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The Enemies of FIFA: Complete  XML
Archive - FIFA 11  > X360 / PS3 Feedback & Suggestions
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GameChanger

Joined: 05/09/2010 22:09:46
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This is not a perfect description of every problem, nor does it state perfect solutions to those descriptions: but I hope it is a good description of the vast majority of problems which plague the online segments of FIFA 11, and that the suggested solutions at the very least prove that these problems are solvable, if not being near suitable for implementation.

MOVEMENT

Stamina & Fatigue - #M01 -
Crucial
One of the main recurrent complaints with FIFA 10 was that fatigue & stamina simply didn't feature in the game. At least on a one-game basis, players took far too long to become tired, and weren't affected enough by being tired. A lot of feedback naturally criticised this - and EA responded. They increased the effect on sprint speed and acceleration rates when short term energy is low, and this is now highlighted by the bars transition to a red.

I will say that I was always sceptical that this would be enough. My general feeling with EA is that they almost always err on the side of caution and are much more likely to not go nearly far enough than they are to go far too far, and I doubt there are many on the forum who will deny that this is the case with fatigue this year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hYMXtGlEo

Funnily enough, as I said at the time, I think you can illustrate the problems clearly enough just by watching EA's own promotional video linked above. The video takes us through two scenarios. First, the 10 players run the length of the pitch, where the players have a varying amount of stamina (from 1, to 99 presumably). The second test is the more revealing of the two - this time 10 identical players run the length of the pitch - but they start with varying levels of fatigue, from full, to none.

It would be completely false to imply that there is no difference: over half the pitch the difference from the fully fit player to the completely fatigued one is around 2 seconds - the fatigued player takes a 20% hit in how long it takes him to accelerate and get half way down the pitch. To me, this doesn't seem enough - once he hits this limit he can never get more tired. This is a philosophical issue with the system: it would be much wiser to have a system with more scope - where you aren't expected to get close to full fatigue, but that the closer you got the more penalty you'd recieve. In this case you can always be more tired - as opposed to the current system which hits its low limit after 60 minutes of sprinting around like a headless chicken.

The key to a good stamina/fatigue system is in having the right penalties, and getting them to apply at the correct times. It is clear to me at the moment that something is awry with how fatigue onsets. I'll be playing a game online or on Clubs, and I tend to play conservatively. You'll often be playing against those who will be pressuring constantly, and everytime you recieve the ball three or four opponent players will converge upon you. Yet, there is absolutely no difference in how much stamina seems to effect me than it seems to effect them. My gut feeling is that there is no additional penalty for sprinting when you've already run down your short term stamina. I am not a physiotherapist but my experience is that sprinting is possible in short bursts - and jogging is possible over long lengths of times. What really kills you is sprinting and sprinting and sprinting. Currently, it seems that the speed that fatigue sets in is correlated directly to the speed of movement, but I feel that EA need to look to increase the differential in the fatigue increase between sprinting and jogging - and they need to double this rate further still if sprinting while short term stamina is low.

It shouldn't be difficult for EA to know whether they've got stamina right. It should be something they can sense immediately: If they pressure all game, their players should be dead by the end. Substituting fresh legs should feel like a real bonus. Players need to feel that if they are going to pressure heavily, there is a serious penalty for doing so. Furthermore, it would be nice to see the effects of fatigue being applied more generally to performance, rather than just to movement. It's hard to think of something in football which wouldn't be more difficult if you are exhausted. Certainly some things will be effected more than others - and the main penalties should be movement based - but it would be nice to see moderate effects across the board - composure in shooting, concentration with positioning, jumping for headers and strength in a jostle should all be effected.

Freedom to Run - #M02 -
Idea
With FIFA 10, EA made a rather large step in granting us freedom of movement - 360 degree directional control. I think we'd all find it hard to go back to a system which didn't have that freedom. This year EA implemented, presumably based on HandofBeadle's thread, analog sprinting. I almost expected a similar liberation to the 360 degree dribbling change. Maybe I'm the only one - but I haven't really felt it change the way I play at all.

The problem is that it doesn't give you much scope for modulating your speed - and as soon as you do start to modulate your speed slightly above the jog pace, you instantly are hit by three huge penalties. Firstly, the ball is suddenly being kicked a lot, lot further ahead of the player, and secondly, the movement circle is reduced from total freedom, to 22.5 degrees in either direction. There is neither enough difference between a jog and a sprint, nor enough advantage in exploiting it to make up for the disadvantage of only being ale to move a little in either direction. Not only this, but you also have to deal with your short term stamina dropping. This all for running a smidgeon faster than jogging?

It seems to me that if we are to truly have 'freedom' of movement in terms of speed we need to move away from the arbitrary speeds and limits. Get rid of 'jog' pace, and 'sprint' pace, and free us up to go as fast as we like and attempt turns as sharply as we like. Instead of modulating speed between jog and sprint, we should be able to modulate speed between standing and flat out sprinting. Every extra bit of speed should increase the length of the touch - and the awkwardness of turning. Much like the control-pad system for racing games these days - or to steal HandofBeadle's example, Scalextric, trigger modulation is all important. The trigger could modulate speed entirely. Without pressing on the trigger, using the analog stick would give the very slowest movement. It would be a case now of not having a precise 'jog' - but many 'jogs', and many 'sprints'. As a bonus, it would be a lot more easy to give personality to players movement. A brilliant dribbler like Messi would be able to move a lot, lot faster while still making very fast touches at sharp angles without struggling for control.

These changes would truly grant us free movement - how wonderful it would be to look at FIFA 09, with it's 8 directional and one dimensional movement, to see FIFA 12 as a game with not only 360 directional movement but complete control over speed, and the ambition of the dribbling be down to the holder of the controller.

Movement Penalty with the Ball - #M03 -
Very Important
In FIFA 09, pacey players were brilliantly overpowered - but in FIFA 11 it seems that pace is almost a completely pointless stat unless the player is SO much faster than the defender that it can overcome the speed penalty. It seems to me that both acceleration, and running speed are considerably reduced when the player has the ball. While it is perhaps fair to give a small, small penalty to movement speed, the current level of this penalty means that it is very hard to get past players, and harder still to get away from them. Certainly you can never really show a player a clean set of heels. If you do manage to get past a player by dribbling, should your opponent continue to pressure with that player the chance is that player can pretty much hold onto you - and as soon as you have to change direction or slow down for any reason (like dealing with the next defender) you'll be tackled from behind.

The reality is that in real life you can run pretty much as fast with or without the ball - but at full pace you will struggle to control the ball and take longer touches, as well as find it harder to turn. Why not simulate that better, rather than artificially crippling fast players. It is important to realise why EA implemented this penalty. It was one of the measures they took to 'fix' the main exploit of the day in FIFA 09 - where players would continually push throughballs to very, very fast players. The thing is, they haven't solved the problem at all - they've just made it so that to use this tactic successfully you need to have a player who is much, much, much faster than the defenders, as opposed to just a bit faster. In Virtual Pro Clubs, you once again clearly see this problem come about - virtual pro players are SO much faster that they can recreate FIFA 09 style gameplay.

Rather than dealing with the problems which caused throughballs to be unbalanced, they sought to make it very hard to actually benefit from the throughball itself. They should have made the AI better at coping with the throughball - the throughball less laser guided. Instead they botched a fix and the side-effects are tremendous. Due to the combination with other flaws, this problem makes it very hard to utilise quick players, and it makes it harder than it already was to beat a man with dribbling and keep ahead of them.

EA must come up with more realistic ways of dealing with FIFA 09 style gameplay by solving the issues inherent to the laser-guided assisted passing and the shoddy defensive AI, not by arbitrarily and artificially restraining our speed.

Momentum, Inertia, & Reaction - #M04 -
Crucial
One problem which flows hideously into the much-criticised defending and pressure system in FIFA 11 is the extraordinary way that players seem to be able to immediately overcome their inertia - and go from running in one direction to sprinting in another. While there are many areas where there is momentum and inertia is taken into account - it seems to evade certain elements of the game. It still feels that defenders, when passed, can immediately, even if they were moving the wrong direction, round and continue to pressure.

The reverse is true of jockey movement though. A jockeying player should be able to change direction very quickly - it's why a player naturally assumes the position. Yet, it seems that it is as hard to break the momentum of jockey movement as it is with running normally or even sprinting. I think this is one large part of why jockeying is perhaps not as effective as it ought to be - why you feel forced to use the pressure buttons at one stage or another. It would be nice to feel that more or less you could immediately change direction (solely for lateral movement) when jockeying - this is afterall one of the reasons why players jockey. It is a stance which allows for quick lateral changes in direction - ideal for when a player is running at you. You should be able to spring the other direction swiftly when jockeying.

I have so often seen myself or my teammates run at a defender, and skill the defender - for instance by bridging him - and yet the defensive player turns and accelerates so fast that he actually turns, and gets in front of the attacker mid-bridge! An attacker sprinting at a defender, maybe with a half yard further to go beaten by a standing player is indicative of an enormous lack of consistency to how momentum is applied across the game.

Touch - #M05 -
Very Important
It's funny that 6 years after the game where EA decided that their game should be built around their new first touch back-of-the-box feature, the first touch in the game has fallen into such disrepair. The touches are so unpredictable - at times completely absurd - and very rarely telling of the player's skill.

The first touch control itself (using the right analog stick before you receive the ball) is horribly clumsy - and always pushes the ball a very long way ahead. It's very hard to use this for any great purpose becauase of this. As opposed to being able to push it a little bit ahead or slip it through your legs - you have to smash it three yards ahead. Given the problems with pressure, the chance is that you'll lose the ball there and then. One feature of this is that, the longer you hold the right analog stick, the further ahead the player pushes the ball - so why does it push the ball so far ahead automatically?

Some amazing things happen with the first touch - at least once a game you see a player stupidly fail to attempt to receive a ball, and allow it to come off their feet, heels, heads, arms, even if you've given your player a specific instruction. On the opposite end, you sometimes see a player receive a ball through the back of his legs, and some how cushion the ball as it comes through even though he wouldn't have been able to see it.

With 'good' players, on 'good' teams (which tends to be any player on a good team, thanks to the lack of so called Personality+), their touch is almost always fantastic. With poor players - like the randomly generated ones to supplement your virtual pros in Clubs, the touch is almost always awful - regardless of the difficulty of the pass. A lot more work needs to be done in making the difficulty of the pass (ie, the pace, the bounciness, and the area of the body the pass is being recieved to) reflect on the touch. I don't expect a bad player to always have a poor touch with an easy pass, equally I do expect to sometimes see a good player make a bad touch with a difficult pass.

Air Balls - #M06 -
Crucial
Nothing confuses me more in FIFA than the completely inconsistent workings of airborne ball situations. Players movement seems to be constrained, but not by any logical means. Constantly I will see my player forced backwards into a weaker position, behind my opponent - or see my player who is perfectly positioned not bother to jump for a header - or better still seem to be affected by some invisible force field preventing me from going up for a header.

The main issue I find is that sometimes your player simply doesn't 'lock in' as it were. Your player moves around freely as opposed to position himself near the path of the ball, and at that point you've basically lost the aerial battle. You can't aim the header because that causes you to run off in the direction you press - and even if you can deal with that it's highly unlikely your player will head.

If EA are to continue with this system they must iron out every case of players not 'locking in'.

My belief, roughly, of how the system is intended to work is this. When the ball is put into the air the players go to a different state than the normal run-around situation - their movement is locked to a small radius dictated by the flight of the ball. You can move within this circle to give you freedom to jostle, and position yourself to head the ball more successfully. This circle however does not represent the area from which you can head the ball (which would be the area I'd restrain the movement to ideally), therefore it seems at times that your player is locked into a circle which fundamentally means he can't position himself as well as the other player - you might imagine this would be due to differing height (and jump) but this doesn't seem to stack up to my experience. Players are far too often happy to commit heading suicide by running in behind the defender or alongside him as opposed to going in front - and this is something which my use of the analog stick seems unable to effect.

At the moment crosses seem to be almost random. I can position my player perfectly in the line of the ball and infront of the attacker - but he won't jump. Sometimes my player won't lock in at all or he'll weirdly drift behind the attacker even though my analog stick points the opposite direction. It is another element of FIFA where I feel out of control - I know on a theoretical level what to do and I'm fairly sure I know on a theoretical level how to do it, but in practice it will constantly fail to follow what I'm telling it to do. It seems amazing just how ineffectual my 3 or 4 defenders will be even when positioned perfectly around a defender. Much more to come on this with Artificial Intelligence.

Shielding - #M07 -
Very Important
An odd problem which appeared with FIFA 11 is that it is now near impossible to successfully shield the ball from a standing position. Not only does the player not seem 'strong' in this position as he should be - the defenders also seem to be able to smash straight through the player without a foul, or somehow tackle the ball from behind. Shielding the ball (or for that matter chesting the ball down straight) should not be something a defender can easily nick the ball from - the defender would have to go around the player - and the ballcarrier would be trying to hold any defender off.

It's strange really, because FIFA 11 made players much more capable of fending off a defender from the sides, but somehow in the same move made the standing shielding which worked well in FIFA 10 completely useless.


DEFENDING

Pressure - #D01 -
Crucial
No issue has been more controversial in the last few years than pressure. I think most people would name it as their main pet hate, and most would prioritise fixes to this part of the game above any other. The main issue is that the tackling in the game is so horribly automated.

The homing nature, and far faster than human reaction speed of the players when the pressure button is being used leads to a pressuring player being hard to avoid. You can twist and turn as much as you like, but between the odd implementation of momentum, and the automatic hone-in, he'll close you down.

It has turned a game where in all fairness jockeying, holding back, patient defending should be the key to defence into a game where the defence, in a funny kind of way is the attack. Playing on Clubs is often like moving through an aggressive, contracting gauntlet. At every point where you have to deal with the clumsy random players' first touch, multiple players, 2 minimum will converge upon you as you try to bring the ball under control. There is of course only one way of avoiding this problem - act on the first touch every time, which is one very good reason to ping-pong pass.

The main change I feel is necessary is that EA need to look at tackle likelihood and try to work in a way of penalising a defender who is charging in. It's a lot harder to tackle if two players are running towards eachother - given that two sprinting players will be converging at 40 mph, the window in which to steal the ball is incredibly low. This is why a lot of tackles in real life are made with a running striker dribbling at a standing, or backtracking defender - it's a lot easier to tackle if the ball is moving at a relative speed of 10mph than 40mph.

Like any change, it is crucial that this is something which takes effect for all players - it must not be another element where the poor players will notice the difference and the good players will still be able to do the stupid things they were able to do before.

It could perhaps be beneficial to raise the accuracy of tackling for low convergence speeds - which could prevent a lot of the -tackled-tackle-back- situations. I really feel that a good solid tackle made by a standing or backtracking defender should be unlikely to fail, unless there is some good reason for the player to not tackle the ball cleanly (like a skill or change of direction from the attacker).

The Standing Tackle Button - #D02 -
Crucial
EA with their next-gen engine in FIFA 07 made the choice to move away from having a tackle button. Contrary perhaps to popular belief, the two press buttons, 'press' and 'secondary' press are not in themselves tackle buttons. What they do is draw your player towards the ball. Tackling in FIFA is entirely automatic. The press buttons move your player towards the ball - and any player near enough the ball will attempt a tackle. You can, if you wish (and actually it's an interesting suggestion for those who want to play what may be a more realistic game) not use the press buttons at all.

I for one believe that the removal of the tackle button is criminal. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, and trivially, it removes choice. I want to choose when to tackle because that's a skill element. That is something I can control, something I want to control. The lack of this is one of the huge reasons why defending is so uninteresting in FIFA - because you don't feel in control.

Secondly, and perhaps more damningly, the lack of a tackle button means that you have no real way of preventing your player from committing fouls at unfortunate times. With standing tackles finally punished in the penalty area (they weren't in FIFA 10), this is worse than ever, and most fouls I commit are at times where either the game has misconstrued what I wanted to do with a slide tackle, or, more prominently, where it's attempted a tackle at a time I never would have - for instance a standing tackle from behind.

This is a side effect of an awful system - a system which we should no longer have. We don't need an automated homing, auto-tacking system. We want control, we love control, we need control. At the moment, due to the flawed AI, the unresponsive jockeying, the pinball nature of tackling, you can't defend effectively without them - but if that is fixed, it really should be time to get rid of the press button - and replace it with a standing tackle button. Let's make the defensive side of this game a worthy element, rather than "the bit we have to go through before we get the ball back".

The Sliding Tackle Button - #D03 -
Important
We do at least still have control over when we do and don't slide tackle (in almost all cases) - but when we do we are at the mercy of the animation-choice. Most of the time it seems to hurl itself in the direction you are running - but sometimes - almost always ruinously - it will fly straight towards the ball or worse still the player!

It shouldn't be too hard to remove these particular cases - but while they exist it makes every last-ditch slide tackle a horrible risk. Even if it's fairly obvious your player should get the ball, a stupidly chosen animation can lead to your player leading with the wrong leg, going through the back of the player as opposed to infront of him, and getting you a red card. Occasionally your player jumps straight over the ball - or under it if it's bouncing.

Worst of all - you'll make a slide tackle with a player close behind you, and somehow this 'fouls' a player behind you who you probably didn't even touch. I've been given multiple red cards thanks to this recurrent flaw. Sometimes this occurs where you're trying to tell your player to clear a loose ball.

