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Football Manager 2014: Miles Jacobson on user-made leagues and tips from real managers

PC Gamer: On the other hand, Classic mode does allow you to skim a little bit. How have you fine-tuned it for this year?

Miles Jacobson: We've had a very good year in that we sold around 20 per cent more games this year than with FM12 – and seeing as that was our record-breaker before that, a large chunk of that has to go down to Classic mode. What was important this year was not to do what we do with regular FM and that's put in more features, more features, more features. So we looked at streamlining bits of it while adding things that are appropriate – stuff like the transfer deadline day which went down really well last year in FM is also very appropriate for Classic mode, so that's gone in there. Also, people who were using the Quick Match feature quite a lot, where the assistant manager basically does everything for you, because they didn't have time, were complaining that they didn't have enough control so we used the match plans from Football Manager Live, where they would still be able to get the assistant manager to make substitutes on 60 minutes or be able to change tactics if they were losing at certain points during the game. Beyond that, the interface for [Classic mode] looks great – I'm really happy with the work that's been done there.

PC Gamer: As FM follows the real game so closely, and with the Premier League season about to kick off, which new arrivals do you expect to make the biggest impact? Who's done the best business?

Miles Jacobson: From a personal perspective, I think Matej Vydra is definitely going to get goals for West Brom. I saw a lot of him at Watford last season, and he's a very good player. Liverpool have done quite well with their signings - I think they're going to give them a boost. Arsenal's [dealings] are certainly going to make a huge difference to their season because they haven't signed anyone! They've mostly sold players once again, a bit like Man United. And Man City have bought so many forwards, I've no idea who they're going to play each week or what formation they're going to use.

What's been more interesting for me this summer - and we've had to reflect this in the game - is the number of British players who've moved abroad. A player from Norwich has moved to the Indian Premier League, and there's a bunch of players who've moved to Spain. And it's all down to the new squad rules that mean you can only have 25 senior players inside a squad. So the teams that had larger squads previously have players with no clubs to go to. With more foreign players coming into the game, that means more British players going overseas. Historically, it's very rare for British players to play outside British leagues, but that's something that's going to be happening more and more. That's why Liverpool have been able to pick up a clutch of Spanish players, because the clubs there need to sell players to comply with FFP and pay off tax bills, so that means there are players who wouldn't normally move to the Premier League coming over here. It's an ever-changing world, and that's a good thing for us. Keeps us busy!

PC Gamer: For FM14, you've promised more complex interactions between staff, players and rival managers. What will that entail?

Miles Jacobson: We felt from the last couple of versions that interactions were a little bit flat. It doesn't feel like [you're having] a conversation, it feels like lots of separate conversations, so the media team have worked on a system that internally we call the narratives system. The game has always remembered previous conversations but wouldn't refer back to them before. It's journalists as well as players and managers, too – you'll build relationships with certain journalists, because they all have individual characters, and they might react differently depending on how you behave with them. The first part of this was the tone system we added in, but this year we've taken a massive leap forward and it does feel like you're having conversations with people, because it remembers what you said. I had a player inside the game turn around to me the other day and say “didn't we talk about this a month ago?” And that's not a game element; it's a real life element. Because when people are playing FM we want them to be in that parallel universe. We want the believability to be there, that this is a world that lives inside their head, so every time you have something that doesn't seem [real] it kinds of takes them away from that parallel universe, so we're hoping the narratives system will help keep them there. Again, that's something that's going to build over a number of years inside the game - it's a long-term project that we're working on, and you'll see the first fruits of it this year.

PC Gamer: Improved interactions with the media obviously reflect the fact that it's a huge part of the modern game, with players being PR trained and so on.

Miles Jacobson: Well, they don't say anything, do they? That's one of the issues, you get very few characters these days, so we've had to use a bit of poetic licence with that to get them talking a little bit more. As for relationships with other managers, if you speak to other managers inside the game about Sir Alex Ferguson, it's not Fergie Time they bring up so much as the bottles of red wine he likes to drink. Another example of that kind of thing was an interview I saw last season with a couple of Watford players going through every member of the squad and talking about them. There was one player they came to, and rather than talking about their personality, they just said “yeah, good player” and moved on. And it was obvious that maybe there was an issue between a couple of the players so they didn't want to say anything, and I think having that sort of character within the game is very important, because it's important that people don't see it as a game. And I keep calling it a game, and I call the people who play it users, but they're not. They're managers. They are managers and they're in a parallel universe of football management.