Football Manager Series Catch-All

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Update: I got fired!

I wish it'd been more entertaining, but this was more of one of those "everything goes wrong and nothing makes it better" finishes where I lost the dressing room. Those five straight defeats turned into 12 games without a win, and I got the axe just after the new year.

It also didn't help that my best player got poached by a Dutch team in January and we didn't have any money for new players (I blew our wad in the summer).

And here's the weird thing: I'm quite happy I got fired! Not because I wanted to get a new job or something, but because I had a really good time, even while being frustrated and trying to figure out how to get the wheels back on this dumpster fire.

I think, rather than looking for a new job, I'm going to restart in a new country. Perhaps France?

Sounds like a fun career, Prederick! And that's good to know about this year's version. I almost pulled the trigger during the Steam sale, but decided to hold off until I'm finished with the pile of games I'm currently playing.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I almost pulled the trigger during the Steam sale, but decided to hold off until I'm finished with the pile of games I'm currently playing.

So, never then?

Prederick wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I almost pulled the trigger during the Steam sale, but decided to hold off until I'm finished with the pile of games I'm currently playing.

So, never then? :lol:

Ha!

I actually think it'll take me about 2-3 months and then I should have the time/space. I fell behind in some of the game clubs and want to try to keep up there first. I'm making good progress though, so *never* might be a stretch.

Prederick, rather than restarting with a new game are you not tempted to get out there and apply for a new job?

I voted FM19 number 3 in my game of the year list, I really think they’ve done well this year. I love being able to control the defensive and attacking lines, I feel I can see more how it impacts the game.

Marc Duffy of Sports Interactive mentioned Sports Interactive are working on some exciting secret projects; they’ve recently moved to a new office and are expanding . I wouldn’t doubt if one of them is a big new FM mode.

Clusks wrote:

Prederick, rather than restarting with a new game are you not tempted to get out there and apply for a new job?

I voted FM19 number 3 in my game of the year list, I really think they’ve done well this year. I love being able to control the defensive and attacking lines, I feel I can see more how it impacts the game.

Marc Duffy of Sports Interactive mentioned Sports Interactive are working on some exciting secret projects; they’ve recently moved to a new office and are expanding . I wouldn’t doubt if one of them is a big new FM mode.

Given the growth of Fifa with players competing each other live (even clubs sponsoring fifa players) and the succes of the legendary players... I can imagine some kind of reboot of FM Live is in the making.

I was also thinking that they would look at the success of Ultimate Team and try to capture that in some way.

Clusks wrote:

I was also thinking that they would look at the success of Ultimate Team and try to capture that in some way.

Without a doubt. At this point, not exploring those opportunities is leaving money (a veritable truckload of money) on the table.

Clusks wrote:

Prederick, rather than restarting with a new game are you not tempted to get out there and apply for a new job?

I still have the save on my PC, so it's not like I can't come back to it, but I was kind of thinking about a long-term one-club or one-country game, and I realized, as that game was coming to an end, some of the limitations of playing in a country like Belgium. Even though the Pro League is ranked 9th-best in Europe, if anyone decent comes along for you they get poached pretty quickly, and being a permanent selling club can get kinda old.

Maybe, we'll see.

Right, so. New game.

I have a very simple list of requirements for a team when I play FM these days.

1.) Hasn't won anything (at least, nothing major)
2.) Is from a community large enough that them having a top-level team is semi-realistic
3.) Has a cool logo/kits
4.) Has fans that are not well-known for being... uh... let's go with "controversial".

So anyway, new game! Nimes Olympique in France is the choice, and I'm excited to see how things will go. They're projected to finish dead last in Ligue 1, and I've never played Ligue 1 before, so it'll be fun to try and kick PSG off of their damn perch.

EDIT: Did we manage an early-season draw with Marseille because their goalscorer scored a terrible, hilarious late own-goal? We did!

Clusks wrote:

I was also thinking that they would look at the success of Ultimate Team and try to capture that in some way.

I seem to remember Miles talking in one interview about them doing either an NFL or NBA version of FM (I don't think it was both, but can't remember which). Certainly both are due for something like that - the franchise mode in Madden is poor, and Front Office Football has essentially remained the same game since the first came out, and it's now on FOF8.

