Friday, 30 May 2008

Colin signs up

The top Fenerbahce and Turkey substitute right winger Colin Kazim-Richards, formerly of Sheffield United, will now be thinking he's Cristiano Ronaldo and doing crap stepovers for the Frecheville Blades following his £400k move yesterday. CKR becomes the 13th Blade at the Blades.

I'll post more next week, when I've had actually had time to play some FML and do some modding... Next Thursday is Mod Day 2, when all the mods descend on SI Towers to eat pizza, so I'll probably be blethering on about that excitedly...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

12 Blades, and nervous times...

Nicky Law finally took me to having enough Blades for a team and a sub, so my participation in the DFA Reserve League finally got under way with a 3-3 draw against Melih's excellent side. Well, his seniors are excellent, his reserves are clearly around the same standard as Sheffield United!

Apart from that, it's been a successful start to the season, in terms of admin - our new federation organisers all did a very good job and there were very few hiccups with the start of the season. Well, I've not had many complaints yet... Anyway, well done all!

The Blades are yet to make their competitive debut this season, but after a hectic pre-season I'm hoping that the extra fitness will see me make a better impact early on. I've risen to 38th in the rankings, so all should be going well... More soon!

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, I've been snowed under both at work and at home - a quick shout out anyway to all the mods in whichever two GWs haven't yet been able to start. The poor sods have been in them for over a week with no users to moderate or teams to manage! I'm sure you'll get your chance when the time comes...

Monday, 26 May 2008

Season Start...

The new season in GW4 starts tomorrow night at 8pm BST, which means that the FAs get locked down tonight at 8pm. After that, no-one can join or leave an FA, so all our new FA organisers can finally stop chomping at the bit/bricking themselves and get to work.

By 8pm tomorrow, all the promotions and relegations have to be sorted and next season's leagues ready to launch. Maybe they want to get the cups going as well - I, on the other hand, can put my feet up at last and enjoy not having to fuss about too much!

The Blades rebranding with actual Blades continues apace, with more news. This season's real-life loanee from Reading, John Halls, has been added to the mix and will give cover at right back. I've decided to enter a Blades-only side in the DFA Reserve League and League Cup... Still only 10 Blades so far though :s

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Oops...

Apologies for missing a post on Friday - here's a special bonus Saturday edition instead! I got a bit carried away with a little programming project at work yesterday, and I was busy signing Blades.

This morning I've snapped up Paddy Kenny, the Blades star keeper, while yesterday saw me nab Stephen Quinn, Christian Nade and Chris Armstrong - I now have 8 real life Blades and a huge wage bill!!

The key to the success of this True Blades influence so far has been the excellent form of midfielder Michael Tonge. Thankfully, in FML at least, if not real life, he doesn't run like my gran. Also the DC pairing of Kilgallon and former Blade Gary Cahill is pretty solid for FML. I'm now up to 44th in the rankings!

Here he is bursting onto Amauri's clever pass for a goal against 'Phil Sinkins exceptional FrootLoops' in a 2-2 draw. OK. So we're still making progress on formatting!



















Thursday, 22 May 2008

Theme Teams...

One of the popular trends in FML is for theme teams - everyone likes to sign players from their favourite club, and I'm doing this now as much as possible.

I've had Gary Cahill for ages, who was on loan at the Lane until Christmas. Then I signed Billy Sharp, and i recently got hold of Matty Kilgallon. Today, though - it got serious. I signed Michael Tonge, and he's playing well. I've got a bid out on another Blade as well - do I go all in? I could probably pick up a couple more, but I'll be struggling to get a full first eleven I think... Still, I always said I'd do it before the end of the beta!

I've seen some quality theme teams over my time in the beta, and it's certainly one way to personalise your FML experience. It also gives you a good excuse for being rubbish. Speedy Gonzalez was always a favourite - a team made entirely of players whose surname was Gonzalez. It was made more ironic by the fact that there is a properly decent Gonzalez, and the guy couldn't sign him. Africa FC has always been popular too - it's possible to build a very good side using only African players (and I've seen the same approach for Chileans, Italians, Englishmen...).

