Interview with Bob Winberry(11/29/2000)
by Bruce Bundy
It is a very busy time of the year for Bob Winberry normally. As sole programmer for our Strat-O-Matic Computer Baseball game, he has been nothing short of wizard, bringing our board game to life on the computer the way we, the players wanted it done - and staying very invisible throughout. This year brings a new twist - Hal Richman, president of SOM, has stated the computer game will have an early release. So, it is just like me to choose today to bother this most important cog in the wheel of our hobby ...
BB : What's new & exciting for SOMBB V6?
BOB : Originally I didn't think I would be able to get much into Version 6. However, once I got started I got on a nice little roll. I was able to get in more features than I originally thought I could. There are lots of new surprises, but we are not ready to announce the features yet.
BB : RATS...heh! What's your favorite thing to do when you to relax after a long day working on V6?
BOB : Right after work its family time! I love playing with the kids (we have 4 of them). After the kids go to sleep I keep myself busy with work, and with plenty of other projects. I am involved in creating a simplified translation of the King James Bible. It's a long term project that I've been working on for about 5 years, and I have at least another 5 years to go. I love books, and the one I'm currently reading is "When Pride Still Mattered" which is about Vince Lombardi. Lately I've been working on a book that I am co-authoring with my father. That has been a great experience for both of us.
BB : What's your take on the new SOM Customer Service?
BOB : I believe that we have doing a better job in recent months. We did have some problems in the past, so Hal made changes which were designed to improve our performance in this area.
BB : Do you see any coming technologies replacing "Key Disk" protection?
BOB : We are thinking of switching to a ball and chain, it's older technology, but we feel it might do the job better ;-) Actually, I think the key disk issue is highly overplayed. Most products now force you to put your CD-ROM in the disk drive, which is a bit of a pain and is in effect a key disk system. Our system allows a full install to the hard drive, so you don't have to bother with this.
Using copy protection allows us to keep our prices down. For example, one of our competitors charges $30 for each new season disk plus an additional $30 for each game upgrade. We package both the new game and disk together and typically charge $32. The initial purchase is also less expensive, and this is despite the fact that our game is based on detailed research while the other game is not.
True, if you have a problem with the protection system it can be frustrating, but by calling tech support we can usually get you up and running in a matter of minutes.
BB : With the DVD Age, do you foresee SOMBB becoming more graphical?
BOB : No, we don't have plans in this area. Most of our customers do not want a graphical game. We get e-mails and letters requesting all kinds of changes (many of which eventually end up in the product), however I don't believe we have received even one request for graphics this entire year.
BB : How's the wife & kids?
BOB : Great! My wife is a fantastic lady who puts up with my idiosyncrasies. And the kids -- well, there just too young to understand that some things not quite right with their old man.
BB : How do you think the new "High Strike" will effect the upcoming season?
It will make for higher ticket prices. I'm not sure how or why, or what's the relationship between high strikes and even higher ticket prices, but I figure it's a safe prediction!
BB : Are there any projects you would like to see the SOM community take on?
BOB : I'd love to see more Strat-O-Matic dedicated sites on the Internet. Maybe one location where replayers can post entire seasons worth of stats for others to enjoy. Perhaps another location where rule variations can be exchanged and discussed. I guess what I'm really getting at is sort of like an online version of the old Strat-O-Matic Review or Strat-Fan. I think the options that are currently available to Strat-O-Matic players are limited. Some of the mailing lists seem to be dominated by negativity (which is true of many Internet lists). The discussions don't generally reflect the true feelings of most Strat-O-Matic players. We play the game because it's fun! It's a hobby -- not something to be battled over constantly. Of course some guys love to debate every little Strat-O-Matic point, and there is nothing wrong with that. It can even lead to positive changes in the game. But I would still like to see a new mailing list that would focus more on the fun of the hobby as opposed to some of the negative things about it.