Madden NFL 23, the official NFL video game from EA Sports, is now available. On this occasion, Executive Producer Aaron McHardy covers the major new features, the importance of cover star John Madden, and an insight into the development process.
In an exclusive interview with SPOX McHardy also reveals how excited NFL players are to be involved in the development process, and what it means for most to appear on the cover of the game Madden.
On Wednesday, John Madden was unveiled as the new Madden NFL 23 cover star – for obvious reasons. But how is the process of selecting cover athletes as usual?
Aaron McHardy: We usually look for emerging talent or a fan favorite to cover a star, but of course this year, coach John Madden has died. We were halfway through our last series of games and it was a shock for our team to lose such an important character. Not only for our team or our franchise, but for the sport as a whole. And it just made sense to honor Coach Madden by putting him back on the cover of the game that bears his name. It was a very easy decision this year. We wanted to pay tribute to him and worship him as much as possible.
And that’s why he appears in the game as a trainer …
McHardy: Exactly. We did our best to bring his elements into the game, recreate his character and bring him to life in a way we haven’t done in the game in a long time. It’s going to be in 3D, we’ve rebuilt its model. When you start the game for the first time, you play with two All Madden teams against each other, including two versions of Coach Madden from two different eras.
And they also look ultra-realistic. How much detailed work is there?
McHardy: We went so far as to acquire some of the clothes Coach Madden was wearing at the time. For example, he had his signature adidas turf boots, which we obtained to be scanned and reproduced 100% authentic in-game. We even scanned his Super Bowl ring. And the clothes he wore then. We just wanted to do everything we could to honor him in the game, so he’s our cover athlete. By the way, he is an athlete because he played the game. He is an athlete, but a little older. (laughter)
Madden NFL 23: Madden Curse “Just a Joke”
When you talk about Madden NFL you inevitably think of the infamous Madden Curse. Were there any players who did not want to be featured on the cover for this reason?
McHardy: Well, people are talking about it. This is a joke that has been around for a long time. But in all of our EA Sports games, and Madden is no exception, gamers love to be featured on the covers of our games. It’s like winning an Oscar in the movie industry when you become the cover person of Madden.
How is the interaction with players usually going, not only in terms of covers but also in terms of game development?
McHardy: As video game producers, we usually have some aversion – well, not aversion, but we don’t think gamers are really open to it – that gamers are part of the process. But this year, authenticity was a big problem for us and we tried to scan as many players as possible. We have a truck for this and we were in a novice combine. Boys excite in knowing they are going to the NFL AND the scan for our game was huge. Some of them came and said, “How can I help? What can I do to make my game look as accurate as possible? “
Madden NFL 23: FieldSENSE Gives You More Control
Let’s move on to the game itself. Madden NFL 23 will debut a new system called FieldSENSE. Tell us what it is and what it does.
McHardy: FieldSENSE is our new gameplay system that we developed this year. It’s based on our fans wanting more control in the game. There is the term “Animation Based Gameplay.” This means that when a player enters a multi-player scenario and there is a hook or gear etc, users feel the outcome is a doomed. That’s why a lot of work has been put into the gameplay area this year. And with the FieldSENSE system, we want to break that feeling.
What does this mean exactly?
McHardy: We have some new features based on new technology and how it is used. We’re also adding new game mechanics. Our three main points are: “Hit Everything” – it’s about breaking out of the usual pre-made animations when it comes to attacking, catching or blocking. We want to be able to do what the function says in its name: to be able to hit anything on the pitch. The second point is “Fit”. We’ve built a brand new throwing mechanic that allows the playmaker to really throw the ball where he wants to. And then we have another “360 ° Cut” point. The goal is to improve the ball wearer’s control anywhere on the pitch. It can stick a foot into the ground, change direction abruptly, and run forcefully towards the end zone or break through the crack. It all comes down to giving the player more control while playing the game. These are the big functions that we introduced in FieldSENSE.