Taking Your Draft To The Next Level – Madden 16

Now that the order of the first twenty teams of the 2016 NFL Draft have been determined it is officially draft season for many fans.  This includes yours truly… the constantly disappointed by my Browns ‘in real life’ Dawg Pound faithful Cleveland fan.

What makes it all better for me is knowing that I can at least build my team effectively in the draft on Madden 16. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an analytics wiz like Paul DePodesta to do this either. Here is a quick-ish guide to scouting and drafting better players in Madden 16.

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Scouting…It Matters
It took me awhile to realize that the most valuable moment in Madden 16 scouting is the first and cheapest ‘letter grade’ for each player. This is because it only get worse after that first grade… seriously, once you realize that the best grade they have is the first one you find you can quickly determine who to cast away as a waste of resources.

Scout Needs and Schemes First
Now that we know that letter grades will be a good guide for investing more points we can eventually scout all of the players that fit our scheme first.

C+ Is Not Average, It’s Bad
When scouting any players you should never be excited to see a ‘C’ rating. This is never a good sign and should tell you to move on. If you want to take a chance on some WR with ‘A’ SPD and ‘C+’ catching, that’s on you.

Combine ‘Final Litmus Test’
Never judge your prospects solely by their combine score. Always check out where they ranked in the important categories. If your LT prospect was 12th in the 40 yd dash, who cares? If he is the strongest Bench Press LT you might be happy to take him. The combine scores aren’t as important as the rankings for each workout. Do the extra button press and judge your prospects accordingly.

Don’t Be Afraid To Trade Down
If you don’t believe there is a ‘must have’ player for your team where you are picking you should always look to trade for other picks. If you have a Top 5 or 10 pick and want to trade, you could find a lot of great offers. Don’t take a player in the Top 10 if he doesn’t have at least an ‘A’ or an ‘A-‘ Grade in one category with ‘B+’ after… otherwise, you will find you drafted too high.

Take A Chance In Rounds 3-7
You will find that some players projected well (green projections) will be worth taking in the round before their projection at times, especially in later rounds.

While I wouldn’t suggest taking a projected 5th Round player in the 2nd or 3rd round, they might actually be worth it if their combine and grades check out. Take your time and be picky with this as you learn what your team needs.

Don’t Forget Position Changes
What many people might forget is that some players that might not fit schemes as they are listed for the draft but they would be perfect if they changed positions. That 3-4 DE might be too fat and slow to be a DE for your Attacking 4-3, but that doesn’t mean you can ‘ draft him and edit his position to DT just after the draft. This is the only time you can do it for any player, so don’t forget. Also, take a look at changing CB to SS or FS as it may fit them better. You can always mess with these things to see which ratings will be the best for OVR.

You should now be on track to have a top draft every single year.

Madden 16 – Settings and Sliders (CFM)

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As promised, here are the official NoobTubeTV settings (version 1.0) and sliders for your CFM.

A few things before you dig into these.  Yes, I have nerfed the CPU run blocking.  This is because I have played against enough players like Jeremy Hill and such that simply run over every tackle attempt that I chose to even it up a bit.  I am considering turning CPU Run Block up to 20 as I keep playing, but so far I have been having great games (especially in my second season).

Also, be sure to set the auto-subs before the season if you want to get the proper stats for starters and backups.

I set the quarter length to 12 minutes because 15 was giving me far too many plays and high scores.  Setting it at 12 minutes is a great sim experience that will give you about 65 plays per game depending on how quickly you snap the ball, etc.

One final tip… When running the ball you should NEVER hit the sprint button until the play has developed and then speed burst through the hole.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!

