Madden NFL 25 News Post

Episode 53 of the Press Row Podcast is a one-on-one interview between host Rich Grisham (@richgrisham) and Madden NFL 25 producer Patrick Bellanca about the various ways the team has refreshed Madden’s overall presentation as it launches on the PS4 and Xbox One. Patrick describes the process of design and implementation of cameras, crowds, sidelines, commentary, and more.

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Run Time: 52 Minutes

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Game: Madden NFL 25Reader Score: 4.5/10 - Vote Now
Platform: PS3 / PS4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox OneVotes for game: 53 - View All
Madden NFL 25 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 wordtobigbird @ 11/07/13 05:49 PM
"The one reason every should buy this game is the way that it feels."

Ended positively even though I could pick apart some of his answers. I do look forward to trying it.
# 2 xylocaine @ 11/07/13 07:27 PM
I've been burned way too many times by Madden promises, why do you think this will be ANY different?
# 3 jpdavis82 @ 11/07/13 09:14 PM
Cliff Notes

Rich: The crowds in Madden and a lot of sports games have been "ok". Not as interactive as we would want them to be. How are we going to see the crowds more alive on PS4 and Xbox One.

Patrick: First thing, here's the deal with the old crowds and Madden in general. We have a unique challenge with Madden, we have more players on the surface, different cameras, a bevy of technical challenges that caused our solutions to be with that approach, and solve on the field issues first and foremost. What you saw in the past was a limited amount of resources that were focused strictly on the play on the field. So in the past, the things that suffered were the characters on the sidelines and the characters in the crowd. We tried to do our best, but it wasn't good enough. When you look around at some of the other games in the sports industry, they did different things, they had different solutions, but they had sort of in the action challenges.

One of the first points of both polish and quality for us, were the sidelines. The FIFA, UFC, and NBA team felt the same way. So here is a common problem needing to be solved by all of us. So we involve Ignite, and we end up with this amazing living world that is designed to create an atmosphere and deliver on an ambience that we recognize both watching the game on tv and being there in the stands. From my experience those are both completely different audible and visual experiences. What you see in Madden 25 on gen 4 is quite outstanding when you compare it side by side with what you saw on gen 3. We've got character models that you can push a camera right up in on, right up on their face. You can put a camera behind them and capture the field. These are actual full body models now, thousands and thousands of them placed in the stands reacting to what's happening on the field. We've really never had that. Once we got this into the game and started to unlock the potential, it was really awesome. We had big wow moments and people standing up and clapping in meetings like I haven't seen in years. It was really cool to put a feature in, just kind of at the core, here's what it can do, and get people's reactions. The reactions I was getting in the room weren't much different than what I was getting in the game. Big explosions of people standing up and clapping and bumping fists and kind of hollering.

When you compare what you are seeing in the game, to what are audio team is now delivering in an even more full, rich audio track. You've got lifelike realistic crowd swells and you've got this kind of passive visual that we are not just pushing a camera in and say here look at our crowd. It's more of here's our game shot from our gameplay camera, here's our post play presentation shot the way we like to shoot post play, and oh you just may notice in the background that the crowd is electric. You may see some cool cameras at quarter break or coming back from a timeout where you've got cameramen walking around in the concourse, shooting around people and capturing their reactions from behind them. Kind of these neat visuals that we as fans have seen on Sunday, that we as gamers have not seen in Madden. When you invest technically to get rendered crowd characters with full bodies, and expressions, animated behaviours, and reactions to events. They'll react to anything they see, they'll react to a broken tackle, as the play unfolds, if the ball carrier runs past the first down line, that's going to invoke some reaction. If he shrugs a guy and gets into the open space and gets into the endzone and is dancing, you see the crowds go from a passive or intimidation in preplay, through various stages of positive and happy and celebration, and into their touchdown reactions. You can just watch as these moments unfold, and it's happening to both large and small moments alike. It's happening in large and small numbers across the stadium.

