The busman’s holiday continues

You might think there is no circumstance where you could ever have real fear of an away trip to a club called BK Frem.

I thought the same a few weeks ago. Then a casual encounter with a random internet post about the joys of ‘Starting Unemployed’ in Football Manager piqued my interest.

Starting Unemployed is a thing in FM lore, it turns out, a thing akin to the ML Default Challenge in PES. You’re young, you’re inexperienced, nobody knows you. How fast can you navigate up the football world to a Big Job? Or can you take the no-hoper club that you inevitably start out with to Big Club status?

I spent a few weeks jobless at the start of season 2018-19, applying for jobs and being knocked back. Then I had two proper interviews and a choice: Aberystwyth in Wales, or Avarta in Denmark. I plumped for the latter because it was more money and the club were only two leagues below the top flight.

And now here I am, gritty-eyed from yet another 3am session last night. Two full seasons played.

Normal service  – i.e., reports about me playing a gamepad-football game – will resume in this Friday’s post.

That will be with FIFA20’s Career Mode, although I might do a warmup with Ultimate Team (offline of course) to get me used to the game engine. I have received a package of mods from regular commenter Paul, and there are other mods to change the entire nature of Career Mode, and possibly gameplay too.

For today’s post I still have this monkey on my back called Football Manager 2019. I’ve finished Season 2 in Denmark’s 2 Division. It’s the 3rd tier of that country’s domestic league setup, and it takes place in two phases. I took the screenshot at the top of the page after going top for the first time in the 1st phase.

I’ve since navigated my way through them both and won promotion in the 2nd phase, in 2nd place, to the NordicBet Liga, Denmark’s equivalent of the Championship. Where I am expected to ‘do a Norwich’ and spend most of the season at the bottom and come straight back down. Last night I spent two hours looking for players.

The famed addictive qualities of Football Manager are something that I’ve mostly been resistant to for most of my gaming life. I’ve had spells of enthusiasm (who hasn’t), most notably with CM4 back in whenever-that-was, then with FM2005, and a few short spells here and there since.

I have never won anything in Football Manager. Not a single trophy. I have got a few promotions in all my time, but that is where it traditionally all falls apart for me. I end up buying the wrong players, or too many players, or too few players, and then stubbornly trying to stick with the same system that worked in the division below.

My 3am sessions on FM2019 have been every bit as immersive and enjoyable as any Civilization V or XCOM2 session, and that’s saying something. FM has undergone a design change in recent years. This is my first time sampling it, and it is a total success in my view. You can do as little or as much as you want. I hand off all training to my coaches. And let them take care of press conferences too. I get the players and pick the team and the system played. I have a simmering conflict with the board about the lack of investment and am on the verge of starting to threaten to leave if they don’t develop facilities and allow me to take on more staff.

As ever the casual observer may chortle about FM being basically an interactive spreadsheet – but you can analyse anything enjoyable in that spirit, so what’s the point?

As I say, normal service will resume this Friday with FIFA20, but I will mention my FM2019 progress from time to time. I can already feel it starting to settle down and become an occasional 3am-session thing, rather than a nightly one.

Updated: 21st January 2020 — 11:35


  1. Happy to hear more about FM on the blog NG, its a nice departure, perhaps a weekly split? Tuesdays for FM and Fridays for FIFA ?

    I still have FM2018 on my mac, installed it whilst away in manchester on a business trip, was playing it on the train on the way home and it nearly caused me to miss my stop, it’s very engrossing, although I found it a little overwhelming with so much to do, so nice to know the creators have dialled it back a little.

    Think you’ll enjoy FIFA 20 if you give it some decent time, I found it a little ‘meh’ at first what with the last 5 months of PES muscle memory, and also struggling with an unfamiliar controller layout, but have settled in now, now my mod tweaking and tinkering is over, and I am loving it.

    FIFA 20 with the career realism mode really elevates the game and the game play itself is more realistic than its ever been.

    Will be posting back on FIFAFX from Thursday detailing my adventures.

  2. Paul – well, well, well. Now this feels like something new in my football gaming life. This afternoon I finally saved and quit my FM2019 game (after leaving it running for a week on the PC!) and set up my FIFA20 installation, all the mods you sent and the update from FIFER, and got away.

    I’ve never seen anything like this (best viewed in 1440p):

    That distance is a bit too far out for my eyes of course, but as a spectacle this is astounding – and the gameplay is fantastic. Slow and heavy the way I like it. Gameplay mod running, but no Operation Sports sliders as yet as this feels good enough.

