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Tonton_Zola

beyond ME optimisations and data glitches - "Thinking Bigger" - a challenge to SI

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Hi there.

By way of context to this, I'd happily introduce myself as a longstanding admirer and devotee of all things Champ and Football Manager-related. I go 'way back' to when the games retailed as floppy-disks and when you would have to use a football-themed 'code cracker wheel' to pass through the game's anti-piracy efforts. In short, I'm not an impatient 'noob' or Jonny Come Lately or whatever other dismissive device internet forums tend to throw at people...

So. New FM. Day off work. Disbelief suspended. "In the zone". Happy. The game 'works'. The game is a decent iteration of a wildly popular series of games. The data is updated. The skin feels refreshed. There is no release day bug avalanche.

Decent job. I will play this game to death. Of course I will. It is, by any decent definition, a very good piece of computer entertainment. It is one of the best.

But, above and beyond the waves of microscopic feedback that tends to come SI's way via these forums (check the feedback thread and tell me the lens of evaluation isn't zoomed +300%), I am starting to develop some wider, deeper doubts and questions. What is REALLY holding this game back? What could REALLY lift it into a higher stratosphere of video game greatness? Marginal gains is one thing, ME bug reduction is certainly another, but what really needs to evolve?

Some thoughts below, and I would love people to join in and add their two pennies...

- The game's emotional effect, for me, is proportional to its ability to help make you FORGET that you're essentially playing data, the products of (admittedly brilliantly contrived) 1s and 0s. Yes, data is ever more an important part of professional football, but what about the stuff that's NOT in the data. I mean the magic, the moments of chaos, the events and emotions and personalities that appear to be outside any system. The game's hyperlinked style, its insistent collage of infographic upon infographic leaves a gaping emotional hole for me: how can we fill it with mystique and magic and love and all the bits that happen between the lines of an excel spreadsheet. For me, this is missing. How can you stimulate my imagination to feel more deeply about my team?

in this regard, it feels to me that the development of the game over the last 5 years has been lop-sided. A* for its swelling mass of data upon data (to the point where it's really rather overwhelming), but a lower mark for its development of an emotional intelligence. Perhaps I'm getting older and more cynical, but where are the goose-bump moments?

The left-hand side of my brain absolutely adores this game. The right-hand side (the emotional, the creative, the lateral bit) feels distinctly, distinctly understimulated.

I would love to help SI with this. Do they keep hiring the same kind of person perhaps? Is this the product of a very smart, but hyper-analytical, 'rational' set of people?

Nobody would doubt the market success of this product, albeit with dormant or non-existent competition. I am just convinced that there's something EVEN BETTER waiting to be made. SI - with their extraordinary advantages of market salience, availability and resource - are hopefully the people to do it.

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yes - sorry, have been a longstanding lurker I suppose. I just felt so compelled to write something. Will think of five concrete ideas this afternoon, but also wanted the above to be like a 'creative brief' for others to think about. It was a big creative strategy point I guess...(this is my job by the way)

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It's an interesting point, one that I feel deserves its own thread (obviously I'm not a mod, they'll do what they feel is right) given it's a more general thing rather than specific ideas.

I can see where the OP is coming from. In pure, brutal terms, FM is, and always has been, a fancy spreadsheet with some very good add-ons to turn it into a game. To the uninitiated, it is - as you put it - data upon data. This gives a wonderful base to the game, but the other half that turns it from what I've just stated into a living, breathing game is one part development, and one part imagination.

I diverge slightly at this point though, as I believe that a lot of that other half (say, about 30-35% of the 50) is purely in the user's imagination. You make your own stories. Two people playing the same save are probably going to have different viewpoints on it. One manager will win a key derby game, and develop an intense dislike for the opposition manager, and that will feed into the game, make them act differently, feel differently. The other manager doesn't go to the press conferences, and just sees it as another game. Imagination is such a huge part of FM in filling in those blanks of enjoyment.

Obviously, this is kind of a curse. I've got a fairly active imagination, and enjoy writing, so I post quite a bit in the FMCU section, often filling in parts of the game with my own interpretation for the readers' - or let's face it, just my own - enjoyment. But I imagine someone with a less fertile imagination (not necessarily a bad thing) would struggle to insert this kind of meaning into a save, and it might just become a box-ticking exercise. To those people, I imagine they would think that SI could do a lot more in putting more of a "soul" into the game.

There's certainly work to be done in aiding immersion, making the gameworld feel alive, but not at the expense of being able to tell your own story in your own mind.

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yes the obvious kick-back here is: "use your imagination"

There is definitely an element of this, and I am a man sad enough to have written his own imagined Observer Sports Monthly articles about players in the past so I can empathise with this POV, but...

1. The game is now so overwhelmingly data-driven that it seems to leave you less and less room to breathe in terms of imagination. The older versions, for reasons probably of necessity as much as design, tended to have 'more gaps to fill in' . I.e. the suffocating effects of data

2. I think the game could do a better job of stimulating your imagination - offering clues/fillips/snippets/stories that cue off a thought. At the moment it feels so unilaterally 'left-side brain' that this feels a struggle.

I.e. the possibility of aiding your imagination

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I see your point on "imagination", I remember playing CM97/98 when I was a young lad, before the days of 3D and just played off the text highlights on screen updating. I'd always imagine how the goal was scored in my head. Obviously, 3D has now taken this imagination away and replaced it with a visual representation, rendering my imagination useless for this part of the game now.

I guess part of the brief could be the elements that we still imagine, or make up in our heads, that could be replaced with an in-game visual representation.

But, I think part of the fun of this glorified fancy spreadsheet, is the imagination each individual puts into the game.

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Some thoughts on concrete 'quick wins' here:

- much more attention going in to 'reward' situations. i.e. you win the Champions League. Can we do better than a default generated email? Hire a copywriter to inject some life into it. Get it off grid and seemingly 'beyond data'. Take (ironically) some metadata cues from key player performances (e.g the M.O.M was born in Rio De Janiero, ergo the game was watched by over 2 million people in the favelas of Brazil...whatever it is, just more colour please!) and build variant stories around it. Or, easy win, do a better job of showing the players celebrating more on the field. Visualise hand-shaking and embraces of the players...again, just more colour please!

