|ESPN.com: The Gamer||[Print without images]|
|"FIFA 11" is being shown this week at the E3 video game convention.|
With World Cup fever sweeping the globe and the E3 video game convention taking place in Los Angeles, EA Sports decided to drop the first details on its upcoming soccer game, "FIFA 11."
From players that perform with more "personality" to improved goalie play and the elimination of pingpong passing, the design team has a lot planned to improve the award-winning franchise.
I caught up with Gary Paterson, creative director for "FIFA 11," to get all the details soccer fans have been waiting to hear about the upcoming game.
Jon Robinson: You always say that you're your own worst critic when it comes to designing games. What's something about "FIFA 10" that you couldn't wait to improve for "FIFA 11?"
Gary Paterson: The thing that we're working on for this year is making it a deeper game. I think we need to be careful that we don't put off people who play our game in a more casual fashion, but I think making the game deeper all the way through is something we've been striving to do. And while we're concerned about balance and how these casual gamers will find it, I think that making it deeper and making it more football authentic and contact sensitive is what we've been doing for the last four or five years and people have responded well to it. On that depth note, we've built a much stronger relationship with our community over the last couple of years, and we've built relationships with people from our forums, and we brought these guys down here to play an early build of the game and we've been listening to their feedback and the feedback they gave us about "FIFA 10."
One of the biggest things they wanted changed about "FIFA 10" was this thing they call pingpong passing. This is where a gamer could press pass-pass-pass and quickly get from one end of the field to the other and create a quick scoring opportunity, and once you mastered this passing system, you could do it so easily that it really reduced the amount of emotion and sense of achievement that went into scoring. That was one of the first things we wanted to address. We wanted to stop this pingpong passing because you can add so much more emotion into the game if you make the scoring chances slightly harder. If you have to work harder for that chance, you'll feel more of a sense of achievement when you succeed and score a goal. So we've been able to eliminate this pingpong passing in "FIFA 11" by adding more user skill into the passing system. You need to think more tactically about your passes and be a little more deliberate.
Jon Robinson: Can you explain more about the new passing system in the game?
Gary Paterson: Since the new passing system requires more skill with the pad, you're going to need to be more exact with the power you give each pass. If you under-hit the pass, it will hit a little slower, and if you over-hit, it will hit a little harder than you wanted. And obviously, if it's a slower pass and you under-hit, there's an opportunity for a defender to intercept that, not to mention it just slows down your buildup. Pingpong passing relied on the ability to pass the ball from one end of the field to the other rather quickly. So now, it requires more skill on the pad. If you hit the pass too hard, there's the chance that the receiver will miscontrol it a little bit, or there's the chance that he won't be able to get to it because you passed it too far ahead. Again, it takes a little more skill on the pad, and we've also added more air under the passes to help slow things down a bit so you can't quite move down the field like you did last year.
Jon Robinson: One of the big features I've heard about in "FIFA 11" is called personality-plus. How will this change the game play?
Gary Paterson: We wanted to innovate and push forward with the engine that we have, and one of the ways we're doing that is with personality-plus. We're trying to make each player's character come out more in the game. We want you to be able to feel the difference when you're controlling different players. The first part of that is with the visuals. It's very important that if you're playing from the game play camera, that you're able to pick out the players on the field so you know who you're controlling. You need to be able to determine who you're controlling so you know what makes each of these players special in terms of abilities. We've done more work with the player models this year so you will be able to see the various body types from a small, skinny player like Shaun Wright-Phillips who plays for Manchester City to a big, lumbering, bulky player like Sol Campbell. Now we have the power to model all of these players so you can tell who they are while you're playing the game.
In addition to the visual style are the animations. We've worked on the dribble run styles so different players will have different dribble run styles. This way if you're player is good at dribbling he will have a certain quick cadence and take short touches and look very agile and alert. But if you have a more lumbering player, he will take longer touches, longer strides, and he just won't give you the feeling of being able to dribble the ball.
Then aside from the look, we went back and looked at how we've been using attributes all the way through our game engine and we've been tuning those to make sure you can tell the difference between players. We looked at everything from touch times, making sure the better players are more responsive with shorter touches, to making sure the faster players can turn better than the slower players. We wanted to make sure the better players don't kick the ball too far ahead of themselves so they can maintain better control and feel more responsive. We have over 30 attributes in the game, over 30 traits in the game, and we're going over everything in order to make sure you can feel the difference between players.
|With personality-plus, you'll be able to tell the players just by looking at them.|
Jon Robinson: Does personality-plus extend to the goalies as well?
Gary Paterson: It's a little bit harder with the goalies, but we're working on reaction times to make sure that the better goalies can react to the ball being kicked faster or the ball being deflected faster. Better goalies will also be able to read the trajectory of the ball faster. We also have save styles for the goalies so you'll get different animations depending on whether they're an acrobatic goalie or a normal goalkeeper.
Other than that, we're working on improving the intelligence of goalies to make sure his loose ball behavior is better and he deals better with balls across the box. We're working hard to make sure the goalkeeper doesn't make as many mistakes as he did last year because obviously one mistake from the goalkeeper can be very frustrating because that can cost you the game.
|You want to score in "FIFA 11," you're going to have to earn it.|
Jon Robinson: The log shots in "FIFA 10" seemed to be a big problem.
Gary Paterson: Yeah, and that's a tricky one for me because I want the goalkeeper to come off the line because that forces you into a decision where you're one-on-one and the goalkeeper is charging so you have to make that decision of what you want to do. There's an emotion involved in that decision, but obviously, the decision was made easy because the chip shot was so easy in "FIFA 10." Now the chip shot isn't so easy and we've added more error into the chip shot so you have to be more composed, you have to be jogging, you have to chip it forward, and not with your weak foot, with your strong foot. This way, we can still bring the goalie off his line, not as much as last year, but we still want to bring him off his line to force the gamer to make that decision. We've also helped the goalie deal better with the lob shots, so now he's backpedaling, he can scramble backward, and just reacting better than he did last year.
Jon Robinson: How has slide-tackling and jostling been improved?
Gary Paterson: In terms of slide-tackles, we're adding more variety in the tackle animations and we're making it more intelligent so you can tackle from a wider variety of positions without getting called for fouls so easily. Maybe last year when you were jostling, if you were behind the player it didn't play the right animation and it was always a foul. So now, we've worked on this to make the game smarter. Slide-tackles are actually a much more useful tool in "FIFA 11" than it was in "FIFA 10." It just gives you another layer of defense and the A.I. is so much more intelligent this year, you should be able to use it in a lot more situations than you could in the past.