Oct 13

Are Game Worlds Dying? Part 3: Football Associations and other Competitions

 

In this third instalment of the series, we continue to look at the issues around the death of Football Manager Live game worlds. This week: it’s time to take a look at the Football Associations and other competitions that are taking place in the game worlds.

Do we need more? Is there any purpose behind them? Can we fix what we have? By taking a look at each of these areas we can try and establish what needs fixing, what needs changing, and whether we are heading in the right direction.

DYM and Other Cash Cows

Double Your Money? Seriously, what were you thinking? How the communities let this get so out of control is beyond me – so many people who had no chance at all entering into comps that were almost guaranteed to result in a windfall for the same clubs over and over again. Whether quick-play, leagues or knockouts it didn’t really matter. The clubs using these competitions to line their pockets early on in a game world knew what they were doing and did it well.

The initial response from the developers was to limit the prize pools and force minimum entrant numbers, but none of that stopped them. Less money per competition just meant they made more competitions, and for some reason there was no end to the number of people prepared to throw their cash away by entering.

The impact these competitions had on the early stages of a game world was massive, and many seasons on it’s still the teams that benefited from them that rule the game worlds. Simply there is no point opening new game worlds while this exploit remains, removing all option to earn money through “friendly” competitions is the only solution, and the sooner that’s implemented the better for all.

‘Game World’ Super FA

Each game world in Football Manager Live now has an additional Super Football Association, but somewhere along the way it seems the purpose of this has been lost in translation. The Super FA is supposed to be about fun. It was added to all worlds as a means to easily organise and implement a range of competitions for the more active members of the community.

In order to get this implemented into game worlds at an early stage it was decided to “duplicate” the existing format, rather than wait for a new super FA to be coded. This meant that these Super FA’s contain the reputation boost applied to UFFA and here seems to be the crux of the issue when it comes to using them for fun competitions.

Get over it! These Football Associations need to be utilised in the manner intended, whether that’s daily quick-plays, weekend knockouts, theme-oriented competitions like World Cups, Reputation based leagues, Beginners competitions, Xtreme activity leagues, Inter FA cups, or whatever else the users in a game world want. Used well, they should be offering all kinds of competitions to managers in a game world, especially the more active ones as a way to bring teams together in an organised format no matter what domestic football association they belong to.

‘Game World’ Youth FA

Another recent addition to the game worlds, and again one that hasn’t quite been adopted in the way it was intended. If we look back at the Player Progression Articles we can see that the reputation players gain through these FA’s is their best opportunity to boost attributes, but it’s also important that they play at a level they are ready for. This means against opposition of a similar level, not just in terms of age or competition level, but also in terms of player quality.

The Youth Football Associations offer an opportunity to spread out youth leagues amongst all the youth managers in a game world and get teams of a similar level and ability competing against one another. Remove the youth leagues from the domestic FA’s, where lower level (or new) youth managers often have the improvement of their kids hampered by the 2-3 top youth teams in the FA, and utilise the broader nature of the Youth FA to implement a range of leagues and levels designed to maximise the potential progression of all players.

UFFA

Prestige is the one word that should be the focus of this football association. Every competition in the UFFA should be about teams vying for something important, not exclusively for the top teams in a game world. But each competition should have a value in it’s own right, and there should be clear distinction about what each competition is worth in terms of a clubs reputation.

Who goes to the Silver Cup? How many teams from which FA? These shouldn’t be debatable options at the end of each season, there should be clearly defined rules that apply to each competition, and clearly defined qualification procedures that are the same for every FA.

Every competition under the UFFA banner should require a formal qualification process, and there should be suitable reward for teams that qualify, and more so for the teams that achieve the ultimate glory of winning.

Domestic FA’s

If we take on board some of the earlier comments then we have scope for some changes within the domestic football associations. Prior to the implementation of the Super and Youth FA’s, the domestic FA became a place to build additional competitions in order to maintain the interest of the members. It’s time to revert them to what they should be – the focus of the season, the grind if you like, but done in a way that focuses on rewarding performances.

Home of your primary league competition and the major cups, but the other ‘extra activity’ based comps should be moved out. Youth should be focused around something meaningful like the U21 or U20 champions, whatever level might also be applied to UFFA, but the bulk of the youth leagues should be based in the Youth FA where clubs can compete against other teams of a similar level.

Progression needs to be stabilised, currently the tiers are too susceptible to the numbers in each football association. With teams coming and going having a major impact on the promotion and relegation of other members in the FA, it lessens the experience – we need to fill in the blanks with CPU teams.

By having full tiers throughout the FA regardless of the number of human managers, we can maintain a standardised promotion/relegation format that will apply to set positions and only those positions. Teams leave we add more CPU, teams enter we remove CPU. As long as the level of the CPU teams is kept relevant to the level of league in which they are placed then it maintains the integrity of the FA tiers season after season.

There needs to be more reward, the current structure offers little incentive to play at a higher level, little incentive to improve the player stocks as the prize difference between leagues is minimal. Remove the daily income payment from the FA, that’s what stadium building is for, and base the entire FA prize money structure on the season’s performance.

Focus on the reason for joining an FA in the first place. The current system of awarding different payment structures to different FA’s leaves people joining for purely monetary reasons. The focus should be more about joining a football association that is active in your play times or that has a theme you are interested in.

Awarding more money to one FA than another is always going to see people joining or jumping FA’s for the wrong reasons get rid of that aspect and sort out the tiers and we can allow people to jump FA as often as they want, for the right reasons.

Sort it out SI!

The removal of cash from friendly competitions has been discussed but once the cash is gone it will need a replacement that is not open to similar types of abuse. More options and reasons for friendly competitions need to be offered, along with ways of determining a rating for these competitions.

