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Madden NFL 2004 Interview

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| Sports in Gaming | Posted: Aug 7, 2003 4:00 am

Q. The EA Madden NFL series has always been known for its drastic improvements going from year to year, so with this said, what are the most noteable improvements/additions for this year's PC version, over last years?

Each year, we dedicate specific resources to the PC product to make sure it stands out and has specific features and Madden NFL 2004 is an example of that.  We have PC only features in the online modes such as leagues and clubs, a new PC play editor, PC interface elements such as right-clicking and mouse wheel support.  Plus high-end graphics card enhancements make PC the best looking version of Madden.  Take all this and add-in great features shared with the consoles like Owner Mode and Playmaker Control and you have a full featured, great looking game.

Q. We understand that allowing an open source community to modify a game is a very gray area for most developers, however it has been a trend proving very profitable for some as of late. What is your stance on making the Madden series wide open for indepth editing, such as custom textures, models and even addon mods? Also, in the same sense, has Madden 2004 PC been changed to allow for any further game modification?

Madden NFL 2004 has some nice levels of customization, including a setting .ini file for game play settings, custom uniform and logo templates (editable textures), swappable season files, custom menu music and more.  We have to set some limits as a licensed game, but we are very proud of the level of customization in Madden NFL 2004 PC.

Q. Can PC gamers expect to see regularly updated rosters for downloading?

Yes, like last year, we will be updating rosters on a regular basis.

Q. If there has been one truly outstanding feature of the Madden series, it is the animations and general graphical quality. What measures have been taken to make 2004 PC even more realistic? Will Madden 2004 PC feature DirectX 9 extensions featured in ATi/Nvidia's chips?

Madden NFL 2004 PC does continue the tradition of placing a priority on graphical quality. This year the PC version will support the latest in graphical advancements such as per pixel shading, specular lighting, global illumination, and soft shadow techniques. By taking advantage of these features we've been able to create stunning visuals such as metallic (think Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and shiny helmets, reflective facemasks, shiny uniforms, cubic environmental mapping of helmets, and specific time of day stadium shadows. Add all of this up and Madden NFL 2004 PC is one of the best, if not the best, looking games in any genre.

Q. EA recently announced its partnership with Nvidia in their games, what does this mean for ATi users? Or on the other side of the coin, what benefits will Nvidia users see?

Our partnership with Nvidia has allowed EA access to the latest and most advanced hardware available, months before the public gets to experience it. We worked very closely with Nvidia to ensure Madden NFL 2004 PC takes full advantage of their hardware. Beside the things mentioned in the previous question, the biggest thing users will notice is improved frame rates. The Geforce 4 and Geforce FX cards allow us to take things the CPU used to do and place them on the video card. This alone improves overall performance greatly.

ATI owners should have no fear though. ATI is a great company that EA has a great relationship with as well. The advancements mentioned above will also be available on the latest ATI cards like the Radeon 9700 and 9800.

Q. How about the animations and collision detection, can we expect to see mid air collisions? more tackles? better gang tackling?

Yes, we've added quite a few new tackle animations and collisions, including mid-air and gang tackles.

Q. Since Micheal Vick is featured on the cover, one would naturally presume Madden 2004 tends to the scrambling quarterback. In 2003, it was easy enough for the player to run with the QB, but the computer very rarely did so. Can we expect to see Vick and McNabb take off on us? and if so, what changes have been made to in-game defenses to combat this?

We're pleased to say that we did spend a lot of time on scrambling quarterbacks as that is a trend in the NFL. We've added specific transitional animations for scrambling throws, defensive logic to watch for a QB taking off, special defensive plays (double spy for example) to help contain this aspect of the game and most exciting is that CPU controlled quarterbacks will now scramble and try to gain yards on the ground if the receivers are covered.

Q. DB AI has been an issue EA have focused on for quite some time now, it is a topic many have debated on. While I personally think Madden 2003 had good DB AI for the most part, has it been improved for 2004?

We made numerous changes in the DB A.I. this year. For one, we added all new cut moves to allow defensive backs to stay with their receiver more closely. Secondly, we took player attributes more into account on making plays on the ball. And lastly, when they just can't make a play on the ball for whatever reason, we added in a system that determines the chance of the ball getting knocked out. For example, if a receiver is running across the middle and gets hit just after the catch, he will be much more susceptible to dropping it than if he is brought down from behind on an out route.

Q.  The owner mode has received a lot of exciting responses from the Madden community.  Please outline a few reasons why gamers should be excited about this mode.

Owner Mode in Madden NFL 2004 is a really exciting feature for us.  It takes Franchise Mode to the next and ultimate level by changing the level of control beyond that of GM/Coach to that of an owner.  You are able to hire/fire your coaching staff, including assistant coaches - set your prices for tickets, merchandise and concession items (including unique menus per city) - and even relocate your team or rebuild your stadium, building block style from the ground up.  The whole point of this is that you have a new way of keeping score beyond wins & losses  - you have to balance financial profit/loss and fan support/attendance.  We think Franchise fans and anyone who ever wanted to own an NFL team will really enjoy this mode.

Q. The playbooks in Madden NFL have arguably  been the most comprehensive in any football game, but we hear they're getting even more attention this year. What enhancements have been made? can we expect to see even further unique aditions like the fake quarterback walk to the sideline we saw last season from Kurt Warner and Tomy Maddox? (the one where the QB lines up, then pretends to start walking to the side line in the direction of the coach, while the ball is snapped to a back).

We did spend more time with the playbooks this year than ever before, but that play you mention is probably not something we're looking to emulate.  We are fortunate enough to have a great relationship with the NFL Coaches Association and through that we are able to meet with real NFL coaches to get input on plays that teams actually ran in the NFL.  We have coach film from each team to have authentic runs, pass routes and trick plays per team.

Q. Finally, it was said 2004 will allow you to take greater control of your team as a whole, specifically, it was said a ball runner could direct blockers down field. Is this true? if so, how does it work, exactly?

This is Playmaker Control --- the PC version of Madden NFL 2004 will support the Playmaker Control. It requires a supported 10 button dual analog gamepad. Playmaker Control is an additional control scheme that brings new depth and ability to the Madden experience. With the right analog stick on your gamepad, you now have more control on the field than ever before.

Playmaker Offense (Before the Snap)

- Switch the direction of a running play - right analog stick left or right

- Hot Route the primary receiver on a passing play - right analog stick left, right, up or down

Playmaker Offense (After the Snap)

-Guide the nearest blocker - right analog stick up, down, left or right

- Direct the nearest receiver - right analog stick up, down, left or right

Playmaker Defense (Before the Snap)

- Cheat the secondary to one side - right analog stick left or right

Playmaker Defense (immediately after the snap)

- Cheat against the run - right analog stick down

- Cheat against the deep pass - right analog stick up

Thank you for your time, we at 3DAvenue are looking forward to this years Madden NFL immensely.

Sure thing, hope you guys like it, we're proud of how it turned out and excited to see how it is received.

 

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