That said, I've always felt that the franchise/no relegation/draft model of US sports doesn't lend itself well to longer term simulators.

There is a enormous window open for a solid NFL or NBA simulation game. Given the rise of analytics and the followings both of those sports have in the US and globally, I am shocked that they've both gone without for so long, because I will happily say that the fanbase is there.

(Also, whoever creates a solid NCAA Football simulation is going to be a kajillionaire.)

That said, I've always felt that the franchise/no relegation/draft model of US sports doesn't lend itself well to longer term simulators.

Eh, for us, it lends itself perfectly well, since there's often so much turnover within the league itself. Out of the Park Baseball simulates Major League Baseball, and it's right up there with FM, in my opinion. Trying to build a team through the draft and create a dynasty is its own fun challenge to put together.

Yeah, I'd forgotten about OOTP (and I own OOTP19 as well..), and I think that most of the faults with that lie with me not understanding the intricacies of contracts etc. I do feel, however, that the lack of the fear of relegation means that seasons where you are out of contention become more about preparation for the future - which again, I don't seem to know enough to make work properly.

NCAA football - I do miss that game. Solecismic did a text game (called The College Years, if I remember correctly) that I did own and enjoy, but they never updated it or did new versions, which probably indicates that it wasn't a good seller. I'm not up for any new versions of FoF though...I refunded FoF8 on Steam because it was basically a data update of previous versions.

Wolverine Sports do a variety of text based NFL/NBA and college games, but it's been a long time since I tried them.

Wolverine Studios Pro and College Football games are both quite good. Not brilliant, but certainly diverting. The new 2019 College version is out soon.

Despite being a long time NFL fan and barely watching any college football at all, I'm a much bigger fan of the games set in the college world. Something about the four year roster turnover keeps the game fresher and recruiting over drafting makes the move from small team to large one more gradual.

I played multiple seasons in The College Years as UCF and by the end I was pretty dominant in my conference, but at the same time I was totally crushed by Colorado in the Motor City Bowl 56-0(!) which shows how far I still had to go.

TLDR: North Americna sports being broken makes simulation games a lot less interesting and I'd agree no pro/rel is a smaller factor in that.

Basketball and American football are certainly huge opportunities for a simulation, though especially with an NBA game I think you'd run into the same problems that OOTP. No pro/rel and there only being one competition is a factor in that but I think the bigger problems are having a playoff system means long regular seasons are just glorified friendlies (for American football this is less of an issue with there being so few games).

Also, the player market in hockey/basketball/baseball is quite illiquid because you're dealing with so only 30 teams and bartering instead of using cash which makes team-building a bit rote.

I've bought OOTP the last couple years on sale because unlike FM it still runs decently on my PC but I tend to grow bored after a few seasons. You go through 162 games where the marginal value is low and the high level of randomness in the sport means there's only so much you can do managing things and then you get to the playoffs and the high level of randomness means the whole season comes down to series of weighted coin flips.

Team-building is also a bit rote. The optimal way to build a baseball team, because of the way the player market is, is to get off all the salary you can for prospects, wait for those prospects to get to major-league level, then add free agents around them because you're ready to win, and keep going until your best players age out of being effective. Even then every file I've played has ended up with me accidentally developing too many good supporting players who are still cheap, but I can't extract any value for them (preferably getting more decent prospects) because of the player market. If it in FM I could just sell that type of player for cash to invest elsewhere but with baseball it's kind of "I guess I'll just have starter-calibre players on the bench for no reason."

I suspect team-building in the NBA would be even worse where your options to build a competitive team are basically: tank for good young players, don't tank and get lucky with players becoming much better than you originally expected, be mostly noncompetitive keeping cap space clear so you can build with a couple big free agents if you're a marquee franchise.

I had similar issues playing NHL:EHM back in the day (which I still loved).

Mr Bismarck wrote:

Wolverine Studios Pro and College Football games are both quite good. Not brilliant, but certainly diverting. The new 2019 College version is out soon.

Despite being a long time NFL fan and barely watching any college football at all, I'm a much bigger fan of the games set in the college world. Something about the four year roster turnover keeps the game fresher and recruiting over drafting makes the move from small team to large one more gradual.