There's also always the possibility of only signing youth players - an approach that has been very successful for some, most notably in GW4 for James Aspey's Hackney Rovers. I think the key here is finding a youth striker or two who can really bang in the goals at senior level.

Anyway, back to the topic in hand - we're heading into season 6 now, what Blades players are still about...

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A big end to the season...

Well, it was a big end to the season for the Blades. Somehow we squeaked through into the DFA Trophy Final, where we faced James Tucker's giants Kaswell.

A first leg 2-1 defeat left us with it all to do, and we could only draw the 2nd leg 2-2. An admirable effort against one of GW4's great teams. All the more bittersweet as I beat the bugger 2-0 away in the league recently. Still, it was an extra £300k in the bank that I really wasn't expecting - I've always struggled in the cup for some reason!

And a slightly sad end to my reign as DFA supremo - the time had come to hand the keys to the FA over to the users. I'd intended to do it last season, but had been talked round. This time, the, um, bloke wasn't for turning, and after a short period of looking for applicants, two guys I'd hoping would apply did so - and I've today been able to appoint them as the new organisers - James Aspey and David Hamill, who I'm sure will do a great job. Similarly, the Monster, Weekend and Extreme FAs are also getting new organisers. Shafiq Aldina has taken charge of the UFFA competitions, where I'm sure his energy and enthusiasm will bring the impetus that UFFA needs.

The XFA needs new heads as we've just promoted three of its senior members, including the two organisers as well as Andy Coburn (whose blog is linked in the blogroll), to become moderators in the new gameworlds that are just about to start up. I think they should be live tomorrow, all being well...

And congratulations to Man Ure, on their latest triumph. I'm sure they'll be back to their normal relegation-fiddling tactics again soon ;) No, I'm not still bitter about that game vs West Ham last season, or the Liverpool U21 B team Reserves v Fulham fixture just before it!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

FML on YouTube!

I stumbled across some videos on YouTube about FML - you can find some good introductions on there, such as Miles Jacobson's speel, and Seb Spiers giving a good walkthrough of the game.

FM Israel have done a demo of how to create a team, which should still be relevant for the beta at least. Another general video is this one by Roni913, which seems to focus on his team, Ronin Warriors.

There are four new gameworlds starting up today, all being well, for the winners of the PC Gamer competition, and I guess maybe some of the guys who've just registered their interest on the main FML site, www.footballmanagerlive.com - which has recently been relaunched.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Interview with Miles Jacobson...

Over the weekend I caught up with Miles Jacobson, SI Studio Director, for a chat about all things FML, and some other things too. Here's what he had to say...

NIK: A lot of people are now starting to plan ahead for the launch of FML… What’s your master plan for your team in FML?

MILES: I’m still thinking about it – the skills side of things has been kind of easy in the beta, as some have been introduced later than others, and some changes along the way, so this side of the game requires a lot more thought than it did for beta. I know what tactic I’m likely to play, but then that will change if I don’t get the players that I want, but I’ll likely go for the “slow but sure” approach, and build things up slowly.

NIK: In FML, does buying top stars guarantee success or is it slow and steady that wins the race?

MILES: You can’t buy top stars at the start of the game, as people who haven’t restarted during beta will find out when they have to start afresh! Slow and steady, a marathon, not a sprint, the tortoise beat the hare, and all the other clich├ęs that have been used during the beta phase spring to mind. It’s going to be fun watching some of the bigger teams in beta adapt to the full game on release.

NIK: Top flight struggle or a more comfortable existence somewhere down the ladder?

MILES: I play in various gameworlds at the moment, and my teams range from top flight challengers, through top flight struggle and a more comfortable existence lower down. The problem with the latter is that it normally leads to the middle option!

