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Thread: How much input did John Madden have on John Madden Football?

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    Bring on the noise! WCPO Agent Bones Justice's Avatar
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    Default How much input did John Madden have on John Madden Football?

    How much input did John Madden have on John Madden Football? I have wondered about this for years, as far back as the original game.

    Everything that I have read says that John Madden had a lot of strategic input on the original Madden computer game. But what about the original Sega Genesis game? Everything that I have read says that he didn't have anything to do with it besides his name on the box. Not even the USA courts acknowledged the Genesis game as derivative of the original computer game. There is an ESPN article that talks about how he was supposed to do the player ratings for Genesis but didn't get it done so Trip Hawkins, etc. had to do it (though apparently, he did it for later editions).

    The original game was far ahead of any other football game for the Genesis when it was released. The only other football game worth playing was Cyberball, though that is an excellent adaption of indoor football like the Arena Football League. But the first time that I heard the infamous story of John Madden refusing to lend his name to the computer game because it wasn't 11-on-11 players, it wasn't "real football", well I began to doubt that he had anything to do with the Genesis game. I could see several things in the Genesis game that were very "videogame" and not "real football", stuff like only three eligible receivers or how every defender instantly turns to the point of reception when you pass the ball. Slow players running down fast players from behind is another "videogame" effect and not "real football" in the Madden games.
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    The Gentleman Thief Baloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
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    The Gaming Gangsta Master of Shinobi profholt82's Avatar
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    This enlightening article on espn actually came out about a few years ago, but was updated after his death. Much of it is about his broadcasting career and how a lot of his ideas became the standard in the way games are broadcasted. There wasn't a ton about the game, but what they included was pretty interesting.

    https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/...cy-john-madden


    Here is a section about the game:

    7.1. Back in 1984, Trip Hawkins had an idea for a football video game. The founder of EA Sports requested an audience with John Madden, and got a strange reply: Yes, you can meet with John from Dec. 16-18, but it will be on an Amtrak train for three days. You will meet him in Denver and ride west.

    Because of his infamous refusal to fly, Madden was traveling to his next assignment by train. "It was never the actual plane that was the problem for John," longtime producer Bob Stenner says. "It was his claustrophobia."

    Hawkins was in. He and some developers boarded the train and met Madden in the dining car. Madden had a giant cigar in his mouth, and it stayed there for the next three days as they held what would become the most important video game meeting ever held. Madden never lit the cigar -- he loved cigars, but not smoking them -- so as the hours went on, the wet cigar began to disintegrate, one sloppy piece at a time. "It was like his own little pacifier," Hawkins says now.

    Hawkins warned him that the technology just wasn't there yet for 11-on-11 football. "We can probably only get 7-on-7 to fit on screen," Hawkins said.

    Madden loved the idea of the football game, but he hated the idea of 7-on-7. "That's not real football," he said, waving a dismissive mitt through the air as a chunk of cigar flew off.

    Hawkins warned that it could take years to build a game that squeezed 22 players on one screen.

    "Then it will take years," Madden said.

    It took two years.

    7.2. In 1983, EA Sports paid Dr. J and Larry Bird $25,000 apiece, plus 2.5% of sales, to put together their first basketball game. A year later, Madden asked for $100,000 and 5% of sales. He got it. "No Madden meant no game," Hawkins says now.

    Madden Football has sold north of 130 million copies since its release in 1988.

    8.1. Right after the EA team met Madden for the first time, they all went back to their train cars in disbelief at Madden's prolific deployment of swear words. "I'm not exaggerating, I think every third word out of his mouth is an F-bomb," Hawkins says. "He is incredibly profane. That's one of the signatures of how smart John is. To have the self-discipline to never do that on the air, it's remarkable. He knows how to switch over to a completely different vocabulary."

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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    That cigar story is awful. Who does that??

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    Bring on the noise! WCPO Agent Bones Justice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo View Post
    Yes, I have read that as well as the ESPN articles. The Knox interview does nothing to change my mind that John Madden had no real input on the Sega Genesis game. Knox said he did the game his way. He even said that they had already made the simulation (ie, the strategic part of the game) before they even knew it would be John Madden Football rather than a generic football title.

