get closer to Sports Interactive - blog#3

Author: Miles Jacobson. Link to original: http://hmv.com/hmvweb/navigate.do?ctx=3583;6;-1;-1&pPageID=3604 (English).
Tags: 2009, FMFan.ru, Football, Manager Submitted by shevelevee 19.10.2008. Public material.

Translations of this material:

into Russian: get closer to Sports Interactive - blog#3. Translation complete.
Submitted for translation by shevelevee 19.10.2008 Published 9 years, 9 months ago.

Text

Hello again. What a busy day it's been, what with 3 blogs here for you all. Don't worry, it'll calm down a bit now, with a blog every few days so as to not bore you too much.

As I said in the first blog of the day, Football Manager™ Handheld on the PSP is now in what is called "submission" at Sony, so it's all hands on deck to get Football Manager™ 2009 finished now, for both PC and Mac. We're in the final stages of development, and are now in a stage called "code lock", which means that nothing new can be added, with only bug fixing and some stuff on the 3d view being done.

This is a stage of very long days. As I write this, it's 10.25pm on Thursday night, and there's still a dozen people in the studio, and many more working at home. QA and a few of the dev team will be running "soak" tests all night, so we can check long term progression of clubs, players, finances and the like and analyse it first thing. The production team has just gone home to get some sleep having done some mad hours earlier in the week doing trial runs of all the different versions of the game that have to be made, although one will be doing more work when he gets in. It doesn't ever stop.

Because we release the game in so many countries, with so many languages (the game gets translated by our amazing team of translators into 17 languages), it's not a case of having one master disc that serves all countries, so we have to do 8 different versions of the game at this stage, and another couple later on. Then there's also the digital download versions to do, and preparation for the demo, so the production team are really busy getting all of that together, as well as having to keep on top of how the game itself is shaping up.

For some of the coders, their work is done on the main game, and they're playing it to see how everything fits together, whilst offering support for those coders who are still full on trying to get everything perfect. There's still quite a bit of work being done to the 3D match view, as quite a lot of the technical stuff has been waiting on other things to be done, so there is extra "blending" of animations and the like to make it look as good as possible. As well as the SI team working on it, we've got a couple of contractors working on that side of things who have been here for a few months to make the 3D match view as good as it possibly can be.

There's also the in-game advertising work going on (which will be in-situ, so advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch), which has already lead to some great partnerships for the future, and will have lots of benefit for those people who buy this years games too, but more of that in a later blog.

We have to be very careful at this time of year to not do too much. There are various office casualties, some of their own doing (like eating something uncooked at a BBQ), some just plain stupid like falling off a bike and getting concussion, to some sweet induced (my root canal treatment a couple of weeks back, followed by 2 hours of emergency dental stuff earlier this week when a crown came out). Sweets are bad, m'kay....

Despite it being really busy, it's actually a lot of fun. There's quite a lot of us here in the studio now at Sports Interactive, with 48 full time at the last count, plus a bunch of testers who are on contracts, the aforementioned coding and animation contractors, and someone helping out on the research and data side of things too, as well as our army of researchers and translators around the world. As you can imagine, the football debates in the office rage constantly, with today's main one being about whether Liverpool's planned stadium move should be in the game or not, seeing as they aren't actually moving for definite, and the speculation on what exactly is being investigated in the match fixing scandal that our friends at the Football League are looking into. The banter is pretty funny too. Thankfully, being in the area of London which we are based, there's loads of choice for dinner, so we try to avoid stereotypical software development studios by having pizza and burgers each night we work late - tonight, there was a choice of pasta, afghan (which is like a mild curry, and my personal choice of the evening) and a place that delivers just about everything from the school of "we do everything not very well". Some people like it.

It's not just getting the game finished either at this time of year. There are all kinds of things to get finalised and approved that our publisher and parent company, SEGA, are doing, such as pack shots, point of sale (the stuff you see in shops that advertises the game), posters, press adverts, marketing and PR campaigns to approve from around the world. And, for the first time with FM, a TV advert too. Our brand manager at SEGA, and all of the territory brand managers, are all working their socks off too to make sure that everyone in every country we release the game in knows that it's coming out, and the release date, with some really great promotions this year, such as the free mini-mouse that you can get by ordering from this very website.

We're kind of used to this stage by now, although it's pretty hard not getting to see girlfriends, wives, partners, pets and friends for a while. I haven't even got to go to a match for a few weeks, despite having season tickets at 3 clubs, and my Mum sees more of me in magazines than she does in real life, which isn't exactly ideal. It's the same in any creative industry though - I worked in music for many years, and seeing bands on tour not getting to see anyone for months on end, or in the studio mixing, or for directors and actors who might be on locastion for months on end, but for me it's worth it in the end when you see people smiling as they pick up the game or telling stories of their time playing it. And it is the best job in the world...

So yes, it's flat out, but still fun. The game is coming together really nicely, and we're very proud of it already, but want to give it that extra polish in the final weeks of development. Here's hoping the polishing works!

So, that's it for today - I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and I'll get another blog done for Monday with maybe a couple of new features in it, the story of how we got involved with YouTube and whatever else I can think to write about.

Oh, and there are likely discussions going on about the blogs on our forums (community.sigames.com) and if you have something specific you'd like to know about SI that isn't about specific features in our games, feel free to send an email to [email protected], and I'll choose the best ones and answer them in future blogs.

Cheers