1. This is the first year that you haven't been developing for Eidos and have broken off with a new franchise. How has it been developing for a new publisher and how much pressure is added considering you now have to establish a new franchise against one of the most well known sports games on the planet?
I'd like to think that rather "not developing for Eidos" we are now "working with Sega", which sounds (and is) a lot more exciting. Sega have been brilliant to work with so far - there is no real pressure, just different expectations. At the end of the day, we own the important stuff, which is 12 years worth of code and data research. Eidos have had to start with nothing apart from a name. It will be interesting but we aren't really looking at what they are doing, as we aren't interested - we feel that Football Manager 2005 is by far and away the best game we've ever made, and we're happy with that.
2. Considering Eidos has decided to continue on with the CM franchise name how do you think the fans will respond to the new franchise. How will you lure those who only know the brand name, who aren't necessarily hardcore gamers following all the updates to the new game?
Sega's marketing plans are pretty special, and they should get people to know the score. Word of mouth, and interviews with sites such as yourselves are also invaluable. But if Eidos/BGS make a great game, then they deserve to do well with the brand.
3. Due to the fact you're creating a new franchise have you found yourself with a lot more freedom to create what you want without the expectation of remaining in the same sort of mould as a previous title or have you really continued what you were doing when working for Eidos? What are you hoping to fix in football manager that you saw as a problem with the final CM game you did?
We have looked at it as a new start, but once with an amazing legacy. Because we own the code and the data, we have been able to look at all areas of our previous game and improve on them, as well as giving the game a brand new look, and a more RPG feel with all the new media items. However, we are not creating a new franchise - the Football Manager brand has been around since 1982 in the days of the Sinclair Spectrum.
We didn't really see any massive problems with our final game with Eidos, just wanted to do a few things differently, and improve on other areas, but CM03/04 was a great game in our opinion, and probably what CM4 should have been.
4. With a recent shift in the powers of football worldwide most notably shown by Greece winning Euro 2004, have you chosen to somewhat represent this change and therefore allow players to win with teams often called minnows or will the teams such as Chelsea and Real Madrid still be the teams to pick if the player wants an easy ride into the champions league or some silverware?
We've always given people the chance to win things as minnows. That's the whole point of the game, isn't it?
5. Via Total Club Manager EA has successfully implemented the FIFA match engine into the game and fans are probably expecting the Football Manager and Championship Manager to do the same. Have you any plans in the foreseeable to implement a 3d engine into the franchise, and if not why have you chosen to ignore this feature that one of your main competitors can promote quite well?
We've ignored it because there is not a single 3d football game that comes anywhere near replicating a game of football. There would also be massive licensing issues (we can't even find photo's of a lot of the players that we have licenses to use their photo's, let alone be able to replicate them in a 3d world!). And, most importantly, if you can't see what your left back is doing whilst your striker is having a shot, then you haven't got a decent tactical view of the game, and unless you had a 100" Plasma screen monitor, that would not be possible.
6. One of the biggest problems in getting the management genre to the mainstream market other than those who are football fans is the difficulty of playing the game initially. Have you done anything with Football Manager 2005 to make the game easier for those who are new to the genre or to promote getting it on even more hard disks worldwide? How hard is it to balance the game for new players while retaining the challenge for veterans?
We don't do anything "difficulty" wise for veterans or new gamers, as difficulty levels don't really come into it when you are trying to make a simulation. However, we've made the user interface a lot cleaner and easier to use, as well as lots of options to "help" people get into the game, such as team reports from the assistant manager, and extra feedback from him as well. You can use your assistant as a guide, basically. Adding more countries leagues certainly keeps the veterans happy, as it gives them a challenge beyond the norm - Peruvian league, anyone?
7. What visual improvements have you made for the new game over championship manager and have you adjusted any of the presentation aspects of the title like perhaps adding a commentator for matches being watched in real time by the player?
The game has a completely new look, so we've made lots of visual improvements, particularly with the split screen match engine. There are better sound effects, but no commentary, no. We had commentary in one of the versions of CM2, and it just didn't work at all. If we were to do commentary, we would have to have at least 12 different commentators in each country, as it would get very boring, very quickly. So that would be around 200 commentators needed to do over 500,000 words. I don't think that's particularly plausible seeing as very very few people would use the feature. Maybe we're just strange at SI, but the first thing we normally do when we get a new action game is turn the vocal commentary off!
8. Have you any plans for multiplayer to be added to the franchise in the foreseeable future, if so what would it entail, and if not why not?
Multiplayer has been in our game for years. Up to 30 players are supported, although we've had a lot more than that playing the game online in the past. We don't have organised servers - you just set the game up yourself, and play with friends, but it's great fun.
9. For those who are undecided between the two games what do you think will make your game standout over the Championship Manager name and is there anything you wish to comment about which we have not covered?
I think that people should play the demo's of both games, and any other games that are coming out this year, and then decide which one they buy. We are supremely confident that it would be ours every time