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FSB EXCLUSIVE: Manager Mode Q&A With Marcel Kuhn

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Looking over Marcel Kuhn’s MobyGames CV I smile from ear to ear, and not just because of his football game pedigree. According to the site the first game he worked on was SSX Tricky, one of my favourite games of all-time (and what a way to start your CV, with one of the most-loved PS2 games that I can think of). Since then he has worked on five FIFA games, two FIFA Manager games and a FIFA Manager expansion pack, so if anyone is qualified to turn Manager Mode into a deeper and more fulfilling experience, this is the guy.

Thankfully he’s also ridiculously accomodating and after a barrage of questions from yours truly – Manager Mode’s #1 fan – he took the time out from his busy schedule to give us some answers. Thank you Marcel, the community salutes you.

[CD] Will the financial/sponsor system be overhauled? Currently you get so much money from sponsors at a lower-league level that you could literally afford one new player every single week, where in reality you would have very little money at your disposal.

[MK] The financial system has been rewritten for FIFA 10. The sponsors are still in the game, but they are not THE big source of income anymore. Each sponsor will pay you a small bonus off the bat and in addition offer you a win bonus that gives you some extra money. But the centre-piece of the new financial system in FIFA 10 is the board of your club. We’ve split the financial system into 2 parts, Club Budget and Wage Budget. Club Budget will be used to purchase staff upgrades, pay for player transfer fees and so on. Wage budget is used to determine how much cash you have left to spend on wages & your wage budget during the season will only change when you buy or sell players. When planning to get new players for your squad, you now have to balance these two budgets and the wage budget in particular will now make it harder to purchase new players. The only way to have the board grant you more Club and Wage Budget is to fulfill their expectations before the season is over. Another cool sub-feature related to the financial system is the Board difficulty level we’ve added this year. By changing the Board Difficulty level, users that are trying the mode for the first time can start off with a well-filled wallet and sign players right away, while seasoned Manager Mode veterans might challenge themselves by having less budget and work their way towards being able to sign a star player.

[CD] If you get fired, can you look for another job instead of seeing a “game over” screen and having to start a new game from scratch?

[MK] Once fired new clubs are going to try and hire you based on “Manager Reputation”. The higher your reputation is, the more likely it will be that better rated clubs are going to bid for your services. This will not only happen when you get fired, being successful will mean that you will be tempted with offers from other clubs at the end of the season as well. Manager Reputation will be used to judge your long term performance over multiple years, only the best managers will be able to clinch the level of reputation needed to coach top clubs such as Manchester United, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

[CD] Will you get job offers mid-season from other clubs instead of being end-of-season only?

[MK] Unfortunately we couldn’t get this feature in this year. That being said, new clubs will actually tempt you to change clubs at the end of the season, especially if your past season was a successful one.

[CD] Will your choice of jobs be restricted to your prestige (instead of being able to pick a job at any club you like)?

[MK] At the beginning you will be free to start with any club you wish, as we didn’t want to prevent users from living out their dreams of becoming the Manager of Manchester United or Chelsea. Managing these high-profile clubs will come with a trade-off though, the board will watch you very closely and have very high expectations. Any signs of you not being able to bring home silver-ware at the end of the season will result into drastic reductions of the “Board Confidence”, which means there’s a good possibility of getting yourself fired really fast.

[CD] Will you be able to become an international manager?

[MK] This is a tough one for me as we looked into this for a long time and tried to find a way to integrate this into FIFA 10 in a meaningful way. But given the state of the Manager Mode, we had to admit that we have too many fundamentals to fix before we can add this. That being said, I really like the idea of becoming an international manager and it not happening this year doesn’t mean that the idea is dead and off the table forever.

[CD] Will you be able to see the scores of other games in your league at half-time (so that you can keep an eye on the teams around you)?

[MK] This is very closely linked with us improving the result sim engine, and while half time results won’t be in for FIFA 10, we’ve made great improvements to the way we simulate results, match events and especially final league standings. A lot of factors will be taken into account when you simulate a game in Manager Mode, formations and even individual player skills will make a difference in the outcome of matches. This way we were able to fine-tune the system, get more realistic results, ensure that the right amount of goals are being scored and the correct amount of cards are handed out over the course of a season.

[CD] Will you be able to play pre-season friendlies?

[MK] At the beginning of each season you can fine-tune your starting 11 and tactics by playing friendlies, which your assistant coach will schedule for you. In addition other clubs will play friendlies as well, so you can judge their pre-season form before playing against them.

[CD] Will the pre-season friendlies aid the players’ fitness come the first game of the season or will they be shattered by that point (which isn’t what happens in reality)?

[MK] Player fitness will be affected in a similar way as last year, you play games which will tire out your players. We’ve tweaked this system to avoid players from getting tired too fast, as we’ve felt that professional players should be able to play a few consecutive matches before tiring out completely. In addition, you can use the pre-season friendlies to improve your players form, which is a new concept we’ve added to Manager Mode. Form was introduced into FIFA via Live Season last year, this year we will also apply it to Manager Mode. That being said, we will NOT use the real world player form we use for Live Season for the Manager Mode. The Player form in Manager Mode will solely be based on the performance of the player within Manager Mode. When playing well over a significant period of time, the player’s form will go up and increase some of the players abilities for the time being.

[CD] Will fitness throughout the season be more realistic? In FIFA 09 at lower-league level you found your CPU opponent’s entire team down to 10% fitness after barely any games.

[MK] The CPU did not rotate it’s squad based on fatigue last year, it based its decisions simply on overall. Therefore the top players got tired really fast and another, not less annoying, side-effect was that even when new players were purchased by the CPU, they were never introduced into the line-up. This year the CPU will rotate it’s squad based on overall, fatigue, injuries, suspensions and so on. One really cool thing is, that when the CPU is playing a game it thinks of as lower importance, i.e. Manchester United playing a 1st round cup game, it will rest it’s better players so they’re fit for the more important matches. You will see different CPU line-ups and better rested CPU players as a result.

[CD] Will the loans system be more realistic? In FIFA 09 you could only do two one-season loans, whereas in real life (in the lower leagues) you tend to see three or four loans a season, around three months each time.

[MK] We didn’t have a lot of time to work on the Loan system for FIFA 10. I was not aware that you can only do two loans per season, we will look into this issue and try to address it!

[CD] Will the staff system be tweaked? When starting as a lower-league team I always have to upgrade the fitness coach to at least level 5, that way you still have to rotate your players without them all being wrecked after one game.

[MK] The staff system especially in relation to fatigue has been tweaked. The fitness coach definitely had too much of an impact on the recovery rate, it is now more based on the conditioning of a player and since all players included in FIFA are professionals, their conditioning is of a very high standard.

[CD] Finally, will the scouting system be tweaked, allowing you to find real players instead of randomly created players? (For example, playing as a lower-league team your scout could look at reserve players of big teams looking for first-team football, or rising stars in leagues lower than yours looking for a step up.)

[MK] The scouting system remained relatively untouched. The one thing we fixed is, that you will get more “appropriate” players based on your team skill. That being said, there’s still a small chance that you will scout a gem, that will develop into a great players.

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