Road to Madden Bowl XXI

So Madden Bowl XXI is over, but the road to it was fun and pretty interesting and something I planned to post about, let’s kick it off and run down the timeline.

November 7th, 2014 I wake up to an email invite from GM to sit in on the Connected Car Expo and experience some Q&A and also stay around to check out the LA Auto Show, after CCE there would be some other events including a Madden Competition and a GT6 event down in Hollywood. It was new but it wasn’t out of my wheelhouse, I focus on tech and I’ve been a car and racing enthusiast for ages. I opted in to join in on a new experience and see what I could do in a show like that.

Flash forward to Day 0, Connect Car Expo, meeting the GM team that invited me to the show and getting the thing started. The big promo for the morning, car connectivity, not just through navigation systems and media players in cars but going further with 4G / LTE and hyper awareness of where the car can go. Behind us in the lobby seating zone, a GMC Canyon with 4G sits, it also has a full LCD screen mounted in the tailgate and an Xbox One with Madden connected online. Showcasing the lower latency and ability to play anywhere, it’s a cool feature, probably the greatest tailgate experience if you can swing it too.

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After hearing about many predictions and projects of integrating tech and the driving experience we head out, check out the GMC Canyon in further detail, looking at the interior, talking wi-fi hotspots and Onstar connectivity to the phone for full control of the car. After a quick hop in the cars we head off to Luxe City Center and it all begins, writers and editors for other publications gather in, we snack, watch TV’s get setup and find the details of the competition, the winner of the qualifier will represent GMC in Madden Bowl XXI in Scottsdale, AZ. The room falls a bit silent, I feel the nerves in my hands come alive, I start tapping my feet, I’m eager. I haven’t dedicated myself to football games in a while but I feel confident enough to give it a challenge.

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After a few rides out test driving and shooting photos of the Canyon we come back, some of the numbers for competitors have dwindled down and it all begins. Paired off we play rounds in our bracket until we come to a finale. It’s a strange thing of course, start with relative ease or calm, as the time passes on the hands sweat, the lean forward becomes more clear, breathing focuses and the eyes study the screen while those nerves start to betray with eagerness and hyper activity. It’s a closer match in the final, felt like I was barely going to scrape by on it, with everything on the line though the plays started coming together and the final score hit.

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It was a blank moment, surreal in every sense, everyone excited and I was trying to figure out what happened. I play matches in other games all the time online and at arcades but nothing quite matched up to what just happened because of how big the future of it was. I celebrated a bit, was given a bag of cool goodies including a copy of Madden 15 on Xbox One and the future was all in my hands.

After my days for the LAAS wrapped up I headed back, took a few days and studied the pricing online, given Black Friday was around the corner there were early deals all over, I snagged a base Xbox One (AC Unity Ed) for about 300 at Fry’s with a coupon. From that point on I spent near daily practice on Madden, using my team from the event (Bengals!) learning better play calling, getting more hours in and studying better formation usage so that I wasn’t using spray and pray. While things like the Madden coaching suggestions were a nice starter guide it didn’t make a ton of sense if I was going to play on a bigger stage though.

I studied and talked with Tech2k about my options, about how to target my matches on tighter clocks, what formations would work best and how aggressive my style would be. We went over last-minute adjustments on the line, hot routes and more to create windows where there might be a lack of them.

Finally January was at a close, tons of matches had closed in Madden 15, I had the game pouring out of my eyeballs and we were on the flight to Scottsdale. I was nervous, feeling nauseated and trying to reinforce that I just spent the last few months nonstop playing Madden in dedicated practice periods and in any free moments I had. My Xbox One packed in my carry-on with me and I’d keep going until the final that night.

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After landing it was clear, no going back, there’s no tomorrow it was all on the practice and the final event. We loaded up in a GMC Canyon All-Terrain that GMC had set aside for us to get around in and headed to the hotel. The hours ahead included some mexican food, tea and somewhat sleep deprived practice. After a short nap and a bit more play it was time to head down to the big show. Unfortunately it was also pouring buckets.

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We played that night, a Super Bowl inspired theme with open mods to the teams and playbook. The Madden Bowl fell into 2 areas, the main pro / celebrity area on stage and tents on the back section where we played out of the back of a Canyon, it was an odd scenario, it all started that way and it was all ending that way. As the rain came down we played on though and eventually in the battle of EA vs GMC… well.

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I guess that says it all right? It was a harder challenge going Seahawks vs Patriots given I hadn’t really practiced using either, my opponent was someone who felt at home in their game, trying to make quicker calls, playing tough and scoring early. We went in 5 minute quarters and in those first 2 I wasn’t able to make it happen. In the second half we kept going, those nerves were alive again and I was full of bad reactions, random tosses of the ball still and I wasn’t connecting. With some calm breaths and focus I found my pocket though, a blitz where I went play action with a decent pass, there wasn’t anyone in the backfield and it charged home. I didn’t get too eager, with the game tied I played it safe and kicked.

The remaining game was wide open and it would be on my defense to hold the ball in the midfield to avoid a field goal. As we clashed on it was a universal sentiment that we would probably head into overtime, both sides seemed pretty confident as our defenses allowed little traction and the punts were piling up. On a lucky break through the Seahawks came to life for me, we broke through in the last-minute, Lynch being a critical point breaking through just enough for the conversions, it was adding up, with slants and rushing helping edge us up we got a clear pass that forced me to stop the clock. It was a 38 yard shot, well within the kicking range of the match. Launched off it was a good shot and we left 5 seconds on the clock. After the punt and kneel there was one play left, a long bomb Brady hail mary shot, with no room to get any play in it was the only one in the bag, he shot off and connected but the deep defense was there and plowed him out around the 40 leaving our matchup to end.

