One big challenge for any game in the Sports Management genre is deciding where to draw the line between trying to be as realistic as possible, and trying to make the game fun for the user.
Two key areas in Football GM were identified in which the plethora of real-life rules could confuse users to the point where they would not find the realism a positive aspect.
- Roster Rules
- Contract Details
One of the main concerns about the real-life roster rules was the amount of designations teams can apply to players. Designations range from the “Physically Unable to Perform” list, the “Injured Reserve-Designated for Return” list to the “Reserve/Military” List.
It was decided from a very early stage that the amount of different lists would need to be curtailed.
Football GM features only one Injured Reserve list (IR) with one player per season allowed to come off it.
A player is eligible to be put on IR if the length of the injury is at least 42 days (6 weeks).
Another simplification is off-season roster rules. For example, Future Contracts which are a staple of early year signings in real life are gone, all in the effort to make the experience more enjoyable for the user (it was felt that having to keep track of players who were due to join your team later in the year added little to the experience – in Football GM the players are signed straight away)
One of the features which may confuse users the most is the cap and contract rules. While the real rules have tried to be adhered to as much as possible a few things have been simplified.
The most striking aspect of contracts which has been simplified are bonus’.
In real life a player’s contract may (and likely will) include bonus’ for things ranging from number of rushing yards, to a workout bonus (if he attends off season workouts). These bonus’ are then generally split into “likely to be earned” and “not likely to be earned”, each having a different effect on the cap number.
In Football GM, in an effort to help the user keep track of the cap numbers, all these different type of bonus’ have been merged into one*; A yearly Roster Bonus. If a player is on the roster on the date his bonus is due, he will get the money.
The home screen will display all important upcoming dates so the user will know when these bonus’ are due.
On each player’s contract panel, Football GM will try and explain to the user what the terms of a contract mean, and explain any rules.
The texts in the explanations will be looked at on a regular basis – as well as if there is a need to explain any other rules – as there is a thin line between not providing enough information to the user and annoying the user by swamping them with too much explanation.
*From the point of view of the Data, all real life bonuses deemed “likely to be earned” have been merged into the roster bonus. This way it is felt that Football GM still keeps the realistic contract/cap amounts, while being able to get rid of all the other bonuses.
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