Madden NFL 11: Dual-Stick Controls

EA Sports' Jason Danahy takes us through the dual-stick controls in this exclusive Q&A.

by

For football fans, NFL Draft week represents a respite in a sea of meaningless early season baseball and moderately exciting NBA playoff action. For video game football fans, NFL Draft week is essentially the kickoff for two of the biggest sports games around: EA Sports' NCAA Football 11 and Madden NFL 11. We'll be seeing both of those games in person for the first time later this week; on Friday, I'll have my preview of NCAA 11. And next Monday, I'll have our first look at Madden 11. In the meantime, we've got an exclusive look at the new dual-stick controls in Madden NFL 11, which look to give you more control over the ball carrier than ever before. To get the details, we turned to EA Sports' Jason Danahy, animation director on Madden NFL 11. We've also got a couple of tech demo videos courtesy of EA that will illustrate some of the new animations in action.

GameSpot: Before we get into the details of how dual-stick controls work, can you explain the philosophy behind the new control system? What are you looking to accomplish?

Jason Danahy: We spent time looking at highlights of some the great running backs (Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, etc.), as well as game film of today’s running backs. We broke down why these guys were successful when running the ball and decided to focus in on two basic points: footwork and body control.

What we found was that a lot of these guys set defenders up with a quick plant or series of plants (breakdown). They would plant to one side and see how the defender would react to that and then decide what to do next based off of the defender…maybe a juke to the outside, maybe a spin back to the inside, or just cut and go.

They also had great control of their upper body. They knew when to try and deliver a hit to a defender and when to protect the ball and try and avoid taking a big hit. They could steer into a defender they were trying to truck, as well as turn their bodies away from defenders to not take the big shot and try to slip through a tackle or be able to fall forward to get that extra yard.

GS: How will the new right stick controls work? What will you be able to do with a ball carrier that you couldn’t do before?

JD: The basic breakdown is left and right are your foot plants/breakdown and jukes; forward is truck; and forward and then roll to left or right twists the upper body. Back is a “hesitation/high knees” move, and half circles around the bottom of the stick are your spins.

The upper body twist and hesitation/high knees move couldn’t be done at all last year. The hesitation/high knees move is an alternative to the plant and breakdown. Instead of getting lower, you lean back a bit and slow down a little to set up a move (Adrian Peterson does this quite a bit). It also gets your feet out in front of you a little more, which can be used to try and break dive tackles from behind. You will get a broken tackle bonus if you are able to do this when someone dives at your feet from behind. You can even “wind up” a truck to get an extra bonus if you can correctly time pulling down to lean back a little and then push forward into the truck. You don’t want to get hit when in this move because you will get crushed as you are pretty open and exposed. Everything else has been redone in a new way to give the user more control by making it easier to go from move to move.

GS: What aspects of a ball-carrier's attributes will affect how effective he is at jukes and spins? Have these new controls required some tweaking of those player attributes?

JD: The player’s juke and spin ratings affect the effectiveness of the special moves; the higher your players ratings are, the greater chance the defender will be faked out by a juke. The speed at which the jukes and spins are executed is also scaled based off of ratings, so elite backs and receivers are in and out of their moves faster than everyone else. We really haven’t had to change the specific ratings for these too much since the actions existed last year. This year was more focused on controlling those movements and getting more realistic execution of them.

GS: Explain how the lean mechanic works. What’s to stop a player from leaning forward at all times?

JD: The leaning is now tied to the right stick in an analog manner. Last year, you would flick up on the right stick and the ball carrier would be pulled out of locomotion and play a full body canned truck animation. Now, the amount of lean or twist is dependent on the location of the right stick and you never leave locomotion so you can steer the ball carrier into or away from a defender while trucking or twisting. If you time it just right and get your player to the max amount of lean (before stumbling), you get the max truck bonus. Same goes for twisting; if you can twist away from a defender when he is about to hit, you get a broken tackle/fall forward bonus. If you get caught twisting to the wrong side, fumble chance is increased.

As far as stopping someone from leaning over the whole time if you lean forward too far for too long, you will stumble. Once stumbling, you have a small window to stop leaning and recover; if you don’t, you will fall. You also can’t run at your max speed when leaning. And once you lean past a certain point, we don’t allow you to perform other special moves until you back off the lean.

GS: It seems like it will be easy to string together multiple moves in sequence. How much will these types of special moves affect a player’s stamina? Are there other limiting factors to prevent juke/spin abuse?

JD: Yes, the special moves do chip away at the overall reservoir of a player’s stamina during the play, and if you try to plant too many times (breakdown for too long), you will stumble. Anytime you are doing lots of special moves, you are going to be moving at less than top speed, and since everyone follows the new acceleration in locomotion, it will take you time to get back up to your max speed. The downside of this for the ball carrier is that while you are doing all of these moves that are slowing you down, the off ball defenders are able to keep their speed up and close quickly because they are generally running in straight lines.