NIK: For you - 5 at the back or 5 in attack?

MILES: 442 or 433. I tend to play more attacking, but you need a very strong defence and keeper to make that work properly.

NIK: Do you think the game suffers by having the real life players in the database, when the challenge perhaps is to take a group of unknowns and make a successful team?

MILES: Not at all – the majority of people want players that they can associate to at the start.


NIK: What were your first impressons when Ov told you about wanting to create FML?

MILES: I’d had a few drinks at the time, so it was probably something along the lines of “You want to come back to the studio and make a new game – cool!”. He’d been off travelling for a year and a bit, and had left us, so I was just really happy that he wanted to come back. Then when he presented the plans, it got even more exciting, and that has lead to the FML that is there today.

NIK: Was there ever an alternative idea to FML in the pipeline for SI or had it always been an aim of the team?

MILES: We’d investigated some stuff whilst with Eidos on how to take our previous game more online, but they got some management consultants involved, and that put us off the idea, as I really didn’t see what 3 items I’d take onto a desert island if I was stranded had to do with making an online football game. Ov’s idea was had when he wasn’t part of the team, so it was very much a new approach, and fitted in perfectly with where we were taking FM, as it’s quite a different direction.

NIK: What are your favourite (and least favourite!) features in FML?

MILES: I don’t have a favourite or least favourite. I had things I like, and things I don’t like as much, but it’s all been debated amongst the whole team and the forums, and great conclusions have been drawn to pretty much everything now. I’m very excited about some of the future plans that we have for the game, with the constant development model meaning new features and changes every couple of months, which will stop things getting stale.

NIK: Are we going to see FML features added to FM09, or FM09 Features added to FML? (*cough* Customize view *cough*)

MILES: There will be lots of idea sharing going on between the games, just like there has been by working on the PSP and console games. No specifics have been decided upon yet,

NIK: Football Manager aside, what other game has influenced the development of FML the most?

MILES: Cluedo. But not the normal version, the Scooby Doo special edition.

NIK: Apart from (probably astronomical) server costs, what’s the one main thing that you’ve learnt from FML?

MILES: That Oliver and Paul Collyer, founders of Sports Interactive, and the creators of the football titles we’ve made, are both rubbish at the game.


NIK: SI has always been known for its closeness to its community – has FML taken that to a whole new level? There was something infinitely cool about Marc Vaughan’s keeper scoring with a freak free kick from 80 yards against me.

MILES: Yes, I think so – although not just ingame, as most of us are playing under assumed names in most of the worlds so that we can see how people are really playing the game without them behaving because someone from SI is online! On the forums, certainly, although there are times that we’d wish people had thought before posting – there’s no point ranting or shouting at any time, and even less when something is in beta!

NIK: What kind of hours are you and the team working at the moment and what’s the longest you’ve been at the office for without sleep? Do the team get a buzz from this period where the hours may be crazy but you know the finish line is coming into sight?

MILES: There’ve only been a couple of times during the project where anyone has worked through the night, so we’ve been pretty good at getting sleep. Each team member treats these times differently – some love them, others hate them – but each of the team has been brilliant during the run in, and helping out those that are further behind to ensure that the race is finished at the right time.

MILES: For me personally, my record is 75 hours at the office without sleep, but that wasn’t on this project and was some years ago, and I wouldn’t do it again – I always try and get at least 3 hours sleep a night, even when it’s madness. Which is quite often!

NIK: Following on from that, we’ve heard rumblings from Duffy that the forums are changing soon – can you spill any beans on what’s coming there?

MILES: New forum software, new rules, more mods and a super mod, if all goes to plan. We will be trying to reclaim the main forums from the anti-social behaviour mess that they’ve become. Not everyone will like the new rules, but the forums have become a place where the SI team don’t like going any more, which completely defeats the point of having them.

