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Exclusive:: UEFA Euro 2008 - Lead Producer: Simon Humber

by Steven Williamson on 4 April 2008, 12:58

Tags: Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), Sports

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Do the Peter Crouch 'Robot'

Yesterday, HEXUS.gaming attended an EA event for the upcoming football title, UEFA Euro 2008 in which we had a chance to play the game in some depth and sit down with lead producer, Simon Humber to ask him some probing questions.

We'll have an in-depth review of the game early next week, but in the meantime check out the interview in which we find out what has got Simon 'Umber' Humber 'hot under the collar' and discover how exactly EA plan to ignite footballing passions in the UK, following the elimination of our beloved Nation.

HEXUS: When England were knocked out of the European Championships was there a moment when you thought “Oh God, who in the UK is going to buy this game now?”
Simon There was definitely a moment like that. We watched the Russia game early one morning at the offices and we took the lead early and couldn’t believe what happened in the second half. But, there’s part of the market that cares about England being in the tournament, but there’s a more significant part of the market that just wants to play the best football game. Euro 08 is released half way between FIFA 08 and FIFA 09 and when the best football game on the market is sitting on the shelf, why wouldn’t you go and pick it up? Why carry on playing FIFA 08 or PES when you could be playing something that’s better?

HEXUS: One of the cool new features this year is interactive celebrations. How many different types of celebration will there be and will you be able to execute trademark celebrations, such as Peter Crouch’s ‘robot-dance’ or Lua-Lua ‘flips’?
Simon There are two types of celebration. When you put the ball in the net you retain control of your player so you can run around the pitch. As you’re doing that there are around 14 different types of celebration, from a simple Shearer-style arm raise to holding your hand up to your ear.

HEXUS: Can I put my T-shirt over my head or dive into the crowd?
Simon We’re a few years away from that I think. You have control of your player and as long as your team-mates don’t catch you and you stay within the confines of the pitch you then get to do an ending move. So anytime during the 10 seconds spell when you celebrate you can trigger one of these moves. Most of them involve using the right stick and the shoulder button and there’s about 25 different combinations, ranging from simply going down on your knees, to sliding on your chest, up to the acrobatic back-flips. You have to press the ‘X’ or the ‘A’ button at the right time to land it ,other wise you just fall on your arse and look a bit stupid.

HEXUS: Can you tell us more about ‘Captain Your Country’ mode? I understand you can play with three friends on the same team, but you also compete with each other for captaincy. How does this work?
Simon It’s an interesting dynamic. There will be four people playing in this mode, regardless of whether its friends or AI and you can choose any of the players on the pitch or create your own player.

If you create a player he gets his own snapshot and a commentary name which you can attach to it. We’ve actually recorded some of the most popular surnames so you’ll hear these during the match. They messed mine up though, it should be ‘Humber’ but Clive Tyldesley pronounces it ‘Umber’, someone’s going to suffer for that!

You get this interesting dynamic between playing for yourself and also playing for your country. So, during the game there’s a real time match rating on the screen. Each time you do something good, a good pass or a good shot for example, your rating goes up, but each time you give the ball away your rating goes down. So the manager looks at these ratings and works out who is going to be the captain for the next match.

You begin the mode in the ‘B’ team regardless, then you need to go up levels, there are 8 levels in total. So you go from a International ‘B’ friendly to a qualifier, then you might get selected for the finals, and so on. So at any time one of the four might be the captain.

It’s similar to the capture the flag mechanic in first person shooters. You’re trying to capture the flag, but you’re also trying to make sure that your team wins. We had a game once where we were winning 3-0 and one of the guys went clean through on goal, one-on-one with the keeper. If he had scored that goal we knew he was going to get a higher rating and probably take the captaincy, so we just clipped his heel, sent him flying. Okay, so it’s strictly football, but it’s within the confines of the game mechanic.

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