Madden Update: Todd takes the Browns to the Super Bowl (and wins)

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Tom Brady is pretty awesome, but he could only manage to go 18-1. Todd Howard is more awesome — he led the Cleveland Browns to an undefeated, 19-0 Super Bowl Championship season in year one of our Madden 10 Online Franchise. In the Super Bowl, the Browns shutout the Eagles 21-0. The Eagles were coached by Tim Youse, friend of programmer Chris Rodriguez (who happened to be the only person to previously beat Tim during the season.)

Even though the real NFL season is long gone, it looks our our league will carry on. This past week Commissioner Ashley set up our free agency period and rookie draft, and we’ve already begun playing our second seeason. I know Ash would love to see us get through all ten seasons of the Online Franchise mode, so now the question is: can Todd now go 190-0?

At the office: Screenshot of the Month Club

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You know all those cool screenshots you see in game previews? Believe it or not, they’re not as easy to create as you’d think. It’s like trying to get that perfect snapshot at a football game – you want to make sure you get the wide receiver player Super Mutant catching the winning touchdown pass right as he’s attacking the player, while accounting for blur from player movement (no edit necessary) and not having fans get in the way onscreen blood get in the way.

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Playoffs!?!?

While the Saints and Colts are set to square off in Super Bowl XLIV, things are very different in the Bethesda Game Studios online league for Madden 10. For starters, of the 12 teams that made the real NFL Playoffs, only four of those teams made it in our league — Dan Teitel’s Ravens, Ash’s Cardinals, one of our friends made it with the Eagles, and a CPU-controlled Patriots squad made it too. Yeah, apparently the Pats can make the playoffs without an owner.

And without Tom Brady. In our league, some unusual suspects made the playoffs — including the Lions (that’s me), the Panthers (Pete), and the Cleveland Browns (Todd). Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that we did a live draft back in August, thus every team was built from the ground up. Brady plays for the Lions, Adrian Peterson is on the Cardinals, and the Redskins have Drew Brees (no surprise, the Skins still couldn’t win). Overall the human-owned teams are pretty balanced, though Pete was definitely not happy about his auto draft during PAX week.

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New Year’s Resolutions

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This post comes a little late (you can find out why in my resolution), but I thought I’d share some of the New Year’s Resolutions from folks at our office, in Europe, and even over at Zenimax Europe.

Just like you guys without jobs in the gaming industry, many of us are looking to get a little more fit in this year — and with a gym being installed at ZeniMax HQ, many of these resolutions could make it through January. On the other hand, some of our resolutions deal with playing games — so that might be counterproductive.

So here’s a rundown of some of our resolutions. Wish us luck, and let us know what you’re shooting for in 2010.

Ashley Cheng: To break 100K in Bejeweled Blitz.

Devin Winters: Start going to 24 Hr. Fitness

Shane Liesegang: Stop over-committing myself to various projects so I can have more downtime, get out a bit more socially, and finally finish enslaving humanity.

Brent Krische: Sleep and exercise more and brush up on my programming.

Megan Sawyer, Environment Artist: I should make a resolution to never make resolutions again and see how well that goes next year. Heh.

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What we want for the holidays

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If you’ve been checking the blog this month, you’ll know we’ve been recapping our favorites of 2009. We’ve already covered TV and Music, but I thought I’d give everyone a chance to see Avatar, The Lovely Bones, etc. and play through Dragon Age, Borderlands, and more before asking them to share their favorite movies and games.

So before getting to that, last week I asked folks to share what they’re hoping to get for the holidays (as Pete and Todd already did at Kotaku). Let us know what you’re hoping is under your tree.

Ryan Salvatore: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, and enough free time to play my huge backlog of games.

Sean Palamino: Batman Arkham Asylum (how did I miss this one?), District 9 on Blu Ray, or maybe an HD camcorder — but I hear Santa is being cheap this year.

Natalie Gausden: In dream land: a Puppy. In reality: a new pair of boots!

Ashley Cheng: What I want for the holidays: new comfy pants, a new coach, general manager (check!) and owner for the Washington Redskins

Jennifer Tonon: iTunes and WoW gift cards (seriously.. I spend too much money on these things), some sanity, every edition of Zombies! The board game I can get my hands on, sleep, a new mattress, and Brutal Legend (I’m behind the times.. shut up).

