Christmas is over and the New Year has begun, with the reset, restart, (whichever you prefer) scheduled for March 2010 now is the time to start looking at what other changes might be considered essential for a successful re-launch of Football Manager Live.
If we backtrack the development process from the estimated date of re-launch, around a month required for Q&A testing, before that a period of initial beta testing, and of course some time required for the actual coding. This leaves a development window of maybe 3-4 weeks from now to flesh out any initial ideas, at least for any major changes to the game.
So it’s now that any ideas you may have will be picked up from the official forums, if there is a major area of the game that you think needs addressing prior to the restart then this is the time to get your message across on the forum. This is the time for you to add your voice to any ideas others may bring to the forums.
The 1.4 update brings with it a number of good changes and most of these can be reviewed in the official online manual, but it’s the 1.5 update which needs to address some of the most pressing issues in the game. The skills issue is probably the biggest concern for many, but what else needs addressing? The most asked question after the announcement about the reset was “What do we do for the next 4 months?” The answer is a simple one; help identify the big issues in the game which caused it to fail in the first place.
Many people have restarted in the wake of the announcement, what are the big issues you find as a new team in an existing world? For those that haven’t restarted there are other areas of the game that can be looked at, is there enough to do, what else could be added to the game to improve the long term viability, what additional changes might be needed for features already in the game and those coming in the 1.4 update?
It might feel like Beta testing, and whether it is or not is a moot point, the game is now free for current subscribers up until the date of the reset and those in the live arena have a greater experience of how people will act, and react, to features when they are paying for them. This gives you a better understanding of what will help the game succeed and what won’t than the beta testers will have, so at least for now the feedback from those in the live worlds will be far more important than that of the official “beta testers”.
This is one area that has had little commentary recently, but most will recognise it as a large factor in the longevity of gameworlds. One suggestion offered here is the option of charging people an additional fee to change gameworlds, and this is being looked at. The most important area here though is the availability of worlds for people to move into, limit that successfully and moving between worlds should be less of an issue.
One of the non-exploitive reasons I’ve seen for people moving gameworlds is to search for a gameworld community that better suits an individual. Whether it is because of play times or other reasons, it’s an important area to keep in mind when limiting gameworld movement. Community is an important part of Football Manager Live and if a person’s initial choice of gameworld is going to have a negative impact on their experience of the game then charging them to move is not going to encourage them to stay with the game.
Another side of this is continuing subscriptions as opposed to cancelling one and starting again in a new world. If there is to be a cost involved with moving gameworlds then offering an incentive to maintain an existing subscription needs to be considered as well.
Inactive accounts have had at least as big, if not a bigger, effect on the current gameworlds as gameworld hopping, and is another issue that needs addressing. What will happen to all the current inactive accounts after the reset? What measures will be put in place to address the impact of inactive teams in gameworlds after the reset?
Inactivity is a difficult area to nail down; there will always be valid reasons for people not signing in for lengthy periods. But the levels of inactive teams in many of the current gameworlds show clearly the damage that can be done by these teams in an otherwise active gameworld. Finding solutions will be important moving forward, whether through setting an “acceptable” time limit on inactivity or implementing some player morale influences connected to a manager’s level of inactivity.
Whatever ideas may be implemented to address this issue they need to be transparent and set out from the time you first sign up. Adding new requirements to a person’s activity in game mid way through a contract will not be received well!
For me the simplest way to address this issue would be the following:
• Automate “Holiday Time” so that it sets a manager to holiday status if they do not log in for one week.
• At the end of a manager’s “Holiday Time” set all contracts to “none” renewal, and freeze income.
While it may sound harsh, it allows the longer term managers the option of building their holiday time to greater levels and therefore taking longer breaks without forfeit, at the same time it ensures no inactive club can lock up players for the term of their natural life. Adding a further requisite for returning managers to confirm a squad of minimum required size prior to any big spending would also help.
The Skills Tree
The recent concession to allow the continuation of skill points already earned into the re-launch of FML makes this a more important issue to resolve. Instead of having the luxury of another update or two to implement additions to the skill tree, the pressure is now on to come up with a solution that enables teams to join worlds without being overwhelmed by those with millions of skill points. How this will be achieved is yet to be revealed, but some of the recent changes implemented for 1.4 might give us some clues as to the form it could take.
