Interview with EA Sports FIFA Database Group

Here you can find the questions from the community asked on FIFA Database Group, the group which is in charge of collecting players and clubs data for the FIFA game.

Q- How do you collect the data for the database?
A- We use a community of data editors who gather all of the data related to each of the leagues, teams and players that we have in the games. Our community of editors is based all around the world, primarily in the countries that feature in the games. The data is collected using a web based tool called the World Web Editor (WWE). As the name suggests, the tool is used worldwide and our editors around the globe enter data via WWE. This data is then integrated into the various football titles that EA produces.

Q- What type of data do you collect?
A- We collect data for all players and teams we have in our game and also gather reference pictures for all players to help create the huge range of player heads in the game.

The most challenging data to collect is player attributes and traits as this data has a significant impact in game so it has to be as accurate as possible. As well as the players and team info we also collect data for player assets, accessories, team formations and squads, league info and much, much more.

Q- Give us some stats about the database this year; how many teams, players etc?
A- You may have seen the PR guys saying FIFA 08 was the biggest game we’ve ever done; this year’s game features 15,000 players, 576 teams and 30 leagues.

Q- Do you ever add attributes or get rid of them? How do you decide on the attribute changes?
A- The database currently has 35 attributes. The wide range of these attributes allows the players in our game to be as realistic as possible. We’re always trying to improve the attributes every year to make the player’s behave as authentic as possible in game.

Sometimes attributes are removed to reflect the changes to the AI, while new ones can be added are also added which helps to improve the AI. We communicate with the game team and AI team to help improve the way the attributes are used in our game. It’s crucial that the teams and Data Collection are aware of what is needed and how it can be changed so the data is as accurate as possible and to make sure it is being used correctly.

Q- If we look at FIFA 08, when did you start collecting the data for the game?
A- For FIFA 08, we started to collect new data and tune the existing data around March 07. Our web editing tool is always live and we are constantly collecting and updating data throughout the year.

Q- How do we use the attributes?
A- One of the most important aspects of creating an authentic football gameplay experience is to create players that look, move and play like their real-life counterparts which is why the attributes we collect are so important. We use all the attributes to calculate the overall ability of a player and every position has its own formula. Each attribute is weighted and its importance is based on the player’s position. For example, attributes like “Markingâ€?, “Tacklingâ€? and “Headingâ€? are more important to the overall make up of a centre back than a winger.

In most cases, this calculation is a mix of physical attributes (Strength, Speed, Stamina, Agility etc.), mental attributes (Positioning, Vision, Tactical Awareness etc.) and the skill attributes (Crossing, Dribbling, Short Passing, Tackling etc.).

Q- Once the game has shipped what do you do for the next few months until you need to deliver a new database for the next game?
A- The Data Collection group constantly improves the database and the different tools we need on a daily basis. We also participate actively in pre-production and post-production with the development teams.

When the game is shipped, the Data Collection group focuses on the player transfers as well as keeping an eye on the players to ensure that the data is as up-to-date as possible. We deliver two major database updates each year; the big one for the summer transfer deadline and the winter transfer update in February.

Q- Who collects the data? Where do you get all the experts from?
A- The data is collected by our community of Data Editors. The Data Collection group currently has more than 100 editors across the globe that collect the data we require for the game.

These guys are football experts, passionate about football as well as football games. Their knowledge helps us collect accurate and realistic data. As well as the Editors we have more than 300 Data Reviewers who provide extra feedback on the WWE data. Every year, the Data Collection group hires new Data Editors and Data Reviewers from all around the world to increase the size of our ever expanding community of editors.

To help with hiring and processing new applicants we use a web-based tool called Talent Scout where candidates can apply for the different editor or reviewer projects that we offer. These applications are reviewed by the Data Collection producers on a daily basis. The link to apply for these projects is published on various websites around the world, we’ll be releasing the link for this shortly.

Q- How do you collect the data? Do you have any contact with the clubs?
A- The data is collected by our Data Editors. The data is collected through various sources such as the internet, TV, and magazines. Many of our Data Editors have season tickets for their teams and also have some contacts within the clubs.

Q- What is the hardest bit about working on the database?
A- Some leagues and teams don’t have a lot of resources and it can be very challenging to obtain accurate information. Language can also be a large barrier for some countries for example it’s hard to research a team in China if you don’t have anyone who speaks Chinese. The low exposure of certain teams can make our task quite difficult at times so it’s always great to get new editors for all around the world.

The Database People

Questions for the Producer, Bruno Amata

Q- Describe your role as a database producer?
A – The database producer job is really varied and changes depending on where we are within the dev cycle. After a game launches we spend time reviewing the database, our editors and our tools to make sure we’re in a good position for the next game. As we get closer to the database delivery deadline we spent a lot of time reviewing the data, balancing it to make sure the players and teams are accurately rated and have a feeling of realism in the game.

