Increasing The Longevity of Your Franchise Mode In Sports Games

In any sports game it is often the most desired game mode but it is also one of the hardest to have any sort of real longevity with – Franchise/Association/Connected Careers Mode.

Sports gamers often have to deal with a few different issues that keep them from playing more than one season (or even just one season).  If you are one of the many gamers that suffer from these issues we will supply you with a few different solutions for giving you a more successful and longer lasting personal career/franchise mode.

Winning Too Much, Too FastMost of the typical elitists out there will get on your case if you are winning ‘too much’ and tell you that you need to turn your sliders up a few notches.  While this might be the case (and often is) there are other means of making your game a bit more challenging.

The first is playing the game in a manner that takes your superior decision-making out of the equation and allowing the game to provide a decent challenge.  In football games you will often see either an ‘Ask Madden’ or ‘Suggested Play/Pitch’ option – use that to the utmost and avoid making any changes to that play in order to keep the AI functioning.  You will often notice that the CPU ‘cheats’ as you change plays on the fly.  This is often a function of the game trying to challenge you.  The AI doesn’t have the complex decision functions that you have in your head (yet), so be sure to let the game give you the challenge it is trying to give you.

Secondly, you may want to stop turning off the system before you lose a game.  Losing sucks but you know what sucks more?  Playing and winning every game, every season and then losing interest because your team is ‘so amazing’ that it is boring now.  Do yourself a favor and be honest about your infatuation with winning every game.  No NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins has gone undefeated and one the Super Bowl.  No Major League Baseball team has ever gone undefeated and the same can be said for pretty much every other league and sport around.  Build your team and allow for the game to challenge you.

Thirdly, turn up the difficulty (there I said it).  If this means turning the human sliders to ‘0’ because you are the greatest Madden gamer of all time, do it.  Really the only person you have to answer to is yourself and it is mind-boggling to me how many people will say the game is too easy when they really aren’t challenging their gaming abilities past what they feel is ‘fair’.

Broken ProgressionThis was and is an issue with the hardcore Madden community as well as every other sports game.  No one is ever happy with the way players grow in sports gaming – ever.  It is much like anything else with people – you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.  The best approach can be found in 2K Sports games and Madden 12 where you can go and edit the ratings of any and every player in the game to your heart’s content.  Yet, there are still people out there that want to complain about that even being an option because they expect some sort of magic progression system for players.

Sadly, outside of the option to edit every rating for every player you will have to take it upon yourself to learn how the progression system ‘works’ and make it work for you.  Madden 13 is largely dependent on production and XP growth based on what your players are doing on the field.  While this makes a lot of sense to people it is totally wrong in the eyes of others that think some sort of mythological ‘potential’ rating is the way to go.

Too Easy To Build TeamDo yourself a favor and unleash your inner Billy Beane.  Start building your team as if you’re on the strictest of budgets.  Limit your potential contract offers to a set amount and you will quickly find that quality players are much harder to come by.

Another direction is to build in the exact opposite manner – spend big money on big players.  A good starting point is to determine/find a franchise player.  Whether it is a quarterback in football or a cornerstone like Albert Pujols in baseball, put your money where your hopes are and make it a big contract.  This will help limit your spending in other parts of your roster.

Can’t Pick A TeamThis is something that most people find to be a common problem and it is often the primary reason why a single-player career mode/franchise mode ends within the first three seasons.  You have a few options that can help you in this journey to finding longevity in franchise mode.

The first option is finding a team that needs a lot of work.  Often you will find the most fun in building one of the worst teams in the game.  In Madden, you will often find that a team like the Browns needs quite a bit of help.  In that same breath, you can use teams like the Indians, Marlins or Astros in a baseball game or a team like the Sacramento Kings in basketball games.

