Sunday, 30 March 2008

What a week!

Well, what a week it has been - SI weren't kidding when they said that they were going to fill us up. We've had 439 new teams sign up to Gameworld 4 in the past few days, and it's got a real buzz going around the place.

The system for starting the fed, or as I should be calling them now, Football Association seasons has changed with the new update. Previously it's been all systems go at 8pm on the Monday night, meaning we have to chase the users in, get everything locked tight and sort the money out asap - a big night. Now, the FAs get locked down by 8PM on the night before launch, so people can't join or change FAs in that final 24 hour window - makes things much calmer.

Which is a good job - the setup assistant also takes pressure off of the mods as it guides 'noobs' through the sign up process.

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Still, something like 10% of the new guys look like starting the season without being in an FA, which is a real shame.

Especially as I, with the help of XFA orgs Mick and David, and EEFA org Jane, had reinstated an old FA to help cope with the influx. The old MLFA had covered a 0000-0900 time slot, but had never been a success and eventually closed down to due to lack of interest. It has now been re-designated as the Monster FA (abbreviation ROAR), a fed specifically for the new guys that runs 2000-0100 on 7 days a week - neatly covering the gap left by the Casual, Extreme, Weekend, Nighttime and Primetime Feds all being full! Richie Birchall will be helping out with the ROAR as well.

Even my precious DFA is nearly full, with 92 members at the last check. Crazy days.

So the plan is this: at 8pm tonight, the media money is paid out to the FAs. We assign the teams and the money to the leagues, and then we can press 'Go' at 8pm tomorrow night. Fingers crossed now...

Monday, 24 March 2008

End of season / Big Week

Well, the federation season has finished, and it's been a disappointing year for the Blades. An experimental 4-3-1-2 tactic, designed to score more goals was a spectacular failure, and my Blades only avoided relegation by reverting to the tried and trusted 4-5-1/4-3-3 hybrid. The signings of Mokoena and Wesolowski were inspired, and the run in saw the Blades lose only 2 of their last 16 federation matches. Combined with a resurgence in friendly form as well (or I played a lot of home games, one of the two!), I've climbed back to 53rd in the rankings, up from 93rd a week ago. Sweet.

Final league table:
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So I was well clear of bother in the end. Haifa will go down due to poor activity levels, plus the bottom two.

The end of the season also means it's Update time for Gameworld 4 again. We'll get brought up to date on Wednesday, and then we'll be getting filled up with new managers as well! Lots to look forward to this week. I'll be pretty busy, with 2 of the 5 mods away on holiday and the feds to sort out for the new season, and the noobs to look after, but I'll try and get some screenies of new features up at some stage!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


The PR machine for FML is starting to get cranked into overdrive now, and piecing together the various interviews by Miles and guys from Sega, here's the lowdown on what we seem to be heading towards.

By the way, these are all direct quotes from various blogs, so don't shout at me for any spoilers, I'm just repeating what's on the grapevine. I also cannot confirm or deny any of these facts or figures - they may all not be true, and they are all subject to possible revision:

  • FML will be available for free download; players are to be charged a monthly subscription. Miles wouldn't specify the exact figure but said it would be roughly "the cost of two pints. In London". £16 a month then? I'm kidding of course. I'm guessing seven quid. (Guardian Blog)
  • Constant development process with the game, continually adding new features and tweaking gameplay, providing these changes to gamers in the form of regular downloads. (Guardian Blog)
  • Miles tells me that SI are working with the Northern Ireland FA, getting Nigel Worthington in on the beta testing. "He rang us up to complain that his tactics aren't working, that the game is too bloody hard," laughs Jacobson. (Guardian Blog)
  • The team working on (FML) are a completely separate team (from that which makes FM). When asked if some of the new features and layout would make the jump back to FM09 they said “possibly”.
  • James (the guy at the Sega booth (at the event) actually said that… “There will be no new version of the game for about 8 years due to the small changes we can make every now and then” (Nidzumi N4G Preview)
  • It’s monthly subscribed (Nidzumi N4G Preview)
  • Unfortunately they have no plans to have free trial versions unlike other MMO’s (Nidzumi N4G Preview)
  • They are currently going through another 3 months of testing and the final game is due for release in June. (Nidzumi N4G Preview)
So... Lots of juicy gossip there. Is any of it true? I guess we'll find out in due course. Marc Duffy popped into GW4 on Friday night last week for a chat, and was hinting that we will hear an official announcement soon enough...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Back on track...?

You'll all be delighted to know that my form appears to have improved. Following on from a 3-0 defeat to Paul Davies' Portsmouth Football Club, I decided I had to make serious changes and dropped my sporadically-successful 4-3-1-2 in favour of my more traditional 4-5-1/4-3-3 hybrid. Paying a benched striker £30k a day is a luxury in FML, so Nicklas Bendtner will be moving on for around £500k, not bad at a £120k profit.

The change in tactic paid immediate dividends, with a thumping 3-0 victory (and a masterful display too) over Darren "Chimpy" Milner's Chimpy's Chancers.

I've also done some other wheeling and dealing - my star young DC moved on for £300k, another 6 figure profit, with the South African DC Aaron Mokoena coming in to add some strength and leadership at the back. My defensive midfielder, Moussa Narry, had also flattered to deceive, so he was sold for £1 and replaced by James Wesolowski, another leader for the fight. Mathias Abel, a cracking DRC on £10k a day was replaced by a young Italian right back on 1/5th of the wages who's got the same average rating as Abel while covering for Abel being out injured - I've also got a couple more young stars lined up to come in in auctions today which should give the squad some depth again.

