Lamar Jackson and How EA Continues To Screw Up Franchise Mode

EA recently released a list of the top rookie quarterbacks in their annual hype train countdown to the release of Madden.  This year, they slipped up and unintentionally commented on their simulation formula for Franchise Mode.

‘Lamar Jackson could be the most interesting QB to play as in Madden 19. If you sim a lot of games in Franchise, he’s likely not the best pick at the moment. But holy hell, his base ratings make him fun…’ for more, go to the page here.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp

The issue with this isn’t that Lamar Jackson shouldn’t be rated higher or lower than anyone else.  It is simply the fact that they reference his effectiveness in Franchise Mode to his ratings.  What should continue to worry CFM players is this continuing problem with CFM being tied to overall ratings.  This would be like saying that Michael Vick would be fun to play with but he wouldn’t do much for a team in a simulation.  I’m not saying that Lamar Jackson is Michael Vick, but he is damn close.

This means that EA has not changed their formula of what is important in CFM.  It is still driven by OVR.  This means you won’t have any players that are low rated to start become anything close to superstars.  It also means that the CPU is actually at a competitive disadvantage.  As users, we are able to see certain players with abilities that we can take advantage of – speed, trucking, throw accuracy, hit power, etc.  We can turn a 6th round 67 OVR player into an absolute beast.  The CPU will either cut the player or never play them in a simulation.  Take a look at the practice squads in your Madden 18 CFM – the CPU has some BEASTS that never get a chance to play.  Many of us would snap up these players in a heartbeat.

Until EA makes Madden CFM more nuanced and less dependent on overall ratings I have a feeling we will continue to experience a rather mechanical and less organic CFM experience.

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How To Use Scouting and Build A Franchise – MLB 18 The Show

Building your franchise in MLB The Show is a process that can be daunting if you decide to grab a terrible team.  This will serve as a guide for starting your franchise in the best possible way in your first season.  For the sake of commonality, I used the OSFM 1.5 Roster available in the online roster vault.

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Make sure after you select your team of choice you press square on Player Development and General Manager Tasks, this will allow you to control every aspect of your team (on top of Coaching Tasks).

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Start your season during spring training and take a look at your roster ranks in the Trade Talks menu.  The only good spot for the Tigers is Miguel Cabrera – he is declining quickly and the 2018 season will probably be his last chance of productivity – so I am moving him during the spring.  Before that happens, you better find a replacement in the free agent pool or involve the replacement in the trade.  In my case, I found a nice free agent and signed him.  If you want to see potential in free agents press triangle on them and it will be right there for you to see.MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_16.jpg

I traded Cabrera to the Yankees and in return for the 90 OVR first baseman, coupled with a couple disposable minor leaguers I managed to bring in a much needed reliever, a top prospect in Clint Frazier (I’m surprised the Yankees haven’t traded him in real life yet) and I grabbed their newly acquired Brandon Drury to be my utility guy.  This is the kind of trade you want to make if you have one good player that is over 30 with an OVR of 80 or higher… the same goes for even older guys.

TIME TO START SCOUTING!!!

Before you start thinking about scouting, you want to look at what players you already have in the farm system.  MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18

The current look of the Tigers for 2018 isn’t great.  However, once you take a look at the potential of some of the Starting Pitchers, the up and coming 1B that was newly signed as well as our future CF in Clint Frazier, suddenly those rankings aren’t so bad.  This is where you start looking at what you want to scout for in the draft in June.

For the Tigers, this means looking at 2nd and 3rd base as well as trying to find a great complimentary corner outfielder.  Add bullpen pitchers and there are some serious changes that need to happen.  This is how you do it.

GO TO CONTRACTS AND SIGN NEW SCOUTS

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Sign a scout in every region (East, West, Central, and International).

Invest in new scouts to replace your crappy ones.

Scout ratings are simple to understand and once you do, it will make the rest of your process easy.

Efficiency – This is how fast a scout can determine the ratings of prospects.  When looking at the scouting menu you will see players that are scouted fully with green bars and others that are not scouted at all in the red.  Focus on players in the region of your scout for even faster scouting results with higher efficiency (in 3 to 4 days a highly rated efficiency scout can fully scout a prospect in his region).

Discovery – This tells you how many players  scout can find.  When assigning a scout to discover players he won’t be able to look at individual prospects – keep this in mind as a large player pool is great, but if you have so many you can’t scout them all – it leaves you in a tight spot.