    Likewise, the ESPN articles and the like that talk about John Madden meeting and planning the game are talking about the original computer game, not the Genesis game. I've never played the original computer game but I have read a lot about it and watched videos of it; it's a lot more in-depth about football than the Genesis game. I don't think it would have been a big hit on the Genesis, though. The arcade-sim that the Genesis got was more suitable for the market.

    I have nothing but respect for Coach Madden and the guys that created these games. I just don't think the coach would have let the Genesis game out the door that way if he was directly involved. I still haven't found anything to indicate that he had any input on the Genesis version.


    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    8.1. Right after the EA team met Madden for the first time, they all went back to their train cars in disbelief at Madden's prolific deployment of swear words. "I'm not exaggerating, I think every third word out of his mouth is an F-bomb," Hawkins says. "He is incredibly profane. That's one of the signatures of how smart John is. To have the self-discipline to never do that on the air, it's remarkable. He knows how to switch over to a completely different vocabulary."
    This reminds me of the recent news that Marshawn Lynch will be in the broadcast booth for Thursday Night Football.
    Last edited by Bones Justice; 01-13-2022 at 02:42 PM.
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    WCPO Agent Greg2600's Avatar
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    Madden was basically the football consultant on the original computer title, which took them several years to "perfect." He provided his old playbooks as well as his notes on various current teams and players. The material was very useful because obviously a bunch of programmers would not have had access to that kind of stuff. I think the years mentioned in the ESPN article are a bit off, including that the game did not hit US computer systems until the fall of 1989 not 1988. It's not a very good game, it was kind of slow and they released it on what were equivalently 8-bit systems (Apple II, C64, DOS) at the time.

    In any event, yes, it's also true that EA's acquisition of Cinemaware around this time was key in jump starting development on 16-bit platforms like Genesis. However, I would say that having Madden "in the loop" as this work went on was very important, because again, he provided his input. By the time you got to the 32-bit era and Madden NFL went 3D, I'm not sure what input they would have needed from John by then. Given how crappy the TV Sports games tended to be, I have to presume they used that work as a foundation with the EA team doing the heavy lifting to make the game shine. Madden was quite an improvement over TVS that's for sure.

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    The Gentleman Thief Baloo's Avatar
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    What would users say is the "peak" of the Madden series gameplay? I always personally liked Joe Montana Football 1 developed by Park Place, and Madden seems to play pretty similarly. But what is the pinnacle?
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    Bring on the noise! WCPO Agent Bones Justice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    ...16-bit platforms like Genesis. However, I would say that having Madden "in the loop" as this work went on was very important, because again, he provided his input.
    Could be. But that contradicts everything that Michael Knox of Park Place says in the interview. He says he made the game his way. He says that Park Place had already made the simulator that could play teams against each other thousands of times before they even knew it was going to be for John Madden Football. That does not sound like Madden would have had any input on the Genesis game at all.

    Likewise, the original game has football elements that I doubt Coach Madden would have agreed with, based upon the demands he put on the original computer game. Only three eligible receivers? Not real football. Big slow defenders running down faster players from behind? Not real football.

    The only thing I have found is an ESPN article mentioning that Coach Madden was supposed to do player ratings and didn't get it done in time so Trip Hawkins & Co. did it instead. In the Knox interview, Knox mentions that Trip Hawkins may have drawn up some plays; those may have indirectly come from Coach Madden via the computer game or something. I would find it extremely odd that Park Place would have used plays drawn up by Trip if they were also getting input from Coach Madden, though.

