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Background History

FHLSim is currently owned and managed by Wynn Fenwick. The software is actively being developed by a team of programmers.

Wynn Fenwick

In fall, 1987, I developed a hockey simulator engine for the Commodore 64 in Commodore BASIC V2.0. The engine was modelled on a finite state machine after studying and playing hockey. I was simply interested in simulating (simming) hockey as the effort to keep track of a hockey pool based on the real NHL goings-on was very high. Also I always wondered if a guy who scored 7 goals in 8 games would actually score 70 goals in a season.

Compuleague had no user interface - I wasn't a demoscene kinda guy, although I did have a bootleg copy of FastHack'em 4.1. The game output full play-by-play to the screen using PETASCII colourized text, and provided box scores for each game. Each game took about 3 minutes to simulate. You couldn't read the boxscores without the RUNSTOP key, but based on screen colouring you could see the flow of the game.

All lineups were entered manually in a text file by PlayerID, and all scheduling was done by similar text-edit method. Compuleague did not save box scores due to the lack of storage on the 1541 disk drive, and me not wanting to swap floppies all the time. but instead printed hardcopies on a 9-pin dot matrix carriage printer after the game.

Skaters were rated in three categories: Shooting, Passing and Defence. Overall rating was a total of the other three ratings. Goaltenders in two: overall Skill and rebound rating. A simple engine, Compuleague supported two 5-man lines, and a goaltender rotation system, that FHL still does not yet have.

In 1990, I ported FHL from the Commodore to the PC using TurboBasic with ideas toward releasing it as shareware, but school and student life got in the way.

Flash forward 7 years to Calgary, Alberta.

1997: Sean Bates, a video editor with such credits as the X Games commercials that ran on ABC, decides to learn Visual Basic. Using a most excellent sport, he constructs a program to simulate the game. However, Sean's skills with graphics and time availability far exceed anything I ever had and the result is a slick, functional, accurate, if somewhat buggy software.

After showing to friends in Calgary they encouraged him to make it available to others. Within a year 100 people purchase a software licence of FHL 1.0 by snail-mailing a cheque. With a policy of free bug fixes, Sean ships patches up to v1.041.

In 1997 I was working at Nortel Networks, and landed myself in a group of hockey fans at work. I was thinking about starting a sim league, and updating Compuleague for Windows to do it. However, I wanted to see what was out there in open source or shareware, rather than spend effort in developing a "new and better" sim. After looking around I stumbled on FHL, which was Hockey League Simulator compatible. I had purchased HLS2 and failed at running a sim hockey league with it, but this looked like it would do the trick!

So I bought an FHL licence and immediately started a league. Sensim was born. Shortly though, the inability to evaluate why teams played as well or as poorly as they did and the need to get good with a decent UNIX scripting language led me to use Perl to write XtraStats in 1999. XtraStats parsed through the HTML reports that FHL reports and boxscores, and produced even more stats. What was big at the time was the ability to see stats per ice time, and other stats like fights, etc that FHL did not report on. I made it available as postcardware, and later Fred Hurtibuise rewrote it to make it cleaner, more efficient, and to extend its functionality.

In 1999 the responsibility of maintaining shareware combined with a career ramp up to Las Vegas, Sean recognized he had less time for FHL than he could spend. So at his request, I took control of the project and re-hosted batesoft.ab.ca to Entrenet Systems, and put up a new site to show the rejuvination of the software. Immediately I took to getting FHL on the road to self-sustainability. I needed to clear credit card transactions, so while there were likely cheaper options, in 1999 there were a lot of jokers too. We hooked up with NorthStars Solutions, a long-time online and BBS shareware retailer in Manhattan, Kansas. I had good experience and trust in them as a proponent of shareware to clear your funds ethically.

In 2000 we used Boardhost to host the FHL Forum. We switched in 2001 to use EZBoard where a more flexible format allows multiple message areas to discuss the different aspects of FHLSim, using the program to run leagues, player ratings and even for some development activities.

In 2001 I created FHLSim.com to consolidate FHL development and support. The batesoft.ab.ca domain was abandoned in favour of FHLSim.com and the FHL product was rebranded FHLSim to differentiate it from all the many other uses of the "FHL" acronym.

Since 1999 v1.1, 1.21, 1.3 and 1.5beta have been released, as well as various updates to GM Editor to match. Some significant behind-the-scenes infrastructure has been built and the development team has grown. While FHLSim is not a significant income generator for any of us, it sustains itself, and lets us have fun writing hockey software. While development hasn't gone as quickly as we'd have liked, the community remains vibrant and active.

FHLSim is now on a sustainable path, and will be developed at an accelerated rate. We will do this by leveraging our more coordinated development processes and the extended development team. General direction is provided by me using opinions expressed in user feedback on the messageboards and in email as a guide.


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