Wholesale changes across the board? No, of course not. Hundreds of smaller changes? Now youre on the right track.
Few things are certain in life. Death. Taxes. Inexplicable popularity of things like Justin Bieber. References to pop culture icons looking dated in just a few months time. Oh, and Football Manager games coming out around late October/early November time. While we don’t have an official release date yet, we do know a new entry to the series – cunningly entitled Football Manager 2011 – is on its way, and brings with it all the changes you would expect on this yearly update that we definitely don’t see as a bit cynical and something they could probably handle with downloadable updates. No siree, not us.
But those issues we definitely don’t have (no siree, not us) are the kind of things brought up by detractors – commonly referred to as ‘people who don’t get it’. Yes, it’s the kind of thing we complain about when other series have yearly updates. Yes, it has been going on for years now. But that simply doesn’t matter, because it’s Football Manager, and Football Manager lives in an inpenetrable bubble, free from the type of criticisms other games are subjected to.
This is serious, by the way. We genuinely believe FM2011 lives in a world where standard critiques of a yearly release schedule simply don’t matter. It’s a series with such a devout fanbase, with such fantastic online communities and one that inspires such loyalty (and obsession) from those that play it there is no way to lump it in with the FIFAs, Pro Evos, Call Of Dutys and whatever-elses of the gaming world. Football Manager is a wonderful, deep and fulfilling law unto itself.
But yes, there have been a list of new features thrown out there for fans to get excited about, even if the non-believers just get a bit confused and ask “is that all?” with a shrug. You don’t understand – you will never understand.
Changes to contract negotiations, with added agent personalities, make for more dynamic scenarios when it comes to signing and re-signing players. Whereas before it was a simple case of player demands > offer > wait > response, now it’s a ‘live’ discussion between yourself, the player and their agent (if they have one). Demands can change on the fly, some agents can be pushier than others and contractual clauses have increased massively in scope, meaning you won’t just have to take the ‘15% yearly wage rise’ stipulation off every contract you offer, ala FM2010 and earlier. It certainly sounds like the right way to go, just so long as SI aren’t trying to make everything end up like Carlos Tevez’s protracted contractual nonsense as of the other year.
The other major change that has our ears peaked is that of dynamic league standings. In previous games, no matter how much you won, how many times you took RKC Waalwijk to European glory and World Club Championship success, you would still be limited as to the calibre of player you could sign. In Football Manager 2011 this will be no more – if you keep on winning, not only your team but the league you play in will increase in stature. It won’t be immediate, but eventually you could see divisions currently seen as third-rate becoming the place to be for all the European superstars of soccerball. It’s a change that’s been needed for a long time, and it’s great to see SI listening to fans and implementing the changes we all want to see. Just so we can finally get the biggest players in the world to come to Djurgardens legitimately.
Other changes we’ve been told of come in the shape of improved communications between the manager and players/board. You can now basically have a conversation with your star striker after he decides he hates you because you told him off for scoring eight own goals in the last game and playing a 0.4 rated performance. It’s another aspect that sounds perfect – the exact kind of thing that seems to be a tiny addition until you go back to previous versions and realise how annoying and limited things were without it. See: the ability to change when a transfer occurs, for example.
The match engine has seen improvements, including additional celebrations, but that’s clearly one of the smaller things. The news section has been re-merged with the inbox and ohdeargod we can’t believe we’re writing this kind of stuff while still thinking ‘this all sounds brilliant’. It’s just the Football Manager effect. It gets you. Lures you in.
Training has also been improved, hopefully making it simpler and hopefully actually explaining to the player why their coach rated 20 under the ‘attack training’ category can only get a pathetic three star rating when you actually employ him. Remember kids: determination, discipline and motivation are key.
So it’s a bunch of changes that would be laughed out of the room if they were related to any other game – the kind of tweaks and tucks that would be complained about in other games. But this is Football Manager. This is different. FM2011 will come, it will be good, and it will perpetuate the insane levels of fandom it always has. The changes will become second nature, we will sit and work on our new formations and eventually – eventually – we’ll be able to take Everton to Premiership and Champion’s League success. Again.