Foot-to-Ball Manager 2012th Edition

By Alec Meer on August 15th, 2011 at 1:13 pm.

Would you rather have seen the numbers? I don't know what the etiquette is for sports management games

You foot-to-ball chaps sure don’t get bored easily. I’d get fed up of any game after 2012 years – why, I’d even be willing to bet my ardour for X-COM would have cooled by just the 819th sequel. There’s no stopping plucky Brit studio Sports Interactive though: they’ve just announced Foot-to-Ball Manager 2012, which as is the custom contains a raft of new features, improved graphicsability, a whole lot more foot, and much more ball.

In the years to come, 50% of men will only buy one game each year – whatever the new Call of Duty is. The other 50% will only buy Football Manager. By 2018, the two will combine into Weapon Unlock Manager, and no other game will ever be required.

So here’s the goss on FtoBM 2012, starting with the easy bit: videos. The new match engine looks rather lovely. I particularly like the way the ground outside the goals gets all brown and smeary as a game wears on. GRASS SCIENCE = HIGH.

I remember when this were all dots.

Also in there is a new ‘adaptive layout’ system, which pretty much proves that SI are really making an operating system. Makes sense, given that, as a far as half the population of England seems to think, a PC is something that’s purely designed to run Football Manager.

Jolly good. Seems like the kind of thing a game that’s primarily about looking at rows of texts and numbers could really benefit from. That sounds sarcastic – it isn’t, honest. Seriously, that looks like a super-elegant way of presenting a crapton of information.

SI are promising over 800 new features for this 2012 FM, but here are the headliners plucked from that comically large number:

Transfers & Contracts – significant changes to the transfer and contract systems, including loyalty bonuses, better implementation of amateur and youth contracts, an improved transfer centre and the ability to lock areas of the contract negotiation when you aren’t prepared to budge. This helps you to manage your budgets and gives you flexibility in what you offer money hungry players, or agents, as incentives.

Scouting improvements – using several real life scouting reports, a new in-game report has been devised which includes squad analysis, tactics information and information about goals scored and conceded alongside lots of other scouting improvements, giving you all the information you need to prepare before kick-off and throughout the season.

3D Match Improvements – new animations, a whole new crowd system, improved weather system, more stadiums, plus two brand new cameras – “Behind Goal” and “Director Cam” as well as all other camera angles being reversible – meaning you can watch and analyse every aspect of every game.

Manage Anywhere, Anytime – the ability to add or take away playable nations in your saved game as often as you want. Manage in that country at the start of the next season- meaning you don’t have to stay in the nations which are chosen by you to be playable at the start of your career.

Tone – a whole new level has been added to team talks and conversations, with the new tone system, which allows you to specify the way you want to say things – be as cool as a cucumber by saying things calmly or throw tea cups around by saying things with passion. There are 6 different tones to choose from with specific comments per tone.

Intelligent Interface – a new adaptive layout system, which means the higher your screen resolution, the more info is easily at your fingertips. The new interface also contains new filters, customisable columns, a new tactics screen, and lots of new overview screens.

Brand New Tutorial – standing separate from the main game, a mode to help new players find their way around the game easily, whilst also offering tips to experienced managers on how to get the most out of the game, as well as a new in-game “how to” system.

It’ll be the most realistic football management game ever, apparently. I BET THEY SAY THAT EVERY YEAR.

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73 Comments »

  1. Teddy Leach says:

    I love throwing teacups around. Finally I’ll be able to indulge in my hobby in a Foot-to-Ball management sim.

  2. Kdansky says:

    Why do people buy this? Is everyone just insane? If I had any faith in humanity left, I would have lost it now. Somebody explain to me the fascination of managing a sports team. That’s about as thrilling as doing taxes, except your taxes are still not done.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      It’s actually quite addictive.

    • Moni says:

      It’s one of those gaming safe-places John Walker, coincidentally, made a post about earlier.

    • Randdalf says:

      Think of it like Pokemon but where every Pokemon is unique and costs £20 million to capture.

