"The devil's in the detail and it's just very addictive - if you knew how we did that then we'd sell it in bottles," says Sport Interactive boss Miles Jacobson about the Xbox 360 version of Football Manager 2006.
SI's football management series has already proven a smash hit on PC/Mac and now the developer is confident that the spell-binding formula is set to dazzle 360 owners with its magic mix of accuracy, realism and depth. "It's just the way that in the game you really are able to believe that you are a manager," Jacobson enthuses.
As well as delivering Football Manager 06 on Xbox 360, Sports Interactive is also bringing a the series to PSP. It's a cut-down version of the full game, but Jacobson believes that's the correct route to take for a handheld FM experience. He explains that the goal for the PSP iteration "was to try and create a game that was going to be fun to play for five minutes and still fun if you're playing it five hours later" and he's quite happy to say he thinks SI has achieved that.
But what else do Football Manager 06 on Xbox 360 and Football Manager on PSP have in store? Over to Miles...
Is the Xbox 360 version of FM 2006 feature-complete with the PC version?
Miles Jacobson: It is feature-complete yes, except for the network modes which are different. We've got the Xbox Live stuff, which is obviously exclusive to the Xbox 360 version, and allows up to 16 players to play online at any time. The rest of it is feature-complete. If you don't have a HDTV then you can't use quick tactics or split-screen mode, simply because there's no room on the screen. It's definitely the first console we've been able do that on. It's actually a bit of an honour for us to be have been invited so early in the cycle to work on the machine, and it's been a lot of fun. We've learnt a lot as well which is really good and hopefully some of the stuff we've learnt will help the PC and Mac releases as well as the Xbox 360 releases. Certainly all the people with multi-core PCs are going to find Football Manager 2007 a lot faster than FM2006 because of what we've learnt through the Xbox 360.
What's new in the Xbox 360 version of Football Manager 2006? What innovative features and gameplay tweaks have you added?
Miles Jacobson: It's a bit prettier; we've changed some of the text dialogue boxes to be slightly more graphical so that it looks a bit more 'console-y'. As well as that there's also a graphical representation of player stats in there, so there's a few bits and bobs but we tried to make it as faithful to the PC releases as possible, mainly because the game is called 'Football Manager 2006'. We wanted it to be Football Manager 2006, where as with the PSP game it's 'Football Manager Handheld'.
What makes Football Manager 2006 unique from other console footy management games?
Miles Jacobson: The accuracy, the realism. The way that our match engine works is so in-depth. It might not be in 3D but you see everything that's going on, on the pitch, at any one time. We take time-splices between every 1/6th and 1/8th of a second of real football, where as the more arcadey games tend to take time-splices between every 6 and 8 seconds of football. So the devil's in the detail and it's just very addictive - if you knew how we did that then we'd sell it in bottles. It's just the way that in the game you really are able to believe that you are a manager, which is why I often describe the game as a Football RPG rather than a football management game.