Saturday, 30 August 2008

In Memory of The Jakswans GW6

Well that’s it for GW6 the time of death was called on Thursday and we’re off to a new Gameworld.

Great six months though with the runners up spot in the NFA Qualifiers to glory at youth level and a sustained top 4 spot in the NFA Premier League, eventually winning it.

The player I’ll remember is Sene I do recall at the height of Reading Town’s prowess at U21 level going 4-1 down and brought this young 16 year old on. He stole the show with the game ending 4-4.

The greatest honours we won at youth level were the two back to back UFFA Psycho Cup Wins. Sene on both occasions scored the winning goals the most dramatic the injury time blast in Season 5.

As a player he has NFA U17, U19, U21 league medals U21 Cup medals the UFFA wins and senior honors in NFA Premier League as a winner and runner up. 6ft 4in with pace to die for, great technical ability and high determination and work rate meant he’d run forever.

Prior the Gameworld going phut he was 21 (signed at 16) and had just started doing it at senior level.

That’s the player I’ll miss the most I can’t quite believe he’s gone. It’s a testament to the game that despite being just a bit of binary data you get a little twang and emotional about it.

Gah I didn’t even have chance to do a youtube vid of his goals.

Other players of note, Christian Montero another three star potential kid, great stats though and really did not like to lose. His hidden stats must have been the best.

Pablo the DM was little bit crazy but again liked to win!

Heffernan eventually went to £500k Aq Fee and managers said he was rubbish stats wise, and then cried as he started bagging a goal a game at U21 level. I shall not forget his winner against the mighty Northern Utd in the Champions league away from home.

Mungy Bungy, running out of contract locks I sold him to Pen Y Bont Raptors. Four seasons I had him and he came on a lot.

I suppose I should tip a nod at the more famous, Turan Arda, Jimmy Menez, Sergio Ramos, Kallstrom, Lucho Gonzalez. However it’s the kids that brought the greatest reward for me.

Great times hopefully we’ll have chance to do it all over again soon.

Gameworld 6 RIP

Well they've called time of death on GW6 on Thursday so we're off to a new gameworld sometime next week. The loss of the data is a major disaster for Si and their credibility, no doubt some potential customers will have lost a bit of faith in SI but hopefully lessens learnt. Personally the FM Live project is huge is already a major coding achievement and is actually good that this happened now besides I'm too addicted to leave the game anyway.

Five gameworlds into two I think the idea is that these two worlds will be full of actives only. Ouch hope the servers cope!

In the meantime SI have a new twist on stress tests. I always tried to play to the stress tests as I know it helps but honestly they've been boring as heck. The new way is actually good fun to play.

Previously during a stress test you'd get a random team / players and take it from there. It was all random though and due to the short term nature of the beast you just ended up going through the motions.

The current system gives you a blank database and everyone is starting from scratch. It's still a short term thing but at least you can experiment with different starting players.

Still unsure as to how the Beta worlds will operate after October (or later) release I would guess it would be possible to play both and have a beta account and a live account.

Uptime for the beta would come with no guarantees but you'd have a good idea on upcoming features. I don't think I'd be alone in thinking that Beta sounds better and possibly would be fuller! Still we'll have to see.

Having just been made a mod before I went away I was keen to get modding (whatever that means) but seems I'll have to wait a little longer.

with FM Live down for not much else to report other than that. I've dabbled in other games and I'm currently having a fling with Civ4 again.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Outrage and Revolt!

Just a recap last week several of the Databases were lost in a hardware failure and a failed backup system meant that it looks as if several of the Gameworlds are not coming back.

It’s not quite outrage but some of the beta testers are starting to get a bit shirty with SI on the forums. It’s a bit unfair as the timing of the big crash for SI is a disaster and I’m sure they got more invested in the game than any beta tester. I feel privileged to have been part of it and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the game has a commercial future.

I thought I’d speculate on the future so here goes. Several customers in a few countries won’t be able to buy the game for whatever reason and SI have already stated the they will have access to a perpetual beta. I’d imagine that Universe One will remain in beta forever and eventually run as an open beta.

This serves two purposes they can offer a demo version and a decent beta environment to test new features.

The way that Si have chosen to announce the release is pretty clever. If the game isn’t up to scratch in October they can just either slow down the release by only giving the green light to a handful of Gameworlds and slowly work towards more until their full public release in February 2009.

Naturally whilst Beta testers are prone to bite their tongue come release then it’ll be open season for outrage should any downtime occur once users start paying for the game.

