This interview was conducted just before the release of the game, but we couldn’t publish it until today.
Gerald: Yes, of course. For our German Anniversary edition of the game we even wrote a book that describes the story of the game in great detail. Especially looking at the old pictures was very emotional. Many of us got grey hair!
2. On the official forum you were asking community for 3 wishes and for strategy choice related to FIFA Manager 11. Tell us how big game percentage constitutes fans wishes and if you follow strategy chosen by fans?
Gerald: This depends. In some years we have used exactly what was suggested, in other years we can take only one of these. Sometimes this is not very accurate also, look at the online mode. It was always top of the list, but people don’t always have the same idea how such an online mode could look like. Then when you create categories, the percentage in every single one is low and you might never get an online mode.
3. Do you think that new tactics elements will make this game more realistic?
Gerald: Yes, of course. It’s now a mixture of the old 5×5 system and the simplified system. I hope that everybody will like this.
4. After a few years break, Football Fusion is back in the game known currently as Team Control. What persuaded you to restore this feature?
Gerald: This feature was purely driven by fans who wanted this back since years. I am really pleased it’s free for all FIFA owners.
5. This year you have decided to reduce the number of betatesters. Don’t you think that this decision may unfavourably influence on the game quality?
Gerald: No, in fact in will increase it. The problem with the Beta testers is that many people want to become a tester and after they got selected you never hear a word of them. In this case they only cause a lot of work. You have do some contractual work with everyone, you have to make stats how many bugs they find, you must try to motivate them, send them updates etc. In the end about 70% of the testers don’t care and this can go down to 5% for some games. Therefore a focused test with trusted people is the best you can do. The selection process just uses math, there is no personal element in it. This means that people who can write nice letters have no advantage.
6. Game bugs are nowadays a standard situation. Can we expect this year a game update immediately after a game release again?
Gerald: Not immediately, but there will be updates as usual. But last year we did very well here. Not only was the number of problems very low compared to the past – we also did 5 updates over the entire year with lots of new features – just think of the World Cup update. In the general the industry improved regarding bugs, everybody knows that quality is important.
7. Where did you derive ideas for new features from?
Gerald: At first there are “very big” features defined by our general strategy (e.g. “Online Mode”). Then there are big features, selected mainly by the users from a list by polls (e.g. “Set Piece Editor”). This list hardly ever gets new items on it. These features are all well-known, it’s just that someone has to implement it and that this takes months.
Then there are middle-size features, some from the design team, some from the forum. Then there are additions to existing features. Sources are our game designers, QA, and the forums. Another source are our pack talents, the managers on the box. They all play the game and we then discuss what we can improve.
Another source of ideas is the focus test. About 5-10% of the ideas come from this.
Finally there are little improvements and they come from everywhere. From the design team, the engineers, the QA department, forums, mails, personal contacts to players etc.
Gerald: We had more than 75,000 players in total. For this year we would like to reach 100,000. We were not totally happy with the result last year, given that the mode was totally free. So if only less than 25% of our users start the mode at least once to give it a try, then this shows that our focus should go back to offline again. For FIFA MANAGER 11 we nevertheless continued to improve the mode as planned and we are confident to see higher numbers. Also we think the mode is great fun – every time we play it’s a pretty cool and competitive experience.
9. When you plan to implement new feature you determine a time for its realization. What if you don’t get everything done on time? Do you resign from such feature or maybe do you change plans (e.g. implementing such feature in Update)?
Gerald: During the development we frequently update the plan. At any given point we try to maximize the impact of the new features on the game. Sometimes a feature gets replaced, sometimes a feature gets added, sometimes cut. Usually cutting is not that bad, because all the really important features are implemented at the beginning. Then it’s better to fix bugs instead and not to press this feature somehow in the schedule.
10. Year after year studios such yours increases staff due to the pressure of work. Does your studio do the same?
Gerald: On average we increase the team size every year by one person. This year it was Sebastian who is responsible for scripting and for Live Season.
The biggest challenge is that so many tasks get just a matter of course. The data must be updated, the graphics, the league systems, the shirts and logos etc. A lot of work simply goes into keeping the game up-to-date. This gets worse the bigger the game gets and on the forum nobody says: „Oh, great, that you have done all this work AGAIN.”.
On the positive side the sales of FIFA MANAGER are very stable. But we can only justify a bigger team if sales go up, so it’s in the gamers’ hands.
11.There are now 10 years of FIFA Manager series behind us. Can you ensure us that you’ll still have ideas for next FIFA Manager releases? Could you tell us how will this game look like in next few years?