    • Shinan says:

      For me personally it’s a bit like a sandbox strategy/roleplaying game. Where I manage a team to success over quite a timespan. Creating personal stories for the players as they progress through the seasons. Getting favourites and thrilling moments when you’re one victory away from an important milestone.

      And sometimes managing a bit of economy while searching for young talents.

      I’m not very good at the game but just like when I play Europa Universalis 3 I get excited about conquering a province and waiting fifty years with a defensive unit imagining all kinds of rebel supression and whatnot until they cultural unite with me. Or when I’m annoyed at that bastard Gandhi in Civilization while remembering my spearmen unit that fought off a roman legion waiting for reinforcements…

      Foot-to-ball Manager games are one of those games that with a little bit of imagination all kinds of stories emerge :)

    • frenz0rz says:

      For me personally, the biggest thrill comes from multiplayer. At uni my housemates and I had an in-house competition to see who could get highest in the Premiership with low-to-mid-table teams, and back home I’ve been running a similar Championship affair with my dad and brother. The sheer thrill of playing a league-deciding match against another human opponent who knows your tactics is something I’ve really grown to enjoy. Plus, in all the leagues I’ve played so far, we’ve had a £10 bet for whoever gets the highest – a bet which becomes null if anybody gets fired before the end of the season. Cue frantic last-minute loan deals and cheap transfers to the person who has 8 first-team players all with broken legs. Because damnit, I want that tenner!!

      This is all over a LAN too – something that has been slipping away from PC gaming for a long time.

      Edit: For me personally… RPS hivemind >_>

    • Bob_Bobson says:

      You get some brilliant emergent narrative from games like this because you don’t know if you are going to win or not. In the vast majority of single player games when you fail you reload/restart from a checkpoint because to fail is to die and you can’t continue from that. As such from a story perspective your failures are forgotten, you reload, you move on, eventually with skill and persistance you succeed. Which is a game with a narrative is exactly as things should be.

      In management games when you lose you continue. That blot sits on your history. When you snatch an undeserved victory that piece of glory sits on your history. But at kickoff you don’t know how your story will continue and that gives you excitement of a nature very hard to capture in other forms of single player gaming.

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      “Somebody explain to me the fascination of managing a sports team. “

      Start here : http://www.runofplay.com/category/vercelli/

      See you in four hours.

      It’s ok if it’s not your thing. But if it is even remotely your thing, the Vercelli story should tweak your FM gene.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Bismarck, this is amazing, and reminiscent of a Paradox Let’s Play.
      Excellent music too. I probably still won’t ever play a sports manging game though

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      That’s fine – I love reading about Eve online, but wouldn’t ever play it because it’s not my flavour of spreadsheet.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to contract negotiations with a new tactical coach for my Croatian Potato Farmer’s Second Division, (West), reserve team.

    • luckystriker says:

      edit: Bismarck beat me to it.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    The 3D match view looks much better. Otherwise, nothing too exciting in the listed incremental improvements. Well, “a new tactics screen” sounds promising.

    I look forward to ordering imaginary little men to foot some more balls this year.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Really? Doesn’t it, in all honesty, suck pretty hard? Its still the same ropey animations and jerky moment it was when 3D first arrived. People still run diagonally at a different direction from the one they’re facing. The only major improvement I can see is they’ve animated the stands now.

      I know Champ Man was never about the graphics, but I’d personally rather they properly invested in animations that weren’t immersion breaking, rather than adding yet more frippery that just serves to make playing a season take about 100hrs of game time. I remember the days when you could play a season in a weekend, jumpers for goal posts etc.

  4. ComradePenguin says:

    Are they going to make it any more approachable for more casual types like me? Tried the 2011 demo and found it a bit more complex than my previous experience with Championship Manager 2.

    • airtekh says:

      @ComradePenguin

      That’s pretty much the same reason I stopped playing CM/FM, it got a bit too complicated for my tastes.

      I had great fun with CM 97/98, but that’s going quite a ways back.

