(WARNING - LONG - .. PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE THE ENTIRE MESSAGE JUST TO PUT A BENEATH IT!)
I've been playing a multi-player hot-seat game and paying attention to little, subtle corners of the UI; here are my ideas FWIW.
Of course, its too late for '09, but its never too early to start thinking about '10, is it?
- 'Offer Made' E-mail: It would be nice if the email "Team X have made a bid for Player Y" included full details of the offer, including clauses, so that I can click "Accept" or "Reject" without having to click through to "View Offer". Ideally, this would include everything "View" displays, including my asking price. (This change would then rename the "View" button to "Negotiate")
(I notice that most with loans - if I "offer for loan", the responses vary widely in terms of length, % of salary, etc - so I have to "View" each of them. I really want to see "Have offered to loan until end of season, paying 100% of his wages," or "Have offered to loan for three months, paying 0% of his wages," so I know to accept the first and reject the second without having to click through to them!)
- 'Offer Made' E-mail: Could the offer indicate other offers for the player, somehow? Perhaps the Assistant could say "We have six other offers, but none are better than this one," or "Liverpool have offered £6M, so I recommend we turn this offer down."
- 'Offer Made' E-mail: It would be nice if the "Accept" and "Reject" buttons gave the same options that "Accept" and "Reject" do from the "View Offer" screen, e.g., "Accept all offers", and stating a reason.
- Inbox: If I've "Offered to clubs" with multiple players .. (which happens annually as I do a club clearout and loan-out-for-the-season pass, kind of all at once) .. I get all of the responses on the same day at the same time. That's fine! Don't change that! .. but .. the offers are all mixed up; I can't tell if there is one offer or ten offers for a player. It would be sweet if there were a way to sort them by player .. and even sweeter if it were done automagically. (Alternately, maybe there could be a "compare all offers for this player" screen? .. which showed all the terms, and was sortable?)
OFFER TO TEAMS:
- Human Teams: The human teams drop-down currently includes just one entry "All Human Teams". I'd like it to include each team individually. For example, if one human-manager in a six-player mosh is managing a crummy team .. I want to offer him all my loans and free transfers without spamming everybody. (This is true both for network and hot-seat play.) Its kind of painful to "Add All Human" and then manually remove each other team.
- Offer For Loan: I'd really like it if this included all of the terms. Most critically, I'd like the "End of Season" option available, but it really would be nice to set everything depending on my needs at the moment.
- Position: Sometimes I just want to see players' "Natural" positions. Some times I want to see their "Accomplished" positions .. and in an injury crisis, I might want to see by "Competent"! This is true in searches, shortlists, squad screens .. it got me wondering, maybe that's an easy to get to option, somewhere? You could change how you like viewing it according to the needs of the moment .. and it would remember your last setting, and stay that way until you changed back.
- View Bug?: Flipping back and forth between "Players" and "Tactics" to change, say, Free Kick takers, the selected "View" on the Players screen kept reverting back to the default, instead of remembering that I was on "Technical". It's inconsistent; sometimes it does what I want, and sometimes it forgets.
- History: I know you've heard this one before! I'd like a drop-down added which let us switch the statistics showed (and totals shown) on the Player History screen by competition. I'd like:
- Non Competitive
- All Competitive (Club)
So that we can see a player's history better. I don't care if a given selection is "perfect" for dates prior to the start of the game .. but I would like it to start tracking correctly beyond that.
This drop-down setting would default to League as it does now, but would be "remembered" from the last time you viewed the page, so one player could see just International totals, a second could see "All Competitive (Club)", and somebody else could leave it on League.
- Advertisement Response E-mail: I'd really like a way to quickly compare applicants - e.g., present the applicants in a sortable page, with the ability to change "Views" and sort by specific attributes, contracts, or nationality.
- Advertisment Response E-mail: There needs to be a quick way to toggle from the applicants to my "Staff" screen; the side-nav doesn't include the usual Staff link while I'm reading e-mail so its several clicks to get to (I wound up hot-keying it).
