It’s great to be able to finally start talking about Football Manager 2010 and Football Manager Handheld 2010 today, and you can see the intially announced new features at the bottom of this post and screenshots for the PC/MAC at http://www.sigames.com/softography.php?type=view&id=33 and for the PSP at http://www.sigames.com/softography.php?type=view&id=34. But before you do (yeah right!) there’s a few things that I’d like to talk to you about.
The key thing with this years game is the word “polish”.
With last years game, we had a load of big new features (hence the YouTube video) and maybe some areas of the game suffered because of that. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it was a great game, and the third patch for it was, for me, the best version of any game we’ve made to date, which has seems to have been bourne out by some of the stats - 2nd best game of all time according to a Radio 1 poll in the UK, our best selling game to date and still no.2 in the PC charts in the UK and top.5 in many European countries, and each legitimate user playing the game has averaged 240 hours of gameplay, a stat that shocked us as, well, 10 days of your life is a long time. In that time, you could watch every Man Utd game last season, still have time to watch every Barcelona and Inter match, and still have time left for the whole last series of Lost.
But back to the matter at hand. Basically, SI as a studio has grown quite a lot in the last few years. The squad is now sized 60 (full time) alongside our amazing teams of researchers, translators and beta testers. As we’ve grown, we haven’t really changed any of the dev practises in the studio, and this was causing growing pains.
Even before FM09 came out, we knew that we needed to make some changes into the way we worked. Just subtle things to make everyone’s lives easier, and get a bit more organised now that we were getting bigger.
The first of these was a big overhaul with our bugs database – we use an external tool called Testtrack which is really good, but much better if it’s managed properly! With lots of different personalities here, and different ways of working, some people were using it properly and others weren’t. So some bugs were being looked at, fixed, retested by QA and closed. Others were being fixed and just sitting around there, waving at us. Others weren’t looked at at all.
We also had far too much stuff in there. All feature requests were in that database, for example, going back 5 years. Many of them had been filtered out due to having the wrong setting here, or the wrong setting there. And, believe it or not, we had around 500 feature requests sitting in there, sad and lonely, never looked at. Over 100 of which were already in the game.
So we’ve split off the 2 databases, and now have a separate bugs and features database (the latter of which, to date, stands at over 800 feature requests – the vast majority of which didn’t make it into FM10, but certainly make it easier for planning FM11 and FM12!). We’ve gone through the vast majority of the open bugs in the bugs database, and re-tested them to see if they’re still valid, and, if they are, have set them accourdingly. We’ve closed down ones that aren’t valid, or are fixed (some of which were fixed in FM2005!) and, well, attempted to fix the ones that are still valid. I’m not saying that the release will be bug free because, as is often said on these forums, there’s no such thing as a bug free game, particularly one as complicated as ours, but we’re doing our best.
We’ve signed some top talent, both young and old, to join the dev team at SI many of whom you’ll get to meet when our new website launches later this year. We’ve also restructured our QA department, so rather than having a couple of lead testers on FM, we’ve now got a lead tester in every key “module” of the game. There are lots more meetings now amongst the dev team on FM now, with those split down into the various modules too, although anyone can attend them if they want to.
As well as the restructuring of QA, we’ve also restructured the way we do beta testing, and have handpicked a couple of hundred or so new beta testers to help us test the game, mainly recruiting via posts on these very forums where we’ve agreed with, or disagreed but understood, the constructive criticism given. This has been a massive help, and hopefully those people and the beta testers who have been with us for a while, have seen the difference in the new QA structure with their regular builds.
As I’ve got your attention (if I still have), this is also a good time to try and kill off some of the cynicism and misinformation that seems to be rife on these forums sometimes. Everyone out there has a right to their opinion, of course, but when things are factually inaccurate, it does hurt sometimes.
First off, this is not a customer service website, and is not meant to be. SEGA deal with customer service. This is a community, and a place to talk about our games, directly with us, the developers. Personal attacks are not welcome here, and are not needed, nor fair. To correct some of these… SI are not lazy. SI are not complacent. SI try our level best with everything we do. We might not always get it right, but if we get something wrong, we do try to fix it. And we care, passionately, about our games and the people who buy them. Which, hopefully, is you.
Secondly, we work on 3 games here at SI towers. FM, FMH and FML. FMH and FML are separate teams to the FM team. Each game has a different producer. Each of the games has a benefit for others in the studio – more talent around, more experience of different systems and, with FML, the ability to try things out that we’re looking to put into FM sometimes, particularly with the match engine and, this year, the newly announced tactics creator.
Thirdly, and possibly most controversially, what we’ve found over the years is that the customer is not always right. They might think they are, but if you look at these forums, there is nearly always an opposite point of view somewhere, normally on the same thread. It’s part of our job to decide what is right, and what is wrong, with those opinions, and we know we cannot please all people all of the time. But, again, we do try.