The change to player assessments is a big step in the right direction, adjusting the Judging Potential skill set to the point where it is no longer a necessity for many, as well as the changes with youth academies which alter the purpose of the skill. Allowing new users access to the benefits of a skill set even if they haven’t learnt it (albeit at a much slower rate), is a good start to reducing the impact skills can have. Ensuring the skills themselves don’t allow total domination of a particular area of the game is another good step.
Adding more skills, and 1.4 introduces some to do with Academy infrastructure, is another vital area. Having a much bigger range of skills to choose from is one way of encouraging the kind of specialisation the skills were intended to encourage from the outset. The one danger here is having too many ‘specialist’ skills, to the point where new users find it takes too long to gain any benefit from a particular skill branch.
Skill queuing, already slated for 1.5, is a much needed addition. Having to change skills every 20 minutes or so early on is tiresome at best, and offers big benefits to the hardcore players over the more casual. The ability to automate the changes once each skill is learnt in order to reach a set goal would be a big improvement, but I’d also like to see the very short term skills removed completely.
Pushing the level 1 skills out to a full day to learn, rather than 20 mins, would balance the hardcore with the more casual a lot as well as providing a big reduction in the “skill points” carried over from the first year of FMLive. Further adjustment to the requirements of the specialist skills to make them easier to start would also help to change the perception of never being able to catch up in this area.
Instead of needing to reach level 5 in a specific area to begin the specialist skills, I’d bring it back to level 3 for the first stage. But maintain the development of both skills in order to achieve the highest levels of the specialist skills. So learning JP for example could begin once you had Scouting 3 (you could learn JP1), but to learn additional levels of JP you would first need to improve Scouting further, so level 4 Scouting for JP 2, Level 5 Scouting for JP 3+.
Another simple adjustment would be to reduce the effectiveness of each skill level, so instead of each level being worth a 5% boost, it might only be a 2% boost. This would then allow additional levels of skills to be learnt, or simply reducing the overall effectiveness of a particular skill (similar to how the finance skills were nerfed).
Being able to play competitive matches is a vital factor for new teams in any gameworld. This doesn’t mean they need to be boosted to the level where they can compete with teams who have been around for many season, it means there must be competitions available for their level.
Whilst the friendly competition arena offers options for limiting the reputation of entrants, it’s an area that FA’s have never quite got right. Because of the need to establish league sizes, teams are far too often forced to compete against clubs they have no chance of beating. Establishing a more permanent tier structure to the FA’s that encompasses the fact teams will leave or move is essential for Football Manager Live 2.0.
The obvious solution is to utilise the CPU clubs as a short term filler for leagues where numbers need to be filled, but whatever solution is found it’s important that no team is forced to play at a level they are not ready for just to make up the numbers in the higher tier!
Errors, they happen from time to time in setting up football associations. Some of the changes in 1.4, particularly the reputation levels attained, will make these changes harder to “fix”. In the past teams that ‘missed’ promotion, or were left out of the prize money structure could have their finances adjusted, no major disadvantage in the long run. But because a clubs reputation is more important from 1.4 onward, and attained through FA matches only, errors will have a much greater impact on the individual.
With the reputation earned in your league carrying over for 3 seasons, any team accidently left out of promotion will suffer the effects of that for a long time. Automation of promotion / relegation and prize money is vital for all Football Associations, and anything that helps make organising FA’s less of a chore will be welcomed by Organisers and Moderators alike.
Fixing the economy has been a big topic throughout the beta forums for some time now, and a topic that is expected to make the developer forum fairly soon. The removal of cash from all friendly competitions and awards should have a big effect on the early exploitation of economies in gameworlds, but finding ways to better incentivise the official leagues without creating massive gaps between the clubs will be an important factor in a gameworlds development.
How quickly a club can establish itself, and how secure the clubs financial position is, are areas that require careful consideration. Dramatic reductions in the daily income stream and more emphasis on the performance of a team to generate income are likely. Consideration on the inflationary aspects for gameworld economies is important for establishing similarities in gameworld growth over many seasons.
If player values skyrocket in the first 2-3 seasons and then stabilise then it gives an advantage to those in a world from day one, but if player values remain fixed then it removes a great section of the games playability. Finding ways to allow teams to generate income, but also to require a level of performance to maintain that income, are a focus for 1.5.
What are your thoughts? What areas do you think need improvement or change before the Football Manager Live 2.0?
Make use of the official forums, whether you have a full blown idea or just a small hint that others might help develop the forums offer a great opportunity to get your ideas across.
Alternatively if you have a constructive and well developed idea you’d like to share then contact us here at gameworldone.com and we’ll look at running it as an article in it’s own right.
|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.