Title Challenge: One Warhammer Quest dev's plan to fix football manager games

By Owen Faraday 21 Jan 2015 0
Take a punt. Take a punt.

Every few weeks I pester Rodeo Games co-founder Laurent Maguire about their as-yet-unannounced Games Workshop-licensed followup to 2013's Warhammer Quest. "You can tell me what the game is," I insist. "I've successfully kept over 70% of the secrets entrusted to me."

Maguire, to my chagrin, keeps his secrets locked up tighter than Fort Knox. This is the thing about working with Games Workshop: upon signing the license agreement, several of your closest relatives are moved to an undisclosed location within the Eye of Terror. Breach confidentiality, and your auntie gets fed to Khorne. Skulls for the skull throne, etc.

Last week, Maguire tried to distract me with a bit of misdirection. I can't tell you about the Games Workshop thing, he says, but I can tell you about something I've been building on the side. A football management sim. A football management sim that's going to save what Maguire sees as an ailing genre.

Misdirection successful. After the jump, all of the details about Title Challenge, coming very soon to iOS.

Better hurry up and pick Hull while they're still in the top flight. Better hurry up and pick Hull while they're still in the top flight.

"Like a lot of people, I love the early Championship Manager [PC] games," Maguire told me the other day. "Basically since the release of CM93 I’ve owned and played them to death. I still play modded version of those games now using DOSBOX."

That alone should tell you how serious Laurent Maguire is about football management sims. It's 2015 and the dude plays Champ Man '93. Modded Champ Man '93. But the reason that he's still playing in the past is that all is not well in the kingdom of football management.

"Not sure when exactly, but at some point around the time that Championship Manager became Football Manager I started to lose interest in the genre," he says. "Completing a season was taking longer and longer, there was a whole load of features designed to make the game closer to the real world of football, but for me that started to dilute the fun too."

Grand designs. Grand designs.

This is an inarguable fact. Every year, Football Manager for PC--the queen of football boss games--sprouts a new set of intricate features, pleasing the ultra-hardcore while alienating those of us with families, jobs, and daily showering regimens. FM's creators Sports Interactive acknowledge the problem and a couple of years ago introduced a "Classic" mode that pares back much of the complexity.

Maguire intends to beat Football Manager at its own game. "The plan was to design a ‘back to basics’ football manager inspired by the early years of the genre," says Maguire.

He's not the first to hit on this notion -- you might recall Football Chairman, a game we fairly raved about a couple of years ago. But Football Chairman is a particularly extreme take on the idea. It de-features the Football Manager Swiss army knife down until it's just the screwdriver -- albeit an excellent screwdriver.

Galactico quest. Galactico quest.

Maguire's Title Challenge will strike a balance between the minimal FC and the maximal FM. "Footy Chairman is great, I really enjoyed it. I'd say we're a little more in depth than them," Maguire said. "I'd describe [Title Challenge] as something more like Motorsport Manager's level of depth and hopefully also polish."

There's no animated match engine here, or selectively-emotional half-time speeches, and it doesn't look like you can take a player aside to ask him who his favorite fullback is, but there's many of the responsibilities of a 1990s-era computer footy manager: making transfers and signing players, setting tactics and investing in your facilities.

The presentation is half the battle for Maguire. "UI is a big deal for me and the majority of the current mobile manager games are quite frankly a bit ugly. I really wanted to craft a UI that felt like it was designed for use on an iPhone with all the interface niceties that you'd expect from a polished mobile app." And he has. There's a clean, flat aesthetic running through everything I've seen of Title Challenge.

I think Maguire's onto something here. I'm felt similarly disaffected by the last few years of Football Managers. I start a new game with the best of intentions and find that I progress at a snail's pace, paralysed by the vast array of in-game options and resources. I gladly poured a few hours into Football Chairman a couple of years ago, but just wished for it to offer a hair more complexity. There's a definite niche here, and Title Challenge could potentially slot right into it. We'll see.

Title Challenge, being developed by Maguire and partner Paul Sturgess, is deep into beta and will launch relatively soon for iOS.
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