Many former professional athletes find adjusting to life after sports to be the most difficult task they’ve ever taken on. For others, the transition is seamless. Former NFL offensive lineman-turned-Madden Football Gameplay Designer, Clint Oldenburg, falls into the latter category. And, as the NFL kicks off a new season, we got a chance to talk to the Madden 19 designer about the iconic video game franchise.
Oldenburg was selected with the 171st overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots after a standout career at Colorado State University, where he transformed from a lanky 6-foot-5, 210-pound tight end as a freshman, to a 6-foot-5, 315-pound behemoth All-Conference offensive lineman as a senior. Oldenburg’s time with the Patriots would be (relatively) short-lived, and he would go on to also spend time with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins during his four-year NFL career. He also played one season for the Virginia Destroyers of the now-defunct United Football League. At the end of the day, Oldenburg’s NFL career was ultimately derailed by a series of untimely injuries.
That’s where Oldenburg’s venture into the world of Madden Football began.
I recently had the chance to talk with Oldenburg about everything from his career transition to how players earn their ratings in Madden to his pick to win Super Bowl 53. Here’s what the 34-year-old had to say.
How Did You Get Involved With Madden 19 and EA Sports?
“After I knew my time in the NFL was running short, I caught on as a design intern with NCAA Football in 2012 through an NCAA Fellowship program. Ten weeks into the 16-week program, I was offered a full-time job as an Associate Designer on Madden and I’ve been here ever since.”
What’s Your Current Role With Madden 19?
“Gameplay Design Lead.”
How Difficult Was It For You To Give Up Your Own Playing Career And Go In A Totally Different Direction?
“Due to my football career being on the wind down at the time, it really was not a hard decision. I had one, maybe two years left of trying to get over the roster bubble and with the injury issues that I’d been battling during my five-year career, and the chance at getting into a post-football career I love was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
What Was Your Biggest Critique Of The Madden Franchise When You First Joined EA Sports?
“I’ve always been a big fan of the Madden Football franchise and I really just wanted to make it more authentic. Being an offensive lineman, I saw a number of opportunities to make the game even more realistic than it already was. I wanted to see passing pockets form around the QB, I wanted to see authentic slide protections and Mike [linebacker] I.D.’s in the game and that’s just on the blocking side. I’ve been fortunate to be able to implement a lot of the features I had hoped to when I started at EA Tiburon.”
In Your Opinion, What’s The Most Notable Innovation The Madden Franchise Has Ever Introduced?
“That’s a tough question to answer since there’s been so many over the course of its 30-year history. The ones that stick out the most are the Hit Stick, the first down line on the field, which is now a staple of NFL broadcasts on every channel; the introduction of physics in Madden 25; and showing some bias here, but the pass blocking system we implemented that same year in Madden 25 was a real accomplishment for our game.”
What Are The Major Improvements And Innovations To Madden 19?
“Player Control across the field. In gameplay, we introduced Real Player Motion which is a complete re-design of how players move and interact with each other. How players run, cut, tackle, the basic fundamentals of football built to be as authentic as possible. There’s also new ways to customize and build your roster in Franchise mode with a new player archetype upgrade system and custom draft classes that can be shared among friends. There’s more NFL gameplay inside of the second installment of Longshot, which is what our players said they wanted most in that mode. And lastly, the player upgrades system in Madden Ultimate Team gives our players the control to customize their players however they want to so that they have personal agency over the players they build their team with.”
OK, We Have To Know: How Do You Guys Come Up With The Player Ratings?
“Lots of film, scouting reports and almost daily debates over a single point in each category. It’s actually a much more scientific process than one would think. There’s a lot of data and game film we pour over to replicate NFL players as authentically as we possibly can.”
Which Players Have Had The Biggest Issues With Their Ratings?
“There’s not a single NFL player I’ve met that has been completely happy with their ratings. I won’t drop any names, but I personally saw a punter get the most upset.”
How Do You And Your Team Keep Evolving The Madden Experience To Make It As Lifelike As Possible?
“We try to create cool stuff and innovate every year, based on trends we see in the NFL and the gaming industry, but most importantly we listen and have conversations with the Madden community to build the features they want the most.”
Thank you all for the #Madden19 feedback and helping us make the game better. We are taking suggestions and feedback on the latest title update here! Thanks. https://t.co/n0BuBNJj9T
— Clint #WeAreMadden (@ClintOldenburg) August 21, 2018
Last One. Who’s Your Early Pick To Win Super Bowl 53?
“I’d like to be a homer and say the Washington Redskins, but I’m going to pick the Los Angles Rams this year. Coach Sean McVay, who was one of our offensive coaches when I was with the Redskins is a real genius and he’s changing the game.”
You can follow and interact with Clint on Twitter at @ClintOldenburg.
All images via YouTube