Madden ’09: Madden-sized Disappointment

I finally got my hands on my copy of Madden ’09 earlier this week. I had actually gotten the game pre-ordered way back in early-July, but didn’t end up getting it until this week.

Let me get this part out of the way first: Dear EA Sports. For the love of god, please hire some fracking user interface designers. The user interface for Madden sucks, and seems to get worse every year. Quit spending all of your time making everything glossy and shiny. Just make it better. If you’re unsure of how to do this, WWDC might be a good place to start.

Moving on. My first impressions of the game went something like this:

  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Madden Test. Neat idea. What’s with the weird glassy field and see-through players?
  • Apparently I am close to all-madden on offense, but am still at rookie level on defense. Interesting. The combined IQ puts me at below 500.
  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Start up franchise mode. No need to save, I just started.
  • Start first game. Oh wait, I can practice for points. Umm, really confusing, I have no idea what I’m doing. OK, I completely buggered up whatever that was. Let’s start the goddamned game already.
  • Loading, Waiting, Loading, Waiting
  • Because of my offense in the madden test, playing offense now is completely impossible for me. I quickly throw one interception and punt twice. Despite my rookie-level defensive settings, the Jaguars quickly pass and rush their way down the field and score on me. This is not going very well.
  • What’s with all of the ridiculous camera angles?
  • Is it just me or is the game-pace faster?
  • Sometime in the late first quarter or early second, I call a play from the play call screen. The sound continues, but the screen freezes at the play call. I hear my players run the play I called, the controller vibrates, announcers continue talking. I can actually continue picking plays an even call timeouts, but the screen is completely frozen. I have to restart the game.
  • At this point, I realize that I had not saved anything yet and decide that maybe I would rather do something else.

That was Wednesday night. Thursday night went like this:

  • Repeat all steps from Wednesday night

So basically, I’ve attempted to play exactly two franchise games. I have not even made it to halftime without the game freezing on me. WTF EA Sports. This is the sorriest excuse of a release game. It is unplayable. Even worse, a quick Google search shows that I’m not the only one:

Madden Freeze Search

Keep in mind here that this game is brand new and I played it exactly twice; both times it froze. My PS3 is only a couple of months old as well. The official EA Forum has a thread about the freezing issues. It’s currently 37 pages long.

I was really hoping that this game would look great on the PS3. I didn’t expect for it not to work at all. I really hope that that class action lawsuit succeeds and they sue the shit out of EA.

CSS Internet Explorer Bugs

The other day I ran in to a bug in IE 6 that I had never encountered before. I had a left-floated content box with a margin of 105px on the left. Everything worked fine in the good browsers as usual, but when I checked IE 6, I noticed that the margin was off. No real surprise there. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the margin was more than just off, it was exactly double the actual margin.

After doing some research, I discovered that the bug has been well documented as the “Doubled Float-Margin Bug.” Position Is Everything has a good explanation:

This bug only occurs when the float margin goes in the same direction as the float and is trapped directly between the float and the inside edge of the container box. Any following floats with a similar margin won’t show the doubled margin. Only the first float in any given float row will suffer from the bug. Also, the doubled margin displays symmetry, working the same way to the right as it does to the left.

As it turns out, I didn’t even need to use their recommended fix for the bug. I was able to ax it by just adjusting which elements had the float and margins.

Position Is Everything also contains an entire section IE only bugs. I know this is going to be an invaluable reference for me when I’m trying to track down odd behavior that I’m sure is a bug and need an easy fix.

WordPress 2.3.1 Plugin Incompatibility

I upgraded to WordPress 2.3.1 last week and for the most part, all seemed to go well. Even though I’m not actually displaying any tags for my posts yet, I wanted to get upgraded quickly so that I could start working on generating tags for new and old posts. It’s going to be a lot of back-breaking labor to get caught up (okay fine, slight exaggeration).

I noticed a couple of days ago that when I tried to post to the site using the Textmate blogging bundle, I was getting the following error at the top of the window.

Received exception:Missing return value!

Normally when you post successfully from TextMate, all sorts of metadata is appended to the top of you post in TextMate, including the permalink for the post. It also automatically opens a new tab to the post in your web browser.

When I started getting this error both the permalink appending and web browser page opening functions stopped working. Oddly enough, the entry was still actually posted to my blog. I immediately assumed that this error had something to do with the new tagging features and that maybe the TextMate blogging bundle wasn’t quite up to snuff. No problem, Google to the rescue.

Amazingly, my Google searches turned up almost nothing useful on the subject. Eventually, I recovered one tiny little detail using “wordpress 2.3 xmlrpc error” as my search term.

The solution appears in a comment by Daniel Jalkut on the Red Sweater Blog.

…my first reaction when I see that kind of vague error is that a plugin in your WordPress installation is incompatible with WP 2.3. By any chance are you running the Google Sitemap Generator plugin? It’s one that has been identified by a few users as needing update after going to 2.3. See:

If you’re not running that, it could be another plugin. Generally the “XML-RPC Response Parsing Failed” happens when some plugin causes the entire fetch to fail, so WordPress just returns a blank response instead of an XML document.

While the error in question was actually somewhat different than mine, I do in fact use the Google Sitemap plugin. I disabled the plugin and tried posting again. Bingo, problem solved.

UPDATE: The version of the Google Sitemap plugin that was giving me this problem was 2.7.1. My WordPress install indicated that there wasn’t an update for this plugin, but when I actually went to the site I found that there was one. The new version is 3.0.1 and seems to work fine. The admin interface also looks much better.