Friday, August 25, 2006

Tony's Mate's a Nonce

I'm having a bit of a block at the moment. I've had a cold all week which hasn't helped matters, and when I sit in front of the computer I can't do any fucking work. It's rather irritating.

Still, I did get all the nations entered. The final count is 274, which is rather large. 207 FIFA nations, and then a bunch of oddballs. Should be fun managing the likes of Catalonia.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It Begins

Saturday. The greatest day of the week. The lie in, the free time and thankfully now the football yet again. Sure, the English season has already kicked off for all those Football League clubs, and even the local clubs here have started their League Cup (Newry won, whooo!). But today marks the return of the full six hour Soccer Saturday, and start of AFC Telford United's league season. And Match of the Day, of course.

It's marvellous, really. So I'm off to enjoy it. And maybe do some work too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

FA Cup Is Here Again!

Ah, competitions. Let's hope they all work.

With a bank holiday weekend coming up in a little over ten days, I'm going to work hard to make sure that I can get the data editor working regarding competitions. Already I'm able to create the damn things and tweak various simple values - the number of entrants, when the competition should be reset, that sort of thing.

The actual structure of each competition is like playing with Lego, except without the cool ability to make a large sword and smash it over your friend's skull, showering both of you in sharp plastic blocks. Lego is ace.

Getting a basic competition built is simple, and after that I've to redo all that horribly complex qualification stuff that bled my mind dry earlier in the year. If I can get it all done for that Friday though, I've got a "fun" saturday coming up.

In that one day, I plan to go from having a bunch of raw data to having working competition structures. One day, a huge boost.

But not this Saturday. This Saturday, the season kicks off for those teams at the top, and loads of teams at the very bottom. While the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool battle it out for early leadership of the Premiership, exotic sounding sides like Deeping Rangers and Ramsbottom United will try to make it through the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.

My tip to go the furthest, based on nothing more than the name of the club alone? The mighty Diss Town, away at Tring Athletic. If the former isn't an entire team full of Ali G lookalikes, I may retract the tip.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Related Clubs

In football, clubs aren't standalone entities. In addition to many clubs having close ties with companies (such as Philips Sport Vereniging, better known as PSV Eindhoven, or lowly Airbus UK in the League of Wales), there are plenty of clubs that have links with other clubs. Manchester United, as many know, have a relationship with Royal Antwerp, while elsewhere both the Metrostars and Austria Salzburg have been purchased by Red Bull, controversially changing team colours and renaming the sides to Red Bull New York and Red Bull Salzburg respectively.

So what do those relationships mean? Well, Antwerp's case is clear - United regularly send out youngsters on loan to aid their development. For the Red Bull sides, things have yet to fully materialise. It is possible that players could move between the sides, and with a common ownership I wouldn't be too surprised to see that their financial status mirror each other. Regardless, it's a tricky situation.

This becomes pertinent when regarding the game. No simulation of world football would be complete without organising relationships between the clubs, and while each individual case is often complex, there are general factors that I can use.

The first relationships I have in the game are the obvious. Rivalries exist between clubs, of differing strengths and reasons, be they sporting, political or simply based on location alone (a number of rivalries encompass all three, of course). Clubs can be Successors, in that they were formed out of an existing or collapsing club. FC United and AFC Wimbledon are two famous "successor" clubs formed by fans who feel the original side have mistreated them for too long. AFC Telford United or 1.FC Lokomotiv Leipzig are sides borne out of the ashes of clubs who have fallen under financial strain. In these situations there is often great debate as regards the ownership of the history of the original club - AFC Wimbledon and Milton Keynes Dons both claim the history of the old Wimbledon. Personally, I side with AFC Wimbledon (with a little foot in the "Wimbledon are dead and there are two new clubs" camp) but if the game's to be encyclopaedic, I need to find an official answer.

And of course, there are mergers. These "successor" clubs are formed out of a merger of existing clubs, or perhaps just absorbing a single club into the existing powerhouse. Kinda like Loco Roco. Rushden & Diamonds are a merger club, formed from the non-league sides Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds.

The game will not feature any mergers, splits or new clubs itself during the course of play. The technicalities of such features are pretty simple, but club names are hugely complex around the world. What applies in England will not stand in Germany, and is utterly useless in Brazil.

You can, however, form your own clubs in the game, at any point (provided you have the cash).