Position Players – These scouts will get you more accurate ratings on players that are non-pitchers.

Pitchers – These scouts are the best at accurately rating pitching prospects.

Look at prospects in positions you need to fill in a couple years.  Next year they will be young prospects and will need time to become big league ready.

The MLB ETA on the prospect list is important.  If you need a player soon, find a player with a MLB ETA year that is for the next season.  If you have time to develop a guy behind a current player you can draft someone that isn’t going to be ready for a couple years.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_49.jpgThat covers the important aspects of scouting.  Make sure you jump on this on the first day of the regular season.  It will end up providing you with a great draft class in June.

 

Franchise Mode – Play The Game Or The Game Will Play You

It really doesn’t matter which sports game you are playing. The moment you start Franchise Mode you had better be ready to make some moves in your omniscient role as owner/general manager/coach/manager/player. If you aren’t controlling every team in the mode you will see the CPU make some trades and sign some players that cause you to wonder if there was a glitch in The Matrix.

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I recently started a new Franchise Mode in MLB The Show 18 with the Orioles and had planned on going through the season with the primary roster from a combination of my NoobTubeTV Roster and OSFM. Once I made it out of Spring Training I thought I was ready to rock. I was going to set up a trade block just in case a team wanted to make an offer for a few of my players. I decided to take a look at the Transactions section just to see if any moves had been made by the CPU. There were a couple… but one made me rethink my entire approach.

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The Reds traded away their top prospect, Nick Senzel. Not only did they trade their top prospect with ‘A’ Potential, but they traded him in the division to the Cardinals for a first basemen in Rangel Ravelo that is 25 with ‘C’ Potential. As much as I could chalk this up to the Reds being the Reds, I had a moment that made me realize that trying to keep my roster moves ‘realistic’ would only hurt my franchise experience in the long run. This isn’t the case if the CPU keeps trades down for the most part, but when there are big trades that involve top prospects for nobodies – it’s on like Donkey Kong!

I made my own moves soon after I saw the Reds trade. Seeing that the rumors already have the Orioles shipping Manny Machado by the trade deadline this season (in real life) I decided I would pull the trigger earlier in the season – and I would add a few other players to my rebuild of Baltimore.

MLB 18 Trade Orioles

Some of the elitists on sports gaming forums would be shouting from their ivory towers as wanna-be experts that these trades would never happen. Guess what…? They did and it has been fun as hell to play my Franchise over the last few games with this remodeled Orioles team.

I managed to trade Machado, Britton, and Davis to the Rangers for Nomar Mazara, Roughned Odor and Ronald Guzman. Yes, it was a steal when it comes to obtaining young players that I be the bedrock of the Orioles for a few years. Yes, I feel like this could happen in the real world (why not?). I then also made a trade with the Nationals to bring in a prospect to eventually take over for the absense of Machado in Kieboom. You could say realistically and be correct in the statement that I basically rebuilt my entire roster during the first week.

Yup, I did – and that’s the point. Franchise Mode is YOURS. You don’t have to abide by anyone’s rules if you don’t want to. For myself, I like to play through mine like a story. I have all sorts of different ideas for how I want to see my team develop for my initial three year contract. Everyone should have the same view on their own franchise mode. I think having some house rules is always a good idea. I do have another Franchise Mode that uses my original house rules for MLB 18 (with the Reds of all teams!) and it is a great time as well.

The point of all of this…? When you play sports games from the franchise mode perspective you have to take every moment with a grain of salt. I have had all sorts of crazy things happen…

  • 700 yard passing game by DeShone Kizer
  • 5 HR game by Carlos Santana
  • The Browns won a game

The world is a crazy place. Don’t get upset when your franchise loses its mind – roll with it and make it your own crazy world.

COD Is Dead

Call of Duty was my go-to game during the Modern Warfare Trilogy.  From the campaign to the multiplayer it was at its best between 2007 and 2011.  While I agree that there were decent titles released by Treyarch in the time between these releases, MW was my favorite experience altogether.CodMeme

By the time Activision (the publisher and owner of the Call of Duty series) decided to part ways (unceremoniously fire) the main brains behind the Modern Warfare trilogy it had become obvious that two things were happening.  Call of Duty was still growing at an incredible rate and Activision was going to milk/destroy the game for every drop of money they could get.codisdead

Now that we are firmly into the new generation of consoles (PS4 and XBox One) it is easy to see what their strategy has become.  Cosmetic changes to weapons, loot boxes, and everything else that can be made into a micro-transaction in order to milk every last dime out of your bedazzled wallet.

