The match intensity table seen above is sometimes brought up as evidence in the scripting debate. In this post we explain why that is pure nonsense.
If you own a copy of FIFA for PC, you can open the game’s database files with a piece of software called DB master. The screen dump above is a screen dump of a database table found in FIFA 11. Apparently it still exists in the game, although the values have been changed slightly.
The table allows the game to look up a value called “match intensity”. It is not clear what the match intensity value is used for. Despite that, people have used this screen dump to support a variety of theories associated with match manipulation in FIFA. Below I will present some of those theories as well as my own theory on what that table does.
Theory #1: Match intensity is what causes decisive 90th minute goals
Could the table explain the frequent and often decisive 90th minute goals? I find this very unlikely.
- First of all, this table contains constants. In other words, these values are exactly the same all the time, no matter who you are and who your opponent is. Why would EA need a table full of constants to make people score goals in the 90th minute? I don’t see the connection here.
- Second, decisive goals are goals which are scored when the score difference is either +1, 0 or -1. Please notice that the match intensity values are positive in the final quarter of every half, no matter whether our player is 1 up or 1 down. Assuming that a positive value increases the chance that someone (a certain player) will score, it would appear as if that probability is positive, no matter who is leading. How could these values possibly add a certain, predefined bias to a match?
- Third, why would a developer label a table meant to control the occurrence of 90th minute goals ‘MatchIntensity’? Developers don’t just name their objects randomly.
I must say that I find it very, very far-fetched to claim that this table has any sort of connection with 90th minute goals, which I by the way presented a much more reasonable explanation to in this post.
Theory #2: Match intensity controls the momentum
Could the match intensity determine the momentum of the match? This theory was set out in a blog post from 2012 by The Wane. The Wane wrote a long description of the alleged momentum swings leading to, that a 2-0 lead would be transformed into a 2-2 draw.
The predominant problem with this line of reasoning is cherry picking. What The Wane basically does is to select the only part of the data which fits with his conclusion and then ignore that the rest of it doesn’t. If you pick just about any other score line than 2-0, his argument becomes complete nonsense:
- +1 and -1 score differences: The match intensity values are largely the same for +1 and -1 throughout the match, no matter who is leading. Another interesting observation is that if you add all Match Intensity values for +1 and do the same for all the values for -1, you will see that they both sum up to 5, meaning that by the end of the match, both players would have had the exact same amount of momentum(!), no matter who was leading.
- +4 and -4 goal difference: You will see that the Match Intensity values are largely negative, no matter whether the score difference is positive or negative, which then would imply that the game would impose a negative momentum upon you, no matter whether you were up +4 or behind -4.
Other than that, the same arguments I provided in relation to theory #1 above are valid here. It makes no sense to have a table full of constants, which is labelled MatchIntensity, if you want to dynamically determine the momentum of a match according to some kind of higher scheme, which is set do deliver some kind of commercial goal.
In a Reddit post, a user name DAKA1515 came up with another theory on what the match intensity table does. To summarize his theory, he believes that the game changes every 15 minutes, and that you are supposed to pick different mentality settings depending on the match intensity value.
The very obvious fact that this entire idea makes absolutely no sense doesn’t seem to trouble DAKA1515. It definitely should.
Another obvious problem that disappointingly hasn’t stopped DAKA1515 is the fact that his theory is completely unsupported by any sort of valid evidence. You could with the same amount of justification argue that the match intensity table controls the number of reindeer in front of Santa’s sleigh.
In addition to that, the theory rests on the questionable claim that the intensity of matches change every 15 minutes, and that an extraordinary amount of goals are scored at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 minutes. What justifies these claims? Aside from the 45th and the 90th minute, i.e. stoppage time, I simply don’t recognize these descriptions.
I don’t think it’s necessary to point out all the other problems with this theory. It’s bullshit.
My own theory: Match intensity is what it says
What does match intensity mean in everyday language? It’s basically a measure of how exciting the match is. A match which is very much on the edge, has a high intensity, whereas a match which was decided long ago has a low intensity. Please look at the values in the table: They are mostly negative when the score difference is large and positive when it is small – no matter who is leading.
Given that EA is trying to build a football simulation, it appears likely that they would try to determine the intensity and incorporate it into those aspects of the game where it makes sense to increase realism.
As suggested by Xaor, this table could control the crowd behavior. How much are they singing? How do they react to chances? In support of this idea is the fact that the table is located between two tables named BigAttendance and NoAttendance. Clearly, they are related to crowd behavior.
Another option is that the table could control Martin Tyler and Allan Smith. After all, it takes some kind of logic to determine when to throw a “He has had a pretty sketchy match in truth”.