Fumble Dimension: Breaking 1,000 Points in Madden 22

It’s been about five months since we looked back at Jon Bois’ Breaking Madden’s Super Bowl game where they set one team up to maximum stats, the other team at minimum stats, and just ran up the score. They found out that Madden 2013 stopped counting score at 255 points. Counting manually, at around 1,500 the game called a penalty on a play that wasn’t run, and the instant replay presented the most frightening image a sports video game has ever generated, the Football Fetus:

Soak that one up for your nightmares.

They stored a team’s score in a single byte in 2013! It was a striking example of how EA Sports, without competition for decades, basically views Madden as a no-effort money printer. Licensed NFL football is either Madden or nothing. What are you going to do, play with no-namers? Pshaw!

Breaking Madden is like ten years old now, and the rights situation hasn’t changed. EA Sports continues to squat possessively on its golden football egg, with no end in sight. But Breaking Madden made some internet waves in the time since. Maybe they’ve gotten their development act together? Maybe?

In the time since then SBNation has switched these kinds of things that they do to Youtube videos, and rebranded them as Secret Base. Jon Bois has become quite the Youtube sensation there in the time since, making a lot of very well-regarded internet documentaries.

One of the Secret Base subseries is called the Fumble Dimension, which is a similar kind of attempt to break sports video games, just in video. About 11 months ago they (mostly Jon’s associate Kofie) again took a hammer to the most recent Madden, 22 at that point, and tried to run up the scoreboard. This time though they did themselves. No, they didn’t try to win against an inferior team. They played a team to lose, against a team set at maximum AI, and tried to let the computer score as much as possible. Here it is (23 minutes).

The good news is, the score no longer ceases to count after 255 points. The score is free to rise up over 1,000. The game’s final score broke 1,700, and didn’t break 2,000 only because Kofie was feeling hugely bored playing terribly on purpose for play after excruciating play. They theorize that 7,000 may well be popular with optimal sub-optimal performance, but they leave that demazing feat to some other intrepid failure.

But while they have wisely decided to store player scores in more than one byte now, there were several other hints that Madden 22 is just as haphazardly constructed as Madden 13 was. Players would try to run off the field, held back only by the walls of the stadium. The announcers announced a lengthening series of safeties each as the “second safety of the game.” And while the score counted correctly, an assortment of player stats were scored increasingly inaccurately as the self-induced drubbing continued, some dipping into the negative as they grew, a sure sign of uncapped signed values.

When I posted on Breaking Madden, I took the opportunity to diatribize about the decay of the Madden games, and how the series should either be given renewed resources or the license just be allowed to pass to other hands. I won’t bore you with yet more harping on the point now, I’ll just say, please NFL, hand your license over to someone who actually seems to care.

Fumble Dimension: We tried to break the Madden scoreboard (Youtube, 23 minutes)

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.