As I mentioned in my article discussing the eight new tactical roles, Sports Interactive have been pretty heavily plugging Football Manager 2014 through Twitter and through videos from Studio Director Miles Jacobson. His most recent video can be found below. Recommended watching if you haven’t already.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve been fairly vocal in my support of sliders over the past few weeks and so I wanted to put forward the case for sliders in the face of mass-criticism. I’ve also managed to convince one of those more firmly in the anti-slider camp, @rtherringbone, to give the other side of the argument. He has a fantastic blog over at When Seagulls Follow the Trawler which has managed to keep me [somewhat] sane over the Summer when a number of quality FM blogs appear to have gone on something of a hiatus. Definitely check it out.
The Case for Sliders
Over the past six months, since I created this blog, I’ve thought a lot more about the intricacies of Football Manager tactics and their creation. And one of the things I’ve happened to use a lot is the sliders. Now, the rtherringbone’s of this world will tell me that, actually, I can still use the player instructions in such a way that is actually more realistic than the sliders were. But is it more realistic, really?
Are we so naive and ignorant to believe that a manager will simply tell his players to “push forward” or “stay back”? Is there no grey area? In the era of the £100million transfer of a footballer, money is flooding into the game. And with this comes increased analysis of games, and in particular, the players themselves. Are we really going to assume that a manager won’t fine-tune his team in such a way to ensure that it plays exactly how he wants? I completely understand that not every manager is that meticulous, but removing this choice is just a step backwards. I also understand that players may not follow the instructions exactly in real-life, but such a system can still be implemented with sliders.
But with player instructions, there’s the issue of the players themselves not actually knowing what they’re supposed to do. Can you imagine Tato Martino asking Sergio Busquets to play as a ‘half back’ and expecting him to carry this out effectively? No. Martino would give Busquets a set of specific instructions which would then define his role. His role would not define his instructions.
With the removal of sliders, we’re left not knowing what each role does. We’re left having to trust SI’s somewhat lacklustre role descriptions. And when they’re releasing ambiguous new roles such as the ‘half back’ and ‘engache’ into the wild, it’s more important than ever that we know exactly what they do.
Having played Football Manager and its previous iterations for over a decade it’s clear to me that actually, they do a really good job. They’ve managed to wangle tens of thousands of hours of playing time out of me. But sometimes they do make mistakes. And whilst I haven’t yet played Football Manager 2014 or accessed the new system for player instructions, I’m not enthused by the potential changes. However, I’d absolutely love to be proven wrong. Time shall tell if I am.
And the case against…
Now that Sports Interactive’s latest video appears to have effectively announced that sliders will not feature in Football Manager 2014, what does this mean for the way we play the game?
My approach in the Tactics Creator era has been to embrace the “new” system, but to still refer to sliders to understand what the base instructions of each Role and Team Instruction are. I use these as a visual aid, and never actually stray from the default settings in order to ensure that Shouts function as intended.
Losing sight of this detail will certainly be challenging, and asks a lot of the user base to “read football”. Furthermore, it asks a lot of the 2D and 3D graphical representations of the Match Engine to enable this “reading”. It promises to be quite a learning curve.
However, the arguments I have seen in favour of sliders as a means of tactical interface are fundamentally flawed. I repeatedly see the word “realistic” used in conjunction with “sliders”; for me, this is utterly wrong. Sliders are a legacy of a bygone age where there was no alternative interface. Since the Tactics Creator arrived, the clock was ticking for sliders.
The notion that 5% incremental changes are realistic and remotely resemble “real life” is farcical. There is no doubt in my mind that Shouts and Player Instructions better represent the way that player tactical instructions are conveyed in real life. In real life, do we see Klopp, Guardiola, Bielsa, Conte or Benitez asking a player to do 10% more of this, 5% less of that? Of course not.
As far as Roles are concerned, it was put to me recently that the idea of saying “You should play as a False Nine” or “You should play as a Shadow Striker” is nonsensical. What is the alternative? What is the slider way of achieving the same? Is that realistic?
Template Roles give us a shell, and it then appears that in Football Manager 2014 we can use Player Instructions to tailor everything that we could in the slider age, albeit with fewer increments. This is a step forward for the Tactics Creator – another layer of detail, and it forms part of a holistic package of Roles, Instructions and Shouts.
I applaud and embrace the direction that the game is heading in. It is a “simulation” of a very dynamic sport, not a bean-counting exercise of moving sliders up and down a notch or two. The new interface sounds as if it is more intuitive than before, and I believe that the relationship between Role, Instruction and Shout is more in keeping with the sport itself.
I reject the idea that Football Manager is being “dumbed down”, or heading into FIFA Manager territory. In my opinion, fear of change and a perceived loss of control drives the opinions of pro-slider FM’ers. At the end of the day, the proof will be in the pudding. Until we actually get our hands on the game, everything is pure conjecture.
Of course, as R mentions, we absolutely don’t know what we’re going to get. This article is based on less than a minute of video and a lot of this is wild speculation. But we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are sliders unrealistic? Or is the new player instructions system far too primitive in comparison to the complication of new real-life techniques? Tell us.