Monday, 22 December 2008

The Daily Roundup...

One of my absolute favourite features in v1.1 of FML is the daily roundup mail - this summarises all of that day's news items into one convenient mail, allowing you to check up on all of that day's club news, results, contracts etc in one place, while ridding your mailbox of spam.

It's absolute genius. Here's one I got earlier...
Achievements

13:33 You have unlocked the 'Well Travelled 2' achievement.

12:16 You have unlocked the 'Matches Played' achievement.

Feedback

13:06 James Elvins has left feedback for you.

Fixtures

12:00 The AI playing rights to Now Is The Time's CWA Casual Qual 4 match against Chris Burton's Shankton Boys FC have now been awarded after the AI date passed.

Finances

00:03 Now Is The Time have a current cash balance of £61,900 and a projected cash balance of £1,531,011 in 28 days.

Injuries

13:18 Francesco Tavano picked up an injury in his last match. He should be back sometime this evening.

12:16 Eugene Seleznyov picked up an injury in his last match. He should be back later this afternoon.

01:48 The injury crisis at Pedro Ribeiro's S. L. Benfica has deepened further following an injury to Martinez. He will be out until later this morning.

Rankings

00:03 Now Is The Time have dropped fifty-seven places to 406th in the World Rankings after the one thousand four hundred and seventy-five matches that were played today.

Results

23:11 Now Is The Time are 7th in the Casual Qual 4 after their 0-0 draw with S. L. Benfica

13:33 Now Is The Time are 7th in the Casual Qual 4 after their 1-1 draw with Shankton Boys FC

Skills

16:03 You have finished training Level 2 of the Finance skill.

13:12 You have finished training Level 1 of the Finance skill.

04:30 You have finished training Level 1 of the Individual Player Run With Ball skill.

Transfer Auctions

12:12 Roberto Dolorier will stay at Now Is The Time after no club was prepared to meet the starting amount for bids in the auction that just ended.

Infrastructure

23:44 A representative from SI Construction Inc has regretfully informed you that unfortunately construction work at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane has run into some problems and so completion of the work will now be later than originally expected.
Each item comes with a link to the full story too - it's a real time saver and cuts down on what could be a daunting task...

Friday, 19 December 2008

FML Hard Launch dated at long last?

I'm not sure if this article on Eurogamer is 100% accurate, but... well, it's got loads of quotes from Miles Jacobson which makes it look official!

FML: Out January 23rd.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Stadiums

So the big new feature for v1.1 will I guess be the stadiums. This will have an enjoyable but far-reaching impact on FML, and how we play it, so it's well worth considering what effect they are going to have.

The first point is that daily income will now be separated into two streams - one based on the current daily income, and one on 'stadium income'. I guess this stadium income is based on some sort of average attendance figure, which is likely influenced by ranking, team reputation and so on.

Everyone starts off with a stadium that seats around 7000 people, and in a new world your initial attendance will be around 2000. This will rise as your team attracts new fans; currently, in the beta world my attendances figures are up to 6793 after a few weeks. Something stands out already - I'm running out of seats for the fans to sit on, and that will cap my stadium income if I'm not careful. I've just completed the first of a series of stadium upgrades, so my capacity is now up to 7920. I've got more upgrades planned, which will eventually see the team ('Now Is The Time' - thanks Richard...) playing at a 12640 capacity venue.

There is one caveat - my beta world models a retail world, and so at the moment we still have only the daily income, but we are getting warning of the imminent changeover - just like managers in the retail worlds will do. SI have learnt from the v1.0.1 complaints, and will be giving plenty of warning of the impending change; they are doing this via the finance news mail at midnight each night - mine reads:
Scottish manager Nik's good natured Now Is The Time have a current cash balance of £61,900 and a projected cash balance of £1,531,011 in 28 days, equivalent to an average daily profit of £52,468.

Important! As of Friday 26th December 2008 daily income will be split out into general income and stadium income.

Now Is The Time's current stadium and fan base is estimated to bring in stadium income in the region of £121,533 with general income being approximately £33,656, bringing it to a total of £155,189.

This compares favourably with
Now Is The Time's current daily income of £134,625.
So with the stadium upgrades I've put in place, you can see that I stand to do OK financially. However, without the upgrades, I was scheduled to take a £20k per day CUT in my income. Be sure to read the mail, and avoid splashing £55k a day on crappy 15 year olds and you should be OK.

I say watch the finances, stadium upgrades cost money - and a lot of it. There are an almost bewildering number of different options available for stadium upgrades - style of stand, style of terrace/seating... all of which come at different prices, and attract a different sort of fan.

Each of the basic stands ('Basic Single Tiered II) is divided into 5 blocks - each of which can then be fitted with a different type of fan accomodation - plush seating for the execs, terracing for the hardcore, etc. There are an array of stand styles - multi-tier, different land area, different amounts of exec boxes, different number of ad hoardings etc... Do you want to be an Arsenal, or a Millwall...?

I've added in a couple of blocks of cheap terracing to my East stand, which will be my Kop - at £85 a square metre, adding a block of terracing costs £34,000 but adds 1600 to your capacity. It will attract hardcore fans, who could be problematic and won't pay very much; it could also prevent me from entering certain competitions where terracing is not allowed - it's a good, cheap option for the early starter though. It takes over 2.5 days to complete building of a block of terracing too... Plan ahead!

The initial stadium is set up with 'Astilla' seating only - the cheapest seating available. To add a block of that costs £102,000 - a block seats 880. I've added a block of 'Disagio' seating to try and get more families in - the children are the future! Finally, the 5th block I've added was of the 'Pieghevole' variety, for a slightly more refined (i.e. richer) supporter.

As a Blades fan too, I've not got much time for those that would be sitting in the plusher 'Di Lusso' seating, so they can wait - all 14 of my corporate fans, that is! In total, I've so far upgraded by adding 1 Astilla, 1 Pieghevole, 1 Disagio, and 2 terrace blocks - which has cost me £527,200.

Your fans will also feed back what sort of stadium they want - sign a load of bruisers, and the hardcore/devoted will be knocking at your door asking for a quiet word. Best install some terracing, pronto...

Spending big on wages doesn't seem such a great idea now, does it... Of course, with a stadium comes repair costs, so we have to pay to maintain the stands now and then, or risk running into the shame of having to close a section of the ground (the shame, I said, Wednesday fans, the shame!)

Also in to match the new facilities are new 'Infrastructure' skills:
  • Construction: Reduced building costs
  • Foreman: Reduced build times
  • Surveying: Reduced chance of unforeseen complications during building...
  • Diligence: Reduced deterioration rate
In summary - there's a lot of depth in this new feature. When v1.1 lands (I think in January some time), it's going to revolutionise the way we play FML - but in a good way. SI have heard the complaints about the introduction of v1.0.1 (which was a far bigger fuss that was necessary) and have learnt. These changes could decimate a team's income, but I think you'll get a month or so to make the necessary upgrades to your stadium before the income split comes in. Just make sure you do - and don't come crying to us if you don't... You will have been warned!

I'll be back with more at the end of next week when the change will have been implemented in my beta world, Coppell...

Why? WHY? WHHHHHYYYYYYYY?

I'm still awaiting official clearance on whether or not I can blog on the FML v1.1 beta, so thought I'd kill some time by despairing at the world.

It takes a while for things to come to my attention, as I don't have access to an actual proper retail world yet, but something has appeared that caught my attention - it's an oldie, but still not a goodie.

Someone is paying £55k a day for a 15 year old player, which is ludicrous and cretinous enough - but the manager in question doesn't even have the 'Judging Potential' skill... Why would someone do something so daft? Why? WHY? I give up, it's beyond comprehension.

This is a trend mirrored by a few really daft plonkers, I mean, managers across the gameworlds who patently have failed to realise that they're going to have to expand their stadiums in January if they are to maintain their daily income at current levels - that dumbass £55k wage bid is really going to bite then.

That's not nearly as big a deal as it sounds, and I will be back later today hopefully, with some further clarification - once I get clearance... SI have certainly learnt from the v1.0.1 complaints, and the changes will be introduced with plenty of warning - but they are coming. A wise manager might not be taking massive gambles anyway...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Media Addons v4

I'm busily putting the finishing touches to version 4 of my English media file - you can find links to version 3 here on the SI Games forums.

I've found these really add some value to FM09, but I'm kind of reaching the limits of what my resources and/or patience can achieve. I've added 401 journos so far, and would like to get it up a bit further (oo-er)... but I need help!