Feeder Clubs will be in the game, in a greatly simplified format at first. As described above, a feeder club link will allow for the parent side to send their players out on loan to the feeder, adhering to all the transfer rules of the governing bodies involved. The parent side can also have first option on any player in the feeder club. As the intricacies of feeder clubs become more apparent, I'll be expanding on the situation, but a basic implementation is a must. Feeder sides such as Real Madrid Castilla, which are essentially part of the whole Real Madrid club, will be implemented as second or third sides of the main side.

And lastly, clubs can be linked Financially, enabling potential situations like the Red Bull Empire.

And remember from Star Wars - empires are the bad guys.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Outside the mainstream

Derry City just beat Gretna 5-1, away from home. A lot of people are very happy in Ireland right now. A fair few people in Scotland are probably in shock. And some people in Northern Ireland are a little scared because if Irish league clubs continue to improve, the Northerners are screwed in the Setanta Cup.

Elsewhere, Drogheda United, also of the League of Ireland, slipped to a narrow defeat at Norwegian side IK Start, whilst Welsh side Llanelli were defeated by the same scoreline by Odense BK of Denmark.

Now, this blog isn't a football news website so why am I telling you this? Well, it's because the only game that was actually available to watch on the television tonight was Newcastle United's dour affair with Lithuanian side Ventspils.

TV hates the little guys. The media just don't care. And as a result the average football fan in England's streets remains eternally blinkered about anything that's ever occurred outside the scope of the Premiership or Champions League. When unfashionable clubs finally do get on the box, they're constantly patronised to great lengths by commentators who put in a half arsed research attempt. When Liverpool faced Total Network Solutions in the Champions League first qualifying round - for many people the first time they even knew there was more than one - the folk in the studio just about managed to get the name of the club right. When a part time non-league side faces Premiership opposition, it doesn't matter how much the lowly representatives eulogise about their club's strengths and the appeal of the non-league game. All the papers want to know about is which one's the plumber.

It's about ratings, it's about drawing in the viewers for advertising revenue, and in that respect you can forgive the likes of ITV and five for not going to great lengths to snatch at the opportunity to cover Gretna's charge through Europe (that the game was picked up by Irish channel Setanta Sports is only some consolation, as I don't have it). The BBC, unhindered by commercial restrictions, could well have picked up Llanelli's game against Odense - an away game, it's not exactly going to stop the hordes from flocking to the stadium to catch the action. The travellers will always go.

So what about the game? Well, it's an area I want to pay attention to. Not only do I want to give plenty of exposure to the teams people rarely hear about, I want to bring forth the full experience. Playing a football game, as I've said in the past, can often be a sterile affair. Games rarely seem to note the difference in quality between the competing sides, so when I score a late equaliser with Yeovil against Liverpool in FIFA 2005, I get the same celebration as if the roles were reversed.

There's a lack of emotion. Derry City right now are over the moon. It's their third European win on the trot (the other two coming in the first qualifying round against IFK Goteborg, no mean feat) and only their fourth ever. The travelling fans were ecstatic throughout the second half, there's a party atmosphere throughout.

A game needs this. Football such as this is all about the passion. If it's missing, you've missed the point.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Overheating Fun

Being a geek, I have two computers at home, a laptop and a desktop. This gives me the ability to work regardless of what my girlfriend wants to do - and as she quite likes Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 at the moment (which she's happily modding and displaying a much greater understanding of 3D modelling than I ever have, though she still refuses to accept a geek label), I'm stuck with the laptop.

Pesky integrated graphics.

The laptop is four years old. It's still quite powerful as far as laptops go, although the memory is a bit of a bottleneck, and as such I can happily make my game on it. Or at least, I used to. For now, my damn laptop overheats far too much and shuts off. A laptop cooler is sitting in the local post office. I have to go out of my way at lunch tomorrow to pick it up. It had better bloody work.

It's irritating because it means I can't work using the laptop without fear of either breaking it or losing my work. And the fecking thing proved far too difficult to open for my puny little hands. That'll have to be fixed.

Still, in other news the editor is mostly working now, and I'm going to spend plenty of time over the next month getting competitions in order. Quite looking forward to that, as it's becoming very boring stuff recently which has led to posts telling you to all bugger off, and overheating laptops.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


As ever, I've got nothing to report on the basis that it's all incredibly boring stuff. Things get fixed, things get broken, things get changed, dropped, and poo-pooed on.

So there really isn't much to say these weeks, which is perhaps a bad thing. Maybe I could be like other bloggers and start reviewing other games for the hell of it, except that I don't have the inclination to go cramming shite into my schedule, what with shit games being infinitely more fun to read about.

So essentially you'll probably have to wait until I'm doing something more interesting before the blog actually becomes worth your time.