Monday, 18 February 2008

Football Manager Lives!

So, I'm in the Beta of Football Manager Live - Sports Interactive's FM-based MMORPG.

Has there ever been a better combination?

The involving, welcoming and absorbing community spirit of a successful MMO, coupled with the addictive, genius simulation of Football Manager?

It's something of a simplified version of the game, but still works brilliantly, as the key elements are still there. The 2D match engine and tactical gameplay remain intact - if altered slightly - and the few changes that have been made are inspired. Transfers are now made in eBay-style auctions, with a predictable flurry of bids being left until the final minutes, as managers scramble for the best players.

Training is different; taking a leaf out of the book of Eve Online, you select a skill to learn, as the manager - physical training, medical skills, man-management - and this is learned over time, whether you're in the game or not. These skills then have a knock-on effect to your team, boosting their attributes accordingly.

The game isn't just a straight simulation of global leagues, either. Instead, enterprising players set up federations - overseen by a global organisation administered by Sports Interactive, the UEFA of FM Live - to cater for all types of players. I'm in the Casual Football Federation, which has 100 teams, and allows me to play in the evenings. They have several tiers of leagues that vaguely mimic the English structure - Premiership, Championship, Divisions One and Two - with all the corresponding cups. Some federations also have reserves and under-18 leagues to nurture young talent.

And then there's the best part. Playing against other teams - other people - adds another level of excitement. A huge cup final is full of tension in regular FM, but it's different in Live. Two real people, pitting their teams - nurtured over the season - against each other, with the rest of the federation joining the in-game chatroom to watch the match and offer their opinions. It's a tremendously friendly community, which helps, but is also seething with well-meaning competitive spirit.

And this is just with less than a thousand people playing the Beta. My worries are few: I wish there was more involvement when you're outside of the game, as I've got a couple of emails at work telling me a player has been sold from my team. He was on the transfer list, fair enough, but the ability to somehow negotiate and have some involvement would be great. I also wonder how SI will manage the game world when, potentially, hundreds of thousands of people are playing, rather than a few hundred. Should be interesting.

P.S. Bethy Bee Rocks :D

2 comments:

bethy bee* said...

well thank you for including me in your blog! mikey j rocks too :)

FullMetalRacket said...

Nice article!

I've created the first dedicated Football Manager Live fansite at

www.fmliveonline.com

you should come check it out! :)