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Football Manager Live Portal | Editorials | The Future of FML – Looking for Positives
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Nov 27

The Future of FML – Looking for Positives

 

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The announcement is finally out; Marc Duffy has laid out the plan for FML moving into 2010 with the future of Football Manager Live Part 1 and Part 2. Is it all good? Well it’s certainly created a lot of angst on the official forums, and that was always to be expected but the interesting point is the majority of people are agreeing with the principle of the decision they just aren’t happy about how it will affect them.

The one big underlying problem facing FML was the fact that the current worlds are not attractive to new users, and if new users don’t join a game world then it will eventually die. That’s important to consider, because even under the new format being launched in March next year the same issue will be there, if new users don’t join old game worlds then they will eventually die.

There are some big changes coming into the game throughout 1.4 and beyond, and they will have a dramatic effect on the way a game world will develop. They will enforce changes to the way people play the game, the strategies for club development. We’ve already covered some of them here at gameworldone.com, changes to the reputation system, changes to injuries, other things currently in the beta worlds like the removal of cash from friendly comps, changes to the relevance of rankings, changes to assessing potential, reward points, and more to come like Youth Academies, new styles of game worlds (returning stars and all newgens).

All of these will change the way worlds develop, will change how people approach the game. What they won’t do is turn back the clock, they won’t remedy the imbalance already in the current game worlds, they won’t make any of those game worlds more attractive to new users and they won’t stop them from dying. They won’t fix the problems we have today, the lack of numbers in game worlds, the separation between the quality of new teams and those of older clubs. They won’t bring people back to the worlds because so much of what teams have now is because of the way the game was.

Game worlds need to close, it’s not a matter of should they, there is simply no way to save them, no way to make new people join them and enjoy it. There are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in all of this, and a lot of other proposals have been discussed at length. We covered most of them (if not all) throughout the Dying Game World and Close My Game World articles and I won’t go over that again. The end of the day the best solution for everyone is a game world where new people want to join, we all know that ~ I’m pretty sure we all agree on that, the only debate is over how it’s done or more to the point how the transition is going to affect You!

Close all the game worlds and start again.

“It’s not fair; people will lose so much of what they have done over the past year.”
Your right of course, it isn’t fair, it is upsetting a lot of people, but it is the right thing to do. The current game worlds are unsustainable, the rules are changing, the game will be very different, and a fresh start without any of the baggage of the past is not just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing that could be done.

Over the last few months the biggest concern on the forums has been the imminent death of the game, not the death of a particular world but the death of the game as a whole. As much as this decision may hurt the individuals playing the game today, it is the best move for the future of the game as a whole. A key part of that decision is that it’s a completely fresh start for everyone.

But we lose all our skills!

Do you? Let’s just take a look at this area because it appears to be the number one sticking point for many, are we really losing all our skills or are we just losing some of the advantage?
I had a lengthy conversation yesterday with someone about this area, the suggestion was that skills are the only thing people play MMO’s for.

Really? I struggle to accept that, I play games for fun, for enjoyment, not to click on a new “skill” and wait for it to end before starting another.
Let’s face it the skills tree in FML has never been ideal, it’s never been quite right. There’s a useful thread doing the rounds of the forums at present about looking at an overhaul of the skills tree, and perhaps this a good opportunity to do that. But let’s have a closer look at what skills are, and at what the skills in FML are about.

There’s a great little article on the internet by Unwize called Defining Skill in MMORPGs and it relates to the current situation very well (go and have a quick read, I’ll wait). In it he looks at what are actually skills (Knowledge, Judgement, Observation, Control, Leadership), as opposed to things that are not skills (Opportunity, Flexibility, Unscrupulousness, High-Boredom Threshold, Superior Gear) and he hits upon a lot of what is wrong with this argument.

You won’t lose your real skills, Football Manager Live is not an easy game, there is a massive amount of complexity to many areas and it requires a lot of knowledge (a lot of skill) to be good at it. You won’t lose that, you won’t lose the things you have LEARNT about the game over the past year and what you have learnt will put you way ahead of any new player that joins.

What you will lose are not skills – they might be called skills, but they are just bonuses that help to speed things up. What you lose is the benefits you gained from Opportunity, from having a High-Boredom Threshold, from having the Flexibility to log in anytime or all day. These are some of the things that are wrong with the game; these are some of the reasons that stop new people joining your world now, so these are things which need to go.

The introduction of a Skill Queue in the 1.5 update is a big part of addressing this imbalance, and once it’s added you will find the “learning of skills” to be a very small part of the game. Knowing which skills to learn when though, that is something you have learnt and an advantage you will take with you.

You have the skills within you, and nothing will take that away. If you sit back and think about what you have learnt over the past year of playing FMLive you will see that. Whether you choose to share those skills with newcomers in the future is up to you, it’s your advantage to use as you wish. If you want your next game world to be a success though take note of what makes your community successful today, sharing knowledge, helping others is a great way to start building a community.

Surely we can save one game world?

