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United Soccer: A Sim Where Simulation Is Bannable
June 25th 2002, 13:54 CEST by m0nty

Innovation in MMOGs is sorely lacking, but a little-known UK-based dev company called Staggan is trying to change that with a game called United Soccer, announced this month and possibly due in October, with a beta expected soon. Interviews at sister sites Gamesindustry.biz and Eurogamer given by the unassuming Martyn Hughes of Staggan detail plans for a massively multiplayer online football sim, with dreams of a global sponsored league, a world cup and a community of players to build on with future United Sports games of a similar ilk. Here we go, here we go, here we go...

The only previous attempt at a sports-based MMOG was Motor City Online, the car-racing sim which folded due to lack of interest last year. Soccer seems a more obvious choice, with the goodwill from the current World Cup strengthening its grip on the title of the "world game". Cracking the American market would seem to be the key, which is admitted in the comments to the Eurogamer story by Hughes, posting as Staggan. The graphics don't look as good as the FIFA series from EA, although admittedly it's still at pre-alpha stage. Staggan licenses the Renderware 3D graphics engine from Criterion Software.

There are some inherent difficulties with having 22 humans playing a soccer sim at one time, not the least of which is that positional play may very well be abandoned for an "everyone follow the ball and try to score" situation that will look like an under-8 match (or an Everquest train). Also, games like EA's FIFA rely heavily on AI doing most of the work for the player, so that non-controlled players run to receive, passes look slick and shots go on target most of the time - something which won't be possible in United Soccer, potentially making it far more frustrating. Hughes neatly nutmegs these questions in the Eurogamer interview, although of course he is short on detail.

I'm very interested in this game, although I'm skeptical that it can be pulled off without alienating actual soccer fans, as opposed to script kiddies who will try to twink their players to run like Ronaldinho, pass like Beckham, shoot like Vieri, and stage for free kicks like Rivaldo. Will it last longer than AO or WW2OL? Will Americans play it? Will a professional, sponsored league have any hope of succeeding given the failure of the CPL? How much would you be prepared to pay per month? Will Staggan's almost complete lack of a track record make it the new Funcom? Why didn't EA or Konami think of this first?
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Home » Topic: United Soccer: A Sim Where Simulation Is Bannable

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#1 by Matt Davis
2002-06-25 13:56:55
http://looroll.com
A great idea doomed to absolute failure, probably find it's biggest success in Japan.

This week I will be mostly playing Warcraft 3
#2 by Scrozzy
2002-06-25 13:58:18
How can you waste a FP message with that!?
#3 by Matt Davis
2002-06-25 13:59:43
http://looroll.com
Easily, I'm a whore of many kinds, but a first post whore I'm now.

This week I will be mostly playing Warcraft 3
#4 by Matt Davis
2002-06-25 14:00:28
http://looroll.com
Umm, not!

This week I will be mostly playing Warcraft 3
#5 by m0nty
2002-06-25 14:03:39
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Well, England hasn't really caught onto the MMOG craze with a home-grown product, AFAIK, so maybe this might be the one. The same goes for most of the rest of Europe.
#6 by Matt Davis
2002-06-25 14:06:51
http://looroll.com
Part of the reason for that lateness was the incredible lateness of the cable and telcos getting some kind of realistic and affordable broadband packages out, it's only been in the last 6 months that the price has hit a realistic sum that most people will happily pay for.

Side note about this game:

Do you see players selling themselves for real money when transferring teams?

This week I will be mostly playing Warcraft 3
#7 by m0nty
2002-06-25 14:22:06
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
No, DJ Mauve, I don't. If the Leagues get to that level of professionalism, I would be very surprised. That's assuming that the League ever scales any heights in the first place.
#8 by Quicken
2002-06-25 14:24:29
gdunn@backmeup.net.au
Can someone explain just how a game of 22 players is "massive"? Even if there's thousands of games being played at the same time there's no reason for them to be linked anymore than your typical starcraft game is linked to another. Seems like there's no reason you couldn't do the same thing in quake 3.

Now if it let you take part in a riot with a crowd of 70,000 I'd be more interested.
#9 by Matthew Gallant
2002-06-25 14:52:13
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
The grief play, oh the grief play. Wait, what am I saying, football fans are all well-behaved types.

