We asked Patrick Bellanca, Designer on Madden NFL 13, several questions that needed answers. In fact, we asked him 13 questions in total which is suitable for Madden NFL 13; don’t you think?
Okay here it goes:
COG: What kind of graphical enhancements can Madden fans expects this year with Madden NFL 13?
Patrick: Madden NFL 13 is our best-looking game yet. Graphically speaking, it all starts with the lighting. We’ve built a system that adds HDR to the in-game cameras. That means that no matter what time of day, no matter where on the field you are, the colors are vibrant; playing on the shadowed side of the field is just as bright as the sunny side, and the players have more contrast. Additionally, we added Motion Blur that softens the faster moving images, creating less of a digital, video game look. We’ve improved depth of field too for a more realistic view of the action from every angle. All of these additions ultimately satisfy the eyes in the same way watching a televised football broadcast does.
COG: One of the common complaints of our online community was the frequency at which DB’s and Linebackers would intercept the ball in Madden 12. What has been done to address this issue?
Patrick: I would offer that the frequency of the interceptions was more symptom than cause, and the way in which balls were caught without defenders first seeing and reacting to the football was the actual source of the complaints. Either way, that frustration is a thing of the past. Players must first make eye contact with the football before adjusting to make a play on the ball. We call this read and react defensive AI. Simply put, this means that a linebacker in man coverage with his back to the quarterback will fail to make a play on the football if he’s unaware it’s been thrown his direction. This is a monumental difference in the way players react on the field. As a quarterback, I can now fit a ball into a window confidently if I read the defense properly. It’s on the quarterback now to make the right read and throw to the right target. Doing so is far more rewarding than it’s ever been.
COG: What improvements can we expect in the audio department?
Patrick: The audio team has done a remarkable job improving the sounds of the game. Starting at the main menu, we’ve replaced EA Trax with an authentic, broadcast-inspired, Madden NFL theme. It’s a composed piece of music that we believe truly represents the franchise. In addition, the NFL has given us access to authentic on-field sounds taken directly from field-level microphones. Thus, the true sounds-of-the-game can be heard in Madden NFL 13. Pads popping, QB cadences, chatter… they’re all authentic sounds from the NFL that create an ambiance unlike any football experience before.
COG: Some have speculated Madden NFL 13 will not include Online Fantasy Drafts. Can you confirm this and if this is the case can you explain why?
Patrick: We began the Madden NFL 13 development cycle with a vision larger and more ambitious than any other year. That said, we found ways to include more content in this release of Madden NFL than ever before, including Connected Careers. With a feature as large in scope as Connected Careers, we were forced to make cuts. We did however build something that we think will resonate with our fans and provides us a platform to continue to grow our ideas in the future. We are already looking at ways to build out CC in greater detail and will continue to do so.
COG: How do you determine a players ratings and do real life NFL players ever express concerns regarding their ratings?
Patrick: Our rosters and ratings are done by hand by our Ratings Czar, Donny Moore, who loves to talk in detail about what goes into each player’s ratings. Without speaking for Donny, I will say that ratings are subjective by nature and always under scrutiny. We encourage fans and players alike to engage in debate over the ratings and love to hear feedback from everybody. The passion that fans and the players themselves express is what drives us to create the best and most realistic football experience available. It’s worth noting that we update the rosters and ratings on a weekly basis throughout the entire season. Therefore, each player’s attributes are in a constant state of flux based upon their performance on the field.
COG: What improvements can we expect in the passing and running game this year?
Patrick: Playing offense in Madden NFL 13 offers some new controls that fans will definitely enjoy. First off, playing as a QB is more rewarding than ever. As a QB, you can now pass to any spot on the field and lead a receiver into space. Combined with read and react defensive AI, it’s possible to accurately fit the football into a tiny window over an unsuspecting defender in coverage. Also, the QB can now break out of play action when they feel blitz pressure. Doing so causes the QB to square up for a pass, and the running back to pick up the blitzing defender. More passing animations, more QB drop back animations, better passing trajectory, and more catch animations all leave the user feeling more confident and prepared while running their offense. The running game is significantly improved with better line blocking and holes will open up for a patient running back. A strategic play caller will find great success through the air and on the ground in Madden NFL 13.