Do you live in England? Do you have a local newspaper lying around? Do you listen to a local radio station? If so, I'd love to know these details:
  • The name of the paper / radio station / magazine / fanzine etc...
  • Where/when/how often it's published
  • Does it have any bias towards a particular club, or it does it cover a whole town/city?
  • Who writes the football articles!
  • Any details - their nationality, favourite club...
Any willing parties should comment on this blog with details, and I'll get them added for the next version. With a bit of help, I can push this on a bit more and we can add a little more value to FM09 and beyond! I'd really, really appreciate any help people can give, and it will only take a few minutes of your time - you can submit comments anonymously, so you don't have to even worry about registering here or anything!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Beta worlds

Sorry it's been a bit quiet folks - I've been busy getting my new side, 'Now Is The Time' going in the beta world, but I'm still awaiting confirmation that I'm allowed to discuss what I see in there...

I don't want to risk saying something I shouldn't, but once I get approval, which I'm sure I will - I'll be back with all my comment on the features coming your way in version 1.1.

I approved a comment tonight from an angry poster claiming that all mods are cheats as we can see finances etc. Not true, my friend - every time we check on something, we have to give a reason, which gets logged. Could a mod cheat? Yes, of course. But it would be spotted quite quickly. We've had a mod cheat in the past - they aren't a mod any more.

Part of what I can't discuss covers a lot of balancing issues with regards to a new world, to even out the imbalance between beta testers (including mods, though we have so little time to play) and new beginners... Hopefully there will be more on that soon...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Updated media file v2 out now!

EDIT: THE FILE IS OUT NOW - ENJOY!

You can download it from here.

I'm just testing a new media update - version 2 already! I've more than doubled the number of journalists (281 now!), and there are a huge number of media sources now - this with many thanks to Nick OGS, the Man Utd researcher for SI, who'd also been working on a media addon and kindly agreed that we should merge our efforts.

Once it's done testing, and Nick has had a chance to look at it as well, I'll get it uploaded and put the link up here!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

English Media File for FM2009

Well, version 1.1 of my labour of love is up and running, and you can download it here. It adds more media sources, and some real journalist names - gives a bit more meaning to those press conferences!

Anyway - I hope you like it. For best effect, you should be running ALL the English leagues - and if you do not select them for a game, you should disable these two files in Preferences. You'll need to start a new game for the tweaks to take effect as well...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Simulation bigamy

My dearest FML,

I have a confession to make, and there's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to get it out. I've been cheating on you. I've been spending my time toying with your cousin, exploring the new options that it offers me. I feel terrible, especially as I've just found out I'm supposed to be moderating in GW24.

I just can't help myself; I've met your other cousins over the past few years, and been able to hold back, to resist their charms, but alas, this year I could not hold back, my heart and mind have been conquered by this new love.

If you can forgive, I know we can rebuild our love, and I can grow to be the strong moderator you so desire. I will come back to you, FML!

Nik the Mod,

OK, so that came out a bit weirder than I was expecting, and I feel slightly soiled now. Hmm. Anyway, Football Manager 2009 came out last Friday, and it's a simply stunning game. The new 3D match engine is fantastic, and with the huge release day patch installed, it's an extremely polished experience.

There have been some grumbles as ever, and a small (but vocal) minority have struggled to get the game running - I really hope they stick at it and get to play, because the game is SI's best ever effort. They still need to add the custom squad views from FML though... one for FM2010, eh lads?

I'm busy beavering away on an edt file that will add in journalist names and some more UK-based media sources - I should be able to get that out tomorrow night, so I will report back when I'm done. Check this thread out on the SI Games forums as well, for progress reports and download links for other new media packs for FM2009!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Manual

One thing I've completely overlooked so far on the blog is the official online FML Guide, which will serve as the manual for the game. It's currently still in a beta phase, but is already extremely comprehensive, and graphics/formatting will be added/improved soon.

It's the culmination of a lot of hard work by several guys: Alex Harris (Ex-Sega), Rob Barns-Graham (Sega), David Hill, Cyderman, lilrob, Matt Pritchard and Trevor 1973, and I think it's fair to say that they've done a terrific job - especially great to see a few of the community guys getting involved. I had thought to help out as well, but didn't have the time, and I'm not sure I could've matched the standard of work these guys have managed to produce.

As the manual is still in the beta phase, you can report back here on the official SI Games forum if you find anything that can be improved.

That reminds me also that Matt Pritchard, who runs the Aston Portsmouth FC blog, has stepped down from his position as a mod for personal reasons. It's been a real privilege for me to see Matt, formerly of Gameworld 4, develop and grow into a really terrific mod, so I'm sad to see him depart and I hope he comes back in the future. Hopefully he will still have time to play FML and to keep blogging, but maybe it's time to grab those Aston Portsmouth souvenirs just in case!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Smooth launch so far...

So we've now got 5 Gameworlds, I think, live and being actively played and paid for, which delights me no end. Each one seems to be getting smoother, with very few issues overall.

Probably 90% of the issues that have been encountered are system faults which have been highlighted, or exacerbated, by the actions of the user signing up. Note: I'm not saying that it's the user's fault! But one of the most regular causes seems to have involved people who have made multiple changes to their account details or who are already changing gameworld - usually because they feel they've under-performed in their old world, or missed out on a key player, etc.

Clearly, there are a small number of issues that the support and dev teams at SI and Sega will be keen to resolve, but probably 95% of sign-ups are going through successfully, and hopefully all those who have got in so far (which should be getting on for around 5000 people!) are enjoying the game. Does anyone have some initial thoughts or comments that they'd like to share here?

It would be remiss of me also not to mention while I'm on this subject an excellent post by JordanC over at the SI forums. Jordan was my host when I appeared as the special guest in his 'Get Sacked' podcast. Anyway, I'd really recommend that anyone in, or about to join, one of the new gameworlds casts an eye over Jordan's thoughts there.

I speak!

Exciting news readers - I was invited to be the guest this week on the Get Sacked podcast, the weekly dose of news, notes and strategical insight into the universe of Football Manager Live. The show covers all the latest developments in FML, happenings in and around the gameworlds, how-to tips and the featured community blog of the week, answering listener submitted questions - strategy, tactics, opinions and issues on the minds of FM Live managers.

The Topics of Discussion:
  • The differences between Beta and Live GWs - a moderators viewpoint.
  • FML support and the influx of tickets at the launch of a gameworld.
  • Short-term mentality problems and outcry to switch GWs this early in release.
  • Overview of Federations: What happens if the FA you'd like is full?
  • FM Live's main strength - the community and spirit of good-natured competition
You can hear my dulcit tones here - check it out!

In other news today, it's really great to see more and more FML Blogs popping up as the game goes live to paying customers across (most of) the world. I've updated the blogroll with 11 new blogs (some newer than others!), so get down there to the right and check them out!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Daily Income changes to come to FML

One of the more controversial issues in recent times in FML has been the ability of some teams to rake in huge amounts of money whilst having a tiny, often rubbish, squad. The idea is that they pay, for example, £20k in wages per day, and still get income on the normal £100k-£300k per day scale based on team reputation.

This is clearly a bit of an exploit, as it allows them to stockpile millions of pounds per month whilst not actually playing the game 'properly'.

Of course, fiscal prudence should be rewarded, but the most important thing surely is that the game is played competitively by people trying to win games and enjoy themselves. So I was pleased to see discussion today of the changes being trialled in the test world, GW24 (Haynes).

I'm going to quote posts made in the beta forum by FullMetalRacket and the FML god, Ov Collyer...
If (wages + 10%) < 100k then income ranges from (wages+10%) up to 300k depending on reputation
If (wages + 10%) >= 100k, then income ranges from 100k to 300k depending on reputation.

So, if you had wages 20k, then your possible daily incomes would range from 22k minimum, up to 300k maximum, according to your reputation (so a rep of 1 * would bring in 22k, a rep of 5 * would bring in 300k)

If you had wages of 120k, then your possible daily incomes would range from 100k to 300k, according to your reputation (so a rep of 1 * would bring in 100k, a rep of 5 * would bring in 300k)
So this new system doesn't stop people from making money, but limits the potential 'damage' that can be done. More importantly, it still allows and encourages people to go the youth route, but...
Daily income is kind of an approximate representation of your club's sponsorship, merchandising, and (until stadiums are in-place) match day income.

A club built on players of a very low wage isn't very appealing, and so shouldn't generate so much of the above income - unless it still performs successfully despite being built on a shoestring. This change reflects this.

Importantly, this stops a situation where a team can sign players of a total of say, 20k in wages, and rake in an 80k a day profit, which isn't realistic, or good for the GW...i.e. why should a user be able to effectively do nothing apart from play the minimum number of matches to stay ranked, and make more per day than someone playing the game "properly."?

