FBPro Rookies Training Camp
By Scott Bethel
Last Updated On September 8, 1998


Welcome to the world of computer football simulation. This ain't John Madden and if you expect it to be, I'd advise you to turn back NOW. This site is dedicated to those who are strong of heart and exhibit the character of perseverance only found in the game of football. Mental toughness will be your key to becoming a successful coach in Football Pro. There is a learning curve that that can only be overcome by the tenacity equal to an NFL linebacker.

This training camp is designed for rookies and as such will cover the basic fundamentals of playing against opponents on-line. It is not meant to be all inclusive. There are many great sites out there addressing such topics as play design and game strategy. I will not be duplicating what is already available elsewhere. It will simply be my goal to make you a little more self sufficient, so that you will rapidly become an asset to the WON chat and meeting room, and not a rookie with a bunch of questions. By spending time here, no one will even be able to tell you're a rookie, that is until you step onto the field :)

When the WON screen is up, click on Help, then Online Help to link to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about WON.

Right off the top, here are some things you will want to know.

**Can I control the player with the ball?
No, the internet doesn't move that fast, YET. When online you are the coach. You design the plays, set the roster and put your game plan into action. This is not an arcade game. If you are not interested in coaching, then go back to Nintendo.

**How long does it take to play a game?
This game is as close to reality as it gets. A game online will take as long as Monday Night Football. The only thing missing is the TV timeout for commercials. Because of this, no one is interested in playing 15 minute quarters. Even league games are usually only 12 minute quarters. Anything other than league games uses the 6 minute quarter option, and that still takes an hour to play on line.

**Can you chat with your opponent during the game?
Sierra had a great idea putting a chat feature in the game. Problem is theory and reality did not meet each other on this one. Using the chat feature greatly increases the chances of your game crashing or freezing up. Sure, it will work sometimes, but as a whole, try to avoid using it at all times.

**Do I have to wait for the offense to call a play before calling my defense?
You don't "have to", but it is a very good idea. It can help insure smooth transfer of files and that means avoiding a freeze up or the game getting out of sync (an all too common occurrence).

**What is "juicing"?
Juicing (aka cheating) is taking a team and changing the players attributes on your own and playing with that team on WON. I.E., you could take your wide receiver and change his speed from 79 to 99. You can do that with all the players on your team. One word, DON'T. That is unless you want to be a WON FBPro leper. You WILL get caught and everyone WILL find out about it and you will become an outcast. This is what happens: I'm playing JoeSchmoe and I notice his average DE is blowing by my all-pro OT like he's standing still. That makes me suspicious. Then I see his reserve LB run down my speedy rookie of the year HB from behind. We'll I'm convinced now. I get out of the game and look at my opponents files (remember, we transferred files to play this game) and sure enough, his DE is 99's across the board as is his LB, as are several of the players on his team. What I do next is save this file as evidence and then write email to almost 100 other coaches telling them JoeSchmoe is a cheater. They forward this email on to all the coaches they know and soon everyone knows. Guess what happens to JoeSchmoe when he goes into WON next. Most coaches are kind enough to just give the silent treatment, but then there are those who get their verbal clubs out and beat JoeSchmoe into submission. It's not pretty. And Joe's chances of getting a game with someone? I'll let you figure out that mathematical problem.

**How can you prove if someone is juiced?
There are a few different ways to do this. Here's how I've been doing it (I wouldn't be surprised to find out there is a much easier way). Like I said, earlier, you might get suspcious when Gilbert Brown runs Michael Irvin down from behind to make a tackle. You can either leave now or wait until the game is over. Here's the key. To exit the game, use CTRL - ALT - DEL function. This also works if the game is over, as long as you do it before leaving the stats. After that, open the game back up. At the main menu click on Game Type, then League, then Load League. There you will see the league that your opponent was using. This will contain his team. Many times that league may be a stock league, in which case you will see a duplicate of that league (such as two NFLPI97R leagues). Or it could be a name or set of intitials you do not recognize. Double click on this to load that league and then select the team you were playing. You can now go in and look at his roster and see the player attributes to determine if they are legitimate.
WARNING: There are several legitimate leagues that at first glance may appear to juiced. For instance, the EZFL is comprised of Hall of Famers and the all time greatest NFL players. There are other leagues that have been around a long time which means they have been through several training camps. League training camp gives the players in that league an opportunity to increase the value of their attributes.
Cheaters very rarely admit to cheating, so you will need proof. In order to prove the team is juiced, print a file copy (see options at main menu) for distribution to other coaches. Also, please be aware that sometimes rookie players are unaware they were cheating (although they know if they read this). They played against the computer for a while before coming online and may have run a stock league through training camp or gone in and made the changes manually. they must find out that, as in real life, playing with yourself behind closed doors is different than whipping it out in public.