In terms of balance - one of the most irritating things are the situations where you'll slide the ball perfectly - and your player will slowly get up. Unfortunately, the player you tackled managed to immediately react, recover, and turn to get the ball back - something which almost never happens in real life. It would be really great to see players who are tackled cleanly have a brief period before they react - and if players could recover from slide tackles faster this would improve things greatly.

The Secondary Press Button - #D04 -
Important
I've already advocated for the removal of the press button - but it is perhaps harder to know what to do with the secondary press button. There is certainly a good reason to have a way of telling players you aren't controlling to close down the carrier - perhaps the key is to make this less of a 'Go, charge, once more unto the breach my friends, attack attack, kill, attack' button, and more of a 'pressure him, close him down' button again.

Hopefully, if the changes I've suggested in momentum and pressure were made, the current implementation of the button wouldn't be satisfactory - as at the moment it more or less does just make a player act like a heat-seeking missile. In real life what you want when you try to close down a player is for the nearby players to close in, to reduce the players' options, and to reduce his time. They'll try to block the obvious and dangerous passes.

Perhaps this is what we need instead of a secondary press button - a team pressure button. Pressing it would make the nearby players (typically midfielders and strikers rather than defenders who should hold their line) close in - but not charge in like maniacs.

Pinball Tackling - #D05 -
Very Important
The culprit of the majority of goals I concede is the extremely prominent tackling flaw - where the tackle will do one of: push it so far that the ball goes to a different opponent; push it a little bit, and then the opponent will be able to get to it before you; tackle it into the opponent's leg, and then stumble as the attacker essentially pushes straight through you, rendering your tackle useless; tackle cleanly, but immediately get tackled back.

It isn't so much that these things can't happen - but that they happen far, far too much and they happen at ridiculous times. It is understandable that if I charged into a tackle that my player might push the ball a tad far, or not tackle it cleanly - but if I'm jockeying, and the attacker runs into me, I don't expect him to somehow bulldoze his way through very often.

Offside Trap - #D06 -
Idea
Though EA have kindly given us an offside trap button (accessed from the d-pad), it's almost never used, and using it tends to be incredibly risky. Risk of course is inherent to the offside trap - but not this level of risk. It's clunky enough to just initiate it (especially for those on the 360 has an infamously * d-pad), and that should be the first change. There are plenty of vacant buttons when defending - rb/r1 is not used for anything at all.

Offside traps need to be initiated at a moments notice and it has to be precise - and that's the main issue currently. It is slow, unresponsive to initiate, and tends to take a while for it to actually click into action, and then.. well who knows what your defenders will do - whether they'll all do the same thing or go as far as eachother or how far they'll go.

My thought would be to grant a lot more control to the user. If you are currently selecting a defender, holding the offside trap button (for the sake of this example, RB/R1) will cause the rest of your defenders (and any other straggling player) to move into line with your defender (obviously lesser teams and lesser defences should be less efficient and less accurate in doing this). If you hold RB and move up the pitch, this will initiate the trap.

As a huge added benefit, the button could be to make the line hold fast in those fascinating moments when your players seem to imply they were out late last night and go AWOL. If you aren't selecting a defender, then the line should simply move up, until you let go.

This gives you a precise ability to immediately start an offside trap - and do it exactly how you want - and to control your defensive line to a degree you've never been able to do before - and with a line as flaky as FIFA's often can be - that can only be a good thing. It uses a button which isn't used when defending.

Interception - #D07 -
Very Important
For a long time now I've felt that the way interceptions work is completely awry. Due perhaps to the over-prevalence of tackling and pressure, the interceptions which make a considerable portion of possession-turn over in real life seem horribly unrealistic. Often the defender will stupidly allow a ball through, or near their legs without making any move towards the ball. Otherwise, you are presented with one of the elegant but inefficient and ineffective animations where the player will tend to either miss the ball completely or allow the ball to ping off his legs, typically straight back to the player who made the pass.

As opposed to using an animation which attempts to at least cushion the ball to bring it under control, most of the animations seem akin to blocking animations. This is fine when a player tries to stop a cross, or if the player is close to the passer, but when he has a fair time to react it would be much better to see him try to trap, than block.

A jockeying player needs to be increasingly likely to intercept a pass near him - rather than the unresponsive mess he is now. A lot of the issues in FIFA come down to EA automating things which shouldn't be automated - like passing - and then requiring the player to react in incredibly short periods of time, often when our player has just been switched unpredictably.

Interceptions should happen automatically if the player is close - and it would be nice if he didn't react like a pinball obstacle. It's understandable if the player hasn't got long to react or if the ball is moving very quickly - but the interception animations seem designed to fail to intercept. The player is so slow to come out of the animation that even if he intercepts a pass, the chance is the passer will get to the rebounded ball first!

With FIFA 11, EA made a change which meant that the user had to direct their player towards the ball to intercept it - this is simply beyond the pale. The speed at which the user will have to swap to a player and move makes it absolutely impossible and are the reason why again and again and again you'll see poor, slow passes trundle past your defender while he looks on stupidly.

It again comes down to this continual error - EA has put into our hands things we cannot possibly be expected to control - like interceptions - yet for some reason they give us assists so that we need take no control whatsoever over something you very definitely can control!



VIRTUAL PRO/CLUBS

Out of all the modes on FIFA, none of them on a hypothetical level excite me with their promise and potential than Virtual Pro Clubs. It's something I dreamed of before Be a Pro was talked of in its offline form - and the technical side of it is finally in place (barring the continual connection based issues). With 11v11, EA has achieved something remarkable - and I am certain this is the future for football games - it has the promise of a paradisical football gaming dream.

Nothing could be further from the case now however - it is only rivalled by Career Mode as the most underwhelming and broken mode of the lot:

Virtual Pro Limitations - #A01 -
Crucial
A large portion of the problems in Clubs comes down to the massive imbalance between the virtual pros, and the randomly generated players who fill in. I understand that EA want to encourage people to use as many players as they like, but in all honesty the enormity of the current penalty creates situations which the game engine doesn't handle at all.

The enormous speed differential between the virtual pros and the randomly generated defenders allows the return of gameplay so infamous with throughballs, and balls over the top being almost unstoppable. If the ball is well timed enough, their player will take many, many yards out of the defender, be strong enough to prevent being tackled, and invariably be able to score easily past the useless goalkeeper.

Though I think it's a good idea for EA to encourage people to play with big teams, it is debatable whether it needs encouragement. I doubt many people specifically want to play with small groups - it just so happens that it's much, much more convenient to do so.

If the game is designed well, you'd hope that 11 individual sentient beings would be better than any combination of humans and the CPU - and in fact I believe this is already the case - at least for the attacking roles. I would suggest that EA make sure that the AI are at least capable of reasonably taking on the maximum virtual pros - if the maximum virtual pro is to have a rating of 90 - then the AI should have ratings of 5 less, at 85.

Alongside this, EA need to take action to make sure that physical stats cannot be as extreme as they are now. The result of acceleration, strength, sprint speed being too much higher than the generated players is extremely obvious, and the same is true of many other stats - like height, like shot power. It is almost invariably true in FIFA that extremely high stats lead to exploitation.

Accomplishments, Positional Stats, Physical Stats, and Traits - #A02 -
Important
On a basic level, the idea of accomplishments seems OK. If you do well at something, improve the players stat to reward him. However, I conclude after two years of seeing this system that it would be better if EA radically rethought the system.

The first problem is that there is a fairly hard limit on what EA can check, and reward for. This is why almost every 'passing' accomplishment is for assists, or high percentage rates over the course of a game. This is why almost every 'shooting' accomplishment is for scoring a goal with some combination of in/out of the box, laces/finesse/volley, weakfoot.

It's an oversimplistic view of FIFA which at worst probably adds to the marked selfishness of players on Pro Ranked Matches. If you only reward assists, goals, and skill maneuvres, then people are going to try to make sure that they either score the goal, or put the last pass on it. There are a few accomplishments which are based on whether you get Man of the Match, or a 9/10 rating and that is just stupid - a 9/10 rating means absolutely nothing and selfless play often garners you a much worse rating than the uncreative selfish player. If EA want to have a rating system, they should try to mimic the Castrol formula.

Just as note of a bug, the rate at which the rating rises/falls is dependent on the game length, but, in Clubs, it takes the 'game length' from your default game length offline, rather than the true value: ie, by making your match length smaller than the normal you get higher ratings - by making your match length longer you can make it basically impossible to get above a 7

It is worthwhile to question whether it's really wise to have the compounding system that we have now. If you do well, you get better. The best and most experienced teams, who should already have an enormous advantage have a heavier advantage still because their players are infinitely better than the randomly generated ones.

The main decider of your skill is the amount of time you play - just like an MMO, and though these systems are wonderfully addictive to some, I'm not sure it really fits FIFA well. It fails to imprint you onto your player - because at the end of it all all the players are more or less the same in terms of the accomplishments they have - and certainly they won't have an extra accomplishment here or there because of skill, rather luck, or time spent (or if they cheated to get certain accomplishments, or worse copied a 100% VP).

What I think we should aim for is a situation where your player has a distinct style, a distinct personality, your style, your personality - and I don't think FIFA 11 achieves this much better than FIFA 10. It has improved in that the physical stats are no longer stepped so much (in that each inch makes a difference), and that there are more 'role-based' positional attributes. The traits I feel are a bit of a bore. It's hard to tell what many of them even do, and for most players it's incredibly obvious what 5 they will choose straight away. If EA were attempting to mimic the immensely popular (and now oft-copied) 'perks' system from Call of Duty, they haven't done it very well.

The idea of a perks system is that you have a choice, a meaningful choice. The problem is that you can almost be 100% sure of at least most of the traits that someone will choose dependent on their position. If you actually examine the 20 traits, you can immediately see the problem - there are probably no more than 6 traits that any player is likely to have. I doubt anyone would ever sensibly, for instance, choose the 'stutter penalty' trait, or the 'diving header', or the 'bicycle kick', or even 'outside of the foot shot'. They are far, far too specific and used for far, far too little. There are very, very few occasions when they will get you an extra goal. There are almost no cases where an outside of the foot shot is more likely to go in than using the other foot's inside.

A central midfielder, is highly likely to pick 5 out of these 6: Second Wind, Swerve Pass, Skilled Dribbling, Fancy Passes, Fancy Flicks, Driven Passes. A striker, is highly likely to pick 5 out of these 6: Second Wind, Power Header, Fancy Flicks, Skilled Dribbling, Finesse Shot, Fancy Passes

But these two have more choice perhaps than most - what the hell is a central defender meant to choose? He doesn't get throwins, he is unlikely to cross or shoot, the heading ones specify 'at goal', he's not going to need to bicycle kick, and his passing is hardly going to be his forte. Three traits, and only three, are specifically for goalkeepers - so they really have no choice.

In this case, are they really... traits? Doesn't the lack of choice with this system pretty much make these... just like any other accomplishment? If you happen to be in an attacking position, you maybe have to choose 5 from 7. That's not really choice. If you are a goalie or defender, you basically have no choice at all. If traits are going to be part of the game they need to be less obvious, and we need to either have more traits or be choosing less from a similar number. They need to be all balanced with eachother - no long and giant throw - as that is a total waste.

It would probably be better to have ONE trait, and have more rounded traits, than this system. It would be a lot easier to balance, and it would probably be easier to come up with a good list. As opposed to having lots of fairly weak traits, have bigger packages - like a 'passing' package which encompassed early crossing, driven passes, swerved passes, fancy passes and fancy flicks, a 'clinical finisher' package encompassing outside of the foot shots, bicycle kicks, finesse shots, power freekicks and penalty stuttering, and some long shot bonus and what about a 'Aerial Threat' package, encompassing power header, acrobatic clearance, bicycle kicks, and diving headers?

These probably aren't much different to the shield based accolades highly skilled players have in the non-Virtual Pro game. The key is making it about choice. I don't want to think - I'm a midfielder so I'll take this. I want to think - I'm a midfielder... this would help me.. this would help me.. this would help me... what the hell do I choose?! That's the key.

Radical rethink - #A03 -
Idea
There was a great conversation on the old forum which many contributed to regarding much more varied concepts of how the progression system could work - most of them based of the Skill-Selection-Trees on MMOs, like World of Warcraft.

Those systems work by you having a certain number of points to allocate - points unlock skills and the skills are arranged as a tree, meaning that you need all the skills leading to a skill before you can unlock that skill.

http://bigzombiemonkey.blogspot.com/2010/07/should-virtual-pros-take-route-of-rpg.html

A Hardcore Clubs - #A04 -
Idea
While I'd be interested to see some of those ideas implemented, there is one other possibility which is almost certainly too radical to be implemented - but it's worth penning down anyway. We want our personality to reflect in the virtual pro. If I'm a good passer, my player should be a good passer. The thing is, there is already part of the game where this holds true: manual.

With a strong passer, the ball will, except in extremes, pretty much go where you tell it to go (and unfortunately given the failure of 'Pro Passing', this is the case for much weaker passers too). This is true to the extent where, even though EA have said to the contrary, many (at least with FIFA 10) believied that manual lacked personality altogether. This is false (or atleast, manual lacks no more personality than assisted does) - but it's a very interesting thing to note.

By removing the differences from the players, but making us take control over more elements of their game, we would find that the differences which were there (which would be much larger than current given the higher level of user-control on manual) would be because of us, not because of a flawed system where the main thing which matters is time played.

Condense the game down to being a situation where your players stats were something along the lines of, 85 on everything, except the physical stats and traits. If I shoot well would be because I did a good shot, not because I happened to get all the accomplishments which meant any shot I did with assisted would be good regardless of my aim.

This is radical, and it's so far away from where EA seems to be going right now, but for a hardcore variant of Clubs, it sounds like a dream. From my time playing in a manual club this year and last, I found that I enjoyed it far more than playing on assisted, even though we'd undoubtedly have been more successful on assisted. No goal is the same - things are unpredictable, fluid, and that is the pinnacle of FIFA's beauty - 5-11 people playing on manual, working as a cohesive unit, and playing to their strengths.

Carry-Over Cards/Fatigue - #A05 -
Idea
An idea I've had for years to prevent the "it's near the end and you're through on goal so I'll take you out" problem is to have a system which carries over cards. If a player gets a red card, they can't play the next game. Simple. There are a lot of practical hurdles to making a solid system like that for the normal online game - but on Clubs those issues are mostly resolved.

I would see the system working like this:

1. If a player receives a yellow card, that is stored on his profile
2. If he plays 3 games without receiving a yellow card, his previous yellows are wiped.
3. If he gets three yellow cards, then he gets a suspension.
4. If he gets a red card, then he gets a suspension.
5. A suspended player becomes unsuspended once the user associated with the virtual pro plays a match
6. A user playing a match when his virtual pro is suspended will play as a randomly generated player
7. If a non-virtual Pro player gets suspended, then the next match, the player replacing him will be less skilled (5 OVR points, or so)

This would form a (very realistic) disincentive from fouling, and in particular the vicious and exploitative tactic described at the start of this sub-topic.

It would be interesting also, to toy with doing this for fatigue as well - having it carry over between games in the same way it does in Career Mode. This would form, an again very realistic, disincentive from the extreme-pressure tactic that most Clubs on FIFA seem to employ.

Cess Pit - #A06 -
Crucial
One of the largest problems with Clubs is that a lot of the gameplay issues that exist in the wider game can be exploited to a larger extent in Clubs than they can in a 1v1 situation. In a 1v1, you can only control the ball carrier when on the ball - and you can only control one defender (and a second on a vague level) when off it. In Clubs however you can have any number of your team being controlled at all times - and this leads to things which perhaps EA doesn't forsee with their general testing of the game. If pressure is bad in typical FIFA, it's a lot worse in Clubs - as opposed to two people closing you down it can be 3 or 4, and if they are virtual pros they will often be much, much faster than the clumsy defender.

Often you will pass to a defender who is not marked, and he'll make a clumsy touch. Moments later three or four virtual pros will be breathing down your neck - and given that their stats are so much better than the generated players' they will be able to easily push him off the ball.

A tactic you often see people use is a 'bulldozing' of sorts, which exploits the very loose tackling which goes on. Two or three players will run together, in close proximity, one behind the other. The first one will attempt to run through the defence - and he may well get tackled. The defender will likely have either tackled the ball straight to one of the attackers, or he will control it, but not have any time to react to the next attacker barging in, and tackling.

Worst of all is the bizarre way that making runs seems to effect the defensive line. Imagine that your opponent has the ball in midfield, and they have controlled virtual pros in the attacking positions. What they'll do is they'll run their virtual pros offside, onside, offside, onside, and this has a horrid effect on the defenders. Sometimes the defender will forget the line altogether and follow the attacker, completely destroying your defence as your central defender drops 10 yards back of the other three. These problems are all in the normal game - but in Clubs people find ways of exploiting them far worse than is possible normally.

Just as an aside because EA don't seem to have made any headway with this so far, there is an appalling amount of racism within the community. The filtering system (if there even is one) for the team names, acronyms, player names and so on is shockingly bad. Players have profane/racist names, they use certain commentary names which are homophonic with racist terms, clubs will have racist acronyms and racist names. Yesterday, the team name: "Tony is a [insert derogatory term for people from Pakistan]". The number of people who use the commentary name "Kuhn" (for it sounds like an ethnic slur) is huge - and I'd recommend (even though it is a legitimate name & a developer's name at that) removing it on those grounds alone.