    • Moth Bones says:

      CM 01/02 probably has the best balance of detail and simplicity. I think that was the last one with text-only commentary.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      If you’ve got an Apple gadget or a PSP, Football Manager Handheld is a much-simplified version of the game.

    • sidhellfire says:

      If I would want to play simple team management game I would play Fifa manager. The beauty of Football Manager is it’s complexity. The deeper it is, the better it gets.

  5. TimA says:

    Think you meant to embed this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iTXka94ePc

    I’m terrible at these games.

  6. Shinan says:

    Foot-to-Ball manager still has some time to go in sequels until it reaches Metro 2033 or Battlefield 2142 though. Not to mention Sim City 3000.

    I tend to buy one Football Manager every five years or so. So I still have to wait until 2015 until I buy my next one. The tutorial seems like a good idea though. I got quite lost in all options in FM2010…

  7. starclaws says:

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
    I just futbol-gasmed.

    Can’t wait.

    I think the article lacks a link to the list of features though. Or a link in general. Or I just missed it.

    As for this game being like managing taxes. There are 3 kinds of gamers. Intelligent ones, Action ones, and casual ones. Some are a mix and some are more hardcore in one category.

  8. Koozer says:

    I’d play weapon unlock manager. In fact, I’d try any kind of manager that isn’t foot-to-ball themed.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      OK, brainstorming time! Notch mentioned he wanted to make some kind of Fantasy Manager with goblins and wizards and stuff.

      What other kinds of games could you do in a similar format? Spreadsheet interface, lots of decisions to make, and a bunch of people/units/whatever that you can’t directly control, but they do all the real work; you’re just the manager. Go!

      Beyond the classic RPG adventuring party, I got nothing. Could do it Shadowrun style, where you’re Mr. Johnson hiring people to do missions.

    • well says:

      @TillEulenspiegel

      Dwarf Fortress?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Sorta. DF fits my clumsy description, but it’s really nothing at all like FM. It’s real time, and you have too much direct control – if the dwarves determined where to dig and build and plant crops, that would be interesting, and a bit more like FM.

    • Koozer says:

      So many games had fleeting nuggets of managerialism (no that isn’t a real word), like the world map for Evil Genius or, er, the X-COM world map? (I’ve never played X-COM) I suppose X4 games might count. There are a lot of numbers to wrangle. How about city builders?

      Now I come to think of it, I’ve played a veritable mountain of manager games.

    • well says:

      Paradox games like Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron have a definite Football Manager vibe.

    • evilmatt says:

      Gratuitous Space Battles? Pick your fleet and tactics, then watch them blow another lot to bits.

    • IDtenT says:

      Just remake TTD already!!

  9. frenz0rz says:

    Reply fail :(

  10. Moth Bones says:

    *Sniff* Hasn’t this game grown up to be so BIG! From those humble beginnings, four divisions of twenty teams each, going through the new season update terrified that your best players would be “expected to move abroad” and there’d be nothing you could do about it, being told “We think you’re a right bandit” if you left a club to manage another higher in the league… ah, half a lifetime of memories.

    I certainly used to be one of those folk who thought a computer was something on which to run this game. I wish they’d bring back the feature where you’d select your manager personality (‘rash’ and ‘withdrawn’ were my favourites).

  11. Lemming says:

    “I’d even be willing to bet my ardour for X-COM would have cooled by just the 819th sequel. “

    I’d trade that alternate universe for this one, tbh.

  12. DiamondDog says:

    “I remember when this were all dots.”

    Dots? You were lucky!

    I remember when we ‘ad to read a description of what were goin’ on.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      Oh the blinking text bars.

      GOAL FOR ANTWERP!!! (yeeaaaaesssss!!!)

      But it’s been disallowed! (OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE)

      You see, back in those days, you couldn’t even see if it was offside or anything. They just told you right after you thought you’d made an important goal.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Ah, but there was a trick to that. I’m sure that the blinking for a disallowed goal lasted longer than the blinking for a legitimate goal. So if the blinking went on for too long, you knew you were screwed.