The second option is changing your team after a few seasons.  Thankfully, in most sports games this is an option after every season.  If you win a few championships with a team and you want a change of pace, quit that team in the off-season and take the worst team in the league and try to build them into a contender that will last long after you leave.  The best way to see if you have truly built a great team is to build them up and then find a new job.  Track the progress of your old team and it will be like watching a Chia Pet grow wild.

Yet another direction you can go with a team in franchise mode is setting up an online story for people to follow.  This will allow you to have a deeper connection to the team you are using and a bit of ownership to keep other people updated on what’s going on.  In many cases, you will find that it gives you the ability to become a better storyteller.  Also, you should take this as an opportunity to completely change the team to your liking.  While this is certainly something that most people think when going into their career mode they usually let their interest go by the wayside.

Developing Players In Madden 13

We recently talked about building your team in Madden 13.  There are many different ways to do this strictly by picking up talented players that

You can help save these players without a team. Please just make sure you take the time to play with them!

are rated as such.  On the flip-side, there are also many other players out there that are diamonds in the rough.  You can make it your mission to take some players out of the late rounds of the draft or even pick them up during the preseason as other teams give up on them because of low overall ratings.

You need to take some chances on players you might not know about and that will often mean scouring the free agent market during the pre-season for a player that could make all the difference for you in the current season or simply develop him into a future star.

There are a few different ways to look for a player that might ‘fly under the radar’.  The first is to look at position specific ratings and determine if they are what you are looking for in a player at that position.  Assuming you even need someone at that position.

Quarterbacks are some of the easier ones to look for as far as ratings go, but they will often be the first ones to go during the preseason.  Look at their Throw Power and Throwing Accuracy ratings.  If you run a West Coast offense you don’t need a QB with 95+ THP, but you do need them to have good-to-great accuracy when throwing short and medium routes.  If you prefer a more vertical passing attack, you will want someone with a higher THP (like 95+) and a better accuracy for deep passes.  The moral of the story is – If the shoe fits, pick up the QB you need.  As you develop a QB you should focus on improving their passing ratings first rather than some sort of speed increases.

Runningbacks are a different breed when it comes to determining what is a ‘steal’ (assuming you need one).  The first thing you will notice is that developing a runningback will be costly if you want to increase their SPD rating.  If you want a ‘fast’ HB, make sure he is fast before you pick him up.  As well, pay close attention to his ratings in Carrying and Injury/Toughness.  A decent HB can have his season and career derailed if he takes a shot from a powerful MLB or Safety.  The ratings for a HB that need to be increased in order to develop their market value are the AWR and Carrying ratings.  Use your XP on these and your HB will be a force to be reckoned with… or traded in his late 20’s.

Receivers are among the most common diamonds in the rough.  They are also the easiest to stock up on and never use… therefore, losing a roster spot just to carry a potential talent.  Receivers need to have the obvious CTH (catch) rating, but they also need to have a few others that you can easily build up if you get them enough playing time and touches.  The AWR rating is something that can effect a WR as he needs to be able to know when the ball is thrown and where to run his routes.  Also, there is an issue of getting your potential diva WR the ball often enough to build him up.  I am currently in a situation where I have eight (8) WRs on my team.  I have turned the Browns into a pass first team, but in the process I have also over-stocked my team with WRs.  Here are a few of my current project players –

Offensive Line is another easy place to upgrade players, but you should really make sure you draft them with great ratings first.  It isn’t often you will put an under-rated O-Lineman on the field to protect your QB.  On the other side of this argument, you can always grab a lineman with great strength and size, put him on the line and try to dominate with the running or passing game (whichever is his focus for XP) and develop him in that fashion. 

The hardest players to develop are Defensive Linemen and Linebackers.  The reason being that they develop most of their XP through tackling statistics.  The issue is that tackling stats are broken in Madden 13 and the interactions between defensive players and offensive blockers is shaky at best.  You will want to increase the Tackle ratings first and then move on to increase every player to ‘Big Hitter’ status so they cause more fumbles as well as increasing their Hit Power ratings.