The entire experience was surreal, I still look back on it now wondering if that just really happened. Then I look over at the Xbox One and it’s an obvious reminder yes it did happen and it was very exciting. Winning with GMC was a really cool thing that I can mark down and always remember. It’s a testament that with time and effort you can pull off amazing things and that any opportunity has the potential to bring so much more.

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DC Comics adds two more to the digital pile

C2E2 announcements are already rolling out, DC hot on the release of
today is pushing out Batman Digital and Ame-Comi Girls, two new titles looking to expand the lineup to 5 unique franchises so you can get a new experience from the company each day of the week every week. DC Comics will offer new releases Monday through Friday for the following series in June, until then expect the current 3 to roll out and then Ame-Comi Girls to hit in May.

  • Monday – Ame-Comi Girls (May)
  • Tuesday – Batman: Arkham Unhinged
  • Wednesday – Beyond series (Justice League Beyond, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond)
  • Thursday – Batman Digital (June)
  • Friday – Smallville Season 11

Info on Batman Digital:

BATMAN digital, launching in June, will take place outside of DC Comics – The New 52 continuity and feature a series of stand-alone stories by various creators that chronicle different cases handled by The Dark Knight. Confirmed creative teams include Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire; Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones; Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott; Ales Kot and Ryan Sook; B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith; Steve Niles and Trevor Hairsine; Joe Harris and Jason Masters; TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten; Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman; Joshua Hale Fialkov and Phil Hester; David Tischman and Chris Sprouse; and many more!

 

Info on Ame-Comi Girls:

AME-COMI GIRLS, launching in May, is based on the best-selling product line from DC Collectibles that brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics’ female heroines and their foes. In the new series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Braniac, who is aided by a group of “bad girl” super villains. Initially, there will be five individual character arcs with multiple chapters, leading up to united, Ame-Comi girl series. All stories are written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with Wonder Woman art by Amanda Conner and Tony Akins, Batgirl art by Sanford Greene, Duela Dent art by Ted Naifeh, Power Girl art by Mike Bowden and Supergirl art by Santi Casas.

The goal is to bring unique content to fans across all mediums and this online focus should help cement their commitment to digital fans in this new era of comic collecting and reading. We’ll have to see how this pans out and if DC will aim on implementing any other franchises into the mix.

The Dark Horse Emerald City Comicon signing and panel schedule arrives!

We’ve been talking about it a ton but we’re still following up to the show day, if you’re headed to the Emerald City Comicon this weekend we have a Dark Horse guide of events and panels to start writing down before the show kicks off tomorrow. Check out the goodies below for more information, also keep in mind that Dark Horse Comics lanyards will be available at each signing too. Although they’re limited to one per person while they can keep them in stock.

Booth Signings #702

  • Friday March 30
    • 5:00 p.m.                  Brian Wood (ConanThe Massive)—FREE poster
    • 5:30 p.m.                  Paul Tobin (Falling Skies)—FREE Falling Skies print
  • Saturday March 31
    • 1:00 p.m. Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)—FREE Buffy rubber wristband
    • 1:30 p.m. Adam Warren (Empowered)—FREE comic
    • 2:00 p.m. Brian Wood (Conan, The Massive)—FREE poster
    • 2:30 p.m. Ethan and Malachai Nicolle (Axe Cop)—FREE comic; Christopher Hastings (Dr.McNinja) — FREE print
    • 3:00 p.m. Steve Lieber (Alabaster)—FREE print
    • 4:00 p.m. Jeremy Barlow (Mass Effect, Star Wars)—FREE print
    • 5:30 p.m. Paul Tobin (TBA at DHC: Powered by Creators panel)—FREE print
    • 6:00 p.m. Jeff Parker and Erika Moen (TBA at DHC: Powered by Creators panel)—FREE print
  • Sunday April 1
    • 11:00 a.m.                 Francesco Francavilla (The Black Beetle)—FREE print
    • 12:30 p.m.                 Joëlle Jones (House of Night)FREE comic
    • 1:00 p.m.                  Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto (Ghost)—FREE print
    • 2:00 p.m.                  Michael Avon Oeming (Valve Presents, New project TBA at DHC: Powered by Creators panel)FREE print

Panel Schedule

  • Friday March 30
    • 3:00–4:00 p.m.                  ECCC Spotlight Series: Brian Wood Room 211
    • 3:00–4:00 p.m.                  Falling Skies Screening and Q&A Room 4C1-2
    • 5:00–6:00 p.m.                  Drawing Inspiration: The Art of the Whedonverse Room 4C1-2
    • 6:00–7:00 p.m.                  ECCC Spotlight Series: Camilla d’Errico Room 211
    • 6:00–7:00 p.m.                  Expanding the Experience: Video Games to Comics and Back Again Room TCC 102
  • Saturday March 31
    • 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.         ECCC Spotlight Series: Rick Remender Room 211
    • 4:00–5:00 p.m.                   Dark Horse Comics: Powered by Creators Room 4C1-2
  • Sunday April 1
    • 12:00–1:00 p.m.                   ECCC Spotlight Series: Steve Niles Room 211
    • 12:00–1:00 p.m.                   Mythic Fiction Comics: The Next Mega-Genre? Room 3AB
    • 1:00–2:00 p.m.                     Axe Cop Room 3AB
    • 1:00–2:00 p.m.                      ECCC Spotlight Series: Brandon Graham and Adam Warren in Conversation Room 211
We’ll continue to run announcements and news as we get them for the show, get to planning as it looks to be a busy weekend up in Seattle!

Link: Dark Horse Blog