Nov 17

5 Things I Learned At The FML Council

 

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!

Jakswan, in his blog said:

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

    I don't really buy this "internet time" thing. A month is a month, a year is a year... the game is a year old now ! A year is a long time be that "real time" or "internet time"

    I think the forums need to be utilised much better too. Something that you see is there is a lot good and constructive discussion on the beta forums which is nice to see, but many of those players are not representative of your average FML'er. This also leads to good constructive threads being ignored on the general forum. I've seen a few really well thought out threads recently but I couldn't really be bothered to reply, because it had been done to death on the beta forum. Meanwhile the guy who has gone to the effort of posting up his suggestions is effectively ignored.

    I can understand why the discussions don't take place on the main board but it leads to people feeling like they are being ignored or not seeing any dev feedback. I know there's not much point posting on there in much detail any more because it wont get a response.

  • Good points as well, and we said this on the day.

    Ironically, they've just announced a FURTHER delay in getting the information out.

    I agree T-Bag. Internet time means a delay of a day or two, maximum. Not a month. I would like to see the information out quicker.

    ** In this individual case ** I understand why they're getting tetchy and want to make sure they get the wording right. It's a massive change that they're announcing, which is likely to upset a number of managers (but will be right up the street of others, and secure the long-term future of the product).

    But this is still no excuse for it taking a month - and now further delays. Let's hope this is the last of their major communication cock ups.

  • This little council meeting sounded interesting.I was under the impression that they would throw out their roadmap for the next 6/9 months and would get constructive feedback from you guys. I am a bit disillusioned now when I look on the forums and you have jakswan asking very simple and basic questions in the Beta forums. Did they not go through anything with you ? or did you just sit around singing kum ba ya jerking each other off ? Obviously you cant say till Monday, s we will just have to see.

  • sherifflee

    What annoys me is they have this little 'Council Meeting' from 'selected' people, why not have a big ass open day somewhere in London, like a big ass FML event, i mean they charge ALOT of money for this game it would be nice, then they can talk and discuss things with lots of different FML users, casual users etc not just hardcore FML geeks like millie bert etc etc.

  • I also made this point on the day. *I* am not representative of the FML community. I'm not. And neither was anyone there. What we were quite a good representation of, however, was the broad range of the forums opinions.

    This was exactly the reaction we predicted. And exactly the reason we were sceptical of the "council" idea to start with. The community is a 15,000-strong council. Use them!

    Still - I understand WHY they did things the way they did; I understand their reasoning; I also know that the motives were pure. But if it take 1 month between announcing the council and then actually publishing the results, then the point of Jordan's video has been completely missed.

  • Exactly the point I was trying to make in the video I produced. Now, I don't think they need to have a "big ass open day" as you suggest... they have their own forums at their disposal.

    As I've said, I have nothing against the "council" idea itself, just that I knew it was going to be more of a "focus group" than a democratic legislature - but the perception SI was giving off could easily make others feel that it is. (which obviously is true based on the sentiment of your comment SherrifLee!)

  • Nice article Millie. You eloquently said nothing about an event that you cannot talk about, I'd suggest a future in politics if it weren't so insulting. The problem is, and they still don't seem to get it, is in Bertie's comment at the end - FML lives on the Internet and is therefore forced to live by those rules. They need to become much more agile and nimble in their responses to eveything. This whole thing about November 23rd and taking a month to process and clear everything is crazy.

  • Completely agree with you Sean. 100%. This was the big bugbear of us all here at GW1.com when the council was announced. While I can defend SEGA and SI's decisions they made on the day, and can defend the personal integrity of the guys working there, their speed of communication just isn't good enough.

    The gap needs to be bridged between "real time" and "internet time". Especially if this is supposed to be an internet business. One hopes that part of the restructuring will include ways of being more responsive to the demands of the 24h clock.

blog comments powered by Disqus