NIK: Do SI have any plans for something fun in the beta a few days before the beta ends? For example another MMO made everybody regarding of top level, level to the top and give them ultra powerful gear. Maybe you could boost every players stats to 20 for a laugh or dish out loads of cash?

MILES: No, we won’t be doing that. A few teams had that during the end phase of the alpha, and it was very funny for some of us, whereas others didn’t like it at all, so the safe approach is to not change anything.

NIK: Actually I was one of those that didn’t find it so funny… Anyway...!

NIK: How much mileage do you think there is in FML? Do you think we’ll be still playing in 5 years? 10 years?

MILES: If someone had asked us back when we first started making games, I don’t think either Ov nor Paul thought it would last long, yet 15 years later, the FM series goes from strength to strength, continuing to smash sales records and being more popular than ever.

MILES: I don’t see FML to be any different – the current skills set will take 4 years plus to get, and we’ll be adding more, so we see this as a very long term project. Unless no one enjoys it and wants to play it, in which case it’ll be very short term!


NIK: Someone had a more general question about careers in the industry as well - What advice do you have for people that want to be a games designer and have great innovative ideas, however find it hard to convince others (I’m guessing we’re talking about parents here!) that their life is actually going anywhere in this type of industry?

MILES: (cue lots of complaints from parents) Don’t listen to them. Pursue your dream. But do it whilst you have another job too and/or other qualifications, so that you’re still able to pay the rent! However, the games industry is just as competitive as any other entertainment industry, and very very few succeed in these dreams.

NIK: Now the key question - you must be pretty delighted with the standard of moderating that the game has seen so far? ;-P

MILES: Fishing for compliments isn’t a good trait, Nik. But we do appreciate all the work the mods have done. Apart from the one who cheated although, we actually appreciate that too, as it showed us some holes that needed to be plugged.

NIK: It was worth a try! What do you say for all people out there who want to be a mod? Where do they signup or who do they speak to? Are there any restrictions or limitations?

MILES: If they are helpful in the gameworlds, they’ll soon get noticed. Mods will be picked up via recommendations from other mods, in the main.

NIK: I’m going to avoid asking the obvious, but have you any word on what sort of timescale there is before we get ‘the big announcement(s)’? on the release of FML?

MILES: It could be weeks, it could be months – the beauty and the beast of an MMO is that we can be very flexible with decisions. If everything is perfect in the next few weeks, then the announcement will be weeks away. If not, it’ll be months. Either way, the right decision will be made about launch, at the right time.

Well, thanks for that Miles!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Pritchard departs...

We're going to be bidding a fond farewell to one of our mods in GW4, Matt Pritchard. Having proven himself with us, he's off to look after a new gameworld, along with a few mods from other worlds - so all the best Matt, and good luck. A loss to GW4, but it's about time we got finding some new blood...

Friday, 16 May 2008

Memorable game #1

Frecheville Blades 3 Beitar Katamonim 2
DFA Premiership, 13th May 2008

Billy Sharp's long-awaited debut ended in success for the Blades. Star attacking midfielder Leonardo Pisculichi spread play wide left to Foster Amadi (No. 11), whose crisp one-two with Sharp resulted in the opening goal on 10 minutes.

The lead lasted for 23 minutes, when a dangerous corner played into the box resulted in a trip by new anchor man Dino Djiba on Beitar midfielder Andrei Ionescu. Edgar Barreto coolly converted from 12 yards.

5 minutes later Beitar suffered a massive blow when £1.1M rated striker Nicolaj Agger was stretchered off, and the Blades survived until half-time with the score at 1-1, despite two good Beitar chances. Beitar had definitely been on top.

The complexion of the game changed midway through the second half. A surging run down the right wing and into the box from Blades full-back Greg Halford resulted in a neat cutback to Djiba, whose powerful shot deflected off the unlucky Ionescu (No. 6) to end up in the net and make up for his earlier mistake.