Anyway, back to the announcements.
What you’ve seen on the feature lists today is the start of announcements about this years releases. As always, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves and I’ll start blogging properly about them, with more screenshots and (hopefully) some videos too over the coming weeks.
The blogs will be a bit different this year. There are bound to be some of me prattling on about this feature or that feature, but I’m also going to attempt to give you all an insight into the development of the game, with chats between me and some of the dev team working directly on it, interviews with some of the beta testers who have been helping with the testing of the game this year, and some indepth guides into a few of the new features which should really wet your appetitie for the release of the demo, and then the game.
Oh, and to stave off the normal questions, the demo will be released a couple of weeks before the game is released, and we won’t have a firm date for it until the game is in full manufacture. There will not be a public beta demo, due to the leak a few years back – the lawyers just won’t allow it. No decision has been made on copy protection yet for the game – we’ve been asked for our recommendation, and that’s been given, but it’s SEGA’s decision, not ours. And yes, the podcast will be back, although I’m not sure exactly when.
I hope you enjoy the announcements and screenshots that we’ve released today – I’m really excited about not only today’s announcement, but also being able to reveal more about the game in the next few weeks. I’ll be posting blogs directly onto the forums and websites, likely starting the week after next depending on whether we need to get them translated or not, and the SI_games twitter account will be tweeting when anything is put live.
LONDON (August 12th, 2009) – Sports Interactive & SEGA® Europe Ltd. can today announce that Football Manager™ 2010 for PC and Apple Macintosh, and Football Manager™ Handheld 2010 for Sony PSP will be released on October 30th.
Football Manager 2009 is the most successful in the Football Manager series to date, clocking up 22 weeks at No.1 in the UK (PC charts) and selling in excess of 1 million copies worldwide, as well as being voted the 2nd best video game of all time in a recent Radio 1 poll.
According to data gathered from Football Manager 2009, people played the game for an average of 240 hours each and developer Sports Interactive has spent the last year working closely with consumers and the Football Manager community to implement key improvements to this year’s game. Football Manager 2010 features new tools and changes across the board including some big additions to improve ease of use, navigation and feedback from the game with the introduction of a brand new match tactics system, the debut of a Match Analysis tool, a completely new look and new User Interface among other features.
“We have worked very hard with the Football Manager community to target not only the areas of the game that needed re-working but also what we could add to improve what’s already there. We’ve also conducted extensive usability studies which has led us to overhaul the whole presentation of the game, which we’re really excited about,” said Miles Jacobson, Studio Director at Sports Interactive. “There has been a lot of polish to existing areas of the game but it’s also driven us to introduce changes to answer some of the feedback. We’re very confident that having done that we will deliver the very best Football Manager to date in October.”
The introduction of a Tactics Creator makes it easier to instruct the team to play the way the manager wants, alongside the introduction of touchline ‘shouts’ and quick tactic changes for instantly altering your team’s playing style during the match. Working with coaches from various levels of football, alongside some of the Football Manager communities most respected independent tacticians, the game now has an extensive array of pre-set tactical options allowing the user to select a player’s role in the team (such as ‘Ball winning midfielder’ or ‘Deep lying playmaker’), however the option to use the old ‘slider’ controls remains.
Feedback from matches has been improved to give the user better insight into where their team is going wrong, or right. A new Match Analysis tool lets players see where shots, passes, crosses, headers, tackles, fouls and interceptions have been made on the field for all players on the pitch. Managers can view this analysis both live in-game and post match, allowing them to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of both their team and their opponent’s and adjust their tactics accordingly.
Football Manager 2010 features a brand new User Interface, with a light and a dark skin to choose from as part of a vibrant new look and has undergone a complete navigational overhaul. The side bar navigation of previous years has been replaced by an intuitive tab system at the top of the screen, making Football Manager’s famed depth easier to navigate and will make the game more accessible to new players.
A brand new Data Editor will allow the addition of new divisions to existing leagues and of entirely new leagues as well as making it easier than ever to keep the game up to date, and do so for free. The delivery of information to the manager has been refined with users now able to sign up to the News Centre, an in-game subscription based newspaper that lets you get the news that you want about the football world and filter out the stories that you do not need, making the football world as immersive as you want it to be.
Following the debut of a 3D match view in Football Manager 2009, this year’s release sees a revamp with improved AI, over 100 new animations for the 3D pitch view, new stadiums, crowds, realistic pitch degradation and better lighting, creating an even more realistic match experience.
Further new features will be announced via a series of blogs in the months leading up to the game’s October 30th release date which will ensure that Football Manager retains its position as the most realistic, most played, highest reviewed and best selling football management simulation in the world.