FIFPlay, a feedback community for FIFA, interviewed David Rutter, the Line Producer on FIFA 09 XBOX 360 and PS3. David Rutter joined EA in August 2007, and is based at Electronic Arts Canada’s Burnaby campus.
FIFlay: Can you please tell us some about the key features of upcoming FIFA 09?
David Rutter: One of the new modes that we are all very excited about is what we are calling Custom Team Tactics. The goal for the feature when we set out to do it was to distinguish the teams in our game by making each of them play differently according to how they play in the real world. In the process of building this feature we figured out that this is something that should also be exposed to the gamers so that they can adjust the way that the team plays to suit their own personal style too.
We put in a set of ‘sliders’ so that you can tweak and tune the way your team plays as if you were the first-team coach or manager. There are 11 sliders and options in the game, broken down into ‘Defending’ and ‘Attacking’ sliders. Attacking is then broken down further into ‘Build Up’ and ‘Chance Creation’ sliders.
There are roughly 140 attacking and 40 defensive options. One example is to adjust the Defensive Mentality – in a high setting you’ll have nine players pushing into your opposition half trying to cut-out play in much the same way as in the team pushing for a win,desperate to get the ball no matter how vulnerable that leaves you defensively. To counter this, the opposition could play a long, lofted ball over your last man and their striker might have 30 yards of space to run into between the last defender and the goalkeeper. The opposite example is low Defensive Mentality. Choosing this setting would mean your defensive line is deep leaving very little space for the attacking team to play in your half of the pitch. An attacking team is going to be met with a 10 man defense – so they’re going to need to use some pretty inspired quick passing and movement to get near goal. This is only some of the depth that we’ve added and we really recommend you experiment with the feature for yourselves to experience all of the nuances you can create. You can exchange them with your mates via EA Locker, and assign up to 4 of them to your Quick Tactics to execute during offline or online play. They’re really powerful.
We have also expanded our popular Be A Pro feature into a career mode. You’ll get the chance to choose or build a football player, control them for four seasons and grow their abilities using the experience points you gain on the pitch. Hopefully you’ll be good enough to get spotted by your national coach, with the ultimate aim of being your countries captain, and winning the International Cup to become a Legend.
For the first time in Be A Pro we’ll be allowing fans of the mode to play unlocked – so if you fancy a change of position you can still gain experience for your player, whilst playing as another pro. And if your mate pops over they can join in – either playing along side you – or trying to spoil your progress as your opponent.
We are also going to reveal some additional new features at the Leipzig Games Festival in Germany in August.
FIFlay: As you know, at FIFPlay we are trying to collect the suggestions and ideas of FIFA fans and deliver them to people like you at EA … Some of the features that fans would like to see in FIFA 09 are such as a stadium editor, in-game referee, more leagues & teams, kit/face editor tool, women’s soccer, more tournaments, training mode & …, how about them in FIFA 09?
David Rutter: We’ve not got all of these – but there’s the Referee and his assistants. We’ve also done a heap of improvements generally around the game. You’ll be able to customize your controller totally, and take it online. We’ve made the in game team management 2 player, and we’ve addressed the need for Manual v Semi or Full assisted in online play. Were also improving the ‘disconnection’ issues online – so…
1 – Up to 3 mins the users when quitting will get no penalty at all – This allows users to judge the connection quality.
2 – Between 3 and 5 mins the user who quits will get a DNF rating – This means we don’t penalize too harshly quitters in case the quality drops
3 – After 5 mins the user who quits will get a DNF rating and a 3-0 loss – The users own fault.
As far as training is concerned, there are a number of options available inside the practice arena. Firstly, for inexperienced gamers we will provide hints and tips in the form of overlays to show how to do different moves. You are also able to practice free kicks, and penalties. If you are outside the area and running at the goalie, press down on the D-pad and you will go to a free kick mode where you are standing. Press down on D-pad while inside the area and you will be able to practice the free kick.
FIFlay: As you can see in our FIFA 09 page at FIFPlay, there are more than 14,000 ideas submitted by FIFA fans for FIFA 09, what does it mean for you as FIFA producer, do you think that FIFPlay could help EA to hear the fans voice to make the game better?
David Rutter: We spent a lot of time reflecting on the community and press feedback from FIFA 08 and we managed to distill it down into 250 key additions and improvements to focus on for FIFA 09 gameplay, and we’re really happy to be able to say that the vast majority of them are things we know our fans are after. The three biggest areas of gameplay improvement you’ll see are in Responsiveness, Physical Play and their affect through Attributes, plus the AI.
Responsiveness this year has improved massively –- we’ve revamped our animations and animation technology to make sure every gamer controlled action, including dribbling, running, tackling, heading, passing and shooting, are much more responsive. You’ll feel the difference immediately. Now what you want to happen on the pitch really does happen when you want it to.
Physical Play and Attributes were top of our agenda too. For example, the team really felt that there wasn’t enough difference between small, pacey players, and large, strong players. This year you’ll need to become more familiar with the individual strengths and weaknesses of the players you have at your disposal and what they are capable of in real life. Fast players can nip in and out of tackles much faster than hulking defenders, but the little guys are much easier to muscle off the ball. Tackles are crunching – and we can discriminate between planted and trailing legs, so if you contact a player in the right spot he’ll go down or skip out of it authentically. We’ve also put in some amazing mid-air collisions and stumbles that add a fantastic sense of realism.
For intelligence, we’ve massively improved positioning,goalkeeping, reducing the frequency the ball is intercepted in certain situations,, through-balls and enabling skilled players to curl passes and crosses. Furthermore, keepers can change their mind mid-dive when they realize they’ve made a mistake…and that’s just some of the hundreds of changes we’re making to create a realistic football simulation.
FIFlay: Will be there a multi-platform online play feature, in which users with different platforms (PS3, Xbox360 or PC) can play against each other?
Unfortunately not – we cant currently do this. However, I will be able to talk more in depth about our online features and new capabilities in the coming months after we make some additional feature announcements this month and at the Leipzig Games Festival in Germany in August. What I can say right now is that the new EA matching –making hub will create a significantly improved experience when looking for other gamers to play online and this, combined with what we will be revealing in the coming months, should create a much improved online experience.
FIFlay: Do you play FIFA 08 at home or at EA, have you ever tried to play other football games like PES to see the difference between them and FIFA?
David Rutter: I’ve been a massive football and football simulation game fan for many years. I’ve played pretty much every footy game over the last 25 years …!
FIFlay: As a FIFA fan, if you want to submit an idea for FIFA 10 in FIFPlay.com, what it would be?
David Rutter: Hmmmm. That would be telling!