This gives us a very realistic feel in that as a defender, if you can get the ball carrier to make moves to get by you, even if you don’t make the tackle, you are still slowing him down and giving other defenders a better chance to close in and make a play.

GS: How do the new right-stick controls tie in with the new locomotion physics you’ve talked about in previous weeks?

JD: When you start leaning or twisting, your top speed gets capped at a certain percentage of your normal top speed. Also, once you stop leaning, you will have to follow the acceleration curve to get back up to your max speed.

GS: Will players have the option to use the old button controls if they like?

JD: Yes, all the face buttons will work just like they did last year. We like to give fans a choice in how they control the game. That said, we’re confident once you use the sticks, you won’t go back to buttons.

GS: Most of these control tweaks we’ve talked about are meant for offensive players. Have there been any new right-stick controls for defense?

JD: With all the new locomotion work we did this year, we felt that users are rewarded appropriately by keeping their speed high for making good play-identifying decisions, like properly identifying a run versus a pass play, what hole to fill, or taking the proper pursuit angle. If you make poor decisions, a player will have to slow down to turn or play a direction change and then follow the new acceleration curves to speed back up. This feels natural for defenders, so we focused on this instead of simply adding nonessential moves to the right stick.

GS: Thanks for your time, Jason.

Discussion

88 comments
lethalfate
lethalfate

Yeah boy the haters are abundant here. I bet all the "I can't wait for Backbreaker" bandwagon fans are eating their words right about now. Although, I do agree that without any real competition EA can take their sweet ass time on improvements, but it's better than nothing. The graphics are better, the jukes and whatnot are more realistic and fluid, and the overall game is more fun than it's ever been. The only real big problem I have with the game is the stupid code you need to play online. So now you have to either buy it brand new or cough up the $10. I can't even begin to tell you how pissed off it makes me knowing that soon all games will be this way. Thank you greedy game publishers. So now you can't take the game anywhere without bringing your hard drive too. That also means no ones going to rent games anymore. Not that I really care but, that's gonna be the final straw... Buh Bye Blockbuster, for good. I mean, who's going to spend $8 to rent a game and then another $10 for a code? No one, that's who.

sesdadon
sesdadon

wow Madden haters u must be weak...lol its a video game, figure out the querks like u do with those dumb shooting games morons...back breakers lol is that a joke..

Darth_Maugrin
Darth_Maugrin

It's sure gonna be funny when everyone starts crawling back to Madden when Back Breaker bombs.

StopH8tn
StopH8tn

I like the 2 stick running system...I skipped 2010...So, I think Im gonna give this one a try. I guess EA is gonna get $60 from me. If you don't like Madden don't buy it. If you you think 2k is better then...Oh well, no football game for you. End of discussion.

dkjestrup
dkjestrup

@SteelCurtainX Yeah, and they release a roster update for 5 bucks every year until the next one is released.

SteelCurtainX
SteelCurtainX

I have a dream, where madden developers somehow take 3-5 years to make one nfl game, and it actually turns out to be epically good. Just a dream...

ape_hunter
ape_hunter

The 2K series had this like 6 years ago, great add-on EA. Waitin' for Back Breaker, like most of you

rdaws73
rdaws73

Cool! New FEATURES!! WOW!! NOT!!! Fix this OLD bugged out game already. Or give up the license you greedy bastards.

TEQUIL4
TEQUIL4

Back Breaker is the new name in football. No canned animations, no frills, just plain hard hitting football. Screw Madden, and get over 2K (it's gone).

crizzle2211
crizzle2211

just go download the rosters for 2k5.. simple and save $60... Madden is a joke. Wow, dual analog controlling? Who gives a rats ass when the players are running around like robots. Way to go NFL, you sold your soul to the devil and now we have to be stuck with this crap for who knows how long...

maroon111
maroon111

I hope NFL 11 will gonna be cool and better than the previous games! GL ;)

bigmike_52
bigmike_52

TreFacTor is right. When ever they have interviews they never take the chance to see what improvements were made from last years game and just talk about the 1 or 2 new features they brought to the game. I dont want to pay $60 for 2 new features and a new roster WTF!!!

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

no thanks it's madden game it's gonna suck

patriotsnake171
patriotsnake171

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

DirtyAl
DirtyAl

I love how JD hit left and right and juked that last question by GS!! I guess defense will be the same nonsense... :-D

daultimate
daultimate

Not to excited about the new features. I must admit though since 09 Madden has been worth the money. If you have a problem with forking over $60 every year, do like I do and wait for it until the day after Thanksgiving and get it for $30. Make sense doesn't it.

