NFL Blitz, NBA Jam creator lands at Madden studio

Mark Turmell named senior creative director for EA Tiburon, sets sights on company's pigskin sims.

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During his years at Midway, Mark Turmell was known as the man behind some of the most popular arcade-style sports games ever: NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. While those titles were known for throwing their respective sports' rule books out the window, Turmell's latest job calls for anything but.

Look out for Madden NFL 11, now with 30 percent more BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!
Look out for Madden NFL 11, now with 30 percent more BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!

In a posting on the EA Sports Web site, the publisher introduced Turmell as senior creative director for its EA Tiburon studio. While the Tiburon team has worked on titles as varied as Superman Returns and the forthcoming EA Sports MMA, it is primarily known as the developer of the Madden NFL and NCAA football series.

The publisher posted a short interview with Turmell in confirming his new role, which he described as trying to "impact and improve the moment to moment football gameplay for both Madden and NCAA." The interview also addressed the obvious question about how Turmell's experience working on over-the-top arcade-style sports games will translate to the more simulation-minded pigskin sims.

"I have focused on arcade sports and fighting game titles for the last 17 years, and even though they aren't traditional sims, there are huge lessons learned that can be applied to sim titles," Turmell said. "Including how to communicate rules/situations to the user, ways to make the game easier to pick up and play, how to make plays/moves more impactful and entertaining, and even the general pacing of a game to keep player attention. The industry and audience is changing fairly dramatically, and often times our customer is looking for a quicker, more streamlined experience…I love the arcade style games, but certainly understand the difference and requirements for sim products."

Earlier this week, an unconfirmed ESPN report had Turmell joining EA Sports to help revive his NBA Jam franchise at the publisher's Vancouver studio. That project remains unconfirmed, and the possibility of a revival was not discussed by Turmell in the interview.

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