My aim for the guide is for it to have something for all, and reflect how good the game itself is. I try to ensure it combines the core information everyone needs with the strategy typically more common on fan sites. I also want people to read it and feel excited by the game, so we always try to comprehensively review updates in advance of their release, and, in the case of interested non-users, make sure the Quick Start guide is as digestible and up-to-date an overview of the game as possible. – Alexander Harris, FML Online Manual Team
Everybody has questions about Football Manager Live, whether it’s forum queries from new people asking what the game is about or more specific questions from long term players wanting to know about individual areas of the game. Well for those that haven’t realised yet there is a manual, it’s online and accessible to all current managers or those thinking of starting out in FML.
This week I thought I’d take a closer look at what’s in the manual and how that information is presented and collated. To start with let’s look at how it is written, the manual itself falls under the supervision of Marc Duffy but by far the majority of the work has been compiled by Alexander Harris, as a former employee of Sports Interactive he has maintained his close connection with FML and to a large degree the online manual exists due to his efforts.
There is also a large amount of cooperative input from all sorts of knowledgeable people throughout the FML community, mostly long term beta testers who have seen the changes come in and worked out the best ways to use and understand each feature. Since inception the manual has been envisaged as a ‘work in progress’, and in order to remain relevant to the ongoing development of FML it is constantly reviewed and updated.
So what’s in the manual and why should you read it ?
It’s a good question, not many people read manuals, well not until we get stuck with something anyway. But FML has a number of features that aren’t reversible, make some really basic errors in the game early on and it can have serious long term effects on your team’s chances at success. Of course there’s always the option to restart, and to a degree that’s there to allow new players a second (or more) chance to start over, but by the time your looking to build a stadium your probably at a stage where you don’t want to restart and poor planning here can have devastating effects on your club.
With the level of importance around some features of the game it becomes fairly important for the manual to give some very good information about those features. The potential problem with that is so many aspects of the game are about personal choices, about individual management options
The manual can’t tell you how much to bid on a certain player, or how big a wage budget to have, or which seats/stands to build for your club. The specifics come down in part to how you want your club to be, and also what other choices you may have made. So the manual attempts to deal with the facts, it’s there to give you some ideas, to outline some of the pitfalls and to detail how some of the features in FML can be accessed. It’s not there to tell you how to play, it’s not a ‘walkthrough’ or a step by step path to success.
A big part of a manual set out to help with specific areas of the game, rather than just a guide on how to play, becomes the accessibility of that information. How easy is it to find information on the area of the game you want to know about, how user friendly is the manual?
For that we’ll take a look at how the manual is set out, and how to use it to find what you want. The manual is split into four core parts:
- Quick Start Guide – A crash course in the game for those keen to get up to speed quickly.
- The Thematic Guide – An in-depth and strategic look at every area of FML.
- FML Page by Page – Every single page of the game explained, especially for you.
- Game Updates – A guide to past/future game updates, and FML’s ‘Constant Development’.
Each of these is further broken down into a number of subheadings designed to quickly narrow your search for information. So with the 1.3 update coming we can quickly check out the Game Updates section, click on 1.3 and it will open up to an overview of the 1.3 update, with further links to more information like the Full Changelist, or more in depth information on several of the core features of the new update.
Beyond the four core areas of the manual there is some additional information about the more Technical aspects of the game such as system specs.
Combined with a fully integrated Search function there is also a Glossary of terms commonly used throughout the game and manual.
Because of the size of the manual and the constant development of the game itself, there are occasions where some sections may be outdated or information misplaced. To assist with the constant review of the manual it has it’s own sub forum on the Sports Interactive Community Forums where any queries are quickly addressed. This is the place to query anything from the manual that is unclear or difficult to find and any suggestions for areas of the game that could be better explained.
Like the game itself, the manual is currently only available in English. This will obviously be addressed in time when the game branches out into other languages. For now though it relies on the assistance of those in the community with translations, and to date the best of these is the Manuale in Italiano written by Riccardo Bianconi, who has translated part of the manual into Italian. Other translations from the community will be welcomed and should be linked in the forum, and eventually may be linked to the main manual itself.
PDF or Download
At this stage of development many areas of the game change with each update, as such a downloadable or hard copy version of the manual is not currently available although it is something that has been considered for the future.
As the game itself develops, so too will the online manual. In it’s endeavour to keep up to date with the latest and most accurate information available it requires input from many sources, not least of which is the users who play the game on a daily basis.
The Football Manager Live Online Manual can be found at manual.fmlive.co.uk.
|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.