Jun 08

Unknown Worlds


162x90genlogo Unknown WorldsPlayer regeneration is one of the keys that make FML such an intriguing long term prospect, the unknown factor of player development is what keeps the majority of long term players involved.

Since FML began all game worlds have started with a slice of SI’s latest real player database, approximately 50,000 players per world. These players are all real players from real teams somewhere in the real world, and the fact they are known in real life makes many of them very attractive to all types of players. Once a game world has launched though it cannot have it’s player database updated, so it needs to grow on it’s own for the longevity of the world. This occurs through what are commonly known as regens, essentially randomly generated players that will grow and develop as the seasons pass.

Everyday new regens are created as needed to maintain the database within it’s required numbers, replacing old players who retire. These players appear randomly throughout the day and whilst the aim is to maintain a certain level of player ability within the database, there is no direct relation between yesterday’s retirement and today’s regen.

One of the major new features from the 1.2 update (although it won’t be noticed in existing worlds), is the ability to now create worlds full of regen’s from day 1. One of the most requested ideas throughout beta and into initial live launch, it allows for the creation of game worlds where nobody will have prior knowledge of the players. For a game like FML this has a large appeal for many who find the scouting and development of players a major feature of the game. Although all worlds will eventually end up full of regen’s, the thought of having no known players from the start is seen as a great leveller by many.

How well it works remains to be seen, already a number of areas of concern have been raised throughout the forums around what type of world should be allowed. Biggest concern of many is that no-one be able to bring skills from another world into a regen only world. Specifically the Judging Potential skill, the concern is this will enable people to immediately spot the best talent, and so a similar battle for players will take place as in world’s full of known players. Certainly a reasonable concern on the surface, but considering all players will have a pre-assigned value (acquisition fee) that takes into account their ability is JP really going to make that much difference.

Players can be searched for by a huge range of filters covering all facets of their profile, and those that understand the youth development process have little trouble uncovering the bulk of future potential stars just by setting up a few filters for their search. In fact it’s often a far more accurate way of finding the best players than the simple star ranking offered to those with judging potential. So blocking the importing of JP won’t prevent the more experienced users from acquiring the best players, it will just limit the competition.Although the argument can always be made that JP offers a sense of security in determining the true potential advancement of the player.
Whichever way you look at it the suggestion that everyone starts on a level playing field is probably the best approach for new worlds, so no skills is a part of that, but only a part.

FML so far has 3 options for new world creation, Beginner worlds (open to new accounts only), Semi-pro worlds (where you can transfer from another world but lose all skills), and Pro worlds (where you can transfer with all skills in place).

So which would be best for a new regen only world ?

The problem with beginner worlds is the number of new users who are likely to enter such a world and quickly become lost, without some prior experience and knowledge of FML a regen only world would be a very hard ask indeed. From tasks as simple as setting filters for searching, through to best practice for youth development and skill selection, each of these are improved with experience inside the game and to expect someone without any prior knowledge of the game to be able to compete with more experienced users would be slightly unfair.

Pro worlds, for the JP argument posted above, and the sheer fact they are a very hard type world to attract new users too I’d say a bad choice. As much as anything else the damage to existing worlds by having a mass exodus of the most experienced users jump to a fresh pro world should be enough to discourage this option.

That leaves the Semi-pro choice, while it also risks the exodus of teams from existing worlds it does force them to consider starting all over again. But the main advantage of this choice is making it clear to all new users to the game that this world will be full of experienced players. Along with the fact people can (and many do) have multiple accounts on different worlds it allows experienced users to add another option to their FML experience, without necessarily giving up the team in their current world.

Whatever choice is eventually made for these type of worlds, it’s clear many want them. Whether they offer the experience expected remains to be seen, what they will offer is an interesting alternative. From the impact of signing players right through to determining which opposition player is the biggest threat, much of the way we play is governed by prior knowledge of players in the real world. The thought of not having any of that adds an element of the unknown that may make the FML experience more exciting and more of an adventure. It won’t suit everyone, and the lack of certainties in players will certainly be frustrating for many. The match engine will no doubt receive the blame for many more lost matches by a team of unknown super stars under the control of a genius manager.

Long term it’s an exciting prospect, is FML ready for it yet is the one question that remains. I love the concept, I look forward to it’s implementation, but it shouldn’t be rushed. For me anyway I’d rather see it come in after the addition of scouting camps and youth academies. Features that add to the whole genre of player development should be included in a world that is designed around player development from the beginning.

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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