Winter 2020

Winter 2020 Plans

We have a lot of things planned this winter, so it felt like a good time to give you guys an update. We had some server issues earlier in the month but they’ve settled now, so we can push ahead with more of the fun stuff! I’ll also include a little bit on our marketing plans at the end.

Upcoming patch info

For 5v5 there was a slight mismatch between the server and UI. This lead to a few goals which looked like they were going wide.

We’re making some changes to the logic, for the passing randomness. Our current logic applies too much randomness to short distance passes (sometimes leading to them going opposite direction).

This is specifically related to shooting at an angle. Firstly, we will be debugging the root cause of the issue. We’re adding more visual indicators in our internal build, to help identify the problem. We will start working on this from next week.

Something that has been requested by our regular players. They want to know when they perform an action and it fails, whether they were just unlucky or if it was a poor decision (based on the player attributes). We’ve designed something to display the data in a quick & easy way. 

We haven’t investigated fully, but from what I’ve seen it looks like an issue specifically with bot actions. We’ve had similar issues in the past, where bot players could reach a position not given to the user.

We know its something that causes a lot of frustration for some users. With the visual feedback mentioned above, we’ll be able to see easier if there is a bug in the calculations.

We will slightly nerf the GK actions further. Like blocking, we’ll use some of the visual feedback to guide us further. We’ll also make curving more influential in how difficult it is for a GK to hold onto a save.

We’ve had a few weeks to gather feedback on the updated tutorial. We’ve identified common issues and noted down common questions we receive while people are playing the tutorial. We’re going to add more hints & tips to the training drills.

We have a lot of stats/data in the game. We know it’s important to many of you, so we have identified some obvious bugs to fix initially. 

Stretch goals

These are tasks that we have in the pipeline, but may take longer to complete or just lower priority.

As many of you probably know already, we’ve been working with some machine learning experts to improve our AI. We’re aiming to release the 5v5 version in mid/late December. We’re not expecting the AI to be better than human players in this iteration. The main aim is for it to provide a more enjoyable experience to new users. 

It’s useful for users to perform scouting or try to learn from more experienced players. The players stats (match rating etc) will also be displayed.

This is the page which displays all your characters. We’ve been wanting to redesign it for a long time. The designs are complete now, so we’re hoping to push it live before Christmas.

Improvements to the current tools you have access to during a match. More consistent design and you’ll be able to see more useful information during a match.

One day…

Live user support

This is something we’re trialling. We hired some people to help us support new users, on a short term basis. We were able to get a lot of feedback on the new tutorials. It’s not financially viable to do for a long period of time at the moment, but if you are interested in helping new users please let us know. User retention is very important to us, so we’d really appreciate your support. The exact ways you can help us may change over time, but it’ll benefit us all if we can help new users to understand the game better and grow the community. 

Marketing

The game is almost in a position for us to share with a wider audience. As mentioned above, the new AI is key to helping us improve the new user experience. So as we get closer to that goal, you’ll start to see more content coming out from us. We’re also looking to work with some content creators in the new year. So please look out for those videos and it would be great if you could like, comment, share etc to help us out. A lot of these plans depend on the stability of the game and so they’re not set in stone at this point. 

2021 is gonna be a make or break year for us. Your support doesn’t go unnoticed <3

New User Experience

Our priority in recent months has been to improve the experience for new users. This has led us to reviewing multiple aspects of the game, as well as our marketing approach. I’m going to explain our approach in three key areas, which we’re constantly working on to improve.

User Acquisition

The first challenge for any Steam game, is to attract users to the store page. It’s also important to attract the right users to the page. We’ve made a conscious effort with our marketing, to target specific gaming communities and/or people with particular interests. We saw this impact most noticeably with Reddit ads, by targeting smaller subreddits rather than the bigger and more generic subreddits. 

