Nov 02

How Does Football Manager Live Compare To Other MMOs? (Part 1)


Start making a game and stop listening to idiots…

It’s not often that I don’t have an opinion about something and this original thread started by Goodyscot, caught me:

“In seeking to please the vocal minority you’ve managed to alienate and ignore every lesson you should of been learning from other MMO’s”.

What do I actually know about MMOs? My answer, not very much.

To explain how I got started in Football Manager Live, when at university I was in halls with about 9 other like-minded friends. We would regularly get together over a few beers, get CM97/98 out and press “done” for hours at a time. Each of us had our own team, player searches would cause an exodus to the playstation or provide enough time to eat, and rivalries were established. Eventually some of us would meet in major cup finals and there was once a meeting in Europe. The bigger games would get everyone in to watch, but even the smaller games would pull everyone in to see. A promotion would lead to a lap of the building and a round of stellas, a demotion would lead to a bottle of gin and some slaps on the back. Basically it was CM97/98 with the best sort of banter.

At the same time I do remember getting involved in a text-based game in the late 90’s called UglyMUG which was played over telnet and a bit like old-school text-based games and you needed to know all the text shortcuts. There was no real theme to the game. Essentially people built areas of the game and then you wandered around meeting and trying to offend the admin without getting booted off. The reason I stopped was because all my mates stopped too.

Then a couple of years ago my nephew suggested that RuneScape was the best game he’d ever played and that I should give it a go. Now in 3D and seemed to be all about digging for stuff, combining stuff you pick up to make better stuff, shopping for stuff to hurt others and then attacking to then rob people. I found that it was a lot more developed, a lot more to do, but I found myself looking back on an evening and asking myself was it worth digging for minerals, processing them into steel and then making it into armour to then die and lose it. The community did not match up to the CM97/98 years.

Enter Football Manager Live. ‘Nuff said. Anyways, back to the post:

“The root cause of the problem is that of people joining a gameworld later having a disadvantage and of there not being enough different levels of achievement for people to attain. Instead rather than adding anything to the game to make people feel more fulfilled at all levels of team ability you’ve just crippled parts of the game which were actually fun in a misguided effort to keep the play field level.”

When FMLive was rolled out originally, the emphasis was being in the Premiership in an Football Association (FA). People would switch FAs to get into a Premiership. This led to three things that are now thankfully being changed:

1. Shallow tiers.

As Goodyscot said, the intention here was to make it easy to reach the Premiership and share success. The problem here was that the shallow tiers meant that getting to the Premiership was very hard – maybe this was finishing in the top one or two or finishing in the top five and then winning the playoffs – and then staying in the Premiership was hard due to the relegation zone being high. Some FAs saw an introduction of a second tier. All this did was create a buffer-zone between the 3rd tier and the Prem such that it was now easy to stay in the Prem but hard to get into the Championship. The current deep-tier philosophies I see working in Miller and Hoddle. Essentially if you’re new you can start in the very bottom tier/s and work your way up slowly. Grassroots Cups and Newbie Cups can give you a shot of winning comps too away from the teams that regularly win stuff. So this should in theory give goals for the new starter to aim for besides simple surviving.

2. AI relegation.

With the new FA structures having more artificial intelligence allowed, AI relegation is getting rarer. The first problem previously was that you could finish outside of the playoff or promotion positions and you could still get promoted due to people being relegated in the league above you. The second, and worse, problem was that someone could win the league above you and get relegated to your league. So in an attempt to preserve a lack of AI from upper tiers it essentially pushes good teams into lower tiers, not only increasing the amount of AI teams but also the standard of AI teams. Not good.

3. FA hopping.

To stop people from switching FAs you previously had to start from the bottom of the tiered system. This was meant to deter people that wanted to stay in the Premiership and to keep FA structure but led to two issues. Firstly FA-hoppers would be pitted against high AI teams and new teams (so anyone new will be seeing AI relegatees and FA hoppers – ouch) which would give them the advantage and maybe a season or two before they reach their standard of competition.

Secondly, there has been a growing number of people that prefer to swap FAs in order to have easier competition. The instruction now is to award available places due to FA leavers or AI relegations to FA hoppers if a higher rank and reputation than all those in the league below. This no longer discourages FA hopping but is a much more friendly system for people that actually need flexibility.

“Ironically enough by removing effort from the equation of how much money you can gain you’ve also made the job of people joining the gameworld at a later date much more difficult as they cannot put in the time and effort to close the gap.”

This is a strange one. I often encourage new starters to keep wages low until overdraft is a maximum £1m, make a team that is average in all areas, utilise the wage auctions, and monitor the over 30s and the age bracket between 21 and 25. Every season the wage auctions come round and the newer teams become stronger. Fact. Sure some of the more established teams will have more cash, but they’ll also be protecting their players or trying to sell them for £1. I agree with Jordan Cooper’s article that starting in older game worlds is easier. I’ve recently restarted in Hoddle along with Jordan, Delgado, Mik, Tor and Gacho – follow our updates in #RestartOctober on Twitter!

There is a lot of difference between someone starting in an established GW, someone that is in an established GW and someone that is top of their game in an established GW, which I think is the point of the following two statements:

“Add more into the game to make lower levels fun. Look at other successful MMOs and copy their design shamelessly. Look at what’s going to make the game fun, at what’s going to make people want to login in and play. Realise that people want to compete, that people want to be able to put effort into their team to make it better.”

T-Bag adds: “It’s quite simple – FML needs to decide what it is. Is it an MMO? Or is it Football Manager Lite Online – which is more like fantasy football than an MMO. At the moment every update moves the game further away from MMO and closer to fantasy football.”

In the next article, I review the concepts of what makes an MMO good and successful as well as how some have failed. Thanks for the extra homework lads!

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
Interested in more? Here are some related articles for you!
  • T-Bag

    hah, reminds me of a conversation we had at the weekend..

    [23:12] <goody> they really should just put us in charge
    [23:12] <t-bag^> i know

    Support GW Bag ! it's the way forward.

  • Rik

    Hope you don't mind the quoting T-Bag. :)

blog comments powered by Disqus