Interview with Paul Hossack

Paul Hossack is the line producer of FIFA 09 for PC & PlayStation2 platforms at Electronic Arts. FIFPlay got a chance to interview Paul also this year but for FIFA 09, here you can read this interview:

What is the difference between FIFA 08 and FIFA 09 … is FIFA 09 Next-Gen for PC?
Paul Hossack: There are 3 main things that will really jump out when you pick up 09.

First, the gameplay has changed in a number of ways that give it more depth for the true FIFA fans. We completely re-wrote the collision system to give the game a more realistic sense of physicality. This included motion capturing more than 350 new animations so that every collision could properly consider the direction of the players, the speed of the impact, the location of the impact, while taking into account the strength of the two players involved. We’ve also added a lot of depth to the one-on-one situations. The shielding system is a ton better as your player will actively protect the ball. The new system considers the shielder’s strength and quickness, and well as that of the defender to determine the outcome. I find shielding really useful now to hold up play for a second or so while I wait for my team-mates to get open. We added 4 new skill moves, two of which are performed from the standing position (scoop turn and rainbow flick) – they are great to pull right after a shield. We also tuned the acceleration rates of players with and without the ball to better reflect the fact that the ball carrier has the edge when he makes a move b/c he knows what he wants to do, but the player without the ball can run faster as he doesn’t have to control a dribble.

Second, the graphics have taken a huge step forward. Better graphics was the number one request we heard for FIFA 08 feedback, and you won’t be disappointed. We have done a lot a work getting the graphic quality up to the same level as the 360 and PS3. The player faces, the skin, the kits, the 3D grass all look amazing!

And finally, there are a couple PC-specific features we added. When you first boot the game, you’ll notice that there are a bunch of widgets on your menus when you are connected online. These widgets are constantly pulling down the latest information from the Internet about your online stats, the number of people online playing FIFA 09 right now, and my favourite which is called “Favourite Club” which shows your real-world stats and info about your favourite club. I’ve a Liverpool fan and I can read the latest news stories straight in FIFA 09 PC when I click on the news story title links in my Favourite Club widget. The other PC-specific feature we added was a new control option. In addition to pad or keyboard, now FIFA 09 gamers have the option to use the mouse + keyboard to control their club. It’s kind of like FPS controls (WASD to move, point-and-click to pass, shoot) meets FIFA. It’s a really fun way to play once you get used to it. It allows keyboard gamers to have manual passing and manual player switching. We even added one control unique to this config – you can send a team-mate on a run to a specific location on the pitch with a click of a mouse button. Once you master this, you can create some sublime passing build-up.

Is FIFA 09 players/teams database bigger than FIFA 08’s (can you tell us how many players and leagues are there)?
Paul Hossack: For database authenticity in FIFA 09, rather than just add more leagues we focused on making the player data dynamic. For FIFA 09, we are introducing a new service called adidas Live Season, which will update player form in-game every week based on how players perform in real world matches. I am very excited about this new service (available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) because now FIFA 09 will play like the real world, changing every week. The service will cover the 08-09 seasons for the EPL, French Ligue 1, La Liga, the Bundesliga, the top Italian division and the Mexican league. Although it is a premium service, we are letting all FIFA gamers pick one of the 6 leagues to get for free for the entire 08-09 season. We’ll announce the pricing if you want more than one league shortly. What I can say is that the prices will be reasonable one-time fee for either an individual league or the full-league bundle.

How about Argentinean and Russian Leagues, are they in the game?
Paul Hossack: We still have 30 leagues, over 570 teams, etc. in FIFA 09, but like I said above, we really focused on adding a new dimension to the leagues that we have in the game.

Did you hear to the fans voices about their ideas for FIFA 09, before developing the game (at we got 15,000 ideas for FIFA 09 … did you check them)?
Paul Hossack: Every year when we think about what to put in the next version of the game, we definitely look at lots of community sites and forums, read the reviews and play the game a lot. You’ll notice that a lot of the features in FIFA 09 are some of the top fans requests. The leading-edge graphics that PC has this year is a direct result of gamer requests.

Play online improvement … new features?
Paul Hossack: The big change in online is that we replaced the old match-maker system with the same online system you saw on 360/PS3 last year. It is a really nice step forward with Interactive Leagues (now including Rival matches to give you more chances to play), and Online Leagues. We’ve also worked on remove some bugs and improved the stability of the experience.

What do you plan to realize in FIFA 10?
Paul Hossack: Tricky question – you know I can’t talk about that yet. 🙂 But rest assured that we will look at the feedback on FIFA 09 for ideas of what matters most to gamers, which drives what features we work on.


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