I know some people will say they are using the above loophole to go the "youth route" - my answer to them, is the money you make by going the youth route, as in real-life, should come from selling your youths in the future.
So thanks to Ov in particular for some terrific posts explaining and justifying the move. Now we just need to convince SI that teams need to have at least a minimum number of players!

This move with daily income, with other methods that are incoming, should also help stabilise a gameworld's economy in its formative days, which can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Go Go Go!

Well, at last - it's action stations! Football Manager Live has launched.

The first world launches tonight, and I'm sure the team at SI will be delighted to finally see their work open to the general public.

There are still plenty of places to be grabbed in these early gameworlds, so if you've not ordered the game and taken your chance to join one of the best, and most active, communities on the web... well, what are you waiting for? Get signed up!

Over the coming days I will be trying to make time for all things FML - including a bit of a revamp here on the blog and some more actual writing. I'm doing a big interview soon as well, so make sure to check back for details soon!

One last confession before I head off - I've been cheating on FML. I've not only made time recently for Civ 4: Colonization, but I've also been dallying with Fallout 3 and the Football Manager 2009 demo. And they're all chuffing excellent, especially FM09 - so check it out too!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Launch delayed

Message from Sega on the SI Forums, just out now:

Hi Everyone.

We're sending all pre-order customers an email today and updating the website with this information.

Here it is first, as promised.

Due to recent issues discovered in the beta, specifically those found in the recent Stress Test, we have revised our game world launch schedule. Due to a few last minute game changes, we have decided to delay the launch slightly and open gameworlds at a slightly slower pace. The dates and times for the gameworld launches are now as follows.

Nov 4th-- Cantona 5:00pm

Nov 6th -- Clough 8:00pm

Nov 7th -- Saunders 5:00pm

Nov 10th -- Fernandez 7:00pm

Nov 11th -- Lineker 3:00pm

Nov 12th -- Fowler 12:30pm

Nov 24th --Shearer 11:00am

Nov 26th Blissett 4:00pm

Nov 28th Keane 3:00pm

December -- Butcher

December-- St John

December-- Jackett

December-- Toms

December --Sharp

To those of you in the delayed worlds, we do have capacity to host you in the worlds launching in November. Please feel free to use the forum areas to chat about which world your communities should move to and we'll help you find the right home.

Cruel blow ends Blades cup hopes

Frecheville Blades 1 (Sverkos 48)
Firefly United 2 (Vargas 19, Ferreyra 120+5)
(AET. FT 1-1)

A cruel and controversial penalty in the last minute of added time in extra time saw the Frecheville Blades crash out of the CWA League Cup at the semi-final stage.

The Blades had matched their illustrious opponents for much of the latter stages of a tight match, with substitute Renan spurning a golden opportunity when clean through on goal deep into extra time.

The early play, however, had been all Firefly - by half time the Blades had still to register a shot at goal after struggling to adapt to their new attack-oriented 4-4-2 formation. Firefly had taken an early lead through a terrific Vargas shot from distance. A switch to 4-3-3 for the Blades at half time, when a goal down, yielded immediate returns though, with Sverkos converting from a Devaca cross.

However, as the game moved towards a seemingly inevitable penalty shoot-out, central defender Devaca turned villain and gave away a penalty for holding Ferreyra in the box. Ferreyra himself stepped up to coolly slot home the winner and put Firefly into the final.

Monday, 20 October 2008

FML: One week to (soft) blast-off!

Well, the retail release is still pencilled in for next Monday, when the first Live gameworld will finally have its doors cranked open.

The latest news:
  • There may be a short delay in the launch - the team are busy cramming in last minute fixes and what-have-you, and may need to delay launch slightly. There's a good chance of it coming on time though - more on Wednesday.
  • News on the gameworld times and conformation of the dates will come on Wednesday of this week.
  • A badge creator is due to go up over the next few days.
  • The official manual and quick start guide should be available soon.
  • In case you missed them, the official dev blogs are available here. The new stadium options look amazing...

FM09 Blogs at HMV

Continuing my practice of covering up not having time to play FML by posting random other stuff, the official FM09 blogs are up and running over at HMV. Every time I see anything on FM09, I get even more excited than I already was - it's going to be a vintage year, I just know it.

So if you've somehow missed out on the news so far, head over to the link above and check it out now. Now!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

Apparently it's Blog Action Day. It's the first I've heard of it, but it sounds like a worthy cause indeed - it's focussing on the issue of Poverty.

I'm not going to pontificate on it, or make crass links to the standards of the finances of the Frecheville Blades (though in-game 'donations' are always welcome!!), but I thought it worthy of a heads-up here. And thanks to The Brainy Gamer for my heads-up.

'Above Average' start says Blades boss

I've been pretty absent from FML of late, but I'm managing to sneak on a bit more here and there.

The Blades have made a decent enough start to life in GW23 in my absence - firmly established in the lower reaches of the top 100 (80th currently), and I even managed to place 3rd in an unofficial competition - the "GW4 Memorial League".

Life in the Casual Weekday Association has been steady too - I'm mid table in my qualifying league, 8th at the moment, but with games in hand on most of those above me. I'm projected to finish 7th, but I'll see if I can't do anything about that!

The team is ticking along nicely - I got a solid initial line-up, and have added a few players since then; the 'big-name' signing so far has been Enzo Maresca. With a market value of £1.3M, he's added some much needed quality to midfield - it's become apparent that I'm a terrible judge of a central midfielder...

With the good performance and a few quality signings, my side are up to a 2-star team reputation. That means increased revenue (my daily income is up to £123k from the initial £100k), whilst my wages are still low (£75k per day) - meaning I'm making a healthy profit.

It's been a concern for me in the past that reputations (and subsequently daily income) rise a bit too quickly in a new gameworld - meaning teams get too rich (and good) too soon - but with what I've seen in GW23, it seems like SI have tackled that. And when we get the new facilities added in a future upgrade, that will be something else that drains money out of the game - should add up to great ways of controlling the transfer and wages markets in FML.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Apologies once more...

Hi all,

I've been crap, and I know it. I've not been on FML much, and subsequently not updating on here much, as I'm exceedingly busy offline, dammit.

I work at a University, and have the honour of delivering a lecture course this semester - and that is taking up vast amounts of my time, far more than it should or is healthy.

The Frecheville Blades are being sadly neglected - I joined the Casual Weekday Association in GW23 as I knew this was likely to be the case.

Once my work load eases in a week or two, I will endeavour to get back onto FML and blogging with the best.

In the meantime, I'm also very excited about FM09, another game I will buy and then not have time to play due to real life. The Bootroom folks have just released their 4th magazine, though, with loads of features, include an FML review, and FM09/FMH09 previews - grab it here, with the SI forum post about it here.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Blogroll expanded

Another good FML blog has come to my attention - so all make sure to check out the progress of Left Foot Forward!

He's got some excellent guides there as well.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Weekly official FML update

Taken from a post by Marc Duffy, on the official forum:

Important game changes
Thanks to everyone who has been posting about their experiences playing the game, especially the guys who have been testing in GW23. Everyone knows how we've been championing our constant development module, and what we're proposing is a direct result of your feedback.

Rolling out about now are the following changes:

Activity ratings
Some of you have been mentioning picking up lots of injuries early on, we've made a change that will see you, during the early days of a GW, start off with the highest activity rating possible. This means that you are deemed an active player till such time as you prove otherwise and it should result in you having fewer injuries in the first week.

Trialists
Managers will now be able to sign players in their initial squad who are on trial with another team, with a news item issued to the trialing manager to inform them. This is to allow managers signing in for the first time to pick players on trial elsewhere in their original squad.

Restarts
Managers will now not be able to restart while they have any outgoing private bids, wage auction bids (except for their own players) or transfer auction bids (if they are the highest bidder).

Reply to All
The 'Reply To All...' button is now disabled on the mail page if it involves mailing back 'All Managers' or 'Online Managers', if you don't have this moderator privilege. This addresses a situation in one of the gameworlds where over 200 messages were sent to everyone in a very short space of time.

Stress test gameworlds

Emails went out late last week concerning the opening of two brand new gameworlds tonight at 7.30pm. These are what we're called stress test worlds and our aim is to load them with as many people as possible to see how everything copes.

Good luck to everyone joining these worlds, especially those sampling the game for the first time.

FML Development blog
Hope you liked the first couple of blogs. If you've missed them you can read all about what we've got planned for 1.0.1 here http://blogs.sega.com/fml under the ‘FML Development category’.

Monday, 29 September 2008

FML Launch Dates confirmed!

The launch dates have finally been confirmed!

They can be seen here.

Cantona kicks off the big jamboree on the 27th of October. This comes after a very smooth launch for GW23, setting a great example for live.

The best launch GW, Sharp, will start sometime in November (I'd expect early November), after all the riff-raff have sorted out any teething issues!