    Consider this thread fact-finding on my part. If someone can point me to some evidence that Coach Madden was working directly with Park Place on the original Genesis game, I'm very interested.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    ...By the time you got to the 32-bit era and Madden NFL went 3D, I'm not sure what input they would have needed from John by then.
    If you are suggesting that EA knew as much or more about football than John Madden by 1998, I completely disagree. Madden was the ultimate expert on pro football and the NFL. Player ratings, game trends, NFL rules, you name it and Madden probably knew more about it than anyone else. From what I've read, he was still a student and expert of the game even after he retired from broadcasting. EA would have been foolish not to get input from him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo View Post
    What would users say is the "peak" of the Madden series gameplay? I always personally liked Joe Montana Football 1 developed by Park Place, and Madden seems to play pretty similarly. But what is the pinnacle?
    My vote would be for Madden 96. It has just about everything except different camera angles. It plays fast and probably has the best graphics of the Genesis Maddens. It has a lot of coaching options and you can substitute any player for any player. Of course, another great thing about Madden 96 is that the players have the correct numbers on their jerseys (no other Genesis Madden has this), so you can spot matchups and mismatches like a linebacker lined up to cover a fast receiver. One of the gimmicks some players would use at the time was to substitute in faster players (like a safety in for a linebacker). Of course, you could also be running with your fullback and spot a corner or safety and power in to them to injure them and knock them out of the game! The playbook was also perhaps the best that the series had to offer. It also no longer had the awful passing windows which were a huge mistake from the very first game in 1990 (they actually first removed them in Madden 95) so you could now play anybody on defense without having your view blocked. Madden 96 even had XBand support though that no longer works, unfortunately. It also still has some of the poor computer catch-up logic but I guess you can't have everything! It's a great two-player game and you can get really in-depth with player match-ups against a good human opponent.

    Well, you know Joe Montana I is a knocked-down version of Madden 90, right? EA made both games and deliberately cut features from Joe Montana I to make Madden 90 the better game. Joe Montana I doesn't even have the 3D field effect. Sega made a completely different game for Joe Montana II without EA's help after that.
    Last edited by Bones Justice; 01-14-2022 at 10:22 PM.
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    Six Button Shooter Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Cafeman's Avatar
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    Good, interesting interviews! Sadly, I see that interviewee Michael Knox passed away already from colon cancer at age 48.

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    WCPO Agent Greg2600's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones Justice View Post
    Could be. But that contradicts everything that Michael Knox of Park Place says in the interview. He says he made the game his way. He says that Park Place had already made the simulator that could play teams against each other thousands of times before they even knew it was going to be for John Madden Football. That does not sound like Madden would have had any input on the Genesis game at all.

    Likewise, the original game has football elements that I doubt Coach Madden would have agreed with, based upon the demands he put on the original computer game. Only three eligible receivers? Not real football. Big slow defenders running down faster players from behind? Not real football.

    The only thing I have found is an ESPN article mentioning that Coach Madden was supposed to do player ratings and didn't get it done in time so Trip Hawkins & Co. did it instead. In the Knox interview, Knox mentions that Trip Hawkins may have drawn up some plays; those may have indirectly come from Coach Madden via the computer game or something. I would find it extremely odd that Park Place would have used plays drawn up by Trip if they were also getting input from Coach Madden, though.

    Consider this thread fact-finding on my part. If someone can point me to some evidence that Coach Madden was working directly with Park Place on the original Genesis game, I'm very interested.

    If you are suggesting that EA knew as much or more about football than John Madden by 1998, I completely disagree. Madden was the ultimate expert on pro football and the NFL. Player ratings, game trends, NFL rules, you name it and Madden probably knew more about it than anyone else. From what I've read, he was still a student and expert of the game even after he retired from broadcasting. EA would have been foolish not to get input from him.
    To answer your question, no, I don't think Coach did much beyond probably giving some feedback and signing off on the title. Knox and his team worked on TV Sports Football, and were hired to develop the Genesis title, because EA were ironically being paid to do the same for SEGA with Joe Montana Football at the time. John Madden was a HUGE name in the sports world at the time though, and despite being an old fat guy, he had a lot of marketing sway on Americans. I'm not saying his likeness/name put the game over the top rather than it just being called "NFL Football," but it definitely contributed. I mean, Montana was technically the bigger name, ha ha.