COG: Why did the team decide to go with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the broadcast booth this year?
Patrick: Simply put, Jim and Phil are the best in the business. Their natural rapport and long-time working relationship creates a magic in the booth that we’re very happy to capture in Madden NFL 13. From the first recording session to the last, Jim and Phil were absolute pros and delivered the most compelling dialogue and situational commentary. We’re very pleased with the results and are confident that got the right talent in Madden NFL 13.
COG: I noticed load times were an issue for me in Madden 12. Connecting to the servers and waiting for the game to boot up seem to take quite some time. Is this an issue the development team managed to address?
Patrick: Every year we optimize loading to reduce the times as much as possible. The truth is that we’ve packed so much content onto the disc that loading screens are unavoidable. We encourage fans to install the game to the HDD when possible as that will reduce the load times. In my opinion the load times are inconsequential and contain some interesting facts about the NFL and about Madden NFL 13.
COG: With each new Madden, the game seemingly becomes more complex. How to do make the game more accessible for newcomers?
Patrick: Madden NFL 13 is more accessible than ever starting at the main menu. All of the tiles on the main menu are user-driven action items that lead into the different user experiences. No more digging into deep menus to find an option or a mode. Everything that you can do in Madden NFL 13 can be simply accessed right up front. Also, we’ve unified the control scheme to match those in NCAA Football 13 for the fans who play or are familiar with both titles.
COG: Madden 13 will feature Kinect functionality for doing such things as calling an audible, spiking the ball or giving specific instructions to wide receivers. Do you see this as an advantage or disadvantage for online Madden gamers?
Patrick: Kinect functionality brings an advantage in certain situations. For example, during pre-play gamers can essentially make twice as many adjustments. While making conventional adjustments using the controller, a second set of adjustments can be made using your voice. The ability to do both simultaneously creates opportunity for twice as much strategy and planning. Also, the commands using your voice are faster than commands using the controller. Meaning, to adjust a route using the controller the gamer must press a minimum of 3 buttons, but to do the same adjustment using their voice, that same gamer only needs to say 2 words. Time savings aside, it’s fun to stand at the line and vocally command the offense like Peyton Manning does.
COG: Will others be able to hear your voice interacting with the Kinect while online?
Patrick: Online players will not hear one another during pre-play adjustments. Both microphones are muted after play call selection and until the ball is snapped, giving both gamers time to adjust without giving away strategy.
COG: Given the size and scope of the game, was there anything you wanted to include in Madden 13 but could not?
Patrick: We are always trying to squeeze as much content as possible into each release of Madden NFL and this year was no exception. There are always small things that get left behind but this is the most fully featured, revolutionary Madden NFL game that we’ve ever released. We’re extremely pleased with the leap we’ve made and are certain the fans will agree that Madden NFL 13 looks, feels, and plays like a brand-new experience. We can’t wait for the fans to get their chance to play it.
COG: Why should Madden 12 fans pick up Madden 13?
Patrick: There are 3 reasons why everybody should buy Madden NFL 13. First, we’ve added real-time physics in the form of the Infinity Engine. Every tackle will look and feel completely different. Based on mass, momentum, and velocity, every collision will dynamically alter to create a realistic, impactful feeling. The potential of the Infinity Engine is unprecedented in sports games. The second reason to buy Madden NFL 13 is the addition of Connected Careers, a brand-new way to play out the career of a player or coach in the NFL. Gamers can play offline or online with a total of 32 people, each playing a role on a franchise. Connected Careers brings a ton to the table. There are now weekly, season and career goals to work towards. Deeper progression and team building elements are present. Stories from around the league and from your team are always visible and catalogued on the Connected Careers HUB, and connect experiences while creating a sense of life and reward/consequence for performances. A simulated Twitter feed offers insight, perspective, rumors, announcements, and more from sports journalists, NFL insiders, and former players. The third reason to buy Madden NFL 13 is for the overhaul in speech/sound. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are the best, and the authentic sounds from the NFL creat e an ambiance and immersive feeling that has never been offered.
Madden NFL 13 is the best for so many more reasons too. We’re just excited to get it out there and collect some feedback from the community. August 28th can’t come soon enough.
Special thanks to Patrick for taking the time out to answer our questions!