Seabass: 'We Still Make Games in the Same way as on SNES'
We speak to the PES mastermind about his latest offering on the eve of its release.
by Alex Simmons, IGN UK
UK, October 15, 2007 - It's not every day you get to play football against a videogame legend. We're not talking a virtual kickabout either but a proper boots 'n' ball mash up, but that's exactly what happened at the annual PES Euro Final in Seville last week. While the greatest PES players from across Europe competed to be the Euro champion, a handful of journos (including yours truly, playing for England) from across the continent competed to see which country really is the king of football.
In between stints in the nets playing for the Japanese all-stars team, we took Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka to one side to find out how the development of PES2008 has gone and what we can expect in the future. And in case you're wondering, England beat off stiff competition from the Germans and Dutch to take the trophy for the second year running.
IGN: You described PES2008 as "the best PES yet". If that's the case, where do you go next?
Seabass: I've already started on the next version because I have new next-gen ideas I want to include in the game. The Pro Evolution / Winning Eleven production team is brilliant to work with. However, I know that there are many weak points that need concentrating on and in this sense I've already started to get my team working on them, to make my next-gen ideas come to life next year.
Seabass: a demon between the sticks.
IGN: When you say "next-gen ideas", what do you mean?
Seabass: I cannot say at the moment.
IGN: What about the weak points then - what do you think they are?
Seabass: They're not so much weak points with the game, more within the team. Our team has good points and bad points but the problem is the way we create the game is almost the same as when we made the SNES games. We've been creating games in the same manner for many years and in that sense it's good for upgrading AI and so on. However, if we want to dramatically improve the graphics and add hundreds of new stadiums and so on the SNES way of making a game cannot be applied. This is the weak point I'm speaking about and that's also a hint about what you can expect from the next game.
IGN: How difficult has it been to create PES on PlayStation 3?
Seabass: Because of the weak points on the team it was really, really difficult to create PES on PS3. The workload has been massive, not just on PS3 but across all the next-gen, and that has been the hardest thing to overcome.
IGN: When you're creating a new Pro Evo game what aspect of the game - AI, visuals, etc - do you focus on first?
Seabass: The team is split into several groups, so working on AI, some working on graphics, and they're each responsible for coming up with new ideas and upgrades. Everything we do is always viewed from a user's perspective so when a new idea really meets a user's needs we give it the go ahead. However, sometimes ideas get dropped because they're not that important at the time so they carry over. So we don't just focus on one area, we have lots of ideas which we compare to see what works best.
IGN: PES makes its debut on PS3 this year. How satisfied with the game are you compared to the Xbox 360 game?
Seabass: This year the 360 and PS3 versions of the game are exactly the same so I'm satisfied with both. I think it's a good start.
IGN: In the PS3 version we've played we noticed some slow-down in the game, plus the crowd and stadiums aren't as polished as some of the on-pitch features. Will you look to rectify this in the next game?
Seabass: Of course. To be honest I don't think the slow-down is that bad compared to the 360 and as I said, we don't create just a PS3 game, we created both together. But when we compared them directly we were shocked because the PS3 has a little bit more slowdown and we don't really know why.
IGN: Which version do you prefer?
Seabass: I like both, but I don't really like the 360 pad that much. But then I don't really like the PS3 pad either - it's too light and the triggers don't feel right. I have been thinking of ways to only use two shoulder buttons instead of four so it would work better on PSP as well as 360 and PS3. I'm still looking into ways of using the L2 and R2 buttons less.
IGN: One feature that has already divided the opinion of the fans is the ability to dive. Why did you feel you needed to include it in the game?
Seabass: It's been something I've wanted to try over the past couple of years and this year we decided to include it, so it's not just a quick idea we chose to include at the last minute. We've already experimented with it on numerous occasions and we've played around with it a lot, so it won't affect the gameplay as much as maybe you think it will. Like other elements in the game it's a skill you need to learn to use, to master the timing.
IGN: Will we see another Pro Evo on PlayStation 2?
Seabass: We will keep releasing PES on PS2 because the majority of consumers still play it on that machine. It's still going strong and I think it will for the next year or two, so we wouldn't want to let those users down. Also, we would like to keep adding new elements to the game on PS2, although that will keep getting more difficult.
IGN: What's the inspiration that drives you to make new games and at what point will you decide it's time to hang up your boots?
