Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Tricky Puzzle...

It's difficult getting things balanced right in FML sometimes - the stadiums have brought that mildly in to view for me.

The qualifying campaign started off in glorious fashion, with the Blades going 8 games unbeaten, I think. But then form started to dip, so I needed to bring in some fresh talent to cover some of the deficiencies in the squad. A quality left back was secured, and now we're not conceding 2 every game...

I know Gary Glen will become a great player, but he isn't scoring now - and my sides always do best with a big target man up front. Aaritalo isn't that, and is scoring - so I've brought in Darius Henderson, a real life Blades player, to partner him. Hendo's aerial prowess has seen him grab two goals on his debut already.

Of course, how does all this impact on the stadium? The clock is ticking - we roll over to stadium income in under three weeks. While average attendances are still low, it won't be critical that I do upgrades, but I want to get ready as I will need to expand sooner rather than later.

I'm also not a big believer in repetitive building - I want to waste as little money as possible, so will be building a big stand early doors - even if I don't put anything in it. Do I go with my dream, and build a new Bramall Lane? Or do I build a good stadium? For my part, it's hard to see beyond the Aziendale 3-tier stands, so that is likely to be where my money goes. The £1.5M likely cost will be spread over 8 weeks, but it'll still limit prospects in the short to medium term. FML is about long term planning, though...

Construction 4 finishes in the morning tomorrow, so I will be able to make significant savings by using my own construction company... Work starts on New Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane tomorrow...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

FML Stadium Patch (1.1.1) Dated

The stadiums will land in the live Gameworlds during the morning (GMT) of next Wednesday 28th January.

More info on the SI forums here.

As a gamer I'm really looking forward to this - it's a great feature, and implemented with much more in the way of depth and variation than I'd anticipated before seeing it.

As a mod, I'm not looking forward to explaining all the depth and variation to customers, or telling people that no, they can't get a refund on the money they wasted on Di Lusso seating when what they needed was Pieghevole...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

We..... are the Chaaaaaaaaampions my fre-hends

One of my absolute favourite features in FML is the Gameworld champion - given to whoever wins the first match in a GW, it then passes on like football kiss-chase, from game to game.

I've often flirted with the golden crown, but have never worn it... until now!

I saw that Jay Derriman, a good lad from the old beta GW4 had the crown, so I challenged him. He battered me for 90 minutes, but a Mika Aaritalo strike secured an unlikely 2-1 win. What happened next was even more unlikely...

I had a friendly competition match due against my nemesis and good friend Lennart Kohler, a fellow StJohn mod. Lennart is a true FML wizard, and is probably best known for a 5-1 thrashing of me in GW4.

Revenge was finally mine. My Blades were magnificent - I've never seen a performance from them like it - I'm not sure I ever will again. Midfield dynamo David Jarolim was outstanding - he got rated 9.5, as I demolished the Ohnics 4-0. By half time. It was a stunning victory.

So I took the crown into a second defence against 5th ranked side Cattenacio Calcio. Or is it Calcio Cattenacio? We've both! Joe Faultless' side, anyway - 78 ranks above mine, but a brave home performance saw me home with another late Aaritalo goal, 1-1. The crown will be on the pillow next to me tonight...

It was a good day all round - I also won my own 5-team Diddy League!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

First reviews for FML: Positive!

I'm delighted to see FML get its first reviews, and for them to have come through positive - I send my congratulations to the team for some thoroughly well-deserved plaudits!

More from FullMetalRacket on the SI forums:
This morning, the very first reviews for Football Manager Live were published on two of the biggest gaming websites.

EuroGamer kicks it off by giving our favourite game a very respectable 8/10 summarising it with the sentece:

"Football Manager Live has been worth the prolonged wait. Sports Interactive has massive experience in creating single-player management games, but this is the developer's first stab at an MMO - and for the most part, it's a genuine success."

The excellent VideoGamer went one better, scoring FML at an incredible 9/10 saying:

"According to my manager stats, I've spent approximately 35 per cent of my life (since my team was created) logged into FM Live. Either I've got nothing better in my life to be getting on with or FM Live is the greatest football management game ever created."

Keep an eye on the Press & Awards page on the website for the latest reviews as and when they are published.

Friday, 16 January 2009

CVG Interview with Miles Jacobson

Just noticed this interview with SI Games head honcho and all-round nice guy Miles Jacobson on CVG, so check it out.

It's not as good as the interview I did with Miles, obviously, but still very much worth reading!

Glen signs

The Frecheville Blades called a hasty press conference this morning to confirm overnight rumours that they had indeed captured the signature of pacey young striker Gary Glen.

The Manager responded to queries from delighted Blades fans, commenting that he was delighted to have gotten such a promising young player so cheaply. Glen's agent looked less happy at the reputed wage of under £2k, while the Blades have confirmed that an acquisition fee of £110k was paid.

Glen said that he was eager to make a big impact at his first club, and out to prove that he merits a first team place.