    Anyway, I do think that Madden's contributions even to the Genesis title were important although I'd stop short beyond that. He was part of the inspiration for the title. He did insist on certain aspects of the game of football be incorporated, which obviously was integral in the original title. Now yes, by 1990 man of those features were on other football games already, including the aforementioned TV Sports Football. I mean, did John Madden invent 11 on 11 football? Of course not, you'd think that would have been the aim all along.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones Justice View Post
    My vote would be for Madden 96. It has just about everything except different camera angles. It plays fast and probably has the best graphics of the Genesis Maddens. It has a lot of coaching options and you can substitute any player for any player. Of course, another great thing about Madden 96 is that the players have the correct numbers on their jerseys (no other Genesis Madden has this), so you can spot matchups and mismatches like a linebacker lined up to cover a fast receiver. One of the gimmicks some players would use at the time was to substitute in faster players (like a safety in for a linebacker). Of course, you could also be running with your fullback and spot a corner or safety and power in to them to injure them and knock them out of the game! The playbook was also perhaps the best that the series had to offer. It also no longer had the awful passing windows which were a huge mistake from the very first game in 1990 (they actually first removed them in Madden 95) so you could now play anybody on defense without having your view blocked. Madden 96 even had XBand support though that no longer works, unfortunately. It also still has some of the poor computer catch-up logic but I guess you can't have everything! It's a great two-player game and you can get really in-depth with player match-ups against a good human opponent.

    Well, you know Joe Montana I is a knocked-down version of Madden 90, right? EA made both games and deliberately cut features from Joe Montana I to make Madden 90 the better game. Joe Montana I doesn't even have the 3D field effect. Sega made a completely different game for Joe Montana II without EA's help after that.
    Although it's often argued that Madden 95 is the quintessential version, '93 Championship Edition was the pinnacle. I don't know what SEGA were looking for with Montana FB, but EA's sports games were always made, beginning with Madden '91, with an arcade flair. Having Madden on the game instead of a player I think played a part in that, because he was pretty goofy as an announcer, unlike most of the players doing battle on Sundays.

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    WCPO Agent Greg2600's Avatar
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    https://www.mobygames.com/game/john-...tball/adblurbs

    For those wondering about the "Madden 10 Commandments" of video game football....

    Play 11-man football. "Hey, if there aren't 11 players, it isn't real football."

    Use real players. "I want the All-Madden Team. The big boys. The flakes. The crazies .. my guys."

    Call plays from my offensive and defensive playbooks. "I'm the coach, we use my plays. 81 plays in each covers the basics."

    Design your own plays. "If I pop in the right play at the right time—POW-6 points."

    Give me realistic gameplay. "There's a ton of goof ball things that can happen on any given play like missed blocks, jukes and pancakes."

    Select Player Controlled Action or Computer Action. "Sometimes I want to take a handoff, hit the Umph Button and jam it down your throat."

    Don't forget gameday conditions. "Some guys aren't mudders. Some guys can't hold a block on grass. That's real football. That's in the game."

    Call audibles. "If I don't like what I see when we line up I have to get out of it. One wrong play blows the whole game or costs the coach his job."

    Put in all the other stuff that happens. "Injuries, penalties, time-outs, turnovers, interceptions, situation substitutions—they're a part of the game."

    Make your own league. "When I build my own teams I need every pro player, player rating and key stat. I I-o-v-e being the commissioner."

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    Bring on the noise! WCPO Agent Bones Justice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Although it's often argued that Madden 95 is the quintessential version,
    Really? By who? Sega-16 ranks it lower than the Park Place games and also lower than Madden 96. Nobody is championing it in the "best of" threads, either. I mean, opinion is always subjective but nobody can deny that objectively, Madden 96 has a lot more features than Madden 95.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    '93 Championship Edition was the pinnacle.
    Hardly, it's Madden 93 with a roster update. And since all of the players except the control player are unmarked, you can't even really tell who any of the player matchups are anyways. Besides, all of the Genesis Maddens suffer from the same cheating AI that still fails to offer any real gameplay challenge. The one thing that the Park Place Maddens did better than the later editions is a better simulation of players having a "physical" 3D space on the field, allowing a better simulation of blocking and running between other players.


    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    For those wondering about the "Madden 10 Commandments" of video game football....
    These are from the computer game which is completely different from Madden for Genesis. But I agree, these are probably quotes from Coach Madden on what his requirements are for a football videogame. So let's see...