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

How about fanboys of EA AND 2K shut up? It's annoying from both ends! All Pro Football 2K8 is fun for 15 minutes, Madden sucks! NFL 2K5 is the most over rated football game of all time! The gameplay wasnt that good, the presentation was amazing though. I mean come on, who wants to tap X to run fast, how many times have you thrown a ball to someone in 2K5 and it hit them in the elbow or shoulder because the game picked a bad catch animation, ever try throwing off the run to see horrible accuracy? Even McNabb Cullpepper and Vick, it didnt matter. Madden sucks 2K5 was good for its time but what could they have done up to this point if they were still making NFL games? They never had groundbreaking features or modes, oh yeah now I remember! First person football! That was the WORST thing I've ever seen in a football game. And EA has been ripping us off for years. Now I bashed EA and 2K neither game is perfect. If 2K bought the liscense everyone would be crying that they aren't making good games, just milking the franchise.

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

I got a good laugh from the last question and answer in this interview. Especially the last sentence "This feels natural for defenders, so we focused on this instead of simply adding nonessential moves to the right stick". Come next year this same PR stooge will be bragging about how Madden '12 will revolutionize how we control players on defense with groundbreaking moves on the right stick. Mark my words, Madden always seems to switch it's new gimmicks from offense one year to defense the next and what better way to save EA money than to recycle this years addition for next year as well?

Sir2Tears
Sir2Tears

I skipped last year because my friends all said its the same thing pretty much and not that much better. Im going to download the demo first, if it interests me then I will watch previews and see the ratings it is getting from "critics" then I will decide if I buy this one, because Im not wasting another 60$ on the same crap again.

WeBB15
WeBB15

2k football sucked, all these fanboys, STFU, you are annoying

sfgiants20
sfgiants20

There is no point in buying a new one every year. I usually buy a new one every 2 years. So I will pass on 11 and wait until 2012 comes out.

Kool-Aid247
Kool-Aid247

Well, this is a great attachment in madden. This is a very big step in the right direction.

maverick_76
maverick_76

@miamiplaya3053 Dude then could 2K make a better football game in 2005? Hell, 2K was better in 2004, and equal in 2003. Even APF 2K8 is worlds better at giving you an authentic game of football. I don't want to hear excuses for EA, when 2K and the guys that are making Backbreaker seem to easily make physics and authenticity work seamlessly.

maverick_76
maverick_76

Wow they finally implemented what 2K had in NFL 2K5, man what progress......not. Seriously, Ekberg needed to ask tough questions and instead he allows the guy to have a cakewalk interview. My biggest gripe was the lack of user control in how players interacted with each other, pro-tak was a joke, fight for the fumble was a cool addition but sometimes would trigger when it made no sense. EA needs to still overhaul this game and they still are content with canned animations and over the top player interactions that make no sense. Still an arcade game as always, I'll stick with my APF 2K8 and NFL 2K5 thank you very much!

robram9
robram9

@TreFacTor: Well said man, I don't understand why some people are giving you thumbs down...

SolidSerpo
SolidSerpo

I'm done with the Madden franchise and this is coming from someone who's purchased every one since the genesis days, the only way I'll buy this game is if gamespot rates it a 9 or better. Last year's Madden collected more dust than any other edition that I've owned.

miamiplaya3053
miamiplaya3053

Badman have you ever played sports. thereason why Madden and NBA Live dont play like FIFA or NHL is because these are complex sports try playing soccer in real life its a lot harder but a lot simpler in strategy same as hockey. unlike football and basketball were things are harder to execute

ghostlalalalala
ghostlalalalala

The only change I'm asking is for commentary...Can't stand collinsworth!

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

Gamespot alway manages to miss asking the tough questions! What in the hell! You've got the perfect setup for a big question when the interviewee responds with the canned animations remark, and the interviewer lets it slip right through his fingers! How about asking about controller layout for those of us that still want to use buttons for spin moves, how about the fact that the new analog moves are blatantly ripped off from BackBreaker. It's been 21 years ask the questions about real improvements, and hit them in the mouth when they throw you a bone! None of this is going to change the game they put out last year that needed a 0-day patch! ASK: -What's being done to improve presentation? -What's being done about adding real time physics? -Will we still see that same "crippling of the user" when difficulty is ramped up? (animations were limited for the user on All Pro and All Madden) -What is being done about the "Caine and Able Disconnect glitch" -What problems have been addressed from last year? -What improvements have been made to the so called "Broadcast presentation"? -What has been done to improve online and offline franchise mode? -What improvements have been made to Superstar mode? -Will these dingbats ever include a proper roster? (Teams have a practice squad, pup list and are available to make roster moves when a player is placed on IR but not in Madden) DO YOUR JOB GAMESPOT! COME ON MAN!