Settings
Instant Starter – ON
Salary Cap – ON
Skill Level – All Madden
Quarter Length – 12 Minutes
Accelerated Clock – On
Minimum Play Clock – 15 Seconds
Game Speed – Normal
Player Progression – Every 4 Weeks
Coach Firing – On
Gameplay Tuning – Yes
Injury – On
Pre-Existing Injury – OFF
Trade Deadline – On
Trade Type – Enable All
Relocation Settings – Off
League Type – All
Auto Strafe – Off
Heat Seeker – On
Ball Hawk – On
Camera – Standard
On-Field Visual – Off
Def. Tackle Indicator – Off
Kicking Arc – On
Passing Camera – On
CPU Settings (CFM)
All set to OFF besides Game Prep (Game Prep is a complete waste of time)
SLIDERS HUM/CPU
QBA 55/40
Pass Block 50/50
WRC – 50/41
RBK – 53/15
FUM – 45/35
PDR – 75/55
INT – 50/40
PCV – 70/53
TAK – 60/45
Special Teams
FGP – 50
FGA – 50 (If you set this below 50 you will get the terrible accuracy glitch that basically makes your kick arc go crazy)
PPW – 50
PAC – 100 (CPU punters are terrible, EA needs to fix this legacy issue)
KOP – 50
Game Options
Injuries – 55
Fatigue – 60
Min Speed Thresh – 40
Penalties
Offside – 55
False Start – 50
Holding – 40
Def. Hold – 50
Face Mask – 50
Def PI – 50
Off PI – On
Kick Catch – On
Illegal Block – 50
Intentional Ground – On (Doesn’t work either way)
Rough Pass – 50
Rough Kick – On
Running Into – On
Auto-Subs
QB – 50/40
HB – 85/70
WR – 85/70
TE/FB – 80/65
OL – 12/10
DT – 80/65
DE – 80/65
LB – 80/65
CB – 80/70
S – 80/70

Madden 15 – How To Keep CFM Fresh Until The Next Release

As much as I find it easy to troll EA and Tiburon for their annual cloneware – Madden 15 was the best Madden to date.  That said, it still gets to me that they don’t update rosters after the Super Bowl.  This has left many users to create roster updates and even add newly drafted players to teams in order to replicate what is happening in the league as far as rosters go.

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If you have followed NoobTubeTV over the last few years you will know that I almost exclusively play Offline Connected Franchise Mode.  Moreover, you will know that I almost always use my Cleveland Browns.  Even after finding the perfect sliders and gameplay tweaks CFM will get rather boring after a few seasons.

It is incredibly easy to build up a team into a juggernaut.  You simply need to invest in players that are between 20-26 years old that fit your play-style and keep them to minimum contracts until they are 30.  It is a widely known fact that EA has told Madden gamers that players will start to decline once they hit that age threshold.  Knowing how easy it is to relatively deal with the age issues of players and dominate with your team after a season or two of development it won’t be much of a shock to hear about people trading Madden in while they can still get some decent credit for it or simply leave it on the shelf to collect dust.  Here are a few tips on how to keep your CFM fresh.

  1. Max Contacts – Figure out your favorite players on Offense and Defense and make them fixtures on your team for the rest of their career.  In my case I had to choose between Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel.  Both players were 99 OVR by the time I got to the 2016 season and I decided to sign Johnny for the biggest amount of money and years (I believe it was 7 years, $140 million).  This will help make your salary cap management a bit tougher as you choose who to build your team around.
  2. Don’t Scout Draft Prospects – It really is this simple.  Don’t scout a single prospect during the season and you will quickly realize that what was once an incredibly easy draft process is more like real-life.  It will become more of a lottery system for your team and you won’t be able to find those ‘not so hidden’ gems in later rounds.
  3. Give The CPU More In Trades – It seems that trade logic in sports games has decided to take a nose-dive in realism.  NBA 2K actually has a trade difficulty slider (Madden needs this in the worst way!).  Do not shirk the CPU for their Draft Picks or certain players you know are franchise quality.
  4. One Draft Pick Per Round (At most) – It is far too easy (as stated in #3) to load up on 10-15 draft picks every season.  Make it a personal rule that you will not have more than one pick per round for every draft.  This will prevent you from pwning the draft year-in, year-out.  Madden has some of the dumbest draft logic in all of sports gaming, so don’t act like you really have to worry about the CPU.
  5. Coach Mode – This is something I have yet to do myself.  Simply call the plays for your team, snap the ball and let the AI take care of the rest.  This will make you look at your players in a different light and might even change the way you build your team.

