It’s good right now, I am enjoying the work. I have a clear cut set of function to get working. It’ll add plenty to the gameplay.
I was thinking about Retro vs Modern. I think, without trying to, I am producing a blend. The architecture is modern, the toolset is modern. I am not trying to be slick or flashy. My main focus is the gameplay.
But there is a retro element. That is, I am trying to recapture what made a 30 year old game successful. And that is WITHOUT re-producing it. The new game is based on, not derived from, that game.
I’ll be glad when the game is out, and I can talk much more specifically about the content!
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. 🙂
I was coding on the train this morning, it made me think of where I have written this game. By release, it will have been created on trains, buses, planes, in bars, restaurants, coffee shops, homes, offices, even shopping malls. – Also over a span of 18,000 kilometres, multiple cities, towns, countries and continents.
So I was looking at the instructions, they were pretty good I thought, and it prompted me to make my own comments on them, for a bit of light hearted insight!
Football Manager: instructions
INLAY CARD TEXT
There are three main parts to the game. On first loading, the
game will start at part 1. When restoring a previously saved
game it will restart at part 2. The following notes will guide
you through the various parts of the game.
<Nice and clear so far>
Part 1 – Starting the game
a) When your name is requested, type your full name as team
manager. <Full name, middle name too?>
b) No matter which team you choose to manage, you will start in
Division 4. If your favourite isn’t in the 64 included, choose
any as you will be able to change the name later on. <I don’t care who you are, you start in Division 4!>
c) Start at the beginner’s level and progress as you become more
skillful. <Some people never progressed, by choice>
d) You may have noticed (h=copy) in the bottom right of the
screen. When this is displayed, entering h will give a hard copy
of what is on screen on your ZX printer. DO NOT use this option
unless you have a printer connected. <Why did I choose h? Hard copy, that’s a dumb choice>
Part 2 – The main game
This consists of five phases. <Parts break into Phases, .. structure!!>
Phase 1 – Optional actions
a) Sell or list players – a list of players in your squad is
displayed. See “Important notes – Player attributes”. If you now
select a player to be sold, a team will make you an offer for
him. Note that if you refuse the offer there is a risk that
interested clubs will no longer want to buy him. You will see
<Sell, or list, such a range of choice>
b) Obtain a loan – You may increase your bank loan up to your
credit limit as follows:
Your division Credit limit
1 1 000 000
2 750 000
3 500 000
4 250 000 <You gotta climb the divisions to make the money… it were cheap in them days, aye>
c) Change team or player names – first you have the option to
change team names. If taken, the teams are displayed by
division. You may change any team names including your own.
Take care not to duplicate an existing team name. Colour control
codes may be included to give your team name a colour. This is
done by pressing CAPS SHIFT and SYMBOL SHIFT together to give an
E cursor, then pressing CAPS SHIFT and one of the number keys
0,1,2,3,4,5 to set the colour (black to green) shown above the
keys, then typing the team name.
<Setting the colour with shift keys, this was all pretty technical>
Next you have the option to change player names. If taken, you
can type your own choice of player names or perhaps even make
yourself player/manager! <Put yourself in the game, it was ahead of its time..>
d) Saving the game – to save the game to be continued at a later
time, take the KEEP option. Now prepare your tape recorder to
record on a blank tape and press any key to commence saving.
After about three and a quarter minutes the computer will ask you
if you want to play some more. Type yes to continue where you
left off or no to stop the game. <Aaah, saving on to tape, you could HEAR the game>
Phase 2 – Playing a match
a) Team attributes.
Energy, Morale, Defence, Midfield and Attack have a minimum value
of 1 and maximum 20. They are calculated as follows:
Energy is the average energy rating of all the players picked
to play in your team.
Morale is 10 at the start of the season and increases when you
win and decreases when you lose.
Defence is the total skill rating of all the defenders picked
to play in your team.
Midfield is the total skill rating of all the midfielders
picked to play in your team.