Oh, and the Blades are now unbeaten in 7, having won 6 and drawn 1. The initial ranking came through last night at a very acceptable 89th!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Solid start continues

I managed to steal an hour online today, and the Blades continued their excellent start to life in GW23.

Another two wins and a draw - and in games cherry-picked against top 50 sides - saw the unbeaten run stretch to 5 games... and still unbeaten in GW23. Hopefully that may just be enough to squeak me a ranking tonight at midnight, and start the ball rolling on some daily income - as an unranked side, I'm still only getting my wages covered.

Once I get some money rolling in, I'll be able to go shopping...

Friday, 26 September 2008

Blades hit Dublin in style

The Blades have set up camp in GW23, Dublin, and have hit the ground running with two wins from their opening two friendly matches.

The initial squad selection took some time, but in the end a good blend of youth and experience was chosen.

The key positions for me are always the keeper and the strikers. In goal is former Arsenal keeper Rami Shaaban - a solid all-rounder, and a bargain at that £24K. Up front I plumped for Vaclav Sverkos: cheap, quick, a good finisher and a smart mover. Another nice signing was former GW4 favourite Christopher Lamprecht. All in all a fairly solid side.

The opening tie was against a good friend of mine, Chris Priestley and his 780 FC side. I travelled to his ground for the match, and roundly thrashed his side of big names (Billy Sharp, no less) 3-0. Goals came from MC Stefan Buck, Sverkos and DM Edgar Mejia - definitely one to watch for the future.

The second fixture was a home match, against an old GW2 buddy, Jay Kotak. It was nice to catch up with Jay - it's been a long time since I left GW2 back in December! It was nicer to see sub Renan, who was at MR but can play in roughly 4 million positions, grab a goal after some neat interplay. The Blades ran out 1-0 winners.

I won't get ranked tonight - probably not until Sunday night, in fact, as I won't have time to get on tomorrow, but at least we're up and running. And some wins too!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Blades win Cup on last day of GW

Well, I logged in quickly just now to say goodbye to the guys, just in case I can't make it on again and two things happened.

First, I fined a guy £10M for two crazy deals - think the end-of-GW blood rushed to his head.

Secondly, I saw this news item:
Capable Scottish manager Nik Reeves-McLaren's overachieving Frecheville Blades have won the sixteen-club "Only The Strongest Have Survived..." after their 5-4 penalty shootout win over Israeli manager Asaf Foerster's powerful Beitar Katamonim in the Final.
The game had finished 0-0, but it's nice to see the lads end on a high note!

A week? Blimey

I can't believe it's been a whole week since I last posted! Apologies for that - I've been a bit on the busy side.

I have lectures to write, and they start next week, so that has been a big focus. Also, the BEFA (Big End FA) launch was on Monday night, and I had that to do for myself.

With only 65 members being projected for GW4, I decided that it would be best if we were all in the same FA - more chance of finding an opponent online. In the end, this FA (BEFA) got 128 members.

It was a remarkable success, and I received a lot of thanks from the managers, which was nice. Barely anyone has played a game though...

Still, anyway - GW4 is finally closing, and the end will come soon. We're all off to GW23 to play in a full Gameworld with a more up-to-date database. It will be a big test to see how new gameworlds cope with lag etc, as SI have been making massive in-roads there.

Amalgamating worlds means a lot of mods, and GW23 will have around 40 mods. So I will be taking something of a backseat until launch, so I can focus on my real job, and maybe even get in the gym. I will keep trying to get online though - the Blades, and this blog, will live on!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Silver Linings

I'm always one to look for a positive - and one that has improved already since last night's exodus from GW4 is my ranking... The Blades are up to 9th!

Organisation of the new super FA, with all teams in the gameworld all under one roof, is going well - I was 'told' that we were to expect to have 65 teams left, but over 90 have already signed up to the new FA... With all these guys pretty active, it's going to potentially make for an active and interesting season. Plus we get to meet new people in the chat, rather than the same old rabble we were used to!!

Exodus...

Well, today sees the start of the new GW22, with users from GWs 2, 4, 8 and 9 migrating over. These worlds will be losing the majority of their players, and so will from now test how a properly dying GW copes.

Phil and I will be the sole mods in GW4 from now on, looking after 60 - 80 users, I guess. It could be a bit quiet and desolate, but we're determined to make the most of what may be the end of our time in GW4 and the FML Beta.

I've organised all the remaining teams in to one big FA (The Big End FA, or BEFA), and will be organising plenty of different types of competitions for all different types of user. Hopefully this approach will make sure that when people log on, they always have a game to play.

Will it work? Time will tell - it will need users to get involved - to chat, to accept challenges. I think it can work - but only if we all make it work.

On the bright side, the exodus hasn't even started yet, and I'm up to 19th rank.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Babel signs / GW Turmoil

The Blades' 'problem' MR position has been filled by the surprise big-money capture Ryan Babel. While the move was welcomed cautiously by Blades fans, it was overshadowed by news that SI have invited teams from the older to up places in a new Gameworld.

The new, full gameworld will allow SI to test that critical launch phase again ahead of October's scheduled launch for FML, and also allow testers the opportunity to take part again in a full and active GW, while also checking out an updated database. As a moderator, I can see the sense in the move - from a testing point of view, it's vital. From a personal point of view, I'd like to have heard of the demise of the gameworld and community that I've helped build from SI, and not from the users who were already receiving invite emails...

What that does tell us though, is that time is short - something needed doing, so they did it - and it's probably the right move. With launch so close, there is no time to waste, SI need to see that the final causes of lag in FML have been eradicated for good - and I'm confident they have done it.

As for the Super Blades? Well, it's my sinking ship, and I'm one of the captains. I owe it to what will remain of my community to stick by them until the bitter end of the beta. We're looking at getting as many teams as possible into one big FA for what may be our final season - Robson ain't brain dead yet.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Kardec signs!


The Blades have announced the capture of Brazilian hotshot Alan Kardec. Throwing caution to the wind, the Blades moved to sign a player they are rumoured to have been interested in for many seasons from Christos Nikoletatos' Panathinaikos side for £1M. A solid all-round player, Kardec was rumoured to have been valued at up to £2.3M, so despite his £38k daily wages, the star will still be considered a bargain buy by Blades fans.

More new faces arrive

Another batch of new players have been whisked in to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane as the Frechville Blades continued their off-season rebuilding program in earnest.

Strong and pacey 23 year old Bulgarian striker Martin Penev has been signed in an end-of-contract wage auction for a bargain £72k. Will he be good enough to lead the line for the Blades next season? Time will tell, but 28 goals in 54 games for the White Hart Colts last term offers some promise - they'd paid £2.5M for him two seasons ago.

Two more midfielders arrived overnight as well - Chinese AM/FC Zhou Liao has signed from Delta FC for a shade over £60k, after 5 seasons there consistently achieving over a 7.1 average rating. Fernando da Silva also arrives to fill the DMC role, from Dale Honess' FC Coconuts for £55k.

The Blades are taking a lot of gambles in end-of-contract wage auctions, and are buying younger, pacier players with lots to prove - will the gamble pay off? The Blades are still in the hunt for a couple of bargain wingers, and then we shall find out. Early signs - a 3-1 away friendly win over Walter Wilson's Lost Lagos FC (ranked 49th) - show some promise.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Blades rebuilding makes swift start

Before the door has even struck the backsides of the departing players, I've made a start to recruiting new players for next season.

The defence has been strengthened with the addition of pacey centre-half Avi Nuriel, while two new full-backs - John Blair (DR) and Iker Guinea (DL) will also make their Blades debut soon. Nuriel was signed for £1M, while Blair and Guinea were snapped up in end-of-contract wage auctions for bargain wages.

Also signed is the US AMC/FC David Chevalier, who will feature largely in midfield for the Blades. All the players being signed are 26 or younger, pacey and have plenty of potential and scope to prove it.

Looking forward, in light of the announcement by NFA bigwig Rob Delport that there will be fewer games next season (38, down from 60), the Blades have elected to remain in the NFA Super League. I tried to be noble, but I couldn't resist having another go after finishing 3rd last season.

More signing news will be on the way - the Blades are still in the market for 3 or 4 new players, if not more...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

End of an era for Blades...


Well, it had to come one day. With recent defeats to league leaders Fenerbahce (3-0) and Super League minnows Hangover 96 (7-3), it was clear that the title dream was over for the Blades.

We look odds-on to finish 3rd, which is a remarkable achievement after years of mid-table mediocrity and almost flirting with relegation, but alas the aging Blades are in need of change. With a midfield comprising five players all aged over 31 (Borowski is 36), Billy Sharp and Gary Cahill both 31... it is time for a clear-out and a re-focus.

