Developer Interview "Backbreaker Football"

Rob Donald of Natural Motion
By: Anthony Accinelli
1) How long has Backbreaker been in development?
Around 3 years or so now, maybe a little more

2) how did Backbreaker come into existence? what inspired you to make a sports title?
Backbreaker really started as an idea when we had the test animations for euphoria. It just always seemed like a natural step in the sports direction. 505 games came on the scene when we they were showing the euphoria engine off and immediately became very interested. Both teams felt they could do something very different

3) Seem strange that you're making a game based on american football by a UK developer?
Great fit for the euphoria technology.  Sports itself is a great fit because of the way euphoria makes it a real live sports experience. It's perfectly suited to sports.  You look at a football game and you see 11 guys vs. 11 guys and it's an incredibly physical beast of a sport and with our technology we can respect the sport at it's most athletic detail. At any given second you don't know what's going to happen, and that's something we (euphoria) can bring to the table.

4) What lead you to this design?
Bringing the camera down to your level makes you feel like you are
really playing in the stadium. You can see the fans jumping around and getting excited. The crowd reacts to whatever it is you are doing. Building stadiums that really played up to that.

5) What's been going on for the past 2 years?
The game i am playing now is very different from what
it was back then.  6 months ago we pretty much hammered the offense into the ground. We got exactly how the gameplay would work and spent a lot of time playing with the camera.

6) is the behind the shoulder camera the only camera in the game? Yes it is. It's a pretty flexible view that you won't necessarily see in trailers. The way the camera behaves is very flexible. You don't
physically control the camera but it doesn't have that affect in certain places. Prime example: if the runningback is taking the ball out to the sidelines, the camera will move towards the field. We realized you
don't want to be facing the crowd, so the camera behaves accordingly. I am 100% convinced with the running camera. You have to see the holes and break through them. You truly feel the intensity of
the game. We have played around with additional cameras and it didn't feel right.  Didn't feel like Backbreaker.

7) Is Backbreaker a simulation or arcade style game?
NFL Street and Blitz are an arcade game. Over the top and unrealistic. It's arcade, lights, bangs and booms. Madden or the 2k series constantly stride to gain an actual representation of an actual game in the NFL.  We are on the side of simulation and we can't get away from that.  We are genuinely simulating human movement and intelligence. That's a really important distinction to make. What we are doing with Backbreaker is building a game in an entirely different way.  You never ever know what is going to happen.  You cannot call a game simply a simulation because it feels real or looks authentic. We are a genuine simulation of not only football but of sport and human movement and human ability.

8) Are you intending to make this a franchise?
We thought about the future definitely.  Everyone is working incredibly hard on this project so far and are set on getting this out the door and into your hands. I'd be lying if I said we weren't thinking about it seriously but at the same time we realize we are starting out.  In the future we'd be very interested.

9) Could you explain the right analog stick pass controls?
You can do a lot with gesture based system. We found the motions you instinctively make work very well. You want to do a high dive from a few yards out it becomes intuitive to simply hold the stick forward. it really fit the idea of playing as the QB.  You're looking left/right because you have to actually look it makes it feel much more realistic. Everything seemed to work once you put the stick in place. People weren't intimitated with a huge amount of controls. The more controls you place the less people tend to use. We were convinced you could do what you wanted to do with the stick.

10) what are the different game types?
Arcade mode and Pro mode.  The difference between these two is very similar to driving games that have driving assists (racing lines, brake, accelerate). During Full arcade mode while you're on defense you'll be able to see the route the receiver is going to take. it really simplified and broke the gameplay down and helped people that aren't okay with the whole strategy of the sport. Pro mode is no restrictions.  Built for true veterans of the sport.
Season mode (2 types)- Season mode is exactly what you'd expect. Put a team into an 8, 16, or 32 person league.  Play out the season, develop your team, assign players, scouting college players.
Backbreaker mode- Rags to riches. I'm very excited about this particular mode.  Take a custom team and start them out in an 8-team league. the goal is to get your team to a 32-person league. If you're mid-table you are constantly fighting to move up and at the same time not move down. You get credits for winning the games,
for great performances, etc.  All these credits stack up and you can use them to advance your team. There are no playoffs since it's all about promoting your team to advance.

11) what restrictions if any will you have to customization?

