We were very grateful that Madden Mastermind Rex Dickson took time out of his busy schedule to discuss all of the improvements and hard work the team has put in this year into Madden 16 including Draft champions, QB play, new catching mechanics, and “money plays”.
The Natural: This is The Natural with Sports Gamers Online here, I’m super happy, super excited to be here, Rex Dickson, the creative director of the game EA Madden NFL 16, we’re here at E3, they got the game play here, and we’re playing the game, we love it so far, tell us a little bit more about the game.
Rex Dickson: We’re so proud of this game this year, we really busted our ass, tried to move the needle in a big way. Obviously, the big theme in gameplay is to be the playmaker, the air supremacy theme, new catching mechanics, new DB mechanics, new passing mechanics. I like to feel like we revolutionized the passing game in Madden this year, and once you get into the subtleties of the three different catch mechanics and the multi-player catch outcomes, see this is a very different Madden; more fun with the ball than ever before. On the defensive side of the ball, I’m super happy about gained tackles, we finally got organic game tackles in the right way, not the protract way. And we’re super happy about that, it took us three years to get to that feature, and I think we knocked it out of the park. And then our new mode is fun as hell, I mean, everyone loves to do the draft and in the fantasy draft, you get legendary players and it’s going to be a big hit for us.
The Natural: Yeah, the fantasy draft, they have a whole side dedicated to that, it looks really great, hop in draft your team and you know, jumping into action really quickly, switch teams around, really awesome feature, players are going to love it! Do you feel like that’s going to get more people, like myself, that are not draft fans into draft a little bit more?
Rex Dickson: Actually, I don’t think our intent was really to bridge to modern, our intent was for people that have kids and have very busy lives and don’t have a chance to really put 300 hours into a CFM dynasty or something like that, if I just want to come home and gain a quick experience and be done in one night, that’s what draft champions is all about. Draft a team, play four games, you’re done, be done in one night, that’s the whole intent behind it.
The Natural: Awesome, it’s an awesome new feature; you guys are going to love it there. Well, as far as the wide receiver and the DB interaction, it seems to be the huge focus this year, how you do kind of differentiate some of the upper-rated quarterbacks and the lower rated guys to, you know, put the passes where they need to go?
Rex Dickson: Well, interestingly enough, our highly rated quarterbacks play well for forever, what we really haven’t had is separation between different types of quarterbacks. Regardless of whom you’re playing, you pretty much get the same game from the AI, that has all changed this year. We’ve done a whole bunch of AI work on quarterbacks, making sure that scrambling or dual threat quarterbacks will use that, will be with it if you run and stuff like that, as well as pocket passes are just so precise, they can just carve you up. Guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, so depending on who you’re playing against, you’re going to get an entirely different game from the computer this year, and it’s really like revolutionized the game and it makes it feel like, you know, you never know what to expect and you’re always going to be challenged, and it’s one of the best things about the new Madden 16.
The Natural: Awesome! We’re super excited to play the game, and last year, the defense was so much improved on zone and man coverage, do you feel that this new catch animation kind of gives the offense a little bit of edge now in this year coming back, because the defense is just so good now?
Rex Dickson: Uh, no, because the new multi-player catch animations are equally balanced. For every offense win, we have an equal defensive win that counters that same move set, so, you know, you could throw one up now and instead of getting face caught on in defense, a multi-player triggers and may trick the ball out and it gets picked. So, it’s a very balanced feature, and we’ve relaxed the break on throwing a little bit this year so that, you know, people weren’t throwing six or seven picks a game, but we did go in and we fixed defender catch chances, so you won’t get the wide open hook ball drops anymore, still really important to make good reads here, but feeling those unfair undercuts where they break as soon as your arm goes back and past the ball, that’s been massaged a little bit.
The Natural: Oh, great, because people complained, you know, a lot about jumping 40 feet in the air, but you guys fixed that, and you know, now cutting over from under three, that’s the one people get pissed off with, that’s great. It’s awesome seeing you guys pay attention to the community and see how that plays out. So, one thing that you guys improved is the running and the blocking last year, and it was great when you had to run the ball, but some presets like pistol and Travis were a little overpowered in the running game, did you guys kind of look at that a little bit this year?
Rex Dickson: Every year we look at the most overpowered money plays, we’re watching a problem stream, you know, and he’s running PA power O every single play and as developers, that really pisses us off, we’re like ‘why is he running this one play over and over, this isn’t a balanced offense!’ We want to see people play football, we don’t want to see them play madden. So, we worked really hard to make sure that those money plays are out of the game or nominalized, forcing you to really run a balanced offense of run and pass and use authentic football strategies instead of a one-money play that you use over and over again that unstoppable.
The Natural: Plus, it’s so tough balancing that, because you have to make it real football, but have it be fun, you know, but maybe not the hardcore guy, so it’s really such a challenge for you guys every year to balance that, you know, those things.
Rex Dickson: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, we have a bunch of tournament hardcore guys on staff and I always thought that they would get upset by things like us taking away little glitch moves and other stuff they could do with the stick and rocket catching and face catching, but honestly, their reaction is ‘as soon as I realize I can’t cheat anymore, I start playing football,’ and that’s what we want out of everybody. It’s like once we remove all of the cheats and all of the exploits, everyone’s going to be forced to play football with real strategy, and that’s when we know that we’ve gotten there; that’s where we’re going.
The Natural: A little shout out to my boy RG there, but thanks, we appreciated having you and talking to us, we really love the game and we’re looking forward to playing more this year.
Rex Dickson: Thank you very much!
The Natural: Thanks!
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