David Rutter must have been one of the busiest men at gamescom this year. FIFA is kind of a big deal and everyone wanted a piece of the Rutter pie. We managed to sit down with the FIFA producer for 10 mins to chat about the biggest leap in FIFA... ever.
Q: What does this year's FIFA offer that last year's didn't?
David Rutter: So, it's a completely different game as far as gameplay is concerned. We've revolutionised dribbling, revolutionised the defending, completely changed the animation system ... so those things together combine to totally rebalance the game and make it very fluid and beautiful. On the other side, looking at modes, we've done tonnes of work in the career mode this year, with a focus on managers - overhauled pretty much all the systems in there - and improved, refined and innovated as well as adding a new youth academy system, and tonnes of other stuff really about the managers experience.
EA Sports Football Club is a big deal, so launching that. Create a profile. You know, progress through the game and get experience points, level up, be able to see what your friends are up to, where they're earning experience points, when they're levelling up. A 'support your club' feature where you sign up and pledge your allegiance to your team. Along with all the other fans of that team you contribute experience points to that club provided by the fans' average level of skill and dedication. You can play with whatever team you want there. As well as scenarios from the real world put into the game to create, say, a game from the weekend, throw it into the game space to see if you can do better than Arsenal would.
Two new online game modes this year. One based around ranked-play, one based around friendlies - both of which are longer-term season-based things where you have ten games to either show that you can beat your mate more than he can, or ten games to get promoted into a division above your rank. FIFA Ultimate Tea is on the disc - you can go online to easportsfootball.com, 20 September, and actually start creating and managing your Ultimate Team.
Q: And you have Season Ticket?
Q: You can start playing early?
DR: Three days, I think it is, earlier than launch that you'll be able to have the downloaded game on your hard disc and start playing FIFA and your progress will be carried forward into the full retail version.
Q: With impact engine, that's in-house developed?
DR: Yep, it's a combination of an incredibly talented group of people from the EA tech department who do the EA physics, and then we took some of their work, jiggled it around, and made it a real-time physics engine for FIFA. We are very lucky to work at EA Sports in Burnaby, where a lot of these people are.
Q: So that's something which could potentially be used in other sports games?
DR: Potentially, yeah. I mean, we're kind of lucky that we're at the spearhead of all that stuff. So we work very close with DICE, even, to combine different stuff.
One thing I haven't seen yet is 3D. Are you thinking about 3D yet?
DR: Not really, we had a play with it. We can get it working, but it's not been a massive priority for us. There's quite a lot of tweaking and tuning you need to do to make it really good. We don't really want to release it without it being really good. And, you know, I'd rather be making sure the passing and shooting, and EA Sports Football Club and online work brilliantly, because many many more people are going to benefit from that, whereas 3D is still somewhat niche. It's definitely something we're going to do in the future, just not this year.
Q: At the Sony conference, they confirmed FIFA for PS Vita. Can you tell us anything about that?
DR: Not at all, except it's a team not reporting to me working in it. PS3 in the palm of your hand is what everyone keeps saying, so it's pretty good - very good.
Q: And you also mentioned the Move and Kinect stuff coming next year?
DR: Next year.
Q: Can you say anything about those yet?
DR: Not except that it'll be next year.
Q: You obviously recently lost Peter Moore.
DR: Well, not lost him.
No, I got an email from him last night. Wherever he was eating last night, he sent me a photo of it, which was quite nice. I see him a lot. I get emails and he occasionally phones me up.
Q: You're not missing him then?
DR: Andrew [Wilson, EA Sports president] is good. I worked with Andrew for a long time. He was my boss, so I know him well. He's very much from a development background, so I'm looking forward to continuing working with him in his new role. And I'm sure I'll see Peter constantly throughout the year wherever I go. He always shouts "Rutter!" at me whenever he sees me, and then criticises me for wearing shorts and flip flops. I'm not wearing flip flops today.
Q: Were you set any Metacritic targets this year?
DR: No, there was no betting on Metacritic stuff this year. Obviously, where we're at is a difficult place to be, you know - around or in the nineties - we're pushing as hard as we can for quality based on what our fans want, what we think people want, innovation is key, and if you deliver that, I think you should expect a pretty high Metacritic as long as you do it well. By far, this is the most proud I've been of a FIFA that I've worked on. And that's saying something.
Q: Do you think this is one of the biggest leaps year-to year you've had?
DR: Yeah, I would say so. Although, you know, going on the PlayStation 3 and 360 is one thing... but player impact engine is certainly the biggest technological thing we've done this console generation since coming onto it. I think when you kind of see and play the game, then you kind of get it, it's difficult to put into words how different and powerful this one is.
Q: Can you reveal what the strongest Premier League team is this year?
DR: Well, we haven't finished the database at the moment so that's still going on and will continue until a few days before launch, and then there'll be an update at launch for any we missed off. I would say, at the moment, just thinking out loud, I know Chelsea are good, I know Man City are good and Arsenal are playing brilliantly at the moment, but we haven't, done the transfer [Fabregas].
A lot of people enjoy playing as Spurs - we've got a lot of Spurs fans in the office. Man United are always good. The best team in the game? I would probably say Barcelona, at the moment, but I would need to double-check the numbers. I've not checked.
Q: A quick question about licensing. Obviously PES has the Champions League and the Europa League. Is that something you'd like to have?
DR: I'll be honest; we're a game and a company rooted firmly in football authenticity. The game's a simulation of the sport. We want great gameplay based on a simulation of the sport. In a perfect world we'd have every licence in the whole wide world, but sometimes it doesn't work out like that.
Q: So, if it was available, you'd certainly want to have it in FIFA?
DR: Yeah, I've made the UEFA Champions League games for different companies before, and I've enjoyed making them, and I love making FIFA and in the perfect world we'd have everything. For those [gamers] that don't have what they want, we do have creation centre on the web where you can go and make it.
Q: So to wrap up, then, if there's one thing you wanted to achieve when you started this game, what was it?
DR: What we wanted to do was to make it look and feel completely fresh and new, and we've done it.
Q: You're satisfied?
DR: Very. And I really don't say that very often at all. I'm probably the most critical person. There are a lot of people going, 'why aren't you grumpy?' Because I'm very happy. It's, by far, the most happy I've been with a FIFA ever.
FIFA 12 will be released September 30.