino!
    Dal basso della mia esperienza ludica posso solo fantasticare…e continuo a sognare il seguito di PM che li stenda tutti!!

    Ti elenco ora una serie di titoli di cui avrai sicuramente sentito parlare: (magari qualche spunto si può tirare fuori…)

    http://www.hattrick.org/ (se solo ci fossero gli sprite di PM e si potesse giocare, pagherei oro…solo che è LENTO, per giocare ua partita giorni..e giorni…e giorni..

    http://www.newstargames.com/nss2010_italian.html
    ( ben studiato, periodo di prova 10 giorni, poi va acquistato, abbastanza longevo, molto interessante l’interfaccia fuori dal campo…ma…c’è qualche cosa che non va…

    Il vecchio antagonista di Goal e PM
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensible_Soccer_%28series%29

    http://www.global.goalunited.org/it
    bello graficamente…ma è una rottura e poi non si gioca!!

    LAVORA PURE CON CALMA, PERCHE’ NON ABBIAMO FRETTA DI GUSTARE IL GIOCO DEFINITIVO!!!

    Grande Dino!! Buon lavoro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Kirbo Says:

    Hi Dino,

    Any news on the reincarnation of my favourite manager game yet?

    I was very young when i got my hands on player manager 1 and therefore struggled to get anco into the 1st division without the dreaded boot!

    But now with many years of football knowledge i feel i can take on the challenge once again!

    I love the retro feel to this game and the fact its basic but so addictive – please do not change the likes of E.H Smith playing for Birmingham and similar.

    Footbll manager games these days are so complicated and in the end boring but this game was genius!

    Please keep me posted on any further news.

    Thanks and regards,

    Russ

  18. Chris Gibbs Says:

    WOW Great Blog, Exciting news… I really miss this game!

    You’re building it on OSX… any chance of an OSX release???

  19. Chris Gibbs Says:

    Wow such a prompt response, I have just sent you an email from the link in the previous response ;)

  20. Iain r Says:

    This is actually the most exciting news I’ve heard all week! I used to LOVE playing the original on my ST and think an iPhone version will be fantastic. It would be great to add a feature to transfer to other clubs as this was something I always wished I could do. Good luck with the programming

  21. Lemml Says:

    Hey Dino,

    great news! My all-time favourite game… :)

    Best regards,
    Andreas

  22. David Says:

    Hey Dino

    Great read this blog (I was searching for any news on Kick Off 2 for iPad today and came across this page).

    How is the progress going? No updates for a while now!

    Is there any chance you could release the original Kick Off 2 for iPad while we wait for the new game? Looking at how well retro Amiga games are doing on the App Store (Speedball 2 just come out and top of the charts!), this could be a huge revenue earner for you and help keep us Kick Off fans same until the new game!

    So how about it Dino, Kick Off 2 port for iPad??

    Cheers

    David

  23. Martin Says:

    Hi Dino

    I am still playing PM on my Amiga 2000, 20 years of the same game, and although many have beaten it for graphics, none have for fun and addiction, and how somehow the players you created in PM had their own personalities!

    Still the best game ever!!! Pm on the Amiga

    Martin

  24. Darren Says:

    Just been using a stats editor for PM ( trying to up the AI to make the game harder!!

    There are mystery stats and a flair stat? is that used in the game at all.. because it`s hidden in the game.

    Darren

  25. Nick Sardelianos Says:

    so are you still doing it?

  26. MEM Says:

    A message from Istanbul…

    Nice to see that Dino Dini is still alive:)) I guess Player Manager and Genghis Khan Koei were the best games that I have ever played in my life in Amiga 500… And I never understood why Dino didn’t develop a new version of PM for the PC. But anyway, he is now working on a new project, even I don’t use IPhone, hope that it works well too… Good luck!

    Vive Player Manager :-)

  27. Rust Says:

    Best news ever! Just stumbled on this blog through searching google kick off for my iPhone. Kick off 1 straight conversion would have most of us wetting our pants but player manager? Wow that game is a central part of me and my mates youth! Just stay true to the original mr dini and you will have a no.1 app on your hands! Just make sure you can still lob the goalie from just past the halfway line! Ahh happy times :-)

  28. richard Says:

    AH Dino how i love thee.
    I will talk only about GOAL.
    That amazingly beautiful game that only people who could not play the game to its fullest would ever consider that other footy game of the same time SWOS to be its equal. THE game made me Social pariah but simultaneously a legend in my own home..In my home in 1994-1996 i would regularly have 10-12 visitors a night and most of them would come round to enjoy a bit banter trying to take my ZIPSTIK out of my hands. This was achieved only by beating me at GOAL. Winner stays on was the order of the day and i can say that i did not lose many games. But when i did lose i paid for it,as the humiliation was almost unbearable as 11 other guys ridiculed my every excuse. My friends hated every time i won despite all trying to put me off my game. I played the game so much i knew every intricate movement you could make with the joystick to the point i could win games without even pressing the shoot or pass button. The arrogance i showed to all pissed everyone off to the max and i must admit i loved it. I loved that game dino and i love you for making it part of my very very fond memories. thank you.

  29. Jogi Says:

    Wow. Absolute great. For me, the game can be 1:1 as Player Manager. Only the European Cups could make in and the thing, that you only can play with the PM in team.
    It´s amazing. I played PM since Amiga500 and since many years on PC with WINUAE.
    PM Is the best ever.

    Greatings from Germany,

    Jogi

  30. Craig Says:

    Hell Dino,

    I for one am very excited by the prospect of a Player Manager remake. If you’re old enough, like me to remember the original. Then you’ll know just how brilliant this news is. At the time football games and their manager counterparts were much similar to each other. And then came Kick Off, I remember when I bought it for my Atari ST, it transformed soccer games, prior to that I used to play Match day on my Zx Spectrum. While that was a good simulation it was slow. Kick off was fast and extremely playable!, and when PM was advertised I knew it would be a winning combination of Kick Off and Soccer Manager. Personally speaking there has never in my mind been a better game than PM, the ability to play as a team or a solo player using the Kick Off engine, combined with a soccer manager simulation is the greatest and most unbeaten formula of football I’ve ever played.
    My admiration to all involved in this and praise to you DD for deciding to do remake. Yours is a shining talent and you have made the most important, playable, fun, addictive and long lasting football games ever
    I look forward to hearing about your progress and can only hope you’ll have the remake done soon.
    Three cheers for DD……Hip, Hip, Hip…

  31. christian Says:

    Hi Dino

    This the best new ever after the end of WW2 !

    I remember that 20 years ago i bought the external drive for amiga 500 only because someone told me that it was required to play the “coming soon” player manager 2.

    So if now you will make pm2 i will buy wathever i will need to play this fantastic game .. even a iphone: finally i get a work and i dont need daddy’s money

    pls teel to Steve “red card” Screech not to be to harsh and put more defenders in the database !

    God bless You, Alex Reevs and Alberto Rossini !

  32. Dino Dini Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for getting in touch, and your words of encouragement. My email address is dndn1011@gmail.com, feel free to drop me a line (or chat on google chat) anytime.

    Kind Regards,

    -Dino

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