We’re continuously refining the media and text used in the adverts, to capture the attention of users. Particularly the game clips used in the video ads. As there is a lot of depth to our game, it’s not possible to fit everything into a 15-30 second video. So we can make shorter cuts, from the existing video content we have, to see what appeals to users most.

User Conversion

Regardless of how we got a user to the store page, they still need to be convinced to download the game. This was definitely a problem we didn’t expect to have as much, being a free to play game. But we’ve done a lot of research, gathered some independent feedback and made adjustments to how we present the game. The screenshots are more gameplay focused and we’ve broken up the game description with gifs/images.

User Retention

Something we know from our Football Identity days, is that retaining users is hard. Our initial focus was to connect users together as much as possible. What we quickly realised is that it’s not feasible to provide active games for everyone, but we are going to build a discord bot to help. More information on this will be provided once it’s developed.

We’re working on designs to rebuild our AI, using machine learning. Basically, the bots will be playing a lot of matches against itself and learning how to play. The bots will also receive input from us to understand what it did well or what it should avoid doing. Our goal is to improve the AI to a point in which the game can still be fun and challenging, without the need for all players to be user controlled. 

Along with a more complete single player experience, we’re also going to restructure the tutorials. We’ve reviewed screen recordings of new users playing the game, which has given us some new ideas. We’ve also been doing more market research on how tutorials are designed and exploring other options. We’ll be sharing more information on this in future blog posts.

Summer Lockdown

It’s a summer like no other and it has had devastating effects for many families and communities around the world. Video games have kept many people connected virtually, when physical connection has not been an option. Although working remotely has slowed down progress slightly, we’re determined to keep going. We will continue to fix bugs and add new features to provide an enjoyable experience for all our players.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post, but I will be doing them more regularly going forward. We want to remain transparent with those who have continued to support the game. I wanted to start off by sharing our current priorities and some of the marketing plans.

In the last few weeks we have focused our efforts on bug fixes. We’ll continue to provide regular updates and target the highest priority issues. As a minimum, we will continue to do this for our core users and fit in new features whenever possible. We really appreciate your patience during this time. 

Our approach with the match engine is to make regular and small adjustments. This allows us to assess the impact of each change. Our current focus is getting the balance right between player movements and ball speeds.

 

Something we get a lot of feedback on is our new user experience. For the game to be successful, this is something we need to keep improving. In particular, we’re making some changes to how trial contracts work. Trial contract ads will expire after 7 days, to ensure new players only see ads from the clubs that need players.

We have some more improvements planned, but we welcome additional feedback you have. 

We’ve been advertising on social media platforms to build up our following. We’ve seen an encouraging number of new users from it, but that’s just the start of our plans.

We’ve been working on a new game trailer, which will be much more informative for people unfamiliar with the game. We’re also going to work with some influencers to append the trailer in their videos for more exposure.

We’ll also be working directly with some influencers to play the game and share their experiences. We have some fun ideas/scenarios planned, which we hope you’ll enjoy. We will be selecting the influencers carefully, but if you have any suggestions (from non-English speakers perhaps) then we’d love to hear them!

Early Access

We’re finally here… Early Access launch!

I want to start off by thanking all the people in our discord channel who helped test the game. Without their help it would have taken a lot longer to get to this point. Very much appreciated <3

What to expect in early access

We’re looking to run the game in early access for 3-6 months.  This will give us enough time to complete development on the “seasons” features and do sufficient testing.  As characters will be reset once the season begins, you can treat early access as a bit of a sandbox experience.

Characters

Play around with different positions & builds to see what suits your play style. During early access you'll be able to create older players. However, this is just a temporary feature.

Match engine

Get to grips with the subtle complexities of the match engine. Experiment with different styles and tactics for both 11v11 and 5v5 modes.

Discord events

If you need a few extras in your game, the discord channel is the best place to find people. We'll also organise regular ladder events and other tournaments to compete in.

