Sep 21

Stadium Atmosphere Revisited


A few weeks ago we cleared up the confusion around changes to stadium atmosphere in 1.3 – they will not be factored into the match engine at this stage. What we were unable to do at that time was give you any in depth information on how these changes would affect your decisions in terms of stadium building, now we have some answers and we’ll go through more detail on how this side of the game will work.

The first question most people will have is, when will it be factored into the match engine, when will it have some real effect on match day planning? Again, this is a question we cannot completely confirm, but it’s unlikely at this stage to be implemented with the 1.4 update.

What we can suggest though, if we refer to some of the information from Miles Jacobsen’s blogs, the new stadium effects implemented into FM’10 resemble a similar format to that used in FML, as such it’s then likely that the merger of FML to the 3D match view which now displays these stadiums would be a good time to finally introduce it’s effectiveness to the match engine. So according to the road map let’s say tentatively early to mid 2010, that should give plenty of time for people to experiment with the new conditions.

So what do we know?

Every fan type has their own rating for atmosphere, this can be seen via the biography page in game but they are as follows:

  • Sideshow: 95%
  • Die Hard: 90%
  • Devoted: 80%
  • Glory Hunter: 55%
  • Family: 50%
  • Corporate: 0%

Immediately we can see some clear differences, while corporate fans may be great for boosting your income they do nothing at all to benefit your atmosphere on the other hand the lower earners bring the biggest boosts. A balance will be required between providing for both sets of fans to achieve a great stadium atmosphere and a team full of highly paid stars.

One common question throughout the forums has been how much effect the size of the stadium has, the simple answer here is none. That is, it’s possible to get a 5 star atmosphere rating in any size stadium. The key becomes the closeness of the fans and the number of empty spaces. So an 8,000 seat capacity stadium can achieve a 5 star rating, but it would require compact seating (Astilla seats or Terraces) and needs to be packed to the rafters with Die Hard fans. Clearly under those conditions it will be a very low money earner, but the players will feel the love.

Two important areas to come out of the above, first of all the type of fan is important to atmosphere and looking after the low income earners will be costly but ultimately rewarding. More importantly we can now see the reasoning behind some of the different stand and seating options. Each of the stand types in FML has 2 differing levels, and the difference between these is the amount of space in square metres that they provide. This now needs to be cross referenced with not just the type of seating you can build, but also the amount of those seats that can fit into an area. The more compact the seating the better the atmosphere that can be generated from that area.

“Both seat numbers and total space are used in the calculation so a stadium with loads of bigger seats (Di Lusso etc) will typically have a lower atmosphere than a more compact one (with Astilla seats let’s say.) In addition of course, to the fact that fans sitting in the more expensive seats will tend to produce lower atmosphere anyway.” – Rob Cooper, Sports Interactive

Having your fans stand shoulder to shoulder in the terraces will give you more of a boost to atmosphere than sitting them in Astilla’s, but this is a fairly minimal impact and more likely to be noticed in the smaller stadiums than in the larger. Empty seats and empty blocks are the biggest factors involved in detracting from your stadiums potential atmosphere. 30,000 fans in a stadium built to hold 45,000 fans would result in a 16% hit to stadium atmosphere, the good news here is that the negative impact of empty spaces has a limit of 20%. Which means even in the bigger unfilled stadiums it should be possible to attain a 4 star rating, provided you account for all your atmosphere boosting fans in suitable areas, but to get the maximum atmosphere you really need to work at filling the stadium completely.

A Work in Progress

Many of the full effects of stadium atmosphere are unknown at this stage, and until it is linked to the match engine many areas will be largely irrelevant to how you build now. But forewarned is forearmed and as such there are a few likely additions we can address now, that’s not to say they will be definite but they are areas being looked at for the future.

Stadium condition at present is not factored into the atmosphere (beyond the fact seats become unusable eventually). But it’s a likely addition for the future, along with the possibility of lower ticket prices for poorly maintained sections of a stadium. In a related area there may be a negative impact for having above the norm fan traits such as a very violent crowd.

Away Fans are an interesting area that continues to be developed. At present they are not included as part of your stadium atmosphere, that just reflects the atmosphere created by your fans. Once implemented into the match engine though away fans will be given a certain quota of seats and there will be a separate ‘match day’ atmosphere which reflects any changes based on who and how many fans the visiting team brings with them. A good away crowd may boost the general atmosphere in a stadium, although away fans will never exceed the number of home fans. Another possibility is for the atmosphere to change during the match, based on the team’s performance, the types of fans and how they may react to what’s happening in the match. Much of this area remains to be tested so exactly how it will affect the players during a match is yet to be established

Neutral venues under the new change that sees some finals matches played at stadiums belonging to other members of the FA, the plan here is that the crowd will be made up from the supporters of the two teams along with a generous addition of extra corporate fans that come out to watch.

Other Atmosphere Effects

Match Importance, Player Reputation, Winning/Losing Streaks, at this stage there are no plans to have any of them affect the match day atmosphere. It is likely the initial version will be to simply plug your stadiums atmosphere into the match engine, however some effect from different fan types is likely in the future for example Die Hards will have a greater effect in lifting a side when it’s down than Glory Hunters (who will be first to the car park).

At this stage the overall stadium is used to determine the basic atmosphere rating, but having specific stands generating differing atmosphere conditions (and affecting different areas of the pitch) is definitely something that will be looked at in the future, although how complex that is to relate to the match engine may prevent it for some time.

Hopefully that will help to guide you in better stadium planning over the next few months, some insights into how it works with 1.3 and some ideas on how it might further develop in the future. The big question of course is how much of an effect each “star” of atmosphere rating might impact on your team, and as such that remains an unknown until it’s connected to the match engine and spends considerable time in testing.

Corner stands, raising the income cap and a whole range of other issues are amongst several ideas being considered for the future. The coming changes to remove money from friendly competitions will give greater importance to stadium and FA income levels, and how those changes may further effect the current set up are something that will be watched closely through the testing of 1.4.

Thanks once again to Sports Interactive’s virtual economist Rob Cooper who has taken the time to respond to a number of questions about how this area of the game should work, along with some information on how the future of atmosphere will be developed.

For more information about how stadiums work, the online manual has a great section dedicated to Stadiums covering fans, costs, revenues, strategies and more.

As with all sections of the manual it is regularly updated with any changes that are brought into the game or based on the feedback of the game’s users. An example of this can be found with the Repair Stadium Everyday thread in the general forum.

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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