Available : Q4 2004

Football Manager 2005 Interview
   Interviewee: Dusan Stamenkovic, Head Researcher for Serbia and Montenegro
   Interviewer: Tomislav Lovrekovic

1. Please introduce FM 05 and features of it to readers of GamersHell.com.

   Hi, my name is Dusan Stamenkovic. I have been working for Sports Interactive Ltd since 2000 at the position of the Head Researcher for Serbia and Montenegro and the Local Research Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYR of Macedonia.
Football Manager 2005 is the first game in FM serial, but it is also a logical successor of the game that was developed by Sports Interactive Ltd all these years (CM Series, now property of the Eidos). The reason I call it a logical successor is that Sports Interactive Ltd has the rights of the game’s engine and the game’s precious database (which many of the fans see as the key of the game’s success). The game brings a large number of innovations on every field.

Detailed information about the game itself can be found on www.sigames.com and www.footballmanager.net websites. We all hope that the game will be a massive success as we have been working hard (and we still work) in order to make it the best football management game ever. When SI and Eidos parted ways a few months ago, many people were confused (and some of them are still confused) who will keep making the real CM. The answer is: Eidos holds the name of Championship Manager, but Sports Interactive holds the engine and the database of the popular game.

2. I’m sure that many people want to you finally make the move to 3d graphics. However, I believe that deep gameplay and atmosphere is much more important than graphics. So, would FM 05 be a revolution similar to the revolution that the very first CM made when it was published?

   I wouldn’t call Football Manager 2005 a revolution, as it might be a huge word for a computer game. I would rather call it a more than perfect evolution. What I mean is that our game doesn’t need a revolution, it only needs improvements every year. With improving it on the annual level, SI are getting closer to the perfect game and I can surely say that Football Manager 2005 will be a very, very large step towards the perfect game SI intends to make. The game will be very refreshing and the screenshots published on the two websites I’ve listed above testify it.

About graphical 3D engine, the answer is no, no such graphics in FM2005. Some weeks ago I had a long talk with a couple of Serbian CM Fans (now FM fans) from the town of Nis, and during the conversation I realized one important thing: FM is that kind of game which doesn’t need shinny 3D graphics and stadium models to gather its players. FM is the game full of what a call ‘a football sense’. It is made for the real football fans that understand football and the things important for football managers around the world. The human imagination is more advanced than any graphical engine and as long as you are into football with all your heart, you will realize why even a text display about the match will satisfy your needs.
Anyway, Football Manager 2005 does bring improvements on the graphics field. The game’s graphics look very modern and refreshing and the additional details (flags, kits) in comparison to SI’s previous engines will satisfy all the fans. The game brings more authentic football atmosphere than ever.

3. Before suspicious people start following me, threatening me or even start more radical actions, let’s touch the topic of graphics. I personally believe that the system from the CM sequel is totally adequate, but what’s official opinion of SIGames?

   I agree with you that the current 2D system is totally adequate. I would also add that it also got improved and is much more realistic than before. As you can see on the official screenshots, the whole match screen brings lots of improvements and that’s good news for the fans. Those kinds of things need time to get to the level of being perfect, and as I said before, FM2005 will be a large step towards the ultimate manager simulation. This logically also includes the 2D engine.

4. Tell us a bit more about AI. Psychological pressure, nervous players, referee mistakes, roles of fans, taunting, can many fouls on a player affect them psihologicaly, etc...

   This is a feature that already exists in our game and it has been there for a number of years. As a researcher, I feel as an expert when we talk about these things :-) In our database we’ve got personal and mental attributes such as Pressure, Temperament, Sportsmanship, Aggression, Decisions, Concentration, Composure, Important Matches and many others and we do set all those attributes to the players who we are in charge of, so the engine applies the in the game and that’s the way we get a large deal of realism in the game.

SI’s got a great team of researchers around the world who world very passionately and fill in those fields which bring in the reality. So that means that the things you have mentioned are already in the game: if a player has a good figure filled in for the attributes called ‘pressure’ and ‘important matches’ he will handle the pressure and play better in the important matches. The text engine is also improved and commentary will probably mark those little things that are important for football. The fans also have their influence on the teams and the players and that kinds of relationships also got improved. like everything else in the game.

5. How many teams, leagues and competitions exist in your huge database? I know that in previous sequels I used to buy some totally anonymous young player with good rates and soon (in the real soccer world, same as in the game) he became a superstar. How big is the possibility for something like this to happen? I mean, do I have Murihno’s (coach of Chelsea) instinct or is someone on your research team doing a really good job?

   The large SI’s football database got even larger, there will be over 235,000 staff, 14,000 clubs (of which around 5,300 will be playable) and there are 51 leagues. The data is as precise as it can humanly be. All the international competitions will exist in the game as well as the continental competitions. The precision of the database is improving (together with the other sections of the game) and the network of around 2,500 researchers will do everything necessary to make the FM database the most comprehensive and the most realistic football database in the world. Thank you for the compliments about the precision of our data, there are many quality researchers on board who spot those talents, so it is very likely that there will be many more football stars discovered by FM before they are discovered in the real life :-)

6. Tell us about relationships with players, media, club board, etc...

   That sphere of the game has always been one of the features where our game was much better than any other game in the world. The relationships between players, club board, managers, staff, media and the rest of the football world is one of the things which is constantly getting better and larger in every way from version to version. So, an easy conclusion would be that much attention was paid to these issues of communications and the fans will have the chance to enjoy them very soon.

7. What’s best feature in whole game by your personal opinion?

   There are several things I am really impressed with, some of them are managers’ mind games (a very lovely addition), refreshed game’s graphics (I particularly like the addition of national flags of all the countries and the team kits) and the split-screen match view where you can see more details at the same time.

8. Release date?

   The demo of the game will be out on the 23rd of September (within the Football Manager Magazine, Issue No 2) and the release date of the game is planned for the fourth quarter of this year, so it’ll be out before Christmas.

9. It seems that FM 05 will be one of the best managers ever. So far it is really promising title and I can’t wait to start it on my PC. That’s my conclusion :) What about you? Anything to add? Conclusions? Messages to our readers?

   I would highly recommend everyone to try the demo on September 23rd – I am sure that the demo will only confirm the things I have listed above and it will surely lead everyone to desire to have the copy of FM 2005 when it is out. I have worked for 3 versions of the game so far, and honestly, this is the version that I like twice as much as any previous version. After all, maybe you are right, maybe we can call the Football Manager 2005 a kind of revolution, or at least ‘a tuning in perfection’, as it is a new name with the good old football passion which undoubtedly brings a football management to a higher level and will surely make many dreams come true.