- International: International managers ought to be able to post advertisements for positions. (Its fine when you're England or Brazil, and just about everybody of your nationality is willing to join you, but as Nigeria I was having a hard time finding people who would accept the post on offer.)
- Judgment: I'd really like for the scouting reports - e-mail, scouting report, coach report, and national reports - to indicate the JCA and JPA of the staffmember in question at the time the report was generated. I took to putting those numbers in the staffmember's "nickname", so "Andy Smith 10/17", but of course they change as the scout improves or ages... It would really help us to know whose report to trust!
- Assignment Complete E-mail: Can we add a button "Restart"? Most often, that's what I want to do. If I have 3 similar assignments set, I'd like "Restart" to set the assignment just completed to the bottom of the list, as "Pending". It might also want a "Remove" button, so that I can pull the assignment out of the rotation.
- Competition Assignments: Can we add an "Assignment Complete" message from our scouts when their Competition is over? For example, if I send a guy to scout the Charity Shield, I don't really want him to scout just one match a year, every year .. or god forbid I forget the guy who I have scouting the Olympics or World Cup! (Obviously, if I just want the guy scouting the E.P.L., and the E.P.L. season has finished, the "Restart" button from above restarts scouting that Competition.)
- Pending Competition Assignments: If it worked like that, then we could set up "Pending" competitions .. e.g., scout "Charity Shield", then scout "E.P.L." ..
SCOUT REPORT E-MAIL
I'd like the scouting report e-mail to become a bit more of a focal point - I get so many of them, I'd like to be able to use them for more than just clicking the "View Report" button!
Executive Summary: My boss told me once to give him the one-to-two sentence executive summary as the first thing in each e-mail .. and then give the details behind why below that. (I'm wordy, I know!) I'd really like the Scout Report e-mail to work the same way: basically, be a summary of the highlights of the scout's report, rather than a report of which match the scout watched and how the player did in it.
Cicak would be a quality signing. He's not ready to contribute yet, but he's a great prospect for the future. He would be available for around £500k, and he would be very interested in joining our club.Cicak would be a quality signing. He's much better than our other right wing, Alex Jones. Feyenoord are unlikely to sell the player, but he is listed for loan and would probably be interested in joining our club on loan.I think that's more important information to indicate than details about the specific match viewed by the scout.Cicak should only be signed as a last resort. He is nowhere near the ability of our best right wing, Alex Jones. Lack of pace is just one of several weaknesses in his game. He is transfer-listed with an asking price of £2k.
Also, the e-mail seems to assume that I remember the player .. or that I'm going to glance over at the little personal-info box to gain information. If I'm reading quickly, it would actually be more convenient to have quick-hitter elements about the player in the report: "24-year-old right wing Ante Cicak", or "36-year-old right wing Miroslav Cicak".
- Buttons: Can we add a few buttons to this e-mail? I'd like to have the following five buttons all available, as they're basically the actions I take in response to a Report:
- "Add to Shortlist"
- "Continue Scouting" (or "Track Player", see below)
- "View Profile"
- "View Report Card"
- "Remove from Shortlist"
SCOUT REPORT SCREEN
- Side-Nav: I know there's a drop-down to select specific Scout Reports. However, I'd really like the side-nav "Scout Report" spot to be an expandable +, with "Most Recent" and "Most Detailed", so that a recent glance-over by a crummy scout doesn't "overshadow" a well-developed three-match scouting by my assistant manager! (What about the 'stars' on my shortlist?)
- Executive Summary: We've done the "executive summary" in the e-mail, but we do it in the Scout Report as well. It might expound on the "Recommendation" line from the existing report;
- Phrasing for Potential: For some reason, the phrase "not likely to improve", I keep seizing on "likely to improve". Could we rephrase that to something more like "unlikely to develop further", "near his peak", or "in his prime"?
