Monday was the next in our series of Q&A’s with the content creators of the Higher Tempo Press. This week was the turn of site creator, editor and writer of the Boys of Borussia Chris Darwen.
Writer of ‘Searching the Stats’ Reids kicked things off by asking a few Football manager related questions, What’s been your favourite FM series of FM17 so far?
A good question to start, and a more prepared person than I would have had some links at the ready – let’s start off Tempo though, to be fair, they all dabble on the site from time to time. In no particular order, I’d say anything that @fm_grasshopper is writing is always worth checking up on. Then what @keysirensie is doing with Reading is superb and then @fm_samo has paid me to mentioned that team in Germany he is writing about as well, also very good. On Tempo? almost impossible to say and I want everyone to keep writing so I’ll keep it to myself
Reids second question was What’s been your favourite FM series ever? [that you have written and to read]
OK – that I have written would have to be “The Jena Journey” which I started posting as daily updates in a Facebook group run by @thenorthman a couple of years ago – Paul was Magdeburg, I was Carl Zeiss Jena and we were both starting in the same division – not a network save – and it was a race to the Bundesliga. That was the first save I really, really enjoyed writing about even though it was only about 4, maybe 5 seasons long.
To read – very tough question actually, as my memory isn’t that good for anything before FM17! if I had to pick something, off the top of my head… you know what, I really don’t know. Tough one. There has been so much good stuff written over the last couple of years. I’d probably say something quite retro – @cm9798 has done some excellent journey’s on his blog and I never fail to read them.
New contributor to the site and writer of ‘the Vagabonds’ Chris asked Do you maintain saves (on the side) you aren’t writing about and, if so, do you find them less or more enjoyable?
No, I barely have time to write about the ones I am playing at the moment, let alone ones that I am not writing about. I do try and get a distance into a new save before I decide to write about it, so there have been a few that never made it to paper as it were. In terms of enjoyment, I kinda need to write to play now and vice versa, it is part of the experience for me, to a certain extent. I find writing about FM can help get the writing juices flowing in general, so it is a good habit to keep up
So what is an example of a save which never made it to print?
Well, the most recent one was titled “Walking in Memphis” – I was having a mess around with managing in the USA and had a database that went down to the 3rd tier – I recreated a club that the legendary Malcolm Allison once managed, the Memphis Rogues and it was going to be a journeyman story – start in the UCL (3rd tier) which you cannot be promoted from and work my way up the ladder with different jobs until winning MLS. I had some great kits, a new badge (thanks @marcbowen17) but it just didn’t work. In terms of it being a story I was enjoying, let alone for anyone reading it.
Any save you wouldn’t touch with a very long stick?
Although I have tried many times, I just cannot go in right at the top – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Chelsea, PSG, no thanks. Give me an obscure team on a Japanese island any day of the week.
In many of your Chris’ saves, example of the Islanders he focuses a lot on finances which prompted Keysi Rensie Were you ever bored by your financial strategy in FM?
Bored? not even once – frustrated at times? yeah, on occasion. As dull as it sounds, I love that side of the game. For me there is no greater pleasure than seeing my wage bill the smallest in the division as I lift the league title. I get as much pleasure on making profit on a player as I do winning a match, and I absolutely love not being in debt. That Wenger guy, he is on to something you know. I hope they give him a chance
Keysi followed up with If you could, what you would change in terms of Finances in FM?
That is a great question – I guess the obvious answer is to make it more realistic, but isn’t the fact the clubs are typically run terribly in the financial sense pretty realistic? Every board probably plucks a wage bill out of the air in the hope that it’s enough not to get relegated and cheap enough to still be in with a promotion push. I don’t know what you could change really, maybe some of the financial incentives in the contracts, maybe have a little more influence over tickets, commercial deals etc if you want to, but not too much I guess. I’d hate them to change too much in case it took away the fun of achieving the way I achieve.
What has been your worst transfer deal over the years? Be it a purchase you regretted, the board going over you head or a player you really missed after
I remember on my Wolves save on FM15 that I bought Thales using my “Searching the Stats” method. He was pretty pricey for me, and even though the performance stats made sense I could never get the most out of him. Sadly, I couldn’t get rid of him either.
The questioning then moved away from FM saves a little and more to the site and content creation as FM_adventure asked Do you ever feel a bit burnt out when it comes to playing your own FM save after all the work you do with Tempo and the other sites? If not, what is it that you do to make sure you don’t feel that way?