Seabass: The inspiration that drives me is when I see my work and realise it doesn't have all the features in the game that I want it to have. As for retiring, if someone comes along who has the same - or even better - ideas then maybe I'd be happy to hand the reigns over. But until that time comes along I'm very happy to keep PES moving forward.
UK, October 1, 2007 - Considering he's the brains behind the critically acclaimed Pro Evolution Soccer series, Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka likes to keep a low profile. Indeed, when the PlayStation 3 version debuted at Leipzig in August it was notable not because it was the first time PES was playable on a next-gen Playstation, but because Seabass wasn't there to show off his highly-anticipated baby.
But, despite his knack for steering clear of the limelight IGN was granted an audience with the man that made PES, to talk about what we can expect from the next in the series and what elements of his games make him most proud.
IGN: What are the main additions to PES 2008 over PES6?
Seabass: Obviously, it will be the first next-gen format on the PS3. Since we started on next-gen formats last season we have finally had time to make big changes that are much more noticeable in the game. For example, visually it's clear to see we changed a lot. We also redesigned the menus, plus the models of the players are much more beautiful. Players will notice that right away.
We have also introduced our new Teamvision AI. This is a sophisticated AI programme that learns and adapts according to the player's style of gameplay.
IGN: Can you explain how the Teamvision AI system learns from the way people play?
Seabass: If it's attacking AI, when you get the ball back from the CPU it will remember how you did it. So, the next time the CPU attacks, it will do so differently, maybe passing the ball around faster or changing the timing of dummies. When defending, the Teamvision AI learns how a player prefers to attack and changes its tactics accordingly. For instance, if a player often attacks down the side then the CPU will try to have their defenders take care of the wings.
On top of that, each team has its own strategies, to become more aggressive when attacking or defending depending on the flow of the match. Overall, this AI helps make the flow of the game close to the real football match.
IGN: What new moves will feature in the game and how will players be able to pull them off?
Seabass: We cannot say which but there are plenty of new moves in the game. When we say moves it's not just about a single, certain move either. Instead there are more subtle things, such as the timing of passes, the start of runsâ€¦ We've tweaked and changed these timings and that affects the way the game plays, so much so it often feels like some of the moves are new.
IGN: How difficult was it creating the next generation of PES while still keeping the famed gameplay and control at its core?
Seabass: It was really, really tough, because we knew that this was going to be the stepping stone for taking our title into the next gen. We realised that past PES games were pretty much close to perfect - we tweaked the games every year and continued to do so for a long time, so it was natural for the game to be good. However, we knew we'd have to start afresh for the next-gen game.
IGN: What new modes will feature in the PS2 game?
Seabass: There are two new things. Firstly, there's World Tour Mode, in which you have to go around the world and battle it out against the club teams. For every match there's a mission you need to accomplish, such as 'come from behind and win after 75 minutes into the game', 'perform a hat trick', 'score from a set piece' and so on. To win you need to fulfill these conditions against all the 50-plus club teams in the game. For core PES players, this new mode will undoubtedly be exciting to play.
The Community Mode is also new. It keeps records of all the games you play against friends, so you can see who scores the most and the percentage of wins you notch up, as well as who's the most consistent scorer and so on. You can also keep track of two-v-two matches, to see which pairing works best.
IGN: Will there be new teams and leagues in the game?
Seabass: We have increased the number of teams this year, yes, and it's not at the expense of other features either, which we're happy about. There are plenty of new licensed club teams such as Tottenham Hotspur, RSC Anderlecht and Spartak Moscow, as well as official national teams like Brazil, Scotland and Portugal. In total there are now more than 250 teams.
IGN: How has the Master League been expanded for the next generation versions?
Seabass: I finally accomplished one of the things I wanted to do for a long time, which was increase the number of teams in the league from 16 to 20. Now they look and work as authentically as real football leagues. It's not a huge point but it has always been something I wanted to do.
We have also upgraded the glitter side of the Master League, by adding weekly reports, displaying the replays and highlights of the match in the main menuâ€¦ We really wanted to build something that would make users feel more involved with the players and the club teams they create and manage. We have also added a 'popularity' rating for each club, which affects negotiations when transferring players.
IGN: Is there one element of PES 2008 you are most proud of?
Seabass: I am most proud that we created something that surpasses PES6. In terms of AI and the way the game plays, I think this creates a new game to the PES of old. The traditional PES graphics have improved too and I'm proud we have accomplished both - the graphics and the gameplay - at the same time. You will have a great time with your friends, I guarantee that!
