NFL Street 2 is due out in just a couple of weeks and it will bring a host of new features, such as online play and new game modes, to the table. The game will also give you a single, cohesive city to play in, which will facilitate a new gameplay type that the design team has dubbed "Own the City." In our fourth NFL Street 2 designer diary, EA designer Matt McEnerney fills us in on what this new mode will entail.
Own the CityBy Matt McEnerney
Game Designer, EA Tiburon
The most overlooked aspect of game design is the importance of team work. Throughout the course of the development cycle, most games become a collaborative effort between multiple designers, producers, engineers, and artists, along with support from marketing, quality assurance, and legal departments.
That being said, NFL Street 2's Own the City mode was a mixture of a bunch of different ideas from a bunch of different people throughout the entire life of the project. The idea started with the concept of having one city with many unique areas, as opposed to the original NLF Street where we decided upon creating a handful of regional-styled environments. The idea of being the best team in the city surfaced and, in order to become the best, the concept of having to play local teams in each neighborhood was sprung. The decision to focus on a single player in this mode rather than a team was made mainly to differentiate the mode from the NFL challenge mode, but also to provide the perfect vehicle for exporting a character into Madden. The premise and basic structure of the mode was built into the game in a playable form well before we hit our alpha date, which gave us time to tweak the numbers and see if the mode "worked" or not. Signing Xzibit to be in the game was an added bonus and he fit right into the whole concept.
"Own the city" mode is time consuming. This was a conscious decision by the design team. There are 75 events in all, which is roughly equivalent to playing through four and a half seasons of a Madden franchise. Of course NFL Street 2 games do not take as long to play as a game in Madden, but when it is all said and done, the mode will take most users quite a bit of time to complete. Since the mode takes so long to play, we wanted to make sure the payoff was worth the time the user invested in the mode. We didn't want to end the mode with just a "thanks for playing" pop-up. Not only can you make your NFL challenge team better by adding your Own the City player to your challenge team roster, but also being able to create and export a character into Madden NFL 2006 months before the game comes out makes the effort to finish the mode worth it.
Many people ask if there is a "perfect" character that can be created in this mode. I believe it depends on how you play football video games. Most people tend to create quarterbacks and running backs, though I personally tend to shift toward the defensive side of the ball and create an awesome pass rusher or an ultrafast linebacker. You can't max out every attribute, so you have to choose between creating a balanced athlete or building an athlete with superior skills in one or two particular attributes. I would suggest making sure your character has a good deal of speed and at least some degree of tackling skill. Having a weak tackler on defense in Street can be a huge weakness.
All in all, Own the City is a very deep, extremely fun game mode in NFL Street 2, and it's only one of the nine new modes in the game. Master high-flying football through the different neighborhoods and street events and you'll be able to kick off your Madden NFL 2006 season with a hot new rookie.