That’s another good question. Yes and no. The line between work and play is pretty blurry right now, because technically Tempo goes someway to pay the bills, as it is part of the bigger picture. Some nights there is nothing better than getting a couple of hours in and switching off from the rest of it, other nights you get roped into doing Q&A’s! But yeah, sometimes it does feel like a slog – so I try and step away and do something different. Doing the uMAXit videos has given me a totally different perspective on FM as work too, so it’s all learning. All in all, it’s pretty fun so I am definitely not complaining. I get to do for work what a lot of people say they dream of doing, so I am very grateful for that cards I have been dealt in the last couple of years. Those slog moments incidentally, normally coincide with a losing streak too – probably just coincidence!
FM_Adventure also asked Does all your editorial work with Tempo inspire you with new save game ideas or do you feel more content reading the wide range of submissions from everyone else?
hmmmmm, I have to say – being completely honest – I don’t “read” the content when I am editing it. It is a different kind of reading. I mean, I am reading it of course just to make sure it is formatted correctly, pictures are correctly sized but I am not truly engaging in it. But, when I go back and actually read the stuff as a reader, it is very enjoyable, yes. My own save inspirations tend to be more real-life influenced. I mean, if I see someone writing about a club that I like the sound of, well more fool me for missing the boat really!
What’s the one piece of content you wish you had thought of or had on the site?
That is a superb question. There’s been a few things in the community that I have seen that I really wished we had on Tempo, not much, but a few. And there have been some that I’ve approached and they’ve chosen not to join us. We are lucky, we have lots of very talented writers on Tempo who cover loads of different styles of content. There’s a few out there that I would be delighted if they came to write for us, and they probably know who they are as my scouting team has approx 98% world coverage now, I would say. Content that I have read and thought, “wish I’d thought of that” – there was something the other day but I have completely forgotten!!
I am sure anyone reading this and would love to get onto the site only needs to get in touch, right?
of course, we are always open to having quality content on the site
FM_Samo joined in with his first question of the evening and asked where did the original idea for Tempo come from? Did (you) see it exploding and expanding the way it has?
The original idea for Tempo, wow. OK – strap yourselves in.
First came Johnny Cooper [available in some good online book shops]
Then after that, knowing I needed to flog some books, I realised I needed to become part of the whole FM thing. So I started my own little blog, writing about FM and plugging the hell out of Johnny Cooper – don’t judge me, just go and buy the book. After a while, I quite enjoyed it and wanted something that covered more than just FM – fancied myself as a book publisher having made 101 mistakes with JC already. So @cm9798 wrote his annoyingly good book on CM and we published it under “The Higher Tempo Press” using that as a way to launch the first iteration of the website – we had Classic Champ Man, my FM save, some real-life stuff from Ally Bain and another guy writing about grassroots football. We trundled along like that for a year, and then I felt that I wanted it to be only FM/CM and got a brilliant guy in called Ash to redesign the sites, opened it up to contributions from everyone and we haven’t looked back – ending with FMG buying us out at the start of the year. Did I see it exploding in this way? I’m supposed to say no, it’s been a complete surprise, aren’t I?
It’s about 50/50 – I reckoned there was a gap in the “market” for what we are doing right now, but of course, you never know if you have pissed off too many people along the way, but we’re doing alright right now. Tomorrow, however, is a new day.
Keysi Rensie asked another great question: There are or were a lot of FM sites/forums and projects around the world with big plans but they failed because they had not good enough feedback and they lacked patience. Tempo grew gradually and it’s a great site with a lot of quality content now. Were you afraid at some time the site will not rise?
I think the turning point for Tempo, kinda only half answering @keysirensie’s question initially, was getting people involved that were as passionate, can do and as reliable as me, and then the advent of Slack as a forum where all the guys could hang out, banter, collaborate and have a lot of fun doing what we do – before that, yeah, I reckon there is always a chance you move on to new ideas, start afresh, whatever. But. once I started surrounding myself with the right people it has grown steadily, which is really cool and a testament to the work everyone puts in. I think I learned quite fast that the last thing you really want to obsess over is how many people are reading what you write. That will drive you mad. It sound like a cliche, but hey, the thing I think of most when I write about FM now is “what will the other Tempo writers think of this, will they enjoy it?” They are the crowd I am aiming at really, and if I do that often enough then people like them will enjoy it. We never had a big plan, and like most things where you’re pretty laid back about the outcome, it’s gone well. Hopefully that will continue
on that note – sorry to bleat on… what would you rather have? 1000 people that click on your piece and go, “meh, that was alright” or 10 that go, “that brightened up my day at work”
I think that is a very easy trap to fall into, and one I have fallen into hundreds of times.