SAN MATEO, Calif â€“ May 10, 2007 â€“ Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today announced plans to issue a downloadable playable demo of the PC version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, which will be available simultaneously worldwide on May 15. While the game has already shipped more than one million units worldwide on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, this PC version features PC-specific enhancements. Lost Planet for PC is rated T for Teen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and will be available in June for a suggested retail price of $39.95.
The PC version will feature enhanced graphics and effects to optimize the realistic presentation and explosive action in the game, including better shadows and more detailed textures, as well as higher monitor resolutions. In addition, the game will support multiplayer modes for up to 16 players online via the internet as well as LAN connections. Setting up or joining multiplayer games has been made easier thanks to an improved lobby system for PC gamers. Players will also have the option to play either using a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad controller. Lost Planet for PC will run under Windows XP (supporting DirectX 9) and Windows Vista (supporting both DirectX 9 and DirectX 10.) The DirectX 10 version will utilize the advanced features of Shader model 4.0 and Geometry Shader only available with DirectX 10. Lost Planet will also carry the Games for Windows branding, offering a better gaming experience with easy installation, reliability and safety features, and support for the Xbox 360 controller for Windows.
The full PC version will be out at the end of June for just under $40, but starting next Tuesday, May 15 at 6PM PST, youâ€™ll be able download the demo straight to you computer to test drive.
The demo will let you play through 2 levels: the Akrid hive and the pirate fortress. If you played the Xbox 360 demo for the game, itâ€™s the same two levels. You can play with mouse and keyboard, or plug in an Xbox 360 controller if that feels more natural for you.
Itâ€™ll run on both XP and Vista, and both DX9- and DX10-compatible video cards, with some special graphical enhancements done just for the PC version (not to mention it looks sweet at ultra-high res). And the full version will feature 16-player multiplayer over the Internet or LAN when it comes out.
Keita Iida, Director of Content Management at NVIDIA sat down with IGN AU to discuss all things Direct X 10 and the evolution of their Geforce graphics cards. Iida goes into detail on the differences between developing for the PS3's RSX graphics processor, and the latest development tools to hit the scene. We also pressed him for comment on Ubisoft's jaggy-infested PC versions of Ghost Recon, Silent Hunter and others.
TOKYO, JAPAN, April 23, 2007 --- NTT DoCoMo, Inc. and its eight regional subsidiaries announced today the development of five new 3G FOMAâ„¢ 904i models, the latest line-up in DoCoMo's flagship 9 Series.
The new handsets have features that are significantly more advanced than those supported by 903i Series models. Among these features are "2in1", which takes the capabilities of two phones and folds them into a single handset; "Uta-hodai", which allows via i-modeâ„¢ full-track music downloads from content providers for a flat monthly subscription fee; and "Chokkan Game", which are played using intuitive motion.
All models in the 904i Series support "Video Clips (10MB i-motion)", Windows Media AudioÂ® (WMA) and Full Browser, while some also support "One-segment" terrestrial digital broadcasting and High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).
This service provides the capabilities of two separate handsets in one single unit. Under a single FOMA card, users are provided with two phone numbers and two i-mode mail addresses*, and these are accessed independently by means of a Mode Switching function ("A Mode", "B Mode" and "Dual Mode"). Switching between modes changes the phone number, i-mode mail address, address book, mail boxes and call history. When using A Mode, the customer cannot view B Mode, and vice-versa -- a feature that greatly enhances security.
A Mode refers to the number and i-mode mail address assigned to the user under a basic DoCoMo service contract. When the user signs up for 2in1 service (FOMA Type 2in1; 945 yen per month, incl. tax), they are given a second phone number and mail address for use as B Mode. Communications charges for B Mode apply to billing plans contracted for under A Mode. Some optional fee-based network services subscribed to under A Mode -- for example, voice mail -- can be used in B Mode at no additional cost.
*The mail address for B Mode is only for Web mail use.
Users can download full music tracks from i-mode sites supporting Uta-hodai for a flat monthly subscription fee. When downloading, users will accrue an i-mode information fee and packet communication charges. DoCoMo suggests that users planning to download a significant volume of data every month consider subscribing to flat-rate data communication billing plans "pake-hodai" or "pake-hodai full".
*Uta-hodai compatible services are provided by music distribution sites via i-mode.
Chokkan Game support
Users can select games from sites supporting Chokkan Game and download them into their handsets. Games are played using intuitive motion, such as tracing a finger, tilting or waiving the handset. Game content will determine the type of intuitive motion used during play.