The disastrous conclusion to our Football Manager experiment is above. We lost a soccer match 22-1. We got fired. We learned nothing.
While we’re here, Jon took the time to review the hours and hours of Fumble Dimension’s video game experiments that led us to this point. Every previous episode can be found below.
Even by Secret Base standards, Fumble Dimension is a particularly ambitious, weird project. When Kofie joined up with my team, which would eventually become part of Secret Base, we both knew we wanted to produce a video game series. We also both love the original run of The Twilight Zone. Taking inspiration from one of the greatest television shows ever made, Kofie wanted the title of the series to reference some kind of place. He suggested “_______ Dimension,” I added “Fumble,” and off we went.
Fumble Dimension is the sort of show I would have made years ago if I could. Years ago, when I was producing Breaking Madden, I saw so much more potential in more ambitious, horrifying video game experiments. Thanks to Kofie, we were finally able to make that happen.
The basketball episode
For the series premiere, we decided to resurrect an old experiment from the “NBA Y2K” era: what if good basketball players stopped being born? What if, year after year, every available player in the NBA draft was a useless dope with zero basketball skills?
In NBA 2K19, we created a draft class full of 5’4 players with the lowest possible skill rating in every category. Then we simulated decades of NBA basketball, all the way into the 2050s. Every year, we fed this draft class into the league. As the stars we know and love began to retire, the ranks of players we recognized grew thinner and thinner, until none of them were left at all.
This time around, we did a far more thorough job of tracking statistics and recording footage of what this nightmare NBA actually looked like. In the end, Kofie and I actually played a game against each other with these abominable teams, a fitting conclusion to one of the funniest projects I’ve ever worked on.
The football episode
(This is Part 1. Part 2 is here.)
This is the thing about sports video game series: sometimes, in some sense or another, the old ones are better. Year after year, they tend to remove beloved features and game modes, and add new ones. NFL Head Coach is more than a decade old, but its play creation tool is far more extensive and in-depth than anything you’ll find in a modern Madden game. That’s the game we dug out of the archives, because that’s the game that would let us run the experiment we wanted: running one, and only one, offensive play for an entire season.
We did everything we could think of to create the best play possible. A couple guest stars, Madden champion Young Kiv and football writer Richard Johnson, stopped by to take their best shot. In the end, against all odds, we won a few games with the 2008 Lions, arguably the worst team in NFL history.
The golf episode
An episode of Fumble Dimension requires tons and tons of research and experimentation before we even begin production. Kofie typically spends weeks looking through piles of sports games, testing out their “create-a” modes, and identifying which have the most potential for fun and chaos.
If he hadn’t put in that time, we would’ve have found The Golf Club, a game with an incredibly robust course editor. You can build the golf course of your nightmares and drop all kinds of junk on the fairway, from livestock to buildings to yachts.
We could have just built a terrible golf course and left it at that, but Kofie had a much more brilliant idea: to let our viewers design it. The logistics of this were daunting, but Kofie figured it out: he’d place a grid over the course and then set up a public Google form, in which people could detail exactly which item they wanted to place on a particular square of the grid. This was Fumble Dimension at its finest. We take our goofing around with the utmost seriousness.
In the end, you, the viewers, created a golf course so large that Kofie actually had to build it across several different save files. Then we played it. Kofie and I stayed late at the office that night, because it took far longer to play through than we’d expected. I’ll admit that I had a terrible, TERRIBLE time. Kofie can attest to this. I was so mad. This was the worst time I’ve ever had playing a video game, and it was all your fault. Thank you.
The baseball episode
Kofie thought it would be interesting to produce a companion episode to Dorktown’s “History of the Seattle Mariners” project. Continuing the crowdsourcing element we’d used in the golf episode, Kofie set up a form and let our viewers make every single decision for the 2001 Mariners. Every pitch, every swing, everything. Then we ran the answers through Out of the Park Baseball, the most in-depth baseball strategy game on the market.
We knew this would be a mess. We weren’t surprised when you told us to hit 3,000 batters. This one was more of an exploration of how a video game responds when you try to fundamentally break a sport, and the results were fascinating.
Kofie also took some artistic license with this one, threading in a horror-movie element that turned out to be completely appropriate for this disaster. As the director and main editor of Fumble Dimension, Kofie lays out the blueprints for how, exactly, we’ll pull each experiment off, but he also finds ways to pull stories out of them. It’s really incredible.
The soccer episode
(This is Part 1. Part 2 is here.)
And finally, our biggest experiment yet. With the help of our friend, soccer journalist Kim McCauley, we pulled off a dual experiment, trying to create both the best and worst soccer formations possible. We used the long-running hit series Football Manager, which might be the most fascinating video game we’ve explored so far. As Kim told us, even the best FM players in the world have trouble with this game every time they play it. There are just so many moving parts, chaotic elements, and total unknowns.
We reached a milestone this time: at long last, we did such a terrible job that the video game fired us. It was part of the payoff for a project that was several months in the making.
So there you have ‘em: five hours, 10 minutes, and 25 seconds of Fumble Dimension. To all our videos, we want to say a) thank you, and b) we have lots more planned for 2021. And to catch them when they drop, be sure to subscribe to Secret Base on YouTube and follow us on Twitter.