Football Manager, Games Design, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, The 80s

30 years on – the new Football Manager type game from me.

So what was it that made the original Football Manager catch on so well, and what can I do now? Well since I wrote it, I know a lot about what made the original tick. I know I made it very playable, very enjoyable, and it had a pace that kept people playing it. I know this because it was all deliberate. I was not new to programming, it was my profession, I was not new to games design- I had been inventing games, both board games, and ball games for years. So there was no random chance about what I put together.

When you are a programmer AND a games designer, you are in the best position to tune and design the game for sheer playability. There are no communication issues in the way. But, there is only you.

So now, I am completing my new Football Manager type game for the iPhone (name suggestions always welcome!).  On the iPhone, once more I am free, just like 30 years ago to program and design the entire game myself. So, if I have my way, it will have my strengths in design- simple to learn, fun, very playable. And of course my weaknesses- not flash on presentation lol!

I am close now, I am having fun, creating fun, and that is the way it should be. I will be very happy when the game is (soon) ready for release and I can talk about it and discuss what I have created.

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! 🙂

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.

Addictive Games, Football Manager, The 80s

80s Computer Games

Lots of people are interested in the era I was part of, the 80s when the games industry was so new, not even a retail outlet to be found at first. It was a great time, nobody knew what they were doing, just learning as they go, and the business men were also coders.

A time never repeated, great to be there.

Addictive Games, The 80s

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager Game 41 – More on it

Next week I will be developing the game further, I am looking forward to it. Whilst in the UK, it’s been good to meet a number of former players too, and reconnect with those times.  Seeing plenty of old computers at the Vintage Computer Club was also quite nostalgic. Time just drops away looking at an old BBC or Spectrum. I was present when a lovely old couple brought in a perfect looking BBC micro which had been carefully preserved by them and cared for. It was like somebody bringing something onto the antiques road show!

Addictive Games, Software Star, The 80s

Thinking about Software Star

I was reminded of Software Star today. It was a simple game of managing a software business. It captured some truth, and I played with my son a while ago. That was a strange experience, to play a game you wrote, so long ago, and find out it is still fun to play! And you can remember little about writing it, except the animated chart idea being a good one. Oh, and the thing about Hype versus Honesty, which was a good idea!

Football, The 80s, World Cup Football

1982 to 2009 World Cup New Zealand Coincidence

In 1982 I lived in England.
In 1982 I launched Football Manager
In 1982 the New Zealand team was coached by Kevin Fallon
In 1982 New Zealand reached the World Cup Finals
In 2009 I am living in New Zealand
In 2009 for the first time since 1982, New Zealand have qualified for the World Cup Finals
In 2009 the winning goal score was Rory Fallon
In 1982 Rory Fallon was born
Rory Fallon is the son of Kevin Fallon
Read Blowing away Rugby’s Dark Cloud!