- Indicate Team: I switched from managing Newcastle United to managing Southampton. I still had all of the Scout Reports from when I was managing Newcastle - (which was great! I was very glad that I didn't have to start over ) - but .. I'd get text like "Is better than our best right wing James Milner", and I'd have to remember whether Milner was one of my Southampton players or one my Toon players. In particular, the recommendation line might do well to include the team: "Cicak would be a quality signing for Puddlemere United" helps me recognize that that's not the same as a quality signing for Newcastle ..
- National Report: I'd like to see the National Report include more detail. Maybe, like scout reports, they would grow more detailed the more often our coach "viewed" the player? In that mechanic, I'd expect caps earned for any of the national teams to count as a "View".
Sections I'd like to see added include:
- Form - recent form for his club, e.g., if he's on a tear, if he's been average, if he's slumping, or if he's struggling to get matches.
- Fitness - discussion of recent injuries, match fitness, etc.
- First Team Status - such as "Is a key player for us", "Is a definite starter", "Is a useful squad player", "Is a fringe player for us", "Should be brought into the squad", or "Does not belong in the squad".
- Tournament Summary - might indicate some recent tournament accomplishments or information: "Was a key part of our 2008 African Cup of Nations squad." "Looked very unconvincing in the 2008 European Championship." "Was a key part of our 2008 Olympic championship Under-23 squad, but was left out of the 2010 World Cup squad." For dropped players, this might be "Has not been a member of the squad since 2007."
- National Report Recommendation: Currently the Recommendation line is very simple: he should be a member of the squad, or he shouldn't. I think that there are a ton of useful recommendations that a national team coach could make. These could be very tournament-specific, and very time-sensitive in nature. For example:
Bryce has been in tremendous form for Celtic recently. Though not normally a part of the Scotland setup, I recommend he be brought into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and France.Tevez is in a horrible goal-scoring slump, having gone 18 hours without a goal. Though normally a key part of our squad, I recommend he be left out of the squad for our World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Colombia until he can recover his form.Saviola has not been playing for Barcelona. He needs to find a team where he can play competitive first-team football before we can consider him for inclusion in the Argentina squad.Adu has learned all that he can in the M.L.S. He needs to move to a league with a higher standard of play in order to take his game to the next level.Young Johnson deserves a debut appearance. The upcoming friendly against Denmark is a good opportunity.Smith has dual citizenship and has not declared for a country. I recommend he be given a run-out in our upcoming friendly against Ghana to lock him into Nigerian nationality.Owen has been struggling to regain match fitness since his knee injury. Inclusion in the squad for a pair of friendlies might help him build fitness and regain his role in his club more quickly.Owen's lack of match fitness is a major concern. We cannot afford to lose our tricky World Cup qualifier against Croatia; I recommend he be left out of the squad.And finally about young players:Mikel is a huge part of the Nigeria squad. I recommend he be included for our World Cup qualifier against Senegal despite his lack of match fitness.
Michaels is not yet good enough to play for England, but would be an excellent addition to our Olympic squad.Michaels is a brilliant prospect. Though not yet good enough to play for England, but is a key member of our Under-21s.Michaels is a useful member of the Under-21s, however, he does not have the potential to become much more than a fringe player for England.Michaels has been playing for the Under-19 squad, however, he has learned all he can at that level. He is more than ready to make the step up to the Under-21s.Michaels does not have the potential to ever feature for England. I recommend he be removed from our Under-21s so that a youngster with a brighter future can be added.- Match Report E-mail: Much like Club scouting e-mails, I'd like this to include the executive summary as the single most important element. Beyond that, I think the e-mail should include Recent Form, current International squad status, and Recommendation. It might also be useful to include - for key players - some details like "Is captain of Nigeria", "Is our free kick taker," or "Is better than our current Free Kick taker John Smythe."Michaels is not yet good enough to play for England, but is worth keeping an eye on.
