Jun 01

The Future of FML


The original title for this article was to be ‘Coming Soon’, but one of the peculiarities of FML’s constant development model is the reaction to consumer desires as opposed to a confirmed timeline to any new developments. When something is advertised as ‘coming soon’ then everyone wants to know exactly how soon.

There is a road map of future development, and at some stage there is the hope to include this in the game itself. But for similar reasons any published road map of future developments creates an amount of pressure to stick to that plan, instead of having a degree of freedom to react to the needs of the current users.

Yeah I like this idea – it shouldn’t be too hard to do (not making any promises as to when though!)
Ov Collyer

So keeping that in mind I thought I would highlight some of the plans for future upgrades, in terms of what has been discussed throughout the forums, without any indication of when these additions may arrive (although where possible I will give a reflection of priority).

1.2 Friends and Tactics

A lot of information already available on this upgrade through the online manual, developer blogs, and elsewhere throughout the FML community sites, so we’ll just discuss briefly the main areas. A large part of the focus of the 1.2 upgrade was to polish much of what had been added previously and the introduction of the new tactics wizard and interface along with a strengthening of the community structure of FML with the friends pages a large focus. No set date for release as yet, but considering the time it has already spent in beta testing it’s likely we’ll see this upgrade released within weeks rather than months.

The new tactical interface is a big step in the revolution of FM/FML tactics and over the next incarnations of both games we are likely to see this improved further. Already discussion abounds on implementation of alternative philosophies, and self created touchline instructions.

The emphasis on the friend’s structure throughout the new upgrade is an interesting focus, with similarities to facebook and similar sites it looks a great way to keep in touch with those you befriend throughout the game world and has some interesting options for growth with the possibility of future expansion to include friends on other worlds (or being able to keep in touch with friends who do move worlds) generating a lot of interest.

New Infrastructure

A number of additions in terms of optional infrastructure are planned for FML and at this stage it is planned for these to be introduced together, to emphasis the choice aspect for each manager. Youth Academies, Scouting Camps, Medical Centres and Training Facilities have all been muted as candidates for inclusion. The over riding ideology being that each of the major skill groups will have an additional infrastructure model to further improve their importance. Along with the introduction of more things to build we are likely to see better ways for managers to utilise their skills, and benefit from the decisions to specialise in particular areas. The key introduction here will be the ability to ‘sell’ your services to another manager, whether that’s through training, scouting or healing. With much already started in the development stage of this infrastructure it’s likely we’ll see it introduced throughout the 1.3/1.4 upgrades planned for later in 2009.

Another area that’s often discussed is the finance sector, without any firm model at this stage it’s certainly likely that some sort of banking/finance infrastructure will eventually be incorporated. With talk of monetary loans, stock markets, and even the part purchasing of feeder clubs occasionally popping up in the forums it’s an area that, although not a priority, certainly has sufficient interest within the community to justify inclusion. At a minimum a defined “Bank of SI” will be introduced at some stage, initially as a way to track in game economy, but eventually with more ability to affect that economy based on a specific game worlds needs.

Player and Team Training

The ability to train player preferred moves and new positions, certainly something that’s possible in FM and at least PPM’s will be brought into FML. As a minimum this sort of addition will be factored in after the introduction (or maybe with) of further infrastructure such as training pitches, scouting camps, and youth academies. One area discussed early on in beta was the option of having older or retired players having an influence on this, giving more reasons to hold onto players as they age would be a nice touch.

Team or perhaps more precisely tactical training has also been discussed. The proposal of having a training match mode, where play can be stopped – rewound – changes made – and played through again. This would be a great benefit in terms of seeing which players and tactics are best for various match situations, especially set pieces.

Climate and Weather

In it’s simplest form this would be considered a definite addition for a future update, introducing weather and pitch conditions seems fairly natural to most experienced FMers. The interesting proposal for this addition would be the recognition of FML as a global environment, and Ov’s suggestion to hook up with a real-time weather data provider adds an exciting level to this addition.

The ability to have the real conditions in your city, today, represented inside FML as you play a match. Exactly how much of that could or even should be brought to bear on the match engine will require some careful consideration, but even as window dressing it would add an additional talking point when chatting with your opponent in match.

Export to …

A definite addition at some point, the ability to export a range of information has been discussed throughout the forums several times. A fairly definite ‘yes’ from the development team, it’s simply a matter of priorities and this point.

International Matches

Certainly one of the most requested features to be added to the game. It raises a number of difficulties from selection of managers through to handing over players, and these will require some careful planning to prevent potential exploits and still keep everyone happy.
Particularly with a view to players, injuries and compensation are often brought up as stumbling blocks, much as they are in real life football. Somehow the thought of ‘nerfing’ the impact of these would lessen the value of the matches themselves, and yet people will always be reluctant to hand over their star players for such ventures.
The concept of nation vs nation is another area that may not be best suited for FML, the main alternative suggestion is to select teams from each Football Association within a game world. This would add a further level of community support for all teams, without being concerned about national dominance of managers or players within a world.

Further suggestions of cross world competitions, have also been raised again representing their own challenges for the developers.
Whichever format is finally selected, one thing is certain. There will be a time when these style of matches are added to FML, the constant calls for it through the forums will make sure of that.

TV Lounge

First introduced during the 1.1 update, the TV lounge is another area that will see some further upgrading in the future. One area often asked for is the ability to view major matches, either UFFA comps or even each FA’s big cup finals. Importantly here is the fact the base technology is now in place and modifications can be made to it in the future, whether that’s beaming these matches to the main TV lounge, or adding versions of the TV lounge to each FA chat room.

These are just a few of the known additions planned for FML in the future, there are many, many more and perhaps we’ll look at others in an update article some day. One of the big things that stands out through all of the discussions of new features is the willingness of the developers to discuss with and listen to the desires of the community. Throughout the 18 months I’ve been involved with FML there have been numerous threads both in general and beta forums discussing both upcoming features, and how they might be modified, as well as requests for community input into what they would like for the future. As much as FML is a creation of SI, those playing also have a great opportunity to help develop the direction of the game, and that can be as rewarding as playing itself.

Mark Burton

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.
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  • I did notice the option to filter your player searches by 'International Caps' and International Goals' :D It certainly got me excited about the possiblity. I'd really love to see one of my players capped at international level - even if it was AI controlled. It would add a bit of attraction to the off-season, I'm sure.

    I'm a fan of the FA vs. FA idea too. It would really build communities and, since that's what is a massive part of the game already, I can see this as a very viable option.

    Good work Mark :)

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