Not-Donald Sutherland

Now that the world is getting back to normal, or trying to, I am looking forward to my gaming life to get back to normal. The particular demands of work and life in my case are such that for the past few weeks I’ve had no time or energy at all for 5 days out of 7 for anything but work, food, telly, bed. Which is a new and unprecedented state of affairs for me.

I actually spent a large chunk of my limited gaming time this week playing Football Manager 2019. Had to get to the end of my 5th season as a manager, and my first in England, with Carlisle United – often called just ‘Carlisle’, as in the screenshot here. Aldershot and other teams get their ‘Town’ so why can’t we have our ‘United’? There is a way to fix this. On the PC gaming platform, if you can think of it, there’s a way to do it – but as with FIFA, and before it PES, I always find myself just wanting to start the game and get playing.

Brief recap: this is a ‘Start Unemployed’ save in FM2019. The idea is to startout as an unemployed 30-something former park football player. No qualifications at all and no reputation. See where fate takes you. I spent 4 seasons at BK Avarta in Denmark, and really got to know the club and Danish football in weird depth (it’s not all Brondby over there). I got them into their equivalent of the Championship and left because I simply could not see how I could take them any further.

I applied for and got the job at Carlisle when it became vacant following their relegation from the Football League into the Vanarama at the end of season 2021-2022. A bad start, when I tried to be too accommodating for unhappy players (get rid of ’em is the way). Then I recovered and qualified for the playoffs. Which we won. I stayed up until 4.30am playing FM2019 on Sunday night. At the moment it starts getting light at about 2.45 and it’s broad daylight before 4.00. The birds’ dawn chorus is bloody loud when you’re still buzzing with euphoria and trying to get to sleep. I’ve never really been any good at Football Manager, so this is huge for me.

Awkward segue: my star player for Carlisle is a lad who in real life bagged a move to Leeds – Liam McCarron. I haven’t got him in FIFA, but I might need him.

It’s not going too well with Leeds for me in that other footy gaming universe:

Somehow that chummy ‘Greg’ part gets my back up. I’ve got a side-save ready just in case the worst happens, which it might, as my form is atrocious. I had to move back to World Class as it’s just too easy on Professional.

I played 4 more league matches and the 4th Round FA Cup tie. Won 1, lost 3 in the league. And lost the Cup match too.No spectacular goals to show off, which is officially annoying now. I believe that a patch or two ago, the possibility for special long-range goals was reduced from ‘one every 5-match session, almost guaranteed’ to ‘one every week or two, if you’re lucky’.

For the thousandth time I must complain about what is so self-evident. ONLINE MULTIPLAYER IS RUINING FOOTBALL GAMING.

Every football game developer on the planet is singing from the same hymn sheet. We all know that for commercial reasons they require two things of their footy games: flow, and balance.

The fouls had to go, for the sake of flow.

And the long-rangers have to go, for the sake of balance.

And I don’t really blame them. If an average player like me can score one long-ranger per session in single-player, you can bet there are savants playing online who were bagging a 30-yarder in every match, or even a couple of them in every match.

Which creates imbalance.

Analytics would tell EA it needed nerfing, so they nerfed it.

It’s terrible for us single-players to get lumped in with the onliners, but put yourself in a  suit, put yourself in the EA boardroom, and remember what your long-term strategy is. Single-players must become online multiplayers. Single-players must eventually be a thing of the past, a quaint holdover like those people who still have black and white tellies (still in 6000 homes across the UK according to last year’s figures).

I can confidently say it’ll never happen to me. You’ll never click on here one day to find me saying single-player is done for me and everything is about online now.

I’ll quit completely before I play online. When it comes right down to it, I just don’t like the presence of other people in gaming. I need to be able to pause the game and scratch my nose. I get anxious if I can’t. People ruin everything.

I’ve played online a couple of times in recent years and not hated it. PES2018’s myClub was actually very enjoyable, but I ended up mostly playing offline there too and enjoying the pseudo-ML qualities it offered.

Ultimately, there’s only one football game in town and it’s a single-player one. And FIFA20 ‘s Career Mode still hasn’t dipped below a 9/10 per session experience.

Back to the coalface of my crumbling Leeds save in FIFA20. I think I’m one defeat from the sack. More Friday.

Updated: 16th June 2020 — 11:52


  1. I know too well about the light and early hours gaming. I have always been one for getting up if I can’t sleep. The other night I woke about 2.00am and knew after 15 mins that I wasn’t going to get back to sleep. So instead of tossing and turning I played for a couple of hours and then went back to bed. I love the light about 4.00am.