It’s a popular comment on the forums, let’s just save one world and let those that want to, move into it. Sounds great, so what happens if they say “We are leaving Cantona as is for those that want to continue under the current system”? Fantastic, let’s jump to Cantona and …….oh, too slow, come on SI save another one, “Ok, we’ll save Clough”. Great I’m on my way and …..Damn, too slow again, come on SI …….

Where does it end? Who misses out? It may seem really unfair now to lose everything you have done over the last year but how unfair would it feel if you were the only one that was losing everything? It’s tough for everyone, but that’s better than only being tough on a few. All game worlds must close, everyone must be treated equally.

Celebrating Success

Ouch, seriously? That made me cringe, surely there could have been a better choice of words for this part of the announcement. Club History is important; it IS the one thing from the past year that I think should be saved. Recognising the effort and time I’ve put into the game so far, but let’s call it what it is please. Club History is fine by me, and a nice feature to add (should have been in a long time ago), but celebrating success is not a great phrase to use right now.

2 Months Free

A lot of calls on the forums for refunds, a lot of people suggesting that all they have really been doing was playing a beta. I can’t agree with that, you have been playing the game as it was, and presumably you have been enjoying it or you would of left like many others did. But the game is changing and the coming months are about that change so perhaps it is reasonable to refer to the coming time as a beta phase.

Sega have already added 2 months free time to your subscription to reflect that, and James Schall of the Sega marketing team has already announced that will be further reviewed after Christmas, I’m betting they will be considering it before then though. Should you get a refund for time spent so far? No I don’t think so, but free time from now until the reset, from now until the new version of FML is a far more realistic request.

Elite Gameworlds

This is an interesting idea, not convinced it’s a good one or sustainable long term. It’s certainly one area that needs more clarification and I’m sure Jordan and Millie will bring it up on the Podcast this week. Will it be an ongoing thing? I think it should be, something that Jakswan has been asking for sometime is an option for the best teams in each world to move to another to play against each other. This reflects that idea in principle and as long as it’s always a voluntary choice then it may be a good idea, perhaps every three months the bottom 500 teams would be sent packing and a fresh batch invited. It certainly doesn’t appeal as the type of world new people should ever join, and hopefully that would be prevented. But if it’s to last long term then there will need to be a plan to refresh the members at some point.

What are we playing for now?

It’s a good question, and one that has a lot of people considering there time and input over the coming months. One very good suggestion is to use the time to hone your skills, and I don’t mean the in game skills tree ~ I’m referring to the stuff described in the Defining Skill in MMORPGs article, the real skills of FML if you like.

Learn how to pick out the best newgens without using the JP skill, this area will be very different in the new worlds so take some time to work out the best filters to show you the most number of 5 star potential players coming through. If the newgen world is where your likely to go then look at filters for picking the best of the older players as well, they won’t have names you know so you will need other ways to find them on day one.

Join the FML Restart Challenge, yes throw it all in and start over. Practice that first week, first month, whatever. What’s the best way to build a stadium? What’s the best mix of old and young players to make an early impact? What’s the best wage bracket for a new club to grow financially? There are lot’s of things you can be refining about your knowledge of the game, lot’s of stuff you can be practicing to give yourself the best possible advantage on day one of a new world. Work out a plan and practice it, refine it and test it again. If the Elite world is something that interests you can work towards ensuring you have a spot in it.

A Final Concern

There’s been a number of official posts to reflect that this was a hard decision and not taken lightly.
“We understand what a major decision this is and of its implications but we feel that it’s the right thing to do in order to provide a stable, long term base for the game.” Marc DuffyThe Future of FML (part 2)
But the hard bit is still to come, this is the right decision for the future of the game but a lot of people are unhappy with it. That’s understandable, but anything that changes the course of this decision, any change which waters down the hard choices made will also undermine the “stable, long term base for the game”.

Now is the hard bit, will they hold firm on this decision to give the game it’s best chance of survival in the future, or will the pressure of the current subscribers enforce concessions that will undermine that future?

Written By Mark Burton
A moderator since May 2008 in a number of beta worlds and now GW Fowler, he strives to highlight the community aspects of FML and inform new & experienced users about future game development.
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  • Hater009988

    Just to point out..
    Everyone new something had to be done..
    But they had othere options they could of done. Now whether that is down to lazyness or money. The point is they show a complete lack of loyalty to those who stuck with them. Of course a refund is in order, (this is an MMO game after all) otherwise people would not of continued playing this long if everything they worked for was going to be reset. Another thing to point out is why was people able to renew there subs or sign up, when SI/SEGA new that they had a reset planned. They say they was dotting the I's and crossing the T's....
    I say they where to busy covering the own back side with legal laywers.

  • tomaszvelebil

    I am glad you guys put time and effort into actually thinking about inner mechanisms of whole FML game design. The problem really is that recent changes are rather evolutionary than revolutionary and adress just a few frames in already broken, never really working mosaic.

    So to make things short, Ill state few things that I am saying basiccaly from day one, things you should ask when opportunity presents it self:

    1. does anyone ever thought about possibility that whole concept of time (1 season per month, aging players etc.) is just plain wrong for a game that should attract (and sustain) stable user base thoughout the years?