Do you remember when you won Master League on ISS? You'd get this slideshow of great moments from the tournament!! Stills from great goals or passes...turn them into polaroids, instagram-ise them...whatever, again just colour colour colour....

- 'deux ex macchina' events around players (for licensing reasons, would have to be regen only). e.g. sudden changes of lifestyle and motivation (positive and negative), off-the-field incidents (both positive and negative), a sense of players emerging as celebrities and public figures (charity ambassadors, relationships with high profile popstars etc)

- more of a sense of the development of your team's brand + reputation growing globally. Special features from international correspondents in the media? A Gazzetta dello sport article celebrating "il miracolo di Aston Villa"? A cutting edge architect transforming your stadium? (Ultimate Soccer Manager did the visualisation of your club's growth quite well actually...)...

- to the above, a deeper sense of club and player mythology. THIS is so close to the heart of football, yet FM gives me nothing here. I want to know if there's a new song about my Swiss wonderkid, I want to know, deeply, the style of how he plays. Why can't I see his swagger? Why can't I sense he's different when he gets the ball on the 2d engine? How can we indicate this?

I appreciate there is data associated with player styles/preferred moves, but this doesn't yet feel as effective as it might. Player definition in the ME largely feels like hierarchical (i.e. some players are better than others) but I'd love to see more clearly their qualitative differences, their styles and approaches. Why does my Swiss wonderkid seem to do the same things as my mediocre Swedish targetman, just better?

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They don't sound like quick wins from a software development point of view. In order to make it feel real, rather than a by the numbers auto generated article, would require a massive amount of data / info. They're called favelas in Rio, what about the equivalent moniker in Mexico, USA (trailer parks I guess), UK, India etc etc? That's just one new sentence. It's probably why the press conferences and news items remain very repetitive. Any shortfall in this area ("Barkley was cheered on by the millions watching on in the favelas of Liverpool") would break the spell.

I do agree with you, but creating something through software that feels real and is also flexible enough to fit any of 40,000 individual players is a gargantuan task. Match engine improvements, not merely how the game plays but additional stuff (more colourful and individual animations, extra items like being presented with a trophy on the pitch, an unhappy sub discarding his shirt in front of the manager etc) are probably the best way. I think the player's internal narrative and imagination will remain the main source of that which you seek.

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They don't sound like quick wins from a software development point of view. In order to make it feel real, rather than a by the numbers auto generated article, would require a massive amount of data / info. They're called favelas in Rio, what about the equivalent moniker in Mexico, USA (trailer parks I guess), UK, India etc etc? That's just one new sentence. It's probably why the press conferences and news items remain very repetitive. Any shortfall in this area ("Barkley was cheered on by the millions watching on in the favelas of Liverpool") would break the spell.

I do agree with you, but creating something through software that feels real and is also flexible enough to fit any of 40,000 individual players is a gargantuan task. Match engine improvements, not merely how the game plays but additional stuff (more colourful and individual animations, extra items like being presented with a trophy on the pitch, an unhappy sub discarding his shirt in front of the manager etc) are probably the best way. I think the player's internal narrative and imagination will remain the main source of that which you seek.

Nail on the head. The reason imagination works so well in a game like this is because we can make connections that make sense in our own head fairly easily. For a computer to do that, it's a lot more difficult.

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I appreciate the counters, which obviously have some degree of validity.

A couple of points back:

- these guys have come incredibly close to simulating the chaotic near-infinities of a football game between 22 men interacting dynamically on a field. Coding scalable semantics/expressions/phrasings - which is, of course, a growing field in digital media (social direct marketing, sentiment analysis etc) - may not be easy, but it's certainly possible. They already do this pretty well on a far simpler level (use of club nicknames etc.)

- another thought is that, inevitably, in year 1-2 of 'introducing magic' you may not achieve perfect, all-permutation scalability. You may, instead, pay a copywriter to spend a week creating an impressive enough number of journalistic variants that are cued off only in certain circumstances. This is, presumably, similar to how the commentary on FIFA soccer works...Not a perfect solution immediately, but delivers a material step up in what we're after. I think the term here is 'heuristics'? May be wrong there. But the idea that, in beginning this change, you may find some opportunities to deliver something that isn't 'perfect' for all scenarios, but DOES make things better.

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I appreciate the counters, which obviously have some degree of validity.

A couple of points back:

- these guys have come incredibly close to simulating the chaotic near-infinities of a football game between 22 men interacting dynamically on a field. Coding scalable semantics/expressions/phrasings - which is, of course, a growing field in digital media (social direct marketing, sentiment analysis etc) - may not be easy, but it's certainly possible. They already do this pretty well on a far simpler level (use of club nicknames etc.)

- another thought is that, inevitably, in year 1-2 of 'introducing magic' you may not achieve perfect, all-permutation scalability. You may, instead, pay a copywriter to spend a week creating an impressive enough number of journalistic variants that are cued off only in certain circumstances. This is, presumably, similar to how the commentary on FIFA soccer works...Not a perfect solution immediately, but delivers a material step up in what we're after. I think the term here is 'heuristics'? May be wrong there. But the idea that, in beginning this change, you may find some opportunities to deliver something that isn't 'perfect' for all scenarios, but DOES make things better.

I'd counter the first point though by saying that SI are the clear, undisputed industry experts in simulating a football match, a reputation built up over almost 20 years.

On the second, and partially the first too, while just punting in more options would give a more varied result, it doesn't really achieve the level of immersion and "imagination replacement" that would really be beneficial. You mention the FIFA commentary - that of course has a fairly wide vocabulary, but once you've played with it on for a few weeks it gets pretty repetitive, and I often end up switching it off, as it becomes incredibly stilted.

