It seems like the plans have been finalised from the community day. Marc Duffy has announced via the forums and through the developer blogs that the council has taken place, and there will be a full disclosure of everything that went on in the week beginning Monday 23 November.
In the meantime, since Marc has revealed who actually went to the meeting, I can now reveal some of the things I learned which are not covered by the NDA.
1. Never, ever, ever go to Russell Square tube station
The nearest underground stop to the offices in which I study is Russell Square, on the Piccadilly Line between King’s Cross St Pancras and Holborn. Thing is, it doesn’t have an escalator. So, my choice was to walk down 177 steps (although the official sign says 175), or cram into a massive lift with 50 other commuters. Still, it’s not as bad as having to walk UP 177 steps, which I stupidly attempted to do on my way in to my office that morning. Never again.
2. Jakswan plays Football Manager Live in Starbucks
Having got to Old Street tube station and made my way out via Exit 8 (escalators provided this time), I met up with Jakswan of Jakswan’s blog fame for a coffee and a chat. We managed to get lost on our way to the offices, which was doubly embarrassing since I had been there before. Still, when I arrived, our Jak had his priorities sorted – cup of coffee and FML on his laptop. I went for a grande latte and a chicken panini. To date, I still don’t know what Jak was drinking.
3. SEGA buy their sandwiches from Waitrose
And it was good! BLT sandwiches for the win, I say. We were also well stocked up on cookies, Kit Kats, a well known cola and fruit juice. Kept me going all day, that did, though I’m not sure how much attention I was paying to the slide show because of it. As far an I know they didn’t slip anything into our drinks to make us more suggestible to their evil plans. But this is, along with the coffee incident, unconfirmed.
4. There is a pub underneath SI/SEGA’s offices
Which is rather convenient. And the beer wasn’t too bad. One of those cheapy chain pub things, with loud music and poor lighting. Still, better than nothing, and by the time we got out of the offices at around 5pm I, for one, was quite thirsty. We got to have a good chat with the developers, though, which is always useful.
5. SEGA talked to us about Football Manager Live!
You may sense I’m skirting around the issue and not getting to the meat of the discussions. I would like to – but until Marc and Bertie announce what went on officially, I am legally bound by the terms of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which means I, nor anyone else who attended the day, is allowed to tell you what went on. As soon as it is announced, however, we are allowed to disclose everything in full – and you can bet that there will be a full and frank report here on GameWorldOne.com when that happens.
But there are some things not covered by the NDA. First of all, the conduct of those who attended was exemplary. None was afraid to speak his mind about what they thought was right and wrong about the game. Vid in particular, I thought, seemed to sum up a lot of the thoughts on the forums about player progression, the problems with exploitation (especially in the early days of the gameworld) and the lack of communication from the guys at SI and SEGA. bazrah99 made his way down by plane from Edinburgh and had some strong opinions on the rewards system and how skills and progression should work. trainspotter and lukekarts were both very good at explaining the mechanics of the game as they saw them and how the game could and should be improved from both a technical and a “fun” stand point. Jakswan was keen to point out how he ruined Graeme Kelly’s team in beta. And me – well, I tried to justify Jordan’s views in the wake of Councilgate!
I think council was an unfortunate choice of words, focus group would have been more fitting. [...]Got the impression that perhaps some of the Gameworld One guys felt we would be deciding the future of FM Live, which wasn’t what it was about.
Which is both right and wrong. This was a focus group – most certainly not a council. But we always knew this would be the case. Gameworld One’s concerns were that it would be perceived by others to be a representative “council”, making decisions for the game and coming up with solutions that individual forum members wanted. It was a very valuable focus group, certainly from the perspective of those who attended. I think both sides came away with a clearer idea of the direction of the game, and hopefully we confirmed some of SEGA and SI’s assumptions and helped refine other aspects of their overall policy.
On the whole it was very productive. One of my concerns was that, in person, some of the dissenting voices on the forums would hold back in their criticism of the game – but thankfully they didn’t. It was also incredibly reassuring to hear SI and SEGA admit to the various mistakes that they have made over the past 12 months with regard to the development of the game.
Believe me when I say this – when you complain about gameworlds, about youth development, about communications, and all these things: SI and SEGA know that things aren’t right. And there is a plan to change all of that.
But what IS that plan, I hear you ask?
Well, unfortunately I can’t reveal that just yet. However, when it is announced, I think you will understand why SEGA have chosen to release the message in their own time and in a controlled way so that all the facts can be laid out and there is no confusion. Is this the right way to do it? A month after announcing the council without any word on the contents of the discussions? Debatable. More openness would definitely be appreciated from the community (and this was Gameworld One’s main concern with the council idea when it was announced). But we hope this is an exceptional case, and that future members will not be asked to sign NDAs and will be able to report immediately to the community.
Until then, we can do nothing but wait. But I do want everyone to know that SEGA were incredibly open and honest with us, and accepted their mistakes in a very mature and self-reflexive way. I am sure they will do the same with the community once they announce it. The only way I can fault this right now is by urging them to do things a little quicker in future.
One thing to remember, which I can agree with Bertie as he said on the day – “Internet time is much quicker than real time”. It’s only another couple of weeks. And then we should hear everything we need to know. Warts and all.
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.