    2. recent furore about skills is not the just the matter of losing something really valuable, its also because it puts you in a position in which you will have to endure whole frustrating process once again. most of the FML skills and basically whole system is negatively based, it counters numerous restrictions more than offering bonuses for something one should have from the start. It was most glaring when tactics skills was still there - it was so unelegant, lazy solution to problem one could come up with. We dont need to quote nor copy WoW, we need to look at Blizzard, principles are there starting from their most bearded games: you offer a lot...and than you offer more. You dont create restriction (at least not in a way one could FEEL IT) you give bonuses. Thats design philosophy, not some WoW/Blizzard way how to do things.

    3. well...just out of curiosity... i dont know the costs of such decision, it might be a pretty much flawed idea,and it does not relate to design, but anyway...wouldnt it be smarter to let recent gws live till they die, simultaneously offering chance to join other worlds and/or switch to whole new FML Live 2 or whatewher you call it, to make it at least look better? :)

    There is lot of other things to say, but also lot of other things for me to work on, so i guess this will have to do for now. I really like guys at SI, they are fantastic to the community...lets hope everything turns out to be great for all of us. :)

  • tomaszvelebil

    I am glad you guys put time and effort into actually thinking about inner mechanisms of whole FML game design. The problem really is that recent changes are rather evolutionary than revolutionary and adress just a few frames in already broken, never really working mosaic.

    So to make things short, Ill state few things that I am saying basiccaly from day one, things you should ask when opportunity presents it self:

    1. does anyone ever thought about possibility that whole concept of time (1 season per month, aging players etc.) is just plain wrong for a game that should attract (and sustain) stable user base thoughout the years?

    2. recent furore about skills is not the just the matter of losing something really valuable, its also because it puts you in a position in which you will have to endure whole frustrating process once again. most of the FML skills and basically whole system is negatively based, it counters numerous restrictions more than offering bonuses for something one should have from the start. It was most glaring when tactics skills was still there - it was so unelegant, lazy solution to problem one could come up with. We dont need to quote nor copy WoW, we need to look at Blizzard, principles are there starting from their most bearded games: you offer a lot...and than you offer more. You dont create restriction (at least not in a way one could FEEL IT) you give bonuses. Thats design philosophy, not some WoW/Blizzard way how to do things.

    3. well...just out of curiosity... i dont know the costs of such decision, it might be a pretty much flawed idea,and it does not relate to design, but anyway...wouldnt it be smarter to let recent gws live till they die, simultaneously offering chance to join other worlds and/or switch to whole new FML Live 2 or whatewher you call it, to make it at least look better? :)

    There is lot of other things to say, but also lot of other things for me to work on, so i guess this will have to do for now. I really like guys at SI, they are fantastic to the community...lets hope everything turns out to be great for all of us. :)

  • To confirm with the 2 months free: we will be reviewing this after Christmas, with a view of potentially adding more time free.

    If any, or how much, will depend on projected lead times for the coding needed for the reset.

  • johnrivett

    I am not against a restart. Despite being 3 seasons into a new gameworld after 10 seasons in Keane and having a long term plan which is just about to come to fruition. For me I am not sure what the benefit of a newgen world is. Most of the existing gameworlds will be like this soon if they are not already. I'm not sure about the survivability of these gameworlds in a years time as what makes them attractive to new players? I can see the appeal of the new recycling the same players worlds and why these will be encouraging to new subscribers. Trouble is i want a realistic game and don't want to play in one of these recycling the same player worlds. I fear i will be back in the same position in one years time :(

  • Mark_Burton

    I think we all need a lot more information about how these new worlds will work John.
    You can be sure we will be trying to find out as much as we can, and we'll certainly bring that information to the community when we have it.

  • just picking up on the saving one gameworld or 2 or how ever many.

    Save the 3 or 4 oldest ok. What does it cost ?? IF we are right they survive as is with some of the other worlds long term managers. IF we are wrong people will leave them and join the new worlds saying ok SI you were right. Bottom Line, People may see the need for change and could make the decision themselves, but force on them and they will walk out the door. Just as stadiums made people leave or jump, so will a reset, except this time its those that had previously decide to stay forever.

    Its like asking a girl to move in with you and then deciding it doesn't work. She may agree, you both make the decision for the best, but hell she aint gonna be your girlfriend when she moves out !!!!

  • Mark_Burton

    Save which game worlds David ?
    If the community really think that will work then the can all move into those game worlds now - no one is stopping that from happening. I have massive doubts that many will move, for all the same reasons new users don't want to join them. But if you think that's wrong give it a go - we have plenty of room in Fowler for all of you - and if Fowler has 1,000 active members (or any other world) then i'll fight as hard to keep them open as the rest of you.

    But if the people playing now don't want to move into the current worlds then you can hardly expect new users with no idea about how to play to do the same.

  • Good summary, there Mark. But despite the criticism of the refund policy, stating that the restart isn't fair and mocking the laughable "celebrating success" "feature", I'm sure we'll still be accused of cronyism?

    Bitter? Moi? ;-)

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