Some of the most negative posts throughout the forums are based around perceptions of match levelling factors and pre-determined results. Quite simply these things do not exist. Some of the issues here I have touched on before, but let’s take a closer look at the match engine and try and find some possible causes for these results.
The match engine (ME) currently used in FML is basically a hybrid of the old FM08 engine, improved many times. The big advantage of FML is it allows the developers of the ME to collect massive amounts of information on a whole range of effects and factors that aren’t seen in general testing. People have imaginative ideas on how tactics should work, and the information collected allows for major improvements to be made. During the early stages of Beta the ME was often updated. The FM09 engine completely rewrote the ball physics and that in turn forced a number of other changes, this engine will soon be incorporated into FML and from there will see regular upgrades as improvements are made. One of the key factors in the new 09 engine is it’s 3D compatibility (also coming to FML in the future). This is a new area for the FM development team and will likely see refinements over time much as the old engines have developed yearly. A key fact in all of this is to remember that the engine has not had a full rewrite since CM4: the base structure is the same and each successive upgrade has been to improve certain aspects in the way it reacts to situations.
Another great advantage of FML is the speed with which new additions or versions of the ME can be rolled out. No more waiting for next years disc, they will now be added to regular updates of FML. As with FML itself, the ME is a work of constant development. It may never be perfect but the range of data that can be collected via FML allows for faster development of what is already considered the best football match simulator around.
One of the myths surrounding FM/FML is the theory that the result of a match is determined prior to the match starting. This is incorrect. The game calculates forward so it can collate highlights, anytime a change is made by a human player it will recalculate the match from that point including the new changes. A key point here is the match engine does not know the result of the match, so it cannot predetermine any result.
Losing to teams ranked much lower
Levelling factors are another myth in the FML universe. There are many factors that are fed into the match engine, both pre-match and mid-match, and these may have an affect on your players. But the rank of your opposition is not one of them. Things like form and morale are added to the ME for teams and individual players; also each competition is awarded an importance level, which affects things like the big match attribute. Examples of this are easier to see in the new 1.1 update than they were in 1.0. For example the player rating screens will now show a “nervous” player if the pressure is on or a “complacent” player if things appear to be too easy. These indicators will help you determine important information about a players hidden attributes, and should be used as a guide in determining if the player is right for your team.
These additional factors have no bearing on your opposition, they simply add to the realism of the match by factoring in the likely psychological aspects of the players.
Second leg finals
The claim that winning the first leg of a two legged final is guarenteed to make you lose the tie overall is another area that has often be classed in the “fixed match” category. This one has actually had a slight grain of truth behind it in the past, although nothing to the extent claimed. Each match has a “required result” which tells players what is required of them in the match, again this is merely a factor in determining response based on player psychology. There was a bug that would set this “required result” to ‘no result required’ when a team had already won the first leg of a competition, instead of suggesting a ‘draw’. This would affect player psychology by removing the added incentive required to get through. Note: It would not fix the result, it simply removed a small incentive factor from player behaviour.
Another favoured forum topic is the so called Corner Exploit. Again this is to a large degree a lot of misunderstanding and over-estimation. If you have a good defensive line up and sound defensive tactical settings then there is no such exploit. The main area of exploitation here is teams with very high quality players challenging teams with substandard defensive line ups.
This is compounded by the need to learn tactical skills to organise good defensive settings, along with learning the best way to use those skills. It’s not a match engine exploit; it can be defended against successfully with the right players and skills, and it cannot be performed without the right players or skills. Some will learn the skills and buy the players, others will focus on other areas of the game. The choice is up to each manager. One thing that has been identified is a beneficial tightening up of defensive actions, and this will come in the new match engine update. But it won’t stop the issue, that will always require you to learn the tactical settings required.
I’m not going to discuss the offline opponent debate again, see Artificial Intelligence for that. But an area of the match engine which is subject to an AI like effect is player personality. Often under-rated by many, it is generally the cause of many of the “Match engine is faulty” type threads. To put it simply players don’t always listen to managers, although you do have some control over the amount of freedom you give them (Creativity settings). Each player will have his defined personality traits some obvious some hidden. Just as it can take time for a new signing to adjust to your team, it will also take you time to understand the personality of new players, and to adjust your tactics to suit. Before signing a player take a good look at their attributes. It will give you some clues to the more obvious traits in their personality – Aggression, Bravery, Determination these and many more are indicators of a players personality, and taking time to consider whether they will suit your team or style of play can make a big difference.
|Written By Mark Burton
A moderator since May 2008 in a number of beta worlds and now GW Fowler, he strives to highlight the community aspects of FML and inform new & experienced users about future game development.