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FIFA 11 interview

Creative director on tuning this year's footy contender

Yesterday we posted the first FIFA 11 details. This year's game is sounding very promising indeed - especially off the back of the excellent FIFA World Cup 2010 game.

'11 is set to feature "seismic improvements," reckons EA, including improved graphics, "massively" improved player AI and 'footballer personality'. It even allows players to record and upload their own fan chants. The online moderators will love that, no doubt.

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To find out more about this year's release Rob Taylor travelled to EA Vancouver to chat to the development team and play the game. In the first of a series of FIFA 11 interviews, our man speaks to creative director, Gary Peterson...

FIFA 10 purred, but it wasn't always that way. We remember interviewing you just before FIFA 08 came out...

I dunno what it was. With FIFA 08 something wasn't quite right, I wasn't happy with it. But then you never are. There's more we wanna do; that game was a learning experience for me. Ever since then we've been going forward and forward - FIFA 09 was the first one that my friends started to play - it was a proud movement.

Even the Need For Speed guys - casual footy gamers from across the office were starting to play it. FIFA 10 we were very happy with. Now we're in the lead it's even harder - where do we go from here? Because it's a yearly release we always have to be thinking ahead. We have some ideas for FIFA 12; we have an advance team already started on it but it's difficult...

Sounds like you're running out of ideas! Is there this danger of, say, tinkering with systems that are inherently decent, and overhauling them time after time?

It is a danger for sure. There were a couple of things we were talking about doing this year - and we were saying: 'Well, it's not gonna make it worse, but not necessarily better either - simply different.' I'd like to think that we won't be falling into that trap anytime soon though; we'll be doing more things like nailing shooting.

For instance, there's this one shot trajectory we haven't been able to recreate in the game yet - a dipping top spinner from 30 yards. So we're retuning the numbers, finding that context when you can achieve this shot, and all of a sudden shooting has a markedly different flavour to it. Acceleration curves, top sprint speeds, reaction times - all these factors make a big difference.

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But now you essentially have a solid next-gen engine in place, certain elements must be getting easier to integrate?

True. With regards to gameplay our tech is allowing us to do lots of stuff cheaply - like skill moves, or our UCC 2.0 (User Created Celebrations) engine, which is allowing our animators to go crazy! Our refined locomotion tracking system also gives us a lot of freedom. The formula this year is 'Refine and Respond' - and it's a winning one.

While we were playing we couldn't help notice how powerful FIFA's new 'freak' player build types - like good old Crouchy - were...

We've got a lot of tuning to do. One of the hardest things is we play Aaron (McHardy, Lead Gameplay Producer) and I play FIFA in a way that's authentic to football. So the things that we find wrong with the game are slightly different to the aspects other people might find wrong.

Wouldn't it be cool to have a selection of tuned presets instead/alongside regular difficulty levels - all the way from arcadey physics to ultra hardcore simulation?

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