I'd also suggest, for my sanity, the removal of coloured hair. The number of players who dye their hair in real life is very low, and I have never seen any dye them the colour of grass, or the cobalt blue, or even bright white (which presumably is meant to be bleached - but its not yellow enough). Ironically, the one colour you do occasionally see in the real world - red - isn't even available. It is almost a 100% guarantee that almost any player who has any non-natural hair colour, especially if it's with an afro haircut is at least one of the following things:

1. A pubescent acting as if he isn't
2. An exploitative, cheating *
3. A racist

It would be nice, when playing Clubs, if I could not repeatedly be reminded: this is not football, this is a video game, there is a green afro'd moron, named *, with the commentary name Kuhn, doing gymnastics while his teammate fly around him, and he plays for "Paedos 4 Lyfe".

I think EA should also reconsider their policy of adding more and more ridiculous celebrations. It is souring to think that for some reason EA associate people who want to play virtual pros with these parts of the game whch are only for Virtual Pros.


ASSISTANCE

The Problem - #A01 -
Crucial
No topic has been as controversial and contentious over the last few years as the discussion / conversation / debate / argument / alloutwar around the assistance settings in FIFA. They've been part of the game since FIFA 07, and have been part of 8 FIFA games. They've changed a little - some new ones have been added and EA have made some timid steps towards neutering the most unbalanced elements - but my general sense is as always:

The assistance in FIFA constrains originality, increases repetitiveness, is generally far, far too accurate, and is completely unbalanced with the less assisted semi-assist, and manual controls. For many years in a row, the online gameplay has been entirely held hostage by the assisted settings. The best players, and best clubs inevitably have to use assisted. The winners of the FIWC use assisted. If you want to compete and not be endlessly frustrated by an incredible up hill battle, then you need to use at least some level of assistance.

It's a huge pity that this is the case, because assisted passing is thoroughly predictable and thoroughly unrealistic. It's so hard to play free flowing football with assisted - because it always goes for the most obvious pass. The problem is assisted passing can do things very easily which are incredibly hard to do in real life or otherwise - passing at ridiculous angles and making difficult passes immediately.

At the end of the day, assisted passing does not simulate very well the difficulty of passing quickly, of passing as you turn, of first time passing, of passing at difficult angles - something manual does a much better (though by no means perfect) job of. Pro Passing didn't go especially far to solving this issue in my mind. The main difference it made was to slow passes down - which often makes it impossible to do what should be an easy pass - and yet passing at ridiculous angles - 150 degrees, 170 degrees, 180 degrees, still seems easy in most cases. Throughballs on manual now take an enormous amount of power to get them to go anywhere - which makes them almost useless for any lengthy pass.

If this game is to work EA need to reconsider assisted, semi, and manual (and that's if they keep them at all) - this shouldn't be too difficult, it's much more a question of whether EA are willing to make a game where the person with the most skill, in a fair game, should win - and a game where taking more control and opening up the game to creativity is a help, not a hindrance.

For me its remarkably simple - the 'error' in this game needs to be retooled - and this time EA need to set about making the error different for all three settings. My thinking is this - on manual, there is a general human error - that on average due to the fiddliness of the analog stick and the imperfection of human hand-eye-coordination, a manual player will be a few degrees off. Sometimes he gets it just right - but usually it will be a little off. On assisted on the other hand, that human error doesn't exist. I'd suggest that EA attempt to make it so that the human error + contextual error adds so that assisted, semi, and manual all would, for a decent player, all add to roughly the same amount.

This will leave us with an assisted setting which hopefully would not be overpowering. It will have considerable contextual error - so difficult passes, particularly with lesser players, are more likely to be somewhat off target. For manual, it will have less contextual error - (simple passes, particularly with good players would be down entirely to the user) to counter for the human error. The same should be applied for crossing, shooting, long balls, and throughballs - that is the key to balance. I'm sure many assisted users, particularly those who use it as a crutch, will imagine that this will make the game too hard, too slow, too boring, too frustrating - simply put, it shouldn't. Having more error on passes and shots should lead people to take more time over the ball - but then FIFA 12 should be a game with less pressure (see D01).

In terms of shooting this would obviously mean a rather considerable increase of the number of missed shots, and this should go along with a number of goalkeeper changes to balance for this - making good keepers less likely to save on target shots - and hopefully making them hold more of the ball too.

Obscurity & Incentivisation - #A02 -
Important
It's a pity that while many of us in this community believe that manual provides the most realistic footballing experience possible on FIFA, it is something hidden from the community so much. The assists themselves lie within the XBOX 360 'Controller Settings' menu - hardly an apt description for: "Do you want the game to do everything for you or not?". The assists are mentioned elsewhere in the game almost nowhere - in fact, I'd put a fair bet that many people never even find the assistance settings. I'm sure some will think that these same people would definitely not want to less assisted settings anyway - and I'm sure to a point this is true - but it certainly isn't true with everyone.

Many players would like to take more control over their game - but most never even know that they can. There are two problems. One, that there is very little reason to play on anything other than assisted given that the assisted settings are unbalanced - and second is that even if they would want to change, they may not find the settings, or they may not understand them.

The main motivation for the vast majority of players, at least the ones which make up the online-playing community is: "what gives me the best chance of winning?". If assisted is working fine for them and the players who are better than them use assisted and the best players in the FIWC use assisted - what does that say to players? Well it says that there is no point of choosing anything other than assisted - and if winning is your motivation, this is entirely true with FIFA 11 (and all previous ones). It is therefore most important to solve the core issue of balance outlined above and in the following sections on passing, crossing, and shooting. Aside from that however, EA could do a lot better in advertising these settings - afterall many on this forum think it's the best thing this game has - surely EA would want to.. show it off? It's one of this game's greatest attributes: the enormous fluid freedom that manual can give you.

So what can they do? Well, firstly, rename or split the menus for assistance - and call it 'Assistance Settings'. Mention the settings in the tutorials. Also, take real care when wording the descriptions for the assistance. Some of the descriptions (although arguably they mimic reality) are written in a way which implies no advantage whatsoever from using manual. These descriptions should attempt to enthuse the player to take control - to take the stabilisers off. Take the 'save assistance' descriptions for instance:

Assisted: Balls relatively close to your body will be automatically saved, for all the others you need to get positioning and timing right. Direction does not matter.

Semi: Balls close to your body will be automatically saved, for all the others you need to get positioning, direction, and timing right.

Manual: Just reflex saves are automatic, every other ball will depend on your positioning, reaction, and direction.

This message was edited 42 times. Last update was at 01/06/2011 17:34:37



GameChanger

Joined: 05/09/2010 22:09:46
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Offline


This kind of thing is incredibly unhelpful. Even when I wanted to try the gloves on I looked at this and (after rolling my eyes) decided that going on manual was purely masochistic. Why would I want to take ALL of that control when assisted seems to do more or less everything for me? It doesn't imply that I'll be able to react faster or jump further or hold the ball more often - it doesn't imply anything other than me finding it more difficult. Oh yay. It is still a problem of ethos with EA and assistance - it felt slightly gutting to see that EA, after all of the feedback I personally had given and all the feedback I'd seen other members of this forum give that they'd put in a new assistance system and do exactly the same thing again. The new element of goalkeeping gave them a clean slate to get it right first time. Instead, like a slap in the face, they made a system which is horribly exploitable and which almost plays itself. Through the holding of LB/L1 and the smashing of the A button, the assisted keeper becomes superhuman.

EA must address the core issue of the assists being unbalanced before we'll get anywhere - it is the core matter. While assisted is the most effective, while playing a constrained, predictable game is the most effective, then there will be almost no incentive to the vast majority of players.

If, on the other hand, assists were balanced better and those who took more control could find more advantage - then we would quickly find swathes of people taking some, or all of their assistance off. Not everyone of course - some genuinely need assistance - most probably do. That isn't the problem. No-one would have a problem with assists if they didn't feel that assits allowed people to consistently do better than better players who use less assistance.
A recurrent problem with manual - #A03 - Important

Though I do think it's improved this year, there is still a large problem with first time passes being hit much harder than the user specifies. I'm not sure whether this is a case of how first time passes generally work which make them impossible difficult to power on manual as you'd need to do it so softly that only assistance can save you - or whether there is a specific bug working here. Either way, it needs to be explored by EA who are the only ones who can probably work out what is going on with this. It's not that difficult - first time manual passes/throughballs will often turn out like this.

Manual Clubs/FIWC - #A04 -
Important

If EA ever do decide to try to properly balance the assists this particular issue will fade into the ether. At the moment, when it comes to Clubs, or the FIWC, there is nowhere for manual (or for that matter semi) players to go. There are some (one which I had the pleasure of being part of) manual clubs which stick it out but it is only really feasible to achieve that with a large number of players. While we could stand up for the first few weeks it becomes harder and harder as the assisted virtual pros become better, and the users behind them exploit the failings of the game more.

It comes down to a choice for EA - they either segregate and make serious headway in overturning the obscurity and incentivisation issues (see A02), or they balance the system. There really are no other ways to solve this problem. EA have finally given a proper solution to segregate for manual 1v1 play, which is much appreciated - and if they could go further and offer a manual lobby the community would be forever grateful.

But when it comes to clubs, or the competition to supposedly find the 'best' FIFA players - someone who takes control over their game and allows their skill, intelligence and creativity to come to the fore will get slaughtered by exploitative assist users. With every online game mode EA needs to be mindful of the choice to play manual.

Alternatively - #A05 -
Idea

While I am a large proponent for the manual element of the game which I do enjoy greatly I do not see it as the be all end all of this game. I don't think a football game needs a 'manual' control system - what it needs is to have a control system which offers a lot of control in a realistic subtext. You need to see realistic error on passes and you need to feel like you can try what you want to try - but whether this means we need a 'manual' system is difficult to say.

For a long while I've felt that the assisted/semi/manual system may never really cut it - and while it does this it also vastly over complicates the issue for discussion or improvement. It is much easier to look at Pro Evolution Soccer's system with no settings but a manual modifier button, and suggest what needs to improve than it is to look at FIFA's multifaceted system and see what needs to be done. I fear that if EA are unwilling to make any serious changes to their passing & assistance settings they will forever be hampered with three unbalanced, incongruent and unrealistic systems like we have now.

There is no reason why the solution for these problems shouldn't be a radical change of system to one more similar to PES's. Trying to make one system which works well is infinitely easier than trying to make three which provide thousands of combinations. It seems almost an inherent part of assisted passing that it is stupidly unfair - that it will allow you to try any pass and see it come off the vast majority of times - that you can easily achieve 90+% passing success rates regardless of how aggressively you pass. Maybe it's time for a change of this most criticised of game mechanics.





PASSING

Grounded Passing - #P01 - Crucial
An enormous amount of the feedback about FIFA 10 criticised the nature of the passing in the game. Though to an extent this was tied up in the assisted->ping-pong-passing furore, it was in fact an overall problem which applied to semi and manual as well - and the problems with passing were by no means entirely confined to ping-pong-passing. It was no surprise that when EA started announcing the new features for this year that one of the big ones was to fix passing - Pro Passing.

It was advertised as something which would make this a thinking man's football game - where you thought about each pass. Where difficult passes would finally be difficult - where ping-pong-passing would no longer control the game. What a load of *. Between the two elements, the user skill element, and the contextual element I have no idea which is most disappointing. With the contextual error, we seem to have a system which adds arbitrary slowness to grounded passes, and somehow makes hard throughballs almost impossible - yet allows long passes and chips to reign supreme. We also have a system which still allows ping pong passing, and continues FIFA's tradition of rewarding people for spinning through 180 degrees before passing.

I think what annoys me most is that it's such a missed opportunity. As opposed to using this opportunity to nail the passing side of this engine, it is in some ways worse than with FIFA 10. Though perhaps they have got rid of the absolute worst of ping pong passing they have done it primarily by slowing passes down. It's now hard to get an easy straight pass to come off with lesser players because it will go so slowly that an opponent can get to it easily. This won't be because you have tried something too hard, you might be doing a 15 yard straight pass - but the reduced passing speed means that it's hard to get a fast past going. While EA should have punished bad passes by making them hard to control, they seemed to cap the power a player could pass at - a very strange solution.

The problem with ping-pong-passing was not so much the pace of the passes - it was the fact you could on the back of that swift pass instantly control the ball perfectly or ping off another pacey, laser-guided pass, and another, and another. By slowing passes down for 'error', and just on a general level, it has reduced ping pong passing. It has not on the other hand done very much at all to prevent 110 degree + passes, which people exploit all the time, managing passes which would be not only physically difficult but difficult to aim on account of the player not knowing where to aim. In some ways, the slowing of passes, in particular throughballs which is horribly felt by manual players, has made it harder to play free, expansive football. Space is hard to find in FIFA as it is, without passes going so slowly - and you can find a man in huge space only for that space to be gobbled up by the time he receives the ball.

If I want to make a hard pass - I should be able to do it - it might not be perfectly accurate, or maybe the receiving player will struggle to control it well - but I should be able to do it and it shouldn't be hard to do. I find it incredible sometimes when trying a hard (full-powered for instance) throughball on manual that the ball will go flying - as if the player I'm passing with is some kind of complete blithering *. If this is what EA imagine as error, I think they're on the wrong track. I have never seen a player in real life fail to manage a 50 yard pass along the ground and instead manage to get it flying at chest height. The player may hit it too far, or too short, too left, too right - but flying? It seems that EA wanted to do anything but make passes inaccurate, and this is their core failure. It means that almost every 'bad' pass is one which is sluggish and slow - rather than too hard, or missing to the left or right. Invariably the ball will get to the target - but it will take a while - and it can be intercepted.

For me, it should be about finding some kind of formula involving the context of the ball, the length of the pass, the angle of the pass, the type of pass, the player kicking it, and this should return the accuracy. Even as a simple model, FIFA would be improved by having a sheer 'degrees of error' value - the range of error in terms of weight and direction. This must be a system where a 'great' passer doesn't become someone who can overcome all error. It must not be case where Fabregas can pull off 180 degree first time passes 'because it's Fabregas'. It needs to be a situation where an average passer is someone you don't risk it with, and if you do it might go a bit wrong... but if it is Fabregas, you can try something a little special - and it might come off.

One area where EA really let Pro Passing down is high-angle passes, like 180 degree passes. These are especially difficult in real life. Physically it's hard, while spinning, to hit a good pass - but it's much harder still because you can't see what you are passing to. Now, in FIFA, you have a huge, huge advantage when it comes to making a pass like this - in that you can see what the player can't see. It seems to me that this game should attempt to simulate this somehow. It seems to me that passes in the region 140 degrees-180 degrees are pretty difficult for a player to reasonably see where the player he's passing to is. These passes need to be really inaccurate - they need to be discouraged in most cases. It's one thing having little flicks and backflicks - it's entirely another to have players pirouette passing.

You can complicate this further - how far away is the player he's trying to pass to - can he hear him? When did he last see him - has he just turned away? But again, it would be better being simplistic and making it work on a general level than it is now: FIFA must no longer be a game where you can pull of any 180 degree passes like they are nothing. They should be things to try if you want something magical - or if you can't think of anything else.

Throughballs are a slightly special case in FIFA 11, in that they are .. insane? I don't know why and when this change was decided upon but, in particular with manual, it now seems that a hard throughball is such an art that if a defender attempts it the ball will usually turn into some sort of cross. Throughballs are horribly sluggish now, making them somewhat useless for purpose. It's a little strange that EA decided upon this - let's make stuff slow policy but it utterly cripples throughballs for me on manual. This is a fact: no player has ever had a problem kicking the ball along the ground with power. They might find it hard to do it accurately and pick out a great pass - but they don't struggle in this way.

Long & Direct Balls & Chipped Through Balls - #P02 -
Crucial

One area which pro passing seems to have very little effect on at all is with passes through the air.

In real life, a long pass is typically a lot more error-prone than a grounded one. You have a lot more things to think about and arguably a lot more room for error. It's harder to visualise and to judge - you have to consider the flight of the ball and there is no doubt it's harder to stick the ball in the air than it is along the ground. This is one area where the over-accuracy of passing is blatant. It's most obvious when you see someone (typically using assisted) collect the ball in defence and hoof a clearance with the long-pass button (as most do) and this pass is almost perfectly to the striker every time. It's amazing to think that even after the supposed Personality+ revolution a typical defender can pick out a striker with a clearance no less - managing passes which Fabregas would be proud of.

The problem is that this 'slow' error doesn't seem to apply at all to long passes, or lobbed throughballs - and this is why they are used so much. It's so easy to clear from the defence directly to the striker - and poor defensive/midfielder AI means that the striker will usually not be marked tightly enough. In real life, the chance that a defender would be able to clear to a striker with that kind of accuracy is silly, especially as, with so many clearances I see, the defender spins through 100+ degrees when making it. This is why it's still one of the typical tactics of Clubs and players. Don't have a midfield - don't care about your midfield. Smack it straight to your overly skilled striker and do it all with the other forwards - in Clubs, even though you are now more or less forced to have players in your midfield, the tactics really haven't changed. Part of this problem is AI based, but a lot of it is accuracy based to.