Rookie training camp will cover the following topics and more:
1) Starting and joining games
2) How and why upgrading your game version is a must
3) How to tell what version game you have
4) How to join a league
5) How to piss everyone off (see juicing)
6) Sites and WWW locations you must know about to survive
7) Tips for becoming a better player
8) Game room etiquette and sportsmanship
9) Playing without having to go to WON room


A) When you brought your game home from the store and installed it onto your computer, you became the proud owner of version 1.0. Then you got on-line and got as far as the WON FBPro game room. When you did this you acknowledged an upgrade of your game to version 1.02. How exciting! Then some of the more clever of you figured out how to jump into a game right away only to see it freeze, crash and boot you out. Upon making your way back to the room, your opponent asks what version game you have. You think to yourself, "What a stupid question.", and tell him it's the 98 version. Or some of you assumed because your opponent advertised version 1.08, that you must also have 1.08. I mean, its the same game, right? WRONG!
In Sierra's never ending quest for quality gaming, a seemingly endless march of beta test upgrades (patches) began just as soon as the first game came off the assembly line. This changes the version of your game each time you download (DL) and install one. The problem is that no two versions are compatible with each other. You may have v1.04d and your opponent has v1.04e. Even though they are both 1.04 version, they are not compatible with each other and will only result in the game crashing.


B) How do you find out what version you have? Glad you asked. At the main menu of FB Pro is a box called "options". Click on this and a window opens to give you a chance to set some parameters of game play, such as how long your quarters will be (6 minutes is pretty much standard for scrimmages, aka non-league games). Below this window is your game version. If you have not done any DL's (down loads) you should be at version 1.02. Always check this after the DL and install of an "upgrade" or patch. Sometimes they don't take and you'd better find out now before wasting 5 minutes of a veteran's time and earning a bad reputation for yourself.
Also in the options window, you will want to be sure to set your "Play Call Mode" to standard and your "Action Mode" to basic. This is as good as it gets online. You will not be able to control players. You are the coach and your function is to design the plays, set the game plan in action and act as both offensive and defensive coordinator. Believe me, you will have your hands full just doing this.

C) Where and how do you get the down loads so you can start playing? This is extremely important and will carry with you the rest of your playing career. One place that handles the latest DL beta test is www.gelat.com. You simply go here and click on what you want to DL. In Windows 95 a screen appears asking you where you want this file to go. If you do not already have one, I suggest you make a folder that stores your down loads. I have one simply called "down loads" and within that I have sub-folders, one of which is called "Sierra". This is where I direct this file to go. I then have a common location for all down loads, upgrades and enhancements for my game. This has been very handy in the event of having to reinstall the game (much more common than we like to think about). Generally the file you DL will be a zip file. This compresses all the information for faster transport to your computer. When it does arrive, it is still compressed and you will need a program like Win Zip to expand it to it's usable format. If you do not have Win Zip go to www.winzip.com to get a free demo. When Win Zip has been installed, you are ready to unzip your DLed files into FBPro. Unless stated otherwise, unzip the file into Sierra\FBpro98. There is an exception to this general rule. If the file you just DLed ends with .exe, you will need to move it into the Sierra\FBPro98 directory by other means (copy and paste is recommended). Once in there, double click on it and it will do its stuff for you.

After completing this, remember to go to options at the main menu and double check your game version. If you succeeded, it will be reflected here by showing the new version, v.1.08. If it still carries the old version, back to the drawing board. Be sure it made it into the right directory. You can do this by using the Windows Explore function. Right click on your "My Computer" icon on the desk top and then click on explore for this function.


After checking with options at the main menu for your current game version and getting back to the WON game room, click on the "Tools" menu at the top. Then go to "User Data" and "Change Gaming Profile". Here you are asked to put in location and comments, but you can put anything you want there. It will help you tremendously to get better game action if you put your current game version in there. It's much faster for players to just click on your name to see what you are running rather than have to take time to ask. If what they want and need to know is in there, they are much more likely to ask you to play a game with them. And avoid the temptation to call yourself anything but a rookie. Nothing worse than someone who's head is bigger than what they can deliver.


There are two ways to get into the action on WON, you can join someone who has already set up a game or you can set one up yourself. Whoever sets up the game is the home team.
You can also play online without having to go through the WON room. Here is a link for an excellent site to check out later that will show how to do that- Playing Via TCP/IP Connection - For now though, stick with figuring WON out.