The lead was extended just two minutes later when Sharp's deep speculative cross found Amadi, who headed back across goal, for the gratefully waiting to half-volley home. In the absence of the recently departed Briand and Montero, it was great to see the two reserve strikers linking up so well.

The Blades switched from their initial 4-4-2 formation to a more defensive 5-4-1, with Sharp up front on his own. Things still got a bit tense late on as Beitar pulled one back when a perfectly timed run from Claudio Acosta allowed him to head home powerfully from Davidov's cross.

Nerves were jangling as the game closed out, but the Blades eventually took the victory, with a tight 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Beitar proving vital to the turnaround in their fortunes. Nine games after this we would travel to league leaders Kaswell and steal a 2-o win there, so this really was a key game.

Beitar had every right to feel unlucky here - they had 57% of possession and 11 shots to the Blades 7. However, they only managed 4 on target, and the difference in quality of finishing proved key. Did the first half injury to their key striker have a massive impact? Who cares - three points on the board!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

v1.0

A momentous day indeed - FML has hit version 1.0

Now that's got to be a good sign. We must surely be closing on launch, and those announcements. Surely...!

All the cluster shenanigans yesterday have left me unable to login, however, which is not so good. I'm working on that now...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Harrumph...

Daily updates become pretty difficult when the FML server is down for maintenance work all day, and there's a UEFA Cup Final on tonight... Aye, before I moved to Sheffield in '99 and caught the Blades bug, I was indeed a dirty Hun. I still have the blue shirt somewhere and I may have to dig it out tonight...

So what to talk about today? Well, it was going to be my Blades news or general GW4 news today, so the GW4 news is that there is no GW4 news today. Wow, this blogging is easy!

Seriously, I'll try to do some general chat, give an impression of what life is like in GW4, tomorrow. Luckily I have earth-shattering news of great importance regarding the Frecheville Blades, and I can even remember what it is (mostly).

After yet another torrid season, where relegation seemed a real possibility until I miraculously started winning (see every season played so far, bar the qualifiers - at least that's how it feels!) i decided I'd had enough of Briand underperforming and Fredy Montero and Jose Barrera being crap (£3M I spent on that Barrera!), I decided to have a clearout. Briand and Barrera have left unceremoniously for £3M each (rofl at Andy Coburn buying Barrera for £3M, hehe), while Wesolowski (going for £650k), Shikabala (going for a stunning £750, a £600k profit in 3 weeks), Greg Halford (£650k) all heading out when their auctions end too. The wage bill has been slashed by tens of thousands of pounds, with able reserves able to step in whilst I get replacements.

The principle I'm working to is that it's not worth wasting big money on certain positions - full backs and defensive midfielders, for one. There are plenty of quality players going cheap in these positions. So Wesolowski and Halford have been replaced by players who will do almost as well (if not better, neither had excelled at the club) for nearly a tenth of the cost. And that lets me invest money in more key areas - the big news yesterday was the signing of BILLY SHARP from Christopher Priestley's 780 FC for £2.05M + Fredy Montero (market value £950k). He got a beautiful assist in his first game, a lovely one-two for Foster Amadi to smack home from 15 yards. More will surely follow...

That means I now have Gary Cahill (who was on loan at Bramall Lane earlier this season) and Sharp in the side - bizarre after Sheffield United's down-and-up season in real life that two of the players featured this season would be so in demand in FML... Anyway, do I now push on and sign more Blades? Do I go for the promised land - I promised myself an all-Blades side before the end of the beta, is now the time...?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Manager Interview: Phil Sinkins speaks...

Over lunchtime today I caught up with Phil Sinkins, GW4 mod and manager extraordinaire for a chat about all things FML...

NIK: So Phil... How did you get into the beta?

PHIL: I read about football manager live in PC Gamer preview for 2008, read up on the SI website regarding how I could sign up, stuck my name down and started on the beta in GW4 in December 2007

NIK: Were you a long time FM player, or had you lapsed in recent years. (and if so, why?)

