The gameplay isn’t the only part of FIFA 12 getting more than a typical yearly facelift. The career mode is set to give diehard fans greater depth than any previous installment, and with new features like player morale and opinion factoring into the transfer equation, the development team is hoping an average week in a season is both exciting and realistic.
“This year we added some new stuff, giving the game much more of a mind and a soul,” Simon Humber, creative director for FIFA 12, told PlayStation Universe. “The thing lacking last year was the motivation to play week after week,” once the transfer window closed, he said.
One of the primary goals in FIFA 12’s career mode is to create interest in each day and week of the season. “We likened last year’s career mode more like being a rich person who has their own private zoo,” Humber said, “you can buy all the animals you want, you get to look at them, and that’s it.”
In real club soccer, he said, players have opinions and feelings about their team or how much time they get on the pitch. In FIFA 12, your players have their own opinions on where they rank in the club and this will have an impact on his loyalty to the club. “So one [scenario] would be a player wanting more time, and if you don’t play him more, he may ask to go on loan or ask to get transferred,” Humber said. Rather than becoming a rich manager and hiring the best players, you’ll have to spend more time paying attention to how your squad feels about their positions and roles. This could manifest by having three strikers constantly vying for the starting lineup. Eventually, the player who sees the least play time will grow irritated.
In its current iteration, the system does not match real life players. Humber said there wasn’t enough time to go that in-depth, but just like FIFA 11 introduced more realistic player physical traits, it’s not farfetched to believe real-life player personalities could someday factor into in-game morale.
Player morale is based on several factors, including how well the team is performing, which led EA Sports to loosen manager assessment expectation targets. Other factors impacting morale include player contracts, and there is a stronger emphasis on how players, especially up-and-coming players, react to offers and contracts. For example, Arsenal’s Samir Nasri may reject a lengthy contract if it’s offered to him when he’s not frequently on the starting roster.
This approach to player morale will have a more direct impact on team structure and transfers. Humber said many people are used to selling off players and keeping 22 in their squad. Energy recovery has been tweaked to correspond with stamina this year, making players with low stamina less likely to perform well playing two games in one week.
“The morale aspect and stamina and the fact players have their own minds means you probably will spend more quality time in the transfer market,” Humber said.
Transfers also received a hefty tweak in FIFA 12, he said. Player values are more accurate than in previous games, and player potential now factors into their purchase fee. The CPU will also put bids on players you have listed for transfers and bids are no longer limited to your budget. You will also have the ability to buy players after a loan deal.
But the most dramatic feature in the transfer window is how FIFA 12 makes a special day of the transfer deadline day. On this day, the hub changes and time passes in one hour increments (instead of by day). “You’ll find desperate deals,” Humber said. “Any CPUs that haven’t purchased what they wanted may throw big money out there,” he said. “That brings a very dramatic end to the transfer mode.”
To reflect all these changes, EA Sports reworked the hub screen for career mode. Humber said in-game press will pick up on player morale, and they will speculate (as they do in real life) about what’s going on behind closed doors. The press could indicate another club is interested in Nasri and at some point he’ll have to decide to stay and sign a new contract, or say he wants to leave. That decision could extend to the team’s board if the manager decides not to take any action.
EA Sports put even more emphasis on the media with the new Talk to the Press feature. Humber said this is a way for managers to interact with the press by either interjecting some virtual trash talk or hyping players before a big game. This could help boost team morale, dash your opponent’s spirits, or it could blow up in your face. This feature will not turn a bad team into a great team, Humber said, but it could give a slight edge, especially at home games. In FIFA 12, the home team will also have a slight advantage, also like in real life.
Humber said we shouldn’t expect delayed load screens with the all new hub, which also includes more day-to-day news. “If anything, I think it’s quicker than last year,” he said.