We have taken measures in the past to shoot around some of our visual deficiencies. You can't just upgrade the background and continue to shoot it in the same regard, because we would not be paying off on our investment. So there's a re-imagination to our presentation, the way we shoot our game, more authentically. So when you combine those efforts and then you have a realistic background, you can do a whole lot of things that are more authentic. You can go back to shooting across the field at a coach, and get the first 3 rows of the crowd to be doing something. Not these jagged edges that we have to essentially frame the coach up to close to prevent that imagery. It's really neat and has gone a long way to making the game feel more emotional, plays feel more impacting, change of momentum is now a thing that can be felt, it's tangible. Making noise at home on 3rd down means something.

Rich: Do you have a couple examples of specific situations that you have for years wanted to make happen but weren't able to in the past?

Patrick: The biggest one for me, and I think that the fans are going to respond to, is them standing up and sitting down at the right times. Now, they stand when they are supposed to stand, they stand when there's an anticipatory moment, when they're not quite sure, when they're about to react. So you get these really cool visuals, stand back deep on your side of the field, drop back and throw the deep bomb, watch as the crowd stands as the ball soars through the air, as this realistic mass, with this anticipatory and slowly building reaction, paid off by the catch or the drop on the other end. Just to have that isolated moment and show that from a camera that captures that. I imagine like you see on tv, low pylon, real open lens. Like Russell Wilson dropping back kind of right into the frame, then he launches this deep bomb, and the camera kind of stays positioned where it is and you get this amazing visual of the crowd standing up in that far corner endzone section, paid off by a big catch, then they're standing there with arms raised with a big roar from the audio. That's huge, it's so big in the moment, especially pumped into some real speakers. In local head to head games I've been playing, I'm standing up, I'm cheering, I'm excited.

Rich: Does the atmosphere for a preseason game differ from opening day on the regular season, vs a big regular season game, where playoff spot is on the line, vs a game where both teams are eliminated and out of it, vs a Playoff game? How does that come into play, what type of game it is as opposed to just in the specific game situation.

Patrick: The intensity of the moment is portrayed through the commentary and through the audio mix. Visually speaking and reactively speaking, the context of the moment is what's driving that. So score, time factor, down and distance, those are things that effect the game and that's very consistent. The scale, the volume, the intensity, the dialogue, that makes one moment bigger than another is happening through the commentary system and the audio mix.

Rich: Let's talk about the commentary, in Madden 25 for current gen, compared with Madden 13, it seemed very similar with what we heard in Madden 13.

Patrick: We have some really awesome designs with regard to commentary. It's been a bit of a slow moving process, it's really more of an engineering thing than anything else. Nantz and Simms are fantastic talent and the way they have made themselves available to us is amazing. We've got more content out of them, than we've gotten out of other guys in the same time span. There were some challenges in the past with commentary. The commentary crews in real life, it's not just Nantz and Simms, they have a crew of people working with them, feeding them data, stat guys, paper in front of their faces at all times, a bug in their ear, etc... For the most part they have data, commentary lives on the data supported to it. In the past there wasn't a huge focus on data, and therefore the data wasn't available. You can only load so much stuff in the game. A lot of the juicy data, the stuff that when you have a lot of years to focus on it, you end up pulling out, like rivalry specific stuff, last time these two met, what this play could lead to from this team or on this day, that could change the landscape of the conference. This juicy data, these commentary hooks are being developed, they're being worked on. We have some of that in the first iteration and we have a lot more coming. There are some other technical challenges as well. From the design side it was real easy, there's a huge development between what's currently in the game, and what we all want to see in the game. Designing it was pretty straight forward. Getting to sign off and buy in from the technical side to deliver us the data to satisfy these requirements is a different story and is something that is continually being progressed. So a lot of what you are hearing in this first issue of Madden on gen 4, is a deeper knowledge of the players involved in today's game. It's more history, it's more of the underlined narrative that makes this exciting, or unveils a relationship between two players involved in today's matchup that goes beyond statistics. It's very narrative driven. Some of what we've requested is available and the rest is being delivered. Outside of the data, we're doing new things with our stitching, to have cleaner stitch points. There's a slew of things that Matt Bialosuknia and the audio team end up talking about and writing blogs about that speak to those things specifically. We all know what an amazing opportunity with commentary and best in class commentary with the NFL, is something that we want to have, it's something that we have a great plan to get to. When we say there is a lot more memory and a lot more everything in gen 4, we've got 200 people, trying to get their hands on that little bit of extra. You end up having to prioritize within your needs, but commentary is very high priority because of how much quality opportunity there is. It got a significant amount of memory attributed to it, to allow us to put new commentary in, and it does come from a narrative perspective. A lot of the deeper contextual stuff is in the works.

