Running and decode Fishing Simulator 2 offline matches

This is a large page, you can choose File->save as.. or Print from the menu to read it offline. ( now in printable form )

Offline matches allow people to fish matches against each other in there own time, and without requiring an internet connection for the duration of the match. This page describes how offline matches can be organised and the results for them produced. It is not essential reading for anyone who is just interested in fishing the matches, but is if you are planning on organising them, either in the form of friendly matches or leagues.


Tools and knowledge required
The following briefly describes what you will need to create a venue in Fishsim II

- A knowledge of files and folders in Microsoft Windows operating systems.
- A copy of Fishing Simulator II.
- A copy of the fishsim 2 utilities program (avaliable from the
FS2 Utilities page)
- A webpage ( optional ) to display the results.
- A limited knowledge of HTML or a HTML editing package like MS Frontpage


Selecting a venue and/or peg for a match
Before running a match you will need to decide on a few details on the match, for example, which venue or peg it will take place on, whether or not two rods will be allowed in the match, as well as the rules for determining the final overall winner of the match.

On the network server click the Settings button, and make sure the venue / peg tab is selected, you will see a window as shown below. This page allows you to select the venue and peg the match will take place on. You can have matches where all anglers are restricted to a single peg, or all the pegs on a venue, you can also run offline matches where anglers select there own peg to fish from.

The three options on the right allow you to select the rules of peg selection for the anglers in the match. If the Use server venue and peg is selected, all anglers will fish from the venue and peg selected in the two drop down combo boxes on the left. If the Use server venue only is selected, all anglers will be given a random peg from all the available pegs on the selected venue. If the Angler selects venue / peg is selected then anglers can choose there own peg out of all the installed venues they have to fish from. The last checkbox (one peg per angler) is not used in offline matches.

While some of these selections are not the norm, it does allow you to run a variety of different matches, that otherwise would be impossible in real life fishing. Once the peg and venue has been decided for the match, you can then go on to select the date and time for the match. To do this click on the Date/time tab at the top of the window.


Selecting the date and time for a match
Like venue and peg selection the date and time selection for the match has a lot of flexibility, allowing you to set up a variety of different kinds of matches. The screen shot below shows the dialog and selections that appear when the date/time tab is selected.

The three options in the frame on the right of the dialog, allow you to select different date and time modes. With Use date and time server settings selected the date and time for all anglers in the match will be set to whatever is entered in the Start time and Match date settings on the left of the dialog. When these are changed they must be entered in the correct format, for example, if a match is set to take place at 9am on the 3rd of February 2001, the match date must be entered as 03/02/2001 and the start time entered as 09:00. The duration setting sets the duration of the match in hours and minutes, and like the other two settings must be entered in the correct format. Eg, a match that will last for two and a half hours, should be set to 02:30.

The Angler selects own date / time setting, allows you to create matches where the angler who is fishing the match is free to select whatever date and time (s)he wants to for the match. The Real date and time option, is self explanatory, and will create matches that anglers fish at the date and time according to there computer clock at the time. With the last two options only the duration setting on the left of the dialog is used.

NOTE : The biggest problem that occurs with this dialog is the date and time formats are not typed in correctly by the match organiser. If your match anglers get a match date of the 1st January 1970, this is what will have occurred.

After the venue and date are selected, some match rules need to be defined, to do this click the next tab along, Match rules.


Setting the rules for offline matches
The majority of the rules on this screen are self explanatory, but a few will need a bit more explanation.

The options in the Rules frame, allow you to set the match type. If the Most total weight is selected, the angler with the biggest total valid catch weight in his/her net at the end of the match will be the winner. With the Biggest fish option selected, the angler with the biggest valid fish caught in the match will be the winner. The Most fish option is used to set up matches where the angler who catches the "most" fish in a match will win. The last option, Best average size selected, matches can be run where the angler who's best average fish weight in the net is caught will win.

The options on the right, allow you to set various options which specify what the angler fishing the match is allowed to do in the match. For example, with the Allow two rods selected, the anglers fishing the match can fish with two rods at the same time, without it checked any catches caught by anglers on the second rod will be disqualifed. The rest of the options in this column should be self-explanatory.

The Match balif option is not used in offline matches.

With the venue, date and rules set up, you are ready to go ahead and create the match download. The Misc tab options and Valid fish button are not used in creating offline matches, they are used later though when results are decoded.

To generate the offline match draw file, click the Generate offline button.


Generating offline match draw files
When you click the Generate offline button, you will see a screen like below, containing as a reminder some of the information that you have already defined. The bottom half of the dialog still needs to be completed though with additional information.