But what you're saying would solve half of the issue. The other half is the tough part though - taking that enlarged vocabulary, and having the system compute when and where to accurately use each phrase.

It's certainly an interesting area. I'm not entirely convinced that SI hold it too high up the chain of importance though. No disrespect to them in saying that of course, as there are much more important things in the game, but it's something that could really set the game apart.

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Hi - I'm sorry if my writing wasn't clear on the first point. I completely agree that SI are experts in simulating a football match.

"these guys have come incredibly close to...simulating something very difficult...i.e. a football match" was the gist of my first point. No counter required, other than to poke fun at my laboured sentence structure.

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Without labouring on semantics, definitely don't think this is about 'imagination replacement' - feel it's more about doing a better job of delivering emotional/evocative cues + stimulus.

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Hi - I'm sorry if my writing wasn't clear on the first point. I completely agree that SI are experts in simulating a football match.

"these guys have come incredibly close to...simulating something very difficult...i.e. a football match" was the gist of my first point. No counter required, other than to poke fun at my laboured sentence structure.

No, you get me wrong, I wasn't saying you were saying that. In fact, I deleted a second part of the sentence that was kind of key. I was more meaning that they're experts at that part, but not so expert in other areas, so although they've created a wonderful ME, other areas are lacking.

Without labouring on semantics, definitely don't think this is about 'imagination replacement' - feel it's more about doing a better job of delivering emotional/evocative cues + stimulus.

More like "imagination support" then, for those that are lacking in that.

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I've got to agree with the OP. For me, this is the area that the game is most lacking in.

Whilst the human player's imagination certainly plays an important part there are other games out there that provide systems and material that gets my imaginations flowing far better than FM does. More importantly they are very good at providing feedback within the game that shows how these systems are interacting.

Prime examples of games that get this area right would include Crusader Kings 2, Dwarf fortress and Rimworld. In all cases these games have an incredible ability to give each individual within the game an identity ,recognisable personality and impact on play style. These games provide emergent storytelling situations from these systems and are able to deeply invokes the player's imagination and immerses them into the game world.

In FM we've got a large number of personality traits but they all feel so hollow. Furthermore it's very difficult to tell when their personality traits are actually coming into play because there is a serious lack of feedback to let you know when and if it's making an impact.

Rimworld, mentioned above, is a colony building game that shares certain similarities with FM. Granted there is no football and it involves protecting a sci-fi base from enemies and aliens, but there is still that sense of building a team and shaping and improving the individuals to achieve your goals. When a colony member dies it brings about the same types of emotional response you feel when you loose a key player in FM.

Where Rimworld excels though is in how it handles the various personalities and the morale system. If you take on someone that has the "pessimistic" trait you immediately know that they have a permanent negative modifier to their morale. You can view their morale and see all of the current positive and negatives impacts that are resulting in the final score. If a colonist is "abrasive" they bring down the other colonists mood when they socialise. This is known to the player because the feedback systems are open to showing it's impact on the morale of the other colonists. Personality traits become so important you may decide to not take on a particular person even though their actual stats are incredible.

There is every chance that FM's personalities are having a real impact within the game, but I for one could almost never tell you when and how. I'd never know that one guy's morale is higher because he's got high determination or that a player's form has dropped because he is suffering from low confidence.

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Tkg, you'll notice the difference in player personalities in various areas.

- Interactions. The common complaint of wanting first team football or wanting to move to a bigger club etc. Ambitious players want to move to get those trophies/recognition. Professional players will be more reasonable in their responses when talking to them. The controversial/unprofessional types will be more selfish in their demands and responses.

- Team talks. You'll see Reserved players, with "deep in thought" as team talk reactions. The Level-headed and Unflappable guys will be more determined on the field, even if you criticise them at 3-0 up. The Media-Friendly players are much more likely to complain to the press about a bad team talk etc.

These are just two big areas I can think of, but as you see, it's quite deep. Maybe more can be done to bring these things to the fore, as I still think the team talk feedback screen is too hidden.

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Tkg, you'll notice the difference in player personalities in various areas.

- Interactions. The common complaint of wanting first team football or wanting to move to a bigger club etc. Ambitious players want to move to get those trophies/recognition. Professional players will be more reasonable in their responses when talking to them. The controversial/unprofessional types will be more selfish in their demands and responses.

- Team talks. You'll see Reserved players, with "deep in thought" as team talk reactions. The Level-headed and Unflappable guys will be more determined on the field, even if you criticise them at 3-0 up. The Media-Friendly players are much more likely to complain to the press about a bad team talk etc.

These are just two big areas I can think of, but as you see, it's quite deep. Maybe more can be done to bring these things to the fore, as I still think the team talk feedback screen is too hidden.

That actually brings up a good counter-point. I know what you're saying is true. Team talks and interactions do very based on the players personality, but I'd like there to be more overt signs of this. I don't delve deeply into the personality area, and to me most interactions look the same. Right now, I'm managing Scotland, and every time I announce a squad I'll have four or five "Why am I not in the squad?" I tell every single one of them that I'll consider them for the next squad, and they're on their way. Now I know that behind the scenes, each player is probably coming into it from a different angle, and with different personality styles that will lead to different outputs, but on the surface all I'm seeing is the same question being asked, the same answer being given, and roughly the same result at the end. I know it isn't the same as the more regular club interaction, but the same idea.

What I'd really like in those situations is for each player to be noticeably different. Maybe he asks a different question, maybe the language is just slightly changed. An ambitious player comes in hot at the start of the conversation, while a more reserved one comes over all Hugh Grant. At the moment the personality only seems to kick in once you've answered, by which point it might be "too late". Again, taking our metaphorical Hugh Grant and Zlatan players, if Hugh Grant comes in being quite reserved, asking why he's not in the squad, personally I'm much more likely to be more reasonable with him. If Zlatan comes in shouting his mouth off, I'm much more inclined to do the opposite. I could look at their personality and act accordingly, but it's pretty covert, and I don't really have as much interest in looking at a statement of their personality and trying to work out how I should act based on that. I'd find it much easier to look at what they've said, and try and apply my behaviour to that.

