The Soul of a Gameworld – The Community
Football Manager Live (FML) has always been a game in which the more you put in the more you get out. Each person in the GameWorld (GW) plays their part in making the community and the community is the one thing that holds the GW together.
If you’re active in the chat rooms, be it the lobby or your Football Association chatroom then you can talk to other guys from all different backgrounds. The more you immerse yourself into the chatrooms, the more you’ll find banter. Banter, not to be confused with abuse or heated arguments, is for me the very heart of why FML is a success. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good argument – if everyone had the same opinion then life and football itself would be extremely dull. Encountering people having such passion and biased views is great, as long as you realise I am right.
Pre-1.2 there were the chatrooms/ match chat, and then discussion mail/ mails. As someone who loses a match, you could take your frustrations to the nearest chatroom and then let it all out. In return you may get some sympathy but there will always be someone that will give you a ribbing. If you win and show off in the lobby you will get congratulated but you may also be taken down a peg or two. News items of successes/ failures come to all involved and the discussion chats fall out to congratulate or commiserate.
Post-1.2 we now have the “homepage” which now allows you to comment on everything. This means that you can laugh at your mates signings, tell them to report a bug when they have a winning run or point and laugh when they lose a player in wage auction. All in all the features are there to really build up a good rapport with people online.
Now compare all the above with the Football Manager (FM) series and you notice something immediately. You may win promotion; you may lose in the cup final by pens; you may make an amazing signing… No-one actually cares. There is no-one to relate to. No-one gets jealous. There is no rubbing it in. There is no banter. I have to admit I got bored with FM08 when Beta GW “Psycho” closed because of this fact. What I guess I’m saying is that, for me, FM08 had no soul.
Spreading the Activity
Getting back to FML GWs, there appear to be those that are hardcore to a GW and those that enjoy chat but will spread themselves over multiple GWs, sometimes thinly so that they have to take turns between GWs on shifts or in patterns. So rather than having one super-hardcore manager, there is now maybe a semi-hardcore manager or maybe a semi-casual manager. I can’t imagine for a second that these guys will be willing to contribute actively in the lobby in every GW they are in (although I know there will be some that do), so most of these accounts will be purely for playing games. So already I am worried that we’re losing that essential contributions that add to the “soul”.
People complain regularly in the forums about “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) and inactive managers, but imagine a place where everyone was happy in having just one GW to concentrate their activity in. For anyone that played in Beta pre-release, each person was (supposed to be) limited to one account. This meant that the Beta GW was your home, your pub, your crèche. As a comparison you would be more likely to meet the same people regularly which helped define the community during your playtimes.
So the question is why do people need more than one GW. I’ve asked this of many people now and there are normally two responses.
1) I got bored so wanted to try something new.
2) I wanted to start again without losing my team.
The problem with either is that it takes an active team and for maybe two seasons, that new team will get a certain parental gesture that will affect the team in the original GW. They may also shift priority to a team depending on the relative successes.
My normal response to someone saying that they need a new challenge is “have you tried developing youth” or “have you tried putting together a single-nationality team”. The problem now is that many of the teams have already tried this.
Shift of Focus from Match Engine to New Things To Do
I think it’s fair to say that for a while now people in the forums have been demanding a new match engine (ME). The topic would come up with any ME flaw detected or any topic about what you want to see in FML. I think it’s also fair to say that upon the revelation in Marc Duffy’s blog post that v1.3 will see FM2010 ME that the focus has turned to new things to do within FML.
I wonder how many people that are in multiple GWs are managing in comparison to those with the single GW. I also wonder how the dynamics will change once we start seeing the features in the roadmap sneaking their way into future released. Will it mean that those in multiple GWs will consider that there is enough to do to let some subscriptions expire? Will it mean that the stimulated activity will provide a higher retention rate and thus a busier chatroom and therefore inviting those in more that one GW to make a choice? I hope so.
Some changes are already in place (such as deep tiered league formats and Super FAs) but with the 1.3 release and ability to play AI teams we’re seeing the start of changes to come. I’m sure that we’ll see some manual challenges set against an even baseline of AI teams with some more cross-GW competitions appearing.
What does the future hold?
1.4 is hinted on the development diaries to contain missions and I think that this will be the point where FML comes into it’s own and I predict we will see people happy to be a single-GW manager again, increasing chatroom activity and allowing GWs to populate in the great way they used to be.
|Written By Rik Stewart
A long-standing beta tester for FM Live, Rik is a moderator on GW Hoddle and responsible for their game world blog at hoddlelegends.blogspot.com.