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Old 07-21-2003, 04:08 PM   #1
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ESPN NFL Football Interview

Mr. Thomas broke off from his busy schedule to answer some questions we sent to him a while ago. With all the information we've receivied, I still found all of the answers very informative and helpful. Hopefully you will too.

ESPN NFL Football interview:

Could you please introduce yourself?

I’m Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts.

How long have you been working with Visual Concepts?

I started Visual Concepts more than a decade ago and have watched it grow over the years. We now have more than 130 employees and are producing some awesome games for multiple consoles.

What role do you have in developing ESPN NFL Football?

I’m involved in the development of every game – it also happens to be one of my favorites – so I have a lot of opinions on how it should work on every level.

What new special moves can we expect to see from ball carriers in ESPN NFL Football?

The Charge allows the player to choose between increasing the overall speed of a running back by tapping the charge button, or holding it down to fill up The Charge meter to enhance special moves. The new Chain Reaction lets you string together special moves which gives you the opportunity to make something of nothing. We also added a really cool Juke System on the Right Analog stick that must be used to be believed. These moves make for really exciting gameplay and plays more akin to what you would see in the NFL. On the defensive side of the ball, we have added a Swat VS Intercept button which gives our DB play much more excitement.

Speaking of receivers, I also heard you will be adding sideline catches, care to elaborate?

Yes, we have sideline catching, diving sideline catches and incredible end zone falling catches. We also have shoving out of bounds which is really cool too.

Will there be more momentum?

We take all players momentum into account whether you are a huge fullback or a nimble halfback – they feel completely differently. This is true of ALL players on offense and defense. We have added this while also staying true to our very tight control of the players that we love so much. While we feel that other football games make you feel like you are running in mud or trying to steer a large yacht in a harbor, we really like the feel of the momentum in our game this year.

What ESPN personalities can we expect to see in ESPN NFL FOOTBALL, and in what roles?

We recorded more than 40 hours of commentary with one of ESPN’s greatest talents – Chris Berman. He was great and so enthusiastic. He is going to do some pre-game and halftime analysis during ESPN NFL Football. If you’re playing as the Bengals, Berman might have some special trademarked lines in store for you. Hearing Boomer in our game really makes a difference!

I heard that adjusting defensive coverages would be easier this year with a few added wrinkles. Could you explain the new features a bit more?

We’ve updated the defensive formations per team, and adding the on-the-fly substitutions per formation, the biggest addition to defensive plays are the defensive adjustments per unit. So, before the snap of the ball, you can command your d-line to pinch in, set your linebackers to shadow the weak side, and have you d-backs play off the receivers all in a couple of button commands. This really gives total control in managing your defense every down. As for the defensive plays and formations, we have updated them to include all of the changes that have occurred in the NFL.

Many complained that it was too hard to get sacks in 2K3. Are there any changes to the defensive linemen or the time the QB takes to make their reads to improve this?

In ESPN NFL Football if you play your cards right – you can get a sack. They are not free, but they are definitely possible, just like the NFL. We’ve fine-tuned the defensive AI so that it plays at a more realistic level. I’m a Dolphins fan, so all I have to say is Chad P of the Jets – watch out!

Will we be able to assign double coverage to a WR or a player to spy a scrambling QB this year?

Yes. You can double up on a receiver and also assign a specific defender to a specific receiver.

Will the crowd cheer at the right times? When they win the game at the last second will the home crowd go crazy? Will you really feel the emotion?

Not only will the crowd cheer at the appropriate times during big offensive plays or big defensive stops, but they will definitely boo you for making boneheaded decisions. For example, if it's 4th and 22, and you decide to go for it in the 1st quarter, the crowd will likely shower the team will boos. However, our crowd is also smart enough to know not to boo you if you decide to go for it on a big 4th down in the 4th quarter, with under 2 minutes to go. We have added many new aspects of the crowd this year as well to really bring out the emotion of an NFL game.

How has the running game been improved? Will we see more animations from the running back?

We’ve added a couple new features that will be of great use in the running game. Obviously, The Charge allows the player to choose between increasing the overall speed of a running back by tapping the charge button, or holding it down to fill up The Charge meter to enhance special moves. The new Chain Reaction system is certainly made for the running game; basically, you can string together special moves while in the middle of a special move. This gives the player a great amount of creative freedom and, if they’re good enough, they can even make “something out of nothing” a la Barry Sanders. And you’ll see some really amazing new running animations especially if you use the advanced jukes on the Right Analog stick.

