“We needed to show people it was true and not just a marketing gimmick.” David Rutter talks FIFA 12
- EA Canada
- FIFA 12
There’s long been a pattern for FIFA games based around the announcement near the beginning of the year, followed by new features being revealed with zingy names and ‘TM’s and some very select hands-on before everything starts rolling after E3. Not this year, not for FIFA 12. So confident are EA Sports in the ‘revolution’ they’ve wrought to their pre-eminent football franchise that they’ve taken it out on the road. And with very good reason. Head over to our FIFA 12 preview to read about our feelings having palyed the game (hint: we really, really like it). We also got a chance to sit down with FIFA producer David Rutter to ask him some questions.
Made2Game: We’ve seen three massive changes to the gameplay for FIFA 12. How did you start on that process?
David Rutter: We’ve spent a lot of time this year, and as far as the ‘player impact engine’ is concerned, for a couple of years really figuring out what our limitations were in terms of taking the game to the next level. Towards the end of FIFA 10 we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get the level of detail and nuance that we wanted with our present system so we would have to invest in the technology to do that.
As far as everything else is concerned when we come back from our Christmas holidays we have enough feedback from fans to know where their happiness and their frustrations lie and to address those and obviously we’re doing that. But we don’t normally come here in May and [let people play FIFA]. The reason we’ve done it this year is because we think we have something special and wanted to get it into the hands of people to get feedback – we want to know what people don’t like so we can go away and make it better – and give people the opportunity to try these innovations and experience that it’s actually true rather than just a marketing gimmick. The decisions we’ve made over the years have got us to a 90% video game that people thought was impossible a few years ago. To maintain and increase that level of quality meant we had to invest in some new technology.
M2G: The ‘player impact engine’ in FIFA 12 is probably the least obvious change when you pick up the joypad, but it’s a deeper change and removes those ‘shout at the telly’ moments when unwanted animations would kick in and interrupt the game.
DR: It brings a flow and the smoothness to the game just looks lovely - but it also solves a continuity problem. You’re interviewing me now, if you looked away and I had a skinhead and then it’s growing back a little bit or whatever that ruins the immersion. [In FIFA 11] there were many instances – small instances in most cases – that just pulled you out of the game. That’s all gone.
The smoothness and flow and the organic feel of the game is very prevalent now and we’re months away from being finished. And in a yearly cycle ‘months’ is a long time so we’re confident of what it will offer as far a visual aesthetic but there are some pretty cool gameplay parts to what that offers too, [including] true injuries. [FIFA 12] has the ability to harvest information about the human body and when it’s being hit or pushed or pulled or falling over and what that means to you as a human. So when you land or when your leg is hit these [affect] the rest of the game.
M2G: The most obvious – and most liberating – change is the close control. But it did make us start playing much more central, intricate football, almost forgetting to get it wide and work crosses in.
DR: It’s opened up areas of the pitch that weren’t there and because it’s satisfying and nice and you want to explore them. The counter point to that – and it’s something we put in FIFA 09 – is the team tactics. So if you’re playing with a team that is not expecting you to do that then their behaviour won’t be appropriate for it. That then was supported by ‘personality plus’ last year where players who were good at certain things will try to do them more frequently and it will be more obvious what they are good at.
What Pro Player Intelligence now brings is that while you’re trying to play a certain way if the players around you are not expecting it or not great at spotting those kinds of things then it’s not going to work as well. So specialities are crucial – the ability of players to look round and see who they are playing with. Peter Crouch for instance is really tall and lanky and good in the air but - not necessarily brilliant but because he’s so tall he becomes an aerial threat. So maybe we should think about playing the ball onto his head more often. So for people who play career mode week in week out with multiple fixtures you’re going to have this dynamic difference.
M2G: The tactical tacking definitely made us more aware of not just haring around trying to force possession back but we weren’t always sure we were doing it right.
DR: The game at beginning when you first boot it up will have a small tutorial explaining how to use the new system effectively. In real football for the most part defending is more about tactical awareness, positioning and shepherding people into a disadvantageous position. The other part is tackling but that’s the secondary bit. [What tactical defending does] is remove that overpowering and for some users almost nauseating pressure on people with that ball. So for new users we’ve found the tactical defending helps them with the ball and without it because there’s not this rush of heat-seeking missile people rushing at them which made the game quite panicky.
For fans that have played for many years there’s a muscle memory, you know what that button does and you are used to doing it. You will have to re-calibrate your brain. It is freeing and in particular when you get out of that habit of holding the button down when you don’ t have the ball what it does is lead to a far or interesting and engaging defensive experience because you have to think about what you’re doing. If you’re thinking about ‘am I doing this right or wrong’ then that’s success in my mind because you’re engaging your brain rather than just mindlessly pressing the button until you get the ball again because you’re missing out on half the experience of a football video game – the bit where you don’t have the ball.
More so than any other year I can think of, FIFA is about the relationship between features and how they will affect other features and making it really nicely joined up.
FIFA 12 release date: October 2011 (not confirmed but based on previous years we’re pretty confident…)
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