It’s a constantly evolving role; as the game design changes we have to change with it to make sure we’ve got the right tools and people to delivery the best database possible

Q- How did you get the job? What skills are required?
A- Bruno: I started to work at Electronic Arts for the Localization team where I was tester, senior tester and Assistant Development manager. During that time I worked on titles like Total Club Manager, FIFA and World Cup 2006. After 2 years of experience at EA I was keen to get into Production, especially in Football titles.

A year ago, I applied with the Data Collection group to become database producer. Project management and working with tight deadlines are definitely required skills to secure a position with the group but more than this; my cultural background, knowledge and experience with the world of football are also valuable assets. Football is also my passion and dealing with data everyday requires a huge commitment to the world of Football.

Q- What is the best part of working on the database?
A- We are able to have a direct impact on the game and this is very exciting. This role offers a clear visibility of a development cycle and how the game works and is made.

We interact with different teams and groups within the studio and we also need to follow as much as possible what is happening in the world of football like player transfers for instance. Our community are great at updating us with all the latest moves and transfers. We spend a lot of time getting to know these guys and dealing with them on a daily basis increases our knowledge and helps increase the game’s authenticity hugely.

Q- Do you find it hard to follow football living in Canada?
Not at all, I would not live here if I could not watch football! Cable TV has a number of football channels with some great coverage of the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, LFP, MLS, Mexico…pretty much any league you can think of.

Q- Who is the best player you’ve ever seen.
A- I personally think Michel Platini was the best player I ever saw. He was a smart player and, despite the fact he was midfielder, he scored lot of goals. He was excellent with his right or left foot, headers, volleys, long shots. He was also the master of the free kick. I haven’t seen such a complete player since him. Zinedine Zidane is also a player I admire but this is a different period and football in the 80’s was a total different game, tactically, technically and physically.

Q- How do you interact with the community?
A- Each producer keeps in touch with the Data Editors and Data Reviewers on a regular basis. Email is the most common way we communicate with our editors due to the time difference between Canada and other countries. We also use other instant messaging services; we mostly use MSN to chat live with our editors though.

Questions for Data Editor (Spanish Data Editor: Lino)

Q- How did you get into the role as a managing editor?
A- I spent several months as a user on EA’s official forum, providing patches (kits, balls, etc), support, etc. for FIFA games and the forum administrator contacted me to offer a database editor project for EA Sports football games after passing some tests.

Q- Why do you want to be an editor?
A- I love football in real life and I have played the game series on computers since FIFA International Soccer 94 so working on the data is a total pleasure.

Q- Why do you want to work on FIFA (or EA Sports Football titles)?
A- As a fan of the game, I love helping to make it realistic and perfect as possible.

Q- What do you get out of the experience?
A- This is teamwork with people with a huge knowledge about football history, statistics, tactical and technical data all over the world. Besides the database part, I’m learning a lot about languages and cultures from another database editor.

Q- How do you go about researching the teams? Do you spend all your time watching football?
A- In the beginning, I used a lot guides and newspapers, but it became basic stuff. Now the internet is a great tool to research data since you can find information on the websites, asking on forums, even watching highlight videos on streaming TV. I spend much more time than before, even on foreign leagues.

Questions for Data Reviewer (Belgium Data Reviewer: David De Myttenaere)

Q- What does the role entail?
A- As a Reviewer, I provide feedback about the teams I know. I have access to the Jupiler League (First Division in Belgium) data and I can give information about clubs (name, website, colors, transfer budget, aso), about teams (formation, tactical preferences, key players), about players (personal info, contract info, body type, attributes, career info). I can’t edit these teams or players in the database but I can give information that will be reviewed (and updated if it is valid) by the Editor.

Q- Why do you want to be a reviewer?
A- I have played FIFA games for many years and I want to improve it by giving information about the teams I know.

Q- How did you start as a Reviewer?
A- In October 2007, I check the FIFA 08 website and I saw EA was searching for people who wanted to improve the game. As I know many things about the Jupiler League, I applied to become an editor for this League after giving them a bit of basic information about me. After EA quickly answered me I went to the next stage where I have to give a bit more information and then complete an editing test. In this test, I had to update information about six well-known players and to create two real players from scratch. Once I’d completed this test the guys at EA reviewed my data and then asked me to become a Reviewer which I happily accepted.

Comments (1)

One thought on “Interview with EA Sports FIFA Database Group

  1. Hello, I don’t know who or if anyone will read this, but I would really love to know if it was possible for me, in any way, to see a complete database of every FIFA game created (with informations like the players, their clubs, leagues, general statistics, etc.). I thank whoever reads this and hope to get an answer soon.

    From a big fan that wants to do a school project about your games.

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