    When installing the FIFER hotfix it says it’s looking for the hotfix (a separate file inside folder without an extension?) but can’t find it, and Frosty seems to crash, but when restarted it has the mod loaded up fine – ?

    I can’t wait to dig into a CM in this now. Especially if those FIFER adjustments are real.

  3. Wow looks spectacular not-Greg, starting to come round to the idea of FIFA on PC!

  4. abbeyhill – been playing all evening while listening to the games on the radio… FIFA modding is so much simpler than PES modding, which is amusingly typical of the slick profile FIFA has in the footy gaming sphere. All the modding takes place in one application that the user can tinker with and figure out for themselves, and run/share via one other application. That’s it. I’ve got next week off work and plan to roll my sleeves up and do some tinkering, but for now I can’t stop playing these mods of Paul’s and a few others by the (small) FIFA modding community.

  5. Great stuff, and I suspect your 1660ti would be able to handle it on Ultra at 4k*?

    *obviously gameplay is much more important than graphics but still…..

    Continuing to enjoy FIFA19 on PS4, got Exeter into the upper echelons of the Championship season 6, really keen to go all the way to winning a major trophy. Never actually won a major trophy on FIFA

  6. That does look amazing NG. The camera angle looks like a variation on the Coop Camera. Is it possible to get more height to bring the far touchline a bit nearer whilst still zooming out, as you used to be able to do with the Tele Camera in the PS3/Xbox 360 era. All in all though, that’s about as pretty as I’ve ever seen a football game look.

  7. Looks amazing eh. The reshade mod really adds vibrancy to the pitches.

    Abbey hill- I have a 1660ti inside my AMD Ryzen 7 pc and am running fifa 20 full screen at 2140 x 1440 and on ultra settings and it doesnt drop an single frame.

    Just working on a telecam mod that gives much more freedom in height and zoom, and closely replicates the PES stadium cam, and you can adjust the distance from newer touchline, far touchline, speed of camera tracking, height and how much zoom the camera performs at set pieces, from corners, offset and height for penalties the lot. so much you can adjust

    You left your mouse pointer on screen?

    Have emailed you re the FIFer mod crash.

  8. Paul – I’ve only just noticed the big obvious mouse pointer in the middle of the screen – how peculiar is that, my brain just deciding I didn’t need to see/notice something that doesn’t belong there. That comes from me Alt-tabbing out of the game to check something online, which sometimes leaves a mouse pointer behind when Alt-tabbing back into it. I usually just hide the mouse pointer in a corner, or more usually it eventually disappears again, but I was focused on recording the amazing footage. I was Alt-tabbing out as I was reading up on the Fifer mod, which didn’t crash as such, just gave me a scary error message and forced me to restart the mod manager.

    Have you run the game at those settings and with the mods on the cinema screen through your projector? What’s it like?!

    And Uncle Turf asked me to ask you how the water cooling is on your rig? (I’ve looked at a few upgrade vids and I think I could do it!)

    rhymes450 – Paul informs me that each stadium can have its own individual setting for the camera, so the fun is just starting really. Definitely for this stadium I need the far side a bit closer, while still preserving as much as possible that lovely effect of being able to see the nearside running track from above when the action moves closer. The gameplay feels fantastic – that feeling you often get with modern FIFA that it could be the best football game ever, if only it lasts. We shall see…

    abbeyhill – on my 2017 hardware (it had two upgrades in 2019, the GPU and PSU, but everything else is from 2017) I run FIFA20 on 1440p, all Ultra settings, with the fps restricted to 60 rather than unlimited. I could go all-out and started that way, but it stuttered a bit when I recorded anything. PES2020 never stuttered on any settings, but FIFA on PC is another level or two up. I think a CPU upgrade will bring me more or less up to date in 2020, and I have my eye on an i9 in time for Cyberpunk and the 2021 footy games.

  9. I moved the Broadcast camera 4 notches (out of 20) closer to the pitch, made it to the final of that pre-season tournament, and got thumped 3-0. the Final was played at the San Siro:

    I think this has got legs. The gameplay mod running here feels palpable to me, this feels like FIFA Max, i.e. the good bits accentuated to the max. I got fouls too.

  10. NG – Emailed you about the crashes you’re experiencing.
    As for running it on the Cinema screen, no I haven’t, my projector is a mid-tier one, great for Movies and games like Detroit, Uncharted, COD etc, but struggles a little with very fast paced games such as footy games.

