The First Official Feature For Madden NFL 10!

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Old 02-01-2009, 07:55 PM   #1
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The First Official Feature For Madden NFL 10!

WOW! What a way to end a half!!!!

Well Madden (and NFL) fans, as promised, we’re bringing you a sneak peek at Madden NFL 10 by releasing a feature that you’ll see in this year’s game! Remember, it’s only a mere 6½ months away!

We have a big goal as a team this year - to relay out as much information as possible. Hopefully in the process we can make the development of this game extremely transparent so you all, the fans, can get an inside look at how the game gets made. In doing so, we’ll often be discussing new features with you as they are finalized and polished, meaning that each and every one of you out there can give suggestions directly to us to try and shape the game towards your preferred direction. Madden NFL as a Franchise has one overarching goal it has to reach every year, and that is to be the best sports game in history. I’m going to leave the discussion to you all on whether we’ve reached that goal in year’s past, but I do know that now we all get to be a part of making it happen this year. You are no longer posting to forums in vain!

So as we sat down as a team and tried to decide what information we wanted to release first, it really made the most sense to focus more on the technical details for the first part of the year. This is for a couple of reasons – one, the majority of the people looking into Madden info right now are most likely going to be the more hardcore fans (who appreciate the details), and two, we obviously want to save more of the big name feature stuff for later in the year closer to launch time. You should see this theme continue throughout the first few months of our updates. Another reason we really like this approach is that some updates (this post included) are purely about new technology that actually hasn’t been fully fleshed out in the game yet. So the hope is that we can take feedback from the community in regards to maybe new ideas they’d like to see us implement with the new technology. This is one of the most exciting aspects for us as a team in regards to our interaction with the community throughout the development cycle for Madden NFL 10.

Enough talk – on to the new stuff!

Let me tell you a story of playing Madden NFL.
It’s 3rd and 10, and I’m down 14-7 against my buddy over Xbox LIVE. He’s a pretty conservative player, so I know he’ll sit his safeties back a bit and stay with man coverage on my outside receivers. I’m going to try and send my slot WR on a deep fly to clear the safety out, and hit my #1 WR on a Deep In. I saw Kurt Warner and the Rams with their "greatest show on turf" make this look easy week after week in the late 90’s! So I take the snap and analyze the situation quickly – no blitz, and the safeties are dropping out…money. I wish I was better at going through progressions, but I’m not - I’m pretty much watching my #1 WR all the way. He’s just coming out of his break on the deep in, and he’s got at least 2 steps on the defender trailing him in man coverage. I fire it in there, a perfect bullet pass where I think only he can catch it. Right before the ball gets to him the DB turns around and in one quick motion steps in front, picks it off, and is headed back the other way. HUH? THE DB NEVER EVEN SAW THE BALL!!

Ever happened to you? Did your controller survive to tell the tale?

It is my pleasure to introduce Madden’s newest piece of technology, one that is also shared within many of the EA SPORTS games, called "Procedural Awareness". What is it? We’ll you’ve likely heard of “head tracking” with IK. If you haven’t, it’s a way to turn the players head around to face a target dynamically, without the need for canned animations. Well, think of Procedural Awareness (PA for short) as the “next-gen” version of head tracking. Since it is so early in the year, unfortunately I can’t show you any videos of it running in the game, but I can show some “tech demos” of sorts:

This is definitely pretty cool stuff…we can tune how fast the player switches between different targets, and then also how he behaves when he locks on and follows a target. You can already envision this being used by DB’s and WR’s when the ball is thrown, QB’s as they go through progressions, safeties as they drop in zone, and obviously many more cases. In terms of visual fidelity, PA is also a major step up from any other normal IK head tracking solution. We’re in the middle of some changes so I would rather not show you our player model’s face in the tool (his jaw is missing…it isn’t pretty ), but I can show a video of PA running in the tool with an NBA Live player model – Dwayne Wade. This shows off how the eyes track along with the head, the ability to dynamically “blink”, some really smooth blending between different targets, and even how the spine and shoulders can be “pulled” to follow the eyes/head as well:

There’s one last cool feature within PA, and that is a concept of “procedural attitudes”. An attitude is basically a collection of a bunch of different variables that alter the way a player “looks” while he is head tracking. So for the above videos, you basically saw just one attitude – “alert”. But PA allows you to not only just tweak how quickly he reacts and the amount of time it takes him to switch targets and such, but you can also toy with a big collection of variables for players to actually express emotion with their head and eye movement. A big problem in many sports games is making characters feel “alive” – and it applies to Madden often times as soon as the play is over. You don’t want to see a bunch of zombies walking around, but you also don’t want to spend months writing code and adding animations to make players act a little more lifelike (especially when there are so many features we need to attack to more realistically emulate football gameplay). Here’s where PA helps tremendously…it allows artists to create subtle emotional attitudes for players without the need of an engineer. Again there is ZERO canned animation at work here…it’s all totally dynamic and can be created by an animator adjusting a few sliders in the tool. Below is an example video of a few attitudes:

Alright, so what’s Procedural Awareness in a nutshell?
“The ability to procedurally manipulate the spine, neck, head, and eyes on a player in the game; and also add layers of emotion/attitudes on top of those manipulations”.