Gerald: Yes, of course. There is no lack of ideas. Actually we have already prepared a three-year plan that includes ideas for the next years. But of course as soon as a better idea comes up, then the plan will be adjusted. Nevertheless such a plan is important to give the game a general direction.
At the moment I can’t talk about the content of the plan, but this should be understandable.
12. Will the rebuilding of tactics section finally contribute to a better 3D mode? I mean will tactics orders be better represented in 3D match and will players be listening to our orders properly and moving on the pitch directly in the way we demand?
Gerald: That’s the plan. The new tactics section is easier to understand and gives you more control over the player on the pitch.
13. Will the next-gen engine be implemented in FIFA Manager? If yes, please say when? Maybe we’ll see the next-gen technology in FIFA Manager 12?
Gerald: At the moment I can’t talk about next year’s game. 😉
14. For you, as a person responsible for game database, the forthcoming FIFA Manager release is not jubilee. However I believe that the same as Gerald your attitude towards this years’ edition is different than to FIFA Manger 10, so which of your ideas were used in FIFA Manager 11?
Adrian: You´re right it was a special year. I tried to influence Gerald in designing the new transfer market by giving feedback all the time. My baby in FIFA MANAGER 11 is the new rating system.
15. Adrian, there are big changes in level system in this years’ edition. Can we expect a really big differences in players evaluation in all licensed countries?
Adrian: Yes of course, we spent many weeks in re-evaluating all players. Note it´s definitely the most realistic rating system in FIFA MANAGER history. Messi is the best player in the world but he is no longer like a machine as he was in former years, for example his heading skill is just normal (62).
16. Besides an update of already purchased leagues you have added only 6 leagues. Why didn’t you buy more league licenses?
Adrian: We receive the licenses by the FIFA game, that means if they sign a new league (for example Russia last year) we are allowed to add this league. If they don´t sign new leagues we won´t have no new licenses either.
17. Special Edition of FIFA Manager 11 includes Live Season feature. Who will be helping you on regular leagues updates? Researchers or maybe you have created a special team inside BF who will be responsible for that?
Adrian: We created a new team within Bright Future, lead by Sebastian Raetz, who´s also responsible for our scripting improvements in FIFA MANAGER 11.
18. How in your opinion will the FIFA Manager database be looking in next few years?
Adrian: We´d like to increase the amount of players but we have to await what FIFA does. The main goal is to increase the quality of the database. We already implement the database problem tool which checks every single attribute and helps us to increase the quality of the database year by year.
19. There is an option in FIFA Manager 10 to be used for reporting bugs in database. How many people use this option and help you in this way?
Adrian: I don´t have a number of the e-mail we received. Many of these e-mails were just empty, but there were several e-mails that really helped to improve the level of quality. Some guys that often send good feedback are now part of the database team.
20. The new version of Editor introduces a lot of new options including e.g. the possibility of converting FIFA Manager 10 database into FIFA Manager 11 version. Do you think that the new Editor still misses any other useful option?
Adrian: Our Editor is doubtless the best editor tool in the genre. Nevertheless the editor is still not perfect. We have several ideas for the upcoming years to improve the editor and the database.
21. Now when database for FIFA Manager 11 is already completed. What are you together with Oliver now focusing on? Eliminating bugs in database or in the game?
Adrian: FIFA MANAGER 11 is now released and it´s a really interesting time for the database team. We received really good feedback regarding the quality of our database. As from now on we focus on our forum and check the feedback threads. In the German forum the feedback thread is already 8 pages long.
22. Adrian, we know that you are FIFA game fan, how would you rate this years’ release which is perceived by reviewers as the best edition in history?
Adrian: FIFA 11 is really brilliant! It´s definitely the best FIFA game in history. I often play FIFA in my freetime with some colleagues of Bright Future, but I usually loos against Sören 😉
23. How do you think, will the implementation of next-gen engine in FIFA Manager contribute to a better 3D mode (tactics orders better represented in 3D match, players listening to our orders properly and moving on the pitch directly in the way we demand)?
Adrian: The new FIFA 11 engine is rather different to the one we use. Naturally it would be awesome to have the latest engine but we spent so many hours in tuning our “old” engine. Let´s await the future.
24. We know that thanks to new person in your studio you did many improvements in scripts for German competitions. We also know that scripts for over 15 other countries have been overhauled. Could you reveal which countries and what improvements have been made?
Adrian: We corrected and refreshed many league settings like number of teams or relegation/promotion rules because each year there are changes in miscellaneous countries. We implemented some Super Cups, updated National Cups and added the new promotion rules of the spanish leagues.
In conclusion, we want to thank for your time Gerald, Adrian and Soren, who coordinated everything.
Interview conducted by Lukas Tomczyk and Kily.
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