By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
Madden 19 dropped earlier this month and it’s almost become a rite of passage this time of year for football fanatics to scramble to their trusted retailer to buy the latest version of perhaps the most intelligent sports design ever created. Though my gaming hours have been shaved by a family of four, I continue to be impressed with the game play simulation. Not sure that there has never been a football game that more authentically represents the NFL than this in terms of presentation and depth.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I found that Anthony White, the primary game designer for Madden Football is an X&O Labs Insiders member. He’s a former Pop Warner coach who has attended football clinics for years in order to make sure that if it’s in the game, it’s “in the game.” He’s responsible for implementing teams’ playbooks, how they call plays and how tendencies are established. I’ve been playing Madden football since its inception in 1990 (on a Sega Genesis console), so I was pumped to talk to Anthony about how the best video game on earth is created. Turns out he’s a researcher, just like us, who happens to have one of the coolest jobs on the planet. And he was gracious enough to talk to us about how he creates the game.
Editor’s Note: We recommend you follow Anthony White on Twitter (@AWhite_73). He shares a lot of what he’s working on and what he’s learning—including sharing game film.
Mike Kuchar (MK): Tell me about the process you use when designing team specific play concepts in the game.
Anthony White (AW): “All of us are looking at film. The NFL sends us film every week. Tuesday mornings I get all the film from the past Sunday’s games. We get All 22 film. We have a tool through the NFL that allows us to go through and do all kinds of searches to look at down and distance, field position, searches by quarter and by player. It’s a video tool that they developed in-house and it allows us to pull up video clips on any statistical category that is tracked by the league. We can also do player searches as well. At our facility, we have NFL film that goes back to the 2004 season, every regular season and playoff games. So, it definitely helps a lot in terms of making cut-ups, film study, and analyzing team play-calling tendencies. Then I separate these by run and pass. I have my actual spread sheet which is a lot like football editing programs software that includes formation, play type, hash location and then I make my notes. I’m usually noting if the play is currently in our system or is it something that we need to create?”