A (Very) Short Guide to Understanding the Match Engine and AI Démarré par NakS

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A (Very) Short Guide to Understanding the Match Engine and AI Démarré par NakS

Message  ermite31 le Sam 30 Avr - 9:46

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Match Engine Development

It is a regularly expressed forum opinion that the FM07 ME produced beautiful football. In contrast, FM08's ME seemed to be a major retrograde step in terms of the beauty and flow of the football. The release version of FM08 was the only time I was genuinely shocked with the ME quality compared to the previous version. However, I soon came to realise that despite it seeming a step backward, it did actually add in ugly, mistake ridden, broken play elements of the game, which were missing from 07.

In 07, it was possible for a PM to make over 150 successful passes in a match and for a TM to score 50 plus league goals in a season. As long as you had quality players in those positions, you would dominate. I actually stopped using a TM because it made the game too easy. What the 07 ME made obvious, especially for these roles, was how well the players were obeying tactical instructions. in the FM11 ME, player decision making is far more important, so you need a much better eye to see your instructions being carried out. In 07, they followed instructions like robots, in FM11, like people.

The FM07 ME was the last one in which a user could dominate structurally, i.e. as long as he had a logical mentality system and player roles, the tactical AI couldn't cope and was overpowered. Because of this, your team would play exactly how you prescribed. As long as you had a superior structural system, the AI couldn't do anything to stop your team playing in the manner you wanted.

Subsequent AIs and MEs have eroded this level of user advantage. In FM08, the tactical AI was robust enough to stop user structural systems dominating it without the user at least changing strategies. The alternative was to employ crazy arrow tactics that tricked the AI defence into marking the wrong players, which artificially and unrealistically opened up exploitable space. The removal of the arrows for the FM09 ME highlighted other weaknesses in the ME, notably the inability of the AI to defend the centre when it was overloaded by the opposition. As a result, there were a plethora of 'super' tactics appearing that simply channeled the ball down the centre. This fault continued throughout FM10 and early into FM11, although it was slowly being combated by the change in tactical logic in FM10 and by better defensive AI through FM10 and 11. In recent MEs, it has become almost impossible to overpower AI tactics down the centre.

The only major flaw remaining is corners, which are still scored on at too high a rate. However, back post or target goalkeeper routines no longer overly dominate, albeit at the slight cost of overall goals from corners increasing. The current ME has a few other issues which could still be tidied up to make it perfect, but none of which, in my opinion, come close to game breaking.

Current Issues

1: Defenders turning their back on the ball.

2: Defenders clearing the ball out for corners rather than into touch or down the pitch. Numerous times players bang the ball out behind them when it is perfectly possible to clear it to other areas.

3: Attackers freezing when wide of the goal and in the last 6 yards. Players don't know what to do in this position and tend to do very unrealistic things.

4: Back crosses are still a little overpowered. This is not too bad and only happens if you have a strong/quick and tall player coming in on the far post. For example, my MR scores a lot of far post headers from open play, but his jumping is 19. My AML (jumping 5) doesn't.

5: Central players with high vision not seeing the overlap. The FBs can get in really good wide positions in this ME, but are too often ignored when they get there.

6: Goalkeeper not commanding his box.

7: Direct free kicks being underpowered.

8: Pressing could be more aggressive, especially high up the pitch. However, I have seen my team, when fired up, press the ball all the way down the pitch from the edge of my own area, forcing a backpass to and wild clearance from the opposition goalkeeper.

The important thing is that none of these bugs, for me anyway, ruin the overall match experience. The variety of goal types and open play moves is breathtaking. There are no 'do this and score' routines in open play any more, largely because the defence of the centre and flanks has improved so much.

Managing Match Performances in FM11

In FM07, all you had to do was to produce a good base tactic and you'd dominate. Now you also have to ensure the squad is disciplined and motivated. You also need to make minor tactical adjustments (all can be done via shouts) to account for opposition formations, the weather, the pitch condition and the scoreline. For me, an inability to manage these aspects is what will make the game less fun, as you will never work out why you are winning or losing.

If you have well-disciplined, motivated players following a coherent tactical plan, it is still obvious that they are sticking to your tactics. The key difference is that the players won't robotically pass to the PM or TM if another obvious and much easier option is on. This means that if a PM is marked out of the game by the AI, the players use second options. Decision making is now logical and not robotic.

PPMs are a major difference, as they give players traits that might make them act differently than you'd expect from your tactical instructions. As a manager, you have to work out how to best combat/employ this. You can ask them to unlearn the trait, use specific player instructions to minimise its impact, use team instructions to do likewise, or decide to make it an integral part of your game plan. Some players may never fit in to your tactical system, so you either have to ship them off or change the system.

Motivation and respect are also key. If the players are motivated to play for you and respect your decisions, then they will follow instructions very closely. However, if there is low morale or you have lost the dressing room, players will not act in a disciplined manner. You then need to put other managerial skills into play outside of the tactical ones. If you want the players to follow your instructions to the letter, you need the dressing room to 100% respect you. This does require time and managers must recognise that a team is unlikely to produce highly polished football if there are multiple new signings or the manager has just taken over the club. Polished performance is something to work towards and not something one should automatically expect.

Understanding the AI's Strengths and Weaknesses

There have been two types of game-playing logic that have dominated the forums since FM06. One has focused on designing 'super-tactics 'that enable the user to press continue, safe in the knowledge that the AI cannot cope with the user tactic. People using this system never learn how the game works as man and media management become irrelevant if your tactic wins by default. These types of player tend to 'rant and rave' on the forums about cheating AI when the tactic they employ falls apart (commonly, they get the morale up pre-season, play open attractive football in good conditions, win, hit some bad weather, don't adjust and collapse). The second type of logic was based around the TT&F style of play, in which the user learned how to make logical tactical decisions and learned why and how they worked (NB TT&F was just one version of this type of play. There are a number of other systems of play that followed a similar mindset). In FM10, TT&F was incorporated into the game, as the Tactical Creator and in AI tactical logic. The AI is now capable of making far more sophisticated tactical decisions, which means it is able to stop the user team from playing how it wants.

As a result, the user also has to be more sophisticated. In order to impose his own game on the opposition, he needs to be able to manage the squad holistically. He must understand tactics well enough to prevent the opposition from playing and impose his own game in a variety of conditions, against multiple formations and playing styles and against squads of varying ability levels. This can involve using shouts systematically, employing logical opposition instructions (either to combat formation of player strengths/weaknesses), target marking, killing the crowd influence etc, etc. He must be able to keep his squad disciplined, confident and motivated. He must be able to rotate effectively so he doesn't have a squad full of jaded players. He must be able to buy the right players to fit into his tactical system or adapt his tactical thinking to the players at his disposal.

The user still has a number of advantages over the AI. The AI doesn't use opposition instructions to negate formation differences or player weaknesses, only against player strengths. The AI's target marking only focuses on the most creative players. The AI only has a limited number of shout strategies, which certainly haven't been fully integrated with manager types. The AI's squad building is still sub-standard.

The major issue is that too few of the user base appreciate all of this and certainly haven't grasped the holistic requirements of the game. Most of this is down to the documentation, which while technically adequate, is hopeless in terms of understanding game playing strategy. It, and the in-game hints and tips, is lagging behind AI and ME development, which leads to a knowledge gap between the product and the users. The richness of the game's technical excellence is not being extended into the game-playing experience for a significant number of users. It has got better in recent years, but is still a major issue. Until it is addressed, the kind of frustration that regularly expresses itself on the forums will continue, with the risk of it multiplying.



Messages : 408
Date d'inscription : 24/04/2011

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