Even though you don’t see them on a play-to-play basis like you do when playing games like NBA 2k or MLB The Show, player likenesses are a big deal to fans of the Madden franchise.
When fans pause a game and go to Instant Replay or when an in-game cut happens, they want to be able to recognize their favorite players almost immediately. And while it’s obvious that not every player in the league will get their faces scanned into the annual game, that doesn’t mean the developers at EA Sports don’t want to have as many players represented as possible.
“I don’t have an exact number,” Dustin Smith, Authenticity Producer of Madden NFL, said regarding the amount of players had facial scans in Madden 18. “I can tell you we are adding, it’s going to be at least over fifty [new] players this year.”
Those new players includes 2016 rookies, as well as rookies from this year. Players like DeMarco Murray, Tony Jefferson, Marquette King, and Dak Prescott will either see updated scans or be making their debuts in the game when it comes to their likeness.
“We had to make an unfortunately early call on what rookies we were going to put in this year well before the draft,” he said. “So we picked kind of as best we could.”
He added there is one- at the time- free agent rookie that made it into facial scanning, though he said he’s leaving that one as a surprise.
Related to player scans, Smith said, “We’ve gone through and redone all of our long simulated hair. Our long white guy hair has been redone. We have a nice, good looking brown and blond version now.”
He chuckled, adding, “I don’t know what they chose to name it on artwork side. I don’t think I have an honest- better way to describe it other than white guy hair. It’s basically straight, long white guy male hair.”
He said they redid the long, curly Samoan hair, dreadlocks (with color variations), and hair animation with how it moves, even in collisions.
“We also have it set up now where if a guy chops off his dreads during the year, because of how artwork set it up, I can actually make that change in a roster update,” Smith stated. “Whereas before, especially if it was a scanned player, we couldn’t do it.”
Smith said that while they don’t have any new authentic tattoos in Madden 18, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to or won’t add any more in the future. He mentioned they definitely want the ability to give players the power to give created characters their own tattoos. He cited the lawsuits the NBA has gone through as a reason they don’t include more tattoos in Madden 18. Displaying an artist’s work in a game without their consent can lead to lawsuits.
When discussing create a player, he said they won’t have fully customizable faces this year.
“We want to get our create a player to a point where it isn’t just on par with any other create a player,” he said. “It’s really high, high, high quality so that you can get all of the massive detail out of it and make a player that looks just like you, whether you scan your face or hand make your face or whatever we end up going with.
“That’s definitely something we want to get to.”
There’s no plans for face scanning for Madden 18, but he said it’s something they are discussing for later Madden games. Though if they do use it, he said they want to make sure it is as high-quality as it can be.
“I know we definitely want to get to the part where you see more things like that,” Smith offered when asked about if players will see the effects of damage and changing weather conditions on the jerseys. “Where you could see possibly the shoulder pad pop out and then the player readjusts it and puts it back on. It’s definitely something we want to get to.
“It’s not the easiest thing in the world, from my understanding. Because we don’t currently model shoulder pads,” he admitted. “The good part Longshot brought us was that it kind of forcing everybody’s hand to make those things happen,” referencing the need for additional details in that mode stretching out into the rest of the game.
We asked if seven-on-seven mode would be available outside of Longshot, and he said he was not certain as of yet.
Of course, having more player likenesses, equipment and customization options is nice, but there is still one aspect of the game that Smith immediately states is at the top of the list when it comes to the game’s authenticity.
“Roster…it’s still going to be priority number one,” Smith said when asked about his more involved role in the ratings system on top of his roster duties. “Roster is a time-consuming process if you want to do it well.”
He cites things like watching tapes, reading scouting reports, and searching for information on players as the biggest time sinks.
“Some players there’s a plethora of information, other players there’s scarce to little to no information.”
He continued saying, “It’s probably the most important part of the thing I do everyday. It’s totally worth coming in and spending all that time just to get the players just right.”
“Home and away equipment,” Smith excitedly added, “something a lot of people asked for years for. You don’t have to set it per player, you don’t have to set it per team now. It’s already set up for all the teams that do it. I set it up just right for about half the league it is now. Like Chiefs, Steelers, Bucks. I mean, obviously, Cowboys were already working last year. Raiders, Panthers, there’s even more out there. But I think something a lot of people are going to be proud of.”
“Another little tidbit,” Smith wanted to mention. “Helmet numbers. A lot of people always bug me for years ‘how come the Saints and the Eagles don’t have outlines on their helmet numbers?’ We’ve redone helmet decals entirely. Helmet numbers can now look like exactly what they’re supposed to look like. All of our helmet numbers have been improved. As have all of our helmet decals. They actually look like a decal you can go peel off in game right now.”
Madden 18 launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 on August 25th. Those who pre-order the G.O.A.T. Edition of the game can get access three-days early on August 22.