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Madden NFL 18’s Creative Director Rex Dickson Talks Franchise, Gameplay Improvements, and More!

madden 18 interview

While at E3, our editor-in-chief Curtis Knight had the chance to catch up with Rex Dickson, the creative director for Madden NFL 18.

“I’m sure they got through at least the top five tuning issues,” Rex said when asked about fixing issues from Madden 17. He mentioned regression and injury as some of the features they tuned.

He continued to say, “Within CFM, we have the Coach Adjustments feature, which is a top request from the community.” He also mentioned the Automated Draft board saying, “… you can set your draft picks by priority, lock it in, and then the whole thing could be automated with you and your other users.” In our interview with Clint Oldenburg, designer for Madden 18, he also highlighted this feature. This means if you are not able to be around when a draft happens, you can still participate and get the players you want in the order you choose.

We also asked about gameplay styles and how keeping competitive and simulation separate helps the players. He said the biggest asset is being able to tune the game for each style based on feedback from those players. “So the competitive community’s complaining about something being OP, but the sim community is like ‘don’t touch it,’ now we can alter one playstyle and leave the other one alone.” He went on to say that the duel modes represent a new model. “If the sim community says, ‘we need to see more inaccuracy from low-rated quarterbacks,’ that’s something we can go ahead and do. So it’s really important to get feedback from the community as to what you want simulation playstyle to feel like.”

A big topic in the community was players feeling like strength didn’t matter much on the defensive or offensive line. Rex nodded, ready to give a full answer on the subject. “Clint did a lot of work with the offensive line this year across the board. One of the big things for us was the whole like bronze VS elite offensive line debate, and people taking their line ratings. So that’s all been addressed.”

He continued, honing in on the question of weight and strength of the players and the issue of who can hit stick who. “If you’re a lighter DB, you won’t be able to match hit sticks with big power backs. Which is why we built a cut stick mechanic, which was in 2004, brought it back. So now when you’re a smaller guy, you don’t want to go for hit sticks. You want to go low, take out the legs.”

Rex further elaborated on some of the new things the team has been working on. “One thing you might not have seen yet is we actually have strip sacks and reach sacks now. Where guys who are engaged in blocks can actually reach out, grab onto a ball carrier, and trigger three-mans. And that happens with quarterbacks and sacks as well.”

The problem with wide receiver drops is a serious topic in the competitive Madden world. Rex said there were two major issues. The first was a timing issue with online play, which he states is a bug now squashed. For the other, he said, “For competitive play, they want guarantees. So what we’ll do is establish a cap threshold for catch rating.” While he didn’t disclose anything too exact, he said if the receiver is open, the ball hits him in the hands, and he has above a “ninety or so catch,” he will catch the ball 100% of the time.

Since Madden 18 is the first Madden game on the Frostbite engine, we asked what new features he’s looking forward to seeing. “It’s really limitless,” he said with a smile, saying they’ll be able to pull features from other games that use the Frostbite engine, such as FIFA or even Battlefront and Battlefield. “For a guy like me, it’s just kinda limitless opportunities to go explore new technologies and try some new things in Madden that Frostbite will let us do.” He added that “… in a year or two years, once we mastered the Frostbite engine, you’re going to see some major visual improvements.”

In the video, he gave us a brief look at Madden 18 on an Xbox One X running in 4k resolution. “That build we’ve only had about six weeks of development time on. So as it gets closer to launch, we’re going to have much more visual improvements on that platform, as well as the PS4 Pro.”

You can check out the full interview and the footage of Madden 18 above. For more Madden 18 exclusives be sure to subscribe to SGO’s Youtube channel.

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