If any of that makes sense.

EDIT: And I noticed you've said that things could be brought more to the fore, so this isn't to get at you, just a further discussion point.

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In answer to tkg's point, we're a bit restricted in how much 'personality' we can give real people in our game. It's something we can do a bit more with when it comes to newgens, but real players are real people so there's more at risk when doing that.

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Some thoughts on concrete 'quick wins' here:

- much more attention going in to 'reward' situations. i.e. you win the Champions League. Can we do better than a default generated email? Hire a copywriter to inject some life into it. Get it off grid and seemingly 'beyond data'. Take (ironically) some metadata cues from key player performances (e.g the M.O.M was born in Rio De Janiero, ergo the game was watched by over 2 million people in the favelas of Brazil...whatever it is, just more colour please!) and build variant stories around it. Or, easy win, do a better job of showing the players celebrating more on the field. Visualise hand-shaking and embraces of the players...again, just more colour please!

Do you remember when you won Master League on ISS? You'd get this slideshow of great moments from the tournament!! Stills from great goals or passes...turn them into polaroids, instagram-ise them...whatever, again just colour colour colour....

- 'deux ex macchina' events around players (for licensing reasons, would have to be regen only). e.g. sudden changes of lifestyle and motivation (positive and negative), off-the-field incidents (both positive and negative), a sense of players emerging as celebrities and public figures (charity ambassadors, relationships with high profile popstars etc)

- more of a sense of the development of your team's brand + reputation growing globally. Special features from international correspondents in the media? A Gazzetta dello sport article celebrating "il miracolo di Aston Villa"? A cutting edge architect transforming your stadium? (Ultimate Soccer Manager did the visualisation of your club's growth quite well actually...)...

- to the above, a deeper sense of club and player mythology. THIS is so close to the heart of football, yet FM gives me nothing here. I want to know if there's a new song about my Swiss wonderkid, I want to know, deeply, the style of how he plays. Why can't I see his swagger? Why can't I sense he's different when he gets the ball on the 2d engine? How can we indicate this?

I appreciate there is data associated with player styles/preferred moves, but this doesn't yet feel as effective as it might. Player definition in the ME largely feels like hierarchical (i.e. some players are better than others) but I'd love to see more clearly their qualitative differences, their styles and approaches. Why does my Swiss wonderkid seem to do the same things as my mediocre Swedish targetman, just better?

Thanks for your posts there Tonton, you have take the words right off of my fingertips. I TOTALLY get where you are coming from, and a lot of the ideas I have suggested have come from this same basic standpoint.

I've taken the effort of having a search for some of the threads that I remember people starting, that touch on what you have written about.

"Deus Ex Machina" events surrounding players. Have a read of this quite cool thread Introducing 'Narratives' - Suggestion for future FM (Long post!)

"Development of the teams brand and merchandising." I wrote a rather long post in this thread Suggestion for FM2015 which explores some of the possibilities here.

In terms of a deeper understanding of club and player mythology, I proposed what was a quite unpopular idea in this thread An idea to increase the clarity of the 3D ME

Your first point, on the "reward" aspect of the game is probably the one I agree with most. Although it's 3 years old now, here is a great thread about this with loads of great replies and ideas. The game is called Football Manager

This is a bit of a click-bait thread, but there are some great posts and discussions in there if you can be bothered to read it. The FM decline?

Having just read it back myself I'm reminded that I'm quite satisfied:

You know SI, I am an arrogant person, and I don't like the way you think I am too worthless to deserve being incarnated in 3D. Let me have a manager character on the 3D touchline and if I am a really good manager make my players come and hug me sometimes after scoring a goal.

Oh yes, and dynamic rivalries please.

:lol:

These are what I think are the most interesting points from the above threads:

- The grandeur and significance of a lot of events are underrepresented. The 'narratives' idea would enhance the story telling element in order to add immersion. Suggestions were things like 'The return of a hero', 'Departure of an Icon', 'Transfer Rumour', 'Selling Club,' and so on, which would bring an interesting range of challenges and opportunities.

-Success doesn't feel enough like success to a lot of people. Suggestions include a wider range of news items and things like trophy ceremonies being visible. Also not many people seem to enjoy being told to keep celebrations to a minimum.

- The possibility of more accurately simulating and/or representing the social dynamics within the team and club as a whole. Something like the team hierarchy feature from Fifa Manager. This could introduce the element of 'cliques,' and a clearer representation of which players aren't fitting in, and perhaps why. It could also be used to assess whether a new signing will enhance or disrupt the social dynamics of the squad.

- More 'outlets' for players to demonstrate their personality attributes. This would help people understand who their players are as people, and could help them keep a harmonious backroom, as well as making complaints more understandable and satisfying to deal with. A 'Lifestyle' tab on a player's profile could be used. For example, as a dressing room description of things like "keeps himself to himself" or "always the center of attention."

-It is possible to make a club bigger, but there could be more depth to merchandising and commercial growth of the club. Factors that would affect a manager's decision making could be things like

I would like to be able to give my highest shirt seller a double-digit squad number and see my revenue from his sales increase.

I would like to be able to deliberately sign players from large and lucrative markets and see my club get a foothold in this region and make loads of money.

I would like to be signing a player for this money even if he isn't the best player I could get.

I would like to see other teams managing to wrestle my dominance in a particular region away from me, and for finances to suffer as a result.

I would like to have to sell Charlie Adam because he makes my club unpopular with everyone except his mum.

I would like a player to want to leave because he doesn't feel that his commercial potential can be reached at my club.

I would like to lose popularity in a region because one of my unprofessional players caused a public outrage while on tour there.

I would like my chairman to tell me he wants to pursue certain regions, and allow me more finances in situations where I am doing that.

I would like to know what countries have supporter groups and maybe even see flags of that nation being held by my fans in the 3d ME view.

