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Xaors Corner: A Belated Introduction


?To see all previous Xaor’s Corner articles, click here.

I’m going back to the beginning to write what I should have written as the first Xaors Corner article. I should have explained who I am, what I plan to use the fortnightly articles for, and made a number of disclaimers about what I am writing. So that is what I’m now going to do to stem the flow of aggravation and antagonism which has resulted in a misunderstanding of my motives and beliefs. A lot of this comes with the territory but I think it’s worth me taking this time to try to deal with it.

When I was offered this slot to write for FSB on a fortnightly basis, I started thinking about what I could write about. I wanted to write things which weren’t the same-old-stuff and things which could make a difference. For me, that means not regurgitating the lines that the mainstream media output about FIFA’s perfections, and thus I decided to focus on trying to present detailed and well explained feedback to a wider readership. There is simply only so long that one can focus on the good things – because what is right is nowhere near as useful for feedback as what is wrong.

The downside of this is that in focusing almost solely on the negative I have given an impression that more or less everything I feel about FIFA is in fact negative. This is not true – if it were I simply wouldn’t bother. If I didn’t see a lot of potential in FIFA to be a great game, or plenty of willingness on EA’s part to continue to improve FIFA, I would never spend anywhere near as much time creating feedback as I do now. But FIFA and EA have done so many things right in the last few years that it does seem worth it to me.

They’ve been innovative and daring in creating new modes like Ultimate Team and Clubs, and equally daring in making response to user feedback a core element of their design strategy. The GameChanger programme I am lucky enough (and grateful) to be a part of is a core of that, and it gives this community a chance to experience FIFA before release and to give feedback directly to EA.

Not only do I believe that spending time writing about FIFA is conducive to improving the game – something I really want to see happen because of how much it would improve my, and others’ gaming experiences, I also really enjoy doing it. I like writing and I like thinking about gaming – and I hope that people enjoy reading what I write and discussing the same things I do. So that’s why I do it, and it really is that simple: It’s clear that we can make a difference, I want to make a difference, and I enjoy doing it, and this is why I focus mainly on negatives: because it’s much more pertinent to point out and explain what is wrong and what would be done to it than it is to point out what is right.

Though I focus on the stuff which I believe is wrong, there is plenty I believe to be right. FIFA has not won its enormous popularity from being a bad game – it does some things very well and earlier in this generation I was enamored and overawed with its qualities.

FIFA’s animations are superb – and the importance of this is often overstated and understated. Some mistake good animations for realism, but equally some argue that animations are an almost totally aesthetic quality. FIFA’s great animations lead to it being a much more believable game of football – and it often makes its competitor look embarrassing in this area.

That believability is also seen in the physics which have gone from strength to strength in recent years: FIFA 12’s shooting physics are the best ball flight physics I’ve seen in any football game. Not only that but FIFA has pioneered in gameplay developments like 360 degree dribbling, and analogue sprinting – both features that improve the freedom of gameplay and also both things that the community fought hard for – or the manual settings which have given me such joy in exploring what truly free football is like.

FIFA is a huge game with an enormous breadth to its features, especially online where Ultimate Team (even though I have little interest in this the technical achievement and innovative idea excite me) and Pro Clubs are at the cutting edge of online gaming. There is a lot in FIFA I like, and most of the things which brought me back to the franchise with FIFA 08 are still there and in almost all of the above areas FIFA is still unparalleled as a football game or a sports game. But while I think all of these things it does not stop me from feeling that the game could be enormously better, and that’s why I spend time giving feedback and trying to persuade people to those causes.

You may or may not agree with how much I like FIFA – that is a subjective question dependent on how much you weigh the importance of certain areas of the game against others, but that does not mean there cannot be a discussion about what is wrong and what is right in an objective manner.

So when I come to write about FIFA I want to spend my time on the things which are most likely to result in the positive changes I want and the positive changes I think much of the community wants. I don’t think that this is something that anyone should be offended by – I’d like FIFA to be better for everyone and I genuinely believe that is a very feasible goal. So I will write about what I think matters most, and generally this will be about what is not right. I will try to improve by making it clear what I feel about things before going into diatribes, but simply put if you aren’t interested in detailed constructive criticism then you are never going to enjoy reading what I write, and that’s absolutely fine with me as it should be with you.

I don’t want these articles to be a collection of monologues but rather a discussion which readers can engage in – it’s not easy given the blog structure but I do want to read and reply to comments, especially those which don’t agree with what I’m saying, assuming they are well written and justified comments. What I’m not willing to put up with are shedloads of ad hominem attacks and insults – good discussion is built on mutual respect. I’m happy to start afresh: but I am sorely tired of trying to justify why these are being written as opposed to what I have written about, which is why I’ve written this.

In two weeks time normal service will be resumed, and while I have many ideas of my own I am also interested to know what others think is worth looking into – so if you have any good ideas of what a future article could focus on I’d like to see your suggestions – the same goes for any constructive feedback about the articles in general.

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