Baseball Intelligencer

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Posts Tagged ‘APBA Master Game’

A little background on BBW

Posted by bbintelligencer on May 4, 2009

There are a number of great online resources for APBA / BBW enthuiasts, I hope to detail a few of the best at a later date, but in describing the evolution of APBA Baseball for Windows (BBW), I’d be remiss if I failed to share a bit of the history behind the development of BBW that has already been posted at a site named

apbalogoThe notes from indicate that this piece was authored in November of 2008, as a part of a discussion of the likely difficulties behind updating APBA Baseball for Windows to a version 6.0 that will operate properly in a 64 bit operating environment like some versions of Windows Vista.  While I am not totally sure of the origin or writer, I’m posting a fairly complete (but annotated) version of the story – the original can be found here.  This post may not be of interest to all readers, as some folks prefer to just play the game and enjoy it without knowing any of the details behind the games actual development.

Here is a little background on BBW.

There were several langiages that it was written in, converted from/to: Pascal, C+, Borland just to name a few. I don’t believe that Visual Basic actually was one, but a fore-runner to it could have been.

In 1984 the DOS game, along with StatMaster was written for IBM machines. (An Apple product was created in 1985, although it didn’t last long.) This program was an almost exact duplicate of the Master Game boards. There were somethings that were slightly different because they could not be exactly programmed the same way….really not that important to discuss. winstats

StatMaster and the game alreally had some limitations. The game did not capture all of the same data that StatMaster could use (it got the stuff that Roswell could think of, but over time, new types of Bill James’ stats were created and not included because they were not thought of by Roswell.) Enter, various patched to make it work. Patches were sometimes written in different languages which further complicated things.

Next came the program that Bill Staffa attributes Miller Associates with selling the farm….Wizard. Wizard created a pretty good card. Good enough to make the game work. The first version of Wizard was “probably” created as a means for getting back at the soured relationship that MA had with APBA, but who knows for sure. It was a good program.

That portion of this posting describes the DOS game I mentioned in prior posts here at APBA Baseball Replays.  An old friend had a DOS version of the APBA game that I played once or twice, but at that point in my life I found computer football sims to be more to my taste.  After all, if I wanted to play a baseball sim I could get out cards and dice, and I wouldn’t have to strain my eyes staring at those terrible old computer displays from the DOS days.

Next came a chapter that few even know about….CSN, Computer Sprts Network. It was an on-line gaming center that used a revamped MA version of the game and formed leagues that people signed up, and played in. While the player would handle his team’s home games, it was not a two-player game. The visiting team would send in written instructions to the home team as to how he should handle the opponents players. It was pretty neat. What it added were, basically, all of your AIM rules that you have today.

What killed CSN was money. People would drop out of the league when their team fell too far behind; others would cheat their way to championships; still others failed to follow the written rules of their opponent and fights (protests) would erupt. CSN ultimately folded but, in doing so, it begat two new programs. First was MicroManager..the program that was going to end the problems about cheating; and (pat on the back to me here, I convinced Kenneth Miller that the CSN version (with AIM, etc.) could be sold as a stand-alone version of the game. I break-away from APBA, a new game, completely. Many new games (graphics) were coming out at that time and Kenneth was worried that he would lose too much money if he didn’t follow suit with the other games.

I didn’t know about this portion of the APBA computer baseball game’s history. Several current baseball simulation makers are introducing or planning to introduce something similar, the more modern version is online head to head play, but the concept isn’t that different, so it looks to me that Miller Associates was simply ahead of it’s time.  winlm

MicroManager was one of the neatest programs ever created. But, it was too smart for all of us dummies. MicroManager game you a glimpse, not only of your manager, but of Kenneth’s own mind. Nice program but, way too hard for the common man.

The stand alone version of the game to almost a year to create/convert to a program that was now called BBW. It converted everything from DOS to Windows and, with a few more patches attempted to blend all f the programs into one.

Some of the most modern micromanagers are quite outstanding at recreating the tactics of historic managers, making this a special feature that makes BBW more attractive than most other baseball sims (at least in my eyes.) I’m planning an entire post singing the joys of one particular micromanager maker, detailing a few of his creations, so that’s another subject for another time . . .  bjebe

At the same time, MA’s employee Colby Duerk was working on the encyclopedia. Wow! When completed (another language, I think) it worked with Wizard to create a whole data disk with just a few key strokes in a manner of minutes. This was great, and horrible at the same time. MA could, in effect, ruin sales of season disks but selling this product. It sold for a few years. Colby ultimately quit, and went on his way….and the demise of MA’s was on its way.

I talked up the Bill James encyclopedia in a prior post, it’s a great tool.

With every new version of BBW the game inched further away from the original Master Game version. (Sometimes it was leaps and bounds, not inches.)

Financial problems continued. Fans weren’t buying all of the updates (or updates were coming too fast for fans to spend money on all of the updates) and things were changing. Finally, a law suit against the owners of 6 baseball games filed by the player’s union for use of names. The suit sapped the wind out of Kenneth and and the game, and the rest of the history you already know.

As far as the game is concerned, numerous programs were used; numerous patches were created; numerous programs were converted. Somehow, it works. It was still limited to what it could do (i.e. changing the batting characteristics to the + and – system required a whole new re-write) but it was do-able.

I guess I was a sucker, as I did purchase every update, as BBW was (and still remains) my favorite computer game. When all the dust settled, I ended up owning, BBW 1.0 BBW 2.0, BBW 3.0, BBW 3.5, BBW 4.0, BBW Harwell ’97 Update, BBW 5.0, and, of course, BBW 5.5 which remains to this day the most recent version of the game. I mentioned the three different versions of the Bill James Baseball Encyclopedia (1.0, 1.5, 1.51) I collected as well.

Although this collection may confirm, in some minds, the old adage about the birth frequency of suckers, I prefer to consider it loyalty.


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