I would like to be able to play friendlies or tournaments in regions I am popular in and have it be a big deal financially and in the local media.

I would like a player to sign because "he believes that the exposure of the club in Asia will vastly enhance his commercial opportunities."

I would like to know upon taking over that all the locals are wearing my rivals shirts, and over time see my success make this change in my favour. (or vice versa)

I would like more players in regions I am popular in to develop my club as a favoured club.

I would like for a successful international campaign to increase the market for football in a particular nation, and then for clubs to compete for popularity there.

-Greater feedback from fans and better representations of their personality. Have fan happiness be visible not just for the manager and players, but for the board as well. This would hopefully mean I could "leak to press" with more success and also answer press conference questions with the aim of deflecting the fans annoyance onto someone else. This could help introduce power struggles. Similarly, allow the fans to become more visibly excited by transfer rumours. If the deal doesn't come off, perhaps they get annoyed at the manager or perhaps the manager has blamed the low transfer funds, in which case they are annoyed at the board. Perhaps the fans are just happy with the ambition.

- Bring the actions of the fans more into the foreground. Are they coming up with a new chant for a player? Are they still annoyed at a player due to a costly mistake? Are they boycotting the club shop to protest your management? How do they feel about the prospects of the club in the short, medium and long term? These things could all be derived from the personality attributes of the fans, which exist under the hood.

-"5 year plans" and other more long term board objectives.

- Being able to select favoured clubs after the initial setup. Being able to select an entire manager history including appearances and goals for all of your teams.

-More depth to the manager character. Suggestions include: Something to use manager wages for. Trophy ceremonies, on pitch interviews. Relationships with other managers bringing more benefits or costs, such as tips on players your scouts have missed, and the ability to suggest players to other managers.

- A more indepth "reputation" for managers. Which countries I am known in, by how much, and what do they associate me with (ie I am known in Nigeria because I brought their star player into my team, and he thanked me on his international debut. Or I am insanely famous in Italy but everyone hates me because of comments I made about their national team.)

- Some kind of manager portfolio which a more interesting set of information about me. Such as suggested in this post:

I had a couple ideas:

Portfolio

1. There should be more depth on our own manager page (as mentioned above), but what if this were carried a bit further so that as you manage you develop a sort of portfolio of accomplishments, good moments, and bad moments?

- The portfolio could be exportable so you could look through it long after your game was finished or send it to a friend to show off.

- Include top team match moments from each year as a video or series of videos.

- Various pages including nice and geeky statistics of all sorts about how amazing you are (league position, unbeaten runs, defense, etc..).

- Could include a trophy cabinet of sorts, in a nice tasteful style listing your accomplishments.

- Could have pages for each of your best-ever players which could be a souped-up version of their biography under your tutelage. These pages could also include PKM clips of these players best moments.

- And least popularly I imagine, the portfolio could be in a slightly different visual style to the rest of FM, as if it were an actual book from your office.

The last idea comes from fond memories of Tropico 2 and other games wherein the nexus for important statistics takes place in your virtual office with virtual books. I think it would serve a nice UI purpose in giving the user a little room to step back from the game and review their progress.

See here for an example of a virtual book of statistics.

The last idea leads to my other idea along these lines: An office!

Office

2. Office: I think that if done simply and in the FM minimalist style it could be really nifty and address the thing we're discussing: Feeling central and important and like you exist in the game.

- Desk for your portfolio and other links, including inbox, reports, etc..

- Walls for various coaching qualifications and awards. (and a TV?)

- The office could be simply an alternate interface to the game which would basically change nothing other than giving you a bit of distance from spreadsheet-vision of looking at "regular FM" for long hours.

- Make the "office" one of those things in a game that changes slightly as time goes on. The trophy cabinet gradually fills up, and as it does I can choose to take down my Portuguese Segunda Liga Manager of the Month, and replace it with my Coupe de Ligue winners medal. The view through the window could show the training ground, and would become more impressive and sleek as I moved to better clubs.

-Introduce Mementos. A signed shirt for example, that I could put on the wall in my office. Perhaps it would be from a retired club legend, or perhaps from a significant match. Let me check my messages in my office, maybe after a success some of my old players contact me to say well done. Maybe it is the reverse and I am wishing them luck for an upcoming match.

- Give a more ongoing setting to media relations and PR, to make press conferences more 'fun.' Allow them to facilitate power struggles, as above, through the fans happiness with the board, team and manager being affected by my answers. A good idea by DaveGLeeds is: "For example, if you get beat heavily and you're calm, the fans might not like that. If there's a bad tackle and you respond aggressively, the fans might back you but the board might not."

-A view from the dugout.

-DentistTubster says: "Equally, there should be a way of directly interacting with the fans during a game as a Manager, and quite often the chant "Give us a wave" and the response from the manager can help the mood on the terraces."

-Redhawk says:

"Opinions/Perceptions of yourself could also be more varied and would be different across different groups of people.

Current Board

Ex-Board

Fellow Managers

Current Players

Ex Players

Players who have never played for you.

Current Fans

Ex-Fans

Rival Fans

Neutral Fans

Media (could be split into tabloid, internet and broadsheet)"

This is a bit of a mess of a post, but I just wanted to introduce a whole load of talking points.

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I could get behind a lot of the above if you never mention the word "office" ever again.

The 1990s called, they want their idea back.

:lol: Well if we are still embracing 90's humour, then why not 90's game features?

USM FTW!

Personally I would love an office type screen, if it was done well.

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Yeah, i'd say the interactions have been noticeably improved in the last two years. I know plenty of people complain about them but as far as i'm concerned it's a step in the right direction. If the game was more transparent in which variables were in play, and to what extent, I think that would be massive step forward and I suspect more FM players would come to understand why and how it is happening.

I think the depth of the game is why there is such a need for improvement in this area.

I obviously don't know the inner workings but I would guess that at any time a player's morale might be impacted by:

- Player's form

- Team's form

- Progress towards short and long term goals

- Team's progress towards expectation

- Media

- Personality

- Job security

- Manager interactions

The majority of FM players simply won't have the willpower and time to trawl through all the necessary screens to collate that information needed to determine what course of action to take.