With assisted, these balls seem laser guided - and this simply has to change. Whether I press Y+LB (Triangle + L1) or just X (Square) it's so easy to just pop the ball to a man as he makes a run. Something quite awkward in real life in terms of aim, power, communication and timing has been turned into a guarantee.

New Manual Passing - #P03 -
Idea
One idea I've toyed with for a while and suggested on the forum before is the idea of, for manual passing alone, moving away from the 'direct' and 'through' pass specification. The thing with manual is that more or less, normal pass and through ball do the same thing. Both of them produce a pass, in roughly the direction you point with the power you specify. The only difference is that they are tuned slightly differently. Aside from the ballsup this year that through-balls happen to be on manual - it basically tends to be a situation where throughballs are just slightly less powerful than assisted passes.

This means that most of their use overlaps. This combines with two issues manual has always had: #1 long power up times for lengthy passes, and #2 lacking sensitivity on short passes. If we had a short pass button we could use a lot more power bar per metre-length of pass, if the button did passes between 1 and 30 yards, for instance. If the other button did passes of 25 and 60 yard passes (they overlap for ease of use), then it wouldn't take ages to powerup a decent length pass.

There is one complication which I have no particular answer for: what do you do if people use assisted passing but manual throughballs (or the other way round)? Well, the easy work around is to have a setting, similar to the Pro Passing Assistance one (which only affects assisted/semi either way). Have a 'Manual Passing Setting' option. If it's on, then if you use both manual passing and throughs, you get the system above - and if it's off, you get the old system.

Discussion
One thing I've seen clearly from discussion over the last couple of years, in particular with passing and assists is that people have a lot of interesting, and radical ideas. It becomes a case of we have lots of good ideas which take us in lots of different directions - some which try to work within EA's currently defined shell and some which want to throw the book at it and write it all afresh.

At the core though, what any solution must achieve is one which gives both balance, and realism. We cannot continue with a system of assistance which gives the less-skilled, less-realistic and less-free system the advantage. Equally, we cannot continue with a system allowing rapid-one-time perfect passes, 180 degree pirouette passes, and so forth. There is a lot of scope to solve this problem, and yet the actual desired result is fairly clear.



ONLINE INFRASTRUCTURE

Filters - #O01 -
Idea
There is a growing need in FIFA which I cannot see going away, for players to be able to find the players they want to play against. Initially it was the manual community wanting to split itself away from the assisted game which they had learned to loathe - but the desire for filter to give us choice of match length, the match speed, and the level of team to play with. It is also possible given hints from EA that we may find that this year we have further need to filter - as it seems increasingly possible that sliders (many game altering options) will be implemented into FIFA 12.

It is important that EA implement a powerful filtering system for their game. The current system is absolutely slaughtered by two errors:

1. Most people don't go through the filter because the filter is half hidden
2. It's more of a 'search for specific' than a 'filter'

Though it may be against EA's -make-everything-really-quik'n'easy- policy, I'd suggest strongly that EA make everyone go through one system. Forget this 'Quick Ranked Match', 'Custom Match', 'Play A Friend' stuff, and make it just one portal. This is key so that these different options actually get populated. You can see from Call of Duty that people don't all like playing the same modes - it's just EA has never shown them any viable way different. Everytime people go to play an online game, they need to see the filter.

More importantly, the system needs to be one where you can filter out things, rather than filter them in as it were. If I want to search for a game without 5 star teams, I'd instead have to search for one bracket - like 3 to 4 star teams. What I want to actually do is say - I will play with any teams, 4 star or lower - so how can I do that? Well the obvious way to do it is to have a true filter system.

Instead of 'Which of these brackets are you looking for' you should be able to search for 'Up to X stars'. No-one is going to care if an opponent uses a team lower than the team they are using so there is no need for anything else. Allow me to say 'Up to 3.5 Stars' and I will be happy. Other settings probably need to be done on a checkbox system. To give a more visual idea of how this would work, this is an ASCII version of what everyone will see when they press 'Online Match' from the Online menu:

(SEARCH) | (CREATE PRIVATE GAME)

Match Type: <Ranked/Unranked>
Control Settings: <Assisted/Semi/Manual>*
Team Level: Up to <0.5/1/1.5/2/2.5/3/3.5/4/4.5/Any> star(s)
Game Speed: [Slow/Normal/Fast]
Match Length: [6/10/15/20]

Key
() means button
<> means choose one
[] means choose as at least one
a option is defaulted to on

*This is imagining a slight change to the current system: 'assisted' means any setting is allowed, where semi means that assisted passing, assisted crossing, assisted shooting, and assisted throughballs are disallowed, and where manual means that all settings are manual

The one remaining question is what does it do when a match is found? It's not as easy as previously - in the old system you search for specific match settings - and thus when it finds a match, it just has to create that match. In this system it's possible that a match will be created where there is ambiguity about what is wanted. For instance, if I search for a slow, or normal match, and I find someone who also wants a slow or normal match, what does it choose? Well, there are a few ways of solving this issue - one would be to then allow one of the matched players to choose from settings that his opponent was OK with - another would be to choose from the options randomly.

It should be easy to add extra filters in if/when sliders are implemented too. The advantages of these changes are obvious. People will know about the filters, see them, and in all probability try them. If they want to just quickly search, they only have to press search, which is conveniently at the top of the menu. Players can now choose to play longer ranked matches if they so wish. They can search for a range of things too - I for instance would tend to search for ranked, manual, up to 4.5 star, slow or normal speed, and anything between 6 and 20 minute halves. This opens me up to a lot more people than if I tried to search on FIFA 11 for a slow ranked manual match with 3-4 star teams.

Ranking System - #O02 -
Idea
In the run up to FIFA 11's release Gary Paterson created a thread on the FIFA 11 NG forum (the old forums) to question the community on what they were looking for in terms of a ranking system. In particular, whether we wanted something like the FIFA 2010 WC game's system - or something more like the current system in FIFA 10/11.

The general consensus was most people wanted something along the lines of the 2010 WC game. That system worked by splitting into 10 divisions. You'd start off in the lowest division and play others from that division. Each win would garner you three points, and a draw one point, just like real football. If you reached a certain number of points within a certain number of games you would be promoted to the division above. Too few, and you'd get demoted. This system works pretty well - it's fun and it's related to real football. On the other hand, it's not especially precise, and perhaps worse still, it completely neglects the team you use.

In a game like FIFA, where the team you use will often make the difference between a win and a loss, you can't really have a ranking system which doesn't have some way of balancing the ranking with the teams that were used. We need a system which can cope with this - and do so in a balanced way. Unfortunately, that's pretty difficult. The current system in FIFA 11 tries to achieve this by giving you bonus points (or taking away points) if you use a relatively good/bad team to your opponent. Currently, it simply doesn't go far enough - playing with a much worse team gives you far too few points extra. Problem is, it's always hard to balance such systems - it would be easy to go too far. It would be irritating for people to play with United, as a supporter, and to draw with Accrington Stanley and have their ratings slaughtered.

So what are the options? Well, one would be to come up with a filter which actually works. I hope that if EA implemented my suggestions in O01, then the filter system would be powerful enough to find us fair matches - but I'm unconvinced.

One idea which came up again and again was a quota system. This would give you a certain number of stars over a certain number of games. For example, you could have 20 stars over 6 games. Every time within that 6 games you played a match, you'd take the stars of the team you used from the 20 - and you can only pick a team if you have enough stars left in the quota. So someone could pick a 5 star team twice, and then a 4.5 star team, and then a 2 star team, then a 0.5 star team, and a 3 star team. This would force variety - but I do have a vital concern with this system... a lot of people don't want to keep changing team. Some people support one team and never want to change - and it's very difficult to tell people that they can't use these teams.

Another way of dealing with this might be to have a slightly more flexible system in terms of how many points you'd need to get promoted, or, the number of points you get when you win/lose/draw dependent on teams. There are lots of ways of doing something like this, and it would pretty much solidly work in my mind but it's not particularly simple.

The idea would be that we're working with the you need X points over Y games system - but with these games you will get a different amount when you win or draw dependent on the relative rating of your opponent's team. When in team selection, the stakes would be shown at the bottom, so, if I pick Accrington Stanley and my opponent picks Manchester United, it would show me heavy winnings, even if I get a draw, and he would be shown a rather small number of points. To take this further, you need a formula which will dictate the win and draw amount for all the combinations of x stars v y stars. So I tried making one, to see if I could produce something quickly which felt right. I came up with something like this:

1. 10 Matches
2. 240 points or above > Promotion
3. 180 points or below > Demotion
4. Points for a win: 4(Opposition Stars - Team Stars) + 36
5. Points for a draw: 2(Opposition Stars - Team Stars) + 12

Even Teams:
30 for a win, 10 for a draw

0.5 Star v 5 Star:
If 0.5 star wins, they get 81 points
If 0.5 star draws, they get 27 points
If 5 star wins, they get 27 points
If 5 star draws, they get 9 points

4.5 Star v 5 Star:
If 4.5 wins, they get 57
If 4.5 draws, they get 19
If 5 star wins, they get 51
If 5 star draws, they get 17

So that gives you an example of the way it could work. These numbers are literally pulled out of thin air with 5 minutes of fiddle - if you could ever define the constants really well you could have a gem of a system I think. For those who want to play with the best teams, they can - go ahead. Even if they always come up against the lowest teams, they can still get enough points. United would need 9 wins to get a promotion if they played Accrington Stanley every game - Accrington Stanley would need just 2 wins and 3 draws, or 3 wins to be promoted in that situation. If you look at the typical situation of 5 star team v 5 star team, you get a situation of needing 5 wins, or 4 and 2 draws to get promoted.

This is all built upon totally arbitrary constants - you could certainly improve those - but to me this proves the concept solid. We can have a system where we combine the preferred ranking system with promotions, and demotions as opposed to an abstract ELO style formula - but we can also solve a problem which cripples FIFA online.

For the sake of it, for Clubs, the system can be applied without worrying about the team system.

Quitting - #O03 -
Crucial

Quitting isn't the easiest of issues to navigate but the current system is ridiculous. More or less it seems that if you quit within the first 5 or so minutes, regardless of the result, you get a free pass - the person you were playing gets no win, and you get no loss. This is insane. As soon as a goal is scored (or, in fact, a penalty won) this '5 minute free pass for quitting' needs to go. It would be better not having the free pass at all than the current ultra-exploitable system.

Furthermore, quitting MUST be punished properly. There are legitimate reasons to quit but I'd put a huge amount of money on the fact that 95-98% of quitting is done out of spite - and it's hurting the online game a lot. The best way to punish quitters, without punishing the people who need to legitimately leave, is to reward not quitting instead. This is how games like Call of Duty do it - they give you a match bonus to make it worth staying.

EA need to come up with some sweetener - some reason to stick around when you're getting beat. Whether this works as part of the rating system - or some other bonus (something meaningful - no-one cares about those EAFootballWorld points or whatever they are) but people might care about something towards their virtual pro, their rating, etc. Whatever is chosen - it must be something that is limitless. It can't be an achievement/trophy like "don't quit for 10 games in a row" - it must apply every game, and reward you for not quitting every game.

EA also have to make sure that accomplishments are not affected by the other team quitting. If I've got part of an accomplishment (or it's an end-of-match accomplishment) it's not fair for me to lose it because some spiteful evil * has quit the game. It would be much better frankly, if when a game is ended by your opponent(s) quitting, you went to the normal end-match screen - than having to quit straight back to the arena.




SHOOTING, CROSSING, & GOALKEEPERS

Shooting - #S01 -
Crucial
We can more or less look at 4 different types of shooting - laces, finesse, lobs, and volleys. Quite a lot of work was done on the shooting since FIFA 10, and it's a bit of a mixed bag I think.

Laces shooting is now, finally looking pretty good. Shots do feel like they have power - and they dip too. If there is any issue with laces shots it is the accuracy. Once you have high shot accuracy & power, it becomes very easy to shoot very accurately every single time - especially with assists. This may be wrong - but it doesn't seem to me that trying a more powerful shot has any real effect on the accuracy. It probably does have some effect but it does feel very easy to blast shot after shot - usually which the keeper is incapable of holding even if he can get to it at goal. I think generally, in particular for assisted shooting, we need to see more errant shots - and it would be great to see more of a relation (inverse) between power & accuracy. EA also need to look into the way the angle of the shot affects how it is taken. It is a pity that taking a shot at a near right angle tends to affect the power of the shot so greatly - it's not difficult to shoot with considerable power from that kind of angle - it's a fairly ideal stance to shoot from.

Finesse shots on the other hand are still a mess - sweet spot shots are still very much part of the game. Generally finesse shots are extremely, almost unbelievably floaty, extremely accurate, and with a decent player they can manage outrageous curve - it's not rare to see a ball floating and curling through 90 degrees around the keepers bewildered outstretched self. There is no doubt that these kind of shots are feasible in real life but I think for a curving shot the general accuracy is just too high. They are very precise things - but in FIFA you very quickly get a sense of how to pull off the same shot time after time. You know the angle and the area you have to be in - and you will often oppose players who everytime they get space around the 30-40 yard mark will form up to perform this exploit of exploits. I think EA should look into making the curve itself a lot less predictable. If aIt's all very well and good to have a 'placed' shot which is more accurate than a slammed shot would be - but if you're putting serious curve on it it's going to be just as hard to get it get it right as it would be to get a powerful laces shot - it is not a doddle to apply the perfect amount of curve.

Finally, volleys are extraordinary. I have no idea what you are meant to be doing on these but I've never felt anything more unpredictable in my life. The number of times I'm waiting for the ball to drop, thinking I should be careful not to overhit it, tap the shoot button and see it screaming over is ridiculous. I get that volleys are easy to overhit but, especially for players with a low 'volley' stat, it often will be unavoidable. The consistenty of these needs to be looked into.

Goalkeepers - #C02 -
Crucial
In FIFA 10, the situations with the goalkeepers had hit crisis point - chipping, back post crosses, giant-throw onto the bar and so forth exploited the enormous fallability of the men between the sticks - and it almost broke the competitive side of the game.

C03, regarding shooting is really one side of the coin which defines so much of FIFA. If one or other part of this equation is off, then this inevitably leads to exploit, unrealistic goals, repetitive goals, and boring football. The goalkeepers then are a large part of the problem.

The goalkeepers seem too good at some things - but very poor at others. Goalkeepers seem to have an area around then which, if the ball is hit through that area, they will almost always save. This holds true unless the ball is hit from very close to them. Neglecting that exception - the goalkeeper will always, always dive perfectly - he'll almost never go under or over the ball - he'll never be duped by the curve. Generally also, world class keepers react in super-human times (even for them) - often saving snap shots which would require them to have dived before the ball was hit.

When it comes to finesse shots, and 'sweet spotting' though, a rather different issue is highlighted - and that is that the keeper seems, almost regardless of situation, not able to save a ball which is a long way from him. Doesn't matter how fast the ball is going - it can be a painfully weak shot - but he will struggle to get to it. I have never in real life seen goalkeepers beaten by such weak shots unless they are impeded. It seems to me that keepers fundamentally react slower to finesse shots - and because they tend to have a longer distance to cover it is here that their slow lateral movement comes into play. While the keepers dive is pretty fast, the movement before he dives is sluggish. As opposed to quickly hopping across, and thenmaking a final bouncing leap - they slowly crabwalk, stutter, and then dive. If the ball is close to them the keeper will often dive immediately to save it with almost impossible reliability (good keepers in particular can often be like shooting against a force field).

Goalkeeper AI for crossing and corners is better - but still not great. The back post corner 'glitch' is mostly of the past but you still do get those occasions where the goalkeeper has a complete breakdown if the ball is too high in the air above him - and as opposed to positioning to save or catch the ball he tends to swivel on his goalline while the opponent scores an almost certain goal. It would be nice too, if holding the Y/Triangle button could be sured up so it causes the keeper to always (it will sometimes have this affect but often not) try to intercept the ball in the air.

Finally a word on how natural the goalkeepers feel: not at all. It gets to the point rather quickly where you feel that the goalkeepers have a radius around them where they will save, every single time (for all but the shortest shot). The keepers almost never, ever dive the wrong way, they very rarely dive too high or too low. I think part of this is down to a lack of AI guiding the anticipation of the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper in FIFA seems to work out everything as the ball is hit - but it would be nice if the keeper had some anticipation of what was about to happen. With shots from close range, the keeper should be attempting to make a save as, or before the shot is made - like with a penalty - and the fact that they don't is one of the reasons why passing-across-goal is so over-effective.

With close shots, the goalkeeper should be trying to cover as much as the goal as he can as he sprawls out to try to save the ball - his legs outstretched - his body falling - his arms flailing. His goal is to get some part of his body in the way - no goalkeeper will have the time to try a typical save with a shot from a few yards.

One thing which would be nice with the keepers, in terms of saving, is unpredictability. One of the main things which causes FIFA's goals to be criticised, as they have been for years as 'repetitive' is that the goalkeepers are extremely predictable. It would be more realistic, and considerably more exciting to not see the goalkeepers always having the same limit on what they can and can't do - poor keepers often do fantastic things - but you rarely feel something is fantastic if it's entirely predictable. Goalkeeping is a much more free thing than FIFA would have you imagine it - this is two flying projectiles - one trying to fly into a net, the other using it's limbs to deflect, intercept, or catch the ball - and it needs to feel like that. It's as simple as this: goalkeepers reach, their handling, their reactions, need to be less static. They need to make mistakes: jump too early, too late, too high, too low, too far - or even the wrong way.