Depending on what type of coverage you run for your defensive backs you will want to focus on their coverage ratings as well as their press ratings.  If you are running a lot of man-coverage with your CBs you will want to increase their MCV ratings first as well as their Press rating if they are a physical type of player.  Their XP is generally determined by how many INTs they get during the course of the year and if you can develop a talented defensive backfield you will be almost unstoppable.

When it comes to safeties you will want to look at how you have them playing as well.  I have a defense made up of ‘enforcers’ like Laron Landry and TJ Ward… if you come across the middle you will end up with a broken jaw because these are like Honey Badgers… they don’t give a s**t!  Make sure you up their Zone Coverage ratings as well as their tackling and hit power as they are often the last line of defense if someone does get past your front-seven.  The last thing you want are a bunch of DBs trying to ‘tackle’ like Deion Sanders.

Kickers require a lot of field goals in order to increase their stats.  The bad thing about this is that most people want to score touchdowns rather than kicking a lot of FGs.    Whenever you want to increase your kick power you will notice that it starts to get really expensive after awhile.  Your best bet is to pick up a kicker with a high kick power rating starting off.

Punters are along the same lines as kickers.  How many teams really ‘want’ to punt?  Try to pick up these players as you go and hope that they have the high kick power ratings that you need rather than try to build them up.

Fantasy Drafts In Sports Games – Are We Really Missing That Much?

Now that the reviews are pouring in from publications and regular users all over the internet, we are looking at the comments that many of our readers are leaving.  Many of these comments are focused towards the lack of a Fantasy Draft or roster editing before starting Franchise Mode (what is now called Connected Careers).  For those of you that don’t know what Fantasy Drafts are, we will break it down for you now.

Fantasy Drafts essentially take every player off of every team and put them into a pool in which you will pick any of those player for your team of choice.  Every other team will follow suit in this 53-Round draft.  This has been in Madden for over a decade – until now.

The developers of Madden 13 have decided to remove the Fantasy Draft (as well as some other roster editing abilities for career modes).  While there are serious questions about roster editing, it is puzzling why so many people are angry about Fantasy Drafts from the aspect of longevity in career modes.  It isn’t because someone can’t have a long-lasting career mode with a fantasy draft, but more along the lines of trying to figure out how much of a challenge it is to build a team in a Fantasy Draft – in Madden no less.

When I was between the ages of 12 and 14 I was a big fan of being able to trade players between teams and make my own ‘all star’ or ‘fantasy’ team in Triple Play Baseball on Playstation One.  I would build a team to play against my friends and their ‘fantasy’ team in exhibition games.  Outside of that, I also built a team in the fantasy draft in Madden, years later.  When you could bring this fantasy drafted team into a Franchise Mode it made some people think that it would be the best thing that ever happened to the mode. 

While it seems there are a few people out there that prefer to run an offline franchise or online league with a fantasy draft – I have yet to personally finish a season with a fantasy team in any sports game (especially Madden).  There are a few reasons behind this, at least from my point of view. 

·         If you build a team of dominating all stars – where is the challenge?

·         Doing a fantasy draft for career modes often results in the user taking younger players with higher speed ratings (speed has always been the most important rating in Madden)

·         Knowing which players are on other teams involves going into the player management screen and scrolling through the players. 

·         Longevity of a fantasy drafted team in a career mode is something I have  yet to see go more than two seasons. 

That said, it remains that fantasy draft is gone with the wind and many people are stuck wondering why.  This is one of the more confusing situations that is happening across the board in Madden 13.  Between roster editing and importing draft classes and superstars from NCAA Football – a lot of users are left wondering if there is any part of career modes that will be left to their own customization or personal preferences.

The fact that EA Tiburon has tried to do something so vast with Connected Careers should make most people happy to see some sort of attempt to change from the same old and dry franchise and superstar modes. 

