Monday, 30 November 2009

Is FM Live Doomed?

Well there's a happy title for a Monday evening:)

I really thought that FM Live 2.0 would be a rag to riches type game in some way. The more I read the more it seems that Si seem keen to keep a GW as flat as possible, as I said in my last update.

This could be a 'I told you so' post. I've read back through my blog, well skimmed through it and here are some posts I did in August.

Still lets revisit:-

28/8/08 More FM Live server downtime
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.

24/08/08 Servers Break
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.

The high churn rates are down to users losing I'm convinced, there are just not enough that want to play a LLM / Simulation type game. Countless times I've said you can't make a game where everyone is Man Utd you can make a game where everyone becomes Man Utd for a time.

At the council Marc Duffy opened the meeting with 'the Live worlds have died the same way as Beta'. Come on SI, it's right there staring you in the face!

Today then I thought I'd pitch my 'lead a youth team to glory idea' but alas no backers. The thing is I think the current crop of managers are either top managers and intent on staying there or actually pretty happy with being an also ran.

So I kind of think that I'm Winston Churchill during the wilderness years :)

Anyway time to move on again from this, I started saying these things on the old forums after being in the game for a week and after nearly two years it's time to let it go.

So do I think FM Live is doomed?
I really hope not it's got massive potential, it's target demographic though is the FM player although that in it's self is something I think SI still need convininging of!

My straw polls of 5/6 real life FM managers well they just don't play FM as Fulham for twenty seasons, the either play as Man Utd or Barca or..... rags to riches.

The game surviving depends on just one thing, how many LLM types there are, if they can get enough of them then rock on, otherwise this time next year I'll be posting memories of FM Live.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Now for something completly differemt

You know I've often thought the original vision for the game was pretty solid.

Lets make Fantasy Football using the FM database and Engine

So why don't SI just do that? This is radical, get rid of cash. Yep you read that right, get rid of stadiums, youth players, get rid of it all.

Just have once a season open seven day wage auctions with no cash. The only cash you spend is your wage budget.

A player retires just bring him back according to the latest database.

Simple to code easy to maintain, can make the game very cheap and actually that would appeal to the fantasy football type.

The End of The Worlds

Now before you start reading this I've always enjoyed FM Live so whatever happens I'm sure I'll stay playing although I have cancelled all subs.

Well I think I get it now. SI's vision for the game is one of a flat pyramid structure where every team is pretty much on the same level.

The big plus to having a GW set up this way is that it's pretty easy to catch up and no one gets ahead.

So old GW's are just as attractive as old ones.

It's the total opposite of the direction I think SI should go.

The big downside of course is that SI HAVE NO CHOICE but to reset the GW's to do this.

Will it work?

The short answer is no.

Although I think their target market is still for the non-gamer who doesn't play football games. In other words not me or the current crop of managers, that's why their not worried about losing us.

Can you believe their still chasing that dream?

I can't.

The thing is though I stand alone, most current forum users can't come up with anything better than 'boost new managers' which gives you the same thing that SI are doing just from the other direction.

Clearly my vision of managers playing through a long deep GW isn't one that's shared by SI or much of the community. Maybe the newgen worlds will have some different features. I'm sure I read that SI expect the real worlds to be more popular.

Predictions time, sometime soon stadiums will get nerfed and the cash you get will be much lower than we see currently.

We might see wage tax and a new level, £150k ish. Not sure how their going to stop teams amassing massive amounts of cash with trading.

Might even see some limit to income so it's % over current wages like we see at low level rep levels.

All this will come in c.1.5 Feb March for relaunch with these controls in place.

Newgen worlds will be more popular than real by 3:1 ratio.

Some tight control on hopping GW's.

The worlds will start and bleed members like they always have. The tight controls won't work.

Some will get ahead some way most won't. The dreadfully slow pace of the game will continue and a total no no for any form of way of 'grinding' your way ahead.

The hardcore will get frustrated as they can't get anywhere, the non-gamer fantasy football type won't even show up.

After a summer of marketing the game by Autum the churn rates will be unavoidable. Finally after years of development the game will close or be sold.