Randomness is a complicated but highly necessary things in football games - too much predictability becomes stale and exploitable - it is the occasional chance incident which makes you scream in delight. Too much randomness in the wrong areas can make the game unfair, can make it a skill-less game of chance. If you look at FIFA right now you can see one very clear area where the randomness is absolutely horrid: tackling. So often you'll make a tackle and the ball will somehow ricochet right back to the attacker - this happens in no way you can control or predict - and it happens often.

It's about unpredictable, somewhat random, but ultimately believable incidents. We don't want to see Petr Cech failing to make easy saves - but we want his normal ability to be constrained enough so only occasionally will he do something absolutely brilliant.

To add in another important criticism with goalkeepers - the goalkicks. The whole way the goalkicks is one of the parts of the game which makes it so end-to-end. The keepers can't kick it near far enough - not only that but the defence should be standing much, much further away from the keeper.

Footedness - #C03 -
Very Important
This is one of the sections I've rewritten - my previous feelings were unenlightened somewhat and described a fairly elaborate system to deal with FIFA's issues - but having played PES I now feel confident that there is a simpler way and that there is a very good example of this on Pro Evolution Soccer.

FIFA's issue is as follows - all players seem more or less two footed. They use both feet without issue and it is hard to notice any difference between their proficiency with each foot. In real life, most players are one footed enough to be dissuaded from shooting if they don't feel they can take it on the correct foot (except in for very good chances) - this really changes the way that football works as a game - it changes the way you defend and it changes the way you attack. To describe PES's solution in a simple sense - there are two stats associated with every player to describe how good they are with their weaker foot and to describe how much they use it. With these two stats, and considering the context, the game will choose which foot the player uses and it will provide a believable pass, shot, cross, or touch.

Not much of PES is perfect, but this element certainly works well enough to be transferred directly.

Boring - #C04 -
Important
A long running criticism of FIFA is that it doesn't produce a variety of goals, and that the goals lack excitement. I think this mainly comes down to a matter of predictability. The shooting is obviously key to this - and it is a matter of shooting and goalkeeper predictability which is at fault. Over-accurate, magnetised to the corners assistance is one part of this - but the goalkeepers being overly consistent is another. What you want for excitement is not knowing until the ball crashes into the back of the net that you've scored. We need to see goalkeepers making cracking saves, and making mistakes; we need to see scuffs and screamers. Variation is what lacks so sorely from the way shooting works right now.

Standing passes/shots/crosses - #C05 -
Important
I don't know why this has become the case, but when standing it seems that almost whatever you do goes to *. Trying a shot, or cross, or pass from standing seems to result in a poor, weak pass/shot. I don't know why this is but it's maddening for me as I don't want to play a game where I'm constantly running. This is a special case and it's been the case for a while. It comes down to the poor way that players approach the ball in these situations.

It tends to be that the ball is dead in front of them, and when you press pass/shoot they pass and shoot instantly. Instead, unless they have to act very quickly, they should be bringing their first leg forward, and then driving through with the other leg to gain power - as opposed to the current inelegant flail which makes it look as if they are entirely off balance.



ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Out of all the topics I've attempted to write about, this is the one I approached with the most trepidation. While there is certainly a lot wrong with FIFA's AI, it is, unlike with many of the other topics, very difficult to solve. However well EA make some parts of their game AI is going to be something they simply can't solve. That said, I think there are many areas where the AI could be improved. I want to clarify what I'm going to be going for here - this refers to the AI which affects your teammates - I will not at this time be referring to the CPU AI (taut, I know - I mean in the sense of the team AI you play against offline) which is something I know many aren't at all happy with - they are very related anyway.

The flaws in the AI in FIFA are both a terrible defensive and attacking issue - in defence your teammates are in constant need of babysitting, and they will collapse under the most repetitive and predictable attacks. In attack, they produce that very repetition and predictability - struggling to help with anything out of the ordinary - very rarely understanding your intentions.

Defensive AI - #A01 -
Crucial
Where to start with defensive AI. To me, when I think of: how to defend - it is a matter of organisation and structure. It is about a working unit of 4 or 5 where, if just one slips for an instant, all can be lost - and the first thing which is important with the defence therefore is it's ability to hold a line. The line still has this insanely irritating tendency to just break to pieces. This almost always happens due to an attacker affecting one of the defenders in the line. Sometimes, an attacker will run through the line, and one of the defenders will follow him - the others staying in line. Other times, an attacker will move near the line, and when the line moves back the defender near the attacker will continue to mark the attacker. This is vastly exploited. People play a one two - the first attacker passes to a striker near the defensive line who then runs away from the defensive line. This pulls a defender out, creating a hole which the running player who set off the maneuvre runs through, the attacker then will play a ball over the top or through the hole - usually at 180 degrees.

Generally, a defence will either try to produce a line the opponent can't pass through - or they will try to keep their line on the right side of the defence - but at the moment the system continually does the one thing a defence must never do: break. What is worst is that once it starts going wrong, you have to start trying to fix it, swapping between players to keep them aligned. Once you start having to do this the chance of you being able to cope with all the other things you need to be able to do gets lower. To defend by being patient, and solid, is almost doomed to failure against competent opposition because whether you do everything right or not the AI will inevitably make an inexplicable error leading to your downfall.

The second big problem, is one of ... almost of work rate. This occurs in both attack and defence - in defence it seems that for whatever reason players no longer have the WILL to get back. So, so often I will see my defenders in Clubs not even trying to stay goalside. A left back or right back, for instance, who gets stuck behind the play won't do everything they can to get back. The same is true of the midfield. It is very difficult, without playing an extremely defensive formation (ie, the infamous 6 defenders, 1 DM formation) to actually produce a proper defence. There are a lot of reasons why it feels there is no midfield in FIFA - and a large one of them is that often you don't even have to deal with a midfield. You don't need midfield players if you can pump the ball to the strikers all day without losing out on almost all attacking effectiveness - and because the midfield almost never gets back fast enough to deal with an attack anymore, we have lost the structure of the game.

Part of this problem comes down to one of anticipation. The AI seems to have no ability to see what is just about to happen - even when it's blatantly obvious. The most obvious example of what I'm talking about is the moments when an attack transitions to defence - or when the ball is about to move from one end to the other very quickly. Take the situation where you are passing around the back - in this situation your team is in 'attack' mode and attempting to be going forward - but sometimes what you really want is a bit of cover, and defenders maybe making opportunities for you to pass further back. One particular case which really pains me is when the ball has been pumped up field and you need to make a defensive header - typically you will be competing with an attacker for the ball. What you need is for your remaining defenders to go goalside so that they can prepare to defend or sweep up - but they tend to be standing around level with the players competing for the header.

Another example would be when the opposition's defence receives the ball and clear. Your players will still be moving up - as opposed to moving back. Even when the ball has been cleared, they are often still moving forward. This prepares you horribly for the often-used counterattack: clear the ball to the striker, and work against the defence (the midfield is AWOL). Players need to be more conscious of what is likely to happen next: if there is a danger the ball is going to be lost, defensive minded players need to prepare for it. If the opponents are about to clear, your teammates need to be moving back in preparation.

Both of the above really deal with the movement up and down the pitch - but there are some large issues with lateral movement too. While we can alter our teams 'width' in the Custom Team Tactics, the lateral movement of the team is far, far too static. It always seemed to me that in football the attack will dictate the width. A team can try as best they can to force the attack to play in a certain way, but at the end of the day, if the attack wants to play wide, the defence has to follow - and if the attack wants to go through the middle, the wingbacks can't just sit in the wing doing nothing. This of course is often what happens: an attack is forced through the middle and the fullbacks will, instead of moving inside to help, will stay out wide, uselessly defending a wide attack which never comes. I suppose this is a case of the players being far too strict in their application of zonal marking - where they seem to try to protect their 'zone' even once the attack has already moved closer to goal than the zone.

What EA needs to aim for is a game where I am in control - and if I concede - I am at fault. Now, I'm sure some will protest and say that this is already the case - but it's really not. While you can take some control - try to repair the faults - or take a more aggressive pressuring approach and try to never come up against the AI issues... it is invariably something completely unpredictable which happens with a pinball tackle, or how many defensive line will break in three palces, or how my defender will randomly drop behind the attacker for a header even though my analog stick pushes the other way.

Attacking AI - #A02 -
Crucial
I think the easiest way to describe the attacking AI in FIFA 11 is a dull, unexciting constraint upon the gameplay. The players seem only capable of making one type of run and they will make that same run again and again. Most of the runs are predictable - but some are downright idiotic. A typical issue I have is when running along the wing, the nearer of the two strikers will almost invariably run alongside me offering a short pass possibility - even when it's obvious I'm going to cross. This tends to mean that this player is positioned awfully when I finally do cross.

It just so happens that these ultra predictable runs are competent enough to take the current defensive AI to pieces. Hopefully the defensive AI will be improved, and therefore it will be necessary for the offensive AI to be more capable of producing variety, and most importantly to try and be more understanding of your intentions.

It is again, with that case a question of anticipation - a recurring theme within the flawed AI. It seems to have absolutely no idea what I want to do. The whole system is built around straight runs - they seem capable of little else. As opposed to zigzagging, incisive runs into space - it's usually a straight run to nowhere. Using the 'one-two' button is always the same - it sets off a straight run.

Take the situation where you are passing across the midfield and you have an overlap - where your winger, or wingback could run through because they aren't wide enough in defence: whatever you do, you can't get them to move.

It can't be easy to give AI the intelligence to make clever runs - but at least opening up to do something other than straight runs up the pitch would be nice - they need to seek space - think about where it will leave them if you do make the pass to them, and so forth. I want to see the players behind me supporting me - if I get into trouble on the wing, an attacking minded wingback should be coming short for the passing opportunity.

EA can go only so far in making something capable of understanding us - in my opinion what we need is more ability to tell the game what we want - and for that we need to advance the player run button.

A New 'Player Run' button - #A03 -
Idea

Currently, the LB button is pretty restricted - the fact that you have to be pointing roughly at the player to cause him means that the number of ways you can use it is hugely reduced - and it always makes him run straight.

What if, instead of pressing LB/L1 at a player to make him make a run, you pressed the LB at space you wanted someone to run into? You could even have a tapped LB/L1 to 'run into near space', and a longer one to 'run into space further away'. This would give you an immense amount more freedom to get movement going - as well as being easier to actually trigger. Not only that, but it would allow us to get teammates to do what we want in all directions.

You could tell a wingback to come give you a short option - or a striker to come back slightly into space - or make a striker make a diagonal run. You could also use it to indicate where you want your players to go inside the crossing area. This will give you the ability to supplement whatever AI the game can muster. It is still somewhat constrained by the need to actually point with the left stick where you want the man to run - but it would allow you to instigate people coming short, overlapping runs, diagonal runs, and so forth.

Custom Tactics/Formation - #A04 -
Crucial

When EA announced the custom team tactics into the game with FIFA 09, we might imagine that we were finally going to get the tactical depth in the game. In reality though, it just allowed people to go to further extremes to exploit gameplay flaws. Take the 7-0-3 formation - which is usually 5 defenders and 2 DMs - this allows a team to have an impossibly strong defence - and still play in attack. But it is not the ability to change to a formation like this which is wrong - it's the fact that this really does work better than almost any other formation - a warped reversal of how football plays.

It's somewhat hard to speculate what can be done with custom team tactics while the football logic it works with is so screwy that something like 7-0-3 can actually work. We need a system to dictate what our team will do - but it needs to be free enough so that it won't do things which make no sense. Even if I tell my team that we're going for a 'slow buildup' - they must be able to attack quickly if a serious counterattacking opportunity comes to light.

Custom tactics must define how your team plays up to a point - but it has to be clever enough to break from its instructions when there is a possibility to do something different. It needs to be able to play to your tune first and foremost. The tactics should dictate the fallback - what it does by default - but when the team is being controlled by humans - it should do its absolute best to fit around what we are doing.

Pass Recievers - #A05 -
Important
The reaction of players to passes, short or long, grounded or airborne, is an area of the game which has been neglected. Players seem to react with immediacy to balls that they couldn't possibly see coming - and yet act like bumbling idiots for the shortest, simplest passes between two players who are face to face.

It would be nice to see a situation where players reacted faster for shorter passes - to see players reacting better if they can see the pass being made. This is a large part of balancing throughballs. This year we've seen a surge in 'lofted throughball abuse'. The reality is that they are2 too easy to time, and that the defence deals with them too well, and of course, that they are too accurate. It is perhaps fortunate that the general grounded passing speed has been (unrealistically) reduced so much or we'd see just as much throughball abuse as lofted throughball abuse.

A large part of accuracy however is down to the players reaction. It's often very difficult for a player to work out precisely where a ball is going to land - much harder if the ball is not precisely where he wants it. If he's running in front of the ball he may not get more than a glance. The defenders are likely to get more chance - and this is one of the large reasons that lofted balls over the top are so difficult to pull off. It takes so little for an attack to be ended - which is why so often in football all it takes to end a rush-attack of this type is a header away from the attacker.

In FIFA though, due to the omniscient nature of it all, due to the everyone can see everywhere nature of it all, the player will lock onto the ball, and time it perfectly. The lofted balls in real football which you almost can't believe happen - the things which even the greats like Xavi and Fabregas will achieve a few times a season - have been turned into a multiple-time-a-game encounter. For a lofted throughball to come off over the defence it requires an incisive run - the defender not to track quickly enough - the ball to be sublime - the recepient to read the pass well, and to take it perfectly. In FIFA, all of those things are almost guaranteed to occur.

Referees & Linesmen - #A06 -
Very Important

The topic of referees has been a troubling ones with FIFA for years - and this year a further complication to the mess: Referee 'Personality'. How exciting it is that we now get 'lenient' referees and 'strict' referees. Not sure any of us would notice that they were lenient or strict if Andy Gray didn't tell us of course - but apparently it does make a difference.

The reality to me seems that referees vary from barmy, through delusional all the way to downright insane. Near violent standing tackles are overlooked so long as the ball is vaguely touched at some point - slide tackles on off the ball players overlooked entirely at times. The whistle is blown because passing backwards to any degree must mean that all advantage has been lost - or stopping on the ball momentarily for that matter.

It seems to me that EA should try to get one type of referee to work well before they try to get a range of realistic referees. When referees will still, almost at random, not red card keepers when the keeper charges out and takes out the man, or not even card fouls on people who are through on goal, EA need to continue working on the basics.

A typical game tactic of the skilled online opponent is to bully the hell out you - constant fouls - light(ish) fouls - to stop your attacks - to give you an indirect freekick which is very rarely as usable as the situation before the foul. It seems to me that the referee is no more likely to call up a foul the second, or third time a player makes the same infringement than he is the first time. In real football, if a single player continually commits fouls, even if they are relatively minor - he will get carded and if he continues further he will be sent off. In FIFA, we have very, very short match lengths - roughly a sixth of real match length. I therefore suggest that the referees look harshly on players making multiple fouls: it would probably be a large improvement if the second light foul from a player got him a yellow card regardless: because at the moment you either have to be very unlucky, very risky, or a bit of a * to get a red card: and yellow cards simply don't matter.

How long have we suffered under the influence of the 85th minute slide-from-behind? Ever since I remember playing online it's been a tactic people used to confirm a victory: because who cares if you get a red card in the 85th minute? In real life there is a severe punishment - suspension, even fines - in FIFA there is nothing. Now, I made a suggestion for Clubs under the title 'Carry over Cards' - and I'd be overwhelmed to see something like that to be implemented at all - and I think that something like that, if it could be implemented for the general Head 2 Head online would be great too. No-one is really affected by getting a yellow card in this game - and as long as it's late game, who cares about a red? The disincentive of a yellow or red card in real life is ENORMOUSLY higher in real life than it is in FIFA, and you are a lot more likely to recieve a yellow or red card in real life than you are in FIFA.

Part of the problem is derived unstoppably from the flaws in the defensive system - you have no choice over when you tackle and therefore so many fouls are unintentional. The clumsy, hyper aggressive pressure tactic causes no more fouls than holding back and cautiously jockeying - and this isn't really the referees fault - but even so I really do think EA need to take a look at the logic behind how bad it thinks some tackles are. Players get slammed to the floor and that's apparently fine - even if they get the ball it borders on needless egregious violence which is certainly not allowed. It seems downright cheeky when you get a yellow for something and then you see your opponent perform something which seems identical without the whistle even blowing.

I think I'd be right in saying that, at least online, what people want is consistency, fairness and integrity to the rules.

This message was edited 21 times. Last update was at 11/04/2011 23:22:16



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SET PIECES

Penalties - #S01 -
Very Important
The penalty system went under a dramatic reboot in FIFA WC and this was brought across into FIFA 10. It dealt was intended to deal with a stale, oversimplistic system - but in some ways it hasn't helped. I don't think there is a huge amount wrong with the way the shooting part works - but the way the goalkeeping works is inadequate and in the end simply means that there is no advantage to hitting a penalty well. Why try to hit the 'perfect' penalty when you increase your chance of missing enormously and when it really doesn't make it anymore likely that you will score. The key to the problem is this: hitting a penalty softly makes almost no difference to how likely it is to be saved. Hitting a penalty too close to center makes almost no difference to how likely it is to be saved - purely because when you choose where to save, that's it. The keeper doesn't really change his dive dependent on the travel of the ball. He will at best move his arms to the ball.

