With the new footie season well and truly kicked off, it won’t be long before the fans out there are clamouring for an up to date digital kick-about on their home consoles. And just like clockwork, you can expect Pro Evolution Soccer
to come and save the day. FIFA has had some radical changes to its system a couple of years back, which has been well received, and now the 2008 edition aims to expand upon those features that were loved in 07, while throwing in a few new modes for good measure.
When SPOnG got a hands on play with the new iteration of the football game for current gen (that really should be called ‘last gen’ now we reckon) consoles, we managed to speak to Paul Hossack who’s the guy keeping the entire project together. Here’s his take on the beautiful game.
Thank you for joining me, could you just introduce yourself to SPOnG and how you got into video games? What was it about games that made you want to make a career out of it?
My name is Paul Hossack, I’m the line producer on FIFA 08 current gen, which is the PS2 and PC platform. I’ve been making games for four years now exclusively on FIFA, so this is my seventh version of FIFA. I started with the Nokia NGAGE, we did a version of FIFA for that up to the launch version of the PSP and I was the online producer for FIFA 07 current gen. So I spent my days and night last year putting interactive leagues together.
That’s a history of my career at EA… how did I get into video games? I quit my job in Toronto, drove out to Vancouver and slept on my brother’s couch for half a year while I desperately tried to get into the video game industry and into EA. It paid off.
Working exclusively on FIFA games, you must know a little bit about its history and how it’s evolved over the years. What’s your view on how it has evolved?
Yeah, I think – FIFA’s done some great things in the last couple of years. We’re really starting to bring out products that we are happy with and are going in the right direction. [FIFA] 06 was a bit of a turning point behind the scenes so it was a bit more of the fundamental layers of the game, but that let the 07 team do a lot of cool things.
Our guys last year did some things with the ball physics, the shooting model and the passing model. And those three things made the game feel and play a lot better than it had in the past. Especially with the on-the-ball experience, the attacking experience. And where we’ve picked that up this year and moved forward is to try and expand on some other parts of the game, especially the defensive side and positioning was one of the things we worked on this year.
How difficult is it, with FIFA having as many iterations as it has over the years, to try and think of new concepts such as the ‘Be a Pro’ mode?
It’s always a challenge, but luckily that’s my job. So, it’s difficult but it’s what I love doing. You mentioned the ‘Be A Pro’ co-op season, which is the big new mode that we’ve added this year, and that came out of exactly what you asked there. We’re been making the PS2 FIFA games for the past six or seven years now, we were asking what else can we do; has it already been thought of?
So last fall I sat down with the team and I asked them ‘so wait a second, what haven’t we done yet?’ We realised that people play the game a lot with their friends – they play on the couch and always against each other. We thought ‘maybe there’s something around spinning that dynamic so it’s not just playing against each other’. You know, what if it was something players could work co-operatively together on? And that’s where the whole ‘Be A Pro’ co-op season came.