Choosing Your Team In Madden 15 (Post-Draft Edition)

Welcome to the crazy time of year where every Madden gamer is looking forward to Madden 15.  With that type of excitement we are going to start covering every team based on their newly drafted and signed rookies.  Here is our first release of every team you will want to look into in Madden 15.  If you are trying to create a player for CFM we will have a list

Arizona Cardinals – Tight End, Outside Linebacker and Cornerback

The Cardinals lost Karlos Dansby to the Cleveland Browns over the off-season.  That said, they could use some help in the LB corps.  They did answer some questions at the Quarterback position by taking the project in Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech.  He is a big QB with a big arm at 6’6″ 250 lbs.  This could be a fun team to rock with if you want to start a CFM around a rookie QB and a team that still needs a couple pieces.  You could also look into being the other side of a great defensive backfield with Patrick Peterson and Deon Buchannon.

Atlanta Falcons – Guard, Middle Linebacker, Strong Safety, Tight End and Halfback

Of all the teams in the NFL that needed to fix some things from last year it was the Falcons.  They were inexplicably bad and one of their worst areas was in protecting QB, Matt Ryan.  Matty Ice now has a much needed Left Tackle in Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M.  If you are looking to be their answer at any position you might want to look into being the next great Tight End now that Tony Gonzalez is gone.  Atlanta is going to be an interesting team to use as they also have a need at running back.  Sure, Jackson and Rodgers are still there – but neither is a long-term answer at the position.

Baltimore Ravens – Outside Linebacker, Wide Receiver, Safety, Tight End and Cornerback

The Ravens are always one of those teams that seems to reload on solid talent every year.  With the drafting of Alabama ILB CJ Mosley they have once again tried to find a replacement for Ray Lewis.  Using a team like the Ravens is almost always going to give you a solid chance at realistically contending for the Super Bowl.  I would even suggest trying to come in and replace Joe Flacco, but with his huge contract and the fact that he is decently rated, that would be a tall task to earn – unless you choose to be an instant starter.

Buffalo Bills – Tight End, Wide Receiver, Cornerback and Safety

Buffalo traded their first round pick for WR, Sammy Watkins.  Then they traded away Stevie Johnson to the 49ers.  It seems that they are going all in on making these changes with hopes that it is all they will need to do in order to make their way up in the AFC East.  They still need help even after drafting CB, Ross Cockrell from Duke.  They will also need to ensure that they have depth at WR behind Watkins as they are still relatively thin at the position.

Carolina Panthers – Halfback, Wide Receiver and Free Safety

The same as the last couple years when it comes to Quarterback – don’t think you can come in and start over Cam Newton.  However, they just took Kelvin Benjamin at receiver and they might still be looking for someone to replace Steve Smith as their deep threat.  The same could go for halfback as the Panthers are in flux at the position.  Carolina has a lot of potential in terms of running the team as a coach or owner as they pose many threats on defense and Newton can break any game wide open.

Chicago Bears – Offensive Line, Quarterback, Linebacker and Safety

It isn’t easy to really pick apart the Bears as they always seem to be loaded with talent.  However, their offensive line always seems to allow far too many sacks.  While that isn’t a position you can choose to be in CFM, it is one that you should look at fixing as coach or owner.  In terms of the best position to try to play – coming in and running Cutler out of town might be a bit easier than many believe.  If he goes down to another injury it would be the perfect storm needed to take the starting job.

Cincinnati Bengals – Field General Quarterback  and Strong Safety

Cincinnati is a team that seems to finally be drafting well.  However, they do still have a hole to fill at