On his recent producers tour Phil Frazier took some time to talk to Bone-idle about the new Madden 12 title.
Bone-Idle: Hi thanks for meeting with us today, have you been on the same circuit as Dave with the Fifa tour?
PF: Ah no he has been everywhere I’ve been here. This is my first time over this side. I’ve been working on Madden for 12 years and I can’t remember a time where we have done a trip like this.
Bone-Idle: It’s strange as the Madden series is actually really popular here in Ireland
PF: That’s what I‘ve been hearing that the fans are really engaged with the title over here which is really great.
Bone-Idle: With the addition of the collision physics in Fifa this year has there been much collaboration with the FIFA guys when building Madden?
PF: Yes, ah we do share a lot they use real time physics for Fifa, we are not quite there yet but we do share the underlying animation system called ANT it’s used in lots of EA titles, it’s used in Madden, it’s used in Battlefield for example. That system is the same, what happens is we will take different elements and start plugging them into the game, Fifa is going after Physics we are going after locomotion which is the running animation and basically we will take a look at what they have and we will swap and see if we can fold it into the Madden series.
In terms of the Physics that they have developed we aren’t using a whole lot of that this year we will let them develop it let it get little more mature and then we will take a look at it.
Bone-Idle: So once it’s been perfected then you will look at it
PF: Yes it doesn’t make a lot of sense for two games teams to do the exact same thing at the same time. We have tried to share at the same time before but usually what happens is one game releases early and the other game has more time to develop and they end up having a better product. So we let one team focus on it get it done then take it into the other game when it’s ready.
Bone-Idle: So this year you have improved the Gameflow system that allows the player to quickly pick the play from the play book, how important was it to speed up the game in this way.
PF: Yea so in Madden 11 we added Gameflow, we had two objectives one was to simplify the experience and the second was to speed up the game play. A game of Madden typically took around an hour to play, to play one single game setting where as with Fifa I believe you can play a game in about 20 minutes. That’s an accessibilities issue even if you have the easiest game in the world not everyone has an hour to set aside so we wanted to get it down to under 30minutes. So we are closer in line with Fifa and if you use Gameflow it gets it down to around the 30 minutes.
It’s a major on-going focus for us going from 11 into 12 and we know people like it because we have telemetry that shows people used it pretty consistently throughout last year. So we wanted to continue on with it and make the feature even better, people had concern over what plays were being called when it picked an awkward play and it shouldn’t be the case anymore.
We also added a new feature called Custom Playbooks that fully works with the Gameflow system. So if you customise your playbook Gameflow still works, we have a lot of great improvements were we show you what plays have been called. You can very easily choose plays that are more passing focussed or running focussed.
Bone-Idle: Will the Gameflow still pick the best play even from your custom playbook if it thinks that’s your best play.
PF: Yes absolutely, so if you build your custom playbook which is a collection of plays from every playbook in the game, so you can say I want this play from the Red Skins I want this play from the Colts. You can go and set a play from that playbook and it can be called from within Gameflow.
Bone-Idle: How much control do you have over the custom plays, can you tell your wide receiver you want him to run to this point then turn inside etc.
PF: It’s not quite there yet, what we have found it that people will play with there favourite team and once they are established with that team they will start to look for plays from other teams. For example they might say I like to play with the Colts because I like Payton Manning but I like the Vikings playbook because it has this play or I like the Red Skins play book because of this formation and they are frustrated because they can’t have both but what custom playbooks allows them to do is to say I want to start with a clean slate and I want this formation from this playbook and this play from this team and put them all into their playbook. You don’t get to choose individual routes or assignments but you do get to choose the actual plays you want.
Bone-Idle: So you can get a collection of your favourite plays and just use them?
PF: Yes if you look at the really elite Madden players the guys who play in big competitions you find they typically call less than 20 plays. Its nice and small and compact and easy to use, the feature allows people to create playbooks from 3 plays up to hundred whatever they want.
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