By Joe Nickolls, Line Producer
When we set out to re-create the FIFA STREET franchise, we did a lot of focus group testing and research. We found that making both the players and the environments photorealistic went against the kind of game people wanted from the FIFA STREET franchise. People were asking for a game to play with their mates that felt and played like an arcade experience. So for us, it simply didn’t make sense to try to re-create a FIFA 08 look in a game like this. So after a lot of research we set out to create a new game look while creating a new gameplay engine using the technology from NBA Street and the FIFA 08 game engines
The first question we considered was where would people think it would be interesting to play a street football title? The usual places like Brazil, England, etc came up right away ” so we tackled places like that first. We used the movie Ginga as an inspiration for where people were likely to pick up a ball and play ” and that turned out to be ANYWHERE! If you have some room and a ball, you’re set. One of the first places we chose was Riverside. This is a European locale on a bridge overpass. There’s a river running alongside of it and the rest of the city sprawls out in the background. We also made the decision to not “wall the whole play area”, as it’s just not realistic to have “invisible’ walls. The ball can, and will go out of play from time to time ” but not enough to impede gameplay.
We have included 7 places to play, with an additional 3 places available to download. These places include Beach, Rooftop, Mediterranean, Samba, Shipyard, Riverside and Oil Rig. The Oil Rig level was one of those places that people really have no business playing football ” but it would be cool if you could. And that’s what is behind some of our choices. You see FIFA STREET 3 is NOT a football simulation like FIFA 08. It’s an arcade experience based on skill moves, over the top action and unique presentation. It does have a very robust engine though, and the players make use of their skills in each environment. There are places with lots of walls to bounce shots and passes off of, which adds another dimension to the game. One of my favorite moves is to lob the ball up over the goal and have another player come in with a diving header off the rebound. You can’t do that in a green field in a simulation game ” but you can in FIFA STREET 3.
One thing we missed out in prior titles was to give representation of an Asian level. For that we created our rooftop play area. With real estate being a premium in places like Hong Kong and Tokyo ” we drew inspiration from the many rooftop playing surfaces in the city. Our Rooftop level feels a bit like Blade Runner meets downtown Tokyo in its styling. And there are advantages and disadvantages to playing there ” as some walls are able to be “played-off” and others will send the ball 50 stories down to the street!
The environments also have an element of life to them, from moving foliage to the flame jets on the oil rig, giving each environment its own vibe. Running up the fence in the beach level will have the fences “giving way” under the weight and will move accordingly. And during gamebreaker moments, you’ll see the entire area come to life as it moves with the music in game.
The key to our environments is that it’s an alternate reality. Our players are stylized to complement the animations and action in the game, and as a result, the environments must match the players in it. When the animations were applied to photorealistic players and environments, the feedback from our research indicated that gamers wanted a more colourful and vibrant place to play. And the players had to look like they belonged in that world ” so that’s the path we chose. We sent a photographer all over the world with a digital camera to find interesting places to play, and the material we got back showed a wide variety of places and surfaces to play on. We then hand modeled all of the buildings and gave them a slight “geometric twist” so that nothing felt linear and level. Add in the audio that varies from each place, and you’ve got a place to play football that you haven’t seen before.