The ‘consistency’ or lack of is often blamed on the match engine, but more often than not it comes down to tactical approaches or player choices. The reputation of players is a very good indicator of their consistency; it’s one of the main factors in determining a player’s reputation. So take a good look at the highest reputation players in your team, are they in the right areas to produce quality football match after match? Do you have enough players of a high enough reputation level to maintain the level of football you expect from your team? By asking and honestly answering these type of questions you may find your team is unbalanced, or playing well above what it should, as opposed to being merely inconsistent.
The 4-5-1 Debate
Tactical theory is covered comprehensively in another area so I don’t want to stray into that realm. But the 4-5-1 debate rages regularly around the SI forums where it’s often suggested as a super tactic that is too strong for the ME. To start we need to take a quick look at the history of tactical changes throughout the FML Beta. The skills weren’t always a part of FML and when I first started on the Beta the old arrows system was still in play, over time these were removed. Initially met with outrage on the forums it became obvious fairly quickly that the removal of both was a benefit to the game as a whole. From time to time there is still an occasional outcry over the lack of initial tactical ability, but most accept that as an MMO it’s a good option to have. What it did mean though was that new players (especially on joining older worlds) would need a usable tactical set-up from day one. So the default formations were created to give everyone the choice of a reasonably sound, but fairly basic tactical set-up from day one.
Herein lies a large part of the issue with 4-5-1, as a base default tactic it is strong simply because it overwhelms the midfield through sheer weight of numbers. Although not an overly difficult tactic to defeat, the current range of default tactics do not provide a set up designed to counter the 4-5-1 effectively or consistently. So both tactical skills and knowledge become necessary to defeat such a tactic with any regularity. With the desire to pursue other areas of skills many people simply stick to a 4-5-1 default (or with minor changes) and therefore the tactic becomes naturally pre-eminent throughout a game world.
What changes are coming?
The Tactical Wizard
The 1.2 upgrade will see the beginnings (I hope) of a revolution (or is it merely evolution) in the way tactical options are presented to users of FML and eventually FM.
In short it’s a more stylised approach to tactics, using language and simple options to build a sensible tactic instead of an array of often misunderstood sliders and tick boxes. In addition it includes some initial efforts in trying to bring some of the information on what type of players suit what type style of play (through the highlighting of key attributes, and individual descriptions for each position).
Further additions will see stylised approaches to set piece instructions as well, which should be beneficial in reducing the “corner exploit” complaints. However like with the base tactics and formations designed by the wizard, these will not be tailored to suit the players you have (you’ll need to make that adjustment) they are simply well constructed and balanced tactical instructions based around the style you would like.
The Shout Box
As an extension of the tactical wizard the new tactics interface will also allow for the use of plain language adjustments mid-match that will automatically adjust the background tactical set-up to suit. Adjust the style of your team or individual player tactics, without the need to manually adjust a number of sliders.
Both of these additions and others are still in beta testing at time of writing and susceptible to changes. But I’m certain more will be written about them closer to the launch of the 1.2 upgrade. One of the main concerns for these new changes is how they will impact on the tactics skills as currently available. Certainly a topic of debate within the forums and once a more settled view on the likely adjustments is determined then we’ll take a look at that in more depth.
The Next Generation ME
When is the next version of the ME coming to FML?
There is no simple answer to this question, making the FM09 engine compatible with FML requires a lot of changes, and these are being worked on currently. In addition a number of changes to that version will mean further adjustment. So although the short answer may be soon, a lot depends on the current stability of the FM engine and whether further adjustment is required. Clearly the desire is that the new ME will be ready for the 1.2 update, and much of the tactical base utilised by the new wizard set-up will benefit from the new ME if launched together. But no guarantees at this stage on that, like most changes on FML the desire to minimise potential major bugs requires lengthy testing both throughout a beta process and in-house.
With a bit of luck Random Results parts 1+2 will help some to understand better ways to tackle the perceived flaws in the match engine, I’m fairly certain others will steadfastly refuse to believe any of it. Regardless of which you are, the current match engine is fixed and will not be altered. The new match engine will bring with it a new range (and maybe some of the old) of complaints about its inconsistency. FML offers great access to information on tactics and how to counter them, through the in game chat rooms and through a great range of community supported websites (like this one), forums and blogs. Making use of these will not only help more people to improve their game play, but well constructed views on any real match engine issues, and the ability of FML for rapid adjustment in ME changes will hopefully see the match engine continue as the best simulation of football for a long time to come.
|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.