PHIL: I’ve played CM/FM back since Championship Manager Italia (woot Bari) on and off, I tend to play quite hardcore for a month when the game first comes out then I come back every so often. This year with FM08 I spent a lot of time researching for playing FML (tactics, players etc). On a side note, I’m yet to play any CM since the split

NIK: So what was your first impression of SIs new game then?

PHIL: Dazed and confused! I was one of the first people into the gameworld. My immediate plan was to sign players I had been using in FM08 ignoring any sort of visual help I went straight for the search

PHIL: I signed over 20 players who were in my FM08 team into my initial squad. I then proceeded to use my FM08 tactics and play as many games as possible - maybe 200 games in 2 days.

NIK: Which side are you in FM?

PHIL: I always play as Chelsea in FM, but I gut the team as soon as I start and buy youngsters. only people I normally ever keep is Essien, Terry and Cech, everyone else is free game.

NIK: So any tips for a new manager into FML? You were pretty lucky in signing so many players you recognised I guess!

PHIL: I’ve been very lucky, I’ve made some lucky signings who have turned out to be superb players, 17 year olds in my first team is a sight you wouldn’t see in the real world Premier League.

PHIL: when new people start my top tip would be don’t spend above what you can afford, money is a big thing in FML. I released a lot of people at first as I couldn’t be bothered to sell, which meant that I ended up with massive debts that could have been put to better use.

PHIL: once we go retail, scouting is my big tip for people. Get in, focus on a region and milk it for what its worth, get some people in for a week sell them on, whilst at the same time keeping the great ones in your team and playing them. Combine Scouting with a high level of coaching and you'll be knocking out fantastic youngsters for seasons and seasons.

NIK: Supporting buying-to-sell? Controversial!

PHIL: Absolutely, for me, Buy To Sell is my way of getting money regardless of status, it took me 5 seasons to get to my team quality, I have made very small amounts of financial dealings, when I did it was to fund someone else straight off (Reyes and Falcao my two top players, to fund Essien). I can’t compete with the tacticians so I won’t be winning these big money high risk competitions, the only way for me to get money is to sell people

NIK: Where did the team name come from? It’s surely going to be the first big decision for most new managers!

PHIL: I used to be an Online FPS player and due to my innovative style of play I was often referred to as a "Fruitloop" I then chose to steal the spelling from the American Cereal and FrootLoops was born. I’ve been using the handle since early 2001 and felt natural to continue that over into FML, thus I am FrootLoops FC (temporarily I was renamed whilst on Holiday to Gone T'Egypt in honour of the holiday)

NIK: So what's been your favourite (and least favourite features in FML)?

PHIL: Starting with the negatives, I don’t like a ranking system being in the game it takes away the fun of the game, I end up being upset when I go down rankings when I should be proud that my team went unbeaten for 40+ games. I love the skills system, I want this to be built on as much as possible - really make it so that your manager in-game is like your Avatar in World of Warcraft (or any other MMO available from Publishers).

NIK: What can those who've missed out on the beta (so far) look forward to most?

PHIL: People not in the beta can look forward to a game where they don’t have to constantly remind people were on Beta when things go wrong! And everything will be a lot more stable.

NIK: I've been amazed things have been as good as they have been to be honest!

NIK: How's this season been for the Loops? (Phil's side currently lie in a very respectable 12th position in the senior world rankings)

PHIL: As the current PFA Premiership title holders its gonna be hard to keep my title - I have Uppsala Gunners (spelling) above me and FC Coconuts below me… not a good place to be, but I’m 2nd in league. I’m yet to play Henrik (Uppsala’s mod manager) and a win there could win me the Premiership for the second year running. I’m not the most positive when it comes to predicting my form (last year I thought I would be relegated!) so at the moment I don’t see myself in the top 2 come the last game…

NIK: You've been a mod for a few months now, I guess - have you got any tips or advice for anyone wanting to be a mod?

PHIL: Don’t let the bastards get you down!