Already DM Guy Demel (35) has left (£250k), followed by Blades legend Javier Arizala (31, £250k). The big departure is Billy Sharp - a true Blades favourite - for £2.5M.

So. Next season's Blades will be on the move again - I want to try something I've never done before. In all my time in FML, I don't remember ever being outside of top flight football - so I'm going to try out lower league football. I'm selling up, and if I can't sell up I will restart. I'd rather keep my money, I'm not daft...

As a moderator, I think I ought to discover what that experience is like for FML players - and to see if and how it can be improved in the future. A noble sentiment, or plain stupid? Time will tell...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Oh my...

So some information on FM09 has been released...

You can find out more here.

There are some new and improved news items, transfer rumours (false and accurate ones...), and press conferences (before and after matches, and when you get a job). You also get to build up relationships with the journos...

Training has been improved, with the ability to train up special moves (PPMs).

The many lady FM managers will be happy to see they can fully represent themselves in their true gender, with new text throughout - well done SI.

Various issues from FM08 have been improved - board confidence, newgens (not in the video), the transfer module has been completely re-written, the user interface... including widescreen support (hooray!)

Looks like there are no new leagues though :(

Oh, and the new improved match engine will be there - in 1D (commentary), 2D (as in FM08 etc) and new 3D! And my it looks glorious... I'm blown away.



The feedback looks to be much improved also, with you assistant manager seeming to play a key role in offering advice during games in two specific areas: motivation (of the players, during the match), and general feedback - are your tactics working, how the opposition are exploiting your tactics, what you could be doing to exploit their tactics, and information on 'team blend'.

Anyway, check out the video and forums for more news - and be sure to pre-order FM09 for release on 14th November! More news will be coming over the coming weeks.


UPDATED: Screenshots!

Solid start in NFA / FM09 buzz

The Blades solid start in the NFA is continuing, with good recent form seeing the Blades climb to the dizzy heights of 4th place. What's even better is that from the 23 games played so far, the Blades have only lost 3.

The only downside really has been the number of draws so far - 8, I think. Failure to convert some of those ties into the victory that some merited may cost us a title shot, but in a close league... anything is still possible. I'm very tight at the back, with a new 4-1-4-1 formation, but not quite scoring freely enough...

I'm half way through the season and not saying 'meh' or talking fearfully about relegation, so it's got to be a step in a good direction!

For those not aware (hello, that's a nice rock you're living under, step out into the sun!) the big announcement about FM09 happens tonight, some time after 6pm GMT. Check out the SI forums for more info - it's going to be huge!

Monday, 1 September 2008

You're busted, sunshine!

Quite chuffed with myself today - just busted a dodgy dealer in GW4. The guy had bought four players for £1 from a club, while selling them eight players for over £6M. Only problem - the guys he sold were worth about £80k, total, and the guys he bought were all worth a lot more than £1.

He's gonna log back in to find himself short of around £7M.

Cheats don't prosper - it took me a while, but I will catch you.

First season guide for new players

Some of you may know of JordanC already, one of the talkiest talkers on the planet - infamous for doing the FM/FML 'Get Sacked' podcasts and his presence on FM-Britain.

Well, Jordan is doing a series of guides for FML aimed at explaining the experience for new players coming into the FML universe, and it would be negligent for me not to big them up here - the first three guides are already up:

FML First Season Guide - Part 1: Fundamental Truths

FML First Season Guide - Part 2: Short Term Objectives & Routes

FML First Season Guide - Part 3: Initial Squad Selection

Jordan's a very thoughtful guy, and I'd thoroughly recommend reading anything that he types. In fact FM Britain is a site that seems to have slipped under my radar somewhat, so I'm going to have a lot of reading to do myself!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

MyFML - One to watch!

I've just been signed up, I think, to be a forum moderator on a new FML website, MyFML. The site will be hosting lots of guides and 'how to' documents, and also host some forums too.

I know some of the guys behind the site, and they are good blokes - even though one of them is also a stinking Wet Sham fan.

Anyway, despite that, be sure to check it out - I was planning a load of How to's on here at some stage, but now if I do - they be appearing on MyFML!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Miles on paying for FML

I've been impressed by the way SI have presented themselves on the forum over the last, difficult, week in the FML universe. There have been numerous problems, outside of SIs remit, which have made life somewhat challenging for all involved, and of course there was inevitably some, fairly limited, negative reaction to the pricing announcement.

One post that did catch my eye that I thought I would sure was by Miles Jacobson, SI Studio Director, and I thought I'd share it here...
FML is not a standard boxed computer game, it's a service. There's a very big difference.

The vast majority of subscription based MMO's at launch have no demo, and no free trial, unless you class paying £30 for a box with a weeks "free" play as a trial.

FML is not designed to have trials or demo's, as it would upset the balance of the gameworlds.

What everyone has to remember is that services change over time. The FML service will change over time too. Service plans will also change over time. The pricing is the launch pricing. There's no demo at launch. There's no 1 month price plan at launch. Things will change. Prices might go up, they might go down. The options for payments will increase over time. etc etc

We're not looking at this as a short term project, but a long term one. There's no point of thinking of this like a boxed game that you buy, play, and put back on a shelf, or comparing it to that, because it's nothing like that at all.
A lot of people are comparing FML to FM - a mistake in game terms, as I've shown before, but also a mistake in commercial terms. I thought that post summed it up well...

Also, I'm not going to comment on any problems facing FML in recent days, as I don't know enough about them. For those concerned, there are plenty of detailed, recent posts in the beta forums.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Blades bright start

The Blades have made a bright start to life in the NFA, with a 0-0 draw away at Rob Raupach's side followed up with a 1-0 win. Key to keeping clean sheets has been new signing at right back Chris Lamprecht, while I could and should have scored more goals in both games - David Odonkor on the right shows promising signs of a good link up with new DM Guy Demel and left winger Alvaro.

Billy Sharp has been on sparkling form, and all-round the team is looking better than it has for a while - the three new guys are all averaging over 7.1 a game, which is nice. If we can become a little less goal-shy, we could make a decent impact in the NFA I think...

I have also been monumentally daft though - signing a load of 21 year olds for a new U21 side, the day before the players all aged by 1 year at the start of the new season... I also nearly bought a rubbish kid on £18k wages - must concentrate more!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Reaction...

So the pre-order news has been out for a couple of days now, and we've thoroughly beta-tested the Sega FML website now, I think it's fair to say!

SI will be glad in some respects, I guess, the get the gremlins out of the system before unleashing it on the masses. Reaction to the price structure has been fairly positive - at £6 a month (if you sign up for a year) the game is pitched right. It's in the region most people said they could and would be willing to pay, and cheaper than many MMOs while still providing ongoing development and support with new features to be added every few months.

Of course, there are moaners, but looking at a few of those it is interesting to note that many of them have only just registered on the SI forums recently, and some have in fact only ever posted in the thread that seems to be for moaning about prices... can't be that keen on the game anyway, then, eh?

I've always preferred Orcs and Elves to Trolls...

Anyway, it's pretty positive news and great to hear that we'll be going live in October - us mods can't wait to get our teeth sunk into the full game!

One piece of disappointing news, even though I'd expected it if not aware of any specifics, was that the game won't be available globally - there are a few countries where, for various reasons, SI are not able to sell yet. I know the guys at SI personally, and I know that will have been gut-wrenching for them, so it really must be out of their hands. Still - hang tight. One day, I'm sure, FML will come to them.

What I've also spotted lately is that the Sega Knowledge Base for FML appears to have been updated, with many new questions on Billing now answered. Us mere mods can't help with Billing or many Technical queries, so head over to the KB for initial help, or raise a ticket there for more serious issues!

One other discovery I made this week was Google Reader. This is a great thing for keeping up-to-date with blogs that you want to follow, so check it out too!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Big News! FML Pre-orders to begin today

The following statement has been lifted from the SI Forums - reaction to the big news to follow...

Key point: if you're a beta-tester, don't pre-order until you have the e-mail.
We are very happy to announce that we'll be starting to take pre-orders for Football Manager Live in the coming days.

We know we've still got a couple of issues to sort with the opening day of gameworlds, but we're working on those now and once those are sorted, we are ready to roll.

As places are going to be in short supply at first, I wanted to take the time to explain to you the launch plan.

There is no set "release date" for the game as there would be for a standard retail release. This is because Football Manager Live (FML) is not a standard game release, but a subscription based service, and therefore, much like something like the launch of Sky HD, there will be a release period of a few months. This period is likely to start in October.

During this release period, gameworlds will be started, and therefore places will be available, as and when the hardware and service levels are able to be there for new customers. We want to ensure that everyone who plays FML has the best quality experience possible.

