Top Needs of Madden Connected Franchise Mode (CFM)

There are all sorts of needs when it comes to Madden from a game-play perspective.  As many of you know by now – I almost exclusively play Offline Madden Franchise Mode.  There are so many aspects of the NFL that keep us interested all year and today we are going to focus on some of the things that Madden (or any other future football game… Are you listening 2K?) needs in Franchise mode.

Benjamin TD

Player Contracts, Morale and Agents 

If you have paid attention to any of the contracts signed by NFL players in the last few years you will see that many of these contracts are not nearly as simple as just throwing out a number and having it accepted or declined.  Madden has always had a problem with making contracts too simplified.  In that regard it has also made Franchise Mode exceedingly easy from a management perspective.  You can always low-ball a player or get someone on the cheap if you know your way around the salary cap.  Here are a few ideas on what would make this a bit more realistic and more challenging as you advance through multiple seasons.

  • Tiered Contracts – We should have the ability to front load or back load contracts for players just like in real life.  (NBA 2K has been doing this for years)
  • Incentive Based – There have been numerous contracts in recent memory laced with performance incentives.  (See Ben Tate’s deal with the Browns for an example).  This could be something that gamers need to focus on as they are building their teams around specific players.  You want that young WR you have made into a superstar to sign an extension?  Make it worth his while with money up front and incentives based on performance or staying healthy.
  • Battling Through Injuries – In this regard I like to see it being somewhat tied to the incentives listed above.  If a player tweaks his hamstring or maybe has a sore shoulder and needs to play a certain % of snaps to earn an incentive.  A good example of this is the contract of Jason Campbell for the Browns in 2013.  He did an admirable job trying to tough it out and play.  When it comes to staying healthy and getting paid to play a certain % of the snaps – you bet that is an important aspect for some players.
  • Morale – Something that never ceases to annoy Madden gamers is the thought that many features have been added and taken away as the wind blows at EA.  Morale was in Madden 2005 and played a large role in realism.  Players in the NFL have serious egos and morale swings almost daily.  In this case, a simple morale bar would be nice to see when it comes to making players happy to be on your team.  In that same breath, it should effect their performance as well.
  • Holdouts – Yet another part of the game that was removed is player holdouts.  This happens quite often and has at times caused many teams to lose important players or show them the money they demand in order to stick around.  This needs to be back in the game.

Another part of Franchise Mode that has been getting better incrementally over the last couple years is the NFL Draft.  As we enter the final week before the NFL Draft (in real life) there are many things that are becoming more apparent when looking at the draft and scouting in Madden.

  • Big Boards – I’m not talking about the main screen where they have thrown up the top players based on the CPU’s programming.  I am talking about as the GM/Coach/Owner making your own Big Board.  This could be as simple as taking a lesson from the NCAA Football team when they made a recruiting board for up to 35 players to recruit.  In this manner it should be expanded quite a bit (maybe to 50-70 players) so you can work your way through the draft like real teams do.
  • Measurables and Grades – I am  sick of the simple scouting method of paying to find exact ratings.  At most there should be grades or maybe a rating range made available through scouting.  When it comes to the combine in real life it is the biggest part of the pre-draft experience.  I want to see 40 times, bench press reps, interview notes, etc.
  • Coach Input – If you have seen the movie Draft Day you will know what I am talking about when I refer to Denis Leary’s portrayal of the Browns coach that basically tells the GM he is quitting if he takes a certain player or doesn’t help him fill the missing pieces in the draft to fit his system.  This is very important needs to have a greater presence in the game (perhaps Coach Morale as well?)
  • Scouts – This is something that is desperately needed in Madden for the sake of realism.  It would be great to not only streamline the process but also to add some variation to how players are rated based on what qualities that scouts have.
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Madden 15 Finally Releases Typical Hype Reel

So, EA Tiburon has finally unleashed the marketing train that they hope will catch football gamers by storm.  The best (and worst) part about these trailers is the graphical presentation.  What makes it awesome is rather obvious… go ahead and get the “Ehr Mah Gehrdddd!  He Looks Realzz!” out of your system.  Yes, sure – the faces of players in sports games is cool.  We always dreamed about it back when we were playing 8-bit Tecmo Bowl back in the day and now it is finally here… again.  Perhaps someone should remind you about the Madden 06 trailer that was complete garbage and meant nothing at all from the graphical or gameplay aspects of the actual game..

Now, another thing to consider is that after you watch the cut-scenes that might seem cool the first four times you play Madden during a game – you will most likely start smashing the A/X button repeatedly to play the actual game and skip the repetitious cut-scenes with “Ehr Mah Gehrdddd!  He Looks Realzz!” faces of players.  Then, it is back to seeing the back of the offensive players’ helmets and the front of the defenders from about 60 ft away if you use the default camera angle.  So, it begs the question… Why do we care about digitized faces with sweat, etc?