So stability wise it’s not the pressing issue I thought it was, naturally if running 14 Gamworlds requires too much maintenance in terms of manpower then by February FM Live could be pulled. This is a long way off though and I think they can nail the issues by then.

The game itself is more Fantasy Football than FM2008 it’s not too my taste and I’d prefer more of an FM08 experience but it’s still a great game to play. However looking back at GW6 (these figures are pulled from memory) then we’ve had around 3000 users in the last six months and only around 300 remain active.

A retention rate of 10% doesn’t bode well so I’ve two concerns from this. First, if you play a long term game with a youth policy you could quite easily be playing in an empty gameworld in a few short months. Second, are there enough potential customers who’ll get the bug and keep playing.

It’s a big risk, if FM Live survives then Gamworlds can be tweaked and have themes resulting in a broader appeal. If we get that far then you are looking at a massive game but the next six months or so is a critical time.

The real test is SI’s finical independence and vision, both I’d expect to be tested quite thoroughly.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Away for a week and all hell breaks lose!

Wow so now you can pre-order FM Live for October release. Odd timing as the biggest crash in FM history occurred at this time. Thursday was the last day that GW6 ran and it looks like it isn’t coming back.

I’ve been promoted to mod but I still going to fire from the hip as it were and not going to tone down any posts I do. First thing though during the sign up process I went for gameworld SHEARER.

I worry that SI won’t be able to sustain uptime they’ve failed to do that in six months and I was quite shocked how full these Gameworlds were not. 14,000 spaces and only 6% full, ouch! This does not bode well.

In saying that the full PR machine hasn’t kicked in at all and there is a full month to get everything ship shape. Assuming that the issues are fixed I can say FM Live has been the most addictive game I’ve ever played and I have played a lot of games!

Overall I don’t think these are the biggest issues facing the game but rather longevity. The cause of this is that there isn’t much sense of progression in the game. I’ve said this countless times but the pyramid is too shallow, if you don’t get into the top 50 with in a few months chances are your not getting in the top 50 period.

My idea is to have a much deeper pyramid with the bulk of the money being delivered via FA or FED money. So instead of having an income of £100 - £250k a day as daily income based on club reputation this should be changed to £25k - £100k, it’s still possible to secure £250k a day but only via performing in the various FA leagues.

Currently much of the player database is unused as there are no small / big clubs, why should any club sell their young superstar as their actually the same size as the club trying to buy.

The current system just means adds to FM Live = Trading game. At least this way you’d have a sense of progression as even though your starting at the bottom you would slowly improve as teams above you drop out. Ok if your good you’d get there faster but you’d still get there!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

33 or 34 is Peak for a Footballer?

I’ve had a good look at GW6 rankings to see if anyone is bucking the trend of rep of players = rank and there are two teams doing it. The thing both these teams have in common is desperately old squads.
Example below, seems in FM Live that mental stats are quite important but you do wonder when I have kids like Moununmi where exactly I’m going wrong.
Seems that although in real life a footballer’s peak is generally regarded as 28/29 in FM Live it’s 33/35, ouch.

I played another new team doing really well (for a new team). Could not beat them:-

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Life goes on

Needless to say I was a bit downbeat recently so I decided it was time freshen up the Jakswans a little. Looking at my team the core as I like to call them, two Centre Backs, two Midfielders are very German like, solid strong, proven records all now around the 26 – 30 year old mark.

Nothing fancy although Marchiso has moments (recently scored six goals in one game!) then the flair players on the wing and up front. Up front though Sene and Heffernan are very precise and great but not really full of flair.

So with money to spend I wanted a 25-30 year old World Famous attacker preferably a winger on wage demand. A 7.5m deal was done to bag Menez, a left winger who could also play up front.

That’s what he’s based on but now 26 years old. If I had designed him I couldn’t do better as he fits perfectly in with Sene (Sene is natural striker but can also play left wing) so if things are not going to plan can swap the two around.

Although the servers are down I did manage to get him playing a handful of games and we’ve already had some very nice moments.

We do have a touch of BF due to all the recent transfers but I expected that as it’s between phases in the NFA so a mini close season.

We’ll see how things pan out over the next few days.

Tom Phillips, RIP

I’ve had quite a few mini claims to fame over my gaming career, a column on .net magazine, barrysworld in it’s prime, my own website. However this small bit of cyberspace is my own now and although it’s about FM Live it’s about me as well.

Last night my Dad, the old boy, the old dap as he liked to refer to himself, passed away. A short six month fight with Lung cancer was over. Quite the character he was and he’ll be missed by us all.

