Aug 17

Match Engine Preview 1.3 – Part 2


 This week we’ll take a look at the further advances in the match engine since the ’09 version, but before we do a bit of clarification. In light of Stephen’s comment last week I thought it important to clear up any misunderstanding about what a “new” match engine is. The match engine used in FM and FML is not totally rewritten each year, in fact it has not been rewritten since CM4. The new engine has had a complete rewrite of the underlying physics that govern the ball movement, but beyond that it’s improvements and additions to the previous version.

Each version is built on top of those before it, not in place of. Whilst at times some portions may be rewritten or removed, for the most part it’s further refinement of existing code or adding new code. So when we get the new match engine in FML it will be the sum of all those that have gone before, therefore the changes discussed this week are added to those from last week, and that’s all layered on top of what we already have.

 So the match engine for FM10 or more accurately for FML1.3 has again seen a huge number of refinements. Similar to the ’09 change list it would take many pages to outline everything that’s been addressed, but there are a number of important areas of improvement and those are what we’ll look at here.


Probably the biggest differences with the new ME, and possibly the most awaited are the developments in the positioning of players. Foremost of these is the new width controls for individual players, alongside the standard team width slider and the normal setting there are now three additional options. Hug Touchline, Cut Inside, Move Into Channels by setting these in the individual player instructions you now have more control over the movement of players and therefore the style of football you play.

Continuing on from the many defensive improvements made in the ’09 build there has been a lot of tweaking to the basic D-Line position and subsequent improvements to midfield and attack positions in relation to that, particularly when the opposition has the ball. Wide midfielders or wing backs will now pull back to join the D-line in formations that don’t employ full backs, and some positioning changes to the DM and AMC roles in tactics that don’t have standard MC positions employed.

Further improvements to keeper positioning and other defenders to allow greater back passing options when the defenders have possession of the ball, combined with improvements to keeper distribution to defenders. Better decision making when it comes to player marking and improved awareness for defenders taking up attacking positions without losing track of their opposite numbers. Good improvements with general off ball movement with a focus on free role and playmaker positions. But all of this comes at a cost, with players playing out of position being treated more harshly in terms of positioning and decision making.


One of the more noticeable changes with the new engine will be a more responsible approach to player condition. In line with this some minor changes will see players generally move slower, to conserve energy when possible. Also more relevance to work rate which will have a greater affect on a players ability (desire) to push back or create space. Some additional improvement in time wasting should now see teams employing this hold onto the ball a little better. 

Player Preferred Moves

Six new player preferred moves (PPM) have been implemented. Stops Play, Comes Deep To Get Ball, Tries Long Range Free Kicks, Tries First Time Shots, Runs With Ball Often and Runs With Ball Rarely. No real indications here on whether those will change the PPM’s your players might already have, but as they are assigned to players based on combinations of current attribute scores it’s worth checking through your squad to see if they’ve added any.


Some changes to the area of offside’s and linesmen, quicker calls on clear cut offside’s as well as a fix around players being called incorrectly when receiving the ball in a later phase of play. Linesmen should now hold their position after making an offside call and a new change will now see crowds have an occasional influence on a linesman’s decision if he’s out of position.

 Players crossing earlier, more realistic and intelligent first touches, the changes go on to affect nearly all areas of play. Will we see the end of the so called “Super Tactics”, unlikely as many, if not all, of those are manager dependant more so than match engine. What we will have though is more realistic options to counter unusual tactics, and with the huge improvements made throughout the defensive areas the full on attack tactics should become less effective. With more emphasis placed on players technical and mental attributes the use of outright speed should become less important, some changes here to dribbling speeds will also help.

The other big area of concern throughout the forums, the so called 2nd leg bug, has also seen some response. A rewrite of the match importance algorithm which affects the Important Match and Consistency attributes. Whether it’s enough to settle the debate in this area remains to be seen, but from the lack of outrage in the beta forum it looks promising.

Some big changes throughout, you will see some differences in both the look of matches and in the way your team currently plays. I’d strongly recommend taking the time to review your full side over the coming weeks, take a good look at some of the changes I’ve highlighted over the past two weeks and think how they might affect your players and your tactics overall.

The other big change in terms of stadium atmosphere is something we’ll look to address at a later date, sorry but I still have more questions than answers in this area so until we get some more accurate information it’s not an area I want to address in depth. One note I would make though, the current ME still uses atmosphere but for now it’s the same for everyone. Currently based on an average atmosphere rating you shouldn’t see any dramatic changes under the new ME unless your stadium is at an extreme of the spectrum, so don’t panic ~ yet!


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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