We are proud to present our interview with Kendall Boyd, Product Manager of Arena Football.
Operation Sports: Is Arena Football backwards compatible for the 360?
Kendall Boyd: Not at this time.
Operation Sports: Will we see real player names and coaches?
Kendall Boyd: Yes we have the actual rosters and coaches’ likeness on the sidelines.We plan on doing a roster update at launch with several to follow during the season.
Operation Sports: Will we be able to edit player names, accessories, ratings, etc.?
Kendall Boyd: There is full editing available.
Operation Sports: If you use one of the historic teams in Dynasty mode, do you replace a current team, or are they added to the league? Can you give us a list of the historic teams in the game? What about the New Orleans Voodoo, how will that be handled?
Kendall Boyd: Yes, you swap out your unlocked or created teams for an existing one in the franchise mode.Albany Firebirds
Fort Worth Cavalry
Las Vegas Sting
Los Angeles Cobras
Minnesota Fighting Pike
New England Sea Wolves
New England Steamrollers
New Jersey Gladiators
New Jersey Red Dogs
New Orleans Night
New Orleans VooDoo
New York Cityhawks
New York Knights
Portland Forest Dragons
San Antonio Force
St. Louis Stampede
Operation Sports: How will receivers in forward motion prior to snap be handled?
Kendall Boyd: The receiver will take off from the point that you start the play. He will be in a full sprint and then you must snap the ball or at the point he crosses the line of scrimmage.
Operation Sports: How is the speed of the game? What will the physics be like; will we see more momentum involved?
Kendall Boyd: The speed of the game is very fast, about 25% times faster than our traditional games like Madden. Momentum is different in Arena Football because it is very similar to a basketball game. You can score from the first play of the game so it is important that you play possessions - a defensive stop is huge in this game.The physics are also unique as we’ve added around 600 new animations. You will see combination hits and double tackles or combo hits into (and over) the walls. You’ll see one handed grabs and players pin balling off of the walls. This is a completely different football game than anything we’ve ever created in terms of the environment itself.
Operation Sports: How is the wall on the sideline handled in the game? How difficult was that to implement into the game?
Kendall Boyd: (See above for most of this) The walls are one of the most important aspects of the game. They are also live and in play so you could technically throw the ball of the walls and catch it (you can do this in game, but it’s pretty tough just like real life). The play is not dead if you run into the wall so you can see a guy hit the wall and then get smashed back into it multiple times.Receivers will try to haul in catches as they go out of bounds or into the walls and sometimes you even see players fly over and collide with equipment on the other side.
Operation Sports: Can you describe the running and passing game? Is it similar to the Madden series? Will we see the passing cone?
Kendall Boyd: The running game is straight smash mouth. There isn’t any finesse backs or long runs in this game, and you have to work just to pick up three hard fought yards. This is true to the sport itself, a great season for a running back in the AFL is like 200 yards for the year!
Passing is completely intense, it isn’t like Madden where you can drop back and wait for the play to develop or take off from a dead sprint and scramble like in NCAA. You have a two step drop and if you haven’t made a quick decision, you’re likely to get smashed by an opponent.Vision and precision was unique to Madden. Just like you never saw Playmaker control in NCAA, you won’t see vision and precision in Arena Football. We want each game to be a unique experience and have their own game play mechanics about them.
Operation Sports: Could you describe the game play? How realistic is it going to be?
Kendall Boyd: We try to be as true and authentic to the sport as possible, so I would have to say that everything from our intricate substitution rules to pyrotechnics at the start of the game are as close to the real thing as you can get with a video game. The great thing about Arena Football is that the sport itself already plays like an arcade game so it wasn’t hard to make the experience fun and exciting.
Operation Sports: Why so many running plays in the playbooks? We all know Arena Football is an aerial show; the running game isn't a big part of the game at all.
Kendall Boyd: We used actual plays from AFL coaches Jay Gruden and Buff Buffington so running plays, while not the most glamorous in the league, still exist. Plus, in a head to head game, it is key to be able to throw off your opponent with a running play now and again.
Operation Sports: How will balls off the nets be handled?
Kendall Boyd: There are two different types of circumstances that you can play the ball off of the net. The one is a Hail Mary play in which you just chuck it and hope your guy comes up with the ball The other is a little more dedicated to timing, when you get in range you can tap the appropriate receiver button on a pass, but use the pressure sensitive aspect to float the ball high over your receiver, then the ball should hit off of the net and you can go to make the play.
Operation Sports: Could you give us some more Telemetry details?
Kendall Boyd: Telemetry is a great feature for the more strategic player. Some aspects on the field are similar to the NCAA Football match-up stick, in which you will be able to check out the opponents overall health/fatigue levels a few times per game. This is great to pick on that weak corner that is gassed and hasn’t been subbed out. The other key component is checking the real time stats and scoring tendencies. If you notice that your opponent has been burning you on the right side of the field all day and has scored five touchdowns in the same vicinity, then you can call a special audible that will sell out your secondary to try to over compensate. The one caveat to this would be if the opponent uses his favorite side as a decoy, then you will probably give up a wide open touchdown.
Operation Sports: How many new animations will we see in this game? Are a lot of them pulled from Madden NFL 06 and NCAA Football 06?
Kendall Boyd: There are literally thousands of animations in the game with about 600 new and unique Arena Football style animations.
Operation Sports: Will we see gang tackling?
Kendall Boyd: Yes, there are several new types of tackles. Gang tackles and a very cool animation of hitting a player in the air more than once which changes his trajectory (we call this the helicopter) are an example of a few.
Operation Sports: How will injuries be handled? Can players play through an injury?
Kendall Boyd: The player’s overall health can experience degradation over time. Each hit into the wall or long run will wear him down to a point that he could be injured. You can try to follow the substitution rules and sub your man out once per half, or take the risk of injury. Once he gets hurt, depending on severity he may have to be removed from the game.
Operation Sports: Could you give us some details about the Dynasty Mode? How is the off-season going to be handled?
Kendall Boyd: We have a franchise mode in which you can load a created or classic team and even do a fantasy draft. Once you’re in the mode you will have to negotiate free agents and trades and maintain your depth chart from year-to-year.
Operation Sports: Will players leave for the NFL and if so, will we be able to import them to Madden NFL 07?
Kendall Boyd: Roster updates will take care of any real word changes, but we didn’t include a draft exportation feature with Arena Football.
Operation Sports: We would like to thank you for your time with this interview, is there anything else you would like to add?
Kendall Boyd: Arena Football is the AFL fan’s dream come true and a great exciting football game for those who are looking to take a break from their Madden Franchise & NCAA Dynasty modes. It is fast paced, open scoring and a whole lot of fun for football fans of all ages. Be sure to check out Arena Football for the PlayStation2 and Xbox