Once again Sports Interactive's decided to prove that even though they do not release products which are perfect and flawless, they really do care about what the gamers have to say about their games. Together with SEGA – the publisher of FM Live and FM – organised a meeting for all the fans of the online game. It took place in London (we mentioned it on CM Revolution) and to attract as many folks as possible to arrange some time and show up at the event, they offered to refund any travel expenses made within the UK! Of course CM Revolution decided to send one of their agents there, that would be me, to check on what development plans SEGA and SI have regarding the, so well doing, project of FM Live.
The offices of the both companies are located in the same building, in Central London, nearby the Old Street tube station. When I arrived a bit late at the floor of the publisher of Football Manager, I met a ten-people group of fans just like me, who came from different places, but mainly from within the United Kingdom. After a second the tour began and we started off with the first attraction – visiting the SEGA offices and later the ones of Sports Interactive. In one of the rooms, as I peeped in, I saw some kind of a meeting in progress, which was led by no one else, but Miles Jacobson! I didn't want to lower to the level of some tabloid photographer and harass his privacy by taking a picture through the glass window, which was a good decision, since just a few hours later I got a chance to meet him in person. But about that in just a moment. Except that, there wasn't anything exciting at the SEGA floor, therefore we quickly ran downstairs and with our hearts beating we went into the offices of the makers of the game, which welcomed us with wide opened doors, held by a flowerpot on one side and an old computer on the other. Marc Duffy, who decided to be our guide for today, was expecting us in the waiting room.
The offices of SI, located on one floor, were just a few rooms (including Miles' or Duffy's), kitchen and gaming room separated from a big main hall, where a few dozen computers were stationed. When walking by the desks, I recognised a face of concentrated Ter, however, I did not dare to disturb him, so I only took a quick photo and kept on walking forward. An interesting sight was the view of Miles' office, which was, let's say... in a bit of artistic mess.
Looking at the amount of work required to create FM, it could have been expected that their workplace was going to be be larger, than what I saw. However, we must remember that they have a net of co-workers who do their jobs in other cities or even countries – for example scouts or translators.
Afterwards we went outside, where taxis were already awaiting to drive us to a nearby pub. That was were the conference was to be held.
The Main Attraction
After entering the place, which was especially booked for us by SEGA, I noticed that the number of people who decided to come to London is actually greater than what I had seen before – about 50-60 moderators had a different schedule of the event, and so we got the chance to meet them when we already got there. After getting seats and enjoying the privileges of having an open bar, the meeting was ready to begin. Rob Barns-Graham, a man who made an instant career at SEGA after submitting to them his ideas on how to promote FM Live and later getting a job at the company on a position of a Community Officer, came onto the scene. He told us about what they do nowadays internally and externally – articles on the site, GameWorld updates, polls, podcasts or fansite listing. However, what was far more interesting, were their plans for future. Rob explained to us their idea of manager profiles, thanks to which every FM Live gamer will have his or her own page, which he will be able to edit freely, enter his personal information, achievements, screens, photos etc. Also, blogs will be started, having a connection to the profiles as well (has SEGA been visiting CM Revolution recently?). The first phase of the manager profile project is planned for January, however it is not the official date at the moment. Another invention is to link the game to the website – chats from different GWs in a browser, or a system of news. It's being created mostly for the people who are not able to install the FM Live client at their work, but they still do have a connection with internet. It's been also mentioned that some work is being done on creating a simplified version of the program for iPhones, what would allow a constant control over a team, no matter of where we are or what we are doing. SEGA is also planning to being a much closer cooperation with united FML fansites.
The next thing on the list was ideas of the gamers, what changes they would like to see in FM Live. During this time there were quite a few different inventions, some of which have been taken with approval and promised to be considered in the future. Someone proposed newsletters from different GWs, which would be sent out to all the users registered there and thanks to that no one would miss out on anything important that has happened. Another idea was of creating FM Live applications for a popular community website, Facebook, and also developing the game's page which already exists there. An improvement has been promised on that subject, even a possibility of organizing competitions through there was mentioned. The gamers would also like to see a common chat for all the GWs, hoping that they wouldn't be so isolated from each other, because of no possibility to contact anyone else in the game outside their GW. It must be remembered that a game of this kind creates quite an incredible community, which enjoys talking to each other on all possible topics. One of the last propositions was to create a Hall of Fame, which would collect achievements from all the GWs. There would be rankings for different things such as: winning 50 games in a row or getting the title for 3 consecutive seasons. Surely such an option would be incredibly popular, since it is a well known fact that we, FM-maniacs, love all kinds of rankings and statistics!
Afterwards a chat about FM Live's marketing campaign, which is going to start in January, began. So far there wasn't much information about the game in any kind of media, but the reason is simple – the last few months belonged to Football Manager and SI did not want to create any conflict of interests among the two products. SEGA has signed a deal with a popular radio station talkSPORT where chats about FML will be held during the audition of Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs. Whereas on internet, and more specifically on SI's YouTube channel, a trailer will be released on the 5th of January, based on the campaign's slogan: “Play, win, rub it in!”. The ones present on the meeting got a chance to watch an unofficial preview of the video and I can assure you, that it's real funny and entertaining. Another interesting date for FML fans is 23rd of January, because then the game will appear in... stores! SEGA decided not to limit gamers only to an option of buying over internet and therefore decided to allow them to buy it the traditional way in most of the European countries. By purchasing FM Live in a shop a player will get a 4-month subscription (for a price of a 3-month one), but to keep on playing the game after the time passes, he or she will need to use the internet to transfer money to the makers' bank account. In the upcoming days a photo of the new packshot should be released – graphics went towards black colour, which looks quite impressive in the logo already.
After a break, time of talks on all possible subject and of eating all kinds of prepared sandwiches, once again we sat down in front of the scene. This time the biggest celebrities of Sports Interactive decided to show up there – including Miles Jacobson or Oliver Collyer – the time has come for question and answer regarding the game to the representatives of the producer.
...and our representative showing off with them
From the most interesting ones, an information that is worth mentioning is that FM Live will never take over FM, the latter is still the priority product, but Miles also believes that the two games attract two different groups of fans, and therefore do not have an effect on each other. There was also a question about the 3D view, if it is not going to increase the system requirements, to which the answer was that even if it will appear in FML – which is still not decided upon – then there still won't be any need to add anything to our computers (however, looking at the same promises and the jumpy 3D in FM 2009 on my laptop, it can be doubted...). They also mentioned that it's highly possible that the new version of the game – 1.1 – will appear in January. Afterwards the roles changed and now it was us who was questioned about FM Live, to check what is and what isn't working well. At last, a football quiz was arranged, with quite attractive prizes (jackets, caps and other gadgets with the game logo), but to answer the questions you needed to be born more than 40 years ago, know a lot about football and live in the UK, since most of the questions referred to that region (somehow you must explain to yourself such failure – jakubkwa). When leaving the pub each person present there was gifted with a copy of FM, which shortly will appear on our site as a prize to win.
Surely for myself it was an incredible experience – I got to see where the history of Football Manager series was created, meet the people connected with the game, and also get first hand information from the Sports Interactive and SEGA duet regarding their future plans for their youngest child. As we can see, the December date was not chosen by accident, since January is going to be very interesting. It's nice to see the involvement which those people just radiate with, and the will to interact with the fans, who for so many years have been giving them such valuable feedback on their products. We're waiting for more of those!
- First update from RUT and another Vetr's addition!
- [13.07] 17:13
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