    The refresh rate isn’t quite up the task of redrawing the screen so rapidly, FIFA and PES are both playable via the PS4 on the 100″ screen but do encounter some ‘ghosting’ and frame doroputs, which isn’t ideal.

    There are limited proper gaming ready Projectors on the market at the moment, the Acer Predator and Optoma 1080 Darbee being the most popular but am governed by the throw ratio, room size/projector mount position and the projectors keystone abilities, for now I’m happy with footy games via the PC on the 55″ 4k TV in the living room.

    Other games do look awesome on the big screen though.

  11. Paul — in Frosty (downloaded fresh yesterday), after importing FIFER hotfix, it gives me this message:

    Then exits the window (but not the program), and when I reopen the FIFA20 profile all the mods are there and seemingly working fine! Not had an in-game CTD yet. Do you see this behaviour, and if not, what could be the cause of it? I am deleting the ModData folder before each new attempt to prevent this happening.

  12. NG – Can you take a screenshot of frosty mod manager, on the ‘applied mods’ window so i can see whats there?

  13. Away from keyboard now but I think I found the culprit — I was loading up the gameplay mod from the same folder at the same time

  14. you mean 2 copies of the gameplay mod???
    One thing i did notice, you have the GFX Mod Pitch colour presets all loaded in,thats a no no, only load one in at a time, whatever one you want to use, same with TV logos, one at a time,
    You have yellow triangles too against each mod, assume these are warnings?

    Your FIFA game doesn’t crash at all, its just the error thats thrown by Frosty Mod Mgr ?

  15. Paul — when loading up the Realism mod I’ve been control-clicking to include and load the Gameplay mod as well (it’s in the same folder) and Frosty hasn’t liked that. The yellow triangles are common, I read, and harmless for most mods, just technical warnings — don’t you see them at all?

  16. NG – Ahh I see, I always load every mod in individually and apply it before loading another, and no, haven’t ever seen a yellow warning triangle on any of my mods I’ve used.

    As long as the mods are working and your game doesnt crash then not worth worrying about.

  17. Paul – I’ve been loading them in bulk! Tomorrow I’ll wipe ModData and do from scratch one by one. Interested to see if I get yellow triangles.

    Played quite a bit of my Leeds test CM. Premature to say BEST FOOTBALL GAME EVER but I’ve been buzzing.

  18. Ahhh That could cause all sorts of conflicts, hopefully with your cleaner mod setup you’ll be fine, just always remember to delete the Mod Data folder from origin > FIFA 20 before apply new mods, this will re-install everything new.

    and dont forget the order of priority mods are listed in, bottom of the applied mods list = highest priority, if you want to use a custom TV logo AND the FIFER realism Mod and/or the GFX Mod, your custom Tv logo will need to be below the others to take priority.

    I’m using a modded broadcast cam, zoomed out slightly to be more like PES stadium cam, custom TV Logo, FIFER CM Mod and my Reshade mod and thats the optimal setup for me right now.

    I also created a .BAT file that you can place on your desktop that you just double click and it will launch Frosty Mod MGR in the background then load FIFA 20 from that, much easier than navigating to your FIFA mods folder, loading Frosty Mod Mgr then clicking launch game, happy to send it over if you want it.

  19. Paul – please do send the .BAT file, I’ve been working on a similar thing using a venerable old Windows app called AutoHotkey that creates a self-contained executable that can do the same, but good old .BATs are the best. Next week on my week off I’m going to make an AutoHotkey script for Hibernating/Sleeping at a key combo (or button combo on the controller) without having to alt-tab to the start menu.

  20. NG – I’ve uploaded it here:

    place it in your folder where the Frosty Mod Manager lives, then you can right click the bat file and create a shortcut and place it on your desktop

    *NOTE: I’ve assumed your frosty mod manager default profile is called ‘default’ and you haven’t setup a custom named profile, if you have just use that name in place of the default in the bat file.

  21. Paul – I grabbed it safely – code really is poetry with that one-line script! – and when I get the Autohotkey script working to enable Hibernate/Sleep via keyboard shortcut, I’ll send it your way. I’ve gt into the habit of not quitting games I’m currently playing, just as on the PS4, except wuth PC Hibernation in particular, there’s negligible power use (some sources say none, but I think there is a bare trickle).

