We sneaked up on the realms where Eugene subsides to get some answers to questions that many people wanted to ask him for so long. Eugene is the creator of FM Genie Scout and one of the most popular personalities amongst FM hall of fame.
We skip the chit-chat and get to the heart of the matter. You will find 15+1 things you didn't know about Eugene on this exclusive interview. Why did he ask for money? Why did he quit scout development? Will we ever see a new Genie Scout? Let's find out!
- I suppose that you have been an avid FM player and fan. Do you still play nowadays? Other games you like?
But of course! I've been a fan of this tremendous game for some years. My first issue was CM01-02, and that was the beginning of the way. Hell, I remember our hotseat battles: my team was Roma at the time, and I used to buy Kaka (found with the scout help, of course). And my opponents were very angry that my teams had bought some 'rubbish' players - and the latter became superstars in a number of years :wink Well, at least I hope that their thoughts on Kaka have changed in time.
Unfortunately, due to a lot of reasons, I do not find myself having time to play FM in the latest time, but... AFC Wimbledon is already in Coca-Cola League One in year 2012 :wink Playing 2009, of course.
No time for the other games... I used to love Sid Meyer's Civilization, and sometimes played actions - not the 'shoot-'em-all' style, but things like Hitman and GTA.
- The end of Nygreen's FM Scout. Was that the reason you decided to create your own scout utility?
Lots would blame me, but I never played an issue of the series without using a Scout (CM Agent and CM Scout, then Nygreen's FM Scout). And after Nygreen had stopped supporting the Scout, I had an episode of mania - after all, another Football Manager game has been released! Thus, after I became assured that no one is working on Scout, I've decided to try and understand the database structure of a savegame. And (not without a piece of help from Michael Nygreen, of course) I became successful.
- Would you make it without the open source code Nygreen left behind when he abandoned his program?
Um, hard to say now... Maybe not. I can only say for sure that it was much easier to make it with Nygreen's help and savegame DB structure sources. But a lot of time goes each year to adapt this structure to a new edition.
It's really unfortunate that SI do not support the third-party utility makers. I had addressed them for a number of times to ask for even a part of savegame structure, but the maximum I've got was a promise to help in the future. Yeah right.
In general, it's possible, and using sources to the pregame DB (published by SI two or three years ago) I could have written the Scout, thanks to the pregame and savegame BD structures being close to identical.
- How did you feel when you finally released your first Genie version and people warmly welcomed your work?
It was a feeling of a great inner satisfaction. Reasons? First, I was not sure that I would manage. Second, I was really happy to help people like me (I think there are some) who can't play FM without Scout.
- Many accuse you and the Scout users in cheatery. How would you answer to this?
You would be surprised, but I never took the Scout as a cheater program. Is it 'cheating' to see the hidden attributes of the players, considering that you simply can not find 180+ potential players faster than Real or MU? And they always 'know' what sum of money to pay for a player. So I consider the Scout a program to restore balance against the real cheater - the AI.
Also, it gives a lot of possibilities to analyze your own team and save your time while searching for the players. What's bad here?
At least the editors are much closer to being evil, in my perception. It's OK to use them to reach the scouting goals, but to change your team's position in the league table... It's called murdering the game.
- What was your expectation when you launched a new site for Genie?
I made it due to a single reason - to make the communication-with-users process easier. For example, to find errors and fix them faster. And the site, like a bug-tracker integrated into the Scout itself (from the 2008 version), was sure helpful in that.
Some innovations have been initiated by the users. And it's really unfortunate that in the last two years due to a major lack of time I had no ability to communicate with the users.
- Did you feel threatened by the other scouts and data editors that were being released? Do you think any other utility will ever manage to reach the quality of Genie?
Well, competition is possibly always useful for everyone :satisfied Of course, it was really nice to feel yourself like a King of Scout Utilities, but, being serious, I'm really happy that such programs appear. And some of them do have a major potential for sure. For example, FMRTE progresses really fast, and it (as its author) do have a bright future - I mean it!
- Did you have people helping you with the development?
Yes, of course! Due to the users being well-responsive, the errors have been fixed fast enough (except for some periods when I simply did not have the time). Many innovations have been proposed by the users itself. And some other people were, in a certain way, my muses and inspirers :wink
- Are you satisfied with the progress of localization in Genie 2008?
Well, the scout has been translated to about ten languages. But the geography of its use is much wider, so I can't be delighted with the process of localization. Also, some localizers have tried to take the job but never finished it, or at least did not continue working under the localization after the new series came out. And as a result, FM Genie Scout 2009 is only available in English and Italian...
- The video presentation of Genie 2009 was really nice! Who made it and how did you come up with the idea?
I understand that many people have been disappointed with the final version of Scout 2008 never seeing the light of the day. But there were certain reasons under it. And even though I did not succeed in making everything I wanted to, many innovations which were implemented in Scout 2009 have previously been made usable in the unreleased version of Scout 2008.
In the video, I wanted to tell about the main innovations and regain respect from the people who were not satisfied by the 2008 edition. I think I was successful in that
- People were used to enjoy Genie for free. Why did you ask money for a 'premium' Genie 2009 version? Were you afraid that people will get annoyed if you suddenly ask for money?
Unfortunately, the situation was such that I could not, in any way, support the Scout for free anymore. Except FM and study, I've got to taste work, and then family. To release Scout 2009 in time, I had to take a vacation from work, and about 60% of my life in two weeks had been taken by this program (well, if you do not count the sleeping time). Plus, I support a point of view that any work done should be rewarded. And those people who understand what programming is about, I think, do understand what kind of a work has been done before the Scout became the kind it is now.
- Your site used to host a page where you had all donors with the specific amounts of their donations. You wanted more people to donate? Is there anything else you wish to say about donations?
Well, donations for the last 1.5 years (20 people, about 300$) were only enough to pay for the domain name, and the Google Ads didn't bring me a fortune, too In the latest time, the site brought me about 20-30$ a month. It was really funny to listen to the Western fans who tried to say that 100$ for Ukraine is a hell lot of money... These people must have never been in Kiev, at least after the Soviet Union met his end. For example, a small flat rent by me in the meantime costs a rent of 700$ a month. Except of that, I am implementing major IT projects in the banks sphere and thus can esteem the amount of work done... It's much more than 300 bucks, you know. But I am really grateful to those who actually did help me in the material support.
- Why did you decide to stop scout support?
After my family life had started, the time was reduced almost to zero. And in two weeks after FM 2009 had been released, my daughter was born - and it was a sign that 'zero' would be soon reached. And I didn't want the fans to be disappointed once again, so took a decision - possibly a right one.
- What innovations would you implement if the program support had continued?
A lot of ideas here... Nation search, optimal squads for national teams, reading data from the memory etc. It is probably possible to perfect it infinitely.
- On FMScout.com Genie 2009 has been downloaded more than 80,000 times. Genie 2008 is counting over 410,000 downloads, while Genie 2007 reached almost 150,000 downloads. We are talking about more than half a million downloads of your program. How does that make you feel about your work?
Um. I will not hide that I'm proud of the work done. It's pleasant to grant the victory euphoria to people :wink
- Have you thought of returning to scout development someday? Is there any possibility that we see a new Genie 2009 version or at least Genie 2010?
Well, if the third patch will have some significant fixes except the new DB, and I would want to promote AFC Wimbledon to the Premier League... Never say never!
I wish to warmly thank Eugene for accepting my interview invitation and for the time he dedicated on this. I hope someday he will return to action.
P.S. By the way, Eugene congrats on having a daughter!
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