Rich: How is the tracking of the ball, the various people tracking the ball, how is that going to impact Madden 25 on the PS4/ Xbox One.

Patrick: Something really cool is happening on the sidelines the entire game. I'll preface by saying, a lot of what goes into Living Worlds, I consider to be passive features. These are features designed and implemented to increase the believability of the atmosphere, without directly tying things to it. Presentation that has to look at it, presentation flows and sequences that sort of forces these things, it's not like that. It's the kind of thing where you run it back in instant replay and see something on the sideline, and you pull the camera back and go what the heck was that, then you see a cameraman moving out of the way of a ball carrier and you're going no way, did that really just happen? Let me test the limits of this, I'll try running into some other stuff. There's some discovery and exploration to be had with regards to the sidelines. You mentioned ball tracking, there's some really cool, the guys that capture videos and put them on Youtube and stuff will have a really fun time with the Living Worlds because you can now put a camera in a place that you wouldn't have wanted to in the past. For example, behind the coach, you put this camera behind this coach, and you just sort of run the play back. You're going to see the coach kind of changing his emotion a couple times as the play unfolds, you're going to see him tracking the play. So if you throw that same deep bomb that we talked about earlier, the coach's neck is sort of turning and he's watching the play, as he's beginning to anticipate a reaction and then ultimately reacts at the conclusion of the play. Capturing onfield action through the eyes or over the should of other players is a really neat visual that you can now pull off. Let's say you run the sidelines, as you run down the sideline, as you're passing all these characters, they're watching you and depending on how much of a threat you are to them, players don't view players tiptoeing the sideline as a threat, they'll get closer to the action and peek out and watch as he runs by. Cameramen and probably the most fearful of the sideline people, are the chain gang. They're out of the way immediately, they're out of the way before you have a chance, even to attempt to run them over. So all of this authentic behavior is captured in the living sidelines and there's two cool moments, seeing all of this exist and going back in and exploring what the system is going to do. Then secondly, kind of passively observing these moments and it draws you into a more immersive and authentic experience. These are happening constantly, on every play. It feels like I'm involved, it feels like the world is attentive to the action, sounds authentic, commentary over the top to tie it together, and we have only begun to create a truly authentic and living atmosphere. We have some really cool features lined up and some amazing dev in progress already for Madden 15, to push the limits even further. We are excited to be at the end of year one of a new console generation. There are some things that you will not see in Madden 25, that you will see in future versions, that people are a bit reserved in year one, to sort of see where we get. You never know, and cannot anticipate what the end is going to be like. It's sort of common practice for technical leads to hold back until you fully understand everything. I expect year 2 to be a waterfall of amazing, well, I really can't say too much about that yet. Madden 25 is chock full with as much as we could pack into it. Every area of the game is significantly better, we're nothing but excited for the direction that we are heading.

Rich: There is a chain gang?

Patrick: Yes sir, yeah it's funny how many of those little things, just making way for other features on gen 3 had to go. When I tell people that the head coach is on the sideline in gen 4, they go wait he wasn't? There is a coach and chain gang alive and moving along the sidelines. The coaches that are supposed to have headsets will, except for legends like a Tom Landry.

Rich: Touchdown celebrations were not contextually right on gen 3. Is there going to be more involvement from all the team members? What are the celebrations going to be like when big things happen, on the field?

Patrick: I want to say it's very much in line with where it is in gen 3. I'm being honest. Players run into the back of the end zone when they score. Players celebrating alone, was a bug we fixed in Patch 2. They ought to be celebrating in the area of the field, contextually around the players who were just near him. I'd imagine the only time they would be celebrating alone is if it were a breakaway. There are multi man celebrations, there is a little context specific animation stuff. I think in all, it's in line with where we delivered on gen 3, plus some bug fixing.

Rich: If I am a devoted Madden player and I buy myself a PS4 or Xbox One, will the Madden 25 on gen 4, be a significant improvement in my experience from gen 3, enough to spend my $60 and say this is a great launch football game?