This means that generally that it's often best to not bother with hitting a penalty well - in fact, hit it just the slightest amount left, or right of center, slowly. That won't be saved by the goalkeeper staying in the center because he is too lazy to stick his arms out - and if you try to save to the left or right the keeper will go too fast.

The keepers should have some kind of reaction relative to the ball. We indicate which way he goes - but he should be able to save things by reacting to them. There is a reason a top or bottom corner penalty is normally considered 'the perfect' penalty - and it's because even if the keeper goes the right way he's unlikely to save it. It is critical that in FIFA the 'perfect' penalty is not near enough down the middle. EA should look at the save coverage for the keeper if you tell him not to move - in this situation the keeper should make a reaction save dependent on what he sees the ball doing, rather than just staying there. Us pressing left, right, up, down, should indicate what the keeper prepares to do and starts doing - but from there he should react to the ball being hit. If the ball is not hit particularly hard, he should be able to adjust dependent on his skill level and reaction.

It must become a situation where you do try to attain that perfect penalty again - because not doing so is a risk in itself.

Freekicks - #S02 -
Crucial
Freekicks unlike the penalties have not really been changed since.. ever - and it shows. They are restrictive, exploitable, unrealistic, and above all dull experiences. A direct freekick is one of the real tension points of a match - not in FIFA.

The main issue with FIFA's freekicks is their utter predictability. It's 99% impossible to beat a keeper on the far post unless at close range - so your only choice is to try hitting it at the near corner. People have for years now exploited this predictability and need to hit it at such a specific area of the goal by placing men on the line - and the AI is incapable of exploiting that.

I think the primary change which needs to be made is a really considerable increase in the effectiveness of the more driven freekick - and an increase in the power the ball is hit with. It is almost impossible to beat the keeper at the moment when you simply can't hit the ball with any power without completely hamstringing your ability to actually be on target.

However, the inaccuracy of freekicks, in particular for the very high rated freekick takers, needs to be reduced - and this needs to be done in line with how ambitious what they are doing is. If they are putting lots of curve and power on, error should increase. It's about making sure that you can score by hitting the ball in a variety of areas of the goal - it needs to be possible to score to both the near, and far post from an angled freekick, and making it much harder to hit a very particular spot on the goal. We should also see more goalkeeper errors - it would be great to get the goalie going the wrong way because of a viciously curved freekick - or at least having some advantage of applying curl to * the keeper. At the moment it seems that going straight up and over is just as likely to get you the goal - without the difficulty of

From a defensive side, we need a lot more ability to control our goalkeeper, and our wall. This MUST be independent of eachother. Also, and this is critical, the swapping of a player at a freekick (or corner for that matter) should not reset the position of the wall, or any other player. It's immensely irritating when preparing to defend a corner, or freekick to continually have to reset your positioning - and people exploit this to make sure you CAN'T move your wall/GK when it comes to defending a freekick.

Part and parcel of any improvement must be based with the AI. The attacking AI does not exploit opportunities at all - they do not, for instance, move forward into space if a defender stands on the goal line. Defensive AI on the other hand seems far too easy to manipulate when you are the attackers. It seems that by moving your striker near to a defender and then slowly moving goalwards, you can actually manage to entirely crack the defensive line.

The remaining question is simple: should EA redesign the freekicks in the same way they have the penalties?

Corners & Crossing & Indirect FKs - #S03 -
Crucial
I've already said a bit about the way that the AI seems to work when the ball is crossed in, and a lot of the issues with both corners and crossing is based on this: the way players 'lock in' - the number of players who can(or tend to) simultaneously lock in and attempt headers. This is the majority of the problem - what should be a flurry of movement and players leaping for balls tends to turn into 20 ballwatchers while one attacker and one defender go for the header... and usually the winner of that header is decided by the way the players lock into the ball.

The double tapped 'low cross' seems very unreliable - partially becuase you don't really seem to be able to specify how deep it goes, unlike with the normal cross. It seems most obvious to me to transfer the 'low' cross to being a modifier to the cross button - and RB is available. This would allow us to be able to properly gauge the power on the cross, and the 'triple tap' grounded cross could be moved to being just a double tap which is more convenient.

Secondly, I'd like to see crosses be less homing - both assisted and semi crossing do basically seem to just lock onto the attackers' head - and that's really not a very good representation of what crossing is like. Typically the head goes to the ball - not the other way round. A good cross is in the right region at good height.

Corners also suffer from it being difficult to really rip the ball in - the 'double' and triple tap stuff comes into play here as well and they are incredibly awkward - partially because they actually seem to be triple and quadruple tap for whatever reason. LB and RB aren't used for corners which seems mad when a 'drilled' cross in the box is accessed by an impossibly awkward triple tap!

Finally, I think EA ought to rethink the way attacking and defensive positioning is calculated for corners and freekicks. The 'custom set pieces' while in theory a nice idea only work for the attack, and are horribly flawed by their rigidity - and I've only ever seen these used in bizarre, almost ballet like farces. It would be much simpler, and much better to go for a more simple system like the one Football Manager uses where you can allocate the way each player will position themselves. These are nonspecific so they fit to the way the defence/attack are playing. In attack you can tell players to attack near post, or far post, challenge the keeper, hover on the D, go short, stay back and so forth. In defence you can allocate for players to mark the tall man, the most prolific headers, short men, near post, far post, mark the short option, or stay forward. It's simple but it does everything it needs to. We really cannot go another year not being able to dictate the defensive positioning of players on corners.






THE WIDER COMMUNITY
In this segment I will be going through the elements of the community outside of the community I deem to be my audience: The casual gamer, the so called 'non-gamer', the skill-video troupe who many are infatuated with, and the gamers who will not be named. No, I do not fear them in Voldemort-esque fashion - but the forum has a profanity filter.

The Gamer Who Shall not be Named
Before writing this segment, I played 4 matches on XBOX Live - Quick Ranked. I wasn't surprised to have three of them quit on me once it became obvious to them that they weren't going to win. They were typical - choosing the top teams - playing cheaply, scoring cheaply - and then once they were denied their victory, they left before the end. Now, to me this is a cultural problem - it's a microcosm of a selfish, spoilt culture which has no understanding of football and thinks of only winning, at near enough any cost. The only game the player didn't quit, perhaps was the most surprising. I was winning 8-0 by the end, but the player didn't leave. It must take quite a lot to not leave even when you are being destroyed - and this one player is worth more to FIFA as a game than the other three players combined.

There is nothing worse than playing against a player with no care for the person he is playing against - and this is what FIFA's community is absolutely loaded with. It is the curse of almost every highly popular game, and it's something that FIFA as a game does nothing to deal with. It's an unfortunate problem, but it's one that EA cannot get rid of (nor one they would want to). Their community is their community and they are stuck with it - EA need to leave no stone unturned in their actions to prevent exploitation, and anti social behaviour.

Whether it is quitting (see O03), making Clubs a living hell (see A06), or just exploiting every little problem they can find throughout the game, they will do it - and FIFA is currently a game with a lot of problems to exploit. The problem is that the vast, vast majority of the community simply doesn't care. A lot of them do it consciously - and many don't see what's wrong with it. FIFA has a culture of win-win-win. There is no "Good Game", there is no satisfaction from having a great battle with an opponent - it's a constant fight against cheapness which will almost always leave the * (and sometimes the winner too) feeling aggreived. In some ways, I don't blame the community - it's very hard to feel that you've been beaten fairly in FIFA.

This problem isn't going anywhere - EA need to work around it. The majority of their online community is full of people like this. It is extremely noticable, especially on Clubs, that the first few weeks of this game are a much more pleasant experience than the following months. This is due to a number of factors, but one of them is that the demographics playing Clubs at that stage are much more general - the scummy gamers are diluted much more. The problem is, that as time goes on, the scummy gamers take over the asylum - and the worse it gets, the more this will occur. It becomes less and less appealing every day for people like me to play Clubs - because the exploitative gamers make the experience so ghastly.

It is a vicious circle started by the flaws talked about all through this document. EA have a duty to their customers to protect their game from this bulk of users who buy it.

The Skill Video Circus Troupe
One slightly concerning obsession of the community is the 'skills videos', and the 'goal videos' in which you get to watch a series of goals, each more ridiculous than the last. They usually involve at least one skill used over and over against a defender who reacts like a moron, a sweet-spot shot which they'll describe as a 'screamer'. Do we see build up? No (on the rare occasions you do it's pretty much ping-pong passing at its very worst). Every cross, chip and fake is a rabona - and if the player manages to pass the keeper, he'll finish it off by doing some kind of backflick.

This isn't football. It's not even close. It's an insult to the beautiful game. It's not even an extreme version of the Ronaldo brand where occasionally players do it just for the style - it's ugly, it's unrealistic, and it's arrogant. Don't get me wrong, I do not doubt the skill, in terms of playing FIFA, or the video-editing ability or the effort - but this continual worship of stupid skills and exploitation is harmful. This is what people want to emulate? These people? It's not good football or even effective football (they take a small amount of footage from an enormous amount of games).

The question is - can we ever hope to get a great football sim when so much of the community (Marius Hjerpseth's (one of the most famous producers) latest video which came out three weeks ago has been viewed by 165,000 people)) is obsessed with this kind of stuff? EA obviously understands this demographic too - EA have made it clear that they value these members as highly as any and there is a clear connection between EA and these gamers. While EA's communication with us has ground to a total halt - they managed to produce a video interview with three of these 'legends' of FIFA. In my view - the obsession with these videos is unhealthy. Just watching them proves FIFA's failings over and over. Listening to someone talk about "I did two roulettes in a row - and got by two players - then I chopped it, then McGeady turned it, then blasted it into the top corner!" to me sounds like a nightmare - a vacuous and farcical vision of good football.

There is nothing hypothetically wrong with having a community making videos of goals and play, and there are some video makers out there who do keep it more true to football... but I am deeply worried that this obsession with skill moves and arcade, almost FIFA Street style football, will influence the way the game is developed in the future.

The Non Gamer
Perhaps though, the group we should be most afraid of are the most innocent looking - the non gamer. Over the last 6 years since this generation began with the release of the XBOX360 we have seen somewhat of a revolution with console gaming. When the Nintendo Wii released it appeared like an unstoppable hype train and media darling. It has almost half of the next-gen console market share with ~85 million consoles sold to date. Where did these sales come from? Well, some of them came from fans of Nintendo's games - and Nintendo continue to pump out their hardcore first party titles to great critical acclaim - but the market growth came primarily from people who aren't really gamers at all. This resulted in a huge refocus in 3rd party game design to meet this new market. Where the gamecube had the same version of FIFA as the PS2 and XBOX, the Wii got simplified, arcade versions, initially labeled with the 'All Play' tag. These are games which market themselves at the young child and his or her family - and the gameplay suffers horribly for it.

This is the story across the Wii - the vast majority of 3rd party games can only be termed 'shovelware', and Nintendo have gone this direction as well with Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Wii Music. Some of you are probably thinking - "so what, why do you care what they play"? Well the whole problem is not that these games exist - there is nothing wrong with them... the problem is what it is doing the consoles and games the hardcore wants to play

Sony and Microsoft could not help but be coloured jealous by Nintendo's success - and they have followed suit. Both this year brought out their peripheral to combat the Wii's success - Sony with the 'move', and Microsoft with the 'Kinect'. I suspected that both of them might find it very hard to get ground - especially considering how weak the lineup of games for them both are - but I was wrong. Kinect has already sold 8,000,000, according to Microsoft in a very short period of time. Microsoft have managed to out casual the casual Wii just as the Wii's train started to slow. Microsoft's ad campaign has hit the spot - and now a device which really can only be used to clumsily do things you could do much better on an analog stick, and which only works on a handful of shovelware games has sold around the same amount as Microsoft's biggest blockbuster this year: Halo Reach.

So why is this such a big problem? Because the developers who used to produce us great games now make the 'non-gamer' shovelware. RARE, one of the greatest video companies historically, who brought us Goldeneye, Banjo, Conker, Donkey Kong 64, and Perfect Dark... now produce Kinect Sports. But perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg, because you also have to look into what I call the casualisation of games.

Take for one, the biggest selling game of the year, Call of Duty: Black Ops - this is the 4th game built off the Call of Duty 4 engine, three years after the release of the Call of Duty 4. How do you define Call of Duty? Well it's a series of games which have become more, and more casual, more, and more easy to play, and more and more designed to allow poor players to do well each year. This is the genius of the killstreak reward. They allow someone who isn't particularly good and doesn't do particularly well very often to play very negatively, get a few kills in a row and suddenly be doing very, very well. From Call of Duty 4, where there was some kind of balance between the weapons, to MW2 and BO where an assault rifle quite literally is all you will ever need on every single map. This is a game designed to be easy for people who aren't good.

It was a case of a pair of companies, Infinity Ward and Treyarch (under their parent Activsion) turning their back on their hardcore community, failing to listen to feedback, and releasing game after game with more and more sensationalist features than the last - continually making the same design errors and leaving in the same bugs and flaws time after time. It is the typical cycle you see again and again. When a company is small or not doing very well it suddenly needs it's community - because it is very difficult to make a game suddenly popular. When a game is small it sells off word of mouth - games not only need to be interesting for the first 5 minutes, they need to be great for hours and hours. The thing is, once a game has got to its peak market share, it no longer needs its core community, and it ignores them. The games often release with bugs which make the game somewhat or totally unplayable - and it is impossible to even eek a response out of the developers.

Now what does that sound like?

The Gaming Media
Part of the fault inevitably lies with the gaming media, and I put this high on my list as an "Enemy of FIFA". The gaming media is the complicit * to the big developer - and each year regardless of game quality they'll pull a (large) number out of their * - and as a collective they will produce the review scores which will ensure yet another year of great sales. The gaming media, as media sectors go, is one of the most highly bought - and for obvious reasons. Each media outlet is utterly dependent on the large developers to give them exclusive access - and this power is often used by the developer to affect the review score.

There is a nice history of cases over the last few years of developers leaning on reviewers - a gamespot reviewer was fired for not being nice enough about a game - a german magazine claimed that Ubisoft demanded high reviews for Assassin's Creed 2 (or else). On many occasions reviewers aren't given proper access to games - most reviewers played MW2 in paid hotel rooms, some reviewers mentioned this as it broke their ethics policy... most didn't.

You only have to look at recent FIFA reviews to question the integrity of the reviewers. While I am not incapable of accepting differences in opinion, I find it sickening to see so many of them delusively tell us that the game is 'near perfect on the pitch', or to hear IGN applauding as they humbly tell us that while they may have told us last year the game was untoppable, EA have, somehow, managed to outdo themselves yet ago.

I personally do not understand how EVERY review I've read (and I've read a lot of them, the best and the worst) manages to COMPLETELY miss the disgrace that is FIFA's defending. There is only one reasonable conclusion: almost all the reviewers have no real understanding of how football plays in real life - and this is a huge problem. We know that EA care a lot about their metacritic rating - but making a great football game is simply not condusive to getting that rating.

It is no wonder perhaps that EA don't seem to listen to us as much as we think they ought to - when supposed professional reviewers wax lyrical about how the game is 'near perfect on the pitch - CVG', and we'll tell them anything but.

The "I'll pay to win" Gamer
Finally in this vivisection of the community, I want to mention another deeply concerning community trend which has been highlighted by the rise of Ultimate Team - and that is the way that very quickly EA have found a new group who are worth even more money. John Riccitello, the CEO of Electronic Arts today in an enlightening interview with a site called IndustryBusiness that they: "have people who are paying [them] $5,000 in a month to play FIFA Ultimate Team. And it's free. Dirty little secret."

Somewhat surprising how he and other CEO's are so candid about how well they are exploiting people's emotions to get them to spend an added fortune to play a mode like Ultimate Team. You cannot its genius - and this kind of 'freemium' game is springing up all over in gaming nowadays. Get the game for free, pay to do better - and once you add the fact it's a competitive game, you have one of the biggest cash cows of all time.

As conscientious gamers we need to be very, very careful with things like Ultimate Team because if we're not careful we could find our entire game being swallowed by this kind of thing. As one mode it's fine - but if this kind of thing started springing up in the normal multiplayer/Clubs it would be horrifying.

There were in fact, in FIFA 10, 'player boosts' for Clubs, but these at least were designed so they'd only really 'boost' a lesser player - and not have any affect on a high up player. The problem with Ultimate Team is that people are paying an absolute fortune on top of their $60 for very, very little. The game they are getting could as well be free - but they pay a fortune. FIFA 10's ultimate team mode made EA $30 million - which was double what they made with 09's version. FIFA 11's will be meteorically higher still I'm sure - and this has a much higher profit margin than the retail game itself has. If this mode continues to grow EA are going to realise that they are getting an absolute fortune from a very small number of gamers - and those type of gamers are so, so often the type I describe in the "The Gamer who shall not be Named".

