Addictive Games, Football Manager, Games Design, Kevin Toms, Software Development and Delivery, Software development tools, The 80s

30 years ago – I wrote Football Manager

So I launched it on to the market in January 1982. But before that of course, I wrote it. I bought a Video Genie to write it on. The Video Genie was a Tandy TRS80 clone.

The computer Football Manager was written on.

It was cheaper, but still expensive for me at the time. But, I believed that I would be successful with the game. Overall it was about a year of writing the game.

The game had its roots in many board game versions I had written, but at this time I was a professional computer programmer by day, so I knew what I was doing on the Video Genie. I chose to use the built in Basic because it was much better suited to a strategy game than the limitations of Assembler.

Just before going to launch, the ZX81 came out, and I realised the potential market it was creating with its low price, so I converted the game to run on the ZX81 too.

Football Manager was converted by me to run on this

That, was a very worthwhile decision!! – The sales on the ZX81 proved to be 100 times what they were on the TRS80/Video Genie. If I had only launched on that, the whole thing would not have got off the ground as I would have lost money on every advert placed.

So the ZX81 was critical to the early success.

More on the ZX81

More on the Video Genie

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


It’s worth putting that headline in caps. It was January 1982 that the first advert for Football Manager (my original game) appeared on the newstands in Computer and Video Games magazine.  30 years on, that foundation game has grown into a genre of computer games. My original game was very playable, and very popular, spending years high in the Gallup charts of the time. I still hear regularly from people who loved and still love playing it. I am proud of what I created.

I believe I can still write good enjoyable games and soon I will be launching a new Football Manager type game for the iPhone.

The first ever advert for Football Manager by Kevin Toms
The first ever advert for Football Manager by Kevin Toms

I thought it would be nice to do 2 things, show a copy of the original ad-

And to highlight a link to the pdf of the magazine here.

The magazine is the February 1982 issue but it was published in January 1982, so that is the first advert for Football Manager, 30 years ago. A life changing moment for me! 🙂

Football Manager, Games Design, Software Development and Delivery

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager game 57 -Estimation

57.62% complete. – That is what I wrote earlier  on Facebook. I have been involved in many projects, with many estimations. But they are mostly flawed with software development. They try to make developing software like building a bridge, something that is done with fixed materials, specifications etc.

But, often software is changed mid project, in fact so frequently that methods like extreme programming were invented to cope with that. The equivalent with building a bridge would be to change the materials half way across building the span from steel to a newly invented plastic.

So, I invented my own method to suit the way I am working on this game. And I am 57.62% complete. 🙂

Football Manager, Games Design, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager game 56 – Filtering design

It was interesting asking people what they wanted or needed in a Football Manager game. Everyone has different preferences and I have my own. In fact, a key part of putting the game together is filtering. I have plenty of ideas of what I want to do, and in the past I have generated a lot of work for myself with trying to implement all those ideas.

These days I am taking a different approach. I am ruthlessly filtering. Filtering out anything that is not truly essential. That is not so simple to do. Just like those that answered my questions I have my own opinions on what must be included. And it’s up to me to challenge every single one of those opinions!!

Football Manager, Games Design

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager game 55 – a Follow Up??

Craig asked me a question on my Facebook page. It was a question about the follow up, and building up expectations, referring to Jon Romero. Well I replied on Facebook but he raised a very good point. This game I am writing, is in a way a follow up to Football Manager, the original Football Manager written by me. But, I am not trying to do a follow up. In fact, for me, this is starting fresh, with design ideas and plans of what I want to achieve over time. When I put this game out, it’ll just be the start of the ball rolling.. 🙂

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

People ask me about Football Manager animation..

You know, the little stick men running around in the original Football Manager on the Spectrum. Sometimes people ask if the animation was a fixed set, or even believe it was. Well no, it wasn’t, there was an infinite number of possibilities of what could happen and the individual players were making decisions moment by moment what to do next. I did that deliberately so you would be in suspense.

Some people believed you could predict what was going to happen but the program code did not do that. Of course animation was limited in those days, and it was an add on to a strategy game to spice it up more. So, in some ways it wasn’t sophisticated. But within the memory limitations it did plenty. So I am proud of the design and code especially for it’s impact on the fun of the game.

Football Manager, Games Design

Simple versus Complicated Football Manager games

Which is best? I’d like to know what you think? My own view is it’s not whether the game is complicated, it’s where the complication is. It’s alright to build a game with complex software as long as the user isn’t exposed to that. A car is simple to drive even though there is sophisticated engineering underneath.  All that engineering is hidden and controls- steering, accelerator, brake, are standardised.

Games can be simple to drive too, but that doesn’t mean they are simple engineering. Creating simple to drive but fun, might be hard, but it is the right thing to aim for.