- Match Report E-mail: I'd like to add similar buttons as for the club Scout Report e-mail, but customized to the international team's needs:
- "Add to National Pool"
- "Call Up to Team"
- "Remove from Team"
- "Remove from National Pool"
- "View Profile"
- "View Report"
- More Detail: I'd really like to see the Coach Report be more detailed than the most detailed Scout Report. In a perfect world, it would grow more detailed the longer the player trains with and plays matches for the club. (See Dave C's old "slow reveal" post.)
- Default Coach: Its very rare that my Assistant Manager has the best JCA and JPA on my staff. Please let me select my "Default" coach report person! Ideally, I'd like to set two: one for players 16-23, and one for players 24 and older. In fact .. the game could pretty much do what I do for me automatically, no "Default" needed.
If the player is under 19, or under 24 and a long way from contributing to the first team, give his report from the best JPA staffmember. If the player is, say, 19-23 and nearly ready to contribute to the first team, give his report from the staffmember who has strength in both JCA and JPA; he may not be the best at either, but that guy with the 15/17 or 16/15, who is going to do a good job at both. If the player is, say, 24 or older, use the best JCA staffmember.
- Executive Summary: Like the Scout Report, it should have a solid Executive Summary section.
- Recommendation: Like an International Report, this could have specific advice relative to the player's current squad, fitness, injury status, etc:
Zalac has learned all he can at Hajduk. He needs to move to a league with a higher standard of play if he is to realize his full potential.Zalac needs regular starts with the first team if he is to progress beyond his current level.Zalac is showing great promise. We should start getting him some opportunities off the bench, and in Cup matches.Zalac has a lot of promise, but he needs a season or two out on loan before he'll be ready for the first team.Zalac has potential, but he belongs in our Reserve this season.Zalac belongs in our Under-19 side this season.Zalac is currently recovering from knee surgery. I suggest we send him to the Reserve side until he is match fit.Though Zalac is currently lacking match fitness, he's a key part of our side, and I recommend we include him for the EURO Vase match against Feyenoord..Zalac feels he needs to move to a bigger club and will not renew his contract, which has just 11 months remaining. I recommend that we sell him now, while his value is highest, rather than letting him escape on a free when his contract expires.
I'd like a slight alternate to the current match view: I enjoy seeing Extended Highlights in Full Pitch, but I also want to know my players' condition. I find I often click "Pause" during a highlight, toggle over to the view which shows it, and then toggle back to "Pitch". Same when watching a match, like a key Cup Final, on Full.
What about a view in which the nav-bar on the left (Preview, Overview, Pitch, etc) is replaced with my current XI? I think there's room to show number, position, last name, and CON%; it would be tight, and missing room for super long names or the yellow card indicator, but I think it fits!
... maybe that's just an expandable +-tab? I think there might be room for eleven lines when I have Preview, Stats, and Latest all collapsed. I'm not sure how it would work with two players on a multi-player hot-seat game, though.
INTERNATIONAL MANAGER ISSUES
- Short List: An international manager ought to be able to short-list players even if he doesn't currently have a club! Its a little different from adding the player to your National Pool .. you might want to short-list the guy who just scored a hat-trick against you, because when you return to club management you want to target him!
- Preferences: Make the Under-23 squad always available in Preferences. This actually quite annoyed me in a game where I was managing Argentina and a club concurrently; I knew the Olympics were coming up, but the Under-23 squad wasn't available yet .. so the Preferences tick-box "Control Under-23 Squad" was not available to me. I kept on managing the Club side .. and forgot to go back and set the Under-23 tickbox when it finally did come up. So the Argentina Under-23s got rocked, because my best youth were all on the Senior side or the Under-20 side.. .. and I didn't get to manage them, which I'd been looking forward to. Its solved, of course, if the Under-23 squad tickbox were available when I first took over the club.
- Team Talks: The Ask Assistant button isn't available for Team Talks to the Under-23, Under-21, Under-20, and Under-19 sides .. presumably because there is no A.M. specifically for those squads? .. but I'd really like to have my Assistant tag along for those matches instead of staying back at the hotel.