The timetable for release is thus.

Wednesday 20th August
beta testers invited to take up their spaces in the first gameworlds. The beta testers should wait until they have received an email which will give them access, so keep an eye on your inboxes!

Thursday 21st August at 6pm
people on the FML registered mailing list, and people reading these forums, invited to pre-order.

There will be 14 gameworlds available in this phase, or 14,000 places. We expect these to fill quickly, and do expect some people to be disappointed, but these are the optimum amount of gameworlds to be launching in the first few weeks of release. When these 14,000 spaces are full, we will have 1 gameworld at a time available, until another 6 are full. This means that during the "launch window" as it's called, there will be 20,000 spaces available.

Once these 20 gameworlds are sold out, people who haven't got into any of the gameworlds will be invited to join a "gameworld alert" mailing list. This will be the only way to find out when gameworlds after this initial phase are to be launched. We hope to be able to launch new gameworlds every few days, on a first come, first served basis. This phase will likely stay in place until January.

Please also note that FML will be English language only for the foreseeable future. When we have plans to release non-English language game worlds, we will, of course, announce this on these forums. This will definitely not be in 2008, and most likely not til the latter part of 2009.

Come January, we’ll be telling the world about FML with a large marketing and PR campaign, and there will be lots of spaces available. In February, we will aim to launch a retail boxed version of FML in a few countries, still to be confirmed.

I should probably explain how subscribing to FML will work!

The FML client (as in the piece of software that will work on your computer that you’d normally buy on a CD or DVD) will be free. When you subscribe to the service, you will be given a link where you can download on PC and/or Mac. You can use this software on as many computers as you want to, and download it as often as you want to.

You subscribe to the service for a set period of time. Initially, these will be 3 monthly, 6 monthly, or annually, with a cheaper fee per month the longer you subscribe.

Unlike most MMO’s that charge you for the client, and then for future expansion packs on top of the subscription, for FML we are using a development practise that we’ve dubbed "constant development". What this means that we’ll be adding new features to the game every few months, and will keep subscribers in the loop on what we are working on through the FML forums which are available to subscribers to the game. The first of these updates is due in January 2009, and every few months after that.

We fully understand that some people are going to miss out on the initial places, and are going to be disappointed with that. However, we felt it was very important to release the service in this way to ensure that everyone has a great experience from the off
walking before you can run is very important. This is because we’ve seen too many MMO launches hitting issues in the first few days and weeks recently, which is something we want to avoid. There will be enough spaces for everyone in the coming months, and we ask those of you who don’t get to play in the first few worlds to be patient we know there is a lot of anticipation for the game despite us not doing any PR or marketing on it for a while, but we’re hoping the plan we have in place will ensure that those most loyal to our games through these forums and who signed up to get information on the game are rewarded with the initial spaces.

Unfortunately, there will also be other disappointed people, as there are quite a few countries that we are not allowed to sell the game in at launch. This is for a variety of reasons - some legal, some because we aim to have local partners in countries when non-English language versions are available, and some because the payment system being used won't allow payments from those countries. The full list of these is - Brazil, Chile, Singapore, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Korea, Republic of Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Serbia, Montenegro, Uruguay & Vietnam. If you have any questions or comments about this, please email restrictedcountry@fmlive.co.uk and someone will reply - please note that this is one of the rare cases where this is very much out of our (SI's) hands, so there's no point asking us questions about it, as we don't have answers

So, one thing left to talk about, and that’s pricing of the service. As I mentioned above, this will come in various "plans" initially. The longer you subscribe for, the cheaper per month the game will cost.

The initial subscription pricing is

3 months - £22.99
6 months - £43.99
12 months - £72.99

Payment in most countries is available via credit/debit card or via PayPal, with Visa, Mastercard, Switch/Maestro and Electron all usable. In some countries, payment is only available via PayPal.

If you have any questions, this thread is the place to ask
but please make sure you’ve read the thread in full before asking questions to ensure that they haven’t been asked already! We’ll also add the best questions to the FAQ for FML, which you can find over at www.footballmanagerlive.com, which is also the place to find out more about the game. Remember, this is NOT Football Manager online, so do not expect the same experience that you get from the Football Manager series. FML is your club, your way, your management style!

Common Misconceptions...

On the mod forum we've been hammering out a list of common misconceptions about FML, and I thought that I'd list a few of the key ones here. This may wind up as a feature on the official site, in more depth at some stage in the future - another reason to keep an eye on that one!

1. Moderation
  • Mods work for SI - no, we don't. And we don't get paid either. We do it for the love of the game and the betterment of its community.
  • Mods should be good at the game/are top because they're mods - nope. Many mods are quite rubbish at the game, and we don't have any secret advantages. In fact, because of our moderation duties, we have less time to devote to things like testing tactics, scouting for players...
2. Skills
  • The skill planner queues skills - the skill planner is something that helps you to plan skills, nothing more, nothing less. I think SI are debating the merits of allowing some limited skill queuing to help the casual gamer, but it's not a guaranteed future feature by any means.
  • My friend and I both have the same scouting skills, we should be able to sign the same players - nope again! Scouting skills determine only the number of players you can see, the selection of which players you can see is completely random.
3. Matches
  • I'm great at FM, me, I should win all my games - welcome to FML, learn to live with defeat. You're gonna get to taste it - regularly. Teams in FML are far more evenly matched than in FM/real life, and so seemingly 'shock results' are more common than you expect. In each of my last six seasons I've won, drawn and lost roughly the same number of games in my FA, and been midtable a lot... You're going to face wildly different tactics more regularly than you're used to, managers will make big changes more often... Flexibility and awareness are important for a successful FML manager.
  • I'm playing the AI, I should win - common one this - nope. The AI uses the tactics and squad last set by the team's manager. Now you should win, because the AI can only make limited changes in the game and so is there to be outwitted. In fact, it shouldn't be called AI at all, as it displays none of the I. But FML is for all sorts of managers, casual or hardcore, and AI should, and will, NEVER mean an auto-win.
  • Arrows are the same as in FM - they are not the same as in FM08, but I'm confident they are the same as they will be in FM09. Forward and backward arrows now equate to the individual player forward runs setting only.
  • I lost my last game, this ME is crap - again no. Every dog has their day - it's only a problem when it's the dog's day every match. Look at your results - is it? No? You'd won your last 20? Think Man Utd v Southend...
  • My tactical change should work instantly - it may take a while for your team to adjust.
4. Transfers / Finances
  • Auction Bids can be withdrawn - no they can't, just like you can't undo the damage of that itchy nose at Sotheby's. The very act of placing a bid influences the decision of other managers to bid, and how much they bid - so withdrawing would be grossly unfair on them.
  • End of contract auctions - the advantage is given to the owner here. Many people don't realise that if they are not the owner, and win the auction, they will pay exactly what they bid.
  • Loans can be recalled - there were a hideous number of exploits with loans, so now players out on loan in FML cannot be recalled.
  • Sell-on clauses - these are not the same as in FM08. In FML, the sell-on is on future profit made, not the fee. It's a risk...
  • Erm, excuse me - I want the rest of the prize money from my FA - check three weeks ago then. A very regular query this one - the FAs pay out the minimum guaranteed amount of prize money at the start of the FA season; the balance, based on your final position, is paid at the end of the season.
  • Wages are paid daily, not weekly or monthly.
5. FM
  • FML is not a giant network game of FM08.
  • No, you can't pick Chelsea!
  • Yes, there will be an FM09 - FML is coded by a different development team.
So that's the list - many, many thanks to all the mods who contributed to the forum thread that I've shamelessly pillaged: Andy Gathercole, Calvin Gransden, Andy Coburn, Stephen Church, Cian Fahey, David Hill, Stephen Gilchrist, Nick Brooke, Cleon Hobson, Scott Gibson, Ollie Chissell, Paul Kemp and Stu Mackie. Apologies to anyone who contributed and has been missed off - send me a pm and I will add you on to the credits here!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Blades join NFA

Well, last season's top scorer Mauro Zarate has moved on for £2M, which gets £40k off the books and allows me some real flexibility.

I've joined the NFA, the Nighttime FA, which should be fun as they are a good bunch of guys with great community spirit - here's hoping I can do well against a new bunch of teams!

Season starts later this week...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

GW12 & 13 - Season incoming...!

The new worlds, 12 and 13, (Venglos and Spink) finally get their first season underway on Monday, and fed membership is still available for those daft enough not to have joined up to one yet.

The game really does through a lot of hints at the new guys - the setup assistant, alerts from SI, mails from the mods, adverts in chatrooms... Somehow, there are still only around 70% of managers signed up with less than 36 hrs to lockdown.