The days of playing some of the coolest games with your friends are long gone.  Sure, you can still party up with your buds and wreck some lobbies if you want.  However, a lot of the focus has turned to two things – replicating the success of Fortnite, PUBG, & the concept of ‘Battle Royale’ in general and pandering to the streaming crowd on YouTube and Twitch.

Black Ops 4 won’t have a typical campaign, which isn’t something COD has really focused on since MW (sorry, but Black Ops 3 was one of the most insulting campaigns from a story perspective, maybe ever… until I played Infinite Warfare, anyway).  It feels like Activision’s new motto is ‘Call of Duty, we know you’ll buy it anyway…’.

While Battlefield 5 will be including their own type of Battle Royale, I must say EA DICE has impressed me with their move to not only open accessibility by simply including playable female characters but they have also announced that they will not have a season pass or maps that you have to purchase separately.  You can still option your way to buying bedazzled gear, but it isn’t being forced on you like COD.

It seems to me that Call of Duty has decided that they don’t need a rather large group of gamers.  While I have fond memories of the old titles and the MW Trilogy in particular I must say that at this point the feeling of not wanting eachother is mutual.

COD IS DEAD

Living Without High Speed Internet – The Downfall of Digital Game Purchases, DLC and Patches

Before packing up our things and moving to rural  Ohio I was actually excited to be back where there are seasons and relatively nice weather for most of the year.  The one thing I didn’t count on was the complete lack of high speed internet and how it would impact not only my job search (not having bandwidth to post a 500kb PDF resume will make you wonder why you try at all) but also my gaming experience.

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I never purchased a digital game until I owned a PS4 and was living in Monterey, CA.  I had high speed internet through the same company a lot of you probably go through (you know, because monopoly is the new word for competition these days).  I bought Grand Theft Auto 5 and loved it as much as I did on PS3, actually, I loved it more.  It was rendered beautifully.  The problem I faced upon the initial purchase was that it was around a 50GB download and my internet, as fast as it was at the time was going to give me this game after taking about eight hours to download the software.

I would then go on to buy Black Ops 3, COD WW2 and many other titles digitally because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that maybe someday I wouldn’t have access to high speed internet.  It seemed ridiculous after having had it since 2005.  The thing that no one seems to think about is that while the games are a big part of your initial experience they also download patches that are sometimes over 8 GB in size on their own.  If you have played any game with online access you most likely have experience with having to wait for a patch to download and install… but wait, there’s more.

You might say, buy the game in hard copy form, dummy.  Yes, true enough – that’s a valid point to fix the first problem.  The patch issue when you have internet that is half a step better than dial-up is enough to make you buy an SNES Classic and find a happy place (Those still exist, right?… A happy place, I mean.  The SNES Classic isn’t even available in most places, I digress.).

You can’t play your old saves on games that don’t have the updated patch.  Your old game saves are tied to the latest patch that you downloaded.  So, if you have been playing Dark Souls, The Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout, Bloodborne, etc. and you own the hard copy disc but you deleted one of those games in order to play something new (Battlefield 1 (76 GB), Grand Theft Auto (76 GB), etc.) you will need to not only install the game again, but you will also have to download the patch to be able to load your old saves.

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I can’t complain in regards to almost any other aspect of life in terms of being fortunate in virtually every other facet of functionality.  I know I am lucky to be in the position I currently find myself.  However, when it comes to gaming and general accessibility to what is becoming a more internet-centralized world, I am at a loss with quite a few people in rural America.

There doesn’t seem to be a true fix for this situation other than demanding better infrastructure when it comes to running fiber optic cable all over the place.  You would think that it would be as simple as using your cell phone provider as a hot spot, but the way they throttle your data speed after a rather small amount is used basically puts you into the stone age in terms of internet access.

This is why I urge all of you to purchase your games in hard copy form. Sure, you will have to deal with downloading a patch over the course of a week, but imagine how long it would take you to download your next 50 GB game and then be greeted with a patch on top of that.

There is good reason to go out and buy your game at a store or however you prefer to acquire a hard copy.  It seems that the reason relates to time travel, because my PS4 is living in 1998.