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Giving Thanks

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Today our office is closed as we take time to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family. Over the past week, I asked folks at the office to share what they’re thankful for this year. Check out the list below.

From everyone at Bethesda Softworks, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving….and Go Lions!!

Ashley Cheng: As you read this, I will be in Taiwan, the country where I was born, visiting friends and relatives I haven’t seen in over 20 years. I am very grateful for my family, friends, co-workers and colleagues, and mostly for my beautiful wife, Megen. I’d also like to thank everyone who has ever purchased a game I’ve worked on, thank you so much for your support.

Todd Howard: My family, friends, coworkers and everyone out there who supports our games. And for all the dreamers; the ones who make the games, and the ones who play them. What’s on the screen is never as good as the story you’re telling in your head.

Emil Pagliarulo: As always, I’m thankful for my four great kids, and my wonderful wife who someone manages to take care of us all, before she even thinks about taking care of herself; I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world; I’m especially thankful this year that I’m finally healthy, and really looking forward to what the future may bring; and, last but not least, I’m thankful for my car, the Cherry Bomb 3000 — a red 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. My God, I love my car.

Pete Hines:I’m thankful that for 10 years I’ve been able to go to work at a place I love, doing something I love, with people I truly enjoy working with and being around. I’m thankful for my great friends and family, two terrific kids, sweet tea, Bojangles’ biscuits, the very existence of Chick Fil A, serious thunderstorms, Wake Forest sports, Caps playoff hockey games, the US Nat’l soccer team, a World Cup to look forward to, being able to still get it done on the soccer field at age 40, that at home I have a stack of good video games to play, entertaining books to read, and a list of movies I can’t wait to see, and I’m thankful for the promise that 2010 holds.

Kevin Kauffman: Thanks to everyone responsible for paying me to do a job that I love and would probably do for free. Also to the best family and friends money can buy… you guys were worth every penny.

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What we’re playing

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Earlier this week we checked out the first chapter of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in our theater. The game dropped jaws and now a number of devs are busy playing through the full game. Uncharted 2 isn’t the only game getting lots of buzz — new releases Brütal Legend and Demon’s Souls having quickly become office favorites, too.

Now back to playing Uncharted…enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Jon DeVriendt: Uncharted 2, League of Legends, and Demon’s Souls.

Orin Tresnjak: Demon’s Souls.

Pete Hines: Uncharted Drake’s Fortune, Madden, NCAA, and Halo 3: ODST.

Brett Douville, Eater of Metal Cookies: Brütal Legend, Brütal Legend, and Brütal Legend.

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Where we’re dining: Craving Five Guys

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This week I thought I’d ask everyone to share their favorite places to eat (good suggestion, Ash). As you can expect, there’s plenty of variety in the places where folks from our office go out to eat.

One of the most common responses was Five Guys. Like In-N-Out Burger on the west coast, Five Guys is one of those burger places where you just assume they’ve put some addictive chemical in the burgers that make you crave it. If you haven’t checked it out, there’s a good chance one will pop up in your area sometime soon. While the restaurants began in the DC Area (Arlington, to be exact), there are now more than 400 locations in the US.

Below are more of the places we enjoy eating…you might even recognize some of the areas from Fallout 3.

Pete Hines: Five Guys, Valentino’s, Chick-Fil-A.

Gary Powell, QA Tester: Viet Gourmet (Fredrick), El Charro (Dale City), Panera Bread, Five Guys, Grotto’s Pizza (Bethany Beach, DE) and House Of Dynasty (Alexandria).

Dane Olds, Artist: Dogfishhead Alehouse, Roy’s Place, Cava, and Sushi House (Rockville).

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Fan-Made AER9 Laser Rifle

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This morning while drinking my daily glass of grape juice, I saw this blog post at Destructoid — depicting a fan-made Fallout 3 AER9 Laser Rifle. As my jaw dropped, I nearly spilled the grape juice all over myself and my laptop. Upon not destroying my laptop, I immediately sent the link to Pete, Todd, and others at the office.

The rifle was created by Harrison Krix (who also created an awesome  Bioshock Big Daddy), who is a self-proclaimed “27 year old dork working in Graphic Design and living in Atlanta.” Be sure to read more on how he assembled the rifle (complete with some step-by-step pictures) at his website.

Great work!