It exists in a sort of infancy stage. Sadly, it hasn’t grown much in over a decade. Let’s take away the possibility that player morale and attitude might be something that Player Unions don’t allow. (I have grown to believe that sports game developers have been denied the ability to give attributes for attitude, motivations and other psychological aspects to real players in their games – this is by no means a researched fact, but simply my opinion.)
Madden 2005 had player morale and contract holdouts. They have since done away with that aspect… no one is shocked. MLB The Show has an entire section for player morale where they give happy or sad faces for anything from salary happiness to location happiness and some others. This is a good step, but they haven’t developed it much beyond making it accessible and fun to look at for those of us that long for depth and story to drive our experience as a way to pursue longevity in franchise mode. This isn’t the point of the article today. The point of this is to give some solid input towards making Franchise Mode a truly great experience that will go for multiple seasons.
The first aspect I believe should be considered in any franchise mode is how the user develops their in-game character as an Owner, GM, or coach. Your choices to trade star players for prospects should effect everything from the morale of other existing players on your team to the coaching staff and even other players in coming seasons as you go through free agency. I would love to see this in order to make users take the concept of trades with a grain of salt. If the user makes these moves and signs certain players with ability that also lack productive morale it should reflect in contract negotiations and even bench player morale.
It’s time to make a connection between the user and the team they are running. I think it might even be effective to implement more of the media questions that Madden has at certain points of the season, but make them into multiple interactions that start with an interview to get a baseline of your psyche as you begin the franchise.
A Real Story Mode
While I’m not asking for something like the Madden Longshot or the NBA 2K Story Modes I do think there is value in developing a story or a world to surround your franchise mode. Even if this world exists soley in your head, it is something that I believe adds to the experience.
I don’t think it would take much to implement this to go along with Morale. It might even be an easy way to get around my theory that actual players don’t want a game to say they have ‘bad attitudes’ or that they ‘only care about money’. Let the morale take effect with team management, player performance, coach decisions, etc. That leaves a lot of interactions and fun to be had with fictionalized agents and agencies.
These are just a few ideas, but it’s about time we start demanding more depth to a mode that continues to grow stale with every year that Ultimate Team, Diamond Dynasty and such.