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Use real players.
    Not in the original Genesis game. Not in any Genesis Madden until Madden 95 and on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Call plays from my offensive and defensive playbooks. "I'm the coach, we use my plays. 81 plays in each covers the basics."
    Not the same playbook as the Madden for Genesis. Close maybe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Design your own plays.
    Not in the original Genesis Madden. In fact, not in any Genesis Madden!

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Give me realistic gameplay. "There's a ton of goof ball things that can happen on any given play like missed blocks, jukes and pancakes."
    Not in the original Genesis Madden. Maybe missed blocks but there are no pancake blocks or jukes. I don't think there was a juke added until Madden 99 for Playstation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Don't forget gameday conditions. "Some guys aren't mudders. Some guys can't hold a block on grass. That's real football. That's in the game."
    Not in the original Genesis Madden. There are no stats for different weather elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Put in all the other stuff that happens. "Injuries, penalties, time-outs, turnovers, interceptions, situation substitutions—they're a part of the game."
    Not in the original Genesis Madden. There are no injuries at all and almost no penalties, only offsides and delay of game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Make your own league. "When I build my own teams I need every pro player, player rating and key stat. I I-o-v-e being the commissioner."
    Not in the original Genesis Madden. Not in any Genesis Madden until Madden 97 or 98(?).

    So yeah, if these are Coach Madden's commandments for what must be in a videogame bearing his name, then he didn't help make the original Genesis Madden. Or maybe EA lied to him about what was in the game and he took their word for it.
    Last edited by Bones Justice; 01-18-2022 at 02:49 AM.

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    The Gaming Gangsta Master of Shinobi profholt82's Avatar
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    Honestly, the Sega Sports football games were generally more innovative than the Maddens when it came to features and options. A lot of those Madden "10 Commandments" were available in the Sega Sports games (and even in Tecmo Superbowl) before the Maddens. NFL 95 in particular stands out with the trades and free agency features which were revolutionary for a console game at that time. You could customize the depth charts of every team and make your own custom league to rule like an evil overlord, er, uh, Paul Tagliabue.

    But that said, actual gameplay is subjective, and certainly the Madden franchise was always highly regarded in that category. The games played very well on the Genesis and often changed year to year, more than just the little tweaks and roster updates that they've since become notorious for after gaining a monopoly on NFL games in the aughts. I don't know how much input he's had on the games, but considering the series spanned decades, I'd imagine it probably fluctuated over the years with him not caring at times, and being more interested at others. At any rate, compared to most games with a coach or player's endorsement on it, I think there's enough information out there to show that Madden had more input on his series than others.

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    Bring on the noise! WCPO Agent Bones Justice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    Honestly, the Sega Sports football games were generally more innovative than the Maddens when it came to features and options.
    Well said.

    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    I don't know how much input he's had on the games, but considering the series spanned decades, I'd imagine it probably fluctuated over the years with him not caring at times, and being more interested at others. At any rate, compared to most games with a coach or player's endorsement on it, I think there's enough information out there to show that Madden had more input on his series than others.


    Seriously, though, I suppose it's kind of confusing since the original game is just called John Madden Football so I purposely referred to the original Genesis game in my first post. Everybody keeps wanting to talk about the computer game and later editions, though.

    I have no doubt Coach Madden has seen the series of videogames and probably said "Hey! Boom! Whap!", etc. I am talking about the original Genesis game, though. It's so different from Coach Madden's stated vision for a football videogame that I have wondered over the years if he had anything to do with it. When I have read up on the subject, all talk of his helping create the game refer to the computer game -- not the Genesis game. You can easily find photos of Coach Madden with the programmer from the computer game but none of him with Park Place. And again, the Genesis game and the computer game are really nothing alike; that's not just me saying it, they went to court over this and the courts ruled the same due to lack of evidence. When you look at the original computer game, you can tell that they tried to have all of the stuff that Coach Madden would have wanted while the original Genesis game does not.

    I rest my case.
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    WCPO Agent Greg2600's Avatar
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    You're taking this thread far too seriously and literally.

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