Available: TBA
By: Staggan Ltd
Website: http://www.unitedsoccer.staggan.com




Interview by: Tommy L.


Years go by, people and the world around us change, but one thing remains constant – people’s love for soccer. Being the most favorite sport in the Old World and South America, and quickly gaining popularity in North America and Asia it has millions of fans all around the world. Various computer games were built around it: arcade, sims, managers, but never before has anyone thought about an online-only soccer game that would have fans all around the world playing together (and against each other) in virtual teams. Until now, that is, as United Soccer promises us exactly that.

Please introduce yourself and the company you work for.

¬¬†I am Martyn Hughes, Managing Director of Staggan Ltd, a small UK based developer. I am also responsible for this game's overall design and concept.

United Soccer seems like a¬¬†very interesting idea. What kind of competitions will you offer? National championships (in different countries, etc. players based in England will play Premier League) and European cups, or united European league, or something else?
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Thank you. Yes, we feel United Soccer is a very interesting concept and so far so do the general gaming community, which is always a good sign. The competitions we intend to offer will be quite varied. There will be normal leagues, much like the English Premiership, that will run on a country by country basis. Although people from outside countries will still be able to part in foreign leagues if they really want. There will be a tournament system, where teams singup to take part in a knockout competition. We hope these tournaments will be sponsored and involve prizes of either money or goods. We will also have pay to play tournaments, where teams will pay to enter and then a percentage of the entry fee's will be used as prize money. Finally there will be the world cup. We are working out at the moment the fine detail of how this will work, but we expect to ask the best players from each country to join a national team to represent their country.



Is the game based on soccer matches, like Fifa, or will there be elements of management games, and something new (fans, refrees...?) Can we expect the fans to interrupt some games?

The game will be based on the real world of soccer. Each player will be a single member of a team and play as if they were playing in real life. There will be management elements in the game for those that want to do that, or that side can be managed by one of the players. We don't want to say too much about management at this time, as we plan to make this quite a cool feature for those that want it, and want to keep it under wraps until all the aspects are totally complete. The game will feature referee's, and we may even include an option for someone to play the referee on the field, but this is still in discussion and if it does become a part of the game will not be at least until release two. As for fans interrupting, no, not really, although the odd streaker on the field may find its way into the final game, hehe. Not naked of course... heh.

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Rpg elements are unusual for soccer. But, can we expect special skills, experience levels, moral which depends from fans...?
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The rpg element comes from the statistics system and the news coverage we intend to run on the game world. We feel that changing skill sets based on experience may not be the best way to go, but this something that is still in discussion, along with our overall skills system. More on this will be announced later in development. We intend to make virtual stars of the game world's best players, by running an online news system about league games, tournaments and that kind of thing, which we hope will build interesting characters and see people becoming interested in how they are doing. This is also affected by another feature of the game world which is the virtual TV system. This is where a person can watch games that are being played without actually playing in them, much like normal TV. Hopefully people will start finding their favourite player and following their games as they do with real world players.
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National squads. Maybe players even can give offer to their country to organize European championships?
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As I said, this is exactly what we intend. It may well be worthwhile running a European Championship as well as a World Cup, and maybe even other championships for places such as Asia and America.
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Psychic pressure wasn't included in other soccer simulations. But, after long injury, or a few games without goal, striker (in reality) plays under pressure, and he isn't giving his best. I mean, he is trying, but...¬¬† Will you include that in United Soccer?

This is something that has been under discussion internally. Unfortunately, things like this are very hard to put into a game like ours. People who we expect will want to play this game will not want to be excluded from games because they were injured by another player, who could well have injured them deliberately. we also decided that changing performance based on mental states was not a good idea as it would mean the player was not in total control of his actions. It was however decided to be a good option for inclusion in the AI for the computer opponents in the single or two player game modes.
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In reality, there are Adidas balls, Nike equipment... So, can we expect some virtual trademarks in reality? One could imagine, uh, oh, teaser equipment or something like that. There are also a few other management factors which weren't included in any game (at least I think so). Like, national television with reports from games, forecasts (if weather will be sunny, players will wear special kind of sneakers, if it's rainy it is hard to control the ball), then game organization (transport your fans, maybe some poor teams don't have a good stadium...), corrupted referees... Are you going to include anything from this?

Yes, there will be a number of real trademarks in the game, unfortunately we cannot yet tell you who these will be, but they are very well known. We are also in discussions for a major branding partner and hope to bring news of this soon. One of the coolest features of United Soccer will be the interactive tv system, where a person can view the games currently being played or games that have been archived and stored on the servers for download. The tv system will allow camera control and picture in picture during games being played, and will also allow real time viewing of the statistics of the teams and players they are watching.
Weather will play a part in the gameplay, as a wet field will make the ball behave differently etc etc. However things like fans / corrupt referee's and such like will not at this time have a place in the game, as it becomes very hard to control and to keep things working correctly the actual games need to be played fairly in order to run a real world cup and have it mean something.