It’s been a difficult six months and I’d like to thank SI for the chance to beta test as it’s given me a chance to escape somewhere.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Lies, Dam Lies and Stats

For those that are still awake a recap on my theory, everything fine and dandy with the game but form will come and go in accordance with the rank you are / should be. I found a perfect example to test this theory out.

Trumptonville's manager has gone bye Lewis (waves) and over the last few weeks his team has not played a game and have slipped right down the rankings 300th odd. Now his team are decent and would merit a spot in the top 100 so if he came back I'd expect a blast of form right?

So errr 19 out of 22 games won! Ok so now he's ranked 80th now I'd expect some sort of normality to resume:-


A purist would argue this is just so wrong, Trumps should return to his rank but not be given drugs to achieve it and then get the drugs turned off after getting it :)

Sunday, 3 August 2008

I didn't say that!

Had a few mails saying that the match engine results were pre determined etc. That’s not what I wrote.

I don’t think any results are pre determined for the most part it plays great and is totally ‘pure’ there are no pre determined results. I’AM GUESSING HERE and could be totally off track.

There are two types of form player form and team form, player form is fairly easy to spot and after a few bad results morale of the players drops so they start performing badly. Team form is hidden I’m sure I’ve read SI state that there is a match nerves variable and I suspect that this is governed by team form.

If you have bad team form then your team enters the match engine with high match nerves then you have the strikers missing easy chances, silly mistakes at the back etc. I would guess this is fairly dynamic throughout a match and changes with goals / time of game / sendings off / subs etc.

All I was saying in my last post is that general team form could float and be governed by where you should be in the rankings compared to where you are in the rankings. It seems to me that where you should be in the rankings is governed by the reputation of the players.

When I sold three world famous players the team played and got results exactly as I expected for a time, eventually though a bad run started and it lasted until my rank was corrected. Conversely if you sign a few world famous players this may start an extended period of good form which will last long enough so that your position is corrected.

This is my experience of the game so far, once you’re where you should be the form returns to neutral and this is when you can really make the difference for a while.

This is why a team of technically gifted kids will drive you slowly insane and if you’re a tactical genius you’ll be left completely bemused by the erratic performances of your team. Your superior tactics will result in your team over achieving but eventually you’ll be encouraged into the position you should be.

I suspect if you signed high rep youth, ala Ronaldo / Pato / Javi Martinez then you’d be dandy but if you signed unknowns (albeit just as technically gifted) ala Tetteh / Sene / Gomez then you’d struggle to do much for a long time. Eventually though their rep would stabilise and things would improve.

This theory also explains why 35 year olds are actually pretty great whilst their stats drop away their contribution to rep remains so you’ll continue to get those lucky moments.

So is this a sell out by SI then? Well not really I guess you could argue that actually high rep = high quality. Whilst it kills the Wenger mode to complete glory you can certainly still tactically influence games which will result in your team overachieving on average.

Meanwhile servers are much better although there have once again been a fresh batch of bugs but it feels like we’re getting there.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The Hand of God

Recently I started loaning out a few youths and did notice an improvement in stats, as a result we've reached a tentative agreement with Zubin's Zee FC to cover his subs bench with kids. They should gain experience and rep I get a second opinion on the kids and we'll come to a first refusal policy on sales and he gets some free subs.

In the meantime I'm now faced with another dilemma... I've been bringing on Montero as a sub so far this season and he's been an handful for the opposition. Handed him a full debut the other day and a hat trick followed. Thiago was suspended for a Premier League game and Heffernan started and is now getting a goal a game.

I know these players so well I would swear that Marchiso and Thiago could leave the club and be replaced with these two kids. I know from bitter memory though the likely course of events that will follow.

The match engine is great and it generally works as you'd expect it to except when you have BF. I have long speculated on what starts BF and why does it end. The other day in a forum post Ackter posted that when his team got to a certain rank they seemed to hit BF.

It sounds ridiculous and was met with a measure of disgust by many on the forums. Those defending the game or the match engine always have the killer point, 'good form bad form / hactics tactics the bottom line is that overall the teams with the best players are at the top'.

Case closed you'd think, that's a killer argument. Hang on a sec though, you mean to say that no one has ever managed to assemble of squad of great unknown players perfectly balanced and with great tactics.

Isn't this a bit odd? Is it possible that whilst you can get great runs of form and runs of bad form that maybe the game gently nudges the occurrences of form so that your kept in line with the rank that you should be. I've checked GW6 pretty much the top 6 have more high Rep players than the rest.

From experience my rank has almost tied in exactly with swings in the number of high rep players I have.