And lo, it came to pass that Sports Interactive announced their plans for the gameworlds. And it saw that it was good.
But has the rest of the community? SI’s announcement, in two testaments, has outlined not only the future structure of the gameworlds (part the first) but also what is to be done with the current worlds as they stand (part the second).
Duffy 3:14 – “On the first day, SI cocked up.”
First up was the confession. Sports Interactive and SEGA have made a number of mistakes over the previous 12 months. Some seem to have taken this as a sign of weakness, but to me it shows a great level of honesty and self-awareness.
Of course, in an ideal world SI wouldn’t have made these mistakes in the first place. Or, if they did, they would have taken longer than 12 months to rectify them. But nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. By making it clear what their perceived faults are and making them public, it shows a willingness to learn from them and make sure they don’t happen again in the future. Most importantly, it makes them publicly accountable. So if we see them sliding into these ways again there is no hiding for them. Which is essential for the long-term future of the game.
The admission does not excuse the mistakes being made, nor does it do anything (in itself) to rectify the changes. But it does act as a good backdrop to explaining the reasons behind the rest of the plan, as well as highlighting the important fact that SI have been listening and absorbing the criticisms from the community – and they are at least attempting to use this as a springboard for the development of the product.
I’ve no doubt the forums will be quick to point out if SI lapse into sin again.
Bertie 8:4 – “And Ov said to the database ‘let my regens go’.”
So, the one thing we knew had to happen was that gameworlds needed to be made more attractive to new users, as well as holding the interest of current subscribers. SI’s chosen route is to introduce new flavours of gameworld which change the dynamic of the game.
Prefer real players? Then there’s a gameworld for you which respawns the world stars to keep the database topped up with real names from around the footballing world. To aid new users, a draft system will give new managers the option to sign or sell players, redistributing the wealth of the gameworld and giving new teams either a star player or a wedge of cash from a richer, more powerful club.
There seems to be a lot of debate as to how well this will work in practice. Expect an article on it in the next few days here at GameWorldOne.com.
For those who want a random database full of newgens and therefore a more “hardcore” experience, there will also be a totally computer generated database. Not real players renamed; an all-newgen affair. This will be very similar to the current gameworld structure, but will differ in two crucial areas. One, there will be no real players on day one, although there will be a spread of players from teenagers to thirty-somethings. And two, the gameworld’s limit will be expanded to more than 1,000 managers.
On the council day, no exact numbers were decided. However, it was suggested that not only would the database be smaller (there are a lot of players never signed up because they are, quite frankly, crap) to encourage a more competitive market place; but also that there would be 1,500, 2,000 or possibly more managers in the gameworld depending on the technical limitations of having so many queries to the server. Beta will, it is hoped, allow the coders to find the optimum number. But the basic idea is that more managers + fewer players = much more vibrant and fulfilling FML experience.
And, since there are no “famous” players in the gameworld (other than those the community take a shining to), new managers should not be as adversely affected.
Kelly II 14:3 – “Jacobsen has sent you these commandments. Thou shalt have youth academies; thou shalt not exploit Double Thy Shekels competitions; thou shalt have a new reputation system…”
All of this obviously comes from the backdrop of the April 2009 roadmap. It is hoped that 1.4 and 1.5, to be released over the next quarter or so will completely revolutionise the game for new gameworlds. We must remember the differences that we had from gameworlds released under the 1.0 code and those released under the 1.1.1 code (stadiums). With 1.4 and the new reputation system, as well as the taxes and other measures designed to reduce the exploiters early on in gameworlds, any newly released world now would be far more stable and far more competitive than the 1.0 worlds.
Therefore, the old worlds are admittedly pretty much doomed. They were wrecked to start with – but changes since that point have been geared towards creating a fairer and more sustainable world, taking into account 12 months worth of gameworld modelling, exploiters, cheats and general gameplay. A 1.4 world (if beta is anything to go by) should be a much more long-term and sustainable experience, for managers old and new.
Which, logically leads to the biggie.
Collyer 6:12 (New Testament) – “And so, Jacobsen sent a great flood to wipe the gameworlds clean”
The Flood will be a cataclysmic event for many. A lot of managers will leave Football Manager Live, no question, as they wanted their world to survive. The company stands to lose a lot of money, customers, and, from some, good will. Yet, it is vital if the game is to survive as a long term project. Those who do step aboard the ark will be part of a brave new era for FML.
In March 2010, all existing gameworlds will be deleted.
Football Manager Live is about 13 months old. Most MMOs don’t really get going until their second year. In those troubling early months, mistakes will be made. It takes a brave company to put their collective testes on the chopping block and say “we will do this for the good of the game”.
Ultimately, it was the only logical thing to do – regardless of how many managers are lost short-term, long term it is a clean solution which will provide the basis to admit new managers from outside the current community.
But – the big but – this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. As admitted at the council – this can never happen again. A second reset would be to admit complete failure. If it ever gets to that stage, FML is dead.
No doubt, most of the comments will be about this very issue. Is this right? For me, it’s a ballsy decision. It’s action by the company who have (in some cases unfairly, in other quite justifiably) been accused of dithering and saying and doing nothing. Well – here’s them taking a stand and doing something.
Commercially (in the short term) it’s an incredibly risky decision. In the community it’s an incredibly risky decision. To the press and outside world it’s an incredibly risky decision. So, for that reason, anyone accusing SI of taking the “easy” way out does not really know what they’re talking about. The easy decision was to do nothing – or pander to the few customers who were left so as to go out with pats on the back rather than volatile e-mails.
To soften the blow, slightly, Sports Interactive have announced the following concessions:
- Keeping rewards and shortlists
- A “celebrating success” addition which creates an advanced biography for all existing managers
- 2 months’ free play
- An “elite” invitation-only gameworld for the top managers looking to compete against the very best
So. What do you want to say to SI and SEGA? Well, you have your chance. On Monday 30 November, the GetSacked! crew will be interviewing Marc Duffy and Rob “Bertie” Barns-Graham with YOUR questions. Jordan and I promise to ask as many questions as we can fit into the show – even if it means locking them up for 3 hours to do it! Get them sent to us via Twitter @GetSacked, on the Facebook page, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be covering this groundbreaking announcement throughout the coming weeks here at GameWorldOne.com – subscribe to our RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss out!
|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.