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Dicky McElephant
06-30-2009, 10:32 AM
Every Monday on Gamestop.com they have the developers come in and write about a new addition to the game. Their first one was lame so I didn't bother posting it. But here is this weeks...

http://www.gamestop.com/gs/blog/

Madden Mondays Guest Columnist Passes Tips on Tipping Passes

Editor's Note: Last week, we enjoyed a guest column from Madden NFL 10 Art Director Michael Young, who gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the Madden NFL 10, intro video, starring Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu. This week, we're delighted to have another guest columnist, Madden NFL 10 Lead Designer Ian Cummings, who will explain a new feature, the ability for a defensive lineman to realistically tip passes.

In any given year of Madden, we as a design team are tasked with coming up with all kinds of new and innovative ways to recreate NFL football. You could easily say the job of the design team every year is to come up with the ideas and features that make the previous iteration of the game feel obsolete. You may already be aware that a new design team jumped on board for Madden NFL 10, which shifted our focus a bit.

We still have the goal of making a great game that will overshadow the previous one, but this year we decided the best thing we could do would be to focus on creating an accurate NFL simulation above all else. We didn't need new meters or icons or any random fluff feature — we took a hard look at Madden NFL and focused our improvements into any area that we thought wasn't correctly emulating what happened in the NFL. Our mantra all year has remained the same — "Everything You See On Sunday, See It In Madden NFL 10".

That brings me to this seemingly small addition, "Tipped Passes at the line". On its own, this may sound like a lower-priority improvement (I thought so, too, initially), but in reality, this one addition has added a wealth of strategy, drama and fun to the game that was missing before. How did we do it? Well, it’s simple enough… the very first thing we did was add some intelligent logic for defenders to put their hands up to try and bat down passes. When we put this in initially as a prototype, nearly every pass got batted down at the line. D'oh! So we went scouring through NFL footage to find some more accurate percentages of how many passes are tipped, who does the tipping and when it happens, so we could tune our numbers more realistically. Then we also decided to tie the likelihood (and accuracy) of the bat-down to the Awareness rating of the defensive lineman.

Once we re-worked those numbers, we knew we had a pretty good realistic addition, but defenders were just smacking the ball right back into the face of the QB every time they got their hands on it. We really wanted to re-create that "wow" moment that happens every so often when a ball gets tipped and floats up in the air, up for grabs by any player. It is such a huge, suspenseful moment in real life! So we then went to work on modifying the physics of the ball if it collided with the hand of the DL. We added support to detect the collision point and whether it collides anywhere around the fingers of the player, based on the speed of the pass the ball can get deflected and float up in the air, instead of bouncing back in towards the QB. So after a few iterations and some tuning, we had basically turned what initially we thought was a really small addition into a real game-changer.

Playing quarterback in Madden NFL 10 now has this whole new wrinkle of strategy that has never existed in franchise history — you actually have find open passing lanes. We added accurate QB throwing styles to this year's game as well; so you have to be careful with the guys like Rivers and Romo that have a lower release as they can get their passes batted down more often. This addition also makes height relevant for the very first time — guys like Manning and Roethlisberger that tower in the pocket back there and have a high release have much less of a problem dealing with the linemen in front of them, where you have to do a lot more thinking with a guy like Garcia.

That’s it for this week folks. I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how this addition came to be in Madden NFL 10, and personally, I can’t wait for you guys to get your hands on it.

Editor's Note: We'll all get our chance to get our hands on it when Madden NFL 10 releases August 14. Thanks, Ian!