I played multiple seasons in The College Years as UCF and by the end I was pretty dominant in my conference, but at the same time I was totally crushed by Colorado in the Motor City Bowl 56-0(!) which shows how far I still had to go.

Might have a bash at the demo for the College Football 2018 version, see how it goes. Are there any files knocking about which would prevent me having to rename all the teams ?

On the hockey side, I've got FHM4 (and remember the original EHM, which I think was free?).

I think it all comes back to the points that Roke made, in that the seasons are too long for what they decide (ie basically playoff seedings) in everything but football, and that simming 9 games out of every 10 (which is what I do in OOTP) is a lot less satisfying.

It's interesting to hear how the lack of relegation makes things less interesting for others. For me, growing up exposed to sports that all don't have relegation made it so that playing FM was less interesting at first. I saw lots of disadvantages to relegation. There are some advantages to having the same body of teams in a league, all playing at the same level.

I'm not saying this to argue that non-relegation is more interesting—I don't think it is. I really like relegation and all the excitement it brings at the bottom of the table.

But there are aspects of some US sports sims that you might not initially consider if your major background is world football. Off the top of my head, individual statistics are a much bigger deal in US sports, and there are many more categories of them. You end up with interesting areas to explore with individual season achievements and career achievements, both at the league and team level. There is a layer of fun, if stats are your thing, to explore with US sports sims that just aren't as elaborate or as detailed with FM.

Another element that comes into play here is that FM is the single most detailed and realistic sim on the market. Some of the drawbacks of US sports sims aren't faults of the sports, but the fault of the sim engine for not modeling them well.

I'm not sure I'd agree with the sentiment that US sports are just about playoff seedings. Only 1/3 of MLB teams make the playoffs, and 4 of the 10 are faced with a one-off to keep playing. 12 of 32 NFL teams make the playoffs. If making the playoffs is super easy, I'd argue that that's the fault of the sim engine and not the sport.

I totally agree that the 162-game nature of baseball makes it daunting to get the right feel for a sim game. I've drifted from OOTP because if I watch/manage games it takes for ever, and if I sim through them I get disengaged from my team. For sim purposes, it almost feels as if there should be a game mode that sits in between the two options.

And I'm really excited to see what FM's influence might do for Front Office Football.

Oh, one game that might be worth looking at is Fast Break College Basketball. I played it a long time ago, but they had a feature you could enable that allowed for conference promotion and relegation if your team did well.

The sim itself was fantastic too.

Two caveats...

- It's not Football Manager level.

- It looks like it hasn't been updated in a long time. I'd think it ages okay, but I'm not sure if they've kept it up, and they say there "might" be issues using E-License and Windows x64. Complicated = Bad.

To a degree it looks like a dead-end product, which is a shame. It was such fun.

Roke wrote:

TLDR: North Americna sports being broken makes simulation games a lot less interesting and I'd agree no pro/rel is a smaller factor in that.

I vociferously disagree with every single one of your points, but I think this is a cultural issue at hand. Lord knows I love soccer and the Premier League, but criticizing American sports as being rote when roughly 80 of the 92 teams in the Premier/Football League have literally no chance of winning the Premier League in our lifetimes and the only way for one of those teams to become a force both nationally and in Europe is for a billionaire to stop by and decide to blow a few hundred million dollars...

...well, again, cultural differences.

I like soccer, I also like that when Cleveland initially drafted LeBron James, they got to try and build a team around him (they largely failed first time, but still) rather than having him get poached by the Lakers when he was 20.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

For me, growing up exposed to sports that all don't have relegation made it so that playing FM was less interesting at first. I saw lots of disadvantages to relegation. There are some advantages to having the same body of teams in a league, all playing at the same level.

I'm not saying this to argue that non-relegation is more interesting—I don't think it is. I really like relegation and all the excitement it brings at the bottom of the table.

*nods*

I like the fun of relegation (he says, worried if his team's going to survive this season) but simultaneously, I think it's contributed to the aforementioned issue of many, many teams having zero chance of ever seriously challenging.

There is a layer of fun, if stats are your thing, to explore with US sports sims that just aren't as elaborate or as detailed with FM.