All of the information in the white text boxes should be filled in. The Desc text gives the anglers who are fishing the match a brief description of the match, for example "Border fisheries specimen match, winner is the angler who catches the biggest carp". You can enter anything here to describe your match, but try and keep it as brief as possible.

The Date back text can be used to give guidance to the anglers of the last date and time that there results can be submitted by. This can be in any format as it is used for display purposes only.

The Email to text box is used to give anglers the email address of where to send there results file to, when they have completed there match. This can, again, be in any format, but it is advised that just an email address is used here.

The remaining two boxes are more important and require more of an explanation. Each match that you run has to have a different number entered in the Code field. It is advised that the first match you run, you use the code 1, then 2 for the next match and so on..

The Filestart box has to contain a unique file name starting sequence ( upto 9 characters long ) consisting of alpha-numeric characters. It is advised that a different one be used for each match you run. For example, if JASE1 was entered for the first match, the draw file created would be called JASE1.J2D and all the results files for the match would be in the form of JASE1_TOM.J2R, JASE1_DICK.J2R and JASE1_HARRY.J2R etc.. The next match that is run could have a filestart as JASE2 for example.

The Club members only checkbox is not currently used, but it is recommended that this be left unchecked for compatibility with future matches and updates.

Once all the details have been entered, click the Generate button and the offline match will be created. This will create a file called, in the example used above, JASE1.J2D in the OFFLINE folder of FS2. This is the match draw file that should be distributed to people. You can either distribute the file as itself, or in JR2 form to make things easier for the remote anglers to import.

After distributing the draw file, you will then need to wait for results to arrive back from the anglers participating in the match, and then when either all are back or the time is up, you can go ahead and decode the match results, see below :


Receiving match results
When results come back in email, they will come with email attachments containing files with a J2R extension. These files cannot contain virus's, please make sure though that the files are FS2 result files and do have a J2R extension before opening them.

When they arrive back, use your email client ( probably outlook express ) to save the attachments to the OFFLINE folder of fishing simulator 2. Save them as the original filename, if the rare event occurs where two or more people with the same name are fishing a match, you may need to rename the attached file, eg, MATCH_JASE.J2R, rename this to MATCH_JASE1.J2R. As long as the MATCH_ is detected at the start by the decoder and a J2R extension, the result file will be recognised by the decoder. It will be rare that two or more people have the same name though, so in most cases, the file can simply be saved to the OFFLINE folder without any alteration.


Decoding match results
To decode match results you will first need to return to the Settings options screen that was described above, just to make sure that the settings are correct for the match. On there click the Misc tab. All of the four validation options settings that are set there at the time of decoding will be used. If you have problems with catch validation, in that everyone has fish disqualified, then it is better to uncheck all four of these boxes. A page will be written shortly on how to set up fishsim 2 to validated catches.

Also, click the Valid fish button. This will list all the fish species that have been imported into fishsim 2, make sure there is a check by any fish that you want to class as valid "countable" catches in your match. If you want them all to be classed as valid, which is the norm, click the "Select all" button. With the ability to set which fish you want to class as valid catches and which fish you don't, you can set up a variety of specimen species only matches.

With all of this information checked, you can now go ahead and start the result decoding process. From the main screen on the network server click the Info button, then the Offline button. A screen similar to the one below will be displayed ( note : You may not have the Final decode option displayed as below. )

The drop down combo box contains the description of every offline match draw that you have in your offline folder. Select the match you want to decode from this box and click the Decode button. Another dialog will then appear and show you the offline match results, all the .htm files for the match will be automatically created in the offline folder. There are three "types" of .htm files that are generated. The main results page, the individual anglers pages and a club statistics page. These pages can then be uploaded to a folder on your web-site and all the links will work automatically.

The .htm file that is created for the main results page will be the name you gave as the Filestart when you created the match. Eg match1.htm. The individual results files will also start with the filestart value as well, eg match1_jase.htm. Finally there will be a stats.htm file generated. The only link from your site to the results page should be to the results page ( in this example match1.htm ).

As offline match results can consist of a lot of htm files ( 2 + 1 for each angler ), it may be wise creating a folder on your website specifically for these htm files.

There are of course a lot more aspects to offline matches than described above, a lot of these are automated, but you may receive message boxes asking you to confirm things that require an explanation of what they are.


