Saturday, 2 November 2019

Global Soccer Manager 2017, a Championship Manager wanabee

Global Soccer Manager is project of clearly a classic Championship Manager games from Hungary - the player parameters, the lineup selection, the match report, your squad list, all of it will look very familiar to anybody who played Champ Man games in the past. To put it in another words it is more or less copy of old Championship Manager, but with one big difference - it is not even close to reaching the same level of gameplay. At least not right now.

First of all the interface, although similar to Championship Manager, can hardly be called user-friendly - even selecting your own nationality in first step of the game is unnecessarily complicated, browsing through the player data could be tricky since player parameters are listed alphabetically, searching for player could be complicated since there is no clear choice of player parameters to filter them out (for example by position or age). Even simple task as selecting a lineup is not done properly, you have to select position from list to assign it to new player, can't just move the marker from previous player that was placed on that position.

Another problem is with the match engine that provides very little informations during the game and even less after the match is over (there are no individual player statistics). Team selection and tactics are very simple and do not give much chance to come up with great game plan. Training options are just tedious - you can choose different training session for each day in the calendar, but there are no options create a weekly or monthly schedule and thus limit your workload. And you can’t even hire any staff members to help you around...

And the last of the big problems - the game really feels a half-baked project of enthusiast rather than methodically prepared project. For example if you filter players with good pace, passing and creativity skills you might find that most of the players recommended for you are actually goalkeepers, which suggests that the individual skills are just randomly generated.

At this point in time Global Soccer Manager is nowhere near reaching its target of being competition to classic Championship Manager - the game is hard to play and even harder to enjoy - generating the world takes about 10 minutes, reaching first season match about 20 minutes during which you have very little to do and can’t play a friendly matches.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

1st Division Manager

Rather old and simple football management game that simulates a single English division (first as it is stated in the title, but today first doesn’t exactly mean the top division).

We have only the very basic options available - training, team selection and transfers, the rest of the club parameters are more or less beyond our reach. For example we have the weekly balance of incomes and expenditure, but practically no tools to improve the incomes or limit the expends.

Simple animations with multiple endings are used during the match (similar to Anstoss, although not that impressive), which give very little information about the performance of our players.

Unfortunately only few foreign players are available (van Basten, Zenga, McCoist) and there is not even one international competition, so it is literally "1st Division only" manager.

The graphic aspect is far from being impressive, but it isn’t the main point of the game. 1st Division Manager can be considered "middle class" among such games - nothing special.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Anstoss / On the Ball - classic football manager

Anstoss classic foootball manager

One of the most surprising German games - contrary to their typical, very strict, approach to any games, especially football manager ones, Anstoss had great atmosphere and introduced many elements present in today games of the genre that were a novelty back then. We run a Bundesliga team in local and international competitions. For legal reasons they were not the real names, but made up (f.e. HSV Berlin or SG Bremen), but the editor allowed to edit all of them. Same case with the player names.

Anstoss classic foootball manager
match preview while no events take place

The player skills are described, as usually in German football managers, using only one value (between 1 and 10) and form factor (between 1 and 20) that together give us the match value for this player at this particular moment. The player statistics are almost non-existent, the training and other management options (including transfers) are very simple and limited, yet Anstoss was a great success and lead to production of English version of the game called On the Ball and its World Cup version.

Anstoss classic foootball manager
match preview during the event

The reason was simple - the atmosphere. The matches are presented in a manner similar to that of The Manager, by using animations with different endings, but these are animations of considerable size and often are accompanied by funny comments or unexpected events. There are several elements that were quite novelty in 1993, like team of the week, interviews with the media, random events (some of them quite surprising) - all of it recreated the climate that surrounded Bundesliga in that era.

Anstoss classic foootball manager
tactics setting

One of the "must-see" games that changed a lot in the genre and introduced elements later copied by other games, some of them even in today online football managers. Of course in today standards Anstoss is not that impressive, but keep in mind that it was published 25 years ago.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Premier Manager 3 classic football manager

The third installment of the Premier Manager games offered a standard scenario (we start in the amateur Vauxhall Conference and fight for promotion to professional divisions), decent graphics and a wide range of club management options.

One of the main attractions was the possibility of hiring many co-workers (assistant manager, coaches, scouts, junior coach) and assigning tasks to them, which decreased the workload on our shoulders. The improvement / expansion of the stadium and the signing sponsorship contracts were increasing the ways we could improve out club - a better stadium meant more revenue from tickets, but at the same time such investments consumed money that we could not spend on transfers.

Transfer negotiations also looked a bit different than in most games - many clubs could make offers for players (open offers) and in subsequent rounds they could raise them, but at the end the player made the decision which club he wanted to move to (which resulted in making it very hard to sing a decent player for amateur conference team).

In general a complicated game, the match presentation was perhaps not the best one, but it was possible to very precisely determine the positions of the players on the field depending on which sector the ball was in, and then during the match watch how it works.

Premier Manager 3 was not an easy game to like, but you have to appreciate its level of development and range of options in this football manager.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Championship Manager - timeless classic football manager

Championship Manager, the first game of the franchise, wasn't perhaps an impressive game when you take a look at the screens below - just lines of text, simple numbers to show the values, game engine wasn't giving much info or match statistics, but in a way it was a timeless classic that hardly had any competitions in years to come.

Championship Manager retro
your squad list

Why? It isn't easy to explain really. On surface it was just another football manager, nothing special about it, but once you started to play it became obvious it is something special. For start you didn't have to start from the bottom of the league and work your way to the top, you could have just take a team from Premiership and fight for the title in your first season.

retro football manager Championship Manager
player details

What is more you could have play in up to 4 players (not at the same time, but in rounds), but the real thing with Championship Manager began when your was doing poorly, because you could have been actually fired. What is so special about it? The little thing - you still could go on playing. No, not running a team any more, but you were still in the game and you could have apply for position in another team. Of course if you did not gained enough reputation in your previous club it could have been tough to find another job, but not impossible.

Championship Manager classic

Another thing was with the players - their skills were shown in form of values between 1 and 20 and while in the matches you could not see their actual statistics or events the overall ratings were really showing how good they were. I know it does not sound like much, but for example you could have gone to the top scorer ranking, select any of the lower divisions and buy player who were at the top of the list (if his club would allow). Of course he would need time to adapt to your level of the competition, but it was almost guaranteed that once player shows a talent he can play well in different club as well.

games like Championship Manager
your club staff

Same story with the youth players - it was possible to use them as emergency replacement players if you had problems with setting up the lineup for the match, but if they had enough talent they could have been valuable team members in the matches. To stretch it further if you would give them a chance as youth players to take part in the first team they would be a bit better once they reach age to play as professional.

Championship Manager
foreign players list

Those were just simple examples of tiny little bits that made Championship Manager a legend - they were not spectacular, they were not significant on first glance, but once you invested some time in the game you began to realize that almost nothing in the game was actually random and each of your decision could have consequences in years to come.

Of course time have changed and today first version of Championship Manager can hardly compete with modern football manager games, but it is important to see how little it takes to create a really great game even without much of the graphics or 3D match preview.