NIK: Perhaps a general comment to SI and mods alike there...! How have you enjoyed it?

PHIL: Moderating has been good fun, its nice to be a key part of the community and the opportunity to talk directly to Miles, Marc Duffy and Ov Collyer isn’t something you get everyday. If you get the chance and you’re a fan of FM itself then I’d recommend moderating to anyone.

NIK: Cool! Well, thanks for your time, and good luck for the rest of the season!

PHIL: Cheers Nik gl with your Blades team!

Monday, 12 May 2008

FML vs FM

So I promised I'd write something tonight banging on about the similarities and differences between the two products in the Sports Interactive stable.

I got FM08 on release day, from the retailer I thought most likely to deliver early. I was as desperate as ever to see the latest edition. However, I'd got into the FML beta last June, and alas my copy of FM08 has been sadly neglected. I play now and then, but FML has added a social aspect to the game that is almost irreplaceable for me, though I'm starting to make time again now for my first love!

So... FM09 will surely be out some time between October and Christmas 2008. FML is out in the summer. Which is for you?

First things first - FML is not FM Online. They are two different games, entirely - FM already does online, and does it perfectly well, I imagine. FML is a whole different experience, for some it will be better, for others worse.

FM09 - and you heard this here first - will be terrific value for money. There's no other product that can deliver so many hours of game per pound (dollar, whatever). That's a lot of hours - and if you have them, great, it'll be a match made in heaven. But a lot of people don't have time for FM any more, many of its fans have grown up with the product. It's these guys who are going to need to be a bit more casual for which FML is intended.

There are plenty of hardcore guys in the FML beta, who spend massive percentages of their life online and believe that FML is for them and they should have every advantage going as a reward -but they are wrong. FML is designed from the ground up to reward active players - irrespective of how active they are. It's perfectly possible to go on 2 or 3 times a week, or to only play 2 or 3 games a day and still be massively successful.

The other aspect of course is what FML can bring to FM. Naturally there will be feedback between the two. The match engine is in continual development, and having 6 GWs playing tens of thousands of games every day has proven a great test-bed for it. The match engine has come on in leaps and bounds - especially in terms of realism. Gone are the arrows and the contradictory instructions - a defensively-minded midfielder being forward-arrowed, a guy on the left wing playing in the middle because he's been side-arrowed to the right wing - and I believe they're gone for good. Alternatives will be needed in the longer term (hopefully for FM09, at least), but the balance is now much better.

There are also some other features that must make the leap to FM09:
  • Customisable view filters. Want to rank by Heading and still see Value and Injury Status at the same time? Fine!. I have set filters made for every eventuality, and it puts me in charge of what's on screen, and how it is displayed. This is massively empowering, and would bring a big breath of fresh air to FM09. Of course there are still good default filters, but you don't know what is missing from FMs UI until you've tinkered with this in FML. And that's customisable filtering for every screen by the way...
  • Player stats page - no offence to Ter, or whoever designed the Stats page for players in FM08, but it's shockingly useless. I've got David McNamee at right back for my Sheffield United squad - he's made 304 out of 435 passes so far this season - is that good? I've no idea. There's an orange bar by it if that helps. Well it's kind of yellower than orange... Hmm. In FML, we see percentages - my right back in FML (Greg Halford, who will be leaving in just under 3 days as he's up for sale) is on 73% for passing. His backup, Ivica Boatic, is on 63%. Any clearer? I think so...
  • The UI - it's clean, crisp, and I know where everything is - in FM08, I'm often left floundering - getting to my reserve fixture list takes 4 clicks. It takes 2 in FML.
  • Custom slider settings. What's the difference between width = 14 and width = 15? I don't know, and what's more I don't want to care. The skills in FML have meant that I can customise how many notches my sliders have - and for me, that number is 7. Not 21. We've got to be able to customise this in FM09.
  • Fractional match ratings - yes, seeing a player get a 7.1 is better than seeing him get a 7.
  • Shot feedback - clear cut chances, number of long shots, blocked shots - all good, all helpful. Too many long shots, even though the players are all set to rarely? Maybe you're too narrow...
The overall theme I guess is 'customisable ease'. Hopefully this ease and improved playability will make it into both of SIs games.