      The real talent came in putting the match speed to full and reading the text like Data from Star Trek, trying to glean as much information as possible from key phrases.

      “Through on goal”
      “[player] tackles [player] on the edge of the box”
      “Oh no, your striker has bottled it”
      “Your goalie is a fucking idiot”

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      On the iOS Football Manager, which still uses dots and text, when a shot ricochets off the bar, it kind of pauses for a moment so it looks like you’ve scored. Drives you up the wall initially, but there’s a trick there as well in terms of where the ball is when it pauses.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      @ Diamonddog

      :-D Agreed on all counts! I never really knew about the disallowed thing (ie, I only had my own suspicions to go on, didn’t hear it from anyone else) but now that you mention it too I know I was right back then!

      And I do believe that I owe a lot of my fast reading/skimming skills to the CM games. ;-)

    • Randdalf says:

      Not sure if this happens in 2011, but if a goal is offside in 2010, the game freezes for a very very brief moment when the ball goes in.

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      All too often text versions of CM would end with your shots as 21/14 (on target) and your oppositions as 1/1 and you’d lose 1-0.

      “Super Goalie” and “GLitFOS” (Goalie Lets in the First Opposition Shot) combined to make a rage that threatened the very fabric of the universe.

  13. Cyampagn says:

    I’d rather ‘play’ the game; it’s FIFA for me, thanks.

  14. Pijama says:

    Just what you need when you have to study for that big exam in the end of the year.

    Suddenly you are spending your Sundays to get through a season.

  15. sendmark says:

    The Manager Anywhere feature is excellent, opens it up to much lower specs as well. Before if you wanted to be a globe trotter you had to accept a much slower game.

    One thing I would like is for the big teams to be stronger at the start, was always silly seeing the likes of Man United finishing midtable from the off. That and regens should come from less obscure places and not end up passing through eastern europe as often.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      What I’d like to see is a slightly less biased towards the UK regen system. Even though we all know that the UK isn’t exactly a major player on the international level, England (and even Wales and Scotland to a lesser extent) almost invariably become the strongest international team after 5-6 season thanks to the regen system.

      I mean, I know the devs are from the UK, but there are limits to realism here. ;-)

    • DiamondDog says:

      Have to say that in my current 2011 game Argentina and Brazil are the two places that just have an endless supply of amazing regens. Other nations get the odd one, but I could quite easily fill my team with Brazilians and Argentinians that would walk my team to the title. I’ve actually started restricting myself because it’s just gotten silly now, I already have 5 Argentinians in my first 11 and every month my scout finds 5 more worth buying.

      Pretty sure it’s a bug of some kind. Not at all normal.

    • Ian says:

      Rinox: Really? I’m in 2018/19 in my game and the young English players are mostly an endless stream of utter dogshit.

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      Maybe I’ve just been lucky/unlucky (pov) with the more recent FM’s regens then…I do remember that in the earlier ones it was definitely the case. Maybe it was eased up and I just happened to still get English world domination on my plate. ;-)

    • Gepetto says:

      The strength of regens is almost always biased in favour of the specific leagues you choose to run

    • IDtenT says:

      Gepetto is spot on.

  16. trigonometryhappy says:

    “In the years to come, 50% of men will only buy one game each year – whatever the new Call of Duty is. The other 50% will only buy Football Manager. By 2018, the two will combine into Weapon Unlock Manager, and no other game will ever be required.”
    Team Fortress 2?
    Valve ahead of the curve again……:|

  17. Big Murray says:

    If only the Football Manager community wasn’t among the worst in gaming, I might be tempted.

    • Pijama says:

      I would say that the fine chaps of The Dugout are pretty much the antithesis of what you are saying.

      http://www.thedugout.tv

    • Ian says:

      What’s wrong with the football manager community? O_o

    • Big Murray says:

      Ian, in my experience the community is completely and utterly hostile, unhelpful and condescending towards casuals and newbies. Both of which are categories I fall into. Thus, a bad experience with the community.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Places like The Dugout have as many idiots as anywhere else.

