In recent months, I’ve been logging on to Lance Haffner Games’ Website, www.lhgames.com, to see if the company had any new downloads for free. [Without LHG's free download of the teams that played in 2006 NCAA Division 1-A fairy tales (oops, I mean bowl games), I wouldn't have been able to do the 2006 Division 1-A playoffs as quickly as I was able to on this computer I'm using...let alone post the results in "At Last...Playoffs!"]
I thought Lance Haffner Games would’ve come out by now with a free download for the 2007 D-1-A bowl participants. In fact, during February, instead of getting the Nashville firm’s Website, I got nothing but a “Bad Gateway Error.”
Is the company falling on hard times?
To me, Haffner’s sports simulation games- games like 3-in-1 Football, Full Count Baseball, Courtside (Men’s) College Basketball, and Basketball: The Pro Game- are among the best ever made. (Okay…them’s fightin’ words to people who drink toast after toast after toast to Strat-O-Matic’s games and/or APBA’s products.)
Started buying Lance Haffner’s products in 1992, the year I bought my first computer…a Commodore C-64. At that time, LHG offered games and other products for Commodore computers as well as for Apple systems and for IBM-compatible PCs.
And I was attracted to 3-in-1 Football because LHG offered not only NFL teams disks covering seasons as far back as the 1950s, but also gave you teams disks involving- YES- the 1970s World Football League and the 1980s United States Football League. (You try asking the folks at Strat-O-Matic to do that!)
What’s more, with 3-in-1, I could take college players on the teams disks and draft them into made-up pro teams. Matter of fact, with 3-in-1, Full Count, and Basketball: TPG, I found it easier to make up my own teams and build my own leagues than I might with S-O-M or APBA.
Don’t want to trash Strat completely, though, because the board version of that company’s Pro Football game allowed me to play WFL football past the year the actual circuit went out of business, 1975. And I kept this “mock WFL” going into 1979 by using players who weren’t drafted into the NFL…as well as WFL players who quit the sport rather than trying to do what Danny White did (the former Memphis Southmen quarterback signed with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys).
And, later, using my C-64 and then PCs after that, I carried the idea into men’s pro basketball and major league baseball by using undrafted players as well as ones who had brief (or even solid-if-not-spectacular) pro playing careers.
Result: In hoops, I got my own ABA going until Joe Newman started, in 2000, a real (scaled down, though) version of the 1967-76 circuit…the one that gave us Dr. J and Artis Gilmore and Moses Malone. Four years ago, I got a cousin of my own ABA going (the North American Basketball Association)…and now I’d like to get current on that. (I need some more spare time!)
And in baseball, I cooked up present-day versions of the Federal League (the actual FL competed in 1914-15) and the Continental League. (In Real Life, the CL was Branch Rickey’s idea; it was going to get off the ground in 1960 or so…except NL and AL owners decided to fight this new circuit by agreeing to, at last, bring in expansion teams- kicking and screaming. The idea of a third big league- this time, in the Space Age- plus television’s inroads in letting sports fans in cities without either American League or National League squads lick their chops over getting teams of their own forced the two longtime circuits’ collective hand.)
Right now, in an effort to replace CL-FL seasons lost to a bad hard drive, I’m replaying the 1992-2002 era. About to relaunch my 1997 season, and I’m excited because both the 1995 and 1996 campaigns saw one division apiece need a one-game playoff to determine a division title to set up an LCS! (My 1992-2003 CL and FL had just two divisions per league; from 2004 on, they’ve been three divisions strong each.)
And before another workweek kicks in at the factory tomorrow, I’m going to start setting up- AT LAST- my 24 NCAA Division 1-A football playoff teams for 2007. (In the meantime, I’m considering a football simulation game called Second and Ten…one I found out about from a user who’d previously been a faithful 3-in-1 fan. SAT has a college version and a pro version; both are sold separately. And soon as $44 can come together, I’ll send in for the college version…to do the 1999, 2001, and 2002 playoffs.)
Yes, I’d like to spend more time working on my CL, FL, NABA, and USFL…and I can do that soon as I take care of life’s real matters first.
And I hope the real matters in the lives of the folks at Lance Haffner Games haven’t derailed those folks completely.
Here’s hoping LHG can get fully back in business and continue to give computer gamers years and years of fun.