Here’s Part 2 of our interview with Madden “Ratings Czar” Donny Moore, one of the lead developers of this year’s edition of the uber-popular EA Sports franchise. In part one, we discussed how Moore got the one of the coolest jobs ever, and how exactly he and his team compiles their ratings.
In part 2, we discuss some of the pressure he faces from current NFL players to get things right, the best virtual athlete of all time, and who he thinks will be the breakout star in Madden 11.
SportsGrid: Tell us about the Old Spice “Swagger” Rating. Many fans have been confused about its use within the game.
Donny Moore: The “Old Spice Swagger” rating determines the likelihood of a player to celebrate on the way to the endzone, or after a touchdown. For example, a running back like Adrian Peterson (99 rating) has a greater tendency to celebrate than Frank Gore (50 rating). We have seen some fans speculating on its potential widespread usage in gameplay, but that simply isn’t the case. We use it in a very specific and isolated way in Madden 11.
SG: People now treat the release of these ratings as an event unto itself (and players especially take them very, very seriously). Does that place added pressure on you to get it right?
DM: Absolutely, there is a ton of pressure to get everything from speed ratings to throw power attributes to hair styles exactly right for 2000+ players in the game. There are approximately 110,000 total player attributes that I am in charge of. If you factor in EVERY piece of data about a player in Madden including things like contract information, player builds, player birthday, skin color, facemask, etc…you are talking about approximately 390,000 total data parts for all of the players in the game. Don’t forget to mention the 30 years of draft classes that we are also in charge of updating each year, and you can easily see it is a big task. But the team and I welcome this challenge each year. Getting the rosters and attributes right is a big part of what makes Madden, Madden. It’s what makes EA Sports, EA Sports. If it is in the game, it should be in the game. That is my personal motto. I strive every day to deliver as realistic of a representation of video game football as humanly possible.
SG: Can you tell us how some of the players react when they feel like you’ve gotten their ratings wrong?
DM: The NFL players themselves are a trip when it comes to their player ratings. They will hunt me down via email, text message and/or Twitter to get their ratings moved up if possible. Maurice Jones-Drew half-tried to get me fired last year, T.J. Houshmandzadeh went head-to-head with me on ESPN Cold Pizza last year politicking for a higher speed rating, and Stephen Tulloch from the Titans looks like he is already mad at me for Madden 11! I have several players who follow me on Twitter. That is actually a really great place to hear your voice heard when it comes to rosters and ratings in Madden 11.
SG: Looking back on your career, any ratings that you felt you got really, really wrong? Did you overrate or underrate a guy who went on to have a season that ran completely counter to his Madden rating?
DM: That is the beauty of online roster updates. We have the luxury of constantly updating the rosters and ratings to be as up-to-date as possible on a weekly basis. That means we are never too far off base, we are always trying to play catch-up from the week before to make sure that all of the breakout stars and fading players are being represented in the game accurately. During the season, the rosters and ratings are a very fluid situation as I like to tell people. They move up and down based on the current play of the NFL player during the season, in relation to his career.
SG: In your opinion, who is the greatest videogame athlete in history?
DM: Michael Vick [in Madden ’04] for sure has to be a candidate here. I am predicting Chris Johnson will be a new guy to add this conversation once Madden 11 is out. I still have a special place in my heart for Tom Chambers on the Suns in Lakers vs. Celtics. That dunk from the 3 point line is a thing of beauty.
Image via IGN.