Afterall, they are obsessed with winning and having the perfect team with all the stars on it - yet these people are giving EA twice, thrice, many even 10 times as much money as we are! EA cannot help but be attracted by this market more and more in the future. The problem is that almost by design a gamemode that supports people spending to do well will always struggle to coexist fairly with those who are not willing to spend to do well. Nothing can be unhealthier for the community than to be based around a system where skill comes second to a willingness to waste money - and you could argue it's pretty damned unhealthy for the people who are "spending $500, $600, $700 on digital card packs to play Ultimate Team - Eric Brown".

The Casual Gamer
Finally, the 'casual' gamer - the group of gamers who play games, but not a huge amount. They may not have a huge amount of time to play a game and they probably won't want to put a huge amount of time into the game before they can play it to a decent level. They want to pick up a game, and have fun immediately. This is corrosive. As soon as EA decide that they need to make a game which is 'pick up & play' 'immediately fun' and 'hugely accessible' they forgot their old key ethos: "Easy to Play, Hard to Master". A game must be fun, and easy to play up to a point. The extent to which this is true in FIFA leaves us with a randomised game where the less you know about football the easier it will be to play well. It leaves us with a game where the assistance is so heavy that it can EASILY beat out someone taking control over their game.

Satisfying the huge number of casual gamers is perfectly possible without making the game too hard - but it is probably not possible to solve if EA want to continue with this policy of making the game really easy from the word go. If that is true there is no growth - there is no strategic depth - and there is nothing to learn. There is nothing to praise with this gaming culture where you no longer learn to play games - and yet so often I see developers clapping themselves on the back for making the game 'ultra-accessible'.

OUR COMMUNITY
More or less, I define 'our' community as one which is not included to any real extent in any of the demographics described above. I'm talking about gamers who are looking for a great football game which builds itself primarily on realistic values. I'm talking about gamers who care more about football than they do about winning and more about a good game than they do about a brand or a company.

While we are probably smaller than the other demographics, we are still EA's 'core' community, and thus we are still very important to their game. It seems at times that EA no longer care about their core - and I'll get to that in a bit - but first I want to just highlight the elements of this community.

The first point is that this community goes far further than the reaches of this forum. There are MANY people outside of this forum who do not want a super-easy, or arcade, or exploitable game - there are many people who want to see a great football game rather than the mess that we have right now. We must not allow ourselves to imagine we are some tiny, powerless minority even if evidence points to the contrary - as soon as we believe it, it will be true.

I am not going to be convinced by anyone - whether it is the casualite fanboys on this forum, or EA themselves, that there is less than a percent of gamers who buy FIFA who actually care about how realistic the football we play is. If anything, we are the majority of the part of the community that EA does get to listen to. It is an assumption on the part of many on this forum that just because someone buys the game and doesn't complain about it means that they love it. That's balls, and they know it. Some people are more prone to complaining than others - some will do it more vocally from others - and some people are much more discerning with their games than others. But just because someone doesn't complain loudly or care quite so much about the quality of the game does not mean they actually prefer the way it is now to the way our community believes it ought to be. It is a lie that we are constantly told by people, but we must not accept it: people are not going to stop buying this game if the defensive side of this game is fixed. Hell, they might actually ENJOY the defending in this game if they had some part in it! People are not going to stop buying this game because it's made more realistic - people will stop buying this game if it becomes boring. Some might say that realistic IS boring - well then they are admitting that they find football boring. Maybe that is it. Maybe the people who seem to try to impede realism at every step do it because they don't actually enjoy football.

Football is exciting, it's quick, it's fast and it's slow. It can be jawdropping, exhilirating, and gutting. It can make me laugh & scream, and, if my team loses I can feel a hollow sickness for days. Joga bonito. Football is beautiful. It's the beautiful game - but FIFA isn't. FIFA can't be. It lacks the atmosphere, the strategic depth, and the realism to portray the beautiful game. In EA's eagerness to give us a souped-up football it has actually managed to get something far less exciting than watching the real thing. That's all we want - but I'm not sure it's what EA wants. They seem, if anything, to lack the faith in football as a game exciting enough to hold people's attention.

This community has power solely because it has a voice. It has a voice when we talk to our friends about the upcoming football game. It has a voice when it makes podcasts and videos which thousands watch and listen to. It has a voice when the select 'GameChanger' group talks to EA. We may feel neglected - but we are still ultimately privileged because we are the only group which can really explain to EA what we are looking for. We also are the people who start learning things about this game seriously before everyone else - and that is a big tool in terms of word of mouth.

I feel that as a community we should achieve more than we do - and perhaps the most important part of that equation is for us not to swoon at EA's announcements. Though we've certainly been more reasonable this year than the last we were once again to a large extent swindled into believing we were getting something which we weren't. There are plenty of elements to this - our gullibility for one - but I think leaders of this community whether by reputation or position have a duty to the forums and websites to be extremely cautious in what we say this year. Though I don't blame anyone because it's a difficult situation to be in, two years in a row people's expectations have been ballooned by the previews and reviews not only of the industry that I've criticised immensely already, but also the previews and reviews of the members of this community - in particular those who get to play this game early.

Those, like the GameChangers must be careful not to become tacit and voluntary PR agents for EA and FIFA. This community should do its best to keep EA honest - because you can be sure as hell the professional media won't do it. It is deeply unfortunate, because large change is often spurred by the media. If we had good, critical and investigative journalists not fearful of asking tough questions then maybe EA would think twice before delivering an inadequate number of inadequate patches. As it is we are going to have to do it ourselves - and at the center of that has to be the people in this community who are listened to by others, and EA: -

ELECTRONIC ARTS
This section is here to give perspective over the preceding 11 articles. I wrote this not only hoping that people on the forum would take notice, but hoping that EA would as well. I would hope that if they did read it they might really understand the weight of the complaints that the purist section of this community is trying to make. These are not ill-thought out moans and niggles - these are each serious complaints with serious cases. Many of the points made warrant high priority fixes/changes.

I first want to clarify before I get to the rest of this final article that when I say "EA", I do not mean everyone at EA. In truth, it's very hard to know who is meant in each case. We can't know. We cannot know who at EA makes most of the decisions - but I suspect a lot of the decisions we cringe at are ones that the top people on the FIFA development teams do not make. It is quite probable that Gary Paterson or the oft-criticised David Rutter are at fault for much less than they are often accused of being - the point is that we don't know. But we do know that someone at EA is the one making each decision - and that changing anonymous individual

There are some things I have left out of the above articles - in particular there is no mention of the offline modes, and I have made no mention of some of the severe server based issues that FIFA 11 had and is still having - so a word on those. It is arguable that the most common complaints this year have focused on bugs and software design flaws like micro-pausing, or server based issues like the ones that X360 users experience to this day. Because so many of the complaints have focused on these blatant issues, a lot of the constructive gameplay feedback which EA really do need to hear is getting muffled out.

I want to state that I think EA's behaviour this year has been beyond unacceptable. It is both unethical and reprehensible to release a game in this state and not go about fixing it quickly and apologetically. It abuses the trust of your fans - and it continues a long running abuse of gamers. It is hugely fortunate I think for EA that there are none of the consumer protection laws for software that there are for almost everything else. It is clear that FIFA is not 'of satisfactory quality' - one of the UK Sales of Goods Act clauses - but there is no precedent case for software. It is a pity perhaps that EA do not feel it is worth fixing their game - maybe their customers trust is not enough of a reason or maybe they believe that their fans aren't going to be perturbed by the state of this game. I almost have to hope they are wrong. I desperately hope that EA do not get away with what they have done this year - because otherwise there is no reason for them ever to stop.

Enough of that - what about FIFA 12. I guess the point I'm trying to make with the preceding two articles on the various aspects of the communities is that we have lots of demographics of people who to a large extent want different things from their games. One group wants realism, another wants accessibility, another wants to be able to make everyone else's lives a misery. A lot of EA's difficulties and a lot of our complaints stem from EA aiming to satisfy one demogrpahic over another - and it's very difficult. The way that some people want this game to be is unreconcilable with the way I want it to be. I find it hard to believe that a 'non-gamer' could enjoy playing the same game as me. If EA wish to continue trying to make the same game for everyone, they must look to create a realistic game which everyone can play. This can be done with clever use of an assistance system but so far they really haven't achieved that.

The other way is one that it looks increasingly likely EA will attempt: a large array of gameplay altering options or 'sliders'. This can work - but EA need to be wise in the way they implement them. I think it's important that EA build the game to be realistic and then create sliders to make it more 'fun' and 'accessible' for casuals. If it is done the other way round I sincerely doubt that it would ever achieve the realistic game that this community wants. It is also critical that there the way this is translated to the online is comprehensive. We cannot continue having a situation where some gamemodes cannot be played in the more realistic way like with assists. They must also make serious strides in advertising these sliders so that we don't have a situation where people all play the 'Arcade' mode because it's the default.

EA have angered a lot of people this year but there is definitely a way back - but it has to be now. I feel like many in this community who think that this year really is a last stand. I'm not going to continue pouring my heart and mind into a game if EA continues to be insultingly negligent - but I will not go down without a fight. EA could be amazed at how fast they could revive their communities support of them. We're not asking for something inordinate or something unfair. We want a few of the serious issues this game has been follied with for years sorted - and we want a game which actually plays the modes they've advertised. While I may have come up with around 50 detailed and multi-faceted complaints, I think most of us would be happy with some movement on the most serious ones. What we desperately do not want is the promise of overhauls to areas of the games sorely needing of changes, and instead getting features as underwhelming as Personality+ and Pro Passing. What both Pro Passing and Personality+ proved, if anything, was that EA do listen to us. Pro Passing in particular was very clearly aimed at helping with the what was one of FIFA's main flaws according to its fans. It wasn't that they didn't listen to what we wanted which stopped it being a great part of the game - it was a misguided attempt to implement what we wanted - or alternatively a weakness when it came to making the changes. It isn't that we want to see a sudden jump to the perfect football simulation - though we will make suggestions which attempt to do so - it's that we want to see EA at least making significant improvements in the right direction - the problem being that many don't see 11 as much as an improvement to 10 which wasn't much of an improvement to 09 which was probably a worse game at simulating football than FIFA 08. It is not to say that there haven't been great strides - 360 dribbling is something it would be very hard to do without for instance - but the simulation has stagnated since 2007. I strongly believe, and I believe that history shows that if this continues EA will feel the consequences of neglecting their core community.


This message was edited 10 times. Last update was at 21/07/2011 16:04:19



Waterboy

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Awesome and very objective thread. Deserves a sticky in my opinion.


National Champion

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cem_ea_id.LNagy wrote:Awesome and very objective thread. Deserves a sticky in my opinion.

+1

Nice work Xaor, I'm sure EA Sports will take serious consideration towards this.


Waterboy

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EA Sports - Sign him up!


Park Captain

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Very good post - well written and structured as usual.
I like your points on Air Balls and the Lateral Movement of Jockey Pressing.

Just to add to your points on Air Balls - I think they should allow more than one player to lock on (old request, I know). Just as EA ensured us they would do for FIFA 11. The fact they go back on ideas like this seems to support your theory that EA are too cautious in some areas.

Another idea is to allow gamers to edit Man Marking settings on set pieces. Too many times, I have seen my tallest defender with aerial threat abilities being positioned towards the edge of my penalty area.

I realise that allowing gamers (who are defending a set piece) to do custom positions (the same way attacking gamers can do custom set pieces..) could lead to people literally parking 5 defenders and a goalkeeper on the line. But at least spare us the frustration we have when we see players like Pirlo matched up with Alex of Chelsea.

I also think that gamers need to be able to see the opponent gamers' formation on team management section in order for this to work.. online.

Seriously why can't we have man-marking online?


GameChanger

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ps3.rDarkchild wrote:Very good post - well written and structured as usual.
I like your points on Air Balls and the Lateral Movement of Jockey Pressing.

Just to add to your points on Air Balls - I think they should allow more than one player to lock on (old request, I know). Just as EA ensured us they would do for FIFA 11. The fact they go back on ideas like this seems to support your theory that EA are too cautious in some areas.


I wonder why they don't allow this really - it's one of the most irritating things to have a situation when you are defending a cross with three men to their one, and you know that only one of your people is going to be able to defend the cross - even if two or three of them could get to the ball. The 'more than one person going for a cross' does sort of happen in FIFA 11, but it's rare, and it's something you really can't control.

Another idea is to allow gamers to edit Man Marking settings on set pieces. Too many times, I have seen my tallest defender with aerial threat abilities being positioned towards the edge of my penalty area.

I realise that allowing gamers (who are defending a set piece) to do custom positions (the same way attacking gamers can do custom set pieces..) could lead to people literally parking 5 defenders and a goalkeeper on the line. But at least spare us the frustration we have when we see players like Pirlo matched up with Alex of Chelsea.


I think I'd prefer a fairly simple FM-style system - not a fan of the custom set piece thing at all really... never seen anyone use it online except in the most absurd of ways... 9 single file players sprinting towards the goal in. The problem is that the corner system has to be reactive to what the other player is doing - being able to position each player individually won't help much if you have no idea what they're going to do. Ideally you want to be able to tell each player how they should go about positioning themselves - stay forward, stay back, mark tall man, inside post, outside post, go short, and so on.

I also think that gamers need to be able to see the opponent gamers' formation on team management section in order for this to work.. online.

Seriously why can't we have man-marking online?


If I had to speculate - because man marking has to reflect your opponents formation it would take ages. Every time your opponent changes his formation you'd have to redo your man marking to work. Pity that you can't but it would probably take quite a bit of upheaval in terms of the way people had to set up their teams. How could you defend against people changing their formation at the last second to screw everything up for the other person?

Like with custom set pieces it sort of falls down due to its inflexibility. Offline it's fine because you know what you're lining up against and it's not going to change - online I could see it wasting a lot of time for everyone which might be a step backwards.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 25/12/2010 13:23:08



Local Club Hero
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lol not reading that


Park Captain

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cnc4.Xaor wrote:
I wonder why they don't allow this really - it's one of the most irritating things to have a situation when you are defending a cross with three men to their one, and you know that only one of your people is going to be able to defend the cross - even if two or three of them could get to the ball. The 'more than one person going for a cross' does sort of happen in FIFA 11, but it's rare, and it's something you really can't control.


Hmmm.


cnc4.Xaor wrote:
I think I'd prefer a fairly simple FM-style system - not a fan of the custom set piece thing at all really... never seen anyone use it online except in the most absurd of ways... 9 single file players sprinting towards the goal in. The problem is that the corner system has to be reactive to what the other player is doing - being able to position each player individually won't help much if you have no idea what they're going to do. Ideally you want to be able to tell each player how they should go about positioning themselves - stay forward, stay back, mark tall man, inside post, outside post, go short, and so on.


I agree that people use it online mostly in ridiculous ways, but I think it is because of the system's exploitable nature.

If memory serves me well, on PES09 - you could either set a player to man mark or zone mark (both online and offline).
In the context of corners, I think FIFA ought to explore this. Mainly because of what you pointed out (in red). That is to say, the system EA employ is not customisable on both sides (It is Asymmetrical) which is compounded by the limitations of the 1 on 1 lock on system. The attacking gamer has an even bigger advantage if he uses custom set pieces (almost, if not, an exploitable area in the game).

I am suggesting adding customisability to the defensive side of defending corners - if EA are to keep custom set pieces. To reduce this asymmetry (as it probably can't be eradicated). Also, it ought to be made simple.

1) Allow custom zone marking (where you can assign let's say up to 6 players an area to be in) - so I can see Pirlo on the edge of my penalty area rather than Onyewu. Plus, we can limit it in such a way that we don't see absurd numbers in one zone.

2) Allow us to choose set piece zone formations from a list of EA created ones if not our own custom ones. With that, allow us to assign one tactic for each button on the Dpad during a corner the same way the attacking team can.


cnc4.Xaor wrote:
If I had to speculate - because man marking has to reflect your opponents formation it would take ages. Every time your opponent changes his formation you'd have to redo your man marking to work. Pity that you can't but it would probably take quite a bit of upheaval in terms of the way people had to set up their teams. How could you defend against people changing their formation at the last second to screw everything up for the other person?

Like with custom set pieces it sort of falls down due to its inflexibility. Offline it's fine because you know what you're lining up against and it's not going to change - online I could see it wasting a lot of time for everyone which might be a step backwards.


For Man Marking, I hear what you were saying about this taking time (especially if you have 4 different zone marking settings). But the time issue could be reduced if not eradicated by a better user interface. The PES11 interface for formations is so simple now...

But yeh - I hear ya on that one.


Park Captain

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cnc4.Xaor wrote:
If I had to speculate - because man marking has to reflect your opponents formation it would take ages. Every time your opponent changes his formation you'd have to redo your man marking to work. Pity that you can't but it would probably take quite a bit of upheaval in terms of the way people had to set up their teams. How could you defend against people changing their formation at the last second to screw everything up for the other person?

Like with custom set pieces it sort of falls down due to its inflexibility. Offline it's fine because you know what you're lining up against and it's not going to change - online I could see it wasting a lot of time for everyone which might be a step backwards.


Then again, shouldn't you man mark somebody because of;

- Who he is (and what he can do)
- not, Where he is?

Plus set piece man marking is not the same as all game man marking, right? So it shouldn't really matter whether your opponent changes formation or even on custom set piece. I just want man marking within set pieces especially online.