Result checking and introduction to club members
When you receive offline match results from various people, the network server will keep a record of everyone who submits there results. If a results file is decoded from a member that is unknown, as will be the case with your first offline match, then the network server will ask you to confirm whether or not you want to decode the results for the member. This is really the network server saying "I don't know of this member, is it okay for the member to be added and his/her results decoded".

If you choose "No", the member will not be added to your club and his/her catches for the match will be disqualified. Under normal circumstances you will select the "Yes" option which will add the member to your club membership list and decode the results. The main reason the network server informs you that the member is not recognised is not to allow you to "vet" who can fish your matches, but to warn you that an existing member maybe fishing a match from a different installation than they have done in previous matches.

The network server doesn't use the name of the member to identify people, it uses a unique ID number that everyone fishsim angler has. The ID number is sent in the results file ( note : this is not the fishsim registration number ). If the ID number isn't found in your members database, then the warning will be flagged up to you.

It is possible for anglers to have more than one copy of FS2 installed on there PC in different folders, or even have FS2 installed on different computers. This leaves open the possibility that an angler can fish an offline match on one computer, or in one folder, then fish it on or in another, submitting the best set of results. This wouldn't be fair on all other anglers who participate in the match, as most will have fished the match just once. Therefore if an existing member submits results, and the "member not found" dialog is displayed there should be a good reason for this. There are many valid reasons though why this could occur, for example, if a re-format of the PC has been done and fishsim re-installed. It is advised that you ask members to let you know if this has happened when they submit there results.

Warnings are also given, if a member is running FS2 from a different folder than a previous match as well.

If a member has had to re-install FS2, or has ended up with a different membership number, you will find that you will have the same member listed twice on the statistics page that is generated, there are ways to deal with this, as described in the section below :


Viewing and editing club membership details
After you have run your first offline match, you will have all the members who took part added to your club membership database. This database is used to log members details as well as performance history throughout all the offline matches you run. You can access and edit certain parts of this data by clicking on the Info button on the network server, then the Offline members tab at the top of the dialog. This will then display a list of all the members you have details on, you can double mouse click ( left ) on any of the members names to view more details as shown below :

Again, the screen that appears may not look exactly the same as the one above ( the points, max points, and hi ) values may not be displayed in your version.

The Name label shows the name of the club member, the ID label displays the last few digits of the members unique ID. This is not the members full ID, the actual number is something like about 20 digits long ! The FS folder label shows the folder that the club member is running fishsim from. Fish shows the number of fish that the member has caught in total in all offline matches and the weight shows the total weight caught so far. The members biggest fish and number of matches fished is also displayed.

The Last contact value shows the date of the last time the member had any results decoded, this can be used to remove club members that have not competed in a long while.

The Delete option at the bottom of the screen can be used to delete a member from your membership database. Note, that once a member has been deleted the details will no longer be available ( there is a way of getting them back though if you have all the results files still from past matches ).

The Merge option can be used to overcome situations where members have had to re-install fishsim 2 and have as a result been allocated a different ID number. If this happens you will be left with two member entries in your members database for the same person. The older one ( before the member re-installed ) is no longer required, but does contain the members history. If this was to be deleted, the history would as well, which isn't acceptable. Therefore, the new member entry and the old member entry can be "merged" together.

To do this, select the old member entry from the drop down combo box, and click the Merge button. The history from the old members entry will be merged with the member who's details you have open, and the old member will be deleted.

Finally, there are a few more things that may be worth knowing in case of other problems that crop up, these are detailed below :


Other details on offline matches
In an effort to avoid confusion and questions, there are a few other details that maybe worthwhile in knowing.

The club records that are automatically generated are stored in a file called onrecs.dat in the DATA folder of FS2. This is the same file that is used to store online match club records as well, so the club records that are generated will consist of catches caught both in offline matches and any online sessions you may run as well. To reset the records at any time, you can delete the onrecs.dat file in the DATA folder.

The club membership database file is also stored in the DATA folder, this is called clubmem.dat. This can also be deleted to remove all club members, if the need ever arises.

Results for a match can be safely decoded more than once, and the club records and number of matches fished for the participants won't be affected. How it works is that when a members results are being decoded, the network server looks to see if a .htm page has already been generated for the results. If it has, then it will not add one to the number of matches fished, or include any of the catches in the record catch information. This is because they will have already been updated once before from the results. If you delete a members .htm file for a match and then decode the results again, you will find that the members "matches fished" total will have an extra match included, also the numbers caught for the species on the records page will be updated again. This is not the desired effect you want to achieve, so members .htm files should only be deleted after you are convinced that you will never need to decode a match again.

That's about it, the system itself is complex, but using it is relatively simple.