Did we need another game on football?

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“A football game about poets & crooks”
Football management, turn-based matches & drama.

Why did we decide to create yet another game on football?  It all started by discovering that there is some really good literature on football: novels, poems, essays.

Novelists and poets like Pasolini, Galeano, Soriano, Hornby, Saba, Handke, Wenders have written about football and its evocative and poetic power. Same in movies, with fringe and beautiful works like The Lost World Cup or Wender’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.

This naturally leads to the question: why people love football so much? And from there also one may explore the ramifications of reflections on football in anthropology, sociology, economics.

Now there are some very popular football games, focusing on the emulation of play, like Fifa, or the managerial side, as Football Manager. And there are also games that don’t focus on realism, and hence have more freedom and expressive power, like the wonderful Flick Kick football series.

But in literature and also movies football is also narrated as an epic, as metaphor of war, as a source for life lessons. Football as a source for good storytelling, as for example in Il Mundial Dimenticato.

Now there didn’t seem to be any game that tried to approach football from a storytelling perspective – that is where we started to think about making a narrative/managerial game on football.

It is clear that to deal with football under this perspective, a narrative side is needed. Video games have matured as a medium becoming more and more consciously capable of narration, also dealing with themes with depth.

But we want also to use the game medium at its best, so to have actual matches and a championship running along the story. We bridged a (relatively) simple managerial game with the life choices of the main character, the manager Rocco Galliano.

The life of the trainer and the evolution of game and championship touch and interact in various ways, mostly through gaining and playing cards that represent ideas of the manager that can be applied in game play.

Research

Researching the universe of football opens up a Pandora’s box of books, movies, online communities. From Voodoo rites, to Southern American organized crime, to German poetry and Socialist unions, there is no aspect of society that cannot be linked to football and its history.

Concept

The research for an early concept for a physical card game on football and crime was started in 2014 / 2015 by Pietro Polsinelli. Then after dropping basing the core play mechanic on cards, Pietro started working on match emulation based on grids (see this post and video).

Then many kinds of narrative and mechanics were explored.

Then the focus moved to the narrative parts, and there was the problem of how to represent gameplay and how to make the matches somehow “playable” in a creative and non-realistic way.

But the crucial moment in finding the mechanics came when Pietro with his 8-year-old kid tried to create a very simple card game where you would advance in stages towards the goal, with the field divided into 5 stripes plus 2 “hot” areas. This led to defining a very simple topology of the football field, and just conquering space in turns resulted in an interesting mechanics.

So Football Drama had a concept and a mechanic.

Production

The first work phase before the actual game production was writing the narrative contexts, which included writing dialogues and short stories (all work done by Pietro Polsinelli) and a search for a graphical context by Daniele Giardini.

Once the concept and mechanics were in place, the production of Football Drama started in March 2018, with Pietro Polsinelli coding and Pino Panzarella designing the user interface and creating assets and animations. Giardini was providing the illustration for cards and characters, and Matteo Bicocchi provided some pair programming help.

A first incomplete but playable version of Football Drama was presented at Milan Games Week 2018. The game will be completed in Summer 2019 for the first release on Steam, Apple Store and Google Play.

The game

Football Drama – “A football game about poets & crooks.”

In Football Drama, you’re Rocco Galliano, the existentially troubled manager of a struggling football team. Train players, survive the drama, choose your own narrative, and play turn-based football matches via tactical cards and hard choices. If you avoid the axe you could win the championship, understand what is football, retire at the French Riviera, end up in jail, or who knows what else!

You are Rocco Galliano, the Marseillaise new manager of Calchester Assembled Football Club.

A foggy evening in Manchester Joy City, chatting with your cat about your dramatic comeback as a football manager.
After the abrupt ending of your coaching career seven years ago, the hysterical attention of the press quickly faded. But struggling results by Calchester FC convinced Boris Aluminovitch, its billionaire president, to axe the previous beleaguered manager and give you a new chance.
Will your raucous shouts from the bench change the fate of the matches? Will you find wiseness and karma leadership by consulting with the Book of Changes? Will your shady past reach back to you and make you crumble?
There is a slim chance that you can make it through a full season. Corruption, crime, drugs and romance are all paths that you may take – for the better or worse.
This is the only football game where you may lose the championship and win the game!

Key features

Interactive narrative with meaningful and game-changing choices
– Karma or chaos: life choices, managing choices
Turn-based match play with live-action animations
– 18 dramatic weeks of generated championship where you can be fired at any time
– Deck-building mechanics determined by life choices and game results
Ridiculous cards about the craziest aspects of today’s football
– Complete illustrated log of each of your matches
– Silly main commentator with his obligatory colourful sidekick
– Replayable – every championship is unique, several different endings
– Nicely designed user interface by Pino Panzarella
– Stunning illustrated cards and characters by Daniele Giardini “Demigiant”
– Share your wins with friends and enemies