All in all, a lot of chopping and changing - the need to balance fiscal prudence with success on the pitch is a delicate balance, and hopefully I'll be a bit better off this time. I won all of my games yesterday, which saw me rise back to 71st in the rankings - I was 93rd on Saturday!

And the most important stat? Of course - I'm above fellow mod Chris Campbell again. Normality is resumed!

Friday, 14 March 2008

CVG Competition - 3000 beta places to be won!!!

If you've still not been lucky enough to get into the FML Beta, and live in the UK, head over to CVG to enter their wonderful competition - they have 3000 beta places up for grabs!

If you already have a place, don't be trying to get another - you won't like me when I'm angry!


My disastrous run of form continues so it's time for a clear out. Analysis of what is causing the crisis led me to look at this season's stats for the players, and also some of their attributes.

What shocked me was that I've somehow managed to assemble a squad with no players of high influence rating; Borowski is captain with influence 14. Many of the others are much lower, lots of 3s - 6s.

Surprisingly enough, when I go a goal down, I don't tend to fight back much. And in a tough league, that can happen a lot - I know the team are capable of great performances, that they are technically gifted. They're also up for sale now.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Release date and other info

In this interview, Marc Duffy from SI has confirmed that FML is tentatively set for release during early summer this year. There's lots of other good stuff in there, so check it out now.

Updated league table

As I thought, the league table now includes a 'predicted points total' based on the average number of points gained so far - here's an updated one for my DFA Premiership!

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Blades early stumble...

A clear out at the Lane has seen several players getting shipped out to new clubs or to the dole queue. With a wage bill approaching £300k (£270k ish, + £20k ish for being over the £250k wage tax threshold), my finances were dwindling fast. With SI's new feature - a graph showing the projected finances over the next 28 days - hitting red for me soon, I decided to make some big changes. I'd love to show you the graph, but for obvious reasons I'm not going to share that info!

The biggest casualty was defender Valerien Ismael. Rated at £375k despite his advancing years, the veteran was on a massive wage, and was the obvious casualty, leaving the Blades for just £1. I have a great young DC who's stepped into the breach admirably - though with concentration 7, he'll need to get his head down in training and work hard if he's going to fulfil his superstar potential.

The future is much more rosy now; I've scrapped my woeful U19 side to trim off a bit more, and some more tweaks here and then see my projection looking in great shape. I may yet get a Cristiano Ronaldo before the end of the beta...

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The early season form has stabilised now thankfully, but I was woeful unti late on yesterday - a shock 3-2 win over the 4th ranked side in the gameworld saving my ranking bacon. I'm now back on track and looking good for mid-table obscurity!

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

On a break...

I'm having a short break from FML, so here's a nice interview with the lovely chap Miles Jacobson, top dog at SI. Think he usually prefers 'Studio Director' or something, but he's a top guy anyway.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Successful night

The fed season got off to a smooth start last night, with no real headaches, which is nice. SI have added some really sweet tools for moderators and fed organisers which make it pretty straightforward, and it was nice to be able to offer some feedback last night based on what I found.

We also appointed a new organiser for one of our federations, the Early Evening FA - Jane Moss will be heading them up from now on. The announcement received a nice reception, and even GW4s resident five moaners couldn't all find reason to grumble about it simultaneously, for a change. That now leaves the XFA - the Extreme FA - to find an organiser for. One of the mods is filling in part time, but we really need a proper presence in there, keep the rowdy boys under control!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Season 4 Launch...

Today's a big day for me again - the new federation season starts tonight in GW4 at 8PM GMT. It's always an anxious time, but this season should be easier as we don't have any new users - in the past we've had people still joining the gameworld at 8PM, and we desperately want to get them into a fed so we can get them some money and official competitions. After 8PM, of course, they start getting assigned to other gameworlds.

This time, all the noobs went to GW6 and GW7 anyway, so we've just had people swapping federation to contend with. Tonight will be a case of checking, double checking and triple checking all the league and cup assignments. Imagine leaving someone out of a league by accident... Once all the leagues and cups are set, there's the nervous wait for the fed money to get paid out. My DFA will be one of the top two for income this season, which is great.

Once the payout is complete, I can start assigning the money to competitions. Half of the money automatically goes to daily payments divided equally among all teams, usually about £20k per day. The rest is used for competitions; my Premiership will have a pot of around £13M, hopefully, with the winners taking close to £1M of that.

I always try to make sure that the weakest sides still get at least £250k - having a narrow spread in the money makes sure that the league remains competitive, and that we don't get 1 or 2 uber-teams running away with things, as you see in real life, and in FML when this isn't the case...

The teams will get a lump sum tonight - whatever the guaranteed minimum amount is (i.e. usually what you'd get for coming bottom), with a further payout at the end of the season dependent on final position.

While it's an exciting time for everyone else, it's a nailbiter for the mods. Don't mess up, don't mess up, don't...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Servers back up...

The cluster 2 servers are back up now, so everyone can get their fix before bed - nearly a sweaty, fidgety uncomfortable night of traumatic cold turkey there...

Servers down

Any online game naturally relies on its servers, and when the game goes down it can be a frustrating experience. During beta testing, one of the key goals for SI will, I guess, be seeing how the servers cope with stress and load, and what makes them fall over.

The servers have been remarkably stable, but they have gone down today for cluster 2 - no Gameworlds 4,5 or 7. People might have to ring their Mums instead... Anyway, SI are on the case, and will get it sorted soon I'm sure.