JJS29
JJS29

It can use as many sticks as it wants but I haven't played a fun Madden game since....oh wait.....NFL 2K5.

sammoth
sammoth

Ah the Great Money Maker for EA for people that really don't play Video Gamesbesides sport titles. Madden has not changed at all in 5 years, just 1 or 2 things added each year to make you say WOW I am going to buy that. It is there CASH COW nothing more. Same Ole Re-hashed game over and over.

Zero2trace
Zero2trace

im still gonna get this but im wanna try backbreaker too

WARLOCK234
WARLOCK234

Madden still hasn't changed for like 5 years so what is to stop people from buying old versions just to save money?

robram9
robram9

Unless they drastically improve the new Madden game over the games they have put out over the last 3 years I won't be buying it, this new control scheme is not enough for me to justify buying it, if they want my money they are going to have to earn it, btw I reserved my copy of Red Dead Redemption yesterday, it looks like this game is going to be freaking awesome...

360pauly
360pauly

one day we'll be able to make him scratch his own balls

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

i know its a rough build but that leaning looks sketchy?

2uneek4u
2uneek4u

sort of like fifa now. more fluid motions

badman11226
badman11226

hey @alex_09 i dont buy sports since this generation starts most sport games sucks. The only ones that surpass qraphics and gameplay are the sports games i dont really play like soccer(FIFA),hockey(NHL EA version) and baseball(MLB The Show cuz i dont own a ps3). Madden sucks, NCAA Football and basketball sucks, NBA Live is improving but not there yet, NBA2k was good but it starting to head down, College hoops 2k( the best basketball game i ever play RIP) MLB2k is a joke. The sports genre in this generation is garbage. Its look like FIFA, MLB the Show, and NHL ( EA version) are the only sports game this generation is doing a great job. Everybody else is a failure. Why the madden and NCaa team cant jspend some time with the FIFA team and NHL team and take notes how to make a sport game, they should take pointers how to make game with great graphics and gameplay with fewer bugs.

CODY_CULP
CODY_CULP

I can see it now. The first commercial for "2K sports football is BACK!" followed by awesome gameplay, animations, and presentation. I think EA's little exclusive plan is ultimately going to be their downfall. They've had all this time to throw out a great football game and really really put a hurting on 2k or anyone for that matter and they've FAILED BIG TIME. I'm going to laugh my ass off if Backbreaker with no nfl license, no commentary, no injuries, no content sharing, no online leagues, etc..etc...gets just as good a review score as Madden.

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

I miss the 2K football games. Not because I liked them, but because it forced EA to put more than 1 or 2 lousy features in the same prior year game and say with a straight face that it's worth spending another $60 on. So tired of "right stick" laziness when it comes to sports games. That's all they do, find some other gimmick for the right stick instead of adding all the modes stripped out at the last console generation switchover.

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

im glad they made it more complicated and slightly increased the complexity. giving it more substance and depth adds more to the gameplay

Alex_09
Alex_09

These sports games just make me laugh. Yeah they get slightly better each time, but is it really worth it to buy them each year?

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

This actually sounds good and makes some sense, it's too bad it will probably be buggy like every new feature they add every year. I will still get Madden because generic football is only fun for so long, but I'm getting Backbreaker too, Lets hope Backbreaker pushes EA to try and make a good game again. This new Madden is looking promising, but then again, so did last years and the year before that Peace! Go Eagles!

jpri26
jpri26

With the number of hours i spend playing franchise and online modes, I'll NEVER complain about the $60 price tag. Excellent value for the time I invest. Especially considering that they don't charge any type of subscription fees .But Please bring back the create a play/playbook feature!

jrorl63
jrorl63

thats it? just 1 new feature. hm just like every year. and it seems they always take out other cool features when they put in new ones. forget madden. cant wait for backbreaker next month

miamiplaya3053
miamiplaya3053

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Dysantic
Dysantic

This still won't change the fact that running the ball in Madden is useless... Here's looking forward to Backbreaker!

UWantFryzWitDat
UWantFryzWitDat

If you are unhappy about the price, do what I did last season and dont buy it or wait for a price drop. Personally, I am done with Madden until make real changes enough so the game does not feel recycled. NCAA is still pretty good if you are a fan of college ball.

cracktoad
cracktoad

I agree that a $60 price tag is too much for, basically, an expansion pack. I like seeing the new content but it doesn't justify it as a new game. Euphoria engine + $45 Madden game= Awesome. I just wonder how long it will take for EA to run out of expansion ideas and still justify this as a $60 game =/. I'm not a business man, though, so I can't say much about how they price the game. I'm just saying it would be nice.