Modding communities breathe new life into our favorite titles. I recently exchanged correspondence with impactful modders and content creators for eFootball (formerly named Pro Evolution Soccer) and All-Pro Football 2K8. We discussed inspiration, the creative process, and their love for the games.
eFootball: An interview with eFootball content creator, @KnightMD
eFootball challenges the indispensable FIFA franchise in realistic gameplay. And when visual mods are equipped, eFootball is next-gen-esque. I recently sat with eFootball content creator and game reviewer KnightMD, a 30-year veteran in sports gaming. We discussed his love for the game, full-user-manual control, and his creative process behind his unprecedented eFootball “Realism Reviews.”
SGO: When did you first dive into eFootball, what console and why?
KnightMD: For most of my life, I had been a PC gamer. I did meet up with my friends at gaming cafes to play Winning Eleven on the Playstation. It offered an experience that was nothing like FIFA in terms of realism and the variety of goals you can score. It just felt like “anything can happen,” whereas FIFA used to offer an on-rails experience that wasn’t rewarding. I personally made the shift on my own PC with PES3.
SGO: When did you begin using MODs, and how was the experience of joining the online MOD community for you?
KnightMD: I started with PES 6 and actually started getting into the kit-making game as well. But it wasn’t till PES 2018 when I started adding stadiums into the game and that was the beginning of the heavy modding that completely changed the game’s value, in my opinion. The mods for eFootball, PES 2021 are the most mature out there simply because we’ve been building upon work that has already been done over the past three years for the same engine.
SGO: Why did you turn to mods for eFootball?
KnightMD: The lack of stadiums was the most glaring factor that pushed me to mod the game. I used to think we’re stuck with whatever stadiums we had, until I found out several stadiums have been made from scratch or converted from FIFA for eFootball. That massively improved the atmosphere for me. With PES 2020, Konami messed up the lighting and grass at night for some reason, and the turf looked too fluorescent. The traditional broadcast camera was removed as well to a much wider and more generic view. Fixing these issues with mods has made a huge difference.
“…eFootball offers unrivaled freedom of movement on the pitch.”
As I like to say, eFootball offers unrivaled freedom of movement on the pitch. I am implying that it offers less “scripted” animations and more user control with the right sliders and settings. That is exactly where we continue with KnightMD, an ambassador to full-user-manual control settings offered in eFootball.
SGO: What inspired you to switch to full-user-manual control – the setting in eFootball that turns off auto-assists for both shooting and passing?
KnightMD: A comment on one of my YouTube videos changed everything. He told me to switch to full manual and I’ll be able to enjoy the game in a way I’ve never experienced before. He also mentioned improved animations with full manual control, and that was what made me switch. I didn’t see much footage of what full manual control was capable of, and all I knew about full manual controls was that it was a way for gamers to flex and show off how good they are without using assists. I also thought that player stats and attributes didn’t matter with full manual controls, which is a big, big, big misconception that even several well-known eFootball youtubers have been propagating. Player stats and traits make a huge difference and I am currently working on a video which shows that.
SGO: Can you walk me through your creative process behind your popular “Realism Reviews”?
KnightMD: I play the game, and whenever something interesting happens, I record the previous two minutes. Then, every week or so I revisit my captured clips, watch them, then rename them in a way I can recognize when sorting through them e.g. Lovely Long Modric Manual Pass.mp4.
Then, I’ll make a spreadsheet with separate worksheets for each action e.g. ‘Shooting’, ‘Passing’, ‘Referee’ etc. When I have enough footage, I’ll start writing the script. I’ll have four windows open: The Excel sheet with the names of the files, my folder with all the files, my Evernote, and VLC player. When I am writing about ‘Passing’ for instance, I’ll start watching the passing videos and when I have a good idea of what they highlight and what I want to say, I’ll start writing, while making a note over every sentence of which clip I’ll be using while saying it. This way every clip is showing something relevant to what I’m talking about. I’ll make sure that what I have to say during the clip doesn’t take longer to say than the footage it’s describing. Whenever I use a clip, I’ll highlight it on the excel sheet so I don’t use the same clip twice.
Scriptwriting is the longest and most creative process. After it’s done, the next step is to put the video together, which is relatively straightforward. The first step is to read and record the entire script. Then I’ll open Sony Vegas while having the script open in another window, and my folder with all the video files in another. The most time-consuming step of video editing is adding on-screen effects and illustrations, then motion-tracking them with the ball or a player, but that’s what makes for better production values. The final step is sound mixing, making sure to balance the background music with the script audio, and game audio. And that’s how I make my videos!
“…gameplay is why we play eFootball and not any other game.”
SGO: What are you looking forward to most from eFootball on Unreal on PS5 (I saw you mentioned AI-powered gameplay on Twitter)?
KnightMD: Honestly, all I want is decent grass and lighting. These two alone will change the entire look of the game. Animations are even more important but I believe Konami is so far behind in this category that it won’t happen before another five years. We simply need machine-learning AI-driven animations that smoothly transition to any movement the human body is capable of, without the jitteriness and robotic look of motion-captured animation.
[I] can’t wait for the next phase of eFootball, I just hope they continue to improve gameplay, which is why we play eFootball and not any other game.
2K Football: An interview with roster creator and team builder, @2K_Football_Now.
The games that feature timeless gameplay engines have endured time, and such games compete with the sports gaming library available to us today. 2K Football is one of those titles. The @2K_Football_Now handle on Twitter and Youtube constantly revitalizes 2K Football, a franchise without a new release in over a decade.