Now I'm not aware of the exact timing of things, but the FAs will get locked down (i.e. no new members can join) 24 hrs before the start of the season, giving the organisers a day to, um, organise things. I imagine lockdown will be at 8pm BST tomorrow - Sunday.

If you've not joined one yet, do. Now. Go, straight away. FAs give you extra cash (around 20-30% of your total income will come from your FA), an active community, and official competitive matches in leagues and cups run largely at the times you're most likely to be online, against people who are also likely to be online at that time...

FML is half the game if you're not in an FA, so quit fooling around and sign up to one now!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Season Review - Season 11!

Well, where did I put the previous season reviews? I could maybe just cut and paste one here...

The Blades stormed to 12th place this season, with 14 wins, 15 draws and 15 defeats - I scored very few goals, but conceded slightly fewer, so that was nice.

I lost Kilgallon and Bigalke to a wage auction bug, and never really could do much after that. I didn't have the funds to replace them, and was left with only one option really - buying a pile of 22 year olds that haven't quite made it elsewhere, but are reported to have high potential - and hoping that one or two came good. As a result, I've been playing them in a lot of senior games to test them out, so I know which to keep for the next season.

Inevitably most were rubbish, but I may have uncovered a decent right back, at least. David Cavero is making 74% of his passes and 89% of his tackles - definitely one to retain! He's a DRLC but his 40% heading 'success' will probably see him on the wings more! Luis Tejera's 80% passing will see him get another chance next season also.

Scoring was the big issue this season, with Mauro Zarate top scoring on 17. From 44 games, that's really quite poor. Nicolaj Agger topped the DFA Premiership charts on 30.

What does next season have in store for the Blades? Well, a move to a new federation - most likely the NFA. Some lower league football for a change - so should I try to hold on to the big names, or use it as an opportunity to move the big earners on and try to find some new blood...?

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

...ing News... ...Frecheville Blades leave DFA... Break...

The Frecheville Blades today announce that they have resigned from GW4s Daytime Football Association.

Pressing personal commitments made the former DFA organiser feel that this time slot was no longer in his or his team's best interests.

The Blades will be looking for a new FA in the close season over the next week, and are so far unwilling to comment until having seen what opportunities are available.

Evo interview with Miles and Duffy

I just stumbled across this interview with Miles Jacobson, SI head honcho, and Marc Duffy, the FML product Manager, on Evo's PC Gaming Blog. It's well worth a read anyway, so I thought I'd shout about it here.

The GW4 season is drifting to its finale now, with the Blades having done exactly the same this season as we have every other season - mid-table obscurity. I'll be doing a review soon, and there will also be some major team news coming that will shock and amaze Blades fans everywhere...

The other big GW4 news is that the Champions League Final has been scheduled - and it's an all-DFA affair! Steve William's Ash Wonders will face Steve Smith's West End FC... Good luck lads!

Monday, 11 August 2008

The FMLa Sutra - an FML guide for new starters

I know a few of the guys are planning to write guides and advice etc, but I would be neglecting my duties as a mod blogger if I didn't try and pen something myself. Now, I also don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, so if someone else has written something really well - well, I'm gonna nick it, get over it. I will try to give credit/links/kudos where appropriate though! So here we go...

READ!
SI will send you emails and documents - bizarrely, these may contain words written after the download link!! And they may attach help files - whatever they send you, read it. If there are instructions on getting forum access, follow them - it's a beta, not a free game. And once you get the access - give feedback... Also, read the blogs, read the fansites - there's a huge amount of info out there.

GIVE FEEDBACK!
SI need info. They are essentially geeky geeks with no awareness of the real world. They know not of this 'sun' in the sky that mysterious visiting prophets speak of. Well, actually, none of that's true - they're decent guys. But they do need feedback, and lots of it. So leave some - how was your initial experience? Were things intuitive? Did things make sense, could you find things? You get the picture - making the experience better for new guys is critical in making them want to stay in the game.

IT'S NOT FM08!
And yes, there will still be an FM09 (and it will be great, I suspect). One of the main stumbling blocks that people hit is getting the concept of FML. This isn't a real-world simulator like SIs FM series. It's something different... It's not for everyone, but a lot do like it! FML is pick-up-and-play, it's quick, it's streamlined, it's fiendishly addictive, it's about community... Read the blog, some of the old posts must cover the FML concept!

STARTING OFF!
Well, first off - you can't be Chelsea. No, not Man Ure either. You need to pick some players - an initial squad needs to have 16 players. You can do this in one of two ways:

(1) Auto-select. The game picks players for you, based on criteria set by you - this can be useful in finding cheap players that you may not have considered normally. The squad will have a decent average level, but probably won't be fantastic. Quick and initially painless.
(2) Searching manually. This will take a fair bit longer, but is likely to lead to a better choice of players. Maybe it will take an hour; it's interesting that the low level scouting skill will mean you have 5% more players to choose from, and takes less than an hour (probably!), don't you think? Anyway, to do a manual search:
Go to World - All Players and filter for Free Agents - these can be signed in your initial squad as long as no-one else is bidding on them (seen by clicking the contract screen) - Richard Tebbutt.
Now, unless things have changed, your initial squad needs to be under £100k wages and you'll have £500k to put towards Acquisition Fees - you don't need to spend it all.

You'll get a daily income paid out at midnight (UK time) which currently comes at between £100k and £300k, depending on your team's reputation. So you can't get into debt with your initial squad. Once the FAs start, they will also be a source of income - but the midnight daily is the main source.

STUCK YET?
Each gameworld has a team of genius experts, handpicked from FMLs userbase by even genius-er experts. Your moderators will appear in the main chatrooms at the top of the list, with names highlighted in blue - if you've got any questions, these guys are there to help. Ask in the help centre, someone will get back to you as quick as possible.

RULES
Now that you're in the game, consider where you are. You've just become part of a community - read the rules, ask for clarification if necessary. Have fun, but treat people with dignity and respect. The mods are there to police the rules, and we will, and do, discipline or boot people who break the rules. That said, I didn't post over the weekend because I was meeting up with three good friends - guys I've met in FML.

If you're not happy with the conduct of another manager - well, the feedback system is there to be used (note: used, not abused!), or take it to a mod. Don't send emails en masse slagging them off! If someone has said something in chat - take a copy of the text, mail it to the mods. We're here to help.

Also bear in mind when chatting - it might be late where you are, you might think it's OK to take the chat in an adult direction, but FML is a global game, and there will almost certainly be young users from elsewhere in the world online at the same time - it's not late everywhere! Keep it clean.

SKILLS
A lot of people don't get these at first. I've discussed them on the blog a couple of times before now; they allow you to specialise your team. It would take 6 years to learn them all...

On the skills page, there are four windows (I'll add a graphic later to clarify this).
  • Top window: Lists skill currently being learned, with completion time
  • Middle-left: Lists skills learnt already
  • Bottom-left: Lists skills available to learn
  • Right: When single-clicking on a skill in the left hand windows, the info on that skill will be displayed here.
To start learning a new skill, drag the skill from the bottom left window, to the middle left window.

Also the skill planner is just that. It helps you plan which skills to learn in order to reach a specified target skill. It will NOT change skill for you, and you can't queue skills. Shock, horror - you'll have to come online to do that for yourself in an online game!

When you start, you can select one 'area' to receive a boost in - so make sure you us that setup wizard!

PLAYING A GAME
Well, that's why we're here, right? You can right click on people's names, and challenge them to friendlies - or you can use the Find Opponent wizard to set some criteria and get matched up with someone else who wants a game. This wizard is in the top menubar, on the left hand side, of your main FML window. Once a challenge has been made and accepted (in that same place), you've got 5 minutes to finalise your team and tactics, and press Submit Team...

Things to remember about games in FML:
  • SI only make one match engine. In FML currently, we have a more advanced version of that which is in FM08. We've had several updates since then.
  • Real humans are much better, and generally more offensively-minded, that the AI opponents you may have faced in FM. You're going to need to be more flexible, and make changes more often to survive. I'll cover tactics in a mo.
  • Remember that any tactic changes can take 10+ matches to take effect, so don't change too often and let any changes settle before making judgements (Richard Tebbutt)
  • Teams are generally fairly equal in FML - even if separated by many ranks, and especially in the early days.
  • You won't win all the time. It's not FM - form is harder to define, since you may be playing against the top 10 of 1000 teams in one match, and the bottom 10 in the next!
  • During a game, you have 1 minute at half time, and 2 minutes for timeouts - so use it, when you need to make changes.
  • Play at the speed most comfortable for you - don't let people rush you. On the flip side, don't make people wait around unnecessarily. if setting up is going to take you a few minutes, pop into the match chat and let your opponent know.
  • It's customary in FML to wish opponents good luck (gl) at the start of a game, and to thank them for a good game (gg) or for playing well (wp) at the end. Simple courtesy - don't over celebrate goals, or abuse your opponent at any stage; well, not until you've gotten to know them anyway!
TACTICS...
OK, so you've lost your first game and are now slightly bricking it. Maybe you need to tweak your tactics? Well, FML has an excellent and much-improved selection of default tactics to choose from - I hear 4-4-2 standard and 4-5-1 attacking are very popular this year. Many teams have a lot of success simply using one of the many defaults; however, if you want to go for more of a custom fit, well, you'll need to learn tactics skills. So rest assured - you've time to learn and tinker before some tactical whizz can really use his nous to hammer you!

