So for the first time, I’m making a post that isn’t a review of something.
As you may or may not know, I work as the Head of Scottish Research for the Football Manager series of games.
Every year, when we do the research for the game, we rely heavily on the input of the fans of the teams to make sure that the information is as good as it can be. Sure, we could easily find out basic information about players such as names, dates of birth, positions etc ourselves, but what sets Football Manager apart from other games in the genre is that by asking the fans – the people who watch the players week in and week out – we can reflect the teams more accurately. By getting the fans’ perspective, we can say that Player X is better than Player Y at Albion Rovers or that a relatively unknown youngster at Berwick Rangers has the chance to play for Scotland one day.
But without a doubt, a lot of it is based upon (usually objective) opinion. We judge by our own interpretations, and it could be that one fan’s view of a club differs entirely from the majority of others. And that fan might be the one in charge of researching the club for the game.
The above example is a rarity – although it has happened in the past – but it has to be said that the way we research is not without its’ potential pitfalls. Say for example the deadline for the research is approaching and one of the researchers decides he has to drop out for personal/work reasons or develops a problem with his internet connection? Then you’ve got a problem. How do we get that team researched? Well if we can’t find a direct replacement (and if you think about it, for teams in the Scottish Third Division, there aren’t a massive amount of regularly attending fans to begin with) then we have to do it ourselves. Technically the data is good, but it misses the informed opinion of the regular fan.
Similarly, whenever we announce a vacancy on the research team, we’ll get multiple applications for each club. Some people will say they are the best candidates because they go to all the games, while others might say they have close ties to the players/board and are able to give us accurate info as a result. Inevitably, we can only choose one, so the guys who don’t get the position are lost to the research process. And I’ve always thought that was a shame.
And then there are the people who would like their say but the position for their club never becomes available. Or maybe they don’t have the time to be a researcher but still want their say? Maybe they work in football and wish to offer a broader opinion? How do we get these guys involved?
Well for the past couple of releases, I’ve sought the input of other fans for Dundee United – the team I personally research. I’ve wanted to read what other United fans think of players, and compare that to my own thoughts. If my opinions have gone against the consensus, then I’ll make the appropriate changes. It’s worked for me.
So I’ve decided to apply that method to all the clubs in the country. As you are the ones who buy and play Football Manager then you should be able to have your say.
As such, I’ve created a basic survey to allow you to let us know how you would rate your team based upon the players’ performances this season. It’s pretty straight forward and can be found here
While it should only take 5-10 minutes of your time, you can help our research by letting us know…
- Who you think is the best player at your club, and why?
- How you would rate the first team squad at your club from best to worst?
- Who you think the best players playing in your division – but not at your own team – are?
- Which players have the ability to play at a higher level now or in the near future?
- Who the best and worst managers are in your league?
The more opinions we get, then we’ll be able to spot patterns in the responses and reach a consensus. This will then be balanced against the thoughts of the research team and will serve to improve the entire process.
For fans of the SPL clubs, I would ask that you don’t include Old Firm players when rating who you think the best players out-with your club are. There’s no agenda to this, it’s just that objectively, we know the best players in the league play for Rangers and Celtic, and it wouldn’t be remotely insightful to have that question being answered with an Old Firm Select XI.
Another innovation we’re going for is to make sure that we don’t miss any important pieces of news over the busy summer transfer window. For the bigger clubs it’s usually fine, but for the smaller clubs, news of contract extensions, players being released, changes in the backroom staff or transfers can be easily missed. So if you’re interested in helping out with that, follow me on twitter @SGMilne and tweet me whenever anything happens that the research team should know about. I’ll also use twitter to keep you all up to date with anything interesting that comes with the results, as well as any vacancies in the Research Team that might come up.
Feel free to pass on this link to as many fans forums as possible – the more feedback we get, the better the results will be!
As an added incentive, anyone who fills in the survey as completely as possible will be in with a chance of winning a free copy of Football Manager 2012 when the game is released for the PC later on this year.
I look forward to your feedback!
Just for clarity – the link to the survey is also below
(note: This is the updated survey as of July 2011)