FIFA 08 PS2 developer blog #01

The second and much more complicated AI system I wanted to talk about is the defensive AI. I play and enjoy FIFA 07 a lot, however sometimes I felt helpless and let down by the defensive positioning. Compared to real defenders, they were lacking some essential skills. They were not able to judge threats properly, they stood too far away from their checks and when a teammate was caught out of position, the defenders had no concept of covering for him.

In FIFA 08, we gave the players an increased defensive awareness. Some of our Engineers started calling this “giving the defenders a brain”. As a result, you will notice that the positioning of the players is significantly improved. For example, when you run one of your defenders out of position in order to support an attack, you’ll see another player covering for him on defense until he is able to make his way back. Defenders also seem more alert and dynamic because now they stick their legs out when they are trying to block passes, and they attack the ball possessor more aggressively.

One problem with working on a system like positioning is that minor changes can have huge affects on other subsystems – things like passing, support runs or even the fatigue system. So the positioning system needed to be constantly balanced against changes we would make in these other systems. This is pretty important because changes made in positioning probably have the biggest impact on the speed and flow of the game.