Patrick: Capital yes with an exclamation point. It's so much of an upgrade, it's hard to go back. I've been playing gen 4 exclusively for the better part of 5 months, it's phenomenal. The reason why I'm telling people you have to own this game, is specifically in the area of gameplay. The war in the trenches, run free, those are game changers. The way the game feels, is forever changed and better. Everything else, is cool to have. They're nice features, I'm a big fan of everything we've devoted resources to. But, the one reason why everyone should buy this game, is because of the way it plays and feels.
# 4 kehlis @ 11/07/13 09:34 PM
Originally Posted by royounggoku
Does anyone know if they're coming out with a demo for this game? I definitely need to try it out before I consider buying. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but PS Plus will allow you to play a trial version of every game right?
Could be wrong but I THINK I remember reading there were no launch demo's for any of the games.
# 5 kehlis @ 11/07/13 09:45 PM
Well there's that ha.
# 6 StormsWarning @ 11/07/13 11:21 PM
this was a good interview, and i i like how he broke the situations and explanations down from, past to current to future, good job. looking forward to playing madden.
# 7 MrJCOreo @ 11/07/13 11:48 PM
I feel a bit guilty for saying this but I will not buy until I see the impressions of the folks on here who WILL be buying first. If what he said is true (about the gameplay) and there is significantly improved AI that is verified by ya'll, then I will consider purchasing. Until then, nada.
# 8 secondsolution @ 11/08/13 01:59 AM
Originally Posted by jpdavis82
Rich: Does the atmosphere for a preseason game differ from opening day on the regular season, vs a big regular season game, where playoff spot is on the line, vs a game where both teams are eliminated and out of it, vs a Playoff game? How does that come into play, what type of game it is as opposed to just in the specific game situation.

Patrick: The intensity of the moment is portrayed through the commentary and through the audio mix. Visually speaking and reactively speaking, the context of the moment is what's driving that. So score, time factor, down and distance, those are things that effect the game and that's very consistent. The scale, the volume, the intensity, the dialogue, that makes one moment bigger than another is happening through the commentary system and the audio mix.
This annoys me with most interviews I read with Madden developers. They get asked a question where the answer is clearly "no", but instead they rattle off some dribble that they hope will satisfy the interviewer.
# 9 frankwyte81 @ 11/08/13 04:57 AM
I must say, Patrick Bellanca has a passion for what he does. I've been turned off by Madden over the years. To see other games doing things that I felt EA Sports should've been doing in their game, was kind of disappointing. But I will give Madden 25 next gen a chance year to win me over on the new consoles. That's more than I was going to give them a chance before listening to Patrick.

At least he admits Madden had and in some areas still have flaws, but they are setting ground work for future iterations. That still remains to be seen, but I will try the game out. Good overall interview, IMO.
# 10 TreyIM2 @ 11/08/13 05:53 AM
@jpdavis82 - Thanks for the transcript. A good read on my train ride this morn. I have a hard time staying focused when listening to podcasts. Lol.

That said, I'm excited for Madden next Fri. Was a lil disappointed about no addressing of crowd head tracking so I'm assuming there is none. The early vids already demonstrate that but I didn't know if it would be added along the way. Also a lil disappointed they couldn't get more realistic TD celebrations this go round. Either way, something to look forward to for 15.
# 11 apollon42 @ 11/08/13 08:21 AM
If the half-tackles arent recorded, if they still have the lame cutscene with the backup quarterback on the kickoff team, if the play of the game is still some six yard run that occured in the fourth quarter, i'm not buying it.
# 12 El_Poopador @ 11/08/13 12:30 PM
Originally Posted by SA1NT401
Meh.... Still have zero interest at this point. Still feel madden 06 for the 360 all over again

Fully expect old and new legacy issues, roster glitches, edited bugs, draft day stupidity, maybe an inability to control all 32 teams( don't think that's been confirmed or player editing in season), filched schemes and playbooks, busted DB coverage, lackluster WR/DB interactions, weak/glitchy animations, goofy physics....

So I'm waiting.
player editing in cfm was confirmed, but not for online cfm.

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