    I will also be looking to map the GeForce Experience keyboard shortcuts onto a gamepad. Something like Select+Start to Start/Stop recording, Select+Start to capture the last X seconds/minutes of footage, etc. I’m sure you see the possibilities. Another batch script to watch the folder where footage is saved to, and move clips to their own separate folder(s) based on selected criteria, would be nice… Just looking at that now. Ideally I’d like a script to watch for clips I record from the time I press ‘SHIFT-ALT-WHATEVER’ and import them all into ‘MyVideoEditor.exe’ ready to be compiled into a vid. Next time I press ‘SHIFT-ALT-WHATEVER’ is the end of the period when the script does that one thing with the folder. That would be huge and it is doable.

  22. NG – hope you find it useful, I’ve been using it and it works a treat.
    Those batch commands / auto hotkey scenario are great ideas, anything to speed up and simplify workflows.

    That was the joy of the mac, with its smart folders, you could set background rules on them so no matter where you saved a video.mp4 folder, it would also place a copy, not an actual copy but a reference to it inside a ‘Videos’ smart folder, same with screenshots, music etc, was a godsend.

    Meant to ask you, been using that one commander explorer replacement, its really nice, like the column views, but I use 7zip as my default RAR/ZIP archiver, and under normal windows explorer I can right click a filer and choose ‘extract with 7zip’, but under One Commander, I don’t get these options, is there anyway to accomplish this?

    Only managed 2 CM matches last night as was editing up the footage from the first few games into a mini goals comp, using FX Home’s HitFilm Pro 14, first time using it but really is a sleek and powerful bit of kit.

    New post will go up on at 10 am.

  23. Paul – one of the radial cluster of right-click options in One Commander is to ‘show Explorer right-click menu’, so you can use that, or (I’ve done this) there’s an option in the settings to show the regular right-click menu all the time by default.

    I’ve also played with Automator in Mac a lot. The nearest equivalent in Windows is Task Scheduler, a built in app, not as sophisticated but can do the basic job of automation if needed.

  24. Cheers NG – I will look into those one commander settings next time i boot up.

    If you are conversant in Powershell scripting language then that’s quite a nifty automation tool for windows, I use it a lot for copying data from one network location to another, or scanning data dump files and stripping out invalid characters prepping it for upload into SQL server here at work.
    You can then use task scheduler to schedule a Powershell script.

    New post is now Live on

  25. I use the free version of XYPlorer which is a multi-tabbed version of Explorer plus extra bells and whistles. Well worth having a look.

  26. Cheers Chris – will take a butchers!

  27. Paul — I left a comment with a YouTube link on FIFAFX that hasn’t appeared at time of writing, might be stuck in queue

  28. NG – will go check the queue, all links etc should be allowed

    UPDATE: Your comment is there, just about to reply.

  29. #boredtotears

  30. Turf. Theres a mod for those tears. Makes the shine effect much crisper.

  31. Is it the Getaroomyoutwo file?

    I’ve not picked up my ml save this year. I did start an unemployed fm2014 game and bizarrely got offered chesterfield – didn’t even apply for it, that’s way too high in my experience of unemployed starts. 2014 is fully patched and officially db updated yet has always felt a really buggy version of the title. 2020 is now down in price in the steam sale and I’m wondering if that might be better (2019 isn’t available in steam any more). I do miss my old sessions but having switched over the years to more console gaming I just don’t know if I can be bothered. NGs screenshots show a much cleaner interface than 2014 and that appeals. Hmm, I’ll mull it over.

  32. Uncle Turf – FM2019 is still get-able from Steam via the Steam code route. Just had a quick look on one of the All Steam Key sites (there are a few) and you can pick it up for about 17 quid, which is still on the pricey side for an old version of a current game. I think this reflects the value of a ‘finished’ game that has had a full year of patches and fine-tuning, particularly the match engine. I see FM2020 is only a few quid dearer. I watch a YouTube series where the guy uses FM2020 and it looks pretty robust to me. There are a few extra menu features in 2020 that I would like in 2019 but that’s really the only substantive difference. It was watching that YouTube series that really got me started in FM again this year, as once you see someone else flying through the menus, paying little to no attention to training or press conferences or the hundred other things to do, and just mainly buying players, picking teams, playing matches and enjoying things hugely – I thought ‘I’m having some of that’. I always thought I HAD TO sit staring at figures for 90% opf the playing time on FM, but that’s exactly inverted for me. It’s a good series – man’s in his 30s, works from home… I’m not saying it’s you, but it’s you. I’d start with his current ‘Non League to Legend’ series which is a version of the Start Unemployed idea, with a couple of house rules (e.g. when offered better jobs, he has to take them, etc.).

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