Gamers claim EA Sports has implemented a ‘dynamic difficulty’ adjustment system in FIFA 18 – to maximise engagement to keep people playing.
Citing a paper on dynamic difficulty, written by EA employees, they claim the Vancouver-based developers use a ‘machine learning’ algorithm to understand how much a person is playing – and then changes the experience accordingly.
So, if a player keeps losing, the ‘algorithm’ would recognise this and make adjustments, many of which will not be detectable by the user.
The paper, which was published this year, reads: “This could range from extra speed to an in-game character, improving throwing accuracy of an in-game character, improving the distance or height that the in-game character can jump, adjusting the responsiveness of controls, and the like.
“In some cases, the adjustments may additionally or alternatively include reducing the ability of an in-game character rather than improving the ability of the in-game character. For example, the in-game character may be made faster, but have less shooting accuracy.”
There is no evidence whatsoever that EA Sports implements such an algorithm in FIFA 18 – but given how much money is in Ultimate Team, maximising engagement would certainly make sense.
The Ultimate Team format has largely stayed the same for the past few years, so EA is clearly on to a winning formula.
However, if dynamic difficulty was found to be present in the game, it could have huge implications for FIFA 18’s reputation as an esport – where balanced gameplay, rather than in-game purchases, is paramount.
For the past few iterations of the popular game, some players believe a similar mechanism – called scripting – is also present.
Scripting – also called momentum – refers to the idea that online games are ‘programmed’ in some way to favour one player over another.
So, if a team is losing, the theory is that a line of in-game code would recognise this and shift momentum in the loser’s favour.
Strikers’ shots would become more accurate, keepers would pull of mind-blowing saves… you get the idea.
Only, EA say it’s a load of rubbish.
FIFA 18’s lead gameplay producer Sam Rivera told Dream Team Gaming: “There is nothing like that in the game – we can’t really deal with a complaint about something that does not exist.
“So, what we do is when the media come to us and say, hey, why have you put in scripting, we’re clear there’s nothing going on in there.
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“We tried our best to explain why would we do that? And then we also tried to explain to press, well, in real life, things happen.
“Many times a team that’s winning loses in the last minute. We just try and put these moments in the game – the concepts of real life football.
“That will organically create things that happen in real football – like scoring in the last minute.”
EA Sports released an online beta prior to launch to collate player feedback on the gameplay – as well as identify game-breaking bugs.
But as Rivera explains, fixing every single one is a near impossible task.
“It’s going to be very hard to fix all the bugs,” he said. “This is such a complex game with million and millions of lines of code.
“If one bug makes you think, this is scripted, that’s a high priority bug for us.”
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