Another key thing: the arrows you're used to in FM are gone, completely, as discussed in old posts. Arrows now are only visible to you, and represent your forward runs setting (a forward arrow = forward runs often, a back arrow = forward runs seldom). To change the arrows, you'll need to learn the Individual Players Forward Runs skill.

BUYING PLAYERS AND CONTRACTS
You can't sell a player during the initial 7 days of his contract, so it will be a week before we see any auctions or private bids involving other teams. You can still sign free agents though, just bear in mind that you will now have to go through a wage auction to do so.

Only ever bid what you know you can afford - bear in mind that you have to pay the Fee (Acquisition for now...!), PLUS the wages! Your projected balance will show the state of your finances in 28 days, and if this figure starts getting too negative, the bank will veto further spending. You start off with an overdraft facility of 100k, and this will increase daily to begin with. I think the maximum is £1M. Go over that, and the bank manager will come knocking - so remember, always think in terms of Fee + 28 days wages.

As for contracts, well - the system is designed to promote fluidity and mobility. You can lock 5 senior players, and any number of youth players - though don't rush. The initial contracts will be for 28 days, and you have three options:
  • Don't renew
  • Auto-extend - this is the fabled 'lock'. If you remove a lock it CANNOT BE APPLIED TO ANOTHER PLAYER until the end of the current contract to which it had been applied.
  • Auto-rebid - the player enters into an end-of-contract wage auction in the final 24 hrs of his contract, and all managers are free to bid. If you lose the auction, the other manager will pay you the player's acq fee, and the player the wages that they offered. If you win, you pay the player the wages the second highest bidder offered, plus £1.
Remember: Only ever bid what you can afford. There are always plenty of other options, don't get ripped off!

On the subject of auctions - it is never possible to withdraw a bid in an auction. Don't bid unless you're sure. The act of bidding influences both the likelihood and value of any further bids, so to be able to withdraw would be unfair on other managers...

FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONS
Join one, and soon - pick whichever is best suited for you. The FAs will pay out good money, and offer official competitions against opponents who are most likely to be online at the same time as you. Assuming you pick one that suits!

When your FA season kicks off, you will receive the minimum amount of prize money up front - that's normally whatever you'd get for coming bottom. At the end of the season, you will receive the balance of the prize money for your final position - e.g. if you got £800k for coming first, and £400k for coming 20th, you'd get £400k at the start of the season, and then a further £400k if you won the league!


Right - I think that will do for now. Some self-discovery is good - remember: have fun. It's a great game, and it's going to be a massive success. Get to know the guys in your world, be an active and vocal part of your community. I'm sorry, but you're about to make a lot of very good friends. Good luck!

P.S. I know Marcin in GW4 has written a nice small guide - you can grab it here.

New worlds, and blogs to boot...

Well, SI are launching two new gameworlds today, which is good for the 2000 people that have already got in on a first-come-first-served basis to fill them up.

Those guys should be getting an email from SI today I guess, telling them what time launch is and where to get the client. For me, this is likely to be the biggest stress test - it's going to be pretty effectively modelling the retail environment, where a world is filled and launched, and everyone tries to get online at once to sign their initial squads.

How the servers cope with this will, in my opinion, be the determining factor in the launch of the game. There will of course be further improvements to the code to be made, but if things go well I reckon these guys will only have 1 season in the beta... If things don't go well - fine, SI make the improvements and maybe that takes a little longer.

For me, I think (and hope!) things will go well... Good luck to SI, and to all our new members in the testing community!

I nearly forgot - a lot of the new guys are planning to write FML blogs, so you can keep up with the latest additions to the FML blogfest on the official forums.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Ideas?

I've not been playing much FML of late, having been a bit under the weather for the last couple of days, and FML undergoing a lot of maintenance.

The stress tests are continuing, with each test providing SI with vital data and giving the team a full day's work improving things for launch. As things stand, the game really is ready for launch, in my opinion - it's just a case of improving the experience in that first busy week. There's another stress test tonight starting soon, so if you've got the chance, get online and get involved!

Over the next week I will be trying to do some interviews with some of the GW4 managers, and I'm also planning to write up some advice for new managers coming into FML at the eventual launch. But if anyone wants to see something specific covered, then let me know and I will do what I can!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Poor form?

In another of my takes on the hot topics from the official beta forum, today I'm going to have a word about the way form is handled in FML.

Clearly, modelling form is vital in any football game, be it management, simulation or whatever. But FML presents an interesting challenge - players might be making 1 or 50 appearances a day, depending upon the activity of their manager, and those appearances could be spread over a bewildering array of different types and levels of competition.

Take a team that is ranked 100th out of the 1000 teams in a gameworld - one could easily imagine them being the bottom seeded team in one competition and the top seeded team in another. So, in this tumultuous environment, how do SI model the concept of form?

Well, the answer has been to store form on a per-competition basis. It is this competition-specific form that gets fed into the match engine, and this idea has sparked some controversy. I can't summarise it better than Owen from GW4 did:
If Man United had lost their last 3 games in the Champions League, but then won 10 games on the bounce in the Premiership, when they return to play Champions League, their morale would be high because of how they're peforming in the Premiership, not because of how they've been peforming in the Champions League (since the 3 matches they lost were before their 10 wins).
But there is a second effect - morale. In this case of Owen's, Man United would go in to that 4th Champions League game on a high thanks to their 10 match unbeaten run - the high morale would cancel out their form.

At the end of the day, there are a lot more factors going into determining a result in FML than can be made sense of. Teams are very equal - people assume that a team that is 100th will be many times better than a team which is 500th, but in actual fact the difference in their squad's average (hidden) Current Ability stat is usually in single digits. The players play a huge role, as well as tactics, morale... form is just a part of the picture. Individual competition form may not be a perfect solution, but it's good enough for the job and not a huge factor.

I always wonder with perceived problems like this if there is actually a familiarity problem.

By that I mean that managers play their FA opposition very frequently, both because they share the same FA and because they are likely online often together, so are more likely to enter the same unofficial competitions. You get used to those teams, and over time gradually your tactics come to reflect what is more likely to succeed against those teams you play most often.

When you step outside of that, you come up against a batch of teams that you are set up less well for, since you don't routinely face them. Usually for me this has meant getting gubbed for the duration of a cup or league...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Congrats to Richard Tebbutt!

Marc Duffy finally went public today over my new FML boss, and had this to say over on the official FML forums:
"Richard Tebbutt has joined the SEGA team working on Football Manager Live as Moderator Manager.With lots of new worlds planned to open once we’re live, it’s been clear for a while that we needed someone to look after and organise mods across all the gameworlds as well as solving the disputes that can’t be solved in-game."
I played in GW2 with Rich, and have met him at two mod days. I can genuinely say that I'm very pleased for him, and that he's a great choice for the job. He's a nice guy, very approachable and he's always got time for a chat. More importantly, he's also very FML-savvy, and cares deeply about the game.

Rich will be getting around all the Gameworlds in future, so give him a cheery wave when you see him - he starts officially in a couple of weeks or so I think, but he's getting an early march on things. Rich may be the Mod God, but I'm still retaining the nickname 'Modfather', I like that one too much!

Good luck Rich!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Stress Test Success?

SI are beavering away on updates and optimisations, trying to make sure that the game is running well and that the servers are stable and lag free. Earlier in the week, I mentioned these stress tests that they run sporically - well, I got lucky and caught most of one short one last night - and it was in my humble opinion a remarkable success.

350+ people online, and the lag was fine. I was playing a match, browsing through player searches and profiles, and chatting away - and everything was pretty smooth.

There are still not enough people turning up, or sticking around, for the stress tests - and a small minority of those who do are not really contributing, choosing instead to spam moronically in the chatrooms (damn the lack of my mod powers during stress tests!); the sooner these guys get joined in as well, the sooner stress tests will be consigned to history. Because have no doubt - SI are winning the war, and FML must then surely be coming sooner rather than later.