    My return season on WC with Sunderland has been topsy turvy. I won the nothing cup last night and have got back into the play off spots with 6 games remaining. A slump in form had seen me drop to 9th at one point. However, I have now won 5 on the bounce.

    Also here is a long range goal of sorts from last night. I liked the late curl on the ball:-

  2. Darryl – very nice first-time hit from your Cloughie there. Just on the border between mid- and long-range, but that can be subjective. It could be said anything from 20+ yards is a long-ranger these days by the standard that football games have implemented from around 2014 on. I’ll never not be pissed off about this, and my pissed-offness will never not be ‘live’. Occasionally I get chastised for repeating myself but we can never ever let the footy game devs off the hook on the fouls/long-rangers issue. They’ve done a dirty thing and they have to know that there’s a solid constituency of old-school single-players out there who know it and will remind them of it constantly. Not that I think they even remotely care, but occasionaly shouting ‘we know what you did’ their way reminds them we’re here at least.

    I used to work proper night-shifts in a couple of other jobs, long long ago, so the wee small hours feel like natural parts of the day for me. My normal bedtime is around 2.30, 3am-ish, but that can slip to later without a problem as I don’t have to be up early for work even on a working day. I love the feeling when it gets to 1am or so and I still have a good chunk of my day remaining.

  3. I long for the days when I would run through three or four episodes of the sopranos or west wing in a night, crawling to bed at 3am ish. I can’t make it much past 12 now without issue the next day.

    FIFA continues to be a mercurial beastie for me. Thumped Leeds 4-1 in the carabao cup. Lost 0-3 to derby in the league. Cruised past Preston 2-0 in the league. It doesn’t feel quite right. I suspect it’s because I’ve picked a decent team and bought two good strikers, or maybe it’s fifa and how less of a grind it is early doors. But really where are the 0-0s?

  4. Big night for me tonight as I am in the Play-Off final against Rotherham. This will be a one game session because of the occasion. I thought I was in for a tougher semi-final but beat Portsmouth 5-3 and 2-1.

    Turf – I do know what you are saying. I think they have tried to address the issues in the past, whereby the bottom teams suddenly played like Barcelona. This means there is a huge gulf between the better sides in the division and the lesser sides. This isn’t a bad thing but is slightly imbalanced. Form and momentum are the same in the game as you go from periods of winning comfortably to heavy losing streaks, without any indifferent form in-between. This is why I am experiencing few draws. Of course with some playing on modded versions it is difficult to compare experiences. Still enjoying it but my gut is still thinking that Fifa 19 was better balanced.

  5. On the FIFER modded PC version, I had 4 0-0 draws last season, and as a test this season, just startd season 7, I have reset the gameplay sliders back to default, 50/50 for everything except injury severity and frequency, left that on the bias of more niggly injuries and a few bigger ones, which is more realistic.
    I’ve also loved up to legendary level. More details Thursday.

  6. Paul – I am on default sliders as well now which is a rarity for me as the gameplay is just as good on these. I did have one 0-0 draw last season.

  7. Darryl – was nothing wrong at all with the Hybrid FIFER gameplay Mod / OS slides i was using, it played brilliantly, just fancied a change of style of play this season, 7 in, it’s nice to just change things up, so we’ll see how it goes.
    Already seeing a few ‘off’ things regards player runs etc on default so mayyet change it up a little.

  8. Darryl/Paul – I’ve had quite a few sessions on ‘vanilla’ after PC updates etc, and the mods, as you would hope and expect, do seem to have a marked effect on how the AI conducts itself. I’m in the camp that thought there were too many draws in older FIFA games so I’m not missing the 0-0s, which I do still get the odd one of. This season seems to be an exception; every other table I’ve posted from FIFA20 shows a proportionate amount of draws so far. But you never know what EA’s patches have done really, so it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if draws in CM have been nerfed too by the evil balancing desk in EA Dev Towers.

    Uncle Turf – it’s what you’re used to really. Midnight is the equivalent of around 9pm for me. Whether a time of day is late or early is relative to your own daily routine first and foremost. The last time I had to get up at 7am for something (3 years ago for a hospital appt) it felt like I was getting up at 3am in ‘objective time’, because that’s what it was for me.

