I’m talking to all of you who complain about AI percentages. I’m talking to all of you who say “this is Football Manager Live” as if this catch phrase gives you moral authority. And I’m especially talking to those of you who think that incredibly harsh AI penalties will make the game fairer.
It’s OK to admit. I know it’s not your fault. You hear the people moaning in the chat rooms, it snowballs, and before you know it you’re thinking the same. People who play with their AI aren’t trying, right? They haven’t done anything to deserve their results? They might as well play FM09?
Hate to break this to you, but you’re still wrong. But, I suppose without playing games live you’re missing the human v human element in the gameplay. You’re missing out on community banter. You end up just playing a computer controlled team with no human elements.
I have yet to see a considered, reasoned and logical opinion for why a high AI% is such a bad thing. All of the excuses above have some validity in that this is perhaps what you might have expected from the FML experience. But in reality, these opinions are just not based in fact.
I’m going to lay some actual facts on you. The truth about AI. At the end of this, you can avoid ever having to be wrong again.
Human interaction – what do you think the chat rooms are for?
Just because you’re not playing directly against anyone in the match doesn’t mean you can’t have banter and chat with other managers. What about if you’ve played all your games against a particular manager in the title challenge in a league. Are you not allowed to go into the lobby and let him know you just won 5-0 and only need one more point to wipe the floor with him and take the cup? So, how is playing against a person who makes no tactical changes and says only “gl, wp” any different?
The community – the banter – is what you make of it. Go into the lobby and start chatting. You don’t need another human during a match to do that for you.
The human hasn’t done anything to deserve his wins? Well, then who assembled the squad?
OK, so the AI bought the players did it? No. The AI must have chosen the starting tactics? No. OK, well it chose the starting eleven? Nope, not if the user left the game with a favoured lineup. It must have bought the youth, managed the finances, built the stadium, learned the skills and entered the competitions? No, no, no, no and no. All human. Somebody has put in the work to build the team up to the point where it can win football matches.
Humans participate in the transfer market and provide competition. They don’t have to log on every game to do that. In fact, you can play against a human in many, many ways without even kicking a football. Only an idiot, surely, thinks that running a football club is only about the 90 minutes on the pitch.
Fact is, if you’re losing to a team even though they rarely log on to change tactics then frankly you’re not as good as they are at all of these other factors. Maybe that’s the thing that hurts the most?
The only thing that makes AI% bad is that it is a symptom of a larger problem.
A high AI% usually (and I stress ‘usually’) is a sign of complete inactivity. Once teams hit 100% for the completed season in their senior first team federation matches, it is safe to assume that the manager has left the game. At that point, the team becomes a ghost, ticking down the time to deactivation. The team plays its matches under AI control. At this point, we lose the human interaction from the chat rooms. We lose the human interaction in the transfer market. And we lose the human interaction in the matches.
But that doesn’t make AI% the problem. It makes it the symptom. That manager isn’t coming back to reduce his AI%. He’s not coming back because he doesn’t want to play anymore. No amount of punishment or encouragement is going to get him back. So, lay off the AI – it’s not it’s fault. And it isn’t the problem, either.
Playing a match in FML against the AI has sod all to do with playing FM09.
For all the reasons above. The AI in FM09 controls real clubs – it buys the players, it sells the players, it creates the tactics, sets the training and controls the finances. There are no chat rooms, there is no human v human interaction, and you sure as hell can’t play 400 games a season. In FML, even a team which hasn’t seen its manager for 2 months has the imprint of the human’s skills and personalities. “Mickey’s Monkeys” don’t play in FM09. They didn’t buy a crap striker for £2m just because he plays for Mickey’s favourite team. It wasn’t in the chat room a couple of months ago telling awesome jokes about Manchester City. And it sure as hell wouldn’t have picked that 3-2-5 formation thing that Mickey picked last Thursday.
No. The AI is not the bad guy. The AI allows all of these other human elements to thrive in a world where people cannot always be online at the same time. Logging on more, or being more able to play games live does not give you the moral authority to do better than a well-constructed club. It doesn’t mean that you are a better player, either.
Just do me a favour: next time you lose to an AI manager, just ask yourself the following questions:
- Who bought these players?
- Who chose these tactics?
- Who brought through these youths?
- Who built the stadium?
- Who managed the finances to allow the team to do the above?
- Who learned the skills to make all of this possible?
I have a sneaking suspicion AI doesn’t sound so bad now.
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.