Yes there are a few restrictions with it having to go online. We felt this was necessary and are trying to be as flexible as possible.  As far as offline you can do whatever you want.  There are no restrictions whatsoever.  Tthe game will recognize if you put the names
of professional players and will let you know you won't be able to take that particular player online. Short answer: yes there are restrictions in place, but we have tried to be as flexible and accomodating as possible. So i'm sure people will be able to get a great experience and if they want to recreate their favorite teams they'll do so to the
extent they will be happy with.

12) Will there be any commentary?
We aren't using TV style commentary. We made this decision a long time ago. To us it didn't really make any sense because we were focused on the on-field view. We are taking things in
a completely different direction. we have thoughts on where this will go in the future that we are very excited about.
you'll hear your teammate shouting directions at you, the crowd shouting, your opponent shouting, and the
stadium announcer in the background.

13) Will there be custom plays?
Not at this stage no. Never say never, it's something we will look into in the future.

14) Are there injuries in the game?
We are not including injuries in the game. This was a hard decision that we didn't take lightly. We made the decision that we wouldn't be
doing ourselves and the game justice if we cheated on injuries. Injuries are dice-rolls in real life and we want to get away from dice-rolls in Backbreaker. We will put injuries in when we are happy that we can give that side of the game justice.

15) Is there a progression system?
The gold, silver, and bronze ratings relate to the attributes of the players. Gold, Silver and Bronze are an illustration of the average ability of players. Gives players a nice, convenient open view of the number of gold, silver, and bronze players they have.  Backbreaker will also have a system in place where players will play better or worse
from game to game.

16) What do you want gamers to know about how the game will feel and play?
I could go on about that for ages. I think the important thing to me on a personal level is that people play this game and feel that we have done something very different. That they have played something that is as close to possible as playing as any position on the field.

17) Will you be able to play your own music in the game?
Yes you will. On the 360 you will be able to replace the in-game music.

18) what can you say about the amount of teams, leagues, players, etc?
We are shipping with around 60 different teams. You can create from scratch or edit an existing team. The amount of teams is infinite. In terms of leagues we have different types of leagues and different numbers of teams within them.  You can also create your own leagues.  We have 10 stadiums, some of which are locked and can be unlocked by winning sections of the game such as Backbreaker
mode.

19) any plans to have customizable stadiums?
Personally I would worry that they wouldn't look as good as the
stadiums we have built. Do you want an awesome looking stadium or one that ends up really looking like a stadium you built yourself. If it is literally a building-block system that doesn't sound appealing to me.
It is something we will look into however.

20) How in depth the customization?
Every single element of the player is able to be customized. You are going to be able to create any team that you can think of. Very, very flexible. The logo creation toolkit itself is one of the best things we've
done in the game. We have a system that allows for 500 different levels to be placed. You can twist those shapes into all different shapes. It's infinite and only limited by your imagination and how good you can get at it.

21) What's next for euphoria?
Next thing is Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar has always done amazing things with the euphoria engine.

22) Any worries about people not picking it up because it lacks the known NFL players?
I'd be lying if I said I don't believe people will think like that. There are absolutely people out there. However i believe there are a large group of people that are football fans. It's something very different and will definitely play in our favor.

23) 2K had their NFL license taken away and the game withered away. Does that scare you at all?
If you had an NFL branded game that was very similar to other games and your license was taken away that's a reason for your
game to wither away. Our differences are our major strengths. If we were doing exactly the same game, trying to recreate what Madden does that would be quite scary. At the moment we are doing something very different so it's not scary.

24) How do you compete with madden?

We are doing something completely different. We aren't looking at a direct competitor. There's always room for competition. It would do a disservice if everyone gave up making football games. We have proven that there is something very different, very fresh, very new that can be done.

25) Will there be a demo?
Yes, there will absolutely be a demo. We are currently working on the demo at the moment. We will let you know when the demo is live.

26) Are there going to be any exclusives between the console games?
They are identical. No exclusives between the 360 and the PS3.

27) Compatible with 360 natal or PS3 move?
No not with this game. We are very interested in the motion control
devices. We'll think about it but I'm not sure how that will necessary fit in.

28) DLC?
Not having any downloadable content. We didn't want anyone to have to spend any more money.

29) One of my favorite aspects of past football games is the ability to "hard hit" my opponents on command.  Will the euphoria engine allow me to control the method through which my player tackles?
There are different kinds of tackles. It's all with the right stick and you do have the ability. Fumbling isn't just dice roll. If you hit someone hard enough they will most likely fumble the ball.

Thank you very much Rob Donald of Natural Motion and also great thanks to Michelle Hoffman of Bender/Helper Impact, Inc.