Now imagine if a player could delve down into a player's morale indicator and see those variable listed and some form of value against each one. For example:

- Player's form: +2

- Team's form: -4

- Progress towards short and long term goals: -2

- Team's progress towards expectation: 0

- Media: +1

- Personality: -2

- Job security: +3

- Manager interactions: +1

naturally that's not how it would be displayed to the user. It could be far softer text based indications on coach reports for examples. The key of course being that the player can quite easily build up a picture of what is going on with that player and act accordingly.

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In answer to tkg's point, we're a bit restricted in how much 'personality' we can give real people in our game. It's something we can do a bit more with when it comes to newgens, but real players are real people so there's more at risk when doing that.

Haha, yeah that's a fair point.

Silly humans with their egos and their lawyers :)

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yes - I think we understand the legal issues around real-life players. However, given that the more engaged players quickly get to regen worlds, the opportunities begin to open up.

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I can understand the difficulty of getting a player's personality across in text based conversations, team talks, news items etc. I'd love for this to be improved somehow, but I'm very much against the mechanical (and removed from real life) +1 morale, -- team talk type feedback.

SI is on the right track with having players react differently across the various modules. Maybe more can be done to improve the way players talk to you and the wording they use. Some type of body language feedback (like the team talk feedback) could also help?

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I can understand the difficulty of getting a player's personality across in text based conversations, team talks, news items etc. I'd love for this to be improved somehow, but I'm very much against the mechanical (and removed from real life) +1 morale, -- team talk type feedback.

SI is on the right track with having players react differently across the various modules. Maybe more can be done to improve the way players talk to you and the wording they use. Some type of body language feedback (like the team talk feedback) could also help?

Yeah I'm in agreement, such glaringly mechanical feedback wouldn't sit well with the game's current design style. I guess i'd imagine such as thing as being some form of report. Perhaps incorporated into the existing training feedback report. I guess my main point is that I would like to be able to go to a single screen to get an understanding of how his morale is currently being shaped. it shouldn't even necessarily include feedback for all the different variables. The extent of the feedback, and it's accuracy would be shaped by the player's relationship with the coaching staff.

At the moment this type of information seems to be spread around the game. We can get some insight from the player happiness panel, team-talk feedback and previous conversations but it's hard to consider it all at once.

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For someone who goes way back playing FM/CM, why has it taken you so long to sign up to the forums?

It took me over 10 years lurking in this forums before I signed up...

Now on topic.. I wonder if people that haven't played the text versions have the same feeling like us when it comes to the lack of depht, and it's just because this doesn't tinkle our imagination as much as before or there's something more behind it?

I get where OP is coming from, (but it's not a big concern for me), and actually I don't have any good ideas to fix it.. But I absolutely understand..

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Maybe the morale, and the impact it has on players' performance can be seen as a form of almost XP? Ratings can fluctuate weekly a la NBA 2k http://forums.2k.com/showthread.php?408631-Ratings-hot-and-cold-streaks ?

A player scores in a game or two and their key stats temporarily rise; a striker goes 5 games without scoring and some stats dip.

Call it dynamic ratings - a more transparent version of morale/injury/external factors?

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Maybe the morale, and the impact it has on players' performance can be seen as a form of almost XP? Ratings can fluctuate weekly a la NBA 2k http://forums.2k.com/showthread.php?408631-Ratings-hot-and-cold-streaks ?

A player scores in a game or two and their key stats temporarily rise; a striker goes 5 games without scoring and some stats dip.

Call it dynamic ratings - a more transparent version of morale/injury/external factors?

What I like about that idea is how obvious and immediate the effect is. If a player's stats bomb after a bad game or two you can gain an insight into his personality. It gives you a single place to continually come back to and it's very easy to measure the impact that certain effects have. If you had a positive player interaction then seeing the immediate improvements on their stats would give a clear indicator of how well it went.

My question marks over such an idea would be:

Will it become difficult to determine a player's baseline values without all the morale variables at play?

Could such frequent changes become overbearing and potentially fatiguing from the actual FM player's perspective?

To get back to what HUNT3R mentioned, is this approach too mechanical and "gamey"?

Lastly, is this how the actual game currently works? Does a drop in morale actually effectively reduce player's stats behind the scenes? I guess the fact that I don't know is indicative of the disconnect I feel between my choices in the game and it's behind the scene impact. If however, that isn't how it works then I doubt SI would be in a position to make such radical changes to accommodate this.

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yes - I think we understand the legal issues around real-life players. However, given that the more engaged players quickly get to regen worlds, the opportunities begin to open up.

Can you image the rage if your save gets ruined because some crappy random event generator decided your new star regen decided to be a party boy and marry a reality star ?

I genuinely don't think anyone wants random stuff out with out control thrown into the game.

Maybe the morale, and the impact it has on players' performance can be seen as a form of almost XP? Ratings can fluctuate weekly a la NBA 2k http://forums.2k.com/showthread.php?408631-Ratings-hot-and-cold-streaks ?

A player scores in a game or two and their key stats temporarily rise; a striker goes 5 games without scoring and some stats dip.

Call it dynamic ratings - a more transparent version of morale/injury/external factors?

This already happens.

What some people are suggesting is turning FM into a more gamey Football RPG.

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I don't think it should move towards random events and detailed description either. But if a player has unprofessional tendencies then I believe we should roughly know when and how much it's having an impact. Like a coach noting that his attitude is impacting his training performance. The player can then use their own imagination to fill in the blanks.

As stated, these things are already happening in the background but, in my opinion, there isn't enough information being fed back to the player.

The tactical aspect of the game is incredibly detailed and chock full of useful stats and analysis for the player to make use of, but the man management aspect is perhaps lagging behind a bit.

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I can understand the difficulty of getting a player's personality across in text based conversations, team talks, news items etc. I'd love for this to be improved somehow, but I'm very much against the mechanical (and removed from real life) +1 morale, -- team talk type feedback.