Wow, reading that back it's pretty doom and gloom from me. I'm not even upset about a reset!

On the more positive front, well a fresh start is going to be exciting although it looks as if you won't be able to pick your starting squad. So maybe it won't be:)

What else errr I've enjoyed the game so far, enjoyed being in the beta. FML 3.0 will rock!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Out of Beta

Felt recently that there was a undercurrent of resentment of my beta involvement did get somewhat stuck into the rep and injury system changes.

That combined with a personality clash has left me in a position where I will effectively leave the beta development process and just limit myself to bug finding.

Be great here to GW1's podcast next week with Marc Duffy. Maybe they could get one of their harshest critics who's going nuts on forums onto the show as well. Oddly though many are not so critical in the real world, had a few nasty blog replies here, it's all good fun!

I do feel for the SI guys, they are trying to make the game better and if you listen to some of the moans you'd think they had done it out of spite.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Treat the Disease not the symptoms

Well this could be a fairly epic post and it could be titled 'High Ho Silver' as I'm going to get on my high horse.

Ok two big posts by Marc Duffy lets start with reasons for leaving.
  1. • Need to devote too much time to be good - People on here all the time/not fair against hardcore/can't play once a week to be successful.
  2. • Lack of things to do - Boring/ I want more to do/ repetitive/ I won everything now what?
  3. • Prefer FM - Don't like online/no real teams/not realistic
  4. • Wanted to start again and no new world - I want to start again/new world please/
  5. • Frustration at losing - Why do I lose/win 2 games then lose 10 /ME is bad/too hard to win against AI
  6. • Empty GW - No one online/All my friends have left/ no one to play during the mornings
So 1, 4, 5 you could read as 'I'm losing I'm off'. I'd hazard a guess that some of the reason 3 dudes are in that category as well.

In this post by Marc we see discussed that to level the playing field the draft system will be introduced aka 'Returning stars'. They think that this will be the most popular GW in the long term.

So now you can bounce around the few GW's that will be open and from season 3 get a tasty boost. If success doesn't come then 'I'm losing I'm off' or bounce around some and eventually your regen will be so awesome that it'll level the playing field a little.

The newgen GW is for the 'long term manager' yet does little to cover how this retains it's long term appeal. Logically draft system for youths makes sense, otherwise these GW's will suffer the same fate as the existing ones.

I'm not at all upset about the reset if it fixes the game. I'm not seeing it though, if a draft system exists for youths in a newgen world then fair enough but otherwise no.

Then there is this treating the symptoms, in the second post today Marc Duffy said 'users spread too thin' so we'll reset. Woah that's a big jump if that's the case close GW's and pack em into old ones but the cause of this thin spread is outlined in the numbers leaving.

So apart from the draft system how does that change anything. 100% convinced that managers leave cos their losing.

Look lets look at facts, if it was a casual issue then the casual FA's would be empty, if it was real players then you'd just leave servers run with the draft system kicking in later, if it was cos their losing then the lower rankers would be leaving. Guess what, they are!

The roadmap said 'bigger and better competitions' this solves this issue of lower rankers getting LLLLLL records. Yet where are they? Ok works fine in Clough but I've an account in Muhren and FA's are not set to promote FA hoppers to relevant position. Same GW a rejig of FA's and their running qualifying leagues again!

There is nothing in 1.4 that changes the game to suggest that you'll hold on to low rankers, the worse teams will still lose a lot the managers will still leave.

SI's solution and thinking to solve this issue is to level everyone up.


There are multiple reasons why we're not resetting sooner, we wanted to give people notice of such a major change but most importantly there's no point doing the reset until the changes are in place to stop gameworlds becoming inbalanced from day 1.
They are always going to good managers and bad managers are we suggesting that this won't happen? There will always be inblance lets not fight it, embrace it.

Millie is on the same page as me, deeper pyramid, there needs to be a bigger depth of teams.
The game needs a deeper pyramid structure to it's competitions and a kinder way to climb through the ranks.
Nearly TWO YEARS AGO now.

