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Into F4Football with Ahmed
Today, we interview Ahmed Shefeer, the driving force behind F4Football.
Who is Ahmed?
I am Ahmed Shefeer, from India, a software engineer by profession, after working for multiple employers in India and abroad, decided to start up my own software consultancy company called Tegimus Infotech in 2012. The first football manager game I came across was Championship Manager 2001/02 and soon found myself extremely impressed by the game. Since then I have played many such games (Championship Manager, Football Manager series, FIFA manager etc). I have also tried many online football manager games, but none of them actually looked perfect for me. And as a big admirer of such games, I always dreamed of making an online multiplayer version of such a game myself which could bring people from all over the world together.
After getting busy with employment, I never had the time or resources to spare for such a big project, so it was never thought of as a realistic goal. But by end of 2017, I really started to think of it seriously and started working on the features, design and workflows. Started actual coding in early 2020 and was able to launch it with essential features on 1st March 2021.
As a die-hard football fan myself, I also play other football simulations like FIFA and Pro-evolution soccer, and online multiplayer games like DotA and Travian. Other interests are playing football (in real life), badminton and chess.
It was one of my dreams to create an online football manager simulation game. But the thought of how huge such a project could be, and the inability to dedicate my time for such a project stopped me from considering it seriously. I bought the domain f4football.com in 2013 but was hosting a website with football news, pictures, videos etc. there. Sometime later, SI Games launched an online version of their famous PC game Football Manager and I started playing it, but was disappointed when they decided to discontinue and took it down. That was the turning point when I decided I am going to build my own version of such a game.
Do you get any help
As mentioned in the previous answer, I established my own Software Consultancy company named Tegimus Infotech in 2012. We are based in Kerala, India but have clients from all over India, Middle East, US, Europe and Canada. We provide custom tailored web and mobile applications for our clients and have a very good reputation in the industry. We have a small team of around 15-20 people, and only 2 of them are actually involved or working on this game. Most of us are software developers, specialized in various skills required for creating web and mobile applications. Apart from being the CEO of the company, I also lead the team in all projects that we handle.
When I started it, it was like a hobby project, so none of my colleagues were involved in development. Later on I took assistance from two of them, also football manager fans, since the project was larger than I had earlier estimated. We initially wanted to launch it before end of 2020 but we struggled to even make it in 2021 due to the complexity of the project and losing a lot of time for coordination during the 2020 pandemic.
The lack of previous experience in game development hindered our development a lot, I had to redesign some functionalities multiple times due to inability to foresee likely issues in future. Also since it is a schedule based game, making sure the design is such that every task runs on schedule was a challenge we had never experienced before, because not missing schedules is more important since the game progress relies heavily on that.
After we launched the game, we have had a great response, with around 65 users signing up (in just 15 days) from all over the world. And more than half of them are really active, they are already interacting with each other quite well through the community forums and the chat.
As a small team, we are finding it hard to cope up with the support requests and queries from our users and make sure our users get all the support they need. Also currently we have leagues open in 8 countries, and users requesting to open more leagues in their own countries are challenging to handle.
It is also a big task to monitor user activity and make sure everyone follows rules of the game. Language is another challenge because I and the other guys working on it are accustomed to English only and we often need to resort to Google translator to answer questions from our users in other languages.
We still have room for a lot of improvement. The next big step would be to revamp the user interface into a much more modern design. There are other things planned like new features including National and youth teams, 2D match viewer. We are also planning to develop mobile apps for Android and iOS for users who prefers to play the game on mobile.
What makes F4Football unique?
There are many similar games on the internet, some are extremely complex and required huge amount of time requirements from the user, and some are so simple that you get bored within no time. Some games are simply money oriented and you cannot play the game properly without spending real money. In F4Football, we decided to make it “simple to learn, but hard to master”, so the beginners as well as experienced users have the same level of enjoyment. Also the game is fast paced, the season progresses fast with two rounds of matches every day, but the time investment required from our users is not huge – may be 5 mins in each round can help them set up everything they want to do. Also, we want to keep the game free forever, with purchases (if any in future) only giving users cosmetic enhancements and no advantages over non-paying users in actual gameplay.
Think of it as a game where you are the manager of a football club, but you also control every department at your club – finances, recruitments, training etc. The game is a virtual copy of the real life footballing world with teams playing in different leagues fighting for trophies, promotions and relegations, and ultimate glory. Time also progresses just as in real life, and you have scheduled matches where you have to set up your team and play against other human managers.
Did Ahmed peak your interest? Check out F4Football.