Hello, and welcome back to Football Manager Ambition!
In addition, today we combine our FM18 Progress Report with #Fullergate... Can you guess what's coming?
Obviously, we are now very close to the FM19 beta dropping, and the excitement is mounting. We were hoping to have a more detailed look at the feature announcements released by SI, but to be honest, for all the fanfare about the new game, and the glitzy announcements, there hasn't been a huge amount of in-depth detail released.
We know that there will be changes to tactics and training, and some new animations and so on, but that's kind of what we'd expect anyway. However, we are going to talk about the look of the game, in the Football Manager Problems feature, below. When the FM19 beta drops, we will be going into great detail on this blog.
But for now, we are going to kick things off with Harry Redknapp, and one of our...
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
"We have done a lot to make it easier for people with physical disabilities to go to matches, but autism is invisible."
~Harry Redknapp bang on the money when it comes to football and autism-friendliness. Our question today is: Could Football Manager be more autism-friendly?
We'll return to this shortly, but first...
PROGRESS REPORT... AND #FULLERGATE
End of season 2029/30
The post-January results, then, looked like this:
The real shock of the save came in the close season, and the transfer market. As regular visitors to this blog will know, I've had a few chuckles over the duration of the game at my repeated failed attempts to sign Chelsea's world-class midfielder Shane Fuller. Despite bids close to £300 million, Chelsea knocked me back time and again, so much so that I wondered if there was some kind of SI conspiracy against me! (not really), resulting in the hashtag #Fullergate.
And as I pursued my stated ambition in this game - to fill my SWFC side with England internationals so that the England team is made up only of SWFC players - it emerged that Fuller wouldn't be the only problem blocking me... other world-class players that were England regulars included Spurs' striker Ryan Hambling, and Man Utd winger Ian Richardson. In addition, my third-choice keeper, Sunz Hunter lost his England place, to be replaced by Bournemouth's Chad Pierre Louis. The clubs did not want to sell any of these players. It became a kind of war of wills as I made bid after bid after bid, despite not really having the funds to get them. But then this happened...
Now, amazingly, the text showing that Fuller may be moving from Chelsea to Chelsea (WTF?) is not the funniest thing here. The fact that Chelsea had previously rejected bids of close to £300 million, and then suddenly ask for £72 million is bizarre. But gift horses and gobs, etc...
Anyway, I went back with a cheeky offer...
And before you know it...
But it gets better. Have a look at my transfers in:
Okay, okay, you will see I have totally ransomed the future of the club with the add-ons for Richardson, but needs must, and this will be my last season on the game anyway. Yes, I suppose in one way it's verging on cheating, although I would say that I'm good enough in the transfer market to actually claw that back if I did carry the game on.
Meanwhile, transfers out looked like this:
Did the influx of England internationals allow me to achieve my ambition, though? Well, frustratingly, 32-year-old Marcus Rashford, now at Chelsea, has retained his England place. And really annoyingly, George Gascoigne, who I sold to WBA, has entered the England squad! So, it looks like this:
So close. So very, very close. I just need Rashford to retire or be dropped, and I believe my striker Simpson can overtake Gascoigne for an England place. Soon, my friend. Soon.
Now, it's time for our more serious content:
FOOTBALL MANAGER PROBLEMS:
Is Football Manager Autism friendly - and do Sports Interactive care?
As you will have noticed from the screenshots I post from my game, I use the alternative Football Manager skin, Football Manager Light. I've also tinkered with some of the colour preferences on the skin. Why did I do this? After all, if you look at the millions of #FootballManager screenshots on Instagram, the vast majority of them show the standard, darker skin, with all the day-glo colours. Well the thing is, I'm autistic. And I simply cannot visually cope with the standard skin. There's too much going on with the colours, and there's some kind of horrible sensory overload that happens when the colours are on a darker background from the standard, and even worse, the 'dark' skins:
For me, looking at a screen like this is sheer hell. I wouldn't be able to play the game if there wasn't the 'light' skin.
Autism, as can be gathered from its more correct title autism spectrum disorder, varies from one person to another across the spectrum. It might be that not all autistic gamers would struggle with over-colourful screens, but sensory overload is a very common element of autism, and I would suggest that the vast majority of autistic gamers experience this kind of difficulty.
So, when a new iteration of FM appears, I want to know if I'm going to be able to cope with the skin. And to be honest, the default skin on FM19 as shown in the feature releases so far, with its new purple branding, looks like a total nightmare for me.
So, I decided to approach Sports Interactive about this on social media. If you follow @footballmanager on Twitter, you'll know they can be very responsive and interactive with fans. Questions and comments from fans are usually answered quickly. #HappyDance
Here are a couple of examples of @footballmanager quickly responding to fans' tweets...
This great! Well, at least you're answered quickly as long as it's a straightforward question about features, release dates, or praise for the game. #UhOh
Sadly, in my experience, Sports Interactive have a culture of not responding to anything more difficult. I have sounded off many times about how SI have refused to publicly own up about how bug-ridden FM18 was on release. It was simply not fit for release, never mind fit for sale, when it first dropped. Just have a look at the thousands upon thousands of posts on the Fm18 Bugs forum. If you mention bugs on Twitter to @footballmanager or their frontman @milesSI, you will be politely directed to the bugs forum, where sometimes, as I found, your report will be ignored for weeks or even months.
However, I wasn't reporting a bug this time. I just wanted to know if FM19 would include an alternative skin that might be easier for an autistic person to handle. Here's how it went...
And the response? Well, there wasn't one...
Maybe if I tried Miles?
I've already forked out my cash to pre-order FM19, and I've no reason to believe there definitely won't be a light skin, but jeepers, a little communication could have done wonders, here.
As much as I love Football Manager the game - and I really do gets tons of pleasure from it, much to my wife's dismay - I do get frustrated with the sense of arrogance that emanates from SI when you challenge something.
But does it really even matter?
If you don't have autism or know anyone affected by it, you might wonder what the fuss is about. It doesn't help that popular media has taken to portraying autism disorders like Asperger's syndrome as some kind of super-power bestowing mathematical genius, or great musical prowess, or artistic brilliance. For the vast, vast majority of people on the autism spectrum, there is no superpower.
The National Autistic Society describes autism as:
a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'.
I'd like you to let the word disability sink in for a moment. In fact, take the phrase 'lifelong developmental disability'.
I wasn't diagnosed with autism in childhood. When I was a kid, no one I knew had ever even heard of the word autism. Instead, the problems I experienced all through my childhood, my teens, adulthood, through work, relationships and marriage, were either mis-diagnosed, or sometimes put down to me being a complete [expletive deleted]. It's only now, when I'm pretty long in the tooth, after a perceptive doctor realised the truth, that I'm beginning to get an understanding of my condition, and of how, while remaining undiagnosed, it damaged every single part of my life.
Football Manager is actually therapeutic for me, which my lovely wife has come to realise. It's a pastime in which I can put things in order; I can organise things. As such, it's become as important to me as, say, golf, or fishing is to some people. Apart from going to the gym, it's my pastime of choice, and I spend far too much time on it! But yes, it's very mentally satisfying for me to play the game. It functions with my autism. As long as I can have a nice, low-colour screen, like the 'light' skin in FM18. I do hope Sports Interactive will bear this in mind. As Harry Redknapp knows, I'm not the only autistic person into football, and so I won't be the only one into Football Manager.
That's all for now. Thank you for dropping by. Hopefully, my next blog post will show and England team made up only of SWFC players. May your game never crash unsaved!