It's grinding on me now, I said in beta there are series issues with this game I've been banging on about it for ages, too many leaving why? Why opening so many GW's? Why did beta server with 3000 previoulsy active managers fall so quickly? Why do low ranked teams leave?

My Fix List

It is essential to get the game set up so the top teams play the top teams the middle teams play the middle teams and the bottom teams play the bottom teams.
To have progression there has to be regression, either do it with a draft youth system or get the top teams to leave.
Stop chasing this nonsense dream that there are hundreds of subscribers out there that don't play FM that will want to play FM Live.

I know this sounds negative so now for positive. Subscribers, good grief you'd swear that SI had literally held them at gunpoint and robbed them. I've paid for the game for a year I've enjoyed the game for a year.

Skills why is there such a massive hang up about this? RELATIVE skills are, if you've got JP and every other manager has it's not worth much is it.

Finally does anyone think that someone is going to leave their megastar team to go and be 300th in the Elite GW?

Shearer Season 15

Well not really planning on doing much with this squad this close season. The Galacticos have arrived!

Might be worth noting a player I picked up WAAAAY back, couldn't get in the team at 24, started doing some good things at 25, at 26 he's playing regular, at 27 ok fair enough. Finally now at 28 not many teams would say no to him:-

He was signed the same day as a regen went for £40k on Shearer and he's never been over wage demand.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


At last I can talk about the council. Of course the big news was the reset.

When they told us I thought oh my, that's not good, and I did say that there were GW's that could get the draft system and survive. Heck I reckon there are some that just carry on to be newgen worlds.

I got the impression this was a done deal though, and when you think back SI have been very coy for a long time about plans for old worlds. So I suppose there has been much soul searching over it but in the end a painful decision has to be made.

Personally I've enjoyed playing FM Live, my harshest criticism of SI has been that their long term vision has been lacking. When they started opening worlds way back I think it was nuts then the new manager only thing just was plain daft.

The presentation from SI at the council was opened with 'we dropped one and opened too many worlds' so kind of took the wind out of my sails. Fair enough that's progress I thought.

The draft system for the 'real' worlds I think will work in keeping old GW's attractive and if we get a draft system in the newgen worlds for the youths then happy days. If we don't the game is going to be in trouble.

The second biggest complaint I have over FM Live is it's so goddam slow and boring. Made to suit the pace of the slowest casual manager, it's a great game but this area really frustrates me.

I'm writing this on the eve of the announcement and I'm guessing many will go off the deep end. The theme will be 'I'm winning now! Look at my toys fly out of this pram.'

There may be trouble ahead

Well Part One of two parts is out. The forums nearly exploded.

All sorts of speculation flying.

Still under NDA, so can't discuss but if they nearly exploded today they will explode tomorrow :)

I'm not really up for the 'real' GW so will be newgen all the way.

We get a youth draft system into that, combine with 1.4 and I think the game is pretty much fixed.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Clough and stuff

Clough - Not doing bad flirting with promotion actually and I've quite a low wage squad compared to the rest of the division. Had a dip in form recently which I think started with a late equaliser where we were winning 2-1. A few bad results followed but the football being played is solid so not overly worried. Not much cash due to stadium but we're doing quite well all things considered. Rank although that don't mean much is 180th ish.

Shearer - Right into the galacticos era here now. We didn't win anything in the end but there isn't much wrong with finishing 6th in the Premier League, runners-up both the FA Cup and Gold Cup. Very hard to improve team now and keep under £250k a day. Still the cash pours in so always keeping an eye out.

Beta - Another solid season and looking good next season having replaced the two that left. Two Div.1 Stages won and didn't look like we were in much danger of relegation.

Scott manager of Freemantle is leaving Shearer and he'll be badly missed. He had some tough times early doors and was desperate for a major title and he took the Premier League so his time ended on a high.

The announced announcement:) Well it was a bit of a mistake the delay, but the changes needed are substantial and it needs to be spot on. Not much point announcing changes and having to change tact after a few of the critics start going at it.

They need to be solid and as one on the changes.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Match Engine & Form

I can't quite believe that some on the forum now are asking for form to be removed. Next we'll have a campaign to remove the round ball!

The argument goes like this, I can't influence form so remove it. First off lets try and get a grip on what form is.

