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Customization is Manager's best friend

Thoughts on the direction set by FM14 and what (not) to expect from FM15. By Thomas Paine.

By on Oct 09, 2014   5136 views   14 comments
FM Concerns - Customization is Manager's best friend
We're getting closer to Football Manager 2015 release and after the official new features video from Sports Interactive, it could be the right time to talk about the game recent past, present and future.

I'm not particularly bothered about motion capture, moustaches or 3-D stadiums, the game key concept should be customization, or freedom to play if you prefer, this is what I'm asking for and this is where SI recently failed.

It's clear to me that FM14 was a point of no return for the game, sliders are gone and without them tactical options have been hugely reduced, early impressions from this year game confirm that.

Basically the game is dramatically changing from a "sandbox" football simulator, where everything was allowed, to a puzzle where you're supposed to play the game "properly" following courses charted by SI coders; free will is definitely a thing from the past.


The word realism has been repeated like an old mantra here, "we did that for realism" this is the answer I often received when moaning about the lack of tactical options in FM 2014, but I'm still not convinced.

The ambiguous chase for realism has nothing to do with limiting customization, is simply the wrong answer to a real problem: bugs and match engine exploits.

If you can't iron out exploits writing a better code then you simply oblige the players (managers) to make some pre-determined choices that won't hurt the match engine, this seems to be SI developers master plan lately.

The whole "new roles" thing goes in that direction.

New roles are a massive joke and mean nothing to me, if I decide to employ a right midfielder on the pitch I should be allowed to set him as I like, without greyed out options in the tactical panel, I could mould him as a defensive winger or as a wide midfielder but my own definition of defensive winger could differ a lot from SI football experts one, FM 2014, and probably FM 2015 will be even worse, gives you very limited chances to do that.

The same thing happens when a single team instruction changes several settings, to make an example if you choose to adopt an attacking mentality, width, defensive line, closing down and passing length will be modified as well, of course you could try to tune your tactic adding other team instructions but probably the final outcome will be in a total mess, mainly cause you have no visual reference that could hep you to know and understand your post shouts global settings.

More control? More realism?
None of the above.
We're losing the ability to play the game as we like, surely a big loss.

paine's avatar
About paine

Football fanatic, Ex-Football manager lover & huge Juventus fan.

Twitter: @Armchair_Gaffer

Blog: Armchair Gaffer

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Discussion: Customization is Manager's best friend

14 comments have been posted so far.

  • paine's avatar
    Thanks @Icarus, unfortunately this has been the trend lately, at least the match engine (bugs apart), looks better than FM 2014.
  • Icarus's avatar
    This article is 100% correct on the limited tactical accessability SI has given us on 15, it's a shame really, but Paine saw it coming all along while we had our "hyped-up-sunglasses" on.
  • paine's avatar
    @feche - Legal issues? SI games philosophies?
    Could you elaborate a little bit?
  • feche's avatar
    The sliders gone because everything you have at your disposal has to be the same for the IA who couldn't use it like you could. That's cheat.

    Many other things that people want to see can't happen because legal issues. A LOT of them.

    Others thing doesn't happen for SIGames philosophies as a studio.

    This game gonna be awesome and it's only a fist step of what is coming for the next years.
  • paine's avatar
    @Justice - I know there are different opinions but mine wasn't a pro/cons sliders thesis, previous system wasn't perfect but the new one is really undeveloped, not flexible and sometimes illogical.
    A quick example, if you ask, via team instructions, your team to play wider then you could notice you're still allowed, via player instructions, to instruct your wide players to play wider. Now, what does that exactly mean? Wider than wide? Without a visual reference (like the sliders or something better could show) I consider this like a very abstract concept.
    The same happens with tight marking and other redundant settings.

    20 clicks were not needed and often source of confusion but the buttons we have now are by no means an improvement.
    I'm curious to see if they sorted issues like these in FM 2015, the screenshots I've seen are not encouraging though.
  • Justice's avatar
    A well-written, interesting article.

