Baggy eyes, transfer fees, spoilt superstars throwing tantrums, disgruntled fans calling for your noggin and parasitic sports journalists twisting your words into spitting diatribes of hatred. Yep, it's shouts from the dugout as Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2006 hits shelves today - probably in conjunction with millions of women around Europe weeping into their camomile tea and bitching about their "other half's" addiction to like female sufferers in five-hour phone conversations. Or something.
Anyway, we caught up with Sports Interactive managing director Miles Jacobson for a timely chat about the second instalment in the Football Manager series and also quizzed him on handheld and next-gen plans for the developer.
What's been the most challenging part of developing FM 2006?
Miles Jacobson: Development has actually been pretty calm this time round, although I've been abroad a lot during the process, so I might have missed some of the panic moments! The challenges have really come with balancing, particularly with all the new features, and getting the game out for the right date.
Which feature makes you most proud?
Miles Jacobson: There's a lot in there! I love team talks, the new training module is a lot of fun, and the tutorial is excellent for new and old users alike, but I'm most proud of the extra info available, and the different ways of presenting it, particularly through the news items
FM's got a dedicated and fanatical community - how have the fans reacted to your recent demo? What kind of feedback have you taken on board for the 06 version?
Miles Jacobson:The reaction has been really positive. The feedback from the beta demo was really useful for the latter tuning of the game, and we will continue to monitor all feedback to ensure that we can tweak things for any patches and updates that we decide to do.
What refinements have you added to the match engine?
Miles Jacobson: There are a few new tactical options, such as overlapping/swapping players, more target man options and "wasting time", but the match engine has, as always, had a bit of an overhaul both on top, and beneath the hood. Paul Collyer and Ray Houghton have been very busy. Oh, and there's loads of extra commentary as well.
The accuracy and authenticity of SI's player modelling is one of your great strengths - how difficult is that to maintain with all the players you have to model?
Miles Jacobson: We have an amazing team of researchers and scouts around the world, and strict guidelines that they work towards, then Woodg and his team at SI tweak according to what our database tools spit out.
What the most controversial decision you've made in FM 2006?
Miles Jacobson: Not insisting on a Panvision (Sega's Scandinavian distribution partner) "Football Manager 2006" Fussball table for everyone in the office. It would have left no more marketing budget for the whole region, but I still don't think I'll be forgiven by some in the team. We are getting one for our games/meeting room though!
What's the most difficult thing to model about being a footy manager?
Miles Jacobson: A wide range of personalities.
What do you think the next big advance for football management games will be?
Miles Jacobson: I expect our competitors will be reading this, so I'll keep quiet...
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