Oct 05

Match Engine FM2010 and FML v1.3


Several weeks ago I took a look at the changes made to the match engine since the launch of Football Manager Live, keeping in mind the launch version of the match engine was a hybrid of that used in FM08, the first article Match Engine Preview 1.3 – Part 1 discussed the changes made between there and the FM09 engine.

Following that we moved on to the changes made since then in Match Engine Preview 1.3 – Part 2. As mentioned in that second article, each ‘version’ of the match engine is added to all those that have gone before the changes bringing us to the Football Manager 2010 Match Engine include all that was mentioned in both of those articles along with some more recent additions.

Just to clarify this even further between the ’09 and 2010 versions of the match engine there have been around 60 “build” additions. That’s more than one each week over the last year, although many of these come as smaller additions toward the end of final testing, as bugs are encountered and fixed or refinements made in response to the feedback of the many testers in both FM Live beta and FM testing.

As such there have been a number of fixes, improvements and even some additions since we last looked at the match engine. Keeping in mind that the 1.3 update should see the same match engine employed as that locked into the release version of FM2010, it’s worth taking another quick look at some of these later additions now that the final version of the match engine has been locked in for release.

Match Stats

A couple of important changes for those that pay attention to the statistics derived throughout a match:

  • Changed long shot stat threshold to 22 yards instead of 20 yards.
  • Changed close range shot stat threshold to 12 yards instead of 10 yards.

These two changes will have a significant effect on the statistics produced throughout a match, as well as some impact on the way players perform to certain instructions such as long shots.

Along with these changes crosses will now be treated as passes and the total number of crosses added to the total passes statistic. This was implemented so crosses can also be logged as ‘key’ passes, an important change to keep in mind when assessing the overall passing of your team.

Player Awareness

A number of tweaks in this area both in terms of a players vision when it comes to selecting a passing option, as well as general improvements around a players own sense of the space he is in. This should lead to better decision making in terms of first touch passing or knowing when to hold onto the ball.


A number of improvements to the positioning for both defenders and attackers during throw-ins, especially in the midfield and defending throw-ins close to goal. The additional inclusion of the Rory Delap style throw in “Has flat hard throw”, to player preferred moves should add an interesting new element to the whole throw in area of match tactics.

Offside Movement

This area has had some more recent development from the player’s aspect, attackers should now be a little more careful about straying offside and ball carriers should be more aware of the position of forwards prior to passing to them. Combined with some recent improvements to defender positioning, that see defenders hold the line a little better by improving the decision making around when to hold the line and when to close down.

Off ball movement

Improvements to the general movement of players off the ball, both in attack and defence, most notably when it comes to a player recognising another player is going to get the ball. This should result in fewer instances of multiple players going for the same ball, and further improve player options when looking to pass.

In a related change there has been a lot of work done in trying to improve a players rate of recovery after being tackled, and they should now attempt to reclaim a spilt ball better. Also changes to the time taken to recover from players that go to ground, especially defenders that use sliding tackles will now take longer to regain their feet. This should see an added level of caution used with the hard tackling option especially for poorer defenders.

Specific Issues

Some significant changes have been made recently around some of the more specific issues that many complain about. Corners and specifically the “Challenge GK” exploit have had some assistance with goal keepers now more aggressive about coming off the line, and importantly challenges on a goal keeper more likely to be called as a foul.

The raging debate around the 4-6-0 has been noticed, and whilst this is still accepted as a genuine formation (even being included amongst the defaults for the tactic creator) there has been some improvement in the default behaviour of defenders who acknowledge a striker-less formation and automatically adjust their defensive line accordingly, this should assist some of the less tactically adept managers in countering these formations.

Another specific issue to receive some attention is penalties, with some minor improvements both in terms of the accuracy of shots and the responses of goal keepers.

Wide Play

Better options taken when crossing and more importantly better decisions on when to cross, has seen wide play working much better in the new match engine. Free kicks on the wings have had some improvement too, both in terms of the delivery and also the positioning of players.

A lot of improvement also for defenders in terms of centralising the defence to cover for expected crosses or knowing when to move out wide to mark players in threatening positions.

Tactic Creator

The tactic creator has also had an upgrade alongside the match engine, a number of tweaks to the current commands associated with player roles and mentality. There has also been some new player roles added and some changes to the terminology used, roaming replaces free role for example, to help make the choices more intuitive in language terms.

The addition of a “floating” tactic duty now allows for automated changes in player roles dependant on overall match strategy changes, or the option to lock a player to one type of duty regardless of strategy changes.

Lot’s of new “shouts” or touchline instructions have been added to the new version as well and some rearrangement in terms of how these are displayed in the match menu, now grouped into related areas it should make choosing the right instruction for a given situation easier.

News from Beta

The beta worlds of Coppell and Horton, and a recent back up of the live world St John have been testing the release version of the new match engine (Miller has moved beyond that version already). Early reports of a bug that resulted in goal keeper own goals and a plethora of errors were fixed quickly and since then the reviews have generally been positive, particularly in terms of wide play and player movement. There are still a number of concerns raised around the efficacy of long shots and goal keeper (or defenders in general) making errors and these are two areas that have seen further improvement in the post release version being tested in the 1.4 beta active in Miller.

As always there is a point when a decision must be made to run a final version and have it tested sufficiently to ensure there are no major crash issues when it goes live, as such the most recent changes to the match engine are unlikely to make it to the 1.3 release. The good news here though for FML is now that we have the latest version of the match engine, additional updates and improvements are able to be added with any interim update, so expect any major issues to be addressed in a 1.3.1 version.

As always it’s the forums that tend to drive awareness of these issues, so if you find any areas of the new match engine which you think need to be fixed make sure you voice your opinions on the official Sports Interactive Forums.

Tactical Theorems and Frameworks

Tactical Theorems and Frameworks is widely recognised as the premier tactical guide for FM and now FML. Written by Gareth Millward and Richard Claydon it has once again been updated to cover all the new changes in the 2010 match engine and the latest version of the Tactic Creator is also covered including all the available player roles and the in match Touchline Instructions with extensive descriptions on each. As usual this guide will be available for download from the FM-Britain website coinciding with the official launch of FM2010, scheduled for October 30th but as usual excerpts of this document will find their way onto the Sports Interactive Forums in the lead up to release.

When does my world get the new match engine?

The important question for many, the new match engine is handled separately from the rest of the upgrades in 1.3. Every other part of the new update will be available from the time it is rolled out, now confirmed for the 7th of October, but the match engine will only be implemented at the end of your current competitive season.

Why? Simply because there are a number of significant changes in the way matches will play out, and introducing the new match engine mid season could have an unwarranted effect on your team’s performances. As such it is simply fairer for everybody to introduce this at the end of the season, giving managers the opportunity to test out any tactical changes they may need to make during the off-season.

If your game world is currently in it’s offseason the new match engine will be in effect as soon as the 1.3 update is rolled out.

If your game world is currently “in season” then it will take effect at 8:01pm (GMT) on the day your season ends.

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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  • TomHales

    Nice job Mark. Am I right in thinking that there are the new player instructions in v1.3, most notably for wide play like "hug touchline"?

  • Mark Burton

    Yes Tom - I believe i covered those in Part 2 (http://www.gameworldone.com... ;)

  • TomHales

    D'oh!...should have known I'd read it from one of your articles ;)

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