Football Manager creator Kevin Toms has given us the lowdown on his first football management game in almost 30 years: Football Team Coach.
The iPhone game, which is due to be released at the end of this summer, is a brand new game, but will have distinct echoes of the original Football Manager series that sold millions in the 1980s.
Perhaps the biggest nod to Football Manager’s past is the inclusion of former playing greats, so you will be able to play Kevin Keegan up front for Rochdale, or have Terry Butcher marshalling the defence at Northampton Town.
True to the original game, players will also have to work their way up from League Two – or the fourth division in old money – rather than immediately glory hunt with teams such as Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the Big Time Charlies League.
“I was quite happy to look back for this [game],” Toms told us. “If people still talk about and like the work that I did then, then they would like an up-to-date version [of Football Manager] but not the same.”
In a sharp juxtaposition with the current Football Manager apps – Sports Interactive bought the Football Manager name from Toms a few years ago – Toms says his new game will focus on simplicity, as our early, unfinished screenshots show.
“The key thing is that it’s very easy to play,” he said. “The subtlety of the game is hidden, it’s underneath. I would say I’ve been fairly minimalist in design. I didn’t want to clutter and I think that will show.”
“The retro aspect has an impact on simplicity as well, because they were simpler times with simpler technologies,” Toms added. “But there’s an engine underneath that’s quite sophisticated.”
Toms says he feels like he’s being “pulled in two directions” in regards to the public’s expectation of his new game. On the one hand, he’s trying to please fans of the game that made his name; on the other he’s trying to move on from a game that – let’s not forget – was last in the charts when Thatcher was still prime minister.
“I do write differently each time,” said Toms. “It’s not a process of reconstructing what I did before. I probably wouldn’t enjoy that as much.”
“What I do it for is to entertain people,” he added. “And it’s fun – it’s fun to create and get feedback.”
It would be even more fun for Toms if the game sold as well as his 80s original, but he’s setting more modest targets for his initial return to football management sims. “I hope that a few thousand of the people who played my original games will find it and they enjoy it, and then when I do the mark II of the game [which will be adapted for Android] that the numbers build,” he said.
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