Where do you stand on fantasy drafts and other customization?  Are you among the group of people that hates everything about the changes or are you part of the faction that are happy to see some sort of originality, even at the initial cost of user customization?

Madden 13 – What Makes This Game Amazing (Part 1)

We have been focusing a lot of attention on some of the primary gameplay and AI interactions in Madden 13 over the last 24 hours.  Now it is time for a couple quick reasons for you to look at Madden from the stand point of it simply being a great experience.

Don’t Skip The Intro Video

The first thing you usually do in a sports game is skip the introduction.  Usually it is some sort of random highlight collection from the sport you are waiting to play digitally.  You won’t want to skip over the one in Madden 13 when you first boot it up and maybe not ever.  It is that good and with that said, here it is for your enjoyment.

Connected Careers Storylines Don’t Just Involve Current NFL Players

As I started into the regular season with my Browns Coaching Connected Career I decided right away that Brandon Weeden wouldn’t be the starter for the long term and set my sights on the #1 Prospect out of Weeden’s alma mater – Oklahoma State’s Stephen Diaz.  I was excited about the prospect of going after what some were calling the next Andrew Luck, but then something happened when I advanced to Week 4.  There was a headline that said “Violation Issues” and I was thinking that I had misread the headline.  I hadn’t misread anything and now all of a sudden Diaz was no longer on scouting list and I was left wondering what the hell I could do to get the scouting points back that I had spent on him. 

It was a great feeling from the perspective of having a real living league…  for the first time ever you will really have some stories to pay attention to in Madden and trust me, you will want to make sure you diversify your scouting points to multiple players.  Just in case someone has an issue with violations.

Madden 13 – Initial Review (Gameplay and Connected Careers Coach Mode)

It plays like Madden.  Don’t come into Madden 13 and expect the new infinity engine to blow your mind with some sort of interaction that would make you mistake it for real-life.  It won’t do that – yet, but it is on the right path.

GAMEPLAY

Madden 13 feels a lot like Madden 12 in regards to overall player movement and feel.  You will notice a bit more momentum for players as you try to change directions in Madden 13, but it isn’t enough to make anyone notice.  EA has always had to keep the crisp controls in Madden for people that want immediate player movement rather than some sort of true momentum (like 2K football) – again, Madden 13 still feels like Madden from the ‘controlling players’ perspective.

The infinity engine is obviously in a very early stage in its retail life as Madden 13 is the first game it has come out for.  There are still some weird looking rag-doll effects that happen on occasion and it often seems like players don’t really have arms as they just collide into eachother for an apparent tackle.  This is something that I expected with the new physics engine this year and I will let some of it slide, but there needs to be a bit of clean-up in the upcoming patch.

In terms of in-game injuries you will most likely want to turn the injury slider up to around 60 as it gives you just enough to make it realistic and keep you on your toes (I lost Brandon Weeden to a dislocated knee in Week 1 but also managed to smack DeSean Jackson and break his ribs for a nice 2 Week absense).  You will notice that many of these injuries don’t really follow the physics, so keep in mind that many of them are random.

It is still relatively easy to stop the CPU running game as they just seem over-matched at the line and a little too easy to bring down if they do get past the line of scrimmage.  The CPU passing game is better than Madden 12 but it could use some help from an AI logic perspective as the CPU still throws short passes when it needs 8+ yards, etc.

Penalties are still a crapshoot.  It seems that EA doesn’t really know how to implement them in the game without them either being too touchy or non-existent.  Roughing the Passer (when turned up to 65) will give you some of the worst Roughing the Passer flags ever.  Outside of that you will also rarely see pass interference, offsides or false starts.

CONNECTED CAREERS (COACH MODE)

Coach Mode feels a lot like NFL Head Coach.  If you never played Head Coach you should simply think of it as a much deeper Franchise Mode that gives you a more personal feel for the game.  Some of the trade logic is still a little wonky as I was able to Trade Colt McCoy and a 4th Rd Pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor.  Whether that was an even trade or not I don’t know but it felt suspect when they accepted it.

