FIFA Manager is one of the best football management video-games. Gerald Koehler, the FM producer at Bright Future talks about the development phases of FIFA Manager:
In there a Pre-production Phase for FIFA Manager?
We don’t have a real pre-production phase. Because we have a proven engine we don’t deal too much with technical problems. Therefore we can immediately start with new features for the next FIFA Manager after one game is finished. But of course it’s important that you are prepared! To achieve this we have a big priority list with loads of features.
We feed this list the entire year and we always only implement what’s on top of this list. This makes sure that no unimportant feature makes its way into the game. But it also makes sure that nothing gets lost. Every once in a while we re-evaluate the whole list, because sometimes features that didn’t look cool in the past get a lot more interesting, for example because something similar happened in real football.
Production Phase, Production Team and Deadlines
The core team in German consists of about 25 people and the test group in LA has about the same size. We are sometimes looking for new programmers, but the team size is pretty much stable.
During the whole production cycle there are of course lots of deadlines, which we call Milestones. There are usually between 4 and 6 of them per year. And the final one is called Alpha, which we usually reach in early June. That’s the date when all the new features must be in the game. Then we enter the testing stage.
Post Production, Development, Beta Testing and etc.
We use three different kinds of testing. First of all we have a big test group in LA. These are the guys who do all the hard work. They really test everything and try to break the game by doing things many users wouldn’t do, like selling all your players and then trying to print the Contracts list. Then there is a German test group that checks for transfer market issues, balancing etc. And finally there is an external Beta test group. They play the game and look for additional bugs, things that are not realistic etc. All groups together make sure that our users receive a quality game which is fun. Football management games are really big and difficult to test. This is a really challenging task and requires a huge effort.
The Official Announcement
We usually show the game the first time during our yearly fansite meeting here in Cologne. People from the fansites meet here and we show them the new features and the editor and discuss what was cool in the previous game, and what caused problems. Then we usually do a first press tour and present the game to the journalists. The game is then presented first to the public on the Games Convention in Leipzig in August. Afterwards we go on another press tour with the final version.