So looking for more advice, Thomas Roode, writer of Run, Forest! Run! asked, What is great FM content for you? What requirements does it need to fill to be great content in your opinion?
oh god, that is a minefield of a question! CAVEAT TIME – this is only my opinion, it is neither right or more important than anyone else’s!! All I can really go on is how I look at something that has been submitted to us in the hope of getting on the site. Ideally, I want it to have a bit of character – and that can come from being a new idea, a country I’ve not seen written about before, a slightly thinking outside of the box way of playing the game, written in a cool way, all kinds of things really. I guess, and we get a lot of ideas thrown at us, once I have read the sample quickly I ask myself, “do I want to read the next part” and if the answer is yes, then great and if it is no, then it’s a no. It’s quite hard to describe, so much of what I do is based on gut feeling. One thing that does have to shine through actually, that the person writing it actually cares about the piece. Yeah, let’s have that on the list, a bit of passion about the piece
@keysirensie was on fire today and asked Tempo is part of FMG – and there are big plans for the future around this whole project. What would you like to achieve with Tempo? Which also linked in to what @fm_samo asked What’s next for Tempo?
yeah, so Tempo is part of www.falbrosmediacompany.com who basically own me now. I am forever their slave, but hey I like it. What would I like to achieve with Tempo – well, without sounding too knobby I’d like to keep one step ahead as best we can. What we do today is awesome, but it will be old in a very short space of time. We need to keep being creative, come up with new ideas as often as possible and keep coming up with things that people can copy. I’d rather be copied than do the copying, where possible. The challenge is, there is only SO much you can do with FM – and it makes me excited when someone on the team comes up with something original, which is very hard to do. I love what we are doing using Wyscout to bring in real-life analysis and using it with FM. That’s really cool and hopefully we can take that to new levels ASAP. I’d like to achieve that moment when people can go to Tempo, be it the website, podcast, YouTube channel, whatever and know they won’t have wasted a few clicks. On top of that I’d like to help new writers start their writing career on Tempo, gain confidence and then maybe end up writing about real-life events and turn it into their career – anything is possible. That gives me a huge kick, when I see writers develop like that. What’s next for Tempo – well, I think we have six pieces going up tomorrow. The first podcast hitting the airwaves in the next 24 hours or so, and within the week we will have a few YouTube videos up
How far do you think the community in general can continue to grow?
I think it will continue to grow, but it probably won’t look the same as it does today – and neither should it. New technology is always on us, so who knows what comes next. I would imagine that, providing we always have a game that isn’t too far removed from what we have today, there will always be people talking about it, writing about it and doing videos or streams about it. The question is, those of us from the first generation of players – those of us that played the first ever CM, when will we give up and depart from the scene?!
Moving on slightly from FM and more to real football. You oversee and run a lot of websites including tales from the top flight, a witty take on the events of the week. How much football are you watching each week?
haha, I am the worst watcher of football in the world. I couldn’t do what the guys on www.eatsleepdrinkfootball.com and watch every game closely nowadays. I have it on, I know what is going on and, hopefully, I have a rough idea where the satire might be hiding in the current situation – but I am shocking at sitting there and watching a whole game on TV. @lee constantly takes the mick out of me when I say I am watching XYZ and he asks me how this player is playing and I don’t actually know if he is playing or not. But, I do have quite a few games on every week and I do read one hell of a lot of news headlines to try and find something I can put my own spin on
Would you prefer writing about football, or being involved in a club?
Can I have both? I’ve been lucky enough to have done both, something I didn’t think would happen – they are both so different it is hard to say which I prefer. Having been on the board at a 4th tier club here in Spain and seen how terribly it was run, it does make me think I have unfinished business in being involved in a club but equally, I do love my life today and I am not sure how many more projects I can take on right now.
So you wont be applying for the Real life Dortmund job when Tuchel gets sacked after the cup final as asked by @alexthfc ?
Don’t mention that name to me. Tuchel that is, not @alexthfc
And finally, @dgear86 asks why is spains internet so slow? Possibly because he is on holiday at the moment and struggling to keep up to date with Slack
Everything in Spain is slow. When you move out here you get the option of cheap rent, sunshine almost all year, decent coffee and nice non-processed food – or quick wifi – I think I made the right choice
That’s all the questions we had, thanks to Chris again for taking the time to answer questions, we appreciate it. Thank you also for everyone’s questions, it makes this a lot easier when more people are involved. I am sure if anyone has any further questions then he will gladly answer, you may have to sign up for the Higher Tempo Press newsletter first though! Chris can be found on @comeontheoviedo and of course follow @thehighertempo on Twitter for great content. If you want to catch up on the Boys of Borussia so far then check out Chris’ author page https://www.thehighertempopress.com/author/comeontheoviedo/