Welcome back to the Football Manager 2010 new features blogs. This week I'll be revealing lots of information about the new match engine in FM2010, and also looking at the new tactics creator which makes it much easier to create and change match tactics.
I'm now going to attempt to get down and dirty with letting you know what has been going on with the match engine and match view over the past year.
For those who are new to the game, or don't know about the terminology used, a quick definition:
The match engine in Football Manager is a simulation of the game of football based on the tactics you have set, the tactics your opponent (whether a computerized version of a real life manager, or another human on multi-player games) has set, and the footballers that you have both picked.
The match view is what is displayed on the screen in front of you in one of a multitude of camera angles, including both 2D and 3D.
So firstly let me tell you what's been happening on the match view for this year:
First off, animations. There are well over 100 new animations in FM2010, alongside most of the old animations being tweaked and improved. We've now got a full time animator at Sports Interactive (previously we were working with contractors) which has made a huge difference, particularly as he has experience on working on other football games so he already knows what works and what doesn't. He's forced us to provide him with some tools too so we've got a shiny new animation editor.
Next up, stadiums. The approach we've taken with stadiums is that we shouldn't have half a dozen to depict different ranges of size of stadium, but we should have a load of different stands that can be used and re-sized according to the stadium capacity. Whilst we'd love to have licenses to use real stadiums for every club around the world, we don't, so while the stadiums won't look like the real thing, they will at least be able to fit the right amount of fans in, have the right kind of stands, terracing or seating and so on.
The crowd itself should (by the time of launch - it doesn't yet!) have the right amount of people in for the attendance of the match, sitting happily in their seats, getting excited and celebrating when the team scores.
And not forgetting match cameras. At the moment, we have two new cameras in the game called sideline and touchline. What you can see of these in the videos is work in progress. I'm hopeful that both will stay in, but one of them might be tweaked a bit before launch. You'll just have to wait for the demo and find out then!
We've also added in weather effects to the match view. Different types of rain and snow all appear, and aren't just there to look pretty either. The effect that weather has on a real pitch will happen in-game too, so if it's pouring down with rain, expect the ball to travel a lot slower on the ground and roll less.
The player graphics themselves have also improved, as have the pitch types and pitch degradation too. Again, the degradation on the pitch has an effect on ball movement.
Lighting has also improved massively, and there's a noticeable difference on player and stadium shadows based on the time of day that a match is being played and the type of weather that the match is being played in.
So now moving on the match engine, that is the football that you see unfolding in the match view screen. But first a bit of background behind the match engine itself.
When we first started making football management games 17 years ago, all you could see of the match engine was text based commentary. In 2003 we released a game with a 2D top down representation of the match engine. Five years later, with last year's Football Manager 2009, we had a 3D display for the first time.
For many years this area of the game has been controlled by Paul Collyer, co-founder of Sports Interactive with his brother, Oliver. To make the match engine, Paul has to watch a LOT of football. Poor guy, huh? But he doesn't just watch football live, or on the telly, we also have the same tools that real life managers use for analysing football matches, to help ensure that it's as accurate as possible. On top of that Ray Houghton, the ex-Republic of Ireland international, is a consultant at SI, with his main role being to watch the match display and tell Paul where the players are doing things that they wouldn't in real life.
The match engine will never be "finished". It constantly evolves. The changes that are made in the match engine are tested not just internally, but also externally with our test "Dream Team", and it also gets put into the beta versions of Football Manager Live (the massively multiplayer version of the game where you own your own club, as well as manage it) for a couple of thousand more people to test. So lots of people look at versions of the match as it updates each week, and give feedback on the realism aspect and point out any bugs and issues that might be apparent.
We have also implemented a brand new tactics creator module in FM2010. Thanks to the wonders of modern day technology, and SEGA having someone who's good at doing video editing, there's no massive wall of text to show this to you (and as you'll see from the video, there's a lot of stuff there) so here are the basics of the tactics creator! Watch the video and see what you think.
Before I get bombarded with questions on our forums (community.sigames.com) like "will my old tactics still work?" and "what if I want to use the old system?" the answer to both questions is yes. You can also share your tactics created with the new tactics creator too.
So you've seen the basics of the tactics creator in the video. What I'd like to do now is talk about advanced tactics, and our new touchline shouts feature. As you will have seen from the video, it's really easy to set up tactics in Football Manager 2010, and more "football like" in the way it's done.