NPFC: Assorted Thoughts of a Crap Manager #1

The first match the Revolutions won was a surprise.

IMG_20140426_152032673

Before this, the total number of goals scored by the club was 3.

I was right to expect great things from the pairing of Jung and Hermann as they’ve both become real assets to the team, with Vink leading the midfield to provide a third reliable goal scorer (admittedly the above screenshot doesn’t show any of the three players I’ve mentioned scoring, but shush). Some problems have arisen in said midfield however. More than half of them are out of the game right now, mostly through injury (except for Grant who has a red card as well). This is my fault for overtraining them and leaning on their strength to prop up my middling defence. Now I’m left with the dregs that I’ve been keeping on the bench. In other words, I’m pretty boned.


I’ve been playing a lot less friendly matches than I did when I first started the game, which is what sent my manager approval rating tumbling because I lost all of them. Now I have a better handle on what I’m doing, playing practise matches against higher league opponents to earn training cards without damaging my reputation with a loss, I’m up to about 50% approval. This is a clear improvement over most of the fans hating my guts.


I’ve changed the club emblem and kit so much that we’ve got more of an identity crisis than Cardiff City. And I may well change it again, because I can’t quite get it right. The game does its damnedest to build empathy and a sense of ownership over the club, which escalates naturally as you spend time watching them play. Sadly though, the painfully limited customisation options leave it difficult to make your club look distinctly yours. Kit customisation isn’t too bad, offering a decent number of patterns and a somewhat limited colour palette of 12. Designing a club emblem is less good. Let’s say you want a dragon on it.

IMG_20140428_160917562_HDR

There are three colourisation options here and none relate to the dragon.

You can totally have a dragon, but it will be this size, in this location, and no you may not choose what colour it will be. You may change the colour of the circlet behind the dragon, from that same measly colour palette. Same goes for the logos with trophy cups, anchors, skull and crossbones, damn near all of them. There are lots of options here, but little in the way of personalisation. I can see the Nintendo logic of not offering too comprehensive an emblem designer in a family friendly game that has an online component, lest younger fans face off against a team with a disturbingly veiny logo, but not even allowing you to recolour a stinking lightning bolt when the game desperately wants you to get attached to your club is disappointing.

IMG_20140428_160938949_HDR

The current Revolutions emblem. There are a few designs that do allow you to choose a letter as centrepiece for your emblem. That’s as personalised as you can get.


I really wish there was a “dispute” button to hammer on when you’re flagged offside. The Revolutions have definitely been on the wrong end of some iffy linesmen. I don’t necessarily want it to change the decision, I just wish to make my dissatisfaction clear. Part of being a great manager is having an epic shit-fit on the sidelines, right?

Advertisements

Nintendo Pocket Football Club and the Humble Beginnings of [Insert Team Name Here]

I was drawn to Nintendo Pocket Football Club on 3DS (or NPFC so as not to wear out my keyboard) the same way I was drawn to its Japan-only predecessor, Game Boy Advance game Calciobit: I really like the art style.

IMG_20140425_204152958

More iffy photos of the screens I’m afraid. I should write about some PS Vita games, you can save screenshots directly on the system and transfer them easily onto PC and they look lovely and everything… Ahem. This is the main menu; the buildings on the bottom screen represent things like training, play a match, manage the team etc.

The meat of NPFC is a light form of football management. During actual games, your interaction is limited to substituting tired players and changing team tactics. Off the pitch, you can train your players using cards that you earn during the matches. Managerial commentary from your Mii will pop up at random points, each opinion coming with an associated training. “The lads look knackered, best get them doing some Running training”, he paraphrased. Each training boosts one or several of seven stats that make up the skills of each player.

IMG_20140425_204227285_HDR

Skills include kicking, speed, toughness, and are each ranked from E to S depending on how good the player is.

While there is plenty of training you can give, it can often feel like you’re piddling into a rather stiff breeze. Skills are slow to level, and the minimal interaction during matches can leave you feeling irritatingly distanced from your team. What does capture you though is seeing your players in action. Goal celebrations are utterly charming acted out by these chunky stylised pixels, and I’ve found myself grumbling impotently as my players make bad decisions or the ball pings off the opponent’s crossbar, or delightedly mouthing praise for good passing and deft runs. Though it takes some time, you will start to see personality in the randomised sprites in the way they play and how they act with each other. If you were looking for a cutesy Football Manager, NPFC probably isn’t for you as it’s nowhere near that deep. It is however fairly perfect for someone like me, somewhat aware of football and not inherently dismissive of it, but also not a big football fan. A flipping casual football watcher.

I chose to name my team for a real life one that I was involved with some years ago: a small community startup called New Age Revolutions, playing in grey and red with a gear wheel for a logo. Purportedly this was to represent the industrial heritage of the area (the revolutions of the gear and such). Really it came from the chairman being quite into Che Guevara at the time. I was the club secretary officially, but despite our various titles we were just a bunch of teenaged mates who thought it’d be cool to give the whole thing a shot. I only attended one match, the first New Age Revolutions played. We lost, 30 odd-to-1. Though my memory might be generous thinking we even scored once. We were astoundingly shit by any standard, and the team quickly fizzled out after that.

IMG_20140425_204525368

Back of the net! You can save replays of favourite games or goals for later perusal (hence why this picture looks even blurrier, it’s of a video).

My digital Revolutions (just Revolutions, due to a character limit on naming your team) aren’t quite that bad, but we have yet to win a game. To date, we have scored three goals total and our best result is a 1-all draw. I got my star forward injured two weeks before the first match of the beginner’s league by playing him too hard in a friendly we lost. One of a series of losses incidentally that has seen my manager approval rating amongst the fans tumble like my surname was Moyes. I’m paying 600 coins for a middling goalkeeper who hasn’t seen game time in over a month, my defence is full of players on the downturn of their careers, and my second half performances are routinely shocking. I have been thinking perhaps it was a bad omen to use the name.

There are positives. I recently moved defender Vink into the midfield, where his wide skill range and pro-active play style are better suited. I’ve also started playing the team in a 3-5-2 formation, which is really taking advantage of the strength and depth I’ve got in midfield. While he is currently injured, Jung is a solid forward (he’s scored two of the club’s three entire goals). Hermann, who I hastily signed to fill the gap up front, has turned out to be a better player than fellow forward Alonso, so when Jung is back on his feet I’m looking forward to seeing what he and Hermann can do together (Alonso can drink Lucozade on the bench and like it). Happily, we’re also not at the bottom of the league table, which means there may still be hope for us this season.

IMG_20140425_204100607_HDR

Pictured: not bottom of the league. NAR is my club, the New Age Revolutions. Also we’re highlighted in red, so this explanation isn’t really necessary.

This could be the beginning of a successful dynasty, or it could crash and burn like the real Revolutions. Stay tuned to see whether the team secure a victory any time soon, or if I’m turfed out for being a crap manager with only the most general of footballistic knowledge.