    While I agree that the whole tactical side of the game isn't all too great, I do feel that SI are doing a fantastic job with it so far. Is the tactical change realistic? Of course it is. Managers in real life don't go to their players and say "I want you to play 13 clicks attacking and 11 clicks wide". They tell them "I want you to get forward more often and stay wider". Yes, it is quite limited with what you could do with it right now but it does take time to perfect. Last year was only the first year for the tactical system, so it will only improve in the future. People say SI are slow to change their ways but if you compare their relatively new 3D match engine (out since FM 10, I believe), it is better after 5 years than FIFA's was after 9/10 years, and FIFA was a game made solely on the 3D match engine! While some parts of FM are progressing slowly, it is worth nothing that SI don't have the funds that EA have to make their games. It will take time for SI to make a system which everybody is happy with but they are certainly creating a good one.
  • diCanio's avatar
    Guys, I think tactics are still highly customizable, since most of the sliders and options have just been replaced with instructions. You just need to deeply understand which effect each instruction can produce.
  • michaelandrews's avatar
    Quite right, a few mods are a pain in that spot, been there, done that and banned.
  • paine's avatar
    @michaelandrew - Well, my past experience, last year above all, taught me some of the moderators over there are not so open minded to accept opinions that aren't mainstream, so I'm really not bothered to share this with them.
  • michaelandrews's avatar
    Paine, you should copy / paste your article into SI forum. Done it with my comment to your article :-)
  • paine's avatar
    @michaelandrews - you're spot on mate, I'm not a sliders nostalgic, I'd be ready to embrace other forms of tactical tuning that could improve what we have (had) with FM 2014, specifically some sort of visual reference would be great and more flexibility regarding team/players instructions would improve things a lot; like you said football is not only about roles, new roles are just quite static and pre-determined additions, I want to create my own roles.
    Agreed with your words about transitions as well, they should be better implemented in the game, wibble-wobble were not realistic but...

    @patres10 - of course SI are trying to widen their audience, nothing wrong with that, but I firmly disagree with what their trying to do: impose their own idea of football and being biased towards certain tactics, shape or roles, a better balance would be highly needed.
  • michaelandrews's avatar
    I partially agree: on one hand I can understand the transition made from sliders to roles, duties and instructions, the fine tuning provided by the sliders I found it exaggerated at some sort, also If I want a wide midfielder and then I set several player instructions then maybe a wide midfielder is not really what I want. Considering this last argument, one might think that new roles are to be expected in future FM editions. On the other hand, and this must have logic only in the heads of SI coders, I don't see the point of producing a game and then users have to read pages and pages and more pages, endless pages of critics, suggestions, manuals and so on. The playability of the game was serious reduce, a newcomer to the FM series surely would have a brain inflammation. On top of this there is something that I find basic: in FM13 we had roles and duties with explanations about it, in FM14 if SI chose to modify the tactical system, then the explanations would have also to be modified and improved instead of going along with the old explanations. A very poor decision that I hope has really improved this year's edition. Finally, although I can make an effort to agree with the changes in tactics, I also feel that the idea is good, has logic, I like it, but the application of idea was a mess or, at least, incomplete: a) a reference to the changes introduced when setting a mentality and / or a fluidity would be a great help; b) a more expressive / disciplined player instruction should be available; c) different sorts of Hassle Opponents should be available, how do I want my players to press opponents as a whole. As for this last one, the counter-argument is that we already can do this by setting different defensive lines, mentalities, etc., etc.. Well, it's simply not enough. And for as much Miles thinks football is more and more about player roles, sorry, it's not. Football was, is and always will be about (1) the most perfect combination possible about logic and art (this is what players can do, art) and (2) no matter how many roles there is always two aspects: offensive transition and defensive transition and this requires, for example, different tempos.

    From a 1st edition cm/fm player
  • Patres10's avatar
    Totally agree mate. But I have another point of view for this changes. It must be "user friendly" for the young generation. That means, that every idiot (sorry if I harm anyone) can play and WIN this game. Even if you don't know anything about football or management, you MUST have the possibility to "enjoy" that winning feeling...

    And that leads to more profit of course...
  • Icarus's avatar
    You lost me at "huge Juventus fan."
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