Football Manager 2008

Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson manages our balls

Come this Christmas Sports Interactive's latest game in its successful Football Manager series will be hanging out at your local games emporium and demanding your hard earned cash.

Pulling out several stops, SI has introduced over 100 new features into Football Manager 2008 and the game's fully updated for the new football season. Over 5,000 playable teams are present from around the globe that can be taken through more football tournaments than you can shake a winner's trophy at.

Miles Jacobson, studio director at Sports Interactive, tells us more...

So what's the secret of your success?

Miles Jacobson: Have we been successful? As far as we're concerned, we've only just begun, but we're not doing badly so far I suppose.

We've managed to get this far by listening closely to the people who play our games, and mainly employing people who play our games, so that we can make sure that we keep making them better each year. It's nice to be no.1 in our "market", but we're far from complacent about it.

So no real secrets, just making games that we want to play, and having a passion to keep on raising the bar.

What would you say is the Football Manager series' defining feature?

Jacobson: The "one more game" factor. It's a very hard game to put down once you get going.

Each new iteration of Football Manager must throw up its own unique set of challenges. What's been the biggest challenge with 2008 and how hard is it to better what you've done before?

Jacobson: There are always hundreds of ideas floating around the studio, along with the ideas from the community as well, so the biggest challenge "bettering" the game is adding in features that do add to the game, rather than detract from it.

The biggest challenge this year has been improving the match engine even more than last year, which Paul and Ray [Houghton] have succeeded in pretty damn well. The skin has also been a challenge, as there have been quite a few changes based on us watching people playing the game and usability studies, from which we learnt a lot.

There's so much new stuff in the game, or stuff that's been re-written, so testing is a challenge too!

So how about the new features in Football Manager 2008 that you're most proud of? What are they and why pick them out?

Jacobson: My favourite is a real simple one, to the point that we don't understand why it wasn't in there sooner, but it's the ability to play around with your transfer and wage budgets so that if you're not spending a lot on wages, but have reached the top of your transfer budget, you can swap some wages for transfer money and vice versa. Very simple, but very clever.

Confidence is also one to be proud of, as you can, at any time, see exactly what the board and supporters think of your progress, which helps you keep on top of how you're doing, and what you can do in some areas to help the team improve.

There are, once again, over 100 new features though, so it's pretty difficult picking things out, and my answers would probably be different if you asked me tomorrow.

Can you tell us about the refinements you've made to the match engine and how important those enhancements are to the game experience?

Jacobson: The style of football played is ever changing, and we have to adapt to that each year. It's difficult to put into words where the changes have gone into the match engine, but it's a lot more open to certain types of tactics and styles of play now.

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