• #Siamotuttiallenatori - n°4 - Miles Jacobson

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    Allenatori virtuali, utenti di FM.it ed appassionati di Football Manager tutti: bentornati su #Siamotuttiallenatori,

    la rubrica ispirata dalla campagna #wearethemanagers che ci permette di conoscere opinioni e pareri di chi, proprio come noi, vive e considera FM una mania, piuttosto che un semplice gioco.

    Dopo Alessandro Colombini, Alberto Tenconi e Nicola Savino, ci siamo spinti ancora più in alto e siamo lieti di presentarvi l'intervista realizzata a Miles Jacobson, studio director della Sports Interactive, la "mente" che governa la produzione del nostro amato Football Manager.

    Buona lettura a tutti!

    (sotto spoiler trovate la traduzione in italiano di ogni domanda e risposta)

    How do you feel about FM16, all the way from research to the final touches? Do you think we can consider it a finished product or should we expect radical improvements and changes during the next years?

    FM16 was released as a finished product for what FM16 was meant to be. All the features we decided to do were done, and all to the quality level we wanted.

    That doesn’t mean that everything we want to do with the series is done – it never is, and never will be. There will always be things we want to work on and have thousands of features that we will work on when the time is right. As with anything, there is finite time and resource each year.

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    We know that work behind every edition starts long before day-one. How is a Football Manager Developer's typical year structured?

    Before we even start, whenever anyone has an idea for the game, whether it be someone in the studio or somebody external, whether it’s something we see on our forums or that a footballer tells us about or something that we dream about or something we overhear in a pub, it gets put into our ‘features database’.

    Once a year we sit down as a team and go through all of the new ideas that have been added to the database and we vote on them. Everyone in the studio is invited to those meetings and all of the features are anonymous, so they all get treated exactly the same.

    We tend to go through 1,500 to 2,000 ideas each year. Around 75 per cent of them get voted through in those meetings and then it’s down to me, as what we call here the game director, to decide what goes in which year. What I have to do as part of that process is take into account all the different ways people play the game so we can make sure there’s something for everyone each year.

    Typically six or seven months in advance of release we’ll get a first cut of the game to start testing. It’s frustrating as it keeps breaking at the early stages, but come June or July we can start to give genuine feedback about what we like – and what we don’t like. I’ll then put together a dossier about all different parts of the game and that gets split across the team to work out what changes can be made. That then goes to the coders, who sort it out.

    I’m not the only one doing the testing either. In house we have 10 full-time QAs, and then we have 30 or 40 contractors in the studio each year. Then there are up to 1,000 beta testers, which might come from our research team or people who have given constructive criticism on the forums. We also have just under 1,000 footballers who help us test the game, ranging from very well-known, world class players through to non-league and youth team players.

    Once we’re happy with the balance of the game, it’s released and the cycle starts again.

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    What's your favourite aspect of FM16?

    That's like asking me who my favourite nephew is. The game is a sum of all of its parts and I love both of my nephews equally.

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    We heard about your apologies about the "Harry Kane gate", because his counterpart in the game was not as good as him. Has it ever happened before?

    Oh… loads. Loads and loads and loads of times. The most direct one of those which was actually quite funny as well, because it wasn't a major complaint, but Danny Webber came into our office once when he was at Watford.

    I'm a big Watford fan, and he came in and he was looking at his stats and comparing them with another player from the Man United youth team that he grew up, saying: “I'm better than him at this! We used to be roommates and we used to practice this and I'm better than him in this stat, but, to be fair, he's better than me in this stat.” He was actually moving stats up and down and being quite honest about it. Sometimes you do just get an email from a player's agent saying “My player thinks he's much better in this” and I'll reply: “All of our stats are independently researched and if he does think he's better than finishing he should score more goals and his local research will put him up.” We don't pander to it, unless they want to put them up and down at the same time.

    We've had cases where other people inside football have complained about their stats who are not actually players, so we can't display chairman stats anymore and haven't for many, many years because someone complained about their business acumen.

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    How was the idea of making an FM documentary born?

    Do you think it will have a sequel, after the good reactions by the fan base?

    The film was effectively a drunken idea! I watched the Swedish House Mafia documentary and was like, ‘we could do that’. I wrote Football Manager the movie on a post it note, came in the next day and Ciaran [brennan, PR Director at Sports Interactive] said it was a great idea. Everyone else looked at me like I was on some hallucinogenic drug, particularly because we wanted to try to turn it round in five months.

    We’re really pleased with how it turned out. We went above Frozen for about 20 minutes on iTunes, which was good. It seems like we have a hit film from something that had a budget of around 0.1per cent of the other films that usually make the top 20, just because it’s people telling their stories about how the game has affected their lives. Also, since my mum has seen the film she has stopped asking me when I’m going to get a ‘proper job’.

    In terms of a sequel, there are no plans for one at the moment, but you never say never…

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    Who's your favourite wonderkid in FM history? Why?

    My favourite ever player was a ‘newgen’ called Darren Gallagher who was a young Scottish goalkeeper and I couldn’t end my game until he retired. He broke into the first team and he was in my first team until he was 35. A one club man. This was in FM 12. He had well over 100 caps for Scotland and the guy was just the most dependable keeper you could possibly have. Not a real life player, but still my favourite wonderkid.

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    Have you ever taken part in an online FM competition as a player?

    Yes – both in private, amongst people in the studio, and publicly. The latter always anonymously.

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    There are a lot of users who remember nostagically the old training system with detailed schedules. Why was it simplified in the last few editions of the game?

    I’d love to know who those “lots of users” are – we simplified the training module because very few people used the detailed schedules. It was the least used training system we’ve ever had in the game. A shame, because I really liked it – and co-designed it with the former Ireland player Ray Houghton.

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    Have you ever thought about bringing back the "defensive" and "attacking" movement separation of tactics, as it was in the older editions?

    No, we feel the old system was far too simplistic and not true to real life. The way tactics are handled in FM16 is more realistic and flexible – the current system was built up over time with a number of people collaborating, including those from within the football world. I’ve personally spent a lot of time at pro and semi-pro clubs’ training sessions and post training tactics meetings. At these clubs, tactics aren’t rigidly separated between attacking and defending, they’re more fluid than that.

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    Did you know Italy has a very big online playing base for Football Manager? Our community alone counts about 100 players divided into 3 different year long ongoing tournaments. Considering that online gaming seems to be a little behind single player, do you think we could expect something exciting in that direction in the next few years?

    The network game in FM is played by a tiny percentage of people and FM Live was unpopular, so the cost/benefit analysis shows that it wouldn’t be the most effective use of our resources to make large-scale changes at this time. We are working on Football Manager Online – a free-to-play MMO that’s currently only for the Chinese market, but that’s a very different kind of game.

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    Speriamo di aver fatto cosa gradita a tutti voi,

    per chiudere alla grande questa stagione di #siamotuttiallenatori.

    All'anno prossimo.


    Lo Staff di FM.it

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