Waterboy

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Hi. I was looking for thread, I was going to make my own 'FIFA 12 Ideas", but I think I can place my points here. Great job Xaor, I agree. So there is my few words:

GAMEPLAY/GRAPHICS/CONTROLS

-The main issue is still and still the ball physics and feeling the players, don't you see and feel that? Do you watch fotball on TV or live? Have you ever played ISS Pro Evolution or PES1-6? You have been going to the good direction with this aspect since some time, but still in your game the ball is too soft, too arcadish, to „FIFish” as I say - I mean flying like baloon, like it would be steered by invisible hand or huge wind (it seems the game is played on the moon) and too much curved, especially during crossing/long pass. It is so unnatural. It is too easy and to quick to build efective action. Playing is nice, but due to this physics I miss „this something” in your game. The ball seems to be made of wool (actually players as well - make them more heaviers, little bit rigid and feelable, you have to feel they have some kg's). Shots should be more powerful, less losing its power. Make it more hard, heavier - something between PES (the ball is too heavy there I think, but I still prefer this physics than yours) and FIFA. Make it more unpedictible, inert. Add more outside shots, crosses, passes (like Ricardo Quaresma) - nice if on request. Just bring more realism and random factor. Also, the ball is sometimes badly curved (mostly during crosses), not matched with foot and body position. It is unrealistic and very annoying. These are main reasons I also play PES series. If you fix this, you have next player by your side in 120%
-The pitch seems to be too small.
-Of course, work on player's models and animations. It can always be better and more. Look at PES4 intro, please. This is perfect. I know this is probably mask put on real match. Animations is weird and rigid sometimes. Let player try to tackle when he is on the ground, etc. Just add thousends of situational animations.
-Graphics should be more photorealistic, less colourful.
-Fix off the ball players movement. Make players more inteligently movable. Watch more matches, how players react. Now is ok, still a lot of better than PES (there are like robots), but please make it better.
-I cannot feel the difference between fast winger and slow central defender. Make it more contrasted.
-Players are sliding on the pitch too much still (like Michael Jackson's sidestepp), which is very annoying and their sprint animation is weird - like they are going to go to the ground (like tower in Piza Very annoying. They should also be heavier, you should feel them more when balancing (ISS Pro Evo.... They should be able to pass the opponent just by proper operating the left stick and sprint button (now actually I have to use L2 + right stick always). Remeber, the play is not only the dribbling.
-Switching the players is ok by right stick, but make L1 + left stick possible to switch to the direction I want as well. This would be something natural. Also, let switch the players whenever I want. Now I cannot sometimes, especially the ball is loose or in the air or after leaving the ball (R1).
-Still ping-pong passing, despite introducing Pro-Passing. I cannot see big difference you are talking about. Let it be like manual passing, with a little assist (PES2011 is good compromise). Full manual is for hardcore gamblers Also, when players round 180 degrees, his pass is too accurate.
-Passes/through passes should be quicker and stronger. Now if I make pass gauge full (assisted or semi-assisted pass/through pass), the pass is too weak very often (especially in penalty area, if I want to pass strongly to the other side of penalty box). I mean the full pass gauge pass could be something like R1 + cross button.
-So, in the controller setup, add every combination for pass/through pass, cross, long pass - assisted power/unassisted direction, unassisted power/assisted direction, little bit assistance, etc. Now I cannot play through pass really ahead (30-40 meters) when I set the through pass as assisted. I can only do this when through pass is set as manual, but then I have to choose direction manually, which not every person like/can. Just make pass gauge more adjustable in any assisted option. Good compromise of this aspect is in PES2011. Or to be fair for everyone - give no variations about steering.
-If player passes with L1, let he do not always request backpass by hand (sometimes yes, but not always).
-I haven't noticed pass by chest yet (also with L1 and also to GK).
-I can see sometimes nice, strong, going straight and more ahead long pass (as Steven Gerrard can). Make it choosable, very high long pass/cross as well (undercut, back spinned - in PES it is R2 + cross button).
-Add more variants of crosses. Make middle crosses and low crosses (2 and 3 x cross button) possible to direct wherever I want and how far I want - far post, centre, near post or even very long cross, switching the side (just like 1 x cross button, but lower). It should be something obvious. And even this not always work properly. Despite I press 2 or 3 cross button, the cross goes high too often. It seems to be a bug, computer does not recognize how many times I press the cross button. Ok, middle cross - one of my ideas is 2 x cross button, and the holding the second time would be how far the ball has to fly. Of course with the direction wanted. Or just 2 x cross button and left stick to direct wherever you want.
-Provide option to cross/long pass very very high (R2 + cross button in PES). Second one on this movie (and some in the middle), however look at all these crosses from beckham and learn how it should be done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gig9p0kGA1o
-Very high cross should be done with backspin rotation, without much side curving, suspednded in the air. „Soft slow cross” as I call this - it would be useful to give the players more time to get to the area or to pass in this way outside the penalty box for long distance shot. Moreover, it could be also done with 2 x cross button. Then the ball would fly little lower than 1 x cross button, and slower than just 2 x cross button without button (which you want) responsible for very high cross. It is good to see this in PES6. R2 is the button there.
-Sometimes when I want to cross/pass near the line, player tries to head the ball. I understad he tries to rescue the ball sometimes and this is nice, but very often this is not needed and there is enough time and place to cross. Fix this please.
-Bring possibility for passing player to run forward after he made through pass (maybe after long pass/lofted through pass and heading pass as well, after goal kicks, feee kicks, throw-ins). In PES it is R2 after pass (also through pass) as you probably know this. It would be also useful as first touch 1-2 pass (alternatively for L1 + pass), now sometimes player switches after pressing L1 + pass button for example.
-Putting the ball ahead by right stick (I like it, very useful and enjoyable) should be more precise (360 degrees), fluid and faster, not stopping the player's pace (the ball is going unnatural, like it would lose its power too fast, of course depended to his agility, technique, etc. Make it available by chest or with rounding the opponent as well sometimes (or both) if the situation is proper and the player capable to do this (Wright-Phillips). It could be longer if hold very long, there should be more lengh options - remember Bale's run against Inter from half line, when he tap the ball 40 meters ahead?
-Sprint button should move the ball more when players receives the ball (now there is no difference if he receives the ball with or without sprint button), but less than with right stick (which also could be longer if I hold the button very long time).
-Handballs with premeditation, handballs during sliding tackles, handballs stopping the ball going to the empty goal (red card then), fouls in the air, shirt pulling, more fouls animation, etc. Animation when player shields hisbacks his hand behind in the penalty are, to avoid handball. Maybe on request. Of course make handballs reasonable, not every handball should be indicated as now.
-Fouls faking assigned to any buttons' combination (ex. L3 + R3, which are unused). And then yellow cards mostly for using this during the game. This is present in PES2011. Nice, bur of course not mendatory.
-Stupid penalties, free kicks too often if slide tackle or small push is made. Fix it.
-Referees' signals are bad (ex. goal kick - it should be shown by referee's hand to the 5yard box, corner kick show from 2/3 lenght of the pitch).
-Yellow or red card sometimes due to shot/pass/sliding tackle/any play after whistle maybe. Or other unfair plays (interrupting quick free kick, etc.).
-Ball hits referee too often.
-Let the ball hits players sometimes and injury then (head, balls. Player blooding and returned with bandage on head, leg, hand.
-Why I cannot make 1-2 pass (or L1 + pass) beeing GK?
-L1 to order the player without the ball to sprint is great. I would go more ahead – we could be able to show direction when the player should run (eg L1 + right stick or R3 + right stick or something like that). Maybe some button to order to come teammate closer to the player who has the ball would be nice as well? Time of holding L1 to choose, which player have to sprint (nearest, farest) would be great.
-Every trick should be able to do with first touch. Great and something obvious addition. Even I can make ex. roulette or cross over turn (C. Ronaldo - I would admit the animations of this trick is real bad - look at PES2011 how it should look, actually it could be done just by right stick directed properly, without L2) with first touch, despite I am not a big star The question is the quality, but I can always to choose if I want with first touch, right?
-Make player to be able to pass-by defender just by proper steering. Now I have to always make some tricks by right analog with L2. FIFA has been always „trickish”. Change this.
-I have noticed, if the score is ok for me, I can pass the ball from defender to defender and just wait for the end. -Improve AI, especially during defending. Make AI learnable.
-GK holds up the ball too long sometimes, despite his team is losing.
-If GK have ball, but did not catch it, let him to catch up the ball by some button (L3 or R3). Maybe you could always catch the ball, even after defender's pass (indirect free kick then). It would be great fun.
-If GK catches the ball, let him throw through by triangle, more ahead of receiver. Then make R1 as leave the ball.
-If GK has direct kick ability, let he can choose he wants to kick more ahead, quick or rather on target man head.
-Players' head blooding and after treatment bandage on his head.
-Different lenght of socks (totally down, normal and on knees).
-Shirt's style dressing (loose, half-loose, get to the shorts).
-Collar lifted up it team have this kind of shirt (possible to edit - like Eric Cantona had).


SET PIECES

-Set pieces editor is great, but please bring defending orders during set pieces as well. I want for example Crouch to mark tall striker (individual marking orders during free/corners/throw-ins would be great as well) or small defender go forward and wait for counter attack then. Let the GK go forward whenever we want (maybe BACK button - morover, in team is losing now he goes forward only when corner kick, he should also go when free kicks is being taken). Throw-ins editor would be well seen as well.
-Make AI defenders during free kicks/ corner kicks more reliable. Now I can set up my free/corner kick and computer always is shaked then.
-Why, if I chose one of the corner/free kick variant, I cannot change the taker?
-During free kick/corner kick I want to cross by the ground whenever I want, I cannot now.
-Penalties - lob in each direction possible should be implemented. I prefered FIFA10 penalties system, but this is individual. Think about taking penalty like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gi98iEziKQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z-pJ6t52BQ&feature=related
or penalties like in Major League Soccer some time ago (one on one with the keeper from half line). Make possible to interven GK even before shot and go from post to post. This could be nice and giving great fun. I would like taking penalty on 2 tempos (like C. Ronaldo) to every player, just if we want. Think about other tricks during penalties. Let the keeper go forward and then penalty replay indicated sometimes. Think about other moves. Just make penalties as great minigame.
-Shot option from corner - I know I can do it by cross button, but shot would be stronger.
-Give possibilty to pass to 360 degrees from free kicks/corners, wherever I want. I would like to pass back for long distance shot or just pass back, but I cannot now. Something obvious.
-Quick throw-ins surely are needed (ballboys then sometimes), as free kicks. Maybe quick goal kicks as well.
-Possible to add rotation (like in free kicks and corners) during goal kicks.
-During especially long throw-ins let me steer the player (on the pitch) just after the thrower starts his run. Now I can do it after he throws the ball.
-When I switch the player during throw-in, then let me switch to which I want (right stick).
-Give possibilty to select the thrower and long throw special ability visible (like Riise).
-L1 + pass during free kick (goal kick as well) - I want to free kick taker run forward after pass. And actually all the possible plays,like during continous play.
-Indirect free kick when GK holds the ball longer than 6 seconds.
-Add possibility to set the rotation from goal kick.
-Let move GK during setting the wall. Free wall making, which player you want to be in the wall, maybe set before the game. Just like in Football Manager (or maybe in FIFA Manager - I have not played yet
Yellow card for delaying goal kick and free kicks. Throw-ins for opposite team due to delaying.


SOUNDS

-Music is nice, but this is less important.
-When stadium speaker says „The goal scores Wayne...” and „Roooney” should respond the crowd as well sometimes. Of course not always. Bring some variety.
-After infos about goalscorers, substitution, cards, etc. from speaker, ovations or whistles, depended to who scores and being changed.
-A little louder, bassed noice of kicked ball would be nice.


OTHERS
-Let the player warm up behind sideline and goal line, especially if you set the substitution, but the game is still going.
-Technical referee with digital board with the players are going to go to the pitch, of course during continous play (if you, or computer, set the substitution during play). And let the coach looks like real. And the players on the bench as well.
-Add other people at the stadium (photoreporters, ballboys, etc.).
-When you change the tactics, let the coach give the orders from the sideline.
-When I want to take revange after friendly game, do not start match, but please let me change the tactics, squad, etc.
-Please let set up camera angle as in PES6. And then the steering should be
-Scrolling is, like always, bad. Fix it finally. Next thing I really don't like. It should be more fluid, smooth.
-More national teams (where is Serbia, Ivory Coast and many, many more?) and stadiums please. Maybe clubs as well, but I think it is enough (of course always can be more).
-More preset cups (ex. Africa Cup of Nations).
-Menus are actually ok, but in tactics it should be visble height, etc. without pressing any button. Look how it is made in PES6 (also very useful hexagon showing player's abilities). Now I have to press a lot of buttons to compare players and see their stats.
-Choosing the team could be by L1-R1 (clubs or national teams), L2-R2 (which divison or continent) and d-pad (team).
-Nets are ridiculous, unrealistic. Look how it looks in real life. It should be different types of tensions, suspension (2, 3, 4 or more holding stripes), net's eye, etc., like at real stadiums. If there is small net, holding sticks should be nearer than for bigger net. Guys, what is wrong with you? Also, if the ball going to the net, it seems the net is made of metal. Make it more loose. However, the nets on stripes looks like it is too loose You know what I mean, fix the nets please. Oh, I forgot - the sound when ball touches the net is horrible. Change it or remove. Morover, I can hear this sound when the ball does not touch the net, but the post. Fix this bug as well.
-Live and dynamic weather with different intensity of snow or rain.
-Mud, puddle or snow stopping the ball during rain, but not in the same places each game and wet pitch sliding the ball, makes low shots more effective. Actually I cannot see the difference in ball moving between rainy and snowy weather.
-Pitch degrading, snow disappearing during match, but not scripted, really depend to where the play has been mostly present.
-When it is snowing, let the ball be automatically yellow or orange.
-Why I cannot choose any weather or day/night for some stadiums? Make all combinations possible, this is very incomprehensible.
-Faces are very ugly, not matched with real mostly. Biggest stars are ok, but a lot of well known players are not similar.
-Training challenges, but not mendatory.
-During training let me choose the squads and tactics (also for opposite - reserves).
-Scenario mode (setting totally freelly - cards, minutes from match is going, weather, squads, tactics, etc.). Nice additions I think, but of course this is minor.
-I remind you, if extra time starts, it does not have to same sides like at the begining of the game. Side are chosen again. So, maybe coin throw as well?
-Power gauge possible to switch off separately for each gambler.
-Let during training camera be set by the player, as during the game, not default.
-Switchng the players during replay by right stick.
-Change request from injured player, but not on only cutscenes. Let the human player try to see this by himself.
-Let supporters have shirts like footballers (mostly 1st kit, but also 2nd and 3rd).
-Separately shirt, short and socks to choose.
-Low (Rui Costa, Pedro Munitis) and high (Henry) socks.


SUMMARY

Well, the game is really, really nice. Surely for FIFA fans the game is perfect - great graphics, inteligent move-to-move animation, freedom of creation, everything is so fluid, everything is at the highest level. You have made big jump. I like it too, even more than PES2011 (because PES2011 is too weak, not you as good as I wish), but I still miss the most important thing, which you have been always having problems with - proper ball physics and feeling the players. This is really big aspect of each game (not only football sim). Ask everyone and they told to you the game can have not so great graphics, many options, etc., but has to have realistic physics. Make the game more European, less American. Make it real hard simulation. Your supremacy will be unquestionable if you fix the physics. Make it more heavier, with better feeling of the ball and players. And fix scrolling. I keep my fingers crossed for you.

Cheers,
Michal


National Champion
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Joined: 15/09/2010 07:59:48
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^^^ To the guy above, nobody is gna read all that after the OP. I suggest you remove it and make it on another thread because Xoar kinda made this one for himself and he is defenately gna add more....


I can't wait to see your AI section... I just cant stand off the ball movement in this game, its soo.... scripted. Like they always take the same paths over and over again. There is no such thing as checking in and drawing defenders, even when it says free form the only thing free form about it all is the wingers always changing positions.

They don't know how to read space, and especially when you have those players that try to jockey your passing options out, your teammate doesn't make an effort to actually move!

The AI doesn't pay attention to there surroundings and thats a huge problem. Especially with triggered runs (which are absolutely dreadful), always in a straight line and they never try to hold their runs just in case they wont recieve the pass, instead they just keep on running.

I would really like to hear your input on off the ball movement.

Great post and very well constructed.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 25/12/2010 14:46:59



Part-time Contract
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Joined: 25/12/2010 01:04:19
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Great post. Especially with the Stamina
FIFA 10 was hopeless
one of the last few games I played before getting my FIFA 11
was against Barca
Messi ran the whole pitch like 1000 freeking times!!
I was 3 down by Half time
I won the game at 6-3 so that was a plus
but back to topic
The stamina is a little better
But I think I prefer FIFA07 stamina
It was my first FIFA game and it had the best stamina system IMO

add me PSN Timbone07
if u want a game
HE SHOOTS HE SCORES



BEST GOAL EVER:
http://www.ea.com/uk/football/videos/ugc/67242254


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Joined: 16/09/2010 05:17:19
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Regarding Air balls I know how you feel. Happens all the time.

Like in this video, Instead of my guy in front jumping he just don't bother and the guy behind the attacker jumps instead.
http://www.easports.com/media/play/video/57055765



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