Current market value of the Max Payne IP according to a comparison of the market capitalization of Take Two pre- and post- sale: approx. -$290,000,000.
#10 by UncleJeet
2002-06-25 15:16:55
Riiiiiight.  Finding a decent CTF game is hard enough, with every 15 year old fuck trying to cap and be  "l33t d00dz" - I'm sure that team members will play as such in a freaking soccer sim.

  Call me crazy, but I've never much cared for soccer.  Not because it's a bad sport or not fun to watch or play or anything - it's just the mere mention of the name cojures up Real Estate saleswomen mothers and their massive SUV's, and it makes me have to rush to the potty so I can vomit.

  Considering this fact, that the majority of soccer players over here in the states are kiddies, do you honestly think this would be any more than a constant struggle for the ball - from your own teammates - and people trying to TK you with their cleats?

  But, being a limey production, the title might have more of a chance.  Crazy brits haven't much to do all day other than sip their tea, stain their teeth, and say shit like "Jolly good, old chap."  Maybe after a few "bad form, young sir" comments, the kiddies there will get into shape and take the whole game way too seriously.  After all, that's what it means to be British....well, that and talking funny....and losing revolutionary wars against Mel Gibson.

  Anyway, I think this is doomed to failure, at least in the states.  It'll get a niche market of a small group of folks who actually play as a team, but the kiddies will ruin the experience for everyone until they eventually get tired of it.  Then maybe it'll be worth playing....of course, by then all that will be left are fat americans and depressing redcoats clicking their mice and scratching themselves.  Oh wait, that's pretty much like every other game out there.  Rock on!

STAY THE COURSE!

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#11 by m0nty
2002-06-25 15:43:15
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
I guess this goes back to what we were discussing in the Life thread, about geeks not mixing well with others in real life team games, of which soccer is the most popular. I would venture to suggest that a CTF clan might have some similarities to a soccer team... the full backs and goalkeeper are the home flag campers, the midfielders are the snipers, and forwards are the ones trying to capture the opposition flag. Obviously, there's not as much time to type in team chats during a game, so team play would have to be a lot more instinctive, I would guess.

One thing is certain: many games of United Soccer would bear little resemblance to actual RL games of soccer, which in the context of five-minute games and abstracted fatigue and injury levels, is a Good Thing (tm).
#12 by UncleJeet
2002-06-25 15:52:40
The main problem with the acceptance of mainstream titles in the niche market is one of commonplace stale thinking.  What we need is for sports enthusiasts to come together in an open forum of discussion of the tools at hand, and reach some measure of understanding with the game developers in their area of programming and design.  It's no longer enough to continue to make the computed simulation of sports activities in the manner in which they are consistently determined by the status quo.  A forum of non-game developers should be allowed the freedom to interact with a new dynamic to change this antiquated paradigm, for the betterment of all games and for the establishment of a new level of interactive drama and art.


  Preemptive quoting rocks.

Call me now for your free reading!

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#13 by LPMiller
2002-06-25 15:54:35
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
I just had an image of soccer players going YAY and NO YAY after ever goal attempt.

*shudder*

I think any sport can do fine in with a multiplayer component, as long as it flowed like fantasy football/baseball. Sports geeks want stats instead of levels.  I wouldnt' play it, but I could see it work.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#14 by m0nty
2002-06-25 16:01:40
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Levelling for your player in United Soccer would be a bad, bad idea, as would skills-based stat boosting. I hope Martyn Hughes saying that players will have to rely on their own personal skill, rather than the AI of their player, rules that sort of thing out. Nevertheless, it's easy to wonder how that would actually work... will everyone be an equally bad shot?
#15 by LPMiller
2002-06-25 16:14:05
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
I'm not playing unless I can be a Level 50 Uber Goalie.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#16 by Greg
2002-06-25 16:22:08
Jeet, not only are you preemptive quoting, but the quote isn't even from this thread. Are you trying to summon someone?

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#17 by zakk
2002-06-25 16:34:19
zakk@timedoctor.org
This will be spawning many donkeys if the announcer voice doesn't have various lengths of the 'Goaaaaaaaaaaaal' phrase. Or else there will be many soccer fans with bleeding ears if the goal keepers are noobs. Or if it's just like any EA sports game, where all you have to do is circle around the back of the net, pass, shoot, win. Yes this is even true for the games without nets.

