Interview with FIFA 12 producer David Rutter
- FIFA 12
- EA Canada
Following our FIFA 12 hands-on and interview back in May, producer David Rutter is back with the ‘feature complete’ version of the game. While he was here Made2Game sat down for a one-on-one chat at EA's Guildford studio about the game’s development, new revelations on the Career Mode and EA Sports Football Club and why football games will always need to take a certain amount of poetic licence when it comes to interpreting footballer’s lives.
It’s a mark of how confident EA is about FIFA 12 that this is the second publicity tour from Vancouver-based producer David Rutter in less than two months, and both times they’ve let us play the game for as long as we want. And we wanted to play it for a very long time. Our in-depth hands-on will be coming along soon but for now enjoy our conversation with Mr Rutter.
Made2Game: You’ve talked a lot about bringing greater realism and authenticity to the game. Has that been the focus with FIFA 12?
David Rutter: Authenticity, greater simulation, depth and risk and reward. For the last I don’t know how many years we’ve been really focussed on gameplay. The last couple of years have seen a big reinvestment of the game modes, particularly around career mode.
M2G: Could FIFA get too realistic? Is there difference between authenticity and realism?
DR: We take a lot of inspiration from the sport, both in the gameplay and outside of it too and try to make sure it’s a compelling experience. I’ve not hit on anything in football [that we’ve tried to replicate] where we’ve just said, ‘That’s rubbish’.
M2G: Do you ever find there’s a conflict between creating a compelling game and what that means for development and repeating what happens in football?
DR: Well, we do take a certain amount of poetic licence, our games do not occur over a full 90 minutes, for instance, but represent 90 minutes of fun. We try to create systems within the game that aren’t scripted: we don’t want outcomes to be predetermined to sell you a story. What happens is based on what you’re doing. At the same time if a player is injured in our game you can skip through [to] your substitution and it’s done.
There’s not players coming off on stretchers or going to the sidelines drinking water and speaking to their managers. We could put that in but it’s a not a priority because it detaches you from the gameplay experience. We want people playing the game because that’s the fun, enjoyable bit. Eventually I think we’ll get to a point where there is more of that kind of ‘colour’ around the outside of the game but it’s not a priority. Yet.
M2G: Tell us about the changes to the FIFA 12 Career Mode?
DR: This is the second year where we’ve really focussed on the career mode, introducing not just more depth but with the CPU AI actually having stuff going on as well. While you’re playing in the sandbox the sandbox is also playing back at you.
M2G: Why has FIFA 12 Career Mode been such a focus?
DR: It’s our most popular game mode outside of ranked head-to-head and exhibition play. It’s also a game mode that the vast majority of our players play a great deal of and we’ve got a multi-year plan of where we want to get to with it and this is the second year of it. So when you look at the game from last year you’re playing the game and you’re interacting with what’s going on in a basic way: I make an offer for a player if I hit a threshold he accepts. There was no back and forth particularly, not a great deal of logical or intelligence underneath it.
This year it’s you playing the game and the game is very much playing against itself and against you too. So a player may become unhappy at your club because he’s not getting enough games, he doesn’t feel he’s getting paid enough, he’s just not happy because the captain isn’t good enough in his mind. At the same time other clubs are experiencing similar difficulties or they might learn that one of your players is unhappy and might try and approach him and sign him from you. So it’s very much more about the real world of football, and that kind of authenticity, than being mindless interaction.
M2G: How far can you go with the motivations of the players? You can’t build in greed or the desire for sunshine or the wife wanting good shopping, can you?
DR: We can’t go to that kind of level but players have expectations of where they feel they should be in the pecking order of a club and they also have expectations about how well the club should be doing and if you don’t meet them then they will become unhappy. At that point you either need to treat the illness, so to speak, by giving them, say, more first team games or let them go or sell them and get rid of the problem that way. Pretty much like real football managers do.
The other side of it is looking at the development of your squad, not just from within the transfer market. You’ll be able to loan in players and potentially buy them at the end of the period and loan out players. We also have a youth scouting scheme so you can hire scouts and send them out anywhere in the world to find out information about players in that area that you might not know. You can re-scout them to get greater fidelity on how good they are. But if you scout them too much other clubs will get wind of it and might go in for them too. So there’s a lot of risk and reward around that.
M2G: And how does the media get involved in this?