  9. In case any of you have not seen it, This little gem was released last friday, I picke dit up for £6 off the PSN store, its a great little game and really enjoyable, perfect for kids too, kind of a FIFA / Sensi soccer Hybrid.

  10. I am promoted. How I hate the play offs though as was 1-0 down to Rotherham at half time but then scored a penalty after 60 mins, followed by a goal 2 mins later. Then hung on to win. Need a lie down now. Did record the second half, so may share it later after it has uploaded.

  11. NG – wow, you must really suffer when we lose that hour in autumn…etc etc…it’s an old gag.

    I was sleeping through lockdown really well, not a care in the world but recently I’ve been struggling with all kinds of odd dreams and waking up early. I think it’s the horror of having people and ‘chat’ forced back on me.

  12. I’ve now taken six penalties – cup draw and one genuine in a game. Not scored a single one, three over the bar. Is it really hard or am I clunk fisted? Seems like a version of the swingometer? Aim, run up then press again when foot about to strike ball? And yet three times the keeper has guessed the right way?

  13. Uncle Turf – I’ve missed my last few pens but scored plenty as well – enough for me to not think of them as rigged (even though they clearly could be if the game dev wanted them to be). I find it hard to control the aiming reticule and keep it steady, but you’ve got the double-press mechanic right. As long as the second press results in a pale green circle you’ve done that right.

    And it’s the imaginary hour forward in spring that penalises me. Suddenly 2am is 3am etc. and if I am usually up at 10am it’s suddenly 11am instead. The imaginary hour backwards in autumn of course gives me an extra imaginary hour to enjoy the night. I watched Ed Wood for the first time in 20 years last night, great film, only started it at midnight. I wouldn’t swap that for regular hours.

    Darryl – very very well done! World Class is absolutely kicking my backside so that’s quite the achievement.

    Paul – what’s the little skip all the players do when they’re on the ball?! Game looks decent otherwise but that is weirdly distracting. There was a time when I had to get and play every single football game possible. Let me know if you stick with this and it shows depth

  14. Turf – I really can’t stand the set pieces in the game as I don’t like the aiming targets as I find them to responsive and difficult to control. I have such a poor return from them as a result. My penalties usually follow your routine, my free kicks just float to the goalkeeper and don’t start on corners. Good job I am not bad in open play.

  15. NG – Cheers. I am on Legacy Defending with all the assistance on. I will amend these as I go along. This will be my own difficulty modifier. World Class is still a beast when it wants to be, even with these and especially against good teams.

  16. Yes, corners get me too Darryl. I end up just lobbing the ball into the middle as it’s like controlling a snooker cue with a dead arm or being half cut in charge of one of those fairground grabbers. I have no idea how to position a player for the corner volley attempt.

  17. As well as nerfing of long rage goals I do also find the poor mechanics of set pieces to be a great shame as set pieces are a very important factor of football games in real life. Surely there must be a better way. I do have to say I liked the free kicks on PES 2014 and the penalties in the last couple of versions of the game.

  18. Free kicks are fine as long as you know the mechanics and how to take them.Scored a few, much harder to score than on PES, mind you on PES it was ridiculously easy so thats no cpomparison.

    I do find corners hit and miss, choosing one of the corner pre-sets doesn’t seem to affect much so prefer to select a player and ping in a driven curling corner and try to cause a bit of a meleé in the box, but corner to conversion ratio is very low.

    No post up on FIFAFX as I haven’t played all week and soemthing that came up meant I was out all day from dusk til dawn both Weds and Thurs, so will get some game time in and up a delayed post over the weekend.

  19. Paul – I don’t think it helps with the ridiculously responsive target as it goes all over the place and I usually lose patience and just hit it.

  20. Depends how you look at it Darryl, are you talking about FK’s?

    It takes a lot of skill even for a pro footballer to hit a 20+ yard free kick into a top corner, on PES it was possible with your eyes closed and a hand tied behind your back, required no skill.

    On FIFA, you have to aim the reticule and precisely feather the controller stick to keep the reticule in place, then power up your shot accordingly, then apply the aftertouch with the RS, all of which takes skill and timing.
    Much more rewarding and realistic, than just pressing a button and watching the FK sail in every time.

    Having said all that,I’m not a big fan of FIFA20’s FK system, I think the RS aftertouch is counter-intuitive and fiddly, I’d like to see them keep the aiming system, but improve the after spin mechanics, just a RS left or right for curl, up for topspin, down for dip, rather than these street fighter style combos currently needed.

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