There are bigger things for EA to worry about and there are bigger things they need to do to convince people to buy their annual roster update.  One of those things is to show the gamers that it is more than simply a roster update (if it is… it probably isn’t).  Will we finally have morale in franchise mode?  Will the challenge system be worth a damn?  Will there maybe be some sort of injury system that makes sense?  Dare I ask if they will put in realistic injuries for once?  Maybe even *gasp* real-time injuries?

Coverage of Madden is about to start going off the deep end shortly and any/all of the new additions will already be in the process of being finalized.  This means that any ‘new’ ideas we might have will have to wait for Madden 16 at the earliest.  Outside of the couple hopes I listed above, I have to say that I have a slight hope for Madden 15 this year.  While I have yet to decide on a next-gen console, I am hoping to find a reason to get one.  Hopefully Madden 15 will actually prove my skeptical nature wrong this year.

But I doubt it.

Top Rookies Gamers Will (Ab)Use In Madden 15

While we still have two weeks until the NFL draft and everything about it is uncertain, it is with almost total certainty that a lot of fans are curious if their team will draft certain players and game-changers.  This is quite literal in the case of Madden 15.  So, who are the players that will most likely jump up the depth charts and be instant starters?  Better yet…  Which players are gamers going to trade almost everything to get on their team in Madden 15?
manziel-cutout#1 – Johnny Manziel – Face it, Madden is and always has been about speed and Madden 2004 showed that when it comes to having a speedster at QB your team will almost be unstoppable.  On top of Manziel being a fast QB and simply running around with him, Madden now has the read option and Manziel will be a monster to deal with in that way as well.  The Texas A&M prospect and former Heisman winner will be the most hyped QB since Tebow.  The question is – Will Johnny Football suffer the same fate as Touchdown Tebow?

 

dri-archer-campus-union#2 – Dri Archer – He ran a 4.26 40-yard dash in the NFL combine.  Who cares if he is only 5’8″?  Archer is going to be moved to either starting WR or HB on Madden 15.  All you need to do is hot route him in the slot and watch the amazing Madden arcade gameplay do the rest.

 

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina#3 – Jadeveon Clowney – This guy is going to be moved to LE and beat RTs in Madden almost every single play.  For years Madden has had an issue with terrible blocking and especially on RT/LE interaction.  Clowney has the athleticism to take advantage of Madden’s atrocious gameplay.  Look for him coming off the edge on almost every passing play in Madden 15.

Want Better Football Gaming? Avoid The NFL License

This might be sacrilege for many pro football fans out there.  However, after playing just one game of All Pro Football 2K8 last night I found that the answer to all of my football gaming frustration is based on changing one thing (primarily) – the NFL license.

nfl-no-fun-league

Before a lot of people start coming at my neck for this, let me make one thing clear.  I love using my favorite team (the Browns) and building my team through the draft & guiding them to the playoffs.  However, when my quarterback or wide receiver gets lit up during the game, I want to see them struggle to get up off the field.  I want to see players hobble with a pulled hamstring during a game.  I want to see and feel real football again.   The primary reason we don’t have that with Madden NFL is because the NFL has essentially castrated the game to being a representation of NFL football only in name.

This isn’t to say that EA Tiburon is off the hook when it comes to their pathetic annual roster update with minimal improvements and innovation to the actual game.  Madden has been able to ride the exclusive NFL license all the way to the bank for close to a decade now.  Not to mention the fact that in the process, they have also found it necessary to remove features from year to year and effectively do as little as possible to evolve their product over time.  This isn’t new to gamers that have bought Madden over the last two decades.  We have become almost jaded into expecting and accepting that ‘it is what it is’.

2K Sports hasn’t said anything about a new football title in the last few years.  However, now that we are entering a new generation of consoles with even more possibilities for improvements to graphics and physics in sports gaming; it does beg the question of when we will (if ever) see another 2K Football game.

Would you buy a 2K Football game on next-gen hardware?

Is Madden NFL Still Relevant?

maddensuckage

This is one of the more risky topics I have covered for the sake of this site and the popularity of all of my Madden NFL coverage in recent years.  That being said – I am having a difficult time these days wanting to write or cover any sort of news from the Madden NFL front, let alone anything positive about the series.  It has been a journey of ups and downs covering EA’s football games and it has finally come to a point where I am questioning whether this title is worth anything more than obligatory coverage for the sake of web traffic.

It Is The Same Game – Every. Single. Year.

Madden doesn’t change.  There are roster updates and a few tweaks to gameplay, sure.  I don’t expect Madden to become a baseball game or something either.  While continuity and general similarities should be expected in a sports title I can’t help but wonder where the innovation has been over the last decade.  The last Madden game that really changed anything was Madden 2005 and that was the hit-stick that does nothing but aesthetic value for hits that cause no real injuries to occur (most likely because the NFL demands that such ‘violence’ not be realistically put into the game).

