Operation Sports recently had a chance to interview Régis Robin (Cyanide), Producer Manager of FrontPage Sports Football. (www.frontpage-football.com/)
Operation Sports: First off, the question everyone is wondering, is this game related to the old Front Page Sports Football series?
Régis Robin: It is related in terms of the name and "core values". We are fans of the series and so we aimed to create a game which focused on strategy and management instead of requiring proficiency with a gamepad. When looking for a name, we discovered that the original Dynamix trademark had expired and so "Front Page Sports Football" was reborn.
RR: In Front Page Sports Football, you are Head Coach of a football team and, as a result, you have to make all the decisions that any Head Coach would. It just takes a few clicks to become coach of a virtual football team and start playing! Then you must look after player transfers; prepare training sessions; manage any injuries suffered by your players; devise your game tactics; create your playbook and, hopefully, lead your team to the top of your championship.
This, of course, requires making some important decisions. Some, such as recruiting free agents to play for you or pre-match preparations, may come easy; others, however, may entail taking financial risks! No doubt most coaches will enjoy the decision-making required for matches. That will mean watching 3D replays of previous matches in order to improve team strategy while trying to anticipate the reactions of the opposition.
We worked hard on match simulation so that statistics are as close as possible to reality and to ensure that each decision by the Head Coach has an impact on the field of play. The coach is not a passive spectator; his decisions govern the way his team plays.
On top of all this, Front Page Sports Football is a free online game which allows the coach to take on other "human" coaches; Front Page Sports Football is made up of 3 distinct championships, each on a different playing level.
OS: How does the financial system work with the game (Cyans)?
RR: It is important to note that you can play without spending any real money. However, if you want your team to be competitive you must credit your virtual wallet by buying Cyans which is the virtual currency within Front Page Sports Football. You can use Cyans to acquire a variety of items (tactics pack, extra training sessions, scouts, etc.) which can improve the level of your players and/or your team. The cost of an item is a function of the bonus it provides. For example, 100 Affinity points cost 8 Cyans, a tactics pack costs 20 Cyans, a Champion pack costs 65 Cyans and so on forth.
OS: What are the available player/roster management options?
RR: Team management (and thus player management) is the core of Front Page Sports Football. A multitude of options are available at different levels throughout the game. If the Head Coach wants to sign new players he can sign free agents; he can arrange transfers which include exchange of turns in the draft, and so on. The most fun will probably be had when the draft takes place at the start of each season.
The coach can choose his match line-up and manage his practice squad so that he has enough players to cover injuries and suspensions.
From a training viewpoint it is possible to prepare players over a period of time or it is possible to get them ready for the next match. Pre-match training programs procure a short-term bonus for a player (or players) in a given skill/domain. The importance of training varies across the season, but pre-season training camps are vital to a teams' success.
OS: What type of playbook options are present?
RR: Our aim was to provide a large number of viable parameters so that the tactical aspect of team play could be simulated. We invested much time and effort in this aspect of the game so that the coach could devise all sorts of tactics depending on his play (defense and offense) or on match conditions.
There are potentially more than 2000 plays available to a coach when it comes to creating a playbook. However, we wanted to give the coach even more precise control and so we added the option to choose players specifically for each play. For example, a coach can build his Goal Line Defense around the heaviest players and he will know that it was his micro-management that led to a successful goal line stand.
The coach has several tools which allow him to analyze his playbook, for example - a record of each play is stored so that he can look at the stats and draw a reasoned decision about what to use in coming matches. Good use of these stats allows the coach to progress as he improves his team over the length of the season.
Training is directly linked to the playbook and to train a team in a given play increases the "Playbook Knowledge" attribute of those players taking part. As a result each player has a more or less deep understanding of every play in the playbook. Of course, that means that the coach must involve himself in such detail if he truly wants to hone his team for upcoming games.
OS: What is a typical game week in the game like?
RR: The underlying heartbeat of Front Page Sports Football is the ever-advancing season.
Some decisions are one-off, such as choosing a defensive and offensive team philosophy, but many, such as training sessions, are made on a daily basis. Training sessions must be tied-in with the match calendar and so the scrimmage training at the start of the season, when the team roster is not totally settled, may not prove very productive. However, it may prove more useful during a training camp.
In the pre-season period the coach must be active in the recruitment market, be it the draft, signing free agents or player transfers.
During the season the coach will spend most of his time studying match replays and working on game plans; analyzing stats and standings; making changes to the playbook and taking care of issues resulting from player injuries or suspensions.
So there are a wide variety of activities to keep a coach busy week after week. It may prove too much for some, but most coaches won't complain. It is, after all, part of a well-balanced schedule: eat, sleep and play football.
OS: Is there a single player mode?
RR: Not for now but we're definitely exploring the idea.
OS: Will there be an option for an arcade element like in the FPS series from the 90s?
RR: It is possible to view match replays in isometric 3D mode. This gives a TV-like view of the match, which is better than a 2D view, and results in greater immersion.
OS: What else would you like readers at OS to know about Front Page Sports Football?
RR: If you love football and you really enjoy managing a team; creating a playbook; defining a game plan, etc., and if you revel in the idea of taking-on another coach, then Front Page Sports Football is for you. Moreover, the game can be enjoyed at a variety of levels. A coach can connect for 5 minutes every day and tweak things here and there or he can spend hours going through stats and match replays to really know his team inside out.