Pro Evolution Soccer 6
14th Sep 2006 | 09:00
Pro Evolution Soccer is a genuine footballing legend, we've simply lost count of the lunchtime hours of joy, frustration and thrilling footballing moments that have been played out on the mighty PES series over the years.
Of course with Pro Evolution Soccer 6 now making the leap to Xbox 360, the mighty footballing franchise is moving onto the next generation and we hope, securing a whole new wave of fans for our favourite footy franchise. So it was with great pleasure we recently sat down with Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka the mastermind behind one of the finest footballing games ever created to hear his thoughts on how the series will make the generational leap and a whole lot more.
In a fascinating and at times quite candid interview, Seabass discusses the series' epic move to the 360, reveals details on what he plans for the future including the possibilities of Master League online and tantalises us with the possibilities of 11 versus 11 multiplayer via Xbox Live.
Going deeper into the PES universe, Seabass also talks about the new PSP version of the game and what he learned from PES PSP mark one, discusses the ultimate control method for PES and PS2's Dual Shock versus 360 gamepad, how what he saw in this year's World Cup directly influenced the design of PES 6 and whether he will ever be be able to create the ultimate version of PES.
Basically it's absolutely essential reading if you consider yourself any kind of PES fan, so with the teams in place and the ref about to blow the whistle, without further ado, let's kick off...
Perhaps we could start with an overview of Pro Evo 6 and what you feel the main advances are for the series as it moves onto the next generation and Xbox 360?
Seabass: Well as usual, what we're working on most is upgrading the AI. What we found and what we did was we tweaked the computer AI's attacking mentality, so you get a totally different feeling of how they attack you. And of course the defenders, the positiioning of the defenders, that wasn't really what we were aiming for [in the last PES], so we brushed that up too. Of course the UK and European press always criticise us about our goalkeeper AI and so we tuned this too, so we're a little bit more satisfied now. And so hopefully all these tweaks will satisfy the players of PES 6.
In terms of the move onto the next-generation and the Xbox 360 version - what challenges and opportunities has that presented?
Seabass: Well first of all there's been a kind of confusion and we apologise for that. We didn't actually mean it's 360 exclusive forever. We just meant that for this year it's only exclusive for 360. So from next year onwards we will create for other platforms. The 360 version? Well of course everyone is probably demanding upgrade of the graphics, making them more real. And of course upgrade of the AI, making it more real in that aspect as well. And since there's a high demand for that, we are of course up to answering those demands.
This time as a first shot, I think we've done pretty well, however we still have many, many more areas to explore and challenges to explore, for instance we want to do work on Master League a little bit more in the next gen and also the online aspect of the game. We have much more to explore in those areas and those are our main challenges for the year to come.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the 360 version is the opportunity for Live multiplayer - could you tell us something more about your plans for the online version of PES 6 360?
Seabass: Well Xbox Live is wonderful in terms of online infrastructure and it's a wonderful online playing experience itself. What we plan to do and what we think will be a challenge for online is - well we were never really satisfied with the current version of the online mode - and we know the users won't be satisfied as well.
We probably have to break up all the things we have built online, probably create something new from scratch, but we have already started to do that and it's like, what we're trying to achieve is like all your modes and all the modes you have in a normal online first-person shooter, and we want to do that and give the users that feeling, like they're playing the most sophisticated and online titles.
We'd like to give the users that feeling when they play our game as well. This is already happening and from next year, or even sooner, I think we'll be to show you what I'm talking about.
Once we've addressed those core areas, I think we can go into multiplayer and maybe not 11 versus 11 next year, but something close to that. Apart from that we would also like to also experiment doing online leagues, online tournaments and things like that and maybe online Master League mode as well. We are prepared to that and we are determined to do that and well try and present this to you in the very near future.
During our lunchtime PES sessions, most players opt for the PS2 version of the game, because we consider the PS2 Dual Shock as the ultimate controller for playing PES. How does the 360 controller compare - and does it present different challenges?