Will we be able to play with updated rosters online this year? This is a feature gamers have been begging for since 2k1.

Yes, gamers have asked for it, and they are going to get it. Updated rosters will be available for both PS2 and Xbox. Something else cool to watch for online is First Person Football.

You guys have been pretty secretive about improvements to the franchise mode. Can you give us a little tidbit of what new things to expect?

Last year, we really made a dedicated effort in presenting Franchise mode in a totally different way. In the past, most football franchise modes were presented in the same boring way – menus, menus, and more menus. Last year, we did away with the menus format and really presented franchise mode so you felt it was really your office. At the beginning of development of ESPN NFL Football, we thought about how was the best way to organize all the elements in being a general manager. To do this right, we created an email system that not only organizes everything for the player, but gives him a gauge of how good/bad he’s doing during the season. For example, if you’re playing up to your expectations, you might get an email from your owner commenting on the job you’ve done so far. If there’s an injury to a player, you will get an email from your trainer telling you how long he’ll be out and that you better make adjustments to your roster. We’ve also updated the look and overall menu presentation to Franchise mode, but the biggest addition is the email system in that it is a very large system that encompasses many elements and makes our Franchise Mode much easier to understand and much better to play with. This year’s Franchise Mode will be our best ever and will give anyone a great challenge AND a fun time!

Us hardcore 2k fans know what the best football series is, but were there any changes to peak the interest of some stubborn Madden faithfuls?

We think we have something very unique with First Person Football and the Crib – but what’s more is that we keep delivering an incredible game year after year – it’s a product we’re very proud of. We believe that creating consistently good and innovative games is the best ways to attract more gamers.

We’ve also added over 1000 NEW animations this year including gang tackles, players can push the pile now, sideline catches, shoving out of bounds, real DB/WR interaction, all new celebrations and many others. We have made huge strides this year in the quality of our animations and we think the competition will be playing catch-up in this area once again.

But, truthfully we feel that if you want to play the most realistic football game, one that is a big challenge and a fair game, you need to play ESPN NFL Football.

Will teams have their Home, Away, and Alternate Jerseys?

We have a very dedicated - some say insane - artist who loves to get every single jersey of every NFL football team in the game… and we came pretty close this year. Most of the teams have five or more different jerseys to choose from depending on how long they've been in the NFL. And our accuracy is second to none. Some of them are really amazing!

Will there be any new throwback uniforms?

We’ve included not only some new throwback uniforms, but we really ramped up on several alternate uniforms… I believe we have over 20 new alternate uniforms, some from last season, some that you’ll see in the upcoming season. Of the standouts, Carolina’s “Blue” alternate jerseys, Miami’s “teal on teal”, and Denver’s blinding orange alternate really push the limit on fashionable football wear.
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:11 PM   #2
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

FP mode online
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:23 PM   #3
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

i'm impressed by the interview
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:32 PM   #4
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

I think something my OS brothers would agree on is how much it can piss you off when you get no credit for your hard work.

A link would've been great... how about just sayin "Hey guys this is at [insert site here]"?
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:33 PM   #5
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

a link to the source would have been sufficient rather
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:34 PM   #6
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

I did see one new thing not mentioned in the article about the running animations from the videos.

In one of the videos when the RB comes up to the back of his olineman he doesn't just stand behind or run in place behind him. He puts his hand on his back and pushes right up against him pushing the olineman forward then when an opening came to his side he was able to cut off the olinemans back to the hole and continue on.

Very nice - these are the things you notice when you play not all the other fluff like dirty jerseys.
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:51 PM   #7
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

Actually he didn't just stand there in 2k3, he did a sidestep move to slide past him. Good idea but didn't work too well b/c it threw you out of control for a second. What you mentioned is one of the new animations to better handle the situation (and actually was mentioned in the interview).
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:53 PM   #8
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Re: ESPN NFL Football Interview

Good interview. Thanks, wwharton (and the other guys at nfl2kx.com).

Too bad he didn't say anything about the progressive dirtying of uniforms though. Maybe he will in the OS interview.
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