P.S.
Obligitory off-topic warez comment for this thread: I'm learning the donkey after I found out they have a Linux client which _doesn't_ suck (to the degree that the kazaa client did, anyway).

P.P.S.
Obligitory GSI tie-in:
Will this be the first sports game to require to GSI Arcade?
I have no basis for this, but obviously, since GSI is inherently full of evil, evil, little bunnies, they will get their hands into this dirty Soccer/Football business.

-zakk
#18 by UncleJeet
2002-06-25 16:41:31
Greg -

  Well, I was reasoning that if - just possibly - I created the presence of the someone artificially, that the Gods would be appeased, and the actual someone might pass us by without intervention.

So mote it be.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#19 by Bezzy
2002-06-25 17:03:00
painberry@hotmail.com http://www.antifactory.org
I hope they choose to fix the obvious game mechanic problesm of the sport of soccer when they do this. Goals seem to be out of complete serendipity, rather than due to controlled posession of the ball.

Soccer sux. RA3 foreva.

The best way to create an award winning game is to write the acceptance speech first.
#20 by yotsuya
2002-06-25 17:33:56
Note to Caryn- If you came to Arizona during Memorial Day, it's spelled PHOENIX.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#21 by Caryn
2002-06-25 17:58:10
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
yotsuya:

Yeah, I keep getting that wrong. Sorry for any offense I might have caused Arizona residents.

"I don't get mad. I get stabby."
#22 by yotsuya
2002-06-25 18:00:59
Heh. None taken. We're more worried about wildfires than spelling right now.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#23 by m0nty
2002-06-25 18:19:46
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Hmmm. Trawling through the Staggan forums produces these official tidbits on United Soccer:

The game will be subscription based. We are not pushing the single player game as much as the multiplayer for the simple reason that there are too many competitors. We don't want to compete with the likes of FIFA and ISS, at least not yet. However, the game will have most, if not all, the features commonly found in those games.

In multiplayer mode you will control your own player. In single player mode you will control a whole team, except goalkeeper, similar to other soccer games.

First, beta testers will be chosen from registered members, at random. Unless of course we don't have enough forums members in which case EVERYONE registered will be offered the chance.

Second, a 4 button game pad is the desired weapon of choice, but keyboard and joystick play will also be allowed.
 
Players will be allowed to edit the look of their players and also their skills. The skills system will be explained at a later date in more detail.

Each player will be allocated a number of skill points, lets say 175 to start. The player can then spend those points on skills. Lets say there are 10 different skills. Each skill has a maximum value of say 20. That means a player can never get perfect skill in all areas and has to allocate his points carefully. The exact numbers of points and things is undecided, this is just to give an example.

Each team will be able to have a real goalkeeper or to choose a computer controlled one. We put the option in for a person to play in goal, but do not expect many people to do it.

Because of the nature of this game we do not feel that restricting someones abilities to their position is wise because it may happen that people move around within their own team. We feel that by giving all players a fairly evenly matched set of skills we will see better games.

We did not think injuries would be a good idea for the multiplayer game, after all, whats to stop the opposing team simply injuring all your players so you can't win. It will be in the single and two player game modes though.

Red and yellow cards will be included, but only in the tournament and league games, not in the quickplay multiplayer games. The red card will mean that the player misses the next game in the league or tournament and two yellow cards will do the same thing.

Actually we expect thousands of simultaneous games, so the ref's will be computerised.

Also voice AND text chat during games will be included, but voice will only work properly for those with broadband connections because of the bandwidth needs.

A 56k modem with a stable connection is currently sufficient to handle a 22 player game, and although lag can be an issue, does not seem to be too bad. However, we are working on ways to reduce lag and the bandwidth needed to ensure 22 players comfortably and with as little lag as possible on a 56k modem. Obviously those with broadband connections will not need to worry at all.  The game needs approx. 37.6k of bandwidth for the full 22 player game.
#24 by Greg
2002-06-25 18:31:16
The game actually sounds interesting, if they can pull it off.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#25 by zakk
2002-06-25 19:02:54
zakk@timedoctor.org
However, we are working on ways to reduce lag and the bandwidth needed to ensure 22 players comfortably and with as little lag as possible on a 56k modem.


