During the time between Madden 09 and Madden 10 there was a large upheaval in the Madden development team. Ian Cummings had stepped in as the Creative Director and was really taking a leap to get into the world of the gamers. This meant that he was very active in community forums and took a lot of feedback from the ‘sim’ gaming community. Madden 10’s first glimpse came from a photo released during the Super Bowl XLIII. It was something that really caught the Madden community by surprise. To think that the developer was going to start the ‘hype machine’ wasn’t a shocker… but to see that they had obviously taken the feedback of the community seriously was something new.
Times have since changed. Ian Cummings is no longer at EA and Josh Looman is largely the go-to guy for all things Madden these days. Looman had been the guy most of the Franchise Mode fans wanted to talk to about the details within that portion of the game. Things really seem to have changed in recent years outside of that. The community isn’t anywhere near as active as it was when Cummings was at EA. Sure, there are still a lot of people that patrol the forums at numerous sites. Some of those sites tend to take a rather ‘Gestapo’ approach to people that are outraged by Madden and EA in general. It is apparently bad for business to let people vent their frustrations openly when the developers are so sensitive to the negative feedback. Yes, it isn’t necessary to have twenty threads of ‘EA Sucks’ and ‘I Hate Madden’ – but it needs to be said that Madden has really taken a few steps back since that time. So, that leaves a question for this weekend – What Should We Expect To Hear About Madden 15? One of the first things we will likely see is a larger focus on Next-Gen version of the game instead of that for XBox 360 and PS3. That said, we should probably expect a picture or video of more close-up ‘eye candy’ like player faces (ala – Donovan McNabb in Madden 11).
The downside of graphics being plastered everywhere is that it means nothing for actual gameplay. Graphics are much like candy wrappers in that sense. They catch the eye – but in the end it is all about the contents of what you are consuming. In this case, Madden is often like black licorice inside a Snickers wrapper (to me anyway).
I expect to hear something about smoother physics from the ‘Ignite’ engine. More focus probably being put into foot-planting, and some sort of improvement to tackle animations. Largely, the expectations for the Super Bowl Madden information should be muted simply because they are meant to be more of a hype machine than anything. I don’t remember the last time I played a sports title… or any game and looked at the player’s face or the towel hanging from his pants. Some people live for those details – but in all honesty – most gamers just want it to play like football rather than to look like football.
Look for eye-candy from Madden over the next few weeks and months. Hopefully there will be improvements made for current-gen titles. Such as better rulings for catches on the sidelines, smarter CPU playcalling, better draft, trade and free agency logic. Let’s not forget the strange ability for old players to come back and play without having aged a day. Ray Lewis, Kurt Warner and a few others are examples of this game going further into ‘arcade’ mode.
Then again – that is probably why sales for Madden continue to decline.
Enjoy the Super Bowl!