So what do we already know about Championship Manager 2009? Well, we know that for the first time in the series' history the game will feature a 3D match engine sporting 450 unique player animations (350 for goalkeepers) and player tendencies such as Ronaldo stepping over the ball 116 times before pretending he's stepped on a landmine. What else? How about the fact that most parts of the game have either been revamped or redesigned, such as the tactics screen that now features rotating info buttons, or the ability to set separate formations for attacking and defensive phases of play? There's also an all-new newspaper feature capable of generating 500,000 unique stories with the ability to filter the information that's of interest to you while discarding the guff you couldn't give a toss about.
It would seem then that we already know plenty about Eidos's forthcoming football management game. But we don't know it all yet, like what Championship Manager 2009 has in store in terms of scouting, or what awaits during the match-day experience. Which is why Eurogamer has pootled up to Wimbledon to meet with Beautiful Game Studios' general manager Roy Meredith and brand manager Tim Hodges for a peek at what's in store.
"The more you work on games like Championship Manager, the more you realise just how much they blur the line between fantasy and reality," begins Meredith. "You also start to realise more and more what needs to be improved, like how scouting works." As Hodges guides us through the scouting screens, Meredith provides commentary. "You can still filter players by position in the traditional way, just like in previous CM games. You can search for the players and try to find a bargain. You can also send out your scouts to look at certain players just like before."
However, this year there's a twist. As well as the old-fashioned way of tracking down new or relatively unknown talent, Beautiful Game Studios has also incorporated an innovative new approach to scouting. "The impression of scouting is that you send a guy out to Brazil for a month with a pad and he comes back with a comprehensive list of players that he thinks could be of interest to you. But that doesn't happen anymore in the modern game. Arsenal is an excellent example of this. Their head scout Gilles Grimandi has set up scouting networks in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which is why they have so many excellent African players. We need to start reflecting this new type of scouting set-up in our game."
Hodges promptly loads up the new scouting network screen featuring a world map, each country shaded in different colours representing their investment levels. "The most effective way of scouting is to start investing money," continues Meredith. "The new scouting map shows where you've started to invest. The money you spend here comes out of your transfer and wage budget, so you're going to have to carefully balance your scouting expenditure." After Hodges takes me through the five levels of investment (none, poor, average, good and excellent), Meredith explains how the level of investment will influence both the number of players that are discovered through scouting and the level of knowledge on each player. The more you invest in a certain country, the more accurately the stats of the nation's hidden gems will be reported back to you.