Bloody magnets. How do they work? Miracle right? As out of place as that question might seem in an article framing the latest installment of EA’s much loved football franchise, it’s actually pretty on the ball (see what I did there?). As it turns out, the ‘magnet effect’ has been dogging the FIFA series since the title’s inception and developers and gamers alike loathe it.
For the uninitiated, these magnets I speak of relate to FIFA‘s inexplicable, physics defying ball and its cavalcade of Newton bewildering tricks. Seen as one of the final barriers in bringing the ever evolving franchise even closer to life, this dreaded element may have just been given the boot.
Speaking on this and all other things FIFA, EA’s resident Online Producer, Mr Garreth Reeder, recently paid Australia a visit to promote the upcoming title and gave a bit of commentary on how the game faired through its development cycle.
“If you look at where we were, say in FIFA 07, and where we are now with FIFA 13, we’re light years ahead,” Mr Reeder Explains.
“Not just in terms of the technology and graphics, but in mechanics and functionality as well. Year to year, we’re very happy with what we’re able to accomplish; but as the months go on we start to think about how every aspect can be improved. By the time the new year rolls around, we’re just bursting with ideas and more often than not they’re basically about how to make the action less like a game and more like a realistic, unpredictable football match.”
“The biggest challenge of the past few years by far has been the separation of the ball and the player (the digital, on-field kind. Not the one sitting in his living room wearing nothing but Real Madrid underpants). It’s what we like to call, the magnet effect.”
“In FIFA 2012 we introduced precision dribbling, that was really well received and helped to progress the series. What we’re doing this time is going all out to make the ball physics more dynamic and, more importantly, as realistic as possible. In every other game, you make a pass and it sticks to the receiving player’s foot like a magnet. You dribble and shuffle, it’s still sticking there. Never mind the fact that you had two defenders on you, kicked the ball clear across the field and the other player had to sprint to reach it – the ball just sticks. That really stood out as one of the barriers we had to overcome because it just looked and felt completely unrealistic.”
“When you get down to it, we’re getting closer and closer to making the FIFA series feel like an actual, real-life game of football, so anything artificial sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s really what we’re doing with these titles. Not reinventing the entire game from the ground up each time, but smoothening out all the bumps and just making the on screen action as gripping as the real-life game and these little imperfections are the final barrier.”
“So, the magnet effect. Once we identified the problem, which wasn’t all that hard, we started to think about ways around it. What happens now in FIFA 13, and it’s something we’re really excited about, is that when you pass or kick the ball, a whole number of elements come together to determine exactly what the ball does in that given situation. All the factors of the pass/kick come together right there on the spot to determine if that shot will go through as straight as an arrow or be off by a mile. It makes the game much more unpredictable when you can’t guarantee that passing the ball will save you in a heated defence situation. You now have to plan ahead and really use your dribbling and team positioning to succeed at higher levels of play.”
Moving away from the technical, Mr Reeder says the feature to watch out for in FIFA 13 is the new and improved Ultimate Teams mode.
“In the past, I think the Seasons has been the most played worldwide. It’s nice and simple in concept so people can just jump straight in and have a good time. Ultimate Teams by comparison, was a little under utilised and I think that was a real shame because there’s some great content there. I guess the problem was that the mode itself really didn’t teach you about how it’s properly played. We’ve fixed that this time around. It now has a great icebreaker flow that slowly introduces you to building teams and buy players. We’ve added much more content, so you won’t run out of play options quickly and it’s really the closest anyone can get to having a fantasy football team. You can have the best players from all over the world right there with you and set up some epic matches with the greats.”
Far cry from the English game. Small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts. Rush goalie. Two at the back, three in the middle, four up front, one’s gone home for his tea. Beans on toast? Possibly, don’t quote me on that. Marvellous.
FIFA 13 is avaliable in stores right now. Stay tuned for our review of the game soon!