Until they introduce strict anti-cheat stuff, which they either do so they can gain competitive players/matches, or don't do so they can let people like me play (even though I specifically won't be, since there is no/probably won't be a Lunix port, it's still important since most of the world is still on modems).

PunkBuster, for me, has been 56kbuster. As one of the few regulars in my clan, I find that I'm consistently lagged to shitsville by Evenbalances software. Even though I have a fine connection (/rate 5000) when the punkbuster software isn't set to sv_new56knazi 1, it just negates me playing anywhere with PB enabled (to the stricter degrees of (what I assume is screenshot uploading)).

I expect any kind of strict anti-cheating methods to have about the same effect in almost any game. Not that there is really anything wrong with anti-cheating methods, I just wish they would come up with a less bandwidth hogging method so folks like me who enjoy games like RtCW can play competitively from their 56k of hell.

-zakk
#26 by Shadarr
2002-06-25 19:11:11
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
It would be cool if there were two layers, one where people play the actual games, and a general manager sim where other people manage the teams and trade/draft players.  It would also be cool if they used the "audio taunt" technology so you can send short strategic  messages like "man on", "far side", or "mine".
#27 by m0nty
2002-06-25 19:31:48
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
I hope you don't mind Shadarr, but I thought that audio taunt concept was such a good idea that I posted it to the Staggan forums. I think the general manager is already planned for inclusion.
#28 by zakk
2002-06-25 19:34:40
zakk@timedoctor.org
It would also be cool if they used the "audio taunt" technology so you can send short strategic  messages like "man on", "far side", or "mine".


And mature taunts with the single player AI/bots.
Except you can't let epic anywhere near it, or else it would be 'EAT THAT GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL, BITCH!'.

-zakk
#29 by Shadarr
2002-06-25 19:49:59
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Monty,
thanks, I was thinking of suggesting it but couldn't be bothered.

I'm not much of a soccer fan, but I did pick up FIFA 97 for Genesis a few months back.  The coolest part was that after you scored, the three buttons became:  a horn, fireworks, and the guy shouting GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAL until you let go of the button.  Unfortunately, it was still soccer, and I didn't score that often.
#30 by LoneStar
2002-06-25 20:18:51
cwcraig64@hotmail.com
Who the hell cares about a soccer game anyway?

Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one
#31 by Ergo
2002-06-25 20:21:13
Most of the world, apparently.

"Conductor Fist says the next stop is your face! Choo! Choo!"
#32 by "Mark Asher"
2002-06-25 20:36:37
www.quartertothree.com
I can't imagine being just one player in a game like this would be all that interesting. Imagine you're a goalie. Once every five minutes you field a shot? Does that sound like fun?

Not every type of game is suitable for the MMOG treatment. Verant found that out with Sovereign.
#33 by crash
2002-06-25 20:47:13
every player individually controlled? hm. graphically/technically that shouldn't be too hard to do--not going to get much variation in skins and models, and the graphical overhead is pretty low. hell, you could probably even code a software mode and have it run on something as low as a P2-400 if you had coders with skillz.

but soccer... is a somewhat... fast-action game. can't see bicycle kicks or rapid-fire passing with 500ms latency. it's... much of the precision is lost because of that. can't imagine tryin to be a goalie stoppin a penalty kick, and a corner kick, with everybody massed in one spot? mm. this is the kind of game that might be better suited to LAN tournaments, honestly.

and then the real fun begins: you have to fill every slot before you can start a game. everybody wants to be the striker; who wants to be a fullback? or would the computer fill those slots in for you? dunno. has potential, but it doesn't sound to me like something that would work the way most folks would expect it to to work online, on this kind of scale.

given soccer's popularity worldwide, it'd probably sell a lot of copies, but the target audience in question would more than likely expect or demand more than the tech can currently provide. will be interesting to see how it develops, and if it ever gets released.

