Source: Official FM Blogs on MirrorFootball.co.uk
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.
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 analyzing 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.
Miles Jacobsen: So, my first question to Paul was "what's changed since FM2009 in the match engine?
Paul Collyer: Well, it's been a steady year of analysing as many areas of weakness as possible and trying to improve them. Two good examples are passing and the marking of the player with the ball. We have used both our in-house testers and our external team of beta testers to the full. I think the general AI is better, albeit never 'finished' in my eyes.
Miles Jacobsen: You mention that there are new "player preferred moves" in the match engine now - what are player preferred moves, and what new ones are in the game?
Paul Collyer: A player preferred move is an action that the player tends towards in the match. That could be 'likes to try long shots', or 'likes to run with the ball'. Where possible we have linked these to their tactical instruction counterparts, so if you have a player who 'likes to try long shots' then you need to set his 'try long shots' instruction with reference to that. In other words, to make him try them less make sure you set them to the lowest setting possible. It works the other way for negative PPMs like 'runs with the ball rarely'. Not all of the PPM's have instructions that match, of course, there are stuff like 'tries long range freekicks' which simply shape the kind of player you have regardless of tactics . Anyway, new ones added for this year include 'has flat hard throw' (Rory Delap ) and 'looks for pass not shot'.
Miles Jacobsen: Are there any nice little touches you can talk about that are new to the match engine for FM2010?
Paul Collyer: There are lots. I know one of your favourites is that if a player has scored twice in a match and his team get a penalty, there's a good likelihood that he'll be given the ball to take the penalty so he can get a hat-trick, and we have also better modelled the effects on players of stuff like pitch condition, as in a player with weaker first touch may find it harder to control a ball on a wet pitch
Miles Jacobsen: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Paul Collyer: Yes, I hope people see that with each release we try to get a bit closer to the holy grail of football management games: a lifelike and believable match simulation that allows the user and his players to express themselves as accurately as if he was watching it from the dugout!
Lots of improvements and changes for this years match engine.