Elsewhere, rumours are rife that Glen may soon form the focal point of a Blades U21 side. Not previously known for youth development, it is rumoured that this will now form a key part of the Frecheville Blades re-profiling strategy.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Finally - LIVE in St John

I've finally made it to the retail environment, modding in the new gameworld, St John, which launched shortly after 6pm on Wednesday 14th January.

It's been a delight, even if it's off to a slow start. We need more managers! The atmosphere is good, with clearly some good folk already taking a part in the fledgling community.

It's been a shaky start for the Blades though, despite debuting at 7th in the world rankings... probably my highest ever position!

Three wins, two draws and four defeats make for grim reading, and it's clear that some tactics skills are needed, along with one or two new signings. That is problematic, as my approach is quite clear for this world: I'm going for a joint infrastructure/management skill push, so that I can get myself financially established.

To that end, I started off with the 'Tycoon' skill package, to boost my Infra skills. The stadiums won't be implemented for a week or so, so I don't want to waste time learning there - they take a while, so I want the boost. I've snaffled Tactics 1 to give me some flexibility, and some Management skills too already. And Scouting 1 - for this approach I need to grab a few recognisable names, who I can sell on for a profit in a season or two!

The auto-squad assignment was pretty kind to me too - I got Czech star David Jarolim, Slovakian full back/left midfielder Vratislav Gresko and good young winger/striker Mika Aaritalo. I shifted a few on, allowing me grab big target man Tresor Kandol, and a solid keeper Stijn Stijnen.

One of the key things I kept in mind was reputation - to maximise my profits, I need to get my team reputation up quickly, and obviously a factor in that is the players' reputations. Also, I need to get a solid ranking, of course!

Will it work? Will I end up with the stadium of my dreams, wallowing in riches? Probably not - as ever I will be no doubt be languishing in mid-table sooner rather than later...

But at least I'm finally doing a proper mod's job.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pre-selected squads

Another of the new 1.1 features is the pre-selected squad. These have caused some low-level concerns for some user, so Ov Collyer took the time to explain exactly how they work.

Never one to do work unnecessarily, here's me quoting what Ov said verbatim:
"All GWs start with a database of 50,000 players.

Of these, 1100 x 18 = 19,800 players are assigned to balanced 18-man preselected squads. At this stage these squads are not yet assigned to clubs.

As clubs sign-up to the GW, a club is chosen from the 1100 reserved ones, and then 'tuned' according to the manager's nationality/location. This involves swapping players from the chosen squad with players from another unchosen suqad to try and end up with more players of your nationality/location/favourite club (that is why it reserves 1100, instead of 1000 - so that even if the 1000th team joins, it still has 100 more squads to swap with to find players familiar to you).

When you first sign-in, your chosen squad is activated, meaning the players all sign 24 hour provisional contracts as you are used to.

All players assigned to preselected squads (whether assigned to a club or not) are locked and unavailable to any other club.

When the first season starts (7 days after GW launch) all unclaimed preselected squads are disbanded (so a club joining after this point won't be given one), but the players are only unlocked gradually over the course of the first season, rather than in one go.

By the end of season one, no players are locked.

Finally, the other change from beta, is that scouting skills *do not* come into it during initial squad selection, whereas they used to. So if you decide to change your preselected squad, you have full visibility of all other players in the database that haven't yet been chosen (either in a preselected squad, or manually by another user.) The reason this was changed was because otherwise, what with 19,800 players + invisible (from scouting) players locked, it was getting a bit restrictive.

Once you confirm your squad (whether its a preselected one, your own, or a mixture) then the players sign on full contracts and from that point on its business as normal - scouting skills will limit your visibility of the players etc.

What the system aims to do:

- give everyone a fair chance. You don't need to arrive on the dot when a GW launch. Indeed this system was designed for the hard launch of the game when people will be going out and buying a boxed copy, returning home and expecting a GW to be waiting for them to choose to join. The GW launch date will perhaps be a lower-key thing.

- provide flexibility. If you don't want any players, or some players from your preselected squad, you are free to throw them away and replace them with anyone else unclaimed.

- stimulate the early transfer market. Maybe you have managed to be assigned a player that someone else badly wants - no problem, with the transfer rules of 1.1, you can sell/swap from your initial squad right away (although no cheeky short-term profiteering allowed )" - Ov Collyer, on the SI Forums.
It should also be noted that you don't have to accept the pre-selected squad - you can ditch some or all for other players before hitting confirm.

I like this new system - to be honest, the majority of new FML managers (and many older ones too!) are pretty poor judges of a player, so anything that levels the playing field in the early stages of a Gameworld are fine with me.

I had my reservations too, but I was pretty pleased with what I got in my Coppell auto-squad. I swapped about 6 or 7 of the 17 or 18 then went with it. Most of the initial squad don't last past the first season anyway, so it's not worth worrying about too much!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Post 150 - and big news!

So I can finally make an announcement... the Mod Team for "gameworld 1" has been announced!

That means the first hard launch gameworld, which will be the first world to launch AFTER GW Toms launches on Monday, will be moderated by:

Me, Nik Reeves-McLaren
Phil Sinkins
Henrik Björkman
Lennart Köhler

How's that for a dream team?