Swansea City are now 3rd in the Championship and last night got there by beating Derby 1-0. It was a late goal yet a few weeks back they were drawing games all the time. Why?

Well form of course! But the Swans manager can influence the players by talking to them! True without question and in my opinion the most important part of football managers job.

Managing people though is the most complex of jobs, attempting to simulate that in a football game would be just plain daft.

The Swans manager would also have an influence on form in how he reads his team & their current form, the opponents team, their form. Exactly what tactics to pick mindful of the opponents tactics and all the factors already listed.

Take two games I played from last night, we're not in rich vein of form currently. First game I play a team away from home 50th ranked, decent side he has and we've two players out.

Man for man I think my team is better but they seem to be playing well and we're not exactly buzzing. I go counter attack to try and absorb some of the pressure but 60th minute they score. Despite changing tactics can't really open them up. Fair result.

Next up is a team ranked 120th coming off the back of a bad run. On paper it should be a walk in the park but this team I'm playing are going well currently.

Go down to an early goal, I know my team, off the back of a defeat can be very dangerous and going a goal down sees them pounding the opposition. Just before half time we score to make it 1-1 and in the second half we coast to a 3-1.

Now then I can actually see the mentality of the players, yes little dots but somehow the Match Engine manages to convey how fired up and focused the players are (or not).

The game has it's issues but this ain't one of them!

In saying that I do sympathise with managing expectations. Most managers I think just think ok I'm ranked 20th their ranked 200th 2-0 to me, when that doesn't happen for whatever reason then it's off the forums to get SI to fix the game.

A little bit of feedback to say 'opponents are really fired up for this today', 'your captain reports that the mood in the dressing room is one of total confidence' (not necessarily a good thing) etc so at least managers can understand it all a little better.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Busy and Bored - The Youth Scenario

Back in work so not much time to spend on FM Live now. Things are a bit flat, Shearer, I don't think we're getting relegated, Clough is close season. The beta remains quite dramatic as ever, either chasing the Div.1 title or trying not to get relegated.

In my very humble opinion FM Live needs a hook, everything else is there. The hook would be in my opinion that you club is formed with a bunch of kids and your task is to steer them to fame and fortune, a classic rags to riches tale.

What this means in simple terms is that when a team joins a GW they are given a team of top drawer regens, forget academies we don't need them.

Just by simply holding on to those kids the balance of power will change in a GW. I'm totally convinced having played in many many worlds that managers want to win. What better way than they win at various youth levels until their youths are ready to take on the world.

Maybe 5 or so with lifetime locks. Have to be careful to see how this would be implemented as the experienced crew would have it away with new managers.

This combined with encouragement in the FA's that managers play each other at their own level would fix the game.

Personally I'd be a bit more mercenary and award badges for being Champion of a GW and kick them out so they can do it again. That would be unpopular though:)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Clough Season 14 Squad

The end of my 2nd season in Clough, here is the squad that'll be going into my 3rd season.

GK - D'Urso picked up in initial squad, for £50k Aq Fee, a little ropey at first but matured well.
DL - Startsev whilst the top teams focus on securing the superstars I work under the radar picked up in wage auction.
DC - Svensson Signed from another team £100k odd as I recall, under 25 and DC's tend to struggle a little, maturing nicely now.
DC - Talis Wage Auction signing not a great footballer but nice solid DC
DR - Beardsley Wage Auctions not over so may still be able to replace him, current weakest position but mature no nonsense DR.
DM - Woods very solid MC used with defensive duties. Really makes the middle tick.
MC - Abied cheap wage auction signing.
ML - Cedric is in the database from the off I've seen him wonderkid status early doors but tends to turn into an honest winger gives 100% and does have enough talent to open up some teams.
MR - Lingane another cheapie I picked up in wage auction.
FC - Martinez does blow hot and cold but has got talent.
FC - Antonio one of my best ever signings scores some delightful goals was sitting on someones subs bench until I picked him up in wage auction.

Ladadie - Bought with a view to replacing Woods, was a speculative wage auction bid.

