GR: You've added a College All-Star game this year. What can you tell us about how that came about and why?
JL: The College All-Star Game is one of those features that our fans have been asking about for a long time now. In past versions of Madden, you could only scout players for the NFL Draft by learning about their 40-yard dash times and bench press reps on a screen. This year, we let you get to know the players before the NFL Draft even happens by seeing them in a game situation.
GR: Football is a complicated game, and we could all use a good teacher. Could you please tell us a little about the NFL Network feature?
JL: Sure. Our intention behind NFL Network Mode was to do just that. We wanted to teach fans about football, and not just teach them about the basics. We wanted to break down plays that they see their favorite teams running every Sunday. Ex-Denver Bronco turned football analyst Sterling Sharpe breaks down each play for you and really explains why teams like the Rams run the offense they do.
GR: Superstar mode has actually gone through a bit of a transformation as well, hasn't it? Could you talk a little about that and why those changes were made?
JL: Superstar Mode, in my opinion, really became the game mode we had intended to make with the additions this year. Last year, we focused on getting the foundation logic in the game, which included setting all of the off-the-field features up. When we went into the design phase this year, we knew we really had to address the on-the-field experience. We wanted to make sure that you really felt like you were the player when you sat down and played the games. We gave each position specific controls and cameras. We spent all year tuning the results, so we hope everybody at home likes how it turned out.
GR: We've heard that ball carriers - and even lead blockers - have some new options this year in both current and next-gen versions. What are they? Could you tell us how these additions came about?
JL: Yeah, we really wanted to focus on the running game this year. We added new features like Lead Blocking Control and the Highlight stick to allow you to really take advantage of the great backs that are stars of the NFL. Lead Blocking Control really helps you clear the lanes for your back by taking control of any blocker, be it fullback, offensive lineman or even receivers out wide. Highlight Stick adds the functionality of the truck stick feature from last year (where you could run over a defender with a big, bullish back like Jerome Bettis) and supplements that with controls for smaller backs like Warrick Dunn. Instead of Dunn trying to run over defenders, he avoids them.