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FIFA 12: 'Our gameplay is excellent. The next challenge is visual authenticity'

Rutter talks PES, online cheating and more

FIFA 12 hits Europe and North America next week, and we're all rather excited.

Ahead of release Xbox World sat down with FIFA producer David Rutter to break down the changes and improvements that have been made this year's edition one of the most promising in recent years.

Let's talk PES first. There was a time when Konami's game was so far ahead of FIFA in terms of quality, it looked unlikely you'd ever catch up. But you did, and now it's them playing catch-up. How did you manage it?

We decided to rewrite our gameplay engine when we moved over to the 360 and rather than just taking what was our old generation game and porting it across, we instead rewrote the whole thing from scratch. It was based around a principal of not being scripted, or pre-determined, but about creating a game where there was a near-limitless variety of outcomes based on what you were doing.

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And at that point, you go from what's an arcadey experience to very much a simulation. We created a game where, depending on where the ball's coming from, how it's spinning, how your foot connects with that ball, the outcome of that kick is different nearly every single time. And at that point you are suddenly creating a very deep, rich and rewarding gameplay experience.

We always keep an eye (on PES), but we've dedicated our lives to making the best football game on Earth. There's no danger of complacency.

What if the next generation of gaming freed you from all restrictions?

I think if there was absolutely no restraint on anything at all I would like a system where, rather than us having to generate player heads with our capture tool, we would re-utilise the APB for our fans to be able to generate amazing characters, and then to take some kind of very cool stadia engineering tool and let them make their own stadia and be able to light it in real time in a really nice way. Animation-wise I think we are pretty good, I think gameplay-wise we are excellent, but ultimately our next frontier for challenge is going to be environmental and physical likeness.

What's the most important football game of all time?

For me it was the first N64 Konami one, International Superstar Soccer, because the dribbling on that was something else. I remember getting the analogue stick and just thinking, "Holy moly!" Sensi was good, but I didn't like it as much as Kick Off... I can't believe I'm saying that because I know the people that made Sensible Soccer, but I prefer Kick Off.

What do you think of as the number one problem with making FIFA titles?

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One of the things I find most difficult to deal with is the exploiting and the cheating. People have a number of different ways to hack save games to boost their stats. It's not something that's unique to FIFA, pretty much any online team game you play has a similar problem. Would someone in a Quake match quit in a duel? Absolutely. What happens at that point? You grin and go, "haha, I beat him so bad he quit!" Quite the opposite happens in FIFA, which is, "why won't you punish that person for backing out?"

For the vast majority of situations we can spot when people are doing that and we award the points and the win. It is almost a cottage industry: trying to find in what order to switch the plug off and pull the router cable and rest your wireless action point so you can fool EA into thinking something odd is going on. It's unbelievable.

Do you ever worry that you'll run out of ways to improve the game?

We're lucky that we make a game based around a very rich and dynamic sport, so every time I watch a match on TV, or go and watch the Vancouver Whitecaps play, there's something that will inspire you to go back to the office and say, "Hey! We need to do this!". We have a ton of stuff we still want to get to, especially in Career mode. I've been making football videogames for 15 years, and I've never had any lack of inspiration, or a stalling point, as to how they can be improved.

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