As you can see end of season 2 that squad is as good as any I've had end of Season 2, new or old GW. The main differance from my point of view is that I would have managed to have bagged a few potential wonderkids whilst everyone was chasing Pato.

Whilst a few of the youths are half decent they don't compare to the quality you can get in the first few days.

We're still not overdrawn and have spent around £5m on the stadium I'd guess. The team is put together with a view on being competitive in Division Four. Aspiring to be one of the top teams in the Gameworld after three seasons isn't doable in saying that if I ignored the stadium I could push further.

FM Council

Sworn to secrecy, it was a brutally honest discussion overall and I was left in no doubt that SI / Sega have the commitment and the conviction to deliver a game that achieves it's huge potential.

The day itself was fantastic, it was 'lets talk about FM Live for a day', my favourite subject, with the actual guys who code the game, a1. Did feel envious of them imagine having a job that involved football, games, lots of stats, gah to be 18 again I'd beg them to take me on as a 'gofor' :)

I think I missed the fuss over at Gameworld One about it, I think council was an unfortunate choice of words, focus group would have been more fitting. SI record for making games is second to none and I think they'll go their way with it, but needed input from managers who were prepared to be critical.

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.

I can't really comment on anything more until announcements are made I had to say something about the day, so I apologise if your reading this and thought I'd be revealing all but NDA prevents me saying more.

I've been really active on the rep and injury changes coming in 1.4 and will be free to discuss these and naturally groan or cheer the various teams.

Clough - Division Five champions, still on a limited budget with stadium payments however I'll go overdrawn if the right player pops up. From being in many Gameworlds season 3/4 seems to be the grinding seasons getting the stadium finished before you can crack on.

Shearer - A £1.4m Aq Fee right back at 26 on low wage was just the ticket so £4.5m poorer we should have a decent enough team to stay in the NFA Premier League. Started the season badly and have had decent results since so can't complain.

Beta - We were limping a bit here as we missed out on wage auctions. Spotted a £500k 30yo for 1.5m on auto so pounced. That sounds a lot but with players ageing end of season now he's really 29 in old money:) Could do with a striker now to really push. In saying that we have finished 2nd and 1st in the top league in the two stages so far so not too bad at all.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Teams

Shearer - Gandolfi on his £800 a day wage is now high profile. Compared to some managers that are paying £20k a day for players like that it does tend to give me a massive advantage. Everyone see's him as 3.1/2 star as well. Might be a clue there as to why some GW's just don't have talent coming through as the 'youth managers' hunt for the next Ronaldo and miss the bread and butter players totally.

Team seems to be doing ok and a fair few youths that look as if they'll be handy in a few seasons time. Future looks steady as ever. Thankfully the FA's were done on last seasons position and we remain a Premiership team. Rank is irrelevant but doing ok there top 30 currently.

The NFA Premiership looks a tough one I think we'd be lucky to stay up and do very well to bag another UFFA spot.

I could have streched my legs a bit an used the £6m or so to really have gone for it but prefer to only sign players that clearly are a cut above.

Beta - Currently going ok, the new injuries mean you have to have strength in depth so I think I just about managed to cover positions with the odd youth and mature utility players end of season. There were issues with the beta GW during wage auctions which meant I couldn't strengthen as much as I would have liked.

This has left me with a huge bank balance, a £200k wage bill and massive projected. Could be a busy close season next time!

Clough - I can't play the games on board ship but we've gone from thinking about a play off spot to thinking about promotion to thinking we can win the title! Not bad really, a few youths picked up that might be useful later on as well. I don't expect to be doing much better season as it's still a lot of cash going into stadium, might take wages upto £100k subject to players becoming available.

Using this sort of bugdet might put me in the running for a compettive team in Div.4 should we get promoted.

It looks like I'll be able to make the council after all, leave New York at 6:30pm arrive UK 8:30am, spend the morning in London.

Had a few mails /posts about my player prices chart, it's subjective of course but signing players in wage auction for demand / Aq Fee seems a logical place to work back from.

My legs are killing me played footie with with my son and nephew and I was running round like a loon. Woke up the following morning to find being 40 meant I couldn't run around like that any more.