Oct 14

Match Engine Trumps All: Impressions of FML v1.3


Football Manager Live version 1.3 has definitely sparked a peak of interest in managers, old and new, to check out all the great new additions to the game. After only a week since it’s release, users are already weighing in with their opinions on this latest round of game development.

The new match engine has been a subject of much talk in the official forums for the simple fact that it’s the only addition for 1.3 that is undergoing a staggered release to all the game worlds. The reason behind this strategy from Sports Interactive is for it to prevent wholesale differences for sides who are in a current season. This may be unfortunate for those managers playing in a world which has not yet reached its off-season period, but don’t fret – you’ll be getting the upgraded match engine code before you know it!

It’s easily understandable that FML managers are so passionate about the match engine and are discussing it at such lengths in the community. Gameworld One’s poll results have finally come in for the month of September for the question:

What feature in the v1.3 FML update are you looking forward to the most?

We thank all of the 250 people that participated in this poll – by an overwhelming landslide, the feature you have most anticipated  in this update is none other than the FM2010 synced match engine!

poll13forward Match Engine Trumps All: Impressions of FML v1.3

With a whopping 65% of the total sample size (more than triple the votes than any other feature) – it shows that player versus environment content such as CPU clubs, offline “casual-friendly” management with match plans and an upgrade to the graphical element of FM Live is definitely not on the forefront of people’s minds. The be-all end-all of things, when all is said and done, comes down to actual match dynamics and the increased efficiency/control of how your team performs on the pitch.

So, what are the first impressions by users on the new match engine?

“Through years playing CM/FM games, this 2010 ME has to be the one that feels the most real. The ball movement is great and the players’ movement is much less predictable.”sleepydizzy

“Its opened up play to more formations which is great also. Flow of the ball seems better, although sometimes maybe a bit too much. Also players are not invisible to the ball any more so you see it clip people or bounce off people, which is nice.”pavlos

“Yeah, ME does seem pretty good. 4-6-0 still seems relatively powerful – although the defenders defend it far better now.”Cat Vegas

Based on the forum chatter, most of the reviews for the match engine have been really positive. Some of the new ball physics though definitely through some people for a loop… in the scope of mimicking the real-life reactions to a football being controlled, passed and shot on the pitch, at times it resembles pinball in some ways watching it from the 2D overview perspective.

Many have also remarked that the fluidity of player movement during the match is greatly improved. As forum moderator Chris Holman put it, “It certainly has a ‘realistic’ feel to the player behaviour.” For this reason, praises that the tactical diversity between squads can vastly expand due to this. It can be expected that many users will optimize their tactical options now on a more detailed level and create different effective formations/styles for their team.

While the initial impressions have been mostly positive thus far, there are still some nagging issues in the match engine that have sparked opinions in some areas that need to be addressed.

“I’ve played about 25 games on the new ME, but I’ve seen 9-10 GK mistakes leading to goal (either own goals, GK giving the ball to an opponent and they score in the empty net, or just being way out of position). I think that’s just way too much, and needs to be looked into.”Izo

“I think zonal marking needs some work. Last night, on two separate occasions, one of my defenders ran away from the opposition striker who had the ball at the edge of the box rather than moving towards him, therefore allowing him to score easily. Now granted my defenders are far from world class, however I’d expect even the worst defender to at least move towards the striker with the ball!”JonahJ

Many users are reporting much higher scoring matches in their game world. Some are noting the amount of long shots players take from 30+ yards is still too frequent. A few managers mentioned that a 4-4-2 based formation shows great effective promise, yet translating this over to a vastly different set up is quite difficult. It seems though that the most amount of negative feedback comes from the sheer number of goalkeeping errors as well as corner/set piece dynamic changes. Paul Collyer, the ME programmer and co-founder of Sports Interactive has been actively keeping up with these reports, so I’m hopeful that the proper tweaks can be made to make an already great new match engine even better. Definitely post up your feedback on the official forums for him to see!

Are you struggling to adjust tactically to the new match engine?

This forum thread was started recently and includes some great overall insight from Richard Claydon a.k.a. WWFAN, co-writer of Tactical Theorems & Frameworks ‘09:

“To do well with this ME, you have to do two things. Firstly, use each player according to his abilities. Secondly, play dynamically and be prepared to change approach to counter different formation threats (i.e embrace match plans). I’m hoping that searching for a winning static formation will be doomed to failure, although if anyone can find one that can do it, it’s you guys. Contrary to some forum chatter, the 4-4-2 is not a tactic we’ve been specifically supporting. I’ve not used it once. It’s perfectly possible to do well with 0, 1, 2 or 3 man attacks. For those struggling, build a tactic around your players and results will pick up.”

What are the initial opinions on CPU Clubs and Match Plans?

We’ve hit on the major talking points when it comes to the most eagerly anticipated feature of Football Manager Live v1.3, but what are the initial reviews for the bevy of other additions implemented in the recent update? Let us know your thoughts in our reader survey. What has been your experience like playing against the CPU clubs of the game world? Also, have you been able to set up match plans and effectively seen them carried out in front of your eyes?

Written By Jordan Cooper
A moderator on GW Fowler and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com, he has hosted/produced the Get Sacked! podcast for nearly two years providing humor and strategical insight to all about the FM series.
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  • Mark_Burton

    Good article Jordan - and raises an interesting point.

    Yes the FM2010 ME is the most awaited addition to FML - the old one being a hybrid of '08. So it's no great surprise it's at the forefront of everyone's mind, combined with the fact it's a big improvement even on the 09 ME it's definitely the big feature of 1.3 !

    But, having had the luxry of playing around with it in beta (and it's successor - yes most of the issues people have with it have been addressed and are just awaiting bug checking prior to release).
    The stand out LONG TERM addition for me is match plans (with CPU teams a close second).

    The match plans i think will take some getting used too - but long term i think (once everyone is deploying them and using there variations) they will be the stand out addition from this update.

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