A) Visitors
To join a game that is already set up, it is as easy as double clicking on the game header. Or you can single click to highlight it and use the action box on the left that says "Join Game". That player will receive your request to join the game and will accept or decline. Sometimes a decline may mean he is waiting for someone in particular or he may be engaged in another activity online and isn't quite ready to start a game. Please pay attention to what that header says. Many players use it to designate what they are looking for in an opponent. It may say something like, "v1.08 Custom plays, stock teams only". This tells you that in order to join this game you must have version 1.08 and should be running custom plays with a stock team. In this case, there is very good chance that this player belongs to league that uses stock teams with custom plays. His aim is to sharpen his skills in that venue and he doesn't want to spend time in a game that is not going to accomplish that. But you will also see the other extreme, as there are leagues that only use stock plays and these players will insist on playing only opponents who use stock plays.
B) Home Team
So you want that home field advantage? Just go to the action box on the left that says "Create Game" and click on it. A window will appear asking you to name your game. At the very least, be sure to put your game version in there. Again, you will get better action by letting everyone know what you are running rather than tying yourself up answering questions or even worse, spending five minutes exchanging files with some goober in a game that won't see anything more than a kick off (and that's if you're lucky) before crashing. Once your game is established, you can click on a players name who is not involved in a game, and ask him to join you by then clicking on the "Invite Player" action box on the left. If you do not have your game version in your game title, most players will say no to the prompt they receive that shows the games title. I say no because I've spent enough time in games doomed to crash because of incompatability and there are many more like me. So a little bit of info helps a lot. Avoid putting "My First Game" or "New Guy" or anything that advertises you are brand new. While you might think this would attract swarms of victory hungry coaches, it really advertises that the chances of this game crashing are probably really high.


When you click on a players name, his gaming profile information appears at the bottom of the WON game room window. Here you can tell what game version he is running and maybe some interesting things about his win-loss record, what league he belongs to or any number of things. Some guys advertise a won-loss record. Don't let that scare you. If they weren't league games, then they didn't have to be won by anyone. Sometimes coaches are more concerned with working out their new plays or doing a little R and D when playing a non league game.

Common WON Errors & Causes:

The following was taken from the Sierra Football '98 Troubleshooting Guide at www.sierra.com and is only a small portion of what is contained there.

Problem: Forgot Password.
Solution: Re-register with WON using a new user name. Also, keep in mind, user names and passwords are case sensitive.

Problem: Error: 10024 Too many open files (several Internet applications open
at once).
Solution: Close down some applications and try again.

Problem: Error: 10060\10061 Server unreachable (servers down).
Solution: Try again later.

Problem: Error: 10054 Server dropped connection.
Solution: Attempt to reconnect. One other thing to try is clicking START, RUN
and then typing: ping sigs.sierra.com You should get replies back. If you get 'Request Timeouts' it means that your computer isn't seeing WONs. You should try this test while connected and then also periodically throughout your session. Test it when you get the error message and again afterwards.


Getting into a league is really just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. New leagues are forming all the time and if you are on-line and in the WON game room enough, you'll run into a recruiter or new commissioner looking for coaches to take teams. Just about all the leagues have home sites on the web that you can go to. Check them out and let the commissioner know to put you on a waiting list. Here's a site that has included links to a lot of the newer active leagues ;


Please be sure that you are up to speed with everything else we've already talked about, because being involved in a league is time consuming and requires dedication to overcoming the learning curve. League play brings with it a whole new curve to overcome. I'd say it took me several months to get where I am now and I still have to ask for help.


To play in a league, you better be up to the challenge! What helped me tremendously was getting over the feeling that I had to win games that don't mean anything. Not that I went into a game to lose, but that learning became much more important than winning. What is the point of continuing to run that one play that has your opponents defense perplexed if you aren't learning what your other plays can do? Sure, you may win the game, but the next guy you play shuts down your only weapon and you were not ready for that eventuality. Why? Because winning was more important than learning. If you're going to play in a league, you better be committed to learning, because you already have some catching up to do. There is a whole bunch of new things to learn when playing in a league, but I'll leave that instruction to your future commissioner for now.

This just a taste of what is in store for you. There is much more to learn and there are sites out there that have tutorials on play making to having custom plays you can DL and try out. The learning curve is not small. One coach I talked to said it took him about 200 hours to get it down, and he is a professional computer programmer! If you love football as much as I and the many other established coaches, you're going to make it! Here's two last tips are probably the best ones I can give you.

Keep reading your manual! It will make more sense later. I picked up a bunch of stuff by reading it again 6 months after I started. If you have not read your manual yet, you have put yourself at a huge disadvantage to those that have.

Ask for help. Don't be a pest, sometimes guys are working on other things and don't have time. If you run into MediaBLITZ, you can always get help from him if he has the time.

This site was brought to you by Media BLITZ. Please feel free to email me with comments and suggestions that will help Rookies Training Camp produce new players who will become competitive that much quicker.