Training is important in real soccer. So, is it featured, and can it be used to improve discipline, ball control, actions, corners/free kicks, or even shape? When I already mention a shape, is there a chance that player became tired soon and that he can't run anymore?

Yes, training is very important. There will be a single and two player mode, and also a skills option to allow a single player to test his ball control. The only way to improve your play, will be to play, but there will be no additional help in the form of enhancements for those that play more. If we did that it would make it unfair on those that do not have the time to play as much, and we would find the system would favour long time players not the most skillful. Also, individual skill is only a small part of this game, the biggest factor will be how a team plays together, just like in real life.
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We do intend to include a fitness or current energy level though. This will basically mean that the more¬¬† a player runs in a game, the more he becomes tired and the slower he becomes, as this is very real to life and quite easy to make work without it being unfair.¬¬†

Will you feature doping tests and an option of using narcotics to play better? But, not like in other games (they always catch you :) ), but in another way. Computer random selected games where doping test will take place ?
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No, this is not a feature we want to include. We want this game and gameworld to be as people freindly as possible. We want all ages to be able to play and having drugs related content is not something we want to do, even if it is perhaps a element of the real world of soccer.
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Have many times you've seen on television that a player is fighting the referee? Can we expect something like that too?

¬¬†This is something we have thought about, but to be honest I can only see people doing this who are not that keen on playing the game. What else but a ban or a send off could be done to someone who assaults a referee ? And would they then want to continue subscribing whilst they are banned from playing ? We will however allow red and yellow cards for fouls. These cards will work in a similar fashion to the real world, resulting in send send off's and maybe single game bans.



How do skills depend from player's age? Young players are creative, fast, but unexperienced. When player get on next experience level, will he get new special moves (like dribbling for example)?

Again, because we don't want to prejudice the game against people who do not have all day to play, this is not an option. What we will have instead are a set of available skills which every player has access to. A player then has a number of skill points and can then select his skills and their level by spending his skill points on them. Every player gets the same points and can spend them on whatever skills they want. Every player can change their skills at any time, except during a game, but will only ever have the same number of points to spend as any other player. This should allow plenty of variety in player skills, whilst still keeping things fair.

In real soccer world, players are going from small countries to bigger for few reasons: to receive more money and to play better soccer (improve their abilities). So, can we expect virtual money and improving abilities if player plays in better league?

We already have a live transfer system. We expect players to move from team to team as they become better players and as they become more well known. But again, this is all based only on their playing skills. Also, we do see that it will happen that people will move teams for monetary reasons as some of the competitions we run will be for real money, and hopefully quite large sums.
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You mentioned a "TV system". A big problem in Fifa games were a commentators, so here's one suggestion. Every team¬¬† has their own television and their own commentators which send "short messages" about the game to their TV station and something like instant replay (highlights). He also can make interview with players. Then "somebody" decides which TV station covered the game best and extra-money goes to the team whose station it is?
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Interesting suggestion. We are currently ironing out details of the way news about the game world will be covered. This will include a newspaper type system which will hopefully feature player interviews and such like. Replays of all major games will also be archived for download on the game site, and people will also be able to save any game they play for later replay. However, more than that as you suggest would take us back into the realms of RPG type content, unless we have volunteers for reporters to work in the game, hehe.
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Are you going to include Croatian, or at least Former Yugoslavian league?
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Teams are free form. We are¬¬†not including any real life teams. All teams are formed, named and run by the players. Leagues will be based on areas and number of players in those areas. So if Croatia has a big enough subscriber base, then yes a league can be included for them.
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I believe that you're a soccer fan (that's one of the reasons that you're making a soccer game i'd assume), so if it isn't secret, your favourite club?
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Actually I have to admit to knowing nothing about soccer other than enjoying to play. But I did enjoy watching the world cup for the first time ever too. As for teams, I think I have to say Manchester United. I don't just admire them for their players, since David Beckham is the only player I know plays for them, and even my wife had to tell me that a while ago, hehe. I admire Manchester United because worldwide they have to have the biggest fan base and are the most successful team in terms of overall appeal that I can think of.
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Anything to add?
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I would like to say that we have been working on this project for some time now and that all through that time the concept has always been to make the gameworld purely skill based. Take away all the computer enhanced skills and time based additional skills and make it purely about fun, skill and teamplay. In this game you cannot win unless you play as a team, no matter how good the individual person is. We are also building chatrooms and community aspects into this game to try and bring back the social skills the computer game age is taking away from people. Too many people spend too much time locked away playing games in solitude. Well, now anyone can come and play, but by doing so they become part of a community rather than a recluse. We hope people will enjoy the community interaction as much as the game itself. We also feel that with all the adverse media attention games and game makers are getting with regard to violent and unsuitable content, we are showing games can be fun, stimulating and constructive without the blood and gore.

Good luck and thanks for chatting with me!


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