Madden 15 Creative Director Rex Dickson Discusses Enhanced Features
Ryan Bloom / Jul 16th, 2014 No Comments
Madden NFL 25 released alongside the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November. The few extra months of development allowed EA Tiburon to bring a full set of features to the next-gen version of the game. While the focus last season was on feature parody, this season includes improvements across the board to make Madden NFL 15 a true next-gen experience.
Gaming Illustrated’s Ryan Bloom had the opportunity to discuss the enhancements coming to Madden 15 with the game’s creative director, Rex Dickson.
Ryan Bloom (Gaming Illustrated): This year we have Richard Sherman on the cover, so defense is the name of the game. Tell us about the improvements on defense that you guys showed off at the press conference.
Rex Dickson: It’s across the board improvements, a lot of user mechanics, a lot of A.I. work. We completely re-imagined our pass-rush controls; we moved it off right stick. It’s now the A and X buttons for power and finesse moves. We have a new jump-the-snap mechanic by pulling the right trigger at the snap.
Tackling has been completely reauthored. We have the hit-stick now on the X button. You can also use the right stick like a traditional hit stick and tackle using the A button on the Xbox.
Then, we have across the board improvements in zone and man coverage on the A.I. side.
Gaming Illustrated: It seems like the A.I. is a lot more football smart. Tell us about that.
Rex Dickson: It’s funny, because the way it went down is we had a couple guys from the NFL. Stevenson Sylvester and Cortez Allen from the Pittsburgh Steelers came down and worked with us for a whole week. They showed us how they play and how they read quarterbacks, and we took the knowledge they gave us, and we just put it right in the game.
It really came directly from guys in the NFL that tell us, “This is how we play. This kind of coverage.” We made the changes on the fly.
Gaming Illustrated: One of the other things I noticed is while you’re picking a play, you see different stats.
Rex Dickson: It’s cloud-based play-calling. Last year we had a feature called Coach Class, which used to look at your data from all Madden games played. This year, we didn’t want you to have to sit there with a smart device in your lap to use it. We wanted play-calling to be more than picking a name out of a phonebook, we want people to be learning things.
So, what it does is it takes the down and distance situation and compares the two teams playbooks and tells you “Your opponent is most likely to do this, in this situation,” and recommends a play out of your playbook that is going to be effective against that play. Our hope is that people actually start learning what to call in situations and become smarter in terms of their knowledge of the game of football just by playing Madden.
Gaming Illustrated: Will the tablet still be a part of the experience?
Rex Dickson: Yes, we still support Coach Class, but honestly this is the best way to call plays. This is the best thing we’ve ever done for play calling in the history of the franchise.
Gaming Illustrated: Another thing I noticed is definitely the players, but especially the coaches and the sidelines look a lot better. Could you talk about that?
Rex Dickson: Our main focus this year was on key star players. Quarterbacks and coaches have all been re-done, but we actually have three teams that are out right now at NFL camps face-scanning every single player in the NFL. We’ll try to get as many as we can in for ship this year, but if not, very shortly after you’re going to see almost every player in Madden with an actual photo of the player’s face used in the game.
Gaming Illustrated: Last year, you had the next-gen launch and Madden came out a little bit later, did that affect at all the development of this one?
Rex Dickson: No, actually we spent last year making sure we had a smooth transition and all our features came across from Gen 3 to Gen 4. But I think what we failed to do, and what people called us out for, is the game didn’t really scream, “I’m a next gen Madden game!”
This year it was critically important that we deliver on that visual promise and I think if you look at the game, you can tell that we’ve really come a long way visually. With player likeness, this is the kind of Gen 4 game that people would expect from Madden.
Gaming Illustrated: You really can’t see today too much of the presentation but it looks pretty good. What else are you doing with the presentation to improve that?
Rex Dickson: Well it’s really across the board, the main thing is we’ve brought in a guy from NFL Films to be our new director of presentation. He’s actually shooting it with zero video game knowledge. He’s shooting it like he would shoot an NFL broadcast, using all the lessons he’s learned from shooting Hard Knocks and shooting NFL games.
It’s not just the way that a game is shot; it’s a new pre-game show, a new halftime show, and a post-game show. Pretty much across the board, presentation is being taken to the next generation this year.
Gaming Illustrated: I think that’s pretty much it, is there anything else you would like to add?
Rex Dickson: Madden 15 comes out Aug. 26 for all platforms.
Gaming Illustrated: Thank you.
tags: ea sports , interview , madden 15 , Madden 15 Interview , madden nfl