With Gamescom just around the corner, EA is preparing for some more FIFA 14 announcements, but we sat down with Producer Sebastian Enrique to try to tease some information out of him regarding what is in store for players.
CLICK: You announced Bale as the cover star of the UK & Ireland; have you insider knowledge with regards to where he is going to be next season?
Sebastian Enrique (SE): I have no clue, no clue whatsoever [laughs]
CLICK: After each match, it comes up with ‘EA Sports Football Club Recommends.’ What can we expect to see in this?
SE: For Football Club, they’re going to have to wait for Gamescom. So in Gamescom, primarily, we’re going to be talking about what’s new in online, there is something new coming in online that we didn’t talk about yet. We’re going to be talking about Match Day, Football Club, and we’re going to be talking about something new in Ultimate Team that’s going to be fantastic. We’re going to be talking about new licenses as well. So be ready for it. It’s going to be good.
CLICK: On the licensing front, congratulations on the 19 Brazilian teams. What kind of decisions are made with regards to which licenses you try to acquire?
SE: That’s a tough one because usually it doesn’t depend on the dev team so it’s a completely different department that are licensing and business affairs. So in certain sense we are like users, like the end consumer that we’re asking all the time, ‘We want this league, we want this league, we want this league…’ Sometimes we get it or not. At the end of the day, it all depends, I guess, on return on investment. But all the time we know what are the most requested leagues. So when we go to the forums, I can tell you right away it’s Turkish league, the Ukranian league and the Argentinian league that are by far the most requested. But, as I mentioned, we’re kind of consumers as well and we’re asking for new leagues, new teams, new stadiums all the time.
CLICK: Skill games was one of the new features introduced last year; how many are in the game this year?
SE: I don’t have the exact number off the top of my head, but there are more than 50, I think. It’s not just adding; we have removed some, we have refreshed some others and we added new stuff. The idea was that it was so successful that we want to add stuff that is fun to play and fresh in the sense that you continue learning new mechanics, so now you have to apply Protect the Ball, we introduced Keeper Skill Games as well. Now we have the ability of having multiple balls, and we have ball launchers, we have more objects. There’s one for the Keeper that I really like: you have all the ball launchers – imagine like in Tennis, when you’re practicing Tennis and you have to go and hit the ball – here is the same, but you are the Keeper and you have to prevent the net from being scored on. It’s super fantastic. And we have online leaderboards for Skill Games, so you can compare with your friends.
CLICK: At the top end it gave players a taste of what manual controls were like; did you see a lot of players switching over or changing some of their commands to manual?
SE: I didn’t look at that specifically, but there is a big community that plays manual controls. Usually they are the most hardcore gamers, but every time I go to tours and see people play I am surprised how they customise the controls. But it’s important for us, it’s important; everyone plays FIFA differently, it’s important to listen.
CLICK: That’s one of the things that’s been said in the past, that you want people to be able to play their way and create goals in different ways, but when the online community gets their hands on the game they use one tactic that works better than others; what kind of changes have you made so that players can play their own game?
SE: I think Protect the Ball. The biggest feedback we had last year was that the game was too fast. And even I noticed that people liked to play a slower paced game, like hold possession and looking for the right opportunity, they ended up sprinting all the time. So, sprinting became a predominant way of playing FIFA. And in terms of gameplay, Protect the Ball, Variable Dribble, tighter defence, there are many, many things that we are doing so that you can play the game your own way. So it’s the same fairness if you want to play sprinting, you have risks and rewards, if you want to play a possession game you have risks and rewards. That’s what we do, it’s balancing the game. Trust me, as soon as the game is released as well, we are looking at how people are playing the game and if there are any what we call exploits or cheap goals, we try to fix them in patches.
CLICK: How much tweaking has been done to the referee logic, because they’re going to be put under a lot more pressure with the physical side of the game?
SE: That’s something that we continue tuning every day of the week. Even though you have the rules of the game – like offside is offside, so it’s black or white – but then there are some other things that is depending on conduct, it’s open to interpretation. So is it a yellow card, is it a red card, is it a foul? Because in the office we are from more than 20 different countries, I would say. So every day we have something where people say, “Hey, that was not a card,” or “Hey, that should have been a card,” or “That was not a foul.” So, all the time we’re discussing it and as long as we’re I would say 80-90% of the calls in agreement, we’re good to go.
CLICK: What do you think about community members who dislike that offsides are so black-and-white, yet complain about how referees interpret fouls?
SE: The thing is, imagine you’re playing online, so imagine if we allow diving and we allow mistakes in terms of offsides calls, you’re playing for relegation and because somebody scores a goal, and they were offside, you are relegated; you wouldn’t want to play that game anymore in your life. So we respect the rules of the game in that sense and we think it’s fair to be fair within the game. And even if you go to the game settings you will see that we have a handball option, but it’s turned off. Why is it turned off? Because you as a user have no control towards playing with the hands or what you do with the arms. So if you get (09:10) that’s unfair, because it was not intentional on your part. That’s why it’s disabled by default. So we wanted to provide something that is fair and that allows…if you lose it should be for something related to your skills and not from an error of the game.
CLICK: Will Kinect integration be coming back into career mode and putting people in the spotlight in the newspapers once again [for their potty mouths]?
SE: [laughs] We’ll do something. We’ll see.
CLICK: Seasons has always allowed players to use different rated sides, so is there any desire to change it so that people will have their 5-star division, their 4-star division, all the way down to a 1-star division? That they have separate Seasons Career Modes in a way?
SE: That’s something we’ve discussed but…yeah, see we’ll have to wait until Gamescom to see what’s new in terms of online. Sorry.
CLICK: The aerial battle has been a bit of a lottery at times, and obviously you’re looking at that on next-gen systems with the Ignite Engine. Have you been able to do tweaks for current-gen systems as well?
SE: Yeah, there are some improvements, more in terms of how we analyse the context, but we don’t have yet the computing power to do what we’re doing in Gen 4. So, In Gen 4 we have multiple player headers and because we have more animations, more confidence ?, it is much better. So we’re doing some tuning, but it’s not a big fundamental change.
CLICK: You’ve added a few new features; which one are you most proud of?
SE: The one that I like the most is Protect the Ball because it allows me, I’m Argentinian and I like playing the ball possession game, it allows me to play like that way so I’m not forced to play by sprinting all the time. So that’s the one that I would use.