Madden makes a portable return, and NWR gets the lowdown.
NWR recently caught up with Ryan Stradling, Technical Director of the Madden Football franchise at EA Sports, to talk about why the series is returning to Nintendo handhelds and what sets the 3DS version apart from past portable editions.
Nintendo World Report: What are the origins of Madden NFL Football on the 3DS? How long has it been in development? Is it built from the ground up, or does it have a basis in one of the other versions of the series?
Ryan Stradling: Although we used the Wii engine as a starting point for Madden NFL Football, the graphics engine had to be custom-tailored for the new Nintendo 3DS platform, so much of the artwork and graphics have been completely redone. For example, the Madden NFL Football players have been completely remodeled and other visuals such as the grass and uniform textures have been taken from the PS3/360 version, providing a realistic NFL look to the game. The UI was rewritten, as well, in order to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS dual screens.
NWR: It seems that consumers lost interest in Madden on DS; EA hasn't even released a Madden game on the system for the last couple of years. How do you intend to make Madden NFL Football for 3DS more interesting for gamers who may have thought it was unnecessary on the previous handhelds?
RS: We are very proud and excited about Madden NFL Football on the 3DS. The title plays really, really well. We feel that the slide pad is a huge improvement in the experience for Madden on a handheld. In addition, we have taken advantage of the dual screens including being able to draw your own play in Call Your Shots. GameFlow is a very natural fit for a handheld to keep the games fast given that you may be playing on a plane or bus. Of course, if you would rather call your own plays you can. And we definitely took advantage of the 3D in the game moments including Spotlight moments. The 3D without glasses on the 3DS is really amazing.
NWR: How will the controls and interface design be different from last Madden NFL released on the DS?
RS: The slide pad adds another dimension to the game especially for sports gamers. The controls feel very responsive and make for a really fun Madden football game. The bottom screen is where you interact with the UI and top screen is what we use to present more information to the user. You can interact with the bottom screen using the touch screen or the D-Pad or the slide pad. Also, when we present UI on the top screens in real 3D there are some really cool moments where the 3D shines through.
NWR: Do you anticipate any issues with using the touch screen while watching the 3D screen?
RS: Not at all. We have been very careful in the user’s interaction with the touch screen. We want it to be during moments where it makes sense.
NWR: Have you considered using motion control for some functions?
RS: We did some prototypes with it, but decided that focusing on other 3DS features worked out better for our game. The 3DS has a lot of really cool differentiating features to take advantage of. We focused on the ones we thought provided the best experience for a single player.
NWR: What are your thoughts on the slide pad, and how is it being used in Madden NFL Football on 3DS?
RS: The slide pad is how you will move your player. It allows the platform to play like a Madden NFL game. It is a great addition and makes a very positive difference in gameplay. We are very excited about this feature especially for sports titles and Madden.
NWR: Are you planning to use any of the 3DS wireless features? Can we expect online gameplay from a launch title like this?
RS: We decided early on to focus on the single-player user experience and the capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS in that regard. We offer several captivating modes including 11 vs. 11, 5 vs. 5, Season Mode and features such as Spotlight Moments, GameFlow, and Call Your Shots – all in 3D – making it the perfect on-the-go game for every football fan.
NWR: The game is lacking the series' staple franchise mode. Why is this, and do you think players will lament its absence?
RS: We are confident that fans will feel this is the best Madden NFL ever on a handheld. We focused on features which revolve around the in-game experience and UI. For example, we spent a lot of time tuning cameras to truly take advantage of the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. There are the game modes Madden fans know and love (Season Mode, Spotlight Moments, etc) and for something fast-paced and different, there is 5 v 5. The game plays like a Madden title, and the graphics look wonderful.
NWR: Do you feel that the game will be looked over because it is coming out during the NFL's offseason? Were you expecting the 3DS to launch in November, making the game's release a little more relevant?
RS: I personally believe that the NFL holds a lot of fan interest year round. Look at how the NFL Draft’s viewership has grown over the years and how last year it was moved into primetime. I am a huge NFL fan. I can’t get enough of it. I follow the NFL news year round now. I will be happy to have a great handheld game at my disposal to get my football game fix and take my team to the Super Bowl.
NWR: As it pertains to the development of this new Madden game, which new feature of the 3DS do you think is most important or exciting; 3D, increased horsepower, increased screen size/resolution, analog controls, or online features?
RS: I truly can’t pick just one. The 3D and increased horsepower immediately jump to mind because it immerses you in the experience. But the slide pad is another key addition. I am very excited for the public to see how Madden NFL Football takes advantage of these features.
Thanks to Ryan and EA Sports for the interview!