- Player Screen: The YI/SI designation icon isn't always visible .. for example, as L.A. Galaxy, I had that July midseason break, and scheduled a friendly or two in it. Since my next match was a friendly, the YI/SI designation wasn't visible because it wasn't relevant to that match. However, its still a KEY piece of information for a manager; I needed to know who my worst YI player was to compare him to potential incoming transfers. I'd like it to always be visible .. and it might actually be worth a tick-mark in "View" for MLS players - "View YI/SI players only"!
- No Offer To Clubs: There are sensible ways for an MLS club to offer players out, but they don't have the option to. For example:
- An MLS club might want to offer the player to fellow MLS clubs with no specified financial value, to see what people are willing to trade for him. (I'd rather take a 4th-round draft pick than waive him outright!)
- An MLS club might want to offer the player to fellow MLS clubs with a price such as "A 2009 2nd-round Superdraft pick" .. teams with two 2009 picks might offer the pick of the team which is higher in the standings .. while a team with no 2009 pick might offer their 2010 pick.
- An MLS club might want to offer the player for sale externally, for cash. For example, if Landon Donovan's contract is expiring and he is not willing to renew it, the Galaxy owner wants to be able to "Offer to Clubs" to various European clubs .. they might be able to get £4M for him, which they can re-invest in other players, rather than letting his contract expire.
- An MLS club might want to offer a player out on loan.
- Multiple Exchanges: In an MLS "trade", there are often several terms on both sides of the equation, for example: I'll give you Landon Donovan, a 2010 Supplemental Draft 4th-round pick, and the rights to unsigned player Chuck Wilson, in exchange for Taylor Twellman, a 2009 Superdraft 1st-round pick, and a 2010 Supplemental Draft 2nd-round pick. The UI doesn't allow for that.
MULTI-PLAYER HOT-SEAT ISSUES
- Home Page: It would be nice if each "turn" started out at the user's home page, setting "who to give the laptop to" in a multi-player game, or simply re-setting my mentality (who am I? What's going on?) if I'm playing multiple managers on the same save. Pressing Space would, of course, take me to whatever is new - unread News, unread E-mail, etc - just like normal.
- Home Page: The preferences settings of what is shown on the home page is saved on a global basis, not a per-user basis. So if Player A likes one layout, and Player B likes another, they have to compromise. (The same is true of some other settings, such as 'preferred View on Squad scree.)
- "Unread" flag for Messages: Each message needs to be marked "read" on an individual user basis; in FM'08, if User A reads a message, its marked "read" for User B .. which is fine if I'm personally playing two managers, but it kind of sucks if its a true hot-seat experience.
- You've Been Sacked: Especially for a manager who was managing both club and country, the experience of getting sacked was very strange .. I never saw an e-mail or news item reporting it. Now it may have been that one of the other users read it .. but it just took several "Continues" before it was my turn, and then I was just manager of my country, not my club, with no explanation. It happened twice, actually .. I'd like the "You've Been Sacked" moment to be front and center: it is immediately that player's turn, and the e-mail saying he has been fired is the first thing he gets taken to. (E.g., not his home page, in this case.)
- MLS: If a newly signed MLS player for User A requires a new squad number submission for Team A, the message to User B (who, say, is managing NEC in Holland) says that NEC need to submit new squad numbers.
- Match: Turn off "Fog of War" for a player-vs-player match. I played a friendly between NEC and the L.A. Galaxy. The game entered the match "under control" of the Galaxy user. When the NEC player went to make a sub, and clicked through to view a couple of his players .. they showed up fog-of-war'red! So he couldn't see all of their attributes!
- Less Continues: A lot of times, it gave turns to players who were doing nothing. For example, if any human player had a match, after the match, all of the human players had to hit "Continue" .. which seems kind of silly .. especially for those which are managing just a country, and have 60 odd days until their next match. They really ought to "check in" for a turn only when something happens, e.g., they are linked to a job, involved in a media comment, have an injury or scouting report, etc.