Instead of limiting the entry of competitions by reputation level, use the difference in reputation levels in a competition to assign it a rating. The greater the difference between the highest and lowest reputations in a competition the lower the rating it is awarded. That way the reward can be offered according to the difficulty of the comp, and the focus becomes about playing teams of a similar level, and not picking on the new guy. Reward Points (or Tokens) are a part of getting this right, but the way they are implemented will also be important.

Along with more reasons to play competitions… give us more tools to create competitions, assign or group by nation or FA, more stages, the option to create “trophies”. Many ideas have been thrown up on the official forums over the last 12 months. Give people the options and they’ll make interesting competitions.

Super FA for now is really in the hands of those running it in each game world. Ignore the reputation implications for now – they have the tools they need to get functioning as intended, and the sooner that starts happening the better.

Youth FA likewise, I’m not convinced this needs too much input from a coding perspective, but include some ‘official’ guidelines on how best to improve youth and some officially approved competition structures.

UFFA, the new reputation system being discussed in beta is heading in the right direction with these comps, making them relevant to club reputation and rewarding those who qualify. But we still need some defined pathways to prevent the current confusion around who is eligible for what –  along with definite rules to cover the changing numbers in FA’s and game worlds to counter the current situation where almost entire leagues are being considered for UFFA spots.

Assign some benchmarks to the leagues in terms of what level of CPU team you should be able to beat to stay there, and then get these teams in. Give us the option to run tiered FA’s that aren’t subject to constant rebuilding by teams leaving the game world or going inactive. If the CPU teams win the league then it’s because no humans were good enough, that’s fair enough and let’s people know what they have to improve next season.

Focus on the reward elements. The prize money for each league should be assigned by the level of the league and the numbers in it, not by someone trying to balance out a rudimentary sum amongst a whole host of competitions.

Get rid of the daily FA payments, they just reward mediocrity and that detracts from the incentive of climbing the league ladder. If we keep the “media payments” at the start of each season, they should be assigned as bonuses to cups and leagues based on the teams playing in them (and their attraction to the media) not used as a reason to join or jump FA’s.

There needs to be discrepancy in teams, needs to be reasons for teams to sign the lesser players in a game world, needs to be some real monetary differences in what teams of any level can afford to spend on their squad… and there needs to be stable and reliable methods for climbing up the ladder.

Rant Over!

Coming up soon – Fantasy vs. Reality: Is it a conflict? Or do we need a mix of the two for long term sustainability?

If there’s an issue you feel has a detrimental effect on your game world, or Football Manager Live in general then post a comment below.

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.
Interested in more? Here are some related articles for you!
  • Mark_Burton

    @ j0rdan - I don't think it matters how many CPU vs Human teams there are in a league, as long as we have a base rate of what quality of CPU team you should be able to beat to progress. If we say Premier is level 16 CPU teams - then we can fill the Prem from season with that - then as people progress they know what they need to stay there - same at the bottom - if the bottom tier is level 1 CPU teams then people have to be able to beat them to get up a level.

    That way we keep people in leagues where they have a chance to WIN - not just in leagues because there human.

    @ T-Bag
    CPU teams can only be used in Unranked competitions - whether that's FA or otherwise doesn't matter. But changing it to allow them in ranked comps in FA's only is probably the easiest solution.

  • j0rdan

    Out of the three articles I really liked this one, some very good ideas.
    Youth being moved out of FA's and pushed solely into the Youth FA will be very good as most of the smaller FA cant even get good number for there Youth comps and puts people who want to play Youth teams from joining the FA's they really want, and of course will make the Youth FA the primary place for those competitions and see much more focus, attention and with that presteige. Some will say that propor prizemoeny will have to allocated the the Youth FA for this, but I say them teams are already being paid in their normal FA just like everybody else, so they arent exactly missing out, after all, youth teams shouldnt be about making money during progression as if they do well they get their financial award once their players have matured.

    I like the idea of replacing teams who leave FA's with CPU teams, but I also know alot will hate the idea.
    I currently run an FA with standard tiered leagues and it is awkward constantly reshaping the leagues to accomodate the changing size of the FA, but CPU teams wont tottally fix this problem as we will still have to change league numbers at some points as there has to be a threshold of how many CPU team per Human teams allowed, as over years there numbers could grow and grow as Human number drop.

    I also like removing Daily income too, as the difference between prize money for winning the top league and coming bottom of the bottom is relitivly small, even more so in a standard tierd league.

  • T-Bag

    Great points.

    Out of interest, is it possible to assign CPU teams into Super FA competitions ?

  • Chauzu

    Fantastic post Mark, I agree with essentially everything, and those few things I might disagree with is only minimal in any case.

    Regarding putting CPU teams in the Ladder structure, I see no other viable way to go really. The FA will only benefit by filling the holes by them, as this opens up for a proper progression in the FA, and also helps to ensure that all teams compete in leagues against teams of similair ability.

    I've brought this up myself in the past, and hopefully this will be considered a viable solution in the future, and happen. We've already come a bit to improve the issues here, 1.4 will improve it even more, and hopefully 1.5 will be the "nail in the coffin" and we'll be able to make more use of our beloved CPU clubs. :P

  • mynamesbruno

    Not a sinlge word, not a single letter to add...
    I can only say:
    - SI, please, look at that... Your community is giving you the path wich to follow. How many games out there in the market have such an active community? What kind of clients are these that sit and discuss about what can make YOUR game better? Aren't you proud?

    As 1.2, 1.3 has come. As always, there is still a bunch of things to do to make the gaming experience better. As always there's people quiting, and people coming. As always, people can't wait 4 more months to see what's coming next...

blog comments powered by Disqus