Tim Schirner and Brad Porteous Q&A
Eurogamer: There's been a lot of talk about the Wii hardware and how much people can actually get out of it. Care to comment?
Tim Tschirner: It's about as powerful as the original Xbox. The video hardware unfortunately is not as powerful. There's just a couple of key things that you can do on Xbox like shaders which you just cannot do on the Wii. It's unfortunate in the sense that for a lot of things we can actually use some of the current-gen code, and other solutions that already exist in the building, where people have already come up with, for example, a shader for the pitch; we kind of have to re-implement this now, but can't use shaders and have to find a different way to make it work. Overall though it's pretty much what the original Xbox was.
Eurogamer: But presumably it feels worthwhile overcoming those obstacles for the sake of what the Wii can offer?
Tim Tschirner: Well, other than the rendering aspect it's been very straightforward to write code for. I think from a creative point of view it's been awesome working on this platform because there's obviously stuff we couldn't do before. It's a great creative challenge for designers to take an existing game like FIFA - that's been around for so long and has a very established, quality control system - and now try and reinvent that.
Eurogamer: The counterpoint to that is that it's reinventing the wheel. A lot of criticism of Wii ports has been that they're quite contrived. How do you feel about that?
Brad Porteous: We've tried to make sure that all the gestures are close to the real thing so they're easy to remember. And adding gestures just for the sake of it obviously doesn't do anyone any good.
Tim Tschirner: We could have gone crazy and just added, like, 25 gestures into this but it just didn't make sense. At the same time though we didn't want this to feel like it's just a port and that we were just throwing in some Wii controls. We found that we had a great opportunity to provide a different spin on playing FIFA, but also introducing a lot of new consumers to FIFA as a series.
Eurogamer: Right. A lot of people do see it as a way of broadening the demographic.
Tim Tschirner: Yeah. I mean, what Nintendo has been doing with the Wii is great; saying they're going after 5-to-85 year-old people; trying to broaden the market and get people to play videogames who have never in the past. That's certainly been true in my own circle of friends. I have friends who usually don't play a lot of games - Guitar Hero aside - but ever since the Wii came out, there's a lot of games they've been playing. They feel they don't have to be afraid of videogames any more. And that's a bit of a philosophy that we wanted to get into this game as well - that people don't have to be afraid of finding the control scheme overwhelming or overly demanding. And then on the flip-side, we wanted to make sure that long-term FIFA players would find everything they love in the game still in place.
Eurogamer: How do you think EA's done educating players in their Wii games so far?
Tim Tschirner: I think in the games we've shipped so far there's been some good stuff. Madden last year did some stuff that we took our cue from. They've done that really well. American Football, for me, takes a bit of time to get used to, but with the Wii Madden it not only helped me pick up the game but also learn a bit about the sport itself.
Eurogamer: I found Tiger slightly confusing because what it was measuring was slightly different to the stuff it was describing in the tutorial. Are you mindful of that sort of thing?
Tim Tschirner: I think the final judgement is going to be when the game's out, but what we have and how we laid out the football academy it should be okay, and of course with the in-game tips as well - every time you get yourself into a situation it shows you what action you need to perform on-screen, which is something where we're trying to take a page out of Nintendo's book in terms of how they educate players in their games.
Eurogamer: Sorry to go off on a tangent, but can you tell us about online in FIFA Wii?
Tim Tschirner: Sure. There'll be match-up, leaderboards, message board. It's just two players - you can only connect two Wiis online, and then it's one player per Wii.
Eurogamer: That's that then. Er. What would be the standout title for you so far on Wii in terms of the way the controls are implemented?
Tim Tschirner: I enjoyed Super Paper Mario a lot, but not really for the control aspect so much.
Eurogamer: Bit of a sore point for us, since it's not out in Europe yet.
Tim Tschirner: Yeah I can imagine. I think Wario Ware was pretty cool just in terms of what they did with all the controls - the variety of things. Wii Sports - there's a lot of possibilities in there. It's deep if you want it to be.
Eurogamer: Yeah. Some people criticised it for the lack of depth in control, but in actual fact it worked well for the simplicity of the controls married to the depth of gameplay.
Tim Tschirner: Some of the controls in SSX Blur, I thought were brilliant - the carving stuff. I think actually most of the controls in Madden were really balanced. One of the challenges of course with FIFA is that it's a game that you usually play with your feet, and aside from the throw-in there's almost no real gesture you do with your hands.
Eurogamer: Apart from holding up an imaginary yellow card to the ref.
Tim Tschirner: Yeah. Yeah! That actually would be good [laughs].
FIFA 08 is due out on Wii this autumn. Impressions by Richard Melville. Interview by Tom Bramwell.