We all know and love Sports Interactive, the small but perfectly formed London developer which indisputably rules the football management genre ? first, for many years, with Championship Manager
and, more recently with Football Manager
. In recent years, SI has shown signs of diversifying from its status as a single-product company, albeit with ice hockey and baseball management sims with no appeal outside of North America. But now, following the company?s acquisition by publisher Sega last year, the company has finally taken the plunge and come up with a new and original franchise: Football Manager Live
Hmm, you may be thinking ? how original can a game with the words Football Manager
forming two-thirds of its name be? And it?s true that, in appearance at least, Football Manager Live
looks pretty much like Football Manager
, at least for the most part. But it is radically different ? essentially it?s an MMO, and it lets you play against real humans over the Internet.
SI Studio Director Miles Jacobson explains how the idea for Football Manager
came about as the result of a sabbatical enjoyed by Oliver Collyer who, along with brother Paul, originally conceived and created Championship Manager
: ?Oliver left the company a few years ago and went travelling for about 15 months. But he came back with an idea, for Football Manager Live
Collyer himself takes up the story, ?Football Manager Live
is about live play ? playing against human opponents all the time, with the emphasis on head-to-head play within user-created leagues and competitions. You could think of it as a combination of Fantasy Football, Football Manager
Jacobson takes me through a brief demo, after explaining that Football Manager Live
won?t be released until March 2008 (on PC and Mac), although the beta programme will start in a month?s time.
He tells me, ?When you?re playing, you have a few different display mode choices ? you can have it multi-windowed, with the chat-room split from the rest of the game window. The first thing it tells you is that you have an initial wage-cap of £100,000, and 24 hours to put a squad together. Once you?re in the game, you can get at least £150,000 in prize money per day, so that?s how you get more team-building money to play with.?
?You have all the players available from the Football Manager Live
database, and you can filter however you want to ? so I?m going to search for a striker with good heading ability and good finishing. This has brought up 12 pages of players, which you can sort by salary.?
The point of Football Manager Live
is that, because you play it against human opponents, the players you own become unavailable to everyone else in your game world. Jacobson says, ?The idea is that your team is fictional ? you choose the name, kit colours and so on ? but the players are real. You can even set the length and width of your pitch to suit your style of play.?
But there?s a twist, as Jacobson explains: ?When you sign players, their contracts only last for one month, but you can ?protect? five players in your squad, in which case their contracts will auto-renew, but they may ask for more money than before.?