Another nice touch is putting players on the Trade Block.  You will see offers on the front page of your tasks and get to weigh the options you have as far as trades go.  When it comes down to logic with the CPU there aren’t nearly as many strange cuts during the pre-season and you will see some surprises by the time you get halfway through the pre-season as far as who gets cut from CPU teams.

Scouting for the draft is a much more intricate experience as you will really need to develop a knowledge of the players rather than picking them randomly throughout the year.  You have a certain amount of points and depending on what type of information you want on the designated player it could cost you a bit of points.  This is by far one of the more interesting and fun aspects of Madden’s Connected Careers (Coach Mode).

THE EARLY VERDICT

This is probably the biggest jump Madden has made in the past seven years.  The Infinity Engine is nice enough, but where this game really gets its mojo is in Connected Careers and the depth that hasn’t been in a Madden game – maybe ever.

This game falls just short of a ‘must buy’ at this moment but if the correct fixes are put in for a patch it will be a serious contender for best sports game of the year.

By The Numbers

Gameplay – 7.5/10 – There is still a lot to be desired from the infinity engine as you will see in some of our videos.  The game still plays much like its predecessors in almost every regard, but it is still lacking in player interactions.  This is something that must be addressed in Madden 14.  On top of direct gameplay and controller interaction – it is vital that penalties get overhauled as well.

CCM (Coach) – 9/10 – Almost everything you could want in this mode.  The only thing that is really missing?… player morale.  While players will refuse to sign a contract with your team there still isn’t a decent interaction going on between the players and coaches.  You will however be pleased with the depth in this mode as it truly opens up player development with the XP System and then the new draft interface… it is safe to say that you will be happy if you love Franchise Mode and decide to buy Madden 13.

 

OVERALL – 8.5/10 

There are still many facets of this game that we need to look at more in-depth, but it is a safe bet that if you need a football fix this year and you love the NFL – get this game.  It is hands down, the best Madden ever, but that doesn’t mean we don’t expect more.  I could easily see this game finishing close to 9/10 if it proves to be a somewhat enjoyable experience online.

Keep checking back with NoobTubeTV for more updates on Madden 13!

Connected Careers – Fully Exposed (Don’t Make This Weird) Pt. 1 – Backstories

What is Connected Careers?

You can choose to startup a Connected Career as a player or coach. In both cases, you then select whether or not you want to take over a current NFL player or coach, create a player, create yourself using EA SPORTS Game Face, or as a NFL Legend.

Coach Backstories

When creating a player or coach in Connected Careers, you’ll also select a backstory in order to distinguish them. This backstory will affect your character during your career so it’s important to understand what each one does.

Create your ‘GameFace’ for Madden on EASports.com… This is how they see me digitally… Looking at becoming an undrafted QB for the Browns. Looks like they will be as good as they already are at this point!

Motivator

You’ll be cut from the same cloth as John Madden and Vince Lombardi. Your players will lay it all on the line for you and you’ll attract free agents as well. Being a motivator will also give you a 25% discount on packages that increase a free agent’s interest in signing with your team as well as 25% off packages to decrease the odds of a player retiring.

Strategist

You’re one of the smartest men in football when it comes to the X’s and O’s, perhaps the next Bill Walsh. Being a strategist will give you a 25% discount on XP boost packages, the Coach XP package, discount packages which reduces the XP cost for your players, and the Predictability Package.

Team Builder

Being the head coach is only one of the hats you wear. Scouting and roster management are also key components of your abilities.  Being a team builder will give you a 25% discount in packages that increase the interest of a player re-signing with you, the Expert Scout Package, and Trade Influence Package.

Coach Progression

Each coach in Madden NFL 13 will have a Coach Level. It begins at Level 1 and will go up to Level 4. If you create a coach, you’ll enter the league as a Level 1. This will give you easier team goals, but you’ll be paying full price for packages. As you begin to have success, you’ll begin to level up. A Level 4 coach will have extremely high team goals but will be able to purchase packages at a discounted price.

