A few weeks back we asked OS Forum members to submit their questions for the FIFA 09 Production team. Below you will find the answers to the first batch of questions from FIFA 09 Line Producer for PS3 and Xbox 360, Dave Rutter.
OS: What is being done to make FIFA feel more organic on the pitch? In other words how are you guys trying to make games more random and allow more creativity? It seems like FIFA sometimes falls into the trap of being too much about doing one or two certain tactics to get chances/score goals so that's where the question stems from.
Dave Rutter: Funny you should say that…one of the major focuses this year has been precisely that. If you think about how football ‘works’ there’s an ebb and flow. One team has the upper hand, then the other. One team is pushing hard, say for an equalizer in the last few minutes, or defending deep in the last 5 minutes against that team. We’ve consciously acknowledged this in FIFA 09 with our new Custom Team Tactics system. As part of Team Management you’ll be able to edit 11 tactical sliders to change attacking and defending parameters of your team. Think of it as being the first team coach and being able to dictate how your team plays on the pitch. There is 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 your striker will probably have 30 yards of space to run into between the last defender and the goalkeeper. The opposite example is low Defensive Mentality. Choose this option means 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.
Custom Team Tactics completely changes the dynamic of all of the players on the pitch for the team that has the tactic applied. Just like real life it isn’t just about short passing or long passing. The important thing is the support play and how your team operates as a unit to be successful.Hopefully that helps you get the idea. The even more impressive part is our superb global data collection team is seeding the top leagues with accurate tactics to ensure you’ll be able to recognize the dynamic, fast paced counter attacking style of Man Utd. with the pretty passing game of Arsenal. Literally. Oh – and you can edit these yourself, assign them to your own team, or opponents, and even play them online. And using the Quick Tactics section of team management you can assign 4 of these Team Tactics to the D-Pad to trigger manually during the game. FIFA will never be the same again.
OS: Will there be more varied ways to attack the pitch? In other words it seems like sometimes FIFA is too much about pinpoint passing all the way down the pitch (until a final cross or lead pass to a striker), whereas in real-life there's a lot more playing balls to spaces on the pitch.
Dave Rutter: So it’ll be much more varied. Imagine a team with Long Passing set in custom team tactics. They’re not going to be successful if they’re hoofing the ball up the pitch to tiny Michael Owens. You need a Peter Crouch or somebody like that as a target man in the middle. Not only that, but the personality of the rest of the team needs to be changed entirely to support that style of play. You need your midfielders following through their runs in the middle to support any knock on from your equivalent of Peter Crouch. Conversely you don’t want your players disappearing off on long runs if you’ve got your team playing a short passing game. The sliders don’t just do what they say on the slider. They entirely change the way your team supports, positions and makes runs, how fast and slow they do it, and with how much aggression. We’ve been amazed at how powerful a tool it is.
OS: Tell us more about Custom Team Tactics?
Dave Rutter: So you can see the depth and breadth of the 11 tactical sliders they’re broken down into 3 buckets below…the 2 extremes of each slider are described.
Defensive Tactics: When you don’t have the ball
- Mentality – Press Entire Pitch v Press own Half
- Aggression – Close Down & Contain vs. Double Player Press & Slide Tackles.
- Width – Narrow & Compact vs. Wide & Man Marking
- Positioning – Covering Line vs. Straight Offside Trap.
Attacking Tactics: Build Up Styles – When you have the ball in the first 2 thirds.
- Passing – Short vs. Long.
- Speed – Cautious vs. Fast.
- Positioning – Organised vs. Freeform.
Attacking Tactics: Chance Creation – When you have the ball in the attacking 3rd.
- Passing – Safe vs. Risky.
- Shooting – Little vs. Lots.
- Crossing – Little vs. Lots.
- Positioning – Organised vs. Freeform.
OS: Will Be A Pro mode turn into a career or season mode?
Dave Rutter: Absolutely – we’re giving you the ability to be able to chose or create a pro player, and play as that player for four seasons. During those four seasons you’ll get to grow your chosen player with experience points gained from completing games and challenges. Your reputation will increase until hopefully you’ll get spotted by your international manager and get called up to play. Once you’re in the international squad your ultimate aim is to become captain and an International Legend. If you get a bit tired of this, though, you’ll be able to play the mode unlocked – taking control of anyone else in the team, or even get a mate to play with or against you.
