FIFA Street Interview: EA Canada Talks Realism, Tricks, Players, Messi
EA Canada recently said that the quality of previous FIFA street titles began to suffer – how important was it that the series took a break for a few years?
SM: It was really a result of a greater vision for EA – focus on the quality of the core products. Every EA SPORTS™ title has seen great increases in quality and market share as a result of the focus on quality. Being in a strong place in our core products enables us to start exploring other opportunities to attract more gamers – and also a much better starting point for future franchises to build on.
Why has it taken so long for a FIFA street game to be built on the same tech as a the core FIFA franchise? What benefits does it bring?
SM: In a word: fundamentals. Street football, while definitely about the style and 1v1 battles, is still football. All the innovation made over the past several years in the award-winning FIFA gameplay engine (including Player Impact Engine and Precision Dribbling) form the foundation of FIFA Street. Having a great foundation enabled us to instead focus on depth of style, depth in match types and depth within our World Tour mode.
FIFA street has generally offered arcade-style gameplay – can we expect more of a street soccer sim this time out?
SM: Our goal for the re-birth of FIFA Street was “Authentic Street Football”. We want to be true to the culture and spirit of the sport, the way it is played around the world. There is still a higher emphasis on flair and style in the game because that’s what street football is all about. And because flair, style and swagger are already inbedded in the culture, we believe street football is inherently more “arcade” – especially when you throw in wallplay. We didn’t feel the need to go more overt. Plus, the feedback from the fans/community was that they were looking for a more authentic street football game.
The game will feature ‘authentic futsal’ – did you take inspiration from any other soccer hybrids such as beach soccer/indoor/freestyle? Will there be any ‘court-soccer’ style rules?
SM: Part of our research at the beginning of the project was to understand what street football meant to different areas of the world – from a style perspective. We discovered that Rio was more about the flair & style, Amsterdam was all about the Panna, and London played a indoor version of 11v11 football. So we tried to build mechanics that allows all 3 styles to factor into the gameplay.
In terms of actual match types, we have a wide variety of different ones, including playing with and without goalies, different size goals, futsal or panna rules and even one called Last Man Standing. In Last Man Standing you score a goal and you lose a player – you need to be the first team to lose all your players to win. It’s great fun head-to-head.
How did you go about representing the huge variety of tricks and skills on display around the world’s street pitches? Were there any that just wouldn’t work in the game? Any favourites?
SM: It was important for us to have both a variety of moves, and yet ensure that they were accessible. To that end, we implemented a series of “fundamental moves” – which are moves that can be triggered from any standing, dribbling, or juggling position. Once users get a hold of the core set of moves, they can explore the vast array of additional skill moves available in the game. My favourite move right now is the “Freeze 360” – it’s a roulette from the stand-on-ball position, in which you carry the ball on your foot during the roulette. Not always easy to pull off, but hugely satisfying when you do!
Can we expect the usual FIFA system of attributes (skill/speed/accuracy etc) to determine whether players can perform certain tricks, or are there any player-specific signature moves in there? If so, who should we look out for and why?
SM: Star players will be able to perform all moves. During play testing we found this made the game more accessible and more fun to play. The real goal of the game is to level up your own team to be able to perform all the moves in the game. So I would suggest that the player to watch out for is your own.
Lionel Messi – officially the best player in the world – is the new face of FIFA and the FIFA Street cover star; were you able to leverage his skills for mo-cap or other inspiration?
SM: We are incredibly excited to have Leo Messi on the cover of FIFA Street – the first in the FIFA series to feature him. However, due to the timeline of getting the deal sorted out, we were already post-Alpha when he joined the EA SPORTS team so we didn’t utilize him for mocap. We actually flew in real-world street footballers for mocap because we wanted to capture all the authentic street football moves.
Did feedback or reflection lead to any significant new features, modes or mechanics in FIFA street?
SM: Yes! Basically the whole game is based on end-consumer feedback – which included members of the development team as we were all FIFA Street gamers before. The biggest thing we heard was offering an authentic experience that was deep. The innovative Street Ball Control was created as a result of striving for authenticity & depth in gameplay. World Tour, which includes online head-to-head gameplay, was created as a result of striving for depth in game modes. The match types were tested by playtesters, and the ones that were most fun made the cut to stay in FIFA Street.
What can you tell us about the online modes headed to FIFA street? Will we see similar online leagues and competitions to FIFA 12?
SM: There are three main areas for online play in FIFA Street:
1. World Tour includes the ability to play your tournaments online head-to-head if you wanted to. Something we think our core fans are really going to appreciate.
2. We have modified the Online Seasons mode from FIFA12 to work in FIFA Street, enabling users to play 5v5, 6v6 or Futsal.
3. OTP is available (a 5v5 match, but AI controls the GK).
Can you tell us how the new aerial skills mechanics work?
SM: Aerial moves are easy to initiate – use the R1 or RB to put the ball in the air. Tapping the button will juggle with your feet, holding the button will juggle with your knees. From there you have access to pull of skill moves or exits – aim at a defender to attempt to put the ball over his head for a beat.
Will players benefit or score any extra XP for playing more stylishly/performing more tricks?
SM: Yes, especially in World Tour. Playing stylishly will help you advance through tournaments more easily, and grow your players more quickly. There are match types that encourage stylish play (Freestyle and Panna Rules). And you’ll always see the ‘entertainment value’ of your goals and in-game beats as you play. Finally, your most stylish moves will be shown in the End of Match highlights and you can choose to share them with your friends on the in-game social network called Street Network.
Finally, is defending as big a part of the game as in FIFA 12? What’s the average scoreline between experienced players?
SM: Defending is important, whether you’re attempting to time your manual tackle to take possession of the ball on the ground or while the attacker is juggling. Average scoreline varies – we’ve seen high and low-scoring matches between the same groups of players. Each game offers its own nuance and variety – part of the depth we wanted to deliver in this reboot of FIFA Street.