At a recent FIFA event we got the chance to sit down with producer David Rutter to chat about some of the new mechanics in FIFA 13. We also spoke about Peter Crouch, balancing attack with defence, and if John Terry will be able to knee players in the bum in this year's game.
There is a new focus on attacking play in FIFA 13, and FIFA Street's close-ball controls have been added to the game, how hard were they to carry over from an arcade game to the sim-series?
David Rutter:Yeah so, erm, not so much really. The kind of critical thing being that FIFA Street was built on FIFA, and then carrying it back was pretty straight forward. The key thing more than anything was making sure it doesn't become an abuse or doesn't become overpowered within the game, which I think we've successfully achieved, at least this far. But we've got six months to go to see if we can break it. The other components included for attacking (improved off-the-ball running, first touch etc.) I think that was harder to actually figure out. I mean that didn't actually come from FIFA Street, that came from us. You know, having looked at FIFA 12 and what was going on there, having looked at the feedback from the fans and also the fact that we, ourselves felt perhaps that, with tactical defending, you've got more time on the ball now. But you can't really feel this sense of urgency in attack, we needed to do work there so, we obviously did.
By taking one year to focus on defence, and the next on offence, how hard is it to balance the games while you work on those two components?
DR: Yeah I think that defence going in last year was great because it totally re-balanced the game, and made defending half of the game again, which it always should have been. I think that the kind of lack of attacking gusto, I guess, was something that I don't think anyone really noticed at first, it's just after extended play, you can feel a bit kind of lost in that final third. So addressing it this year; the fact is we've thrown in those really decisive runs. We've got this kind of sense of being able to change run directions and types based on not straying offside, being able to get around the back of defenders, creating passing lanes and also the big change about players being able to recognise what's happening on the pitch and being able to think two or three moves ahead adds this really nice dynamic and organic movement to the team.
There's that side of it that's really important, but we couldn't just throw all that in because it would just break the game. So how do we give our defenders more options? How do we give them more options when last year's game was all about shepherding players and waiting for them to make a mistake? Erm, ok, let's give them stuff that allows them to make mistakes happen. So the push-pull system being introduced, the ability to influence the outcome of player traps and when (an attacker) is receiving the ball, give them a shove and make them make a mistake to be able to steal the ball. If the ball's gone passed you, and you pressed tackle, in last year's game, you would simply launch a tackle at nothing, and then you're stuck there with a player running passed you going "ha-ha". This year we've changed it (to add the blocking system) and it works really well. Lots of work on attacking, lots of work on dribbling, but, to make sure it's well balanced, we have to do work elsewhere, which we've done with the player impact engine, push-pull, and the first touch control system as well.
As you've said, a lot of the off-the-ball runs have an emphasis on giving the player the ability to get behind the defence. But is there an ability for some players to run towards the ball, especially with stronger players like Didier Drogba and Peter Crouch, who are known to work in front of the defence and allow other players to get behind the defence?
DR: Sure, so, depending on the player, last year we put in Pro Player Intelligence and we had Personality Plus before. This idea that players know what they're good at and what their roles are, absolutely. The interesting thing being, you can set the game up to do pretty much whatever you want now. If you want players to fulfil that role, if you want players to, kind of be sucked to the ball, you can do that too if you want. Assistance in getting to the ball when the ball's in the air and stuff there's options for that too. But ultimately what we want to have happen is when you're playing against Peter Crouch, for example, he would get himself into a position in order for his team to play crosses into him and play the ball onto his head. Either so that he can score or so that he can lay the ball off to someone else. The team around him know that's what he is going to do, the minute that you take control of that team is when that can come unstuck because you're influencing what he's doing and if you don't play him like the team is expecting him to be play, then it comes undone a bit.
With the decision this year to create Barcelona-style attacking football, how and when do the implementations of mechanics come about?
DR: Yeah, it seems like so long ago. We spend between launch (of the previous game) and Christmas figuring out what we want to do, and then after the Christmas holidays we come back and we build it. Basically, from that point until launch, we are putting things in, playing it tons, deciding what we like, what we don't like, tweaking, tuning and changing. Some things get cut, some things get brought back, some things get better, some things get worse, and then get better again. Ultimately it's a case of getting it in and playing it.
Are Pro Player Intelligence and the new first touch system dynamic? Can a player's form or confidence be affected by their performance over the course of a match?
DR: We get asked about that a lot. Ultimately, there's no momentum, that's how our community and fans talk about it within the game. So if your team's doing badly, they don't start to play badly, or if your team's playing well, they don't start to play better. That concept doesn't exist in the game, ultimately because we want it to be down to your skill and abilities, and down to the attributes of the players on the pitch, rather than "oh, bad luck". The fact that, fans who believe that's in there get so passionately against it is like "yeah that's why we wouldn't put it in, because it would be a dumb idea".
You've said previously that you wouldn't consider putting diving in FIFA, but after Chelsea's recent Champions League semi-final, would you consider including giving John Terry the "knee in the back" personality trait?
DR: (laughs) its funny because while those questions aren't serious, they're also pretty useful tools to us to help explain why they aren't in the game. There's so much griefing online, so much griefing, it's a bizarre state of affairs, so that the thought of actually allowing people to do, fundamental cheating, on purpose, I think one interviewer the other week described me as the Sepp Blatter of EA, which is crazy. But it's not some spokesperson response, or some policeman of ethics, its simply because I can't imagine the uproar.