Soon the Frecheville Blades will see their first non-beta, live action...

Excited much? You bet I am.

Keep your eyes peeled and get signed up when the world becomes available - I don't know what the name is yet, or when exactly it will be up, but I will update here as soon as I do...

Edit: Just so that is 100% clear - Blissett and Toms launch on Monday. The next world after that, whenever it launches, whatever it's called - I'll be there!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Blades to return!

The mighty Frecheville Blades will be returning to an actual proper gameworld soon! Long have I been in the wilderness, but I've had word... One day soon, I will have my chance at proper non-beta action again.

Watch this space... Largely cos it's all still in the ether and yet to be confirmed. Very grey areas.

Actually, I don't know why I said again there either. I've always been in beta, never elsewhere. :D

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

FML v1 to land on Thursday!

Hot off the presses at the official SI forums:
The much anticipated update to Version 1.1 of Football Manager Live is ready and is due to be rolled out into the live gameworlds on Thursday 8th January.

Brand New Features including…
Updated Financial and Transfer Systems
To help curb inflation in gameworlds and to lessen the gap between the top clubs and the chasing pack.

Gameworld Champion
Any team can be crowned 'King of the Gameworld' simply by beating the current holders.

Clubs now attract fans with different sorts of personalities, what sort of club will you become?

Enhanced Game Analysis
To help you work out what the players are feeling throughout the match and to help you improve your team.

And much more…
You can check out the full changelist in the manual here.

Version 1.1.1
Unfortunately, the Stadiums feature wasn’t quite ready for release in this update, but because we want to bring it to you as soon as possible we will be releasing a further, smaller update to the game within the next few weeks called Version 1.1.1. This update will include Stadiums alongside some other tweaks that will help further improve the game. The full changelist for this update can be found here.

We hope you enjoy these new additions and we look forward to playing against you in your gameworld.
Be there, or be square folks!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Bums on Seats...

One question I've been getting asked a bit is with regards to the new stadiums feature, and what sort of fan sits where.

There are six different types of fan in FML, and each has their own broad characteristics - for example, the Diehard is extremely passionate and loyal to their team, and their vocality really boosts the atmosphere at the ground... but they don't like to spend much money and they can cause trouble.

There are then 6 different types of seating available... but what to build, and for what sort of fan? Well, maybe the following list can be of some use... Bear in mind: I don't have any corporate seating capability yet, so I can't comment on where that fits in!
Die Hard
Will pay:
0.68-1.02 xBase
Seating types:
Terrace (0.75 xBase)
Astilla (1 xBase)

Will pay:
0.98-1.47 xBase
Seating types:
Astilla (1 xBase)
Disagio (1.2 xBase)
Pieghevole (1.45 xBase)

Will pay:
1.43-2.14 xBase
Seating types:
Pieghevole (1.45 xBase)
Di Lusso (2 xBase)

Glory Hunter
Will pay:
1.85-5.56 xBase
Seating types:
Di Lusso (2 xBase)

Will pay:
0.88-1.32 xBase
Seating types:
Astilla (1 xBase)
Disagio (1.2 xBase)

Will pay:
22.76-79.66 xBase
Seating types:
Flauta (25 x Base)
- Seats 1000 per block of boxes, costs £2.76M ish per block.
Exclusif (75 x Base)
- Seats 500 per block of boxes, costs £5.5M ish per block.
So as you can see - getting the balance right can be quite tricky... maybe those die hards don't pay much, but will your team still win and attract the bigwig corps if you don't have them there to cheer you on in the closing stages... Tough choices ahead!

Happy New Year!

Well, I hope your heads aren't as sore as mine this cheery New Year's Day.

I've had plenty of time off work over the festive period, so I've been breaking my new graphics card in very gently with plenty of FML. The Blades, or should I say 'Now Is The Time' now, have been having a pretty miserable time in GW Coppell, but the added time I've been putting in has really paid off, with a rise of 250 places in the rankings in the past week. If I can keep it up, I may be in with a shout at 'Mover of the Week' this week, and god knows I could use that £100k prize money!

There have been some pretty big wins lately - a couple of 3-0 away wins over top 50 opposition, which is always nice. Of course, the rankings are just that these days - rankings, and nothing more. They don't have any actual significance now, since in 1.1 your income isn't based solely on team reputation. There's now a hidden FA ranking system, so you have a ranking within your FA, and it's this (and UFFA matches) that influence your team reputation.

I assume your team rep then influences how many fans your team has, and your income that way... which is then limited by the size and style of your stadium...!

Speaking of which, I've been working hard learning Infrastructure skills - I'm up to Construction 4 (saving me 20% of building costs) and Foreman 3 (cutting building times by 15%). That means I've been able to switch to building the stadium upgrades myself, rather than having to pay 10% extra to get SI Construction Inc to do it (and they only have Construction3, Foreman 3 too!).

With that in mind, I've raised capacity to about 16500, coming in line with my projected current attendance, so that should help bring a bit more money in!