So the videos really just showcase the technology…not how we implement that technology in our game to actually change the way the game is played. My story above about getting picked off by a DB that can’t see the ball? Well now we can make a DB track the ball realistically and we’ll make sure that he has a true line of sight before he can make a play on the ball. And if/when he gets burned, he can dynamically look down and shake his head with zero new animations or engineering support.

A very exciting thing for our team while posting this is that we are not using PA’s full functionality in the game right now. We have the standard “alert” attitude hooked up for 1) DB’s and WR’s to track the ball, 2) defenders to track the ballcarrier, and 3) the ballcarrier to track threats. So I'm passing it off to you guys:

- Where else would you like to see PA active?
- Are there any new attitudes would you like to see?
- Do you have any suggestions on the best area you think we should actually use the attitudes that we’ve created?

We will follow up in a few months (once we’re actually showing videos of the game) and show what all we changed/added thanks to community feedback. I personally can’t wait!

Enjoy the rest of the Super Bowl!

- Ian Cummings
Lead Designer, Madden NFL 10
Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360

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Old 02-01-2009, 07:56 PM   #2
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

I'm quick.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:56 PM   #3
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Wide Recievers
1. Can you make them look at the QB and then a quick glance at the DB to see his positioning before making a play?
2. As the ball approaches them make their eyes widen with an intense look on their face.
3. When they take a big hit (Hit stick) make them grimace.
4. When they are running free maybe a cocky look or a big old smile.
5. If they drop the ball they should be disapointed... mad something...

1. Presnap have him looking around at the defense and how they are setup and then towards the game clock. He should be seen yelling out the cadence. (Side note: It would be cool if they would point out the blitz.)

2. Checking through his prgression he should look at the WR and then the CB and if there is a safety over the top he should recognize him as well.
3. When hit from behind maybe a look of surprise mixed with pain.
4. When hit at hard (hit stick) he should also grimace.
5. While the ball is in the air he should have a look of anticipation.
6. If the ball is droped he should get mad.
7. If the ball is overthrown he should get dissapointed.
8. If hit while throwing can you have him sit on the turf while watching the play?
9. On the way back to the huddle he should look like he is struggling to hear what the coach is saying in his ear piece. He could even put his hand up to the side of the helmet with his ear piece.

1. Presnap he should read the defense.
2. When he lowers his shoulders

3. When making cuts

Offensive Line
1. When beat by a defender a look of surprise as he is pancaked right on his rear or as the defender blows past him would be ideal.

2. While locked up with a defender they should look as though they are struggling but also they have to peak around for the delayed blitz or run blitz.

Corner Backs
1. Presnap they should be looking at their WR but also glance into the backfield a few times.
2. While in coverage they should be looking at the WR but they also have to check on the QB to see if he where he is loooking to throw. (Side note: Can there be a reaction stat that determines how well the CB can keep track of his WR while glancing back at the QB.)
3. When the ball is in the air they should be looking at the ball while glancing back at the WR.
4. Same types of faces as the WR for droped and cought passes.
5. When returning an INT they have to look around to find holes.

I think they should be just about the same as the CB's.

D Line
1. Presnap they should be watching the ball while looking up to see the offensive stance.
2. While fighting with the OLine. He should look as though he is struggling.
3. When pancaked he should look surprise.
4. When aproaching the QB for a sack or HB for a tackle he should have an intense look.

1. Ball is in the air he should be looking up at the ball while glancing down at the coverage.
2. When returning he should always be looking around for a hole. Looking for his next move.
3. If he breaks away he should be smiling and happy.

At the end of of play as players help other players up off the turf or they are walking back towards the huddle they should look like they are having conversations.

Bonus Points

Referees - looking for penalties, Watching sideline catches, looking into scrums durring a fumble...

Chain Gang - As they try to line the chains up to the spot of the ball.

Coaches - Happy, mad, excited, sad... whatever the play outcome or game outcome calls for. How about shocked when the players dump gatoraide on them?

Last edited by DTown; 02-01-2009 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:57 PM   #4
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Awesome! Right as the whistle blew, you're the man Ian!
"I'll die before I lose, cuz I was born to win."- Drake
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:58 PM   #5
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Yea, can't wait to start reading it, nice and long too
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:02 PM   #6
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Nice. This is cool stuff. It will make the game feel more realistic! Keep it up Ian!
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:03 PM   #7
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Sounds good man.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:03 PM   #8
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Re: The first official feature for Madden NFL 10!

Damn dude. That's tight.
Rams, Blues and Cardinals

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