SGO: When did you first dive into 2K Football, what console and why?
2K_Football_Now: My first real experience playing 2K football games started back in 2002 with the release of NFL 2K3 on PS2.
…Once ESPN NFL Football was released in 2003 and I saw all that Visual Concepts did with that game, it was a wrap – from that point on 2K football was my only choice for a football video game to play. I’ve spent many hours and years playing NFL 2K4 (ESPN NFL Football) and NFL 2K5. I was pretty devastated when EA and Madden got exclusive rights for the NFL, but I did extend my playing time with NFL 2K5.
Once I heard that VC and 2K were releasing All-Pro Football 2K8, I was incredibly excited, bought it right when it came out on PS3. While APF 2K8 was very limited in features, the gameplay was incredible and still is today, but did lack replay value as a single-player experience.
About a year or so after release, sometime in 2008 I joined an online league called “2K Gridiron League”. It had about 10-14 players at a given time …This league lasted about 5 years (2007-2012), 50+ seasons played and only ended when APF 2K8 servers went down. That stretch of years is one of my fondest memories playing any video game. It was a fantastic league and everyone that was a part of it played with integrity and simulation-first style approach, nothing like you see with online competitive Madden nowadays.
“…Once ESPN NFL Football released in 2003 and I saw all that Visual Concepts did with that game, it was a wrap…”
SGO: When did you begin using MODs or creating rosters and teams, and how was the experience of joining the online 2K community for you?
2K_Football_Now: Once I found out about King Javo and his APF 2K8 editor, I started to get back into playing it. It was all fresh again and I kind of forgot how great this game really is, so I started posting new APF 2K8 videos on YouTube, doing montages and trailers, really trying to show off what I love about this game.
The APF 2K8 Editor is an unsupported 2K football editor. It offers gamers PC tools to customize uniforms, rosters, sliders and more that can be uploaded into your All-Pro Football 2K8 game. The editor was created by King Javo, the sole developer on the indie title, Legend Bowl.
The Discord community for the editor remains strong to date. Gamers and creators continue to support the editor, adding new tools such as player progression for franchise mode.
2K football is beloved amongst a niche of community members who love its realistic game flow. The small details and animations in 2K football are just a few reasons why 2K football fans bestow 2K football the crown.
“This was the first time I basically had the ability to make the game I wanted to play.”
SGO: Why did you turn to 2K football for roster and team creation?
2K_Football_Now: Well, before this, I never did any roster or team creations besides making uniforms in APF 2K8, and obviously I don’t enjoy nor play Madden and also Madden has many people creating rosters, same for NFL 2K5. All-Pro Football 2K8 – this was [something] we could [not] ever do before, so around the Fall of 2018, King Javo released his newest APF 2K8 editor and made it more user friendly and with way less bugs and really opened up the game for me to start making custom rosters. This was the first time I basically had the ability to make the game I wanted to play.
My first football game was Tecmo Super Bowl on SNES, and many of the players from that year happen to be in All-Pro Football 2K8, and so I always wanted to create the 1993 NFL season in APF 2K8. Because of King Javo releasing his newest editor, I ended up doing that and got it completely done, all 28 teams, every starting and backup, as accurate ratings and abilities I could do myself.
SGO: What inspires your love for the game, 2K Football, and the sport itself?
2K_Football_Now: I love football, love playing it, and it’s one of the reasons I would ever do high school over again – is to be able to play football again. It is a passion of mine and the same goes for football video games. I’ve been playing football video games all my life, starting back to 1993 with my first one, Tecmo Super Bowl and onto NFL Gameday series and NFL 2K/APF 2K series. I’m also a Packer fan and got to watch one of the most entertaining players to ever play the game in Brett Favre – [this] could be a big reason why I love watching the sport and enjoy it.
SGO: Can you walk me through your creative process a bit in building out rosters, teams, or video productions?
2K_Football_Now: The first step is creating uniforms for the given year, which I do for all the teams right away to get them done. Then I start editing the teams. Typically, I spend about four hours on a team. I’ll do some research, maybe watch season highlights on that year for that team if a video is available on Youtube. My primary resources are pro football reference (player info. and roster makeup), nfl2k5rosters.com (for player ratings), and google image (to get accurate equipment for each player in that year).
Each team has 42 players on the APF roster, and so I edit all 22 starters and add in most backups up to 42 players that are allowed on the APF roster. I do my best on deciding the stars for each team and give accurate abilities to each player as I can. I use nfl2k5rosters.com which has classic full-rosters for NFL 2K5 and so the ratings translate well as a guide for attributes for the players. I want my rosters to be the most accurate representation of the team I’m creating for the given year, down to how the players look, their equipment, and how they play.
SGO: What are you looking forward to most with 2k Football in 2022?
2K_Football_Now: …I’m more than satisfied with continuing to play All-Pro Football 2K8 and making classic rosters, though if 2K brings it and comes out with something that surpasses APF 2K8 in terms of gameplay and authenticity, I will be ecstatic. They had something special with All-Pro Football 2K8 and would love to see them build upon. One can imagine.
eFootball and All-Pro Football 2K8 share common traits. Both titles feature technically sound gameplay that energizes their respective fanbases. Each title lacks league and roster depth due to licensing agreements controlled by EA Sports. The community response to each title’s licensing restrictions is clear: the love for these two titles will continue to inject new life into these classic franchises with custom-built tools.