The Madden football series debuted in 1988, and has come to redefine the depth and realism of modern sports video games with its intuitive controls, lifelike animations, and authentic NFL playbooks. That revolution continues to this day with one of the industry’s most popular game franchises, and EA Tiburon Studios is about to celebrate a quarter century dynasty with the release of Madden NFL 25.
Getting the latest version of the game ready for its legions of fans is not an easy task, but over the years a number of Full Sail graduates have stepped up to the challenge. From programmers to artists, alumni have had input on Madden titles across multiple console generations, and we’re excited to welcome a group of these current contributors back to campus today for a panel discussion.
Among these developers is Game Design Masters graduate Michael Johnstone – a software engineer at EA Tiburon, who spoke with us the week before Madden NFL 25’s release about his work on the game, and the opportunity to share his experiences with students.
Full Sail: Can you talk a little about your role on Madden NFL 25, what elements of the game were you involved with?
Michael Johnstone: The area I cover is stability, and basically we’re like the firefighters for the game. You can imagine if you have hundreds of people working on a game, you’re going to need people around to make sure that it stays stable. It’s very challenging.
FS: This is the second iteration of Madden that you’ve worked on, do you have a favorite feature in this year’s entry?
MJ: The core Madden experience really. A lot of people just jump in and play, so we do a lot of work on making that the best it can be. I also like how the ‘Madden Ultimate Team’ is on its second year now and how successful that feature has become. And of course there’s a lot of other new features, and the graphics.
FS: Here were are at the 25th anniversary of Madden, why do you think this series endures so well?
MJ: Being on the inside, I have to say the talent and the people who create the game are like nothing I’ve ever seen. They take it so seriously, with a smile – day in and day out, their passion and dedication. We give players what they want, we’ve shown that over and over again. As long as we keep it on that level and keep delivering a full feature set, we’re always going to be here.
FS: What’s it like for you to be able to come back to campus and share your experiences with current students?
MJ: It’s kind of surreal to be honest. I would have fought hand over fist to get face time with those guys who used to come to the school and ask them questions and gain more knowledge. Now I have the opportunity to do it, and I don’t want to ever pass it up.
FS: Do you have any talking points planned for the panel?
MJ: One of the big things I want to speak with students about is the impact that you can have on yourself if you can take what Full Sail offers you seriously. There is truly a reason why you get pushed so hard, because you’re going to be prepared when you get into the industry. You have to come in and give it everything.
* The Madden NFL 25 grad panel will be held at 6:30 p.m. today in the Entertainment Business Auditorium