Seabass: Well if I say this I might upset the Microsoft people, but our feeling is when you play the 360 version you don't get the same play feeling as you do with the PS2 controller. We think this is a very big issue and we think this is very important when the users play the game. Of course we are talking with Microsoft constantly about this issue and the current play feel you get with the 360 controller is a little different. So what we're doing is of course we're not just talking and crying about it, we're doing development and research and making sure that the control feel - even if you play with a 360 controller - you get a similar feeling that you got from the PS2 or PlayStation controllers.
Microsoft recently said they may do a 360 controller specially tuned for FPS's with more sensitivity and more feel, is that something Seabass might embrace in Pro Evo?
Seabass: Well it's a very interesting story and of course we're always intereted if they create new controllers. When I was talking to Microsoft the biggest thing was that they didn't realise how important the D-pad was - especially to the Japanese players. I realised actually that reverse shock, where the European players used the analogue stick more than I thought. So both we and Microsoft were shocked about this, we were talking about this. Whereas in the past you could connect the PS2 controller to the Xbox, now I' ve heard the Microsoft will probably not allow this in the 360 versions, therefore we can't cry about this, we just need to continue the research and development on the controller aspect and we'll keep on trying to improve this.
Pro Evo 6 is of course coming to PSP too, what are your plans for the handheld version of the game - and what did you learn from the original PSP version>?
Seabass: Well the PSP version, of course the previous version was PES 5 and this time it will be PES 6 and the PSP version will be based on the PES 6 engine. When we looked back after releasing the PSP version last year, we of course noticed the difference in the play feel when you play the PSP version, it's totally different to the PS2. I explained before about PES 6 on the other formats that we tweaked the controls - this was actually because we looked back at the PSP and we realised there's a big control difference.
We took this back to the drawing board then redesigned the control feel and the play feel and that's the biggest point I'd say from what we learned from the PES 5 version. Of course everyone knows the PSP and PS2 control is not similar, although it looks similar, it's not really similar. But there are games out there which have great controls even on the PSP hardware. So we think we shouldn't stop developing or trying to adjust, so that you get a good or the same play feeling when you play the PSP version.
Now we're quite close to that and probablty in the near future we will probably get feedback from the PSP control feed back to the other formats again so that this will be a good cycle we can form in the future.
Moving slightly away from PES, how did you enjoy the World Cup this summer and did you learn anything there which fed into the design of PES6?
Seabass: Well yes, I went and stayed in Frankfurt and travelled throughout Germany and watched five matches, it was really great fun during the World Cup. Of course we were infuenced by the games we saw and while we didn't have a plan at first, we went back and tried to import what we'd learned into PES 6. To give you some examples: the middle shot that we saw in Germany was quite different so we put that into the game and also the speed of the short passing, we actually tweaked that. Of course the team stats were also affected, teams like Germany, we didn't think they were going to do so well, but they were a really good team and we actually made Germany much stronger than we originally planned as a result.
Pro Evo is an ever evolving series, but do you think you'll every be truly happy and create an ultimate version of the game, which you're truly happy with?
Seabass: Well probably this will be a never ending story. The cycle goes like this; a couple of years ago I wished that I could do this and I could do that, and nowadays it possible to do those things I dreamed of and it's possible to accomplish my vision. However now there's always new things or things that I'm more frustrated or picky about, it seems to become bigger and bigger. When you look at real football and you get the impression that you want to do this and that better and this satisfication grows and grows - although we accomplish some of these goals, year after year the things on my list they just keep expanding. Even now when I'm doing interviews like this, I get inspired and think I want to do this or that - or maybe I can't do this or that - I'm always fighting with this even when I'm doing interviews. It will be a never ending story.
So good luck with developing our favourite football game - and we'll see you in Dublin for the PES European championships and a real game of football!
Seabass: Well every year we get old and our real football declines and we should try to practice as much as possible and we're looking forward to seeing you and playing against you in Dublin.