People Still Talk About NFL 2K5

Nothing should make a developer more upset than people still preferring another title that hasn’t existed for ten years over their current game.  While NFL 2K has a cult following among a relatively small group of sports gamers, it is still worth pointing out that not only do they exist, but they are quite devoted to never buying a Madden game.  Even if we were to look at All Pro Football 2K8 from this perspective.  It still holds up to the improved graphics and physics of Madden because it plays like a real football game.

EA Sports and the NFL Hold Madden Back

This might be the biggest issue that causes Madden to be such a dull experience.  EA Sports has exclusive rights to create the NFL in video game format for consoles.  This means that their goal has nothing to do with the game being innovative or realistic.  It has everything to do with the bottom line and whether or not profit is being obtained annually.  While this is clearly the goal of any ‘successful’ business, it remains to be seen where this will ever lead to any real innovation in the future.

The NFL has come under fire in recent years for concussions and injuries from the danger of playing football.  Rather than coming out and saying that the game has risks and standing firm on the grounds of the game, they have bowed under the pressure of lawsuits that have started to slowly ruin the game.  We have gotten to a point where in Madden, they can’t allow realistic injuries to occur because the NFL doesn’t want to market that aspect of the game for fear of being sued some more.  It is a farce and the political correctness is hurting the game on consoles and on the field.

The Community Is Dying A Slow Death

Madden 10 was the last time I was truly excited about a Madden title; and it was also the last time I pre-ordered the game.  The interaction with Ian Cummings and Co. made me feel like I actually had a stake in the game before it was released.  They took the opinions of sim sports gamers seriously and really tried to make the game realistic.  To their credit, they did make a damn good game that year.  There were a lot of signs that started to point in the direction of Madden becoming truly innovative and a game for ‘real football fans’.  That died in Madden 11 and 12 as EA tried to once again dumb down the game for ‘casual gamers’.  Again, it was and will always be about the bottom line rather than innovation.

The aspect that EA seems to have forgotten is that the sports gaming community is their primary ‘Day One’ sales target.  In this regard, they have been losing more and more customers over the last four years because they have taken away those interactions and decided to make the same game every year.  Madden 13 and Madden 25 are virtually the same game.  The commentary is the same garbage and the terrible gameplay and AI is still there.  The CPU still calls a timeout when they have the ball at the 1:01 mark and they still call the same pathetic plays at the end of close games.

Do you really think that this would be the case if there were some sort of competition?  Better yet, do you think these issues would still be around if EA still took an active approach to seeking the input of the consumer?

Where do you stand?  Are you sick of Madden yet?  Are you still playing and older version or a 2K title?

Comment below.

Madden 15 – Why Haven’t We Heard Anything?

In what seems to be the non-stop world of NFL media coverage, we have yet to hear so much as a peep from EA Sports when it comes to Madden 15.  With the draft coming in nearly a month and numerous reports of big changes in free agency – there isn’t even a screen shot of the assumed upcoming title from EA Tiburon.

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Does this mean that there is something bigger on the horizon and EA is just playing it ‘close to the chest’?  It doesn’t seem like it could be anything else other than that assumption.  Madden is the cash cow of EA Sports (perhaps behind FIFA) and it is in need of some serious work when it comes to improving the overall experience of the game in general.

What are you hoping to hear from the football gaming front in the coming months?

Here are a few of the things that Madden needs –

Better Team Management from AI – This seems to be a yearly issue with Madden.  Yes, they mostly fixed the ability to steal draft picks from teams (via trades).  However, there seems to be a drastic drop-off when it comes to teams making personnel decisions as the years pass in Franchise Mode.

Better Officiating and Foot Detection- I have a feeling I’m not the only one that has played Madden and seen a receiver clearly catch a ball out of bounds and have it ruled (after review) to be a catch.  The same goes for catches made in the end-zone and inexplicably, the animations or officiating doesn’t allow the catch.  This is an issue that occurs almost every 2-4 games I play.

Better Draft Class Balance – Now that NCAA Football and the importation of draft classes (and the constant problems that presented) is a moot point.  We now have to look at the classes designed and wonder why there are WRs created that are 5’8″ with 77 SPD and 67 CTH ratings.  For the love of all things unholy – just make the player somewhat less crappy.

Custom Draft Class Creation – As stated above, the current state of draft classes is terrible.  The sports gaming community has shown in games like NBA 2K that there are people out there that can put out some amazing effort in this regard and openly share their creations with the community.  This would be a huge success if EA simply allowed it.

Smarter Playcalling and Decision Making – This goes without needing explanation for the most part.  However, Madden seems to be designed for the casual fans to pick up the game and throw the ball around.  It would be nice to finally see the game become challenging in a way that made the gamer (and the AI) to consider all of the match-ups and the game situation before choosing plays or who to focus on for a given moment in a big situation.