Exclusive Interview with Henrique Olifiers, Producer of FIFA Superstars

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Get the ball rolling during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and check out EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars, only on Facebook. Here’s an exclusive interview with Playfish’s Henrique Olifiers, the producer of the first official FIFA football social game.

Welcome, Henrique. Tell us about yourself.
Hi, as producer of this exciting game, I’m responsible for coordinating the original concept for FIFA Superstars. I work with a very talented team and determine what each person’s role is. If you like, think of me like a movie director.

What experience do you have ‘directing’ games?
Well, I’ve been doing this for about 10 years and I started working on games 20 years ago, back on the ZX Spectrum computer, which some of you may or may not remember. So yeah, I bring some good experience to FIFA Superstars.

What about experience working on football games?
I worked on two football titles prior to FIFA Superstars. Both posed similar challenges: finding the delicate balance between providing the player with an abundance of information and features, and making it all accessible and manageable.

Give us the score – what is FIFA Superstars?
It’s a really fun game to start with if you’ve never played a football game. It’s been created with the novice in mind. You start by building and managing your own team around the players you like. You’ll be able to play your friends and others around the world or face the virtual version of real world teams. Can you imagine scoring 5-nil against Man U? Or bragging about scoring a 3-nil victory against a friend or a random FIFA Superstars player? I think that’s pretty cool.

What inspired the look of FIFA Superstars?
First… it’s FIFA – it deserves the same level of polish and quality that all Playfish games and the FIFA series give our players. Second, I had several images of what it would look like in my mind. I saw what it could be as an action game, or a simulation like FIFA 10; or what it could be as a fantasy game where players buy and sell members of their team. It could have been a managing game, where players build a team from scratch and train, the list goes on…

What kind of game is FIFA Superstars?
All three: it’s a simulation, a fantasy and a managing game rolled into one sweet package available from anywhere you can log onto Facebook. It’s really unlike any football game that’s come before. I’m really proud of that. However, I find myself frustrated that I couldn’t put everything into the game from the day of release. But the really great thing about FIFA Superstars – and social games in general – is that we will be adding a lot of really cool features as the game grows, so I’m really looking forward to its evolution.

How likely is it that everyone will pick the same players for their teams?
It’s very unlikely that you will have the same team as someone else; FIFA Superstars has more than 15,000 football players from which to choose. They range from players who have not played for a long time to living legends virtually everyone knows of. As you start winning matches you can afford to hire more experienced players for your FIFA Superstars team.

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing FIFA Superstars to life?
I’d say the usability of the game – that is, how easy or difficult it is to understand what you should do with the information presented to you in the game. As there is a simulation aspect to FIFA Superstars there is a ton of information involved in bringing that to the gamer. It was about looking at how to consolidate all of that into easy and relevant statistics per player on your team.

What is your favorite aspect of the game?
The players are definitely my favourite aspect. I’m a massive football fan – I scour the statistics of each player like a hawk before making my choices for my team. Each one of the stats used for a player – be that shooting, pace, energy – all goes into making a unique player. And I’ve got to have the best.

The best, huh? What did you call your team?
Zombies – it was a total no brainer – no pun intended! It’s in homage to the team of people I work with at Playfish, the Zombiefish team.

You didn’t name your team after your favorite football team?
My favorite real-world football team is the Brazilian Flamengo FC but the Zombies definitely come first, without a doubt. The entire Zombiefish team was just outstanding in pulling together, especially the last month of development, which was a big stretch. I’ll always be their biggest fan.

How are you feeling now that the FIFA Superstars is out?
Super excited. We already broke the first day record for number of players to start playing the game, beating both My Empire and Hotel City – both of which are currently very popular. That’s a very positive sign.

What new features will you be bringing out and when?
What you’re seeing is about 20% of the game that we’ve already planned out. There’s a lot for us to add. For example, expanding the stadium styles and setting up more training facilities. These will have a bigger impact on the game as more people play.  Essentially, if you want it, it’s more than likely we’re already working on it.

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