Breaking Madden: The 1,500 Point Super Bowl

I promised I’d explain the origin of the Football Fetus. It’s from the Breaking Madden Season 1 Super Bowl, which is still one of the funniest bits of game writing in memory. Jon Bois does good work.

Half Denver Bronco, half Seattle Seahawk, all madness. It was spontaneously generated by Madden 2013 when Jon Bois set up an experiment to engineer the biggest drubbing that the software could generate. The Broncos fought the Seahawks for the Super Bowl that year, so he set up a match between them, and decided randomly which team would be the Gods, and which would be the Worms. The Gods, the Seahawks, would all have maximum stats in every category. The Worms, the Broncos, would all have the minimum stats.

Image from SBNation

In particular, all the Broncos had the minimum stat in Awareness, which affects their AI, and which seems intended by the developers to create improvised video game comedy. A low Awareness saps a player of the ability to function on any competent level, for any football-related purpose. A low Awareness produces people who willingly walk into tackles. A low Awareness stat produces men who can only say huh.

Further, durability stats were all minimized for the Broncos, so they kept getting injured, but they ran out of replacement players they could field, so they kept on playing, getting more and more hurt. Infinitely hurt. People don’t die in Madden. It would have been a kindness if they could. Oh also, all the penalties were turned off.

Just to make the obliteration complete, Jon took control of the Seahawks. He began to rack up points. Before the first quarter was over, he discovered that Madden 2013, a game for the Xbox 360, still tracked scores with a single byte. The Seahawks’ score froze at 255, although some places listed it as 256. I suppose we should be thankful it had bounds checking, and didn’t wrap back around to zero.

So Jon took a cursory count of score himself. Somewhere around 1,500 points, the game called a penalty even though they had been disabled. Viewing the footage on the play presented, not video, but a single frame, locked in time, of the Football Fetus, resting in the center of the field. A creature of chaos. A mandala of nonsense. Procedural generation at its finest.

While entertaining, still, things like this shouldn’t happen. Jon Bois is generally careful not to tear too hard into EA’s programmers, and truthfully I don’t want to either, they only have jobs to do. But EA Sports is the only source for sports games for multiple fields. If you want to play with pro players, if it’s the NFL, you can only get it from EA Sports, and it’s been that way since 2005. It’s a monopoly, and it’s inevitable that craftsmanship would decline. 2K Sports, these days, is the same with the NBA.

How sports games have been ruined by monopolies is a story for another time. There’s an article from a student newspaper from 2021, by Blake Malick, decrying their sorry state. Presumably I’ll weigh in in more detail myself someday, but that would require caring about sports games, which is something I am not prepared at this time to do. I will leave that to Jon Bois and the other inhabitants of the Fumble Dimension.

Anyway, still, bad craftsmanship in a game can be hilarious, and so it is in Breaking Madden. Please, enjoy. And here’s the rest of Breaking Madden, which includes the saga of Clarence BEEFTANK. Ah, BEEFTANK. We should look back on his storied career at a later time too.

In NHL 2022, Secret Base makes the most violent NHL team of all time

EA Sports says you must accept this. EA Sports says this is your god. Your malformed football god.

Jon Bois has been an internet favorite ever since Breaking Madden, his series where he strained mightily to upturn all of the assumptions that the Madden football games make to present reasonable game experiences, and in so doing revealed those games are made out of cardboard and paste.

Modern EA has long been on the outs with me, but discovering that this company that has locked up the exclusive rights to make official games for multiple sports, for decades now, makes terribly buggy, broken product, has caused me to see them as a force for evil in the world. If you want to play with NFL teams, it’s either the Football Fetus (see above), or nothing. I know, capitalism sucks, but this is a particularly egregious example. But that’s beside the point.

(The only reason I’m not linking to an explanation for what the above thing is, is I’m saving it to post later. Keeping up a daily gaming blog is a marathon, not a sprint, and there is no reason to wind myself.)

Jon Bois and sitemate Kofie Yeboah now hold their game breaking adventures over at Youtube channel Secret Base, which also has a homepage. They mostly work in the medium of video now, which I can kind of understand? Youtube ads probably pay more than web page banners. I still miss their text output though. But that’s also beside the point.

What is the point? They have a new video where they tried to adjust the stats on an AI team in NHL 2022 with the sole purpose to get them to the end-game shootout, which apparently happens in the NHL in the primary season if overtime ends with a tie score, as often as possible. In the process they incidentally cause and win an epic number of fights and eventually take the Stanley Cup. And in the process, in typical EA Sports fashion, game bugs cause players to slowly skate with the full speed animation and sometimes put a spurious extra player on the ice in overtime for no discernible reason. Here it is:

Watching these videos and reading their old articles almost make me want to forget about my long-standing disdain for both EA Sports and pro sports games in general and get one just run crazy experiments like this. But only almost.