Things in FM that shouldn't make it into FML? Why not...
  • Team talks - these are pretty tedious in FM, to be honest. Imagine multiplying that tedium by several orders of magnitude as you get through thousands of games...
  • Media - again, likewise. Unless it can be done well, it should all be user-driven in FML.
  • Realism - FML isn't FM, it's not about real football and real league structures - there has to be a balance between believable and fun. Who wants to pay £x a month to languish forever 10 divisions off top-flight football? No-one, pyramids for the win!

Daily updates...?

Well, it's a foolish blogger that promises daily updates on his blog, but that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I'm going to be attempting. Never before in the history of FML has a blog gone daily, so I'm going to make a big push here...

Well, I say daily, I might not do weekend ones. I need some time for FM08...

So my first blog of the daily era will be a discussion comparing FML and FM08 - how they stack up, what features are 'missing' in FML, what FML features should (nay, need to) be implemented in FM09. Since I don't have FM08 at work (and I'm at work of course too that's a big factor!), and I'd like to do comparison screenies, this blog will be up tonight...

I'm also trying to provoke one of the GW4 managers in to doing an interview for tomorrow...

Friday, 9 May 2008

Ideas

As the launch of FML is (surely) getting nearer (by definition, it's a day closer than it was yesterday!), I've gotten to wondering where to go with the blog. Naturally I want to step it up a notch, but what do people want to read about?

I'm planning more GW4 specific stuff, in a form that could be interesting to all - interviews with managers, and maybe more GW news, to give a flavour of what life in the beta is like. But I'm open to ideas, so leave a comment if there is anything you'd like covered.

Also, in exciting news, FML gets updated to v0.86 today, and the servers are currently down for maintenance - something to do with updating the mySQL database or something. Anyway, the key thing to note is that the changelist (or should that be fixlist now, there's little in the way of 'new stuff') is getting shorter and shorter. Which is surely A Good Sign...

The big news in this update is that the feedback from the introduction of the Tactics Skills (boo, hiss or yay, woot, depending on viewpoint!) has been taken into account and they've been re-thought - we're going to be testing a new model, and that has involved losing all the skills learnt so far (though we will be refunded the time spent on them), and losing any saved tactics... Should bring joy to the 'testers' that don't read the forums...

Anyway, there will be more news here when I've got more to tell you - judging from Marc's comments in that podcast interview linked recently, we're maybe 2-3 weeks away from A Big Announcement...

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Marc Duffy (not) in Jordan's Bedroom

Marc Duffy's done an interview with Get Sacked for their latest podcast - check it out! Apparently the real 'action' kicks off about 7 minutes in...

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Been Busy...

Sorry for the lack of updates on here - I've been busy in the real world. I had some big experiments at work, which I'd been awarded beamtime for. Which was nice, but they forgot to tell me, so I had a week's warning of a shedload of work.

Twice. And the wife's been busy and I've been helping out a lot.

Anyway, I'll try and get some proper updates up soon. I've been in and out of FML for the past couple of weeks, not getting much time online. This has been worsened by my normal poor start to the season - 2 wins from the first 8 games in the league, though luck seems to be turning my way. My last game was a 4-3 thriller against Beitar Katamonim, who had 2 disallowed and missed a penalty (I think)... And my winner was an own goal! Hehehe... That had been preceded by a tight 1-0 win over Mark Percox's excellent Liverpool side - Mark was busily commenting on my tactics (I'm playing an unconventional 4-3-3 as I'm determined to score some goals for once!), and failed to spot I'd switched to a 3-5-2, which decimated his 4-1-2-1-2... He missed a penalty as well!