Attack is the total skill rating of all the attackers picked
to play in your team. <A nice range of stats, but no too much>
b) You may select your team – see “Important notes – Player
c) The match highlights are shown in 3D graphics. The home
team always plays from left to right and you play in the colours
you chose at the start of the game. The team with the best
attributes will often win, but there is always a chance of shock
results or giant killings, just like real football. <Well, 3D is a bit of a stretch, but for its time, I would say, yes>
Phase 3 – Result of match
Note that your home gate money increases when you win and
decreases when you lose. Your away gate money depends on the
quality of your opponents. <That’s true!>
Phase 4 – Weekly bills
a) Wage bill – the higher your division and the greater the total
skill of your players, the higher the wage bill.
b) Loan interest – is 1%% of your outstanding bank loan.
c) Weekly balance – is the profit or loss for the week. <Simple finances, but they had an impact on you>
Phase 5 – The transfer market
a) You are given the option of bidding for a player. The more
you bid in relation to his value, the more chance you have of
purchasing him. If your bid fails, the value of the player will
increase. <Made you work for it>
b) If the “No players for sale” message appears, you will have
to sell one of your squad in order to regain access to the
transfer market. <Keeping those big squads down>
The five phases are repeated until 15 league matches and all your
FA Cup matches have been played. Then the game moves to Part 3. <Hmmm I liked that>
Part 3 – End of season
a) The final league table is printed.
b) Your league success money, which is in relation to how high
you are up in the league, is allocated to you and displayed.
c) The top three teams are promoted, and the bottom three are
relegated from your division.
d) A new managerial rating is calculated for you depending on
your success so far.
e) New skill and Energy ratings are generated for all your
players. <Ooooh some people didn’t like this one, but it maintained the challenge in the game>
f) The new season starts at Part 2.
Restoring a saved game.
a) Load the program from your tape using LOAD “”. The program
will restart at Part 2.
When players are listed, several details are shown.
a) Defender, Midfield player or Attacker – is indicated by an
inverse video D, M or A respectively in the far left hand column.
b) Player’s name
c) Player’s number – used when selecting the player for various
d) Skill rating – highest is 5, lowest is 1.
e) Energy – in the range 1 to 20. The energy rating of each
player reduces by one for each match he plays in. It will
increase by 10 if he does not play in a match. Part of the skill
of the game is in resting the right players to increase their
energy without doing too much harm to the skill ratings of the
f) Value in – relates directly to the skill rating of the player
and the division your team is in.
g) Picked to play, Injured, Available for selection – indicated
by p,i and yellow space respectively in the far right-hand
column. NB: Injured players cannot be selected to play. <Nice and helpful :)> <99 TO CONTINUE>
Not easy to describe this. But it was important. Important to making it work, to making it succeed. I decided the setting, the football league, 4 divisions, plus a knockout cup, the FA Cup. I decided on what attributes your players would have. I decided what you could control. Then I pieced together the game balance. The balance between randomness and control, between complexity and ease of use. Various moving(mathematically) components interacting, finding the way to make it fun and easy but give the game plenty or range, so it did not repeat, was never predictable. And then it had to fit within the programming environment I had, and the small amount of memory.
30 years ago, the ZX81 game was doing well, the TRS80 Football Manager not so much. Then Sinclair came out with the Spectrum. So, I spent a busy couple of months enhancing the game. And one of the things I decided to do was add goal mouth action. So I got busy designing animated footballers on a 3D view of the football pitch. These footballers were stick men graphics, but they worked:
I built intelligence into their behaviour. It was simple but effective. Within the limitations, there was an infinite variety of things that could happen, so it kept the excitement, the uncertainty during the match.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
I have worked in many programming languages on many computers large and small. Some good, some bad. So I have experienced plenty.
Well Apple are winning with great product design right now but they are doing a great job with another product- the tools they provide to create iOS software. They are excellent and helpful. Like a well designed car feels good to use do does XCode and the rest of the kit from Apple