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.


Studley said...

That's a nice guide! I finally started in GW12 yesterday, after all the login problems. My team is sorted, but I'm yet to play a game - these tips will definitely help.

One question... under Tactics, you've written: "Remember that any tactic changes can take 10+ matches to take effect". I hope this was a typo? If you change tactics during a match, presumably it can't take 10 matches before those tactical changes happen?! I hope you meant "10 [game] minutes". Can you clarify?

Nik the Mod said...

Hmm, I nicked that from someone else - I assume he means that it will take a while for your team to settle into a new style of play. Don't just ditch that new tactic because it's not immediately successful!

Also, if he does mean minutes then yeah - it can take a while for subs to come on etc... Maybe not 10 though!

Blaz said...

Thank you for this, it will help me when I start in Gameworld 21 tommorrow.

Got one question though, how long does it usually take until first official league matches take place, a couple of days, a week, how long? I think that is important in terms of buying players, for instance, if I have my first league match a week after I join FA, then I wouldn't rush with filling my squad with necessary 16 players of doubtful quality in the first hour of playing, but I would just wait for a couple of days so my wage budget increases and I would be able to afford better players. What do you think?

Nik the Mod said...

The season will likely kick off 7 days after the launch of the gameworld. But your plan wouldn't have any benefit - you won't get a daily income until you confirm a squad, and your daily income will only match your wages until you get ranked.

You might as well get cracking!