Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Forward The Lads!

Shannon Drake | 4 Oct 2006 17:08
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In which I become an English Premier League manager.

Regular readers know of the way Joe and I became fans of the English Premier League. Beginning with an article by the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, we picked teams and turned to Spanner for guidance. While Spanner is not a fan of football, he knows quite a lot about England, being English, and provided valuable insights on English culture and picking the correct team. I was worried at first, but I knew I picked the right football team when I saw on the BBC feed that one of my Newcastle lads crashed into a house. Sober!

In the months since then, we've settled into our roles well. While I still barely understand the sport, I'm getting better, and Fox Sports Net is kind enough to show EPL games at some ungodly hour, which means I TiVo them and watch them later. As with any good sports fan, I've decided one thing, namely that Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder is not doing nearly as good a job as I could, which is why the press release from Sega came at a fortuitous time...

[newsposting] Greatest Demo of All Time

This is not the usual headline, and I was intrigued at anyone ballsy enough to break the "Offend No One" code of the PR firm. Was this the greatest demo of all time? The gauntlet was cast simply by the headline, and I was honor-bound to investigate. Turns out it was an announcement that the Football Manager '07 demo was out today. You have to unederstand, this is Shannon Kryptonite for two reasons, one of which is that I was wanting to try a football game, and the other of which is that I am a complete junkie for management games. I mean it. I last actually completed an on-the-field-game of Madden in the 90s, but I've been a semi-regular purchaser of the game. I'm just far more interested in putting together a good draft than in what comes of it on the field. And Madden taught me a lot about football, so Football Manager should, theoretically, teach me about football (soccer).

I plunged in, appointing myself manager of Newcastle United, digging through menus, and completely confusing myself. While I don't know much about football, I am savvy enough to know there is a LOT of depth here. Not only can I dock a player's pay for no reason, but I can also yell at him if he's underachieving and scream at him in the locker room if he's screwing up. About the only thing it's missing is taking him out back with a cricket bat for some real English justice when he screws up. That's in addition to managing lineups, managing your developmental league, managing your coaching staff, setting up your game strategies, setting up your formations, and god knows what else. I could get really into this. REALLY into this. I could actually hear it saying, in a quiet, feminine voice...

Come and play with us, Shannon. Forever and ever and ever...

They've also discovered (maybe they knew all along?) that people really like using web browsers. I could set up my ace personnel moves, flip over and talk smack to Joe, then take a 3 day holiday and watch the news flow by without leaving my game. The Back button takes you back through previous sceens, so no more clicking 800 times to get back where you were. It worked friendly with Windowed mode, which is important to me. And I know I'm doomed, because there's a Mac client.

More importantly, the game simulation is really, really fun to watch. It's just little numbered circles on the field running around, but Joe and I were clustered around my computer, shouting at the little icons moving around the field like we were actually watching the game.

So best demo ever? Not sure yet. But Newcastle 1-Gretna 1, not bad for my first game.

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