What features are coming soon

Competitive games are what separates the men from the boys (and ladies from the girls). To be in a position to have competitive games at a large scale, there are 3 main components which need to be added to the game. Together they will make up the “seasons” release, along with other improvements.

Managers are going to be a key part of the game. They’ll be responsible for transfers, tactics and the team identity. They’ll also have traits to give them extra ways to build a unique profile. For example, one trait gives a manger the ability to boost player condition at half time.

With pro license, managers will also be able to give help & advice to their players during games using paint tools. The paint tools allow the manager to draw directly on the pitch (only visible to their team). Note: If a manager abuses the paint feature, players will have the option to hide it!

As you’d expect, managers will need to create a team to bring together players and compete in tournaments. All teams start with the same budget, but how managers choose to spend their money is completely up to them. Invest in better training facilities, upgrade your stadium or splash out on a star player. There’s also multiple ways for the team to earn money.

A team can compete in up to 3 tournaments per season. Each season will last approximately 3 months. Tournaments will vary in format, to give teams a choice on how they earn money. League tournaments are a consistent way to pay the bills, but a cup win could see a quick boost to the finances. Tournaments will be played across multiple days & times, to suit all time-zones. 

What are the aims for early access

It’s been the main focus during beta testing and it will continue to be a key priority. Before we get serious with tournaments, we want to minimise the risk of any bugs impacting match results. 

We need to do some stress testing on the game server with bigger concurrent numbers. Similar to the match engine stability, we don’t want any server issues to impact tournaments down the line.

We intentionally kept quite a small community during the beta testing phase. The game still has a long way to go, but hopefully now it’s polished enough to appeal to a larger audience. We NEED a big and diverse userbase, to push the limits of the game and to promote creativity/innovation. We also need consistent and stable userbase, rather than a quick boom on release day. But don’t worry about that, we’ve got lots of plans to keep people invested for the long term.

Everything is about data these days. To help us make decisions on pricing, features and everything else… we will be looking at the data. We have plenty of ideas on where we want to take the game but we also know we are providing a service to you guys. Before making decisions, we will always take the time to listen to feedback and look at the data.

One other thing analytics is useful for is advertisements and sponsorships. Rather than taking money from you, we’d prefer to use our platform to connect you with companies using non-intrusive ads and sponsorships. 

Early Access Tournaments

We’ll be running a ladder tournament throughout Early Access for you and your friends to compete in. More details to come soon, but it’ll probably be 2 nights a week (Sunday & Wednesday). Occasionally we’ll run KO tournaments with prize rewards for the top 8 teams in the ladder! We’ll give details on our social media pages and discord, so make sure you’re following us.

August Update

As the new football season kicks off, it felt like a good time to update everyone on the progress of the game. We are getting closer to the early access release, which will bring more eyes onto the game. Before we get there, we’re just polishing off some features of the game.

The changes have been split between menu and match related improvements.

Match changes

We’d like one more iteration of AI improvements before releasing. We’ve identified some common behaviours which we’d like to fix. An example of this is when multiple bots go for the same ball unnecessarily. 

We want to improve our momentum logic, as it can feel quite extreme in certain situations. We’ll be adjusting how players transition between low to high momentum.

We’ve given users the ability to adjust the camera position and zoom. One common request we had was to be able to lock the custom zoom. So that’s what we’re going to add!

We noticed the GK would sometimes fail to receive a pass from an opposition player. Even though this has happened in real football, it’s something we know will lead to frustration.

We’re also making it clear on the action menu for GK’s when the action is a pass or shot.

Menu changes

To guide new users through the more complex aspects of the game, we’re adding hints & tips around the menus. 

This is linked to the tutorials. Just to make the flow of the first session easier for new users.

A variety of fixes, just to make the game look a bit more polished! Making sure page elements are properly aligned, buttons are in the right places and unnecessary text is removed.

Some adjustments to the pro license menu and the advertised features. We’re also adding a dynamic pro license badge, so players can show off their support for the game.