Especially so with baseball. Baseball is a game that is obsessed with statistics, and OOTP burnishes that even further with allowing you to recreate history (the only thing baseball is more obsessed with than stats). I have had a ton of fun going through baseball history and trying to answer questions like "What if the Yankees had signed Hank Aaron" or "How good would Ted Williams have been if he never served in WWII/Korea?"

Americans love stats in their sports, and if you don't care about them, then yeah, you're probably not going to get as much out of them.

I'm not sure I'd agree with the sentiment that US sports are just about playoff seedings. Only 1/3 of MLB teams make the playoffs, and 4 of the 10 are faced with a one-off to keep playing. 12 of 32 NFL teams make the playoffs. If making the playoffs is super easy, I'd argue that that's the fault of the sim engine and not the sport.

The NHL is generally the worst about this, because in the NHL, seedings really don't seem to matter a whole lot. Baseball is next, but I'd happily argue that seedings matter more in the NBA and NFL, especially in the latter's case where getting a week off away from the wear and tear of the game, along with home field advantage is truly useful.

I totally agree that the 162-game nature of baseball makes it daunting to get the right feel for a sim game. I've drifted from OOTP because if I watch/manage games it takes for ever, and if I sim through them I get disengaged from my team. For sim purposes, it almost feels as if there should be a game mode that sits in between the two options.

Yeah, if you're coming from FM, OOTP, a game that is probably best played as a GM, simming a few weeks at a time is gonna be really tough. Baseball is an absolute slog of a marathon of a season, I couldn't imagine playing a full 162-game season in a hands-on title like MLB: The Show, much less something more abstract like OOTP.

This is, by the way, an issue baseball is facing in real-life as well, as the younger generation of fans aren't particularly interested in paying attention for that long. It's kind of weird, because every game does actually count in baseball, if you miss the playoffs by 5 games, you can definitely look at your season find five opportunities for victories you blew. But because there's 162 of them, a lot of the season can nevertheless feel like a meaningless slog.

Whatever SI Games does, they need to lean into the standard that OOTP is set and make sure that massive customization is a feature. Part of the reason OOTP works is because you don't just have to run the MLB, you can make your league a 8-team, minor-league level experience if you want, or a 40-team monstrosity featuring clubs from all over the world. They absolutely need to lean into that kind of design.

Prederick wrote:

Lord knows I love soccer and the Premier League, but criticizing American sports as being rote when roughly 80 of the 92 teams in the Premier/Football League have literally no chance of winning the Premier League in our lifetimes

I think one of the big reasons why the NFL has become the most popular sport in the US is their salary cap and team parity. The salary cap puts pretty much everyone on an even competitive level, and teams can turnaround quickly. Super Bowl champs regularly have awkward seasons the following year, and teams with weak records the previous year can often be powerhouses the next year.

The majority of fanbases start out the season with some sort of hope that their team can make the playoffs and perhaps win the Super Bowl.

That's not to say that American football doesn't have a host of other problems, but more than other sports, they've nailed competitive balance.

As much as I've grown to love soccer, it is somewhat disappointing that the Premier League—which has maybe 1-6 teams out of 20 competing for the title—is pretty much the most competitive of the prestigious national leagues as far as winning titles goes. Italy, Germany, France, and Spain are much less competitive.

Balancing that out, however, is the potential to qualify for Champions League or Europa League, and the potential to get dropped via relegation. That competition up and down the table does make for a lot of interesting drama. When Huddersfield and Fulham were playing last week, my first thought was "Wow! Huge match for both teams!" At the time I think they were last and second-to-last. If a last and second-to-last team meet here in a US sport, no one cares, unless teams are hoping to lose the game so they get a better draft pick. There is next to no drama. With relegation, it turns into a fierce competition.

They both have their positives and negatives. The NFL's constant parity can sometimes mean that yes, everyone has a shot, and sometimes it means the best mediocre team wins. Transcendent dominance is few and far between, as opposed to soccer, where you get many more multi-year "dynasties" more often.

I can see an argument for both, because I still can't believe there was a year when a team with a losing record was allowed to compete in the NFL playoffs (I don't care that they won a game, if you can't go .500, no playoffs, that should be the rule).

