By now you should have heard a fair amount about what's in store for FIFA 10. I'll cover them again here shortly - but we've a lot more coming soon too. Throughout the end of June I'll be visiting London, Paris, Munich, Madrid, Milan, Warsaw and Moscow to get our game in front of more journalists and unveil a number of additional new features we have deliberately not mentioned yet.
And during 19th to 23rd August we'll be proudly showing the game at the Gamescom in Cologne with some more new features. Anyway, back to the here and now.
We're really proud of FIFA 09. Quality wise the game was up there, but being football and football game fanatics we're never satisfied. So with FIFA 10 we wanted to address 3 key things.
- Refine our gameplay
- Respond to feedback from our Fans
- Innovate in some really cool ways.
About 70% of our effort went on the first 2 items, whilst the remaining 30% was spent on the very cool new innovations we have already revealed and others that we will be revealing in the coming months.
Refining our Game
When we look at FIFA 09 the overall quality of the gameplay is good. We've been building our 'Next Gen' gameplay for three years, and we have managed to address most of our fundamentals to a really satisfactory level.
However there were still some frustrations - and we wanted to address them. Week in and week out when we watch real football games we see things that help us to identify how real football players behave, and express themselves on the pitch.
With this in mind we focused on a heap of things this year, namely:
We wanted to replicate the degrees of urgency on the pitch. When players aren't involved in immediate 'action' they're more relaxed. As play gets closer they become more alert and responsive to what's going on around them. So in FIFA 10 this year you'll see a lot of different motions being used dependent on the state of the play, and the 'threat' of the situation.
We've also worked on new Face Ball logic, to ensure that players are correctly following the play and better prepared to react to the situation. This work even moves into players getting out of the way of teammates passes and shots, and players throwing themselves at the ball with effort - things like diving headers, sliding shots, falling clearances etc.
Trapping is how the player gets into a position to control the ball, and how they control it.
This year we wanted to get away from inappropriate 'earliest' trapping, where a player might move to a position where they would get the ball to touch them as soon as possible, to an 'easiest' trapping system, where players move to a position to get the ball under control as easily as possible.
Essentially we gave the players more intelligence and awareness of where the most 'natural' trapping position is. The net result - a more responsive ball control mechanic to get the ball on the ground, and under control.
This year we wanted to ensure that players had more awareness of where their teammates were. A new system call 'Position Priority' makes sure that Defensive Midfielders cover at the back if a Centre back has gone up for a corner - and they won't leave their post until it's safe for them to do so.
Similarly in attack supporting players make more elaborate runs, analyzing space more effectively to curve, stay onside and create space for passes.
Yet again there was a lot of 'threat' analysis work going on. Passing players now have a greater understanding of the space ahead of teammates to make through balls more effective.
We really wanted to improve the way the ball moves this year. So we created a tool that enables us to create a context sensitive shooting mechanic. What this means is we can tune the error on shots based on the situation.
Factors during a shot like the ball, foot and movement of both now will have the correct effect on the ball and lead to some really cool looking shots.
We worked not just on the positioning as mentioned above, but also on the slide and standing tackles, and momentum on both. For slide tackling, good players now slide further, so you'll have more reach.
They also have better targeting - so you'll generally go for the ball rather than the player. Obviously with more reach, you've got to time them better, otherwise you'll be picking yourself up, as the attacker is bearing down on goal. The standing tackle, which was very powerful in 09, is now less forgiving. Defenders will use more momentum in these tackles, so again, if you miss time - you'll be committed to the wrong direction.
Lots of improvements here. We've looked at interception logic - calm and collected in low threat situations, through to punches under pressure. Again, lots of urgency work too. The keepers are now far more aggressive coming off their line, but if caught off their line they can scramble back to scoop the ball out of danger. We also worked on the goalies momentum to ensure his saves are realistic.
There's a heap more too - and I'm sure in upcoming blogs by Creative Director Gary Paterson and gameplay producer Aaron McHardy they'll be discussing these, and much more, in lots of detail.
Responding to Feedback:
So as I'm writing this we're nearing the 300 millionth game of FIFA. What a number. And what a lot of feedback. For me feedback has taken 2 forms.
I'll take each in turn.
I'm on the forums a lot, posting and reading. There are a lot of people who love the game, and there are a lot of people who discover, report or exploit things in our game that they're unhappy with.
