DarkZero Talks Football Manager 2006 With Sports Interactive

DarkZero: Manager Contracts are one of the biggest new features for this year’s incarnation. Will the wages you earn just be a new stat on your manager profile page and not be spendable?

Miles Jacobson: We are not going down the route of you being able to buy houses, dogs, or dabble in the stock market. The money, like points, will be there as a kind of ‘high score’.

DZ: Half-time team-talks are another new feature; can you give us an example of how this will work? Will they have a big effect on team morale, possibly prompting them to come back from a 3-0 setback during the second half?

MJ: There are lots of new features that we’ve announced so far, with a lot more still to come!

But, yes, they will have an effect on both team and individual player morale, depending on the personalities of the players, the team, and other indices as well. You’ll need more than a team talk to change round a 3-0 half time loss though.

DZ: What will be the advantages/disadvantages of singling out a player for a one-on-one talk rather than just concentrating on the team as a whole?

MJ: Every different player in the game has a different personality, so some might not react in the same way to other players.

DZ: Many people have found the training aspect of FM games hard to grasp. With the announced overhaul and simplification of this section of the game, do you think fans will use training more or will the “assistant manager handles training” box still be ticked during many managers’ careers?

MJ: I believe that people will not only use training more, but in many cases will use it for the first time – it’s easy to use and, as long as your coaches are good, does everything that you need it, and ask it to.

DZ: It seems that every year the media aspect of the game becomes more detailed. Are there plans for new media features in FM 2006, or will it just be a redefined, finely tuned version of 2005?

MJ: The media will be improved, and unhappy player interaction is one example of that. There are others as well, but there is lots to still announce, so I’ll leave it ’til then.

DZ: Has the regens system been revamped, or improved for this new game, and will there be another ‘Face In The Game’ contest for this year’s incarnation?

MJ: There are plans for another Face in the Game, which should be announced soon. The regen system is constantly tweaked, and we’ve already done a lot of work in this area. More will be done closer to release.

DZ: Football Manager will be going portable! What prompted your decision to bring Football Manager to the PSP?

MJ: The PSP is a really cool machine and Marc Vaughan, our head of development, came up with a great design document working with Richard & Martin from our R&D department that would make a compelling handheld experience. It was a no brainer to say yes to it, and I can’t wait for it to be finished as it’ll give me something to do during half-time at Watford.

DZ: Even though the PSP is powerful it is still a lot less powerful than (some) PC’s. Will some of the long stay features from the PC version have to be cut, will there be a limit set on leagues and will the PSP version still have the look and feel of FM 2006 on the PC?

MJ: The PSP version is a specific handheld version of the game, and not a port of the PC version. There would be no point doing a straight port as the PC version just wouldn’t work as a handheld game.

DZ: Turning a small time team into a big one is seen as the ultimate football manager’s challenge. How many of the smaller leagues from England (league 1, league 2, conference) and minor leagues from other countries will be available on the PSP version?

MJ: We have neither announced, nor decided, the league list for the PSP version as yet.

DZ: Does the small screen on the PSP (in comparison to a PC monitor) limit the amount of match stats and player stats that can be viewable at one time? Also, FM is heavily text-based so do you believe you will be able to get everything clearly readable on the small screen?

MJ: Everything looks great on the screen. Of course the amount of stats is limited due to the screens smaller size.

DZ: After E3 we now know that all the next-gen consoles will have a fair bit of power under the hood, with the X360 and PS3 possibly supporting keyboard and mouse. Is there any chance that a future edition of Football Manager will make the leap to console because of this?

MJ: With next-gen consoles, we are evaluating them as we do with all formats, but no firm decisions have been made as yet. If we were to do versions for the consoles, you would not need a keyboard or mouse to play them.

DZ: With dual and touch screen support it seems that the Nintendo DS would perfectly fit the FM brand, is there a chance that FM will make a debut on the DS?

MJ: If Nintendo want to talk to us, they know where we are. It’s unlikely though, as it has a tiny amount of usable RAM compared to the PSP.

DZ: Lastly, almost every games developer in business today seems to be under a lot of pressure from both fan and publisher to deliver ‘realistic graphics’. The phrase “3D match engine” seems to be used every time FM is mentioned. Do you ever seriously think about going 3D and are you proud of the 2D top down view you have created that outperforms all rival 3D based football management games in terms of portraying the game as realistically as possible?

MJ: Gameplay > Polygons.

There are lots of reasons why our 2D engine is better than a 3D one. One of those is the difference in time splices between our game and others. There simply isn’t a PC in the world that could handle trying to do it in 3d.

Screenshots of the PSP version: