Addictive Games, Games Design, Money and Business, The 80s

Innovation in Concept and Games Design

People, including Miles Jacobson, kindly mentioned that in its day my Football Manager was innovative in concept and design. There was nothing else like it and it set a new direction and genre of games. I was unfettered by having to match what is popular, and trying to vary on that. Before smart phones came along and disrupted the games industry business models there was a lot of “playing safe” with designs. It’s understandable. If you are investing millions into a game development, then you want to be sure of a return on it. Whilst being radical in design will perhaps (that is the point, perhaps!) produce a better game, playing safe and cloning a current games model will at least guarantee that a percentage of the market will like it.
I didn’t have to play safe then and I don’t have to play safe now. I am not trying to copy anything else, I am just trying to produce something I am proud of, and to my own standards. It’s pretty damned healthy motivation actually! 🙂

Addictive Games, Football Manager, Kevin Toms, The 80s

30 years ago Football Manager- did I go too far?

Did I go too far, putting my pictures on the covers and in the ads? I know what I believed and still believe. I believe that creating games is just as much an art form as creating music or writing books. And with those two things, because people like the style of the authors, their identity is published with the book, and often photos, especially with music. So I did the same.

Football Manager ZX81 packaging


Why wasn’t it widely done? Partly because the games writers at that time didn’t see that. Jeff Minter et al were exceptions. And, later, when corporate interests took over, they wanted to keep some of the writers quiet, under control. If those guys knew their worth they might leave, or ask for more money. In my case I was self publishing so I made the decisions.

As I used to say, if I like U2, I don’t care what label they are on, I just care that the new music is from U2. Imagine a world of music where it’s “New Rock Music 52” from Virgin, instead of U2’s latest, not so good.

Football Manager from the early 80s

So did I go too far? I don’t think so, although I was breaking new ground making many mistakes. Tell you something though, when I did that, as a person I was very shy, not confident at all.

(This one wasn’t my decision):

Addictive Games, Games, Games Design, Software Star, The 80s

27 years ago: Software Star was good

It was always overshadowed by Football Manager, but I played it a year or two ago on emulator and it is a fun game still. I like some of the ideas I had in it. Here’s a bit of trivia, one person wrote to me that the game was immoral because you could be more successful by using Hype instead of Honesty. So it was encouraging people to be dishonest!! Is Hype dishonest? There is a question.

Software Star title screen... monitors!!


Addictive Games, Football Manager, Software Development and Delivery, The 80s

30 years ago Football Manager – bugs

Of course there were bugs, not much software has none, but, I think the game was very robust. In fact, nobody ever reported a crash to me, and I never had to patch the original game.

This weekend, working on the new game, I spent a few hours battling what seemed like a subtle bug. It wasn’t. It was a flaw in the development tool, the interface designer. A few curses after finding it, it felt good that everything worked once more. 🙂

There is a fault in this packaging though:–

Football Manager 2 Expansion kit packaging
Addictive Games, Football Manager, The 80s

30 years ago Football Manager – Golden Joystick award

Runner up to the Hobbit, but these days, after living in New Zealand, that is kind  of nice!

Football Manager Golden Joystick


Merging an adventure game as classified with Strategy games seemed a bit odd at the time. Nice though. As time went on there were lots of versions of the game. The thing was, it was very popular. So, I was running the business, and I had to employ programmers to work with me on the conversions to other formats. The only problem coming out of this, was it was harder to write new games when I was so time starved, so busy!!