Whoops, sorry, was my common sense showing again? -HoseWater
#34 by m0nty
2002-06-25 20:47:59
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
As they said on their board, Mark:

Each team will be able to have a real goalkeeper or to choose a computer controlled one. We put the option in for a person to play in goal, but do not expect many people to do it.
#35 by Squeaky
2002-06-25 20:49:09
Speaking of MMOG's

We've also revolutionized the boob technology
#36 by m0nty
2002-06-25 20:54:59
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
crash (#33):
and then the real fun begins: you have to fill every slot before you can start a game. everybody wants to be the striker; who wants to be a fullback? or would the computer fill those slots in for you? dunno. has potential, but it doesn't sound to me like something that would work the way most folks would expect it to to work online, on this kind of scale.

For multiplayer games, there would be existing teams (i.e. clans), so there would be a designated squad of players to choose from. When there aren't 11 of your team online for a particular match, AI-controlled players can be chosen, according to Hughes, although the details on how many can be AI and how many have to be human are still to be worked out.
#37 by Bailey
2002-06-25 21:01:12
The idea of people getting excited about the world cup made my brain hurt. The idea for this game makes it hemorrhage.

Please stop using my web browser as a toilet.
#38 by Shadarr
2002-06-25 21:15:12
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Don't worry Bailey, this is a game for other people.  Or not, there's no guarantee that people will play it just because it's there.
#39 by Hugin
2002-06-25 21:16:44
lmccain@nber.org
It'll be huge in Korea.  Big online gamer presence + big soccer fandom= Er..hugeness.
#40 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-06-25 21:20:21
blargh.

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#41 by m0nty
2002-06-25 21:23:03
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
World game + nubi English devs + global demand == business opportunity for 3rd-party hosters outside Europe.
#42 by UncleJeet
2002-06-25 21:33:09
Mario pinups + motion lotion + large boxes of tissue == oh shit.....I'm posting this, aren't I?

Press start to play....

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#43 by m0nty
2002-06-25 21:51:30
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Jeet == the new Joker.
#44 by UncleJeet
2002-06-25 22:03:50
No, no, no.  Joker is obessed with anything he can associate wang with.  I just obesses over Mario.  It's not my fault, though.  Who could resist him?!  He's European....only Japanese, kinda.  Fuck.

I really think so, think so, think so...

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#45 by Matthew Gallant
2002-06-25 22:08:24
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
If you play as Japan, your coach should be able to throw people at the goal from the sideline during corner kicks so they can get a good header.

Current market value of the Max Payne IP according to a comparison of the market capitalization of Take Two pre- and post- sale: approx. -$263,000,000.
#46 by Shadarr
2002-06-25 22:13:15
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
There should be a special button to drop to the ground grabbing your ankle (if you play as Brazil, make that your face).  And there should be chat rooms where the Spanish and Italian sides can bitch about conspiracies and biased officiating.
#47 by Ergo
2002-06-25 22:23:46
Joker lives in Surinam, which is why I advocate a US invasion of the country.

"Conductor Fist says the next stop is your face! Choo! Choo!"
#48 by Duality
2002-06-25 22:28:51
Dualipuff@yahoo.com http://stratoscape.ath.cx/
Apparently you can associate Mario with wang ... which seems to be just as bad ...

-Jon
#49 by The_Joker
2002-06-25 22:59:15
http://www.jackinworld.com
I agree with Duality, I mean, Mario is after the princess anyway, what do you think he wants her for, a souvenir? I'm sure his primary objective for saving the princess each and every time from bowzer is to play hide the salami with her, after ofcourse bringing his wang in contact with a mushroom first. Just think about it, why would he care about the princess otherwise?

Ergo: I'm afraid the USA will have to face Holland first if they want Surinam.

___

The Germany VS korea match was very nice. Very high tempo soccer in both halves of the game. I'm just a bit disappointed in the way the Germans won the game. I expected them to win, but for one Ballack should have gotten red for taking down the Korean player while he was heading towards the german goal with no germans in front of him but Kahn. If not for Ballack's tackle they might have scored. That and they got lucky one time when the Korean defense was a bit too late. The goalkeeper stopped the ball but couldn't stop the rebound.

Anyway, the Germans will take a beating when they play against Brazil in the final.

Joker, Ph.D. Procedural Assholian Behaviour, Pedophilosopher
- All your ass are belong to my wang Jafd. Prepare to are penetration.
"I fart in THX." - Sgt_Hulka
#50 by Ergo
2002-06-25 23:02:48
We tremble in our imperialist jackboots.

"Conductor Fist says the next stop is your face! Choo! Choo!"
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