DR: The philosophy around all this is making sure that what’s going on outside of gameplay is also carried in and back out the other side. [Referring to something from his earlier presentation] So you’ll have seen Van Bommel getting injured and can’t play. When this happens there is a knock on - the team might do well or not so well without him. The press picks up on it and they are speculating what you might do [play him before he’s fully recovered or rest him] you then make a decision and the press speculates on whether that was the right thing to do. You go into the game, he performs well then the press are like, ‘He made the right decision’. So it puts threads through the game that actually make sense.
M2G: Tell us a bit more about EA Sports Football Club in FIFA 12.
DR: EA Sports Football Club is like the heartbeat of FIFA. Compare yourself to your friends, have information and news surfaced in your game from what they’ve been doing as well as being able to commit to allegiance to a club. That means that, along with all the other supporters of that club, everything that you do in that game that is earning you experience points is earning the club XP. On a weekly basis clubs will be promoted and relegated based on their average skill and dedication of the fans. It doesn’t matter what team you’re playing with it’s about the team you support and also taking inspiration from the real world of football and pushing it into the game.
M2G: What was the thinking behind it?
DR: We have a massive amount of really dedicated gamers who buy our game and play it all year long. What we wanted to do was give them a number of core motivations to continue to play the game in the form of personal competition [to see] who’s the most dedicated FIFA player. Also [we’re] in a world that is increasingly driven by socially engaging stuff - Facebook and Google+ and all that stuff – it’s kind of nice to hear news of what friends are up to in their game at the same time as you’re playing. And to tap into the emotion and connection to a real football club is a motivating and authentic thing to do.
I’m a Leicester City fan so all the games I play are not just benefiting me, they are benefiting Leicester City. And all the other Leicester City fans are benefitting Leicester City as well. Trying to gain promotion to the Premier League based on my skill and my dedication along with all the other Leicester City fans is quite a compelling reason for me to play the game. And also we want to be providing a cool live service for people. Taking inspiration from the real world of football and dragging headlines into the game and giving you the opportunity to replay an important match from the weekend or try and rewrite history, either as your club or a different club and gain experience points to help yourself when doing it and help your club is also pretty cool.
M2G: What social network elements are in EA Sports Football Club?
DR: We are surfacing information about you and your friends within the game but we are also duplicating that out to the EA Sports FIFA.com website so if you wanted to go and look at it in more detail and rib your friends you can on our website or you can click on a button to push to Facebook and that kind of stuff. But we’re not broadcasting directly to Facebook.
M2G: FIFA 12 is out on 27 September [in the US - 30th in the rest of the world]: are you still working on it?
DR: It’s full on: we are feature complete. It’s a question of fixing all the bugs, polish, tuning, making sure it works well. So the game still has a couple of months’ worth of work to go into it but the actual features, what you are seeing and feeling are for the most part what you will get.
M2G: Are any of the team working on the next version?
DR: We’re all thinking about it but no one is doing it – literally everyone is working on FIFA 12 at the moment. July is always the worst month.
M2G: PES was at E3. You were at E3. Did you get to see it?
DR: No I was locked in my little room from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. I know a few of the EA guys tried to go and see it but it was behind closed doors. If Konami had turned up at our booth we wouldn't have had a problem with them coming in and seeing what we were talking about. Ultimately I’m keen to see what they’ve been up to but I’m completely focused on FIFA 12.
M2G: What more is there to reveal about FIFA 12?
DR: We’re not talking about online gameplay yet, so all that is still to come yet. There are still more details about gameplay to come out. So when I was here before we were talking about Pro Player Intelligence we touched on a couple of those things. There’s still the other stuff to come out about that so here’s a fair amount to come.
M2G: You are constantly asking for feedback, what were the negatives the last time you were here?
DR: We didn’t get any which is great, but frustrating. The overall flavour seems to have resonated with everyone so far. The thing that’s most gratifying has been the reception in North America. We won a lot of awards at E3 which is not something that we’ve done before. We even won the Critics’ Award for Best Sports Game which was the big one for us so everyone was happy about that. I think everyone that plays the game sees the kind of flavour of it but what we’re getting to is delivering those ‘get up out of your seat’ moments and we’ll finish that off over the next few months.
FIFA 12 release date is 27 September in the US and 30 September everywhere else.
Head to our FIFA 12 page for all the screens from this FIFA 12 event, and links to all our FIFA 12 stories.
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