SI is on the right track with having players react differently across the various modules. Maybe more can be done to improve the way players talk to you and the wording they use. Some type of body language feedback (like the team talk feedback) could also help?

Every time feedback like that was introduced (like for talks) it lead to people playing mini-games, and reductionist play-styles and thinking (aka: just lost my first match in two months, got a bad talk, so that must be it). Shown multiple times that you can outright force to get them "wrong" or upset a squad every time and still win,win,win. The thing about football, unless you highly mechanize it (maybe even turning it into a turn-based RPG with visibly throws of the dice), is that is it a game of very fine margins. In a sense, replicating the management side of it doesn't make for a very fulfilling experience in a traditionalist gaming sense full-stop, as few key moments typically settle the draw, and the influence of simply random chance is huge (both in the short-term, but also the longer terms... even runs of form are often more down simply to chance than rather telling of skill). This is also in the game, evidently.

Football prediction models approve of this, trying to assess the quality of sides for instance by looking at how many genuine chances they create vs. how many they concede. Creating more than conceding them makes it more likely for your side to win, but in the end, it typically very oftenly remains an ultra low-scoring affair throughout. It's only after a match that people wrap their narratives around matches in retrospect -- everybody talking about how Germany where destined to win the WC, for instance, when in fact they could have genuinely bowed out to Algeria, France and Argentina. For all the fuss made about managers, I think FM has the influence of them about right. Some interesting ideas still though, but as genuinely ambiguity is part of a manager's game, so it will remain to be in the game (though it could be argued how deep FM should go... if you start out, it's hard to keep track of everything, from motivation, match fitness, etc.etc.) Speaking about ambiguity, AFAIK it's not even that simple for the coders. I remember a post from wwfan a few years ago. I think he basically he had one forward in his squad that would turn rather ambitious in terms of his finishes when given certain instructions. It was only that sole forward, that specific mix of attributes. He took the findings to Paul Collyer, chief of ME, and even he couldn't tell the exact cause.

There's still a lot of stuff that the plain "online manual" doesn't even go into about, like media handling styles and what they're supposed to represent. Same about hidden attributes etc.

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we seem to have gone off topic here.

- The random event generator is something of a red herring I think. I was just trying to articulate one way of injecting 'life' into the game. That particular phrasing makes it more polarising than it really needs to be.

- Think there is also something of balance to be struck between learning from the things that - say - RPGs do well in terms of emotional experience, and preserving the authenticity/credibility of Football Manager, which has a particular idiom and tone of voice.

This said, think there are some great ideas above. I think the "Reward" element, in particular, feels like a pain-point for users. I mean, how emotionally underwhelming is it to receive a generic email having won the UCL with Aston Villa?! I find it difficult to believe that this isn't addressable in some way. Find the best copywriter in the building, give him a week to produce handwritten (not literally, obviously) variants based on possible game data cues = Immediate quick win for game's perceived value.

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Hi Tonton Zola,

I sent you a PM last night to share ideas on emotional FM - I have some experience in this area so thought it would be worthwhile introducing myself to you as I liked your ideas in the opening post. Just wanted to make sure my PM got through to you as it's not appearing in my sent mail.

Cheers,

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It'll still be just a written "well done" that we'll skip over.

The "YEEEEEEESSS JUMPSOFCHAIR" moment comes when the final whistle blows and you have won whatever cup/league etc.

Fans get invested in the match and the result, no one ever watched their team win a match in real life and then got upset because the report in the paper the next day want flowery enough for them.

The emotional payoff comes from seeing a team you're emotionally invested in ( the team you're controlling) win, exactly the same as it is in real life.

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Some interesting points above. I do see where the OP is coming from as FM's 15 and 16 have left me a little cold. For some reason it's felt more like trying to defeat a game rather than losing myself in a 'career'. Personally, I'd like to see the 'full fat' FM diverge from FM touch in terms of look and feel. Get away from the cluttered screens, with so much information it's hard to take any of it in (less really can be more!), and focus more on the immersion:

* My inbox, calendar and notes, for example, could be merged into an outlook style home screen to make it feel more like I'm 'at my desk'. This could be rendered inaccessible for periods where I physically couldn't be at the club i.e. travelling/away matches with some alternative mechanism for urgent messages.

* An option to watch 3d matches through my avatars eyes could be interesting (perhaps with a choice to sit in stand or dugout).

*In press conferences, how about the ability to choose which journos I will take questions from like a real presser, changing the dynamic of those relationships i.e. I could choose to constantly overlook someone who'd given me negative press which, dependent on my job security, could either result in him climbing down or it blowing up in my face and annoying the board.

*Delegation could also be more nuanced. Instead of just telling someone to handle contracts, I could have a conversation with my chairman/DoF about which players I wan't to hang on to and what lengths of deal I'd be comfortable with or whether I'd want to break the wage structure to keep hold of a star player.

*The role of agents could also be expanded, before bidding for a player I could speak to an agent about what position I'd want to use their player and what squad status I would see them being, maybe find out if they'd be willing to force a move through.

A few thoughts there anyway. Granted, I don't have the first clue about what would be involved in implementing these things but I do think the game (at least in career mode) could benefit from more being done with regards to immersing the player in the game world.

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What about a historic matches section. This section could be used to keep the highlights, stats and related news items for these historic games in one place. Allow the player to effectively "star" matches he wants to add to this list and/or have certain criteria for the game to use. For example rivalries, cup finals, large scoring games, last minute winners etc.

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Rayr27 makes some interesting points - if you got a top infographic designer to look at the presentation of data in FM they would see clear opportunities for improvement no? You nail it when you say there is "so much information that I find it hard to take any of it in."

That really says rather a lot, doesn't it?

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I love the historic matches idea.

How about some kind of 'Fan's Favourite Moments' section along with this. Obviously you would have cup wins, promotions, etc, but also things like a dramatic late goal, or a penalty save, or a red card for your rivals in a derby, or a special debut goal for a new signing.

