What I Wanted to Make
I have always been a fan of football managers. What I didn't like in them, is that I couldn't get a direct feedback from my actions. I might win the first half with the score 3:0, make a substitute and then lose the match 3:5. I might lose to the team which is much weaker than mine. I might win the match against very strong team. And I couldn't understand, why?
I think that player should understand how his decisions affect the game. He has to experiment with tactics, he has to be able to look at the opponent's team and find out how to change the tactics to win the game. That was the reason, why I decided to make Football Tactics.
But I didn’t know how to make a football match which feels real, has deep tactical possibilities and allows to understand the situation on the field easily.
Only after playing Persona 3 I’ve understood how I’m going to solve the problem.
Battle Mechanics of Persona 3
Every character can make basic actions like attack, defend or use item.
Characters can use skills. If an enemy is weak against particular skill, the character can make +1 turn.
When all enemies are knocked down, all characters strike them together at the same time.
Battle mechanics consists of three layers: basic actions, skills and special attack.
It was like a spark in the brain. I understood that the football game, which I want to make, has to have three similar layers: basic actions, skills and counter attacks.
However, prototyping wasn’t easy. Football match with 11 footballers (on every side) is really different, than quick battles of small groups. Moreover, I had to transform somehow damage and kills of battle mechanics to goals in football mechanics.
We searched and prototyped a lot, and finally the game became really fun. Here’s the hidden layers of the match mechanics:
Match Mechanics of Football Tactics
A team can make three actions per turn. Those are usual football actions like pass, tackle, move, goal kick etc. After three actions turn goes to another team.
Some footballers can learn skills like layoff pass, sliding tackle, rainbow feint, cannon kick, maple leaf etc.If a footballer uses his skill successfully, the team gets +1 action in its turn.
Match mechanics consists of two layers: basic actions and skills.
The third layer
We didn’t implement the third “All-Out Attack” layer, because it was completely taken out of football context. Real counter attacks work in different way.
In the first prototypes the footballers had “weaknesses” similar to enemies in Persona 3. There were few characteristics like “Technique”, “Speed” etc. If a footballer uses, for example, skill Rainbow Feint against an opponent with weak Technique, than the team of the footballer gets +1 action.
But it appeared, that this feature makes footballers’ management too hard, UIs too overloaded, and football match too slow.
So after three months of prototyping we cut out the feature. And, I‘m sure, for the better.
These two mechanics do not look similar. And it’s interesting to know, that the roots of the match mechanics of European football manager game lay in the battle mechanics of Japanese RPG.
Idea gave the initial direction, inspiration. But it’s not enough. There was a long way of searching and prototyping, until mechanics became really fun.