But yeah, relegation absolutely makes those games between teams going nowhere mean something. At the current rate, if the Knicks and Suns play in, say, March, both teams are going to be actively attempting NOT to win in order to secure the best draft position, and the only reason to watch the game will be out of a deranged sense of duty or because you're a degenerate gambler. A relegation six-pointer in March is almost as must-watch TV as Liverpool-City was.

If I could choose anything, I'd add promotion/relegation to College Football. I mean, I'd pay the players first, of course.

I got distracted by AC: Oddysey for a bit there, but got a few hours into my FM2018 save again. I got knocked out of the cup in the quarter finals, finished last in my CL group, but am 13 points ahead in the championship with 8 wins in a row and 9 unbeaten.

So my best midfielder, Leander Dendoncker, informed me he wants to move to Sevilla because they're promising him a more important role in the team. I promised him a bigger role at Anderlecht, and rightfully so as he's more than just a first team player - he's the team's backbone.

But then his manager blocks any talks of a new contract, claiming I could never meet his client's demands - which might be true. Since I don't want to have a broken promise on my record: is there any other way to 'upgrade' his team status without renewing his contract? I seem to remember this was possible in previous editions...

Have you made him any promises, like making him team captain, or letting him take penalties/free kicks ?

It does sound a little like you will struggle to keep him if any offers come in from clubs in bigger leagues...have you considered putting a larger valuation on him ?

I suspect you might end up having to cash him in if his agent won't talk about a new contract, is there another midfielder at a Belgian club who you could start tapping up (aka 'The Bayern Way'). How about a young midfielder at an English/German club who you could get in on loan...in my Celtic save I had two seasons of Phil Foden and he absolutely bossed it.

I'm under no illusion he'll stay past this season, I just want him to stick around until June I found it by the way, apparently player squad status can be found in the transfer settings. That's the only promise I made him, but I'll make him Vice Captain as well if/when club icon Olivier Deschacht leaves. He wants one last challenge before his retirement, and is our current VC.

With regards to a replacement: the club is now under 'curatele' (custody in English apparently), meaning that transfer budget is now zero, and any player can be sold for the right amount. Most of those debts will be paid off in June, leaving me with some breathing room hopefully for the summer transfer window.

During the winter break I'll be experimenting with a new defensive tactic, with 3 CB's, 2 wingbacks who can alternate defensive/offensive, 2 CM/DM and a Regista. Upfront... probably some winger who can cut inside and a true striker.

Oh boy. Due to the financial situation I wasn't able to keep my promise and offer an improved contract. Moreover, the curators are accepting bids on Dendoncker now that are below his actual value, I can't offer new contracts to staff and players that expire in June (luckily I already did most at the beginning of the season). And I cannot offer contracts to transfer free players either.

This could be a challenge

So, this utterly garbage Fulham season has finally broken me, and I restarted my FM game with the Cottagers.

And honestly, it's made it worse. We've been playing bottom-half teams to start the year, and we're already 3-3-1. The only thing that's gone wrong is that we have three PL-ready keepers and the two backups are getting feisty that they're not getting week-in/week-out action.

Prederick wrote:

So, this utterly garbage Fulham season has finally broken me, and I restarted my FM game with the Cottagers.

And honestly, it's made it worse. We've been playing bottom-half teams to start the year, and we're already 3-3-1. The only thing that's gone wrong is that we have three PL-ready keepers and the two backups are getting feisty that they're not getting week-in/week-out action.

I’ve noticed some weird things like that too. I have a few youngsters for Darlington who we’re getting upset that they weren’t getting first team football, despite only being set to hot prospects. I’m not sure if it’s a bug or something to do with their ability (only one of them I consider having the stats to play some part in the first team.)

I think it's down to personality. Like, I should say, in Fabricio and Marcus Bettinelli's defense, they are both (according to my scouts) Premier League capable GKs who are only like a half-star off of the starter's level. I imagine, even in real life, you might have signed a contract that says "Backup" but that some players might nevertheless start champing at the bit after a month or two and start saying "I need to be playing week in, week out".

*grumbles*

So Fulham in FM are currently 10th on 40 points after 31 games. We even made the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, because FM is a fantasy and real life is awful and disappointing.

...and that's why video games exist.

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