      Most of the knowledgeable people are very helpful. They are just quite rightly sick of people who want instant results with their team without putting any effort of their own in. No-one wants to spend ages working on a tactic, post it up and have an idiot tell you it’s shit because their Swindon team couldn’t beat Barcelona with it.

      (FM Base is another good site)

    • Ian says:

      As others have said, I find the Dugout to be good they’re just incredibly intolerant of people who introduce themselves by acting as a bell-end. And I only dip in and out of posting there (more so now than I used to) so it’s not that I’m “one of the gang” and thus get through it.

      Generally though I’ve found them to be friendly and helpful.

  18. Freud says:

    I think they finally got it right with FM2011. I’m in 2043 and the game is still solid without showing signs of breaking down. The dynamic league reputation works fine and regens/newgens are much better than in any previous version. Hence I don’t really see a big need to upgrade since the game plays so well for me. Previously I bought the new versions hoping they got it right. They finally did so I’m probably be all FMed out by the time this one is released.

  19. Vexing Vision says:

    If anyone ever made a Football-Manager/Call of Duty crossover where you manage and outfit your soldiers and then watch them go for it, I wouldn’t leave the computer again, ever.

    This is despite having zero interest in either of the uncombined iterations of said topic.

    • George Michael says:

      This!
      Smells like the official game of RPS to me. Anyone on here want to code it.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      That’s the sort of idea I was looking for.

      But screw CoD, do X-COM that way. Oh yeah.

  20. Myros says:

    SI are actualy world class players of “Game Journalist Manager”.

  21. Big Murray says:

    I find it rather annoying that SI have shut down the Football Manager 2011 site, which now simply automatically points to a pre-order page for FM2012. Have to rely on mirrors now to download patches … and the game’s only been out 9 months.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      http://www.sigames.com/downloads

      They’ve still got everything, right back to 2009.

    • Big Murray says:

      Yep, realised that they have it on their main site now. But the actual Football Manager site footballmanager.net, (which is the only one which comes up when googling the actual game title, Sports Interactive’s site doesn’t come up) where they originally had the patches and everything put up is now just FM2012 pre-orders.

  22. Robsoie says:

    Each time i read about some football manager game, it always trigger my memory of the Kick Off engine spin off, “Player Manager” on my good old Atari ST.
    http://www.mobygames.com/game/player-manager

    It was rather fun as you could actually play in the middle of you AI controlled team if you wished instead of only watching or getting a summary of whatever happened.

  23. Mr Bismarck says:

    I am very glad to see the “Manage Anywhere Anytime” feature finally show up – that was number 2 on my big list of things FM needs to provide.

    Number 1 and the only remaining impediment to Sports Interactive getting all of my money is making save games transferable. All too often a new version comes out and I have a mature, developed world in the old version that I just hate to leave behind.

    Then two hours into the new version I turn into that guy from LOST shouting “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!” Only I don’t get to hang out with a dirty Evangeline Lilly.

    Note to SI : Evangeline Lilly should be in FM2013. Also, the save game thingy.

  24. Leandro says:

    “Manage Anywhere, Anytime – the ability to add or take away playable nations in your saved game as often as you want.”

    YES!!! Finally!!! No more having to start all over because I suddenly want to manage in a league I did not load beforehand. My favorite feature so far.

    And what about match engine realism? They improved graphics and animations and all, but I hope they are doing something to make the game look even more like real football, right? That’s the whole point of the game.

  25. sinelnic says:

    I used to love this franchise until I became friends with an actual football coach and found out the match engine is pure smoke and mirrors. I believe at this point they could create a very reasonable simulation should they decide to, they surely have the money available to invest in it, but they are probably afraid that if they get it right they might loose their fanbase.

    Sigh!

    • sibusisodan says:

      What does this mean? That the match engine isn’t based on the results of tiny ants wearing lots of football boots scurrying around my motherboard chasing a biscuit crumb? Is it just a collection of heartless numbering masquerading as all-conquering football players? Should my faith in the power of FM be shaken?