So, we really want to make the people who have legitimate gripes happy, and the exploiters play fair. Some of the things we're changing are:
- Stopping lofted through balls leading to 1 on 1 with the keeper.
- Preventing goals being scored from kick off
- Improving shooting so you don't hit the woodwork so much
- Making our movement animations look better
- Working to make offsides less frequent and the advantage rule more intelligent
- Starting to remove scripted graphical sequences and adding quick free kicks.
We've done a lot more too - but this should give you a sense of how much we are actually listening to the frustrations people are telling us about.
The second part of responding is requests. This year we're proud to announce that we're including a Practice Mode within FIFA 10. Using the Back/Select button from the 1 on 1 arena, you'll be able to bring up a menu enabling you to choose to play a practice match or set pieces.
You can change the number of players on each side, and a little blog exclusive here - it's multiplayer too. Only locally though - you can't have your online friends join your practice match. But 5 v 5 outfield players, on a full size pitch is now a reality.
This year we really wanted to change the way the game played. One of the big things we wanted to do was firstly change the player control mechanic, but also to give people more freedom to express themselves realistically on the ball.
We've managed to do this in 3 ways this year.
360 Degree Dribbling
- 360 Degree Dribbling
- Skilled Dribbling
- Freedom in Physical Play
Believe it or not the players in FIFA 09 could only move in 8 directions. Up/Down, Left/Right and Diagonals. You might not have noticed it, but at times this led to a feeling of frustration in the way players dribbled and turned with the ball.
360 Degree dribbling totally frees you from those 8 directional constraints. It's the first time ever in a football game. Literally a super fluid way to move with the ball. We've introduced a larger area of 'control' in front of the players, wider dribble touches and a much more responsive and accurate pad reading system to allow you to go wherever you want. With practice it's even possible to switch the ball from one foot to the other.
In addition to the 360 system above we wanted to give skilled dribblers the ability to rapidly move the ball laterally. Imagine you're down near the corner flag and are being pressed by a defender.
By pressing the top left bumper you can take rapid, high fidelity touches of the ball to jink left and right to throw defenders momentum. It's also useful in other areas of the pitch. I like to think of it as a more accessible skill move.
Freedom in Physical Play
With the wider dribble touches we added a new collision sharing system. In combination with the increased area of possession you're looking at 'overlapping' areas of control. A true fight for possession when you're shoulder to shoulder.
It's more varied, and when the players are evenly matched, can lead to some great extended and less predictable physical interactions on the pitch. It's not just all about gameplay though.
We're fully aware on the team that Manager mode is HUGELY popular. Outside 1 v CPU and 1v1 play it's the most played gamemode in the game.
Using our 'responding to feedback' tag line, we just couldn't ignore the volume of requests coming in to address a number of areas in this mode.
We've improved 50 major components to Manager mode in the following areas:
- Match Realism
- Player Development
- Football Atmosphere
We've totally reworked our simulation engine. Results for Sim'd games are now generated minute by minute and are based on individual team strengths and weaknesses - down to the level of individual players, defensive, midfield and attacking lines, and formation.
From the simulations we run here - we're really happy with the realism of the results we're generating, and our league tables look pretty believable too.
In 09 we were guilty of using financial clout as the main decider for transfer success. This year there's more decision points. Whilst money is still very important, career prospects and squad opportunity also play an important role in the success of a player's decision. You'll also have much more intelligent AI competing against you.
We wanted to make sure that players developed believably for FIFA 10 - so we've invested heavily in making intelligent player growth curves based on a number of factors.
These physical, mental and technical curves effect how well a player will develop, as well as where the developing player is based and how we'll they're performing.
The world of football is constantly changing, at a high and low level, and we wanted to inject some much needed authenticity here. You'll see AI rotating squads based on match performance, have real-time transfer updates on a week by week basis and summaries of what's going on in your football world.
We're looking at Manager mode as a multiyear investment for us. It's going to take us a little while to get to a Manager mode that matches the quality of our on pitch gameplay - but we're really committed to pulling this off.
As I mentioned that's about all I can talk about at the moment - and I know the guys here will be doing more in-depth blogs concerning their 'features' as the weeks and months go by. We'll also be releasing more info on what's going on regarding our other 'unannounced features' over the coming weeks too.
I'm looking forward to reading the feedback from this 'blog' and hope that you're as excited about hearing this stuff, as we are making it.