Reddit is boiling after one of it’s users found the word “momentum” in one of FIFA 17’s settings files. Later, it was re-discovered that the same settings file contains a set of rules, allowing the game to adjust the difficulty if the player get’s too far ahead or behind while playing against the opponent. Is this proof that FIFA 17 Momentum exists?
FIFA 17 Momentum – Adaptive Difficulty & Scripting
Let’s start out by looking at the facts at hand, namely the code lines in question.
The first bit of code is in fact inline documentation found in one of the game’s settings files, which can be edited on the PC version. Inline documentation means that these lines aren’t active code, but rather text explaining how the code works. What we see is that the word “momentum” is used, and then there are a couple of other lines, where the terms “average rating” and “team chemistry” are being used. The original reddit post can be found here.
//--- team chemistry (0-100) (used in momentum)
The second part is from another section of the same file. Here, we see a few active parameters followed by some more inline documentation. What happens here is apparently that the game will adjust the difficulty depending on the progression of the match. Some of you may recall that we covered these exact settings in an article posted about a year ago ‘FUT 16 is adaptive difficulty scripting?‘. The newest reddit post (re)discovering this holy grail of FIFA can be found here.
[ADAPTIVE_DIFFICULTY] ENABLED = 1
[ADAPTIVE_DIFFICULTY_INCREASE_DIFFICULTY] // Description: "User scores in first 5 minutes"
// WHEN IF DO RULE1_PARAM1 = 5
// Minutes RULE1_OUTPUT = 0.25 // Description: "User scores in first 20 minutes"
// WHEN IF DO RULE2_PARAM1 = 20
// Minutes RULE2_OUTPUT = 0.25
// Description: "Score >= 2 goal lead"
// WHEN IF DO RULE3_PARAM1 = 2
Is this evidence that FIFA 17 momentum exists?
Let’s start with the “momentum” bit. So, what happens here is that EA uses a word, which coincidentally happens to be the name of a widespread conspiracy theory. When used in conjunction with references to average rating and team chemistry, people start speculating. But speculations about could-be patterns are of course not evidence. The fact that this code could be involved in some sinister plot does not lead to the conclusion that it most likely is code involved in a sinister plot.
Also, we shouldn’t forget what the term momentum really means. Momentum not only happens to be the name of a popular conspiracy theory. It’s also a completely normal part of football and just about any other competitive game ever played by human beings.
Leicester, for example, won the EPL, because they gained momentum in the beginning of the season, and were able to ride on that wave all the way to the goal line. EA’s settings files obviously weren’t needed to make that happen. Momentum, i.e. the growing feeling of self confidence and the following ability to perform, is an inherent part of human psychology, and hence also an inevitable part of FIFA.
Adaptive difficulty then?
Next, let’s move on to the adaptive difficulty bit. As mentioned in our previous post on the subject, these settings appear to confirm that the game adjusts the difficulty if the player gets too far ahead or behind in order to keep the match tight.
You could say that this in effect is confirmation that the game will attempt to turn the tide if the match becomes too unbalanced. But before we get too excited about this apparent blockbuster discovery, there are a couple of reservations:
- These settings are for single player game modes only. So, no matter what, this isn’t evidence of a similar concept being present in online FUT.
- While this piece of code might create a more balanced match, it doesn’t turn your players useless. Rather, it increases the capability level of the AI. So, it doesn’t actually explain the apparent, sudden under performance of your players normally linked to claims about a hidden momentum feature.
- It’s not really a secret that single player FIFA tailors the difficulty level to the user. The game has dialogues mentioning it directly. So, we just discovered something, that wasn’t hidden in the first place.
To sum things up, the adaptive difficulty bit tells us something, which we ought to know already. And it clearly doesn’t deliver the evidence that some of us were hoping to find.
Is it likely that momentum exists in FIFA?
We haven’t defined momentum previously, but usually, it refers to the notion that EA will try to make the trailing party in a multiplayer match catch up in order to keep both players in the match. Is it likely that such a feature is part of the game?
There are a couple of very good reasons to remain skeptical about this.
First of all, FIFA uses another difficulty management concept in online FUT, namely ELO matchmaking. ELO matchmaking matches players with similar skills, thereby ensuring that both players stand a chance of winning the match. Hence, the problem of having unbalanced matches is already solved. So, why solve it again?
Second, FUT matches aren’t particularly even. The most even results you can get – a draw and a 1-goal win – do not happen in excess. In fact, FUT has fewer draws than we normally would expect, given it’s goal ratio. So, from a results perspective, nothing indicates that matches are made even by a hidden momentum feature.