The Sprint Button Is Your Enemy – Madden 19

Out of all the buttons and functions that Madden NFL has implemented (even the half-hearted ‘read tackle’ in Madden 18) there are few that have caused the gameplay more quality than the sprint button (R2 on PS4 and RT on XBox One).

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After playing too many games to count I decided to start playing with less use of the sprint button in my games against the CPU.  I couldn’t believe how much this little thing changed the entire experience.  All those times where I felt that my user controlled player was being cheated out of a presumably big play I realized that it was because I pressed the R2 button either too early or simply pressing it altogether.

A few things happen when you press the R2 button on offense.  If you are using a QB on a pass play it will put you into a scrambling mode where your passes will generally be less accurate (this is actually a good thing).  The other aspect that tends to drastically change your experience is that it seems to cause the CPU to rush the QB like a beacon.  While this makes some sense as most defensive players would start focusing on a dangerous scramble – it feels too much like a homing beacon.  This is where the real issue comes into play.

You will notice the biggest issue on offense when you are controlling the running back and press the sprint button.  It will cause the defense to essentially speed up and focus completely on the ball carrier.  The blocking from your AI teammates will break down faster and it will essentially dismantle your play before it ever gets up and running (no pun intended).

By using the left analog stick and staying away from the sprint button you will see a few things happen.  The blocks will be better and the defense will actually react in a way that feels realistic instead of some version of mind reading monsters from Dark Souls.

Where I actually noticed the best function change was on defense.  By using the left stick in tandem with the defensive engagement moves, swim moves, etc. it was like a different game.  It felt smooth and actually made defense enjoyable!

If you press the sprint button on defense you will see the QB do all sorts of crazy stuff (including intentional grounding that is never called by the atrocious penalty system that hasn’t changed since Madden 96).  Every aspect of your defensive experience is generally ruined by using the sprint button.  Even the truck stick is better without it!

Give this a shot as you prepare for Madden 19.  You won’t regret it!

Madden Trade Logic Needs A Drastic Overhaul

For those of you that want to gut a team and make some trades in Madden 19 Connected Franchise Mode you are probably still in luck. The attention given to custom draft classes is something I have been praising over the last week. It doesn’t mean that other hugely important aspects of CFM have been tuned or fixed in any way. After starting a CFM from scratch with in Madden 18 with the preseason roster with a preseason starting point I wanted to see what I could get for my Browns. The team that tanked the 2017 season would get a fresh start once again in the spirit of erasing bad memories. May I say, Madden trade logic will make ANYONE into the greatest GM in the history of sports.

The first move I made was to trade away Osweiler like the Browns tried to do, but ended up eating his $16 salary in real life. Madden is where real life trade logic goes to die.

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I ended up getting a projected #2 Overall Pick for Osweiler and two running backs that I was going to release anyway. How can Madden say this is good value? You will be shocked by the next trade I made.

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This was a trade that I probably overpaid for in terms of Madden logic, but when you consider that the Browns traded away Haden last year, Kizer in the off-season and released Pryor before the season started last year for arguably the best young QB available at the time in Jimmy Garoppolo? It was a great trade to get my team a long-term answer at the most important position.

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I then made another trade that saw not only another short-lived real life Browns contract in Britt go along with a player I just signed (Milliner) and another disposable player that would likely be cut in Burgess. In return I got the projected #8 Overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

Add in a trade of Danny Shelton, Desmond Bryant and Tank Carder to Seattle for their 1st round pick to boot.

All things said and done, I managed to obtain three more 1st Round picks and a Franchise QB for a team that was projected to finish the season 0-16 in 2017. Add on to this the fact that the Browns already had a treasure trove of picks for the 2018 draft and they literally hold 15% of all first round picks as well as a QB that I would sign to a long-term deal in the off-season. It’s hard to imagine that EA Tiburon made any big changes to this simply because they haven’t talked about it yet – they love to talk about little things and they gush at what they consider their big changes (Custom Draft Classes, I’m looking at you).

I will be creating an overhauled set of house rules for Madden 19 CFM in the coming months. It will be more important than ever to set rules now that we will have the ability to see the draft classes prior to starting each season. It could potentially destroy immersion if you know all of the best players and it could really be a game killer if the trade and draft logic aren’t fixed as well.

Look for more to come as we enter Madden Season.