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


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 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, 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 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...

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!
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.

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...

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


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.

Miserable time for Blades

It's my monthly bad start to the season time again, not helped by the loss of two key players in a wage auction bug last season. My squad was always undergoing some hefty pruning, but being left with 14 players was not fair!

So with that in mind, I decided to try and tap the unproven youth market - those pesky 22 year olds that supposedly had a lot of potential, but who have been at clubs that have failed to play, or train, them well enough to allow them to progress. So I made a few bids...

...and won them all - eek! I now have a squad of 26 players, which includes a large number of 22 year olds that supposedly have a lot of potential, but whom I won't get round to playing most of!

I've got a lot of time online next week, so I may start up a reserve squad, get in some non-ranked competitions and test them out, see what they are made of...

I think I've taken 18 points from my first 14 DFA Premiership matches, and I've got a positive goal difference, so I guess things could be worse. Now for one or two of these gems to come through and lead the Blades on to their usual second-half-of-season revival!