OS: What improvements are being made to Be A Pro mode online? For example can hosts kick a player in Be a Pro games; is there a party system so a group can stick together; is the mode bigger than 5 versus 5?
Dave Rutter: Yes, yes and yes. We’ve introduced a heap of changes to the system as requested by fans, and we’re rolling out a massive new online game mode that I can not talk about – yet!
OS: Has the Be a Pro camera been improved, especially for corners?
Dave Rutter: It has changed in lots of ways. We’ve improved it on corners, and you can also edit the camera distances to you hearts content. We’ve also got a quick zoom out function to let you see the state of play from higher up. We’re also allowing users to play Be A Pro with standard game cameras too.
OS: Will there be more tweaking of the ball physics?
Dave Rutter: We’ve done quite a bit. We’re really happy with the way the ball zips around realistically – and we all loved the first ball bouncing in-off-the-bar-and-out-again-goal, as well as post-to-post rebounds. You can use spin on the ball really beautifully in free kicks…
OS: Tell us how you have improved physical play?
Dave Rutter: It’s amazing. Jostles are now free – so you can press a man, pull out of it, drop back into it once you’ve got an extra yard, etc. In FIFA 08 it felt a bit on rails – now it’s totally free. And with the work we’ve done on player attributes you can really feel the difference between players who are strong versus weak, big versus small, and fast versus slow. You need to appreciate the players for what they’re strengths and weaknesses are and play to your advantage…
OS: Will there be collisions and or injuries when challenging for headers?
Dave Rutter: Yep – they’re magnificent as well. Everything from little imbalance stumbles through to brutal crumpled heaps.
OS: How has the game speed changed?
Dave Rutter: At the moment we’re sticking with a speed between FIFA 08 and UEFA Euro 2008. We’re tweaking and tuning all the time, and we’re toying with the idea of speed setting in options at the moment.
OS: Will there be referees on the pitch?
Dave Rutter: Yes – and assistants.
OS: Will there be quick restarts?
Dave Rutter: We’ve got quick rematch in online if that’s what you mean?
OS: Can we add players to the wall and have them charge forward?
Dave Rutter: We’ve not added player adding to the wall – but you can jump and rush on command
OS: Can we bring up the keeper towards the end of the game on corners?
Dave Rutter: If you’ve got the right mentality set (HIGH) in Custom Team Tactics then it’ll happen if appropriate, yes.
OS:Has player switching been improved (more accurate and faster)?
Dave Rutter: Yes, we have done a lot of work on auto-switching and switching players when you want to choose them. At the moment we believe it is significantly improved over last year and I would also encourage people to go into the game options controller set-up to adjust the switching mechanics to very manual or very automatic. Manual works better for most people in most circumstances so I would suggest giving this a try as well.
OS: Is there a way to kick with the outside of a player's foot?
Dave Rutter: HAH! Yes – we’ve added Finesse shots which allow for some of the most sublime moments in the game. By holding R1/RB your player will take a moment to place with finesse the shot…We’ve made some beautiful videos of some amazing finishing.
OS: Can we use/save edited formations/lineups online?
Dave Rutter: Yes, and Custom Team Tactics, too. And your totally customizable controller set up too! You can completely customize your controller, creating your own controller configuration, assigning actions to the buttons exactly how you like them for complete control. This was a huge request from gamers last year.
OS: What has been done to address back line/defender A.I.? For example it seems they pinch in too far sometimes which allows for wing play to be overly dominant
Dave Rutter: Yep – it was pretty bad. A lot of goals were being scored from crosses. We’ve done a lot of work on that, and also on Goalkeeping AI. You’ll see the goalkeeper make better decisions about positioning, come away from the goal line at the right moments, getting down on shots a lot more intelligently and a lot more authentically. We have also introduced a new system this year which enables the goalkeeper to react to what is occurring on the field in real-time. So if the goalkeeper makes a dive and realizes he’s not going to save the ball he can half change his mind to try to get an arm or a leg out to try to at least deflect the ball to make the save.
OS: Does the CPU make more errant passes?
Dave Rutter: Sometimes
Check back here often and I’ll answer more of the questions that have been posted in recent weeks.