Player Backstories

High Draft Pick (We don’t know if you will get bonus points for naming your player ‘Ricky Williams’)

You’re essentially a first round draft pick. You’ll come in with the highest ratings but will also have lofty goals that will be tougher to meet. Choosing this backstory gives you the quickest way to crack the starting lineup and contribute right away.

Low Draft

You’ve been drafted near the end of the draft. You’ll have mediocre ratings and will have to really excel in practice and in the preseason just to earn a few snaps in your first year. However, your
goals will not be set quite as high. Choosing this backstory makes it less likely to see significant playing time in year one, but has the chance to develop later on

Undrafted

You’ve been completely ignored and were not selected in the draft. Your ratings will be much lower than the other backstories and you’ll have to scratch and claw for every piece of XP you can get. Choosing the backstory will provide the toughest grind and you can expect to not see much playing time in the first season.

Madden 13 – Connected Careers Might Make Madden 13 Worth A Purchase

Just in case you are still on the fence about whether or not to buy Madden 13, you should consider it one of the safer sports titles to bet on this year.  The problem that most people face when it comes to buying a sports game is that they are usually just a roster update with some sort of half-cocked mode enhancement like ‘Mascot Mode’ (see NCAA Football).  Madden 13’s Connected Careers could be the mode that finally turns the game into a new direction… maybe even the right one.

When you retire as a real player (Tebow or RG3) they won’t be out of the league you will just not control them anymore.

A Brief History

While Madden has a tendency to suffer from playing like a glorified arcade game in the guise of a simulation football title, it also has the benefit of consistency in gameplay.  In other words – we usually know what to expect when it comes to Madden and how it will play.  Player movement is something that hasn’t really changed in Madden since the PS2/XBox generation – especially when compared to titles that were competing with Madden.  On the flipside – Career modes have suffered in Madden for years.

Madden 12 saw one of the biggest jumps in quality of Franchise Mode since Madden 05 (arguably the best Madden to date).  This mode still lacked any real sort of ‘stand-alone’ quality that would keep the end-user from wanting to take control of editing players or simply controlling all 32 teams in order to make the mode feel more organic – ironic, but true.

A New Hope

Connected Careers is designed to bring Franchise Mode and Superstar Mode (where you control a specific player) together as one.  You will be able to control a player or a team (as the Coach).  Some gamers are going to relish the chance to play as a specific player.  However, the real depth is going to come from being a Coach.

One of the more annoying parts of Madden 11 and 12’s Franchise Mode was the concept of ‘Potential’ ratings for players.  What made this so frustrating was that you could take a player like Derek Anderson and make him into (statistically) the best QB in the league but his OVR (and therefore, his value) would not increase.  Imagine Kurt Warner winning the Super Bowl with the Rams but never considered to be ‘great’ – that is what the potential rating did to Franchise Mode… it took away the feel that your players were any good unless they had a great potential rating.

This year, Potential Rating is gone.  You have to earn XP for each player like in a Role Playing Game.  So, if you want to make Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson your starting QB and develop them into a 99 OVR player – you can.  The crux… you have to earn it.   There are going to be some fun developments when people start making Connected Careers ‘their own’.

What To Watch For

As Madden 13 gets closer, there will be more details coming out of the woodwork.  The real details that people will notice are the glitches in the game after it comes out.  There are bound to be some things that happen in Madden 13 that make people cry foul and say that the game is broken.  It happens every year and this year won’t be any different – Madden 13 will have some things that need to be patched (fixed via an update).

Connected Careers will probably have some things that need to be tweaked and the one thing to hope for is that when these issues pop up you won’t have to restart your CCM.  Keep your eyes and ears open, your hopes up and you expectations grounded.  Madden 13 is almost here.