Sebastián Enrique is the Lead Producer on FIFA 15, the head honcho who takes the lead on the game in the famous EA Sports soccer franchise. He’s an enthusiastic guy with a smile you warm to quickly– maybe it’s the passion with which he talks about the game. Clearly, he’s not alone; soccer courses through the veins of its fans, and its this passion that Enrqiue seems to want to convey through the FIFA game, something he definitely impressed upon me during our interview.
During the recent EA press event, where he showed off the game, Enrique detailed every inch of the game, talking about how he’s traveled the world to see games, how fans behave, and how differently the sport is experienced, depending on the country. His work gives him this luxury, travelling around the world to see the game, much to the envy of most fans.
But with this privilege also comes great responsibility. Sebastian Enrique must create the best football simulation ever. As much pressures as the players get on the pitch, its as if Enrique gets just as much when it comes to the popular video game. Honestly, I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Enrique, and I had the chance to speak with him about his role in creating the game, and what we can expect with FIFA 15.
To begin, can you tell us exactly what your role is in FIFA 15?
I’m the Lead Producer of the FIFA 15 video game, which means I’m directly responsible for the game. If it goes wrong, it’s my fault, and if it goes well, it’s all thanks to the team [laughs]. On top of working with creative directors and people dedicated to design, I’m also responsible for the game’s design as a whole, from the project itself, to leading the team.
What you’ve presented today is basically structural changes in the game, controls and graphics. Every year, FIFA is being refined more and more. Now, it’s reaching a point where it’s getting more difficult to improve each time. To what extent is there room to continue at this rate of improvement?
Every year we have similar questions. “They’ve done this or that, what will they do next?” And I can assure you that we have a huge list of things we want to do or want to try. At the same time, we listen to what the community is telling us, what they want to see in the game. Every time we watch soccer, week after week, we continue to see things that we don’t have and that we want to add to the game.
When we start out each year, we combine all three and use them as building blocks for that year. Then you realize that those ideas would build three or four FIFAs. At the end, we have to reduce all these ideas but still find a sufficient number of innovations to make a significant jump in quality from one year to the next, making it more playable, with more depth, better graphics, appearance.
There will come a day when we’ll run out of ideas, but for today, there are still plenty.
This is the second new-generation FIFA. How have you improved this year?
The main thing that happens in the first year of new consoles is that the game has to work, and work well enough not to let the player down. There are constant updates to the console, to the software, plus you won’t be working with the final hardware.You’re constantly adjusting to these changes. Besides that, you’re building the basis for future tools. It’s difficult to do what you want, the way you want it.
In the second year, in this case FIFA 15, you’ve already got a more robust knowledge of the workings of the console, and you’ve created a database of tools. For example, last year we rewrote all the visual graphics, so we can continue this year by giving depth to that and really starting to exploit it. In this vein, in the second year you can start doing the things you wanted to do when you were thinking about the extra power of the new consoles. And so that’s what we did.
From everything you’ve been able to teach us today, what’s most important in your opinion? What sets FIFA 15 apart from previous versions?
There isn’t one single thing you can say that has “completely changed the game”. It’s the combination of all the things we do, either gameplay, or artificial intelligence, total immersion, graphics, the comments, cameras– the combination of all the details is what makes a good soccer game. That’s how I see it.
But there must be something you’re particularly proud of, right?
There is one thing that I’m particularly happy about. Something that is pretty “wow”. But we haven’t announced it yet. We can talk about it in August if you want.
There are lots of things we can’t talk about. We haven’t seen any of the game modes, or the leagues. Can you tell me something about the online aspects?
[Laughs] No, no, no. Sorry. I can’t talk about that either. In the first tour, all we do to tell people about the new FIFA is to show gameplay, nothing more. But this year, there’s also the leap in graphics, the emotional leap (which is very important), how the field is deteriorating– I am very happy with the graphics, with the new improvements to the physics, ball movement, the flags, and how the goals move when the ball hits them.
Yes! I have seen these animations. There are more animations for the small movements from the players. It helps makes everything more fluid.
Exactly. We put special emphasis on this. The main focus this year was playability, control and response. We’ve created many “contact” animations, as we call them. For example, when the player is lifting the ball from the ground, you have more flexibility and accuracy on the move, or when turning. Shorter, quicker steps were created, as well as animations with the ball and without. They’re all animations that give the game better range and make it even more playable. It’s more sensitive, and so players can enjoy being more in control.
Are there specific features for PS4 or Xbox One?
There will be some small differences like last year, where Microsoft platforms had Xbox Legends for Ultimate Team mode. There will be some differences between the three platforms (Xbox One, PS4 and PC), but they’ll be minimal. We’ll tell you about those differences in the future, as well as the common features. There’s much more to be announced.
One last question. Can you comment on any other new features from Ultimate Team?
It’s the most important FIFA game mode, and apart from the fact that there will be more cards, I can’t comment much more. In the future.
Okay, okay. Thank you very much for having us, it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for coming!
Want to know more about FIFA 15? Don’t miss our first look at the game.