How to make soccer more entertaining? Add ragdoll physics

Americans insist that soccer is and always will be boring. And, admittedly, low-scoring games with few opportunities for commercial breaks isn’t the most ‘Murica thing ever. But defenders of soccer might point to the simple elegance of a well-executed pass, or the unparalleled tension of a final battle in the penalty box.

Well, all of that—the good and the bad—gets thrown out the window in Footbrawl, a ragdoll soccer game being developed by designer Kevin Suckert. Right now, Footbrawl is just a basic prototype with lots of funny GIFs to show for it. But the potential seems, well, endless. “Its [sic] basically everything what FIFA street should be or what made PES2010 so good:” reads the devblog, “glitches and stupid Ragdoll Physics.”

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As evidenced by the prototype, American football fans will feel at home in Footbrawl; the slow and deliberate grace of soccer replaced by needless head-on collisions and tackles. Aside from the constant group pummeling that comes with chasing the ball, the creator also says you can “pick up weapons and beat the shit out of your enemies.”

So, let’s say you’re running down the field, the ball miraculously staying with you as you sprint down dozens of yards before finally positioning yourself perfectly in front of the goal, all of a sudden you get wiped out by a plank of wood to the head. Sure, you could call for a red card. Sure, you could fight back. But no one will care and you’ll still be concussed and out a goal. You know, the American way.

“pick up weapons and beat the shit out of your enemies.”

I can’t speak to whether or not this violence improves on the art of soccer as a sport, but my inclination is that it’s a firm “no.” But on the other hand, watching characters make desperate runs for the ball only to get trampled by their own stiffened physics is priceless. Who’s faking injuries now, amiright?

Suckert says he’s working on a few arenas, ranging from a Brazilian favela to the “Ostseestadion” in Rostock, which he frequented often as a child. The main arena featured in the prototype, however, is a simple backyard where a group of young boys appear to be enjoying a quick game. The setting perfectly matches the awkward over exuberance of the ragdoll physics. But the youthful aesthetic also inadvertently layers in this theme of fun-filled childish banter, as you watch kid after kid fling themselves at goal posts and get pelted by soccer balls, all without a single concern for their own safety.

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While the amateurish aesthetic matches the games mechanics, I can’t help but imagine how revolutionary it would be if these ragdoll physics were applied to a more established game like FIFA. I mean, how much money would you pay to see Neymar beating Lionel Messi by slamming into his body and clubbing him with a stick. Are you taking notes yet, EA?

You can stay up to date with the development of Footbrawl through its website and the creator’s Twitter.