It could also work inversely, e.g. getting hammered in a derby, a favourite player getting injured (perhaps with memory of the tackler), a last day drop out of the champions league places, or a crucial penalty miss.

The idea would be to keep some record of the moments when your fans would be talking and saying "Do you remember when..... Aguero scored to win us the league in injury time/Ramsey had his leg broken by Shawcross/Jack Wilshere's dominating performance against Barcelona/Schmeichel saved Bergkamp's penalty/Di Canio got sent off for pushing the ref, etc."

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Maybe a quick (and saveable for posterity) clip show or two. One could be like an official club review with action from important matches, but instead of the commentary bar, make it a narration: "Everton went into the home derby against Liverpool looking for a first win in 4 matches, and they got it thanks to this Lukaku header..." etc etc as the highlights roll. Could include sendings off, offside goals, pens etc etc. Intersperse with league tables, cup charts, player stats.

The other possibility would be in much the same vein, but for a particular competition - like the Premier League Years show on Sky.

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I know it's been said there's legal issues about players behaving badly and clubs going bankrupt etc, but why not give people the option to play with fake players/clubs if they want that? I know for some people playing with real clubs is a huge deal, but surely I can't be the only one who would sacrifice that for a more interesting and dynamic game world?

I've mentioned it before in the ideas thread but what I feel is the problem with long term saves is that every season is 2015/2016 with different dates on it. The game world needs to evolve - I real life competitions expand and contract the number of teams, change the rules, cup competitions come and go, etc. In FM if you play 100 years into the future it'll be the same old schedule.

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I could get behind a lot of the above if you never mention the word "office" ever again.

The 1990s called, they want their idea back.

Couldn't agree more. Ultimate Soccer Manager, Football Manager 3 (the 1992 one), Premier Manager, etc. It's kitschy, it's cliched, it's done.

The other suggestions have been great. Anything that is text-based only, I'm interested. One you start stuffing around with graphics and pictures (not including the matches themselves), you start crossing over into something cartoony I can play on my phone on a bus.

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I know it's been said there's legal issues about players behaving badly and clubs going bankrupt etc, but why not give people the option to play with fake players/clubs if they want that? I know for some people playing with real clubs is a huge deal, but surely I can't be the only one who would sacrifice that for a more interesting and dynamic game world?

I've mentioned it before in the ideas thread but what I feel is the problem with long term saves is that every season is 2015/2016 with different dates on it. The game world needs to evolve - I real life competitions expand and contract the number of teams, change the rules, cup competitions come and go, etc. In FM if you play 100 years into the future it'll be the same old schedule.

God I have wanted something like this for years...to be honest it's one of the reasons I've slowly gone off the game. Every year I log in to this forum around the same time to see the (inevitable) new set of features with each new iteration of the game, and although some have captured my imagination (2010's league editing and creation was a big one for me) nothing has really grabbed me as much as this would. As a result, I personally have slowly trailed off...

The game feels so STATIC. There is no way that the league structures throughout the world would be completely identical in 2116 as they would be in 2016. Why not have (as a selectable option at the start of the game, if needs be) a league 'evolution' option, where over time say the Premier League may drop to an 18 team competition, or become 4 up/4 down, based on the success or not of promoted sides? Why not have some evolution in terms of the Champion's League- addition or removal of group stages (like there was in the early 2000s with the second round group stage)? Even crazier, rumours in your inbox of a breakaway European Super League, and then finally being implemented in the 2030s (but of course being totally random).

Anything just to keep some fluidity to the game, rather than just being the 2015-16 season over and over and over again.

I understand this would be very difficult to code, but surely some simple things like foreigner rules, points for a win, wouldn't be too difficult.

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The OP makes some great points, but due to the nature of the game (the infamous and quite unfair "glorified spreadsheet" definition), I don't think there is really so much SI can do to add a truly compelling narrative, at least not within the game's current setup.

You'd get Hemingway and Wilde's ghost to rephrase the whole media module, but it wouldn't make a world of difference because you'd STILL get a couple of cold messages about your miracle CL run with Chelmsford or your successful WC qualifying campaign with Gibraltar.

Indeed, it's your imagination that should fill the blanks in that respect, while more radical interventions are needed in the media-handling part of the game to reduce the mini-game feeling to team talks, press conferences etc... As they're implemented now, it's merely a matter of picking the right answer or the less calamitous one. Which is NOT how that stuff works in real life... The risk-reward ratio for some options is way too unbalanced toward the former, so you'd rater bit your tongue, figuratively, and go for the safe pick, even though it would make more sense having a different approach.

And let's not touch how limited the players interaction is... Every other conversation has the potential to end up with a relationship strained beyond repair. Or with an underwhelming conversation about an actual issue.

That also brings me to the whole "random events" idea... SI's legal bindings (which, I maintain are way way too cautious) prevent them from having specific situations to happen to real players, so it's difficult to think they'll go out of their way to add them for newgens, just like it happened to red cards for violent conduct.

In truth, I still don't get why a real player can get a red card for in-game incidents, or a 4.0 rating, or have 900 minutes goal draughts, but heaven forbid him being sent off for an elbow or being involved in a non-descript real-life situation.

There'd be no need to have, say, "Player X has been caught with two underage escorts" or "Player Y was seen snorting cocaine off a transgender dwarf at 5 a.m."... Just a generic "questionable lifestyle" or "personal problems" or "unfortunate social media comment".

IIRC we have (had?) instances of player's determination dropping or increasing due to "personal life events"... Why can't this be expanded and made more relevant?

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Bumped in the hope that a moderator could move this to the Feature requests forum as I think it has some great discussion that could be missed otherwise.

(2 of 4)

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this is really a fantastic read. can't believe it was written in 2015. and I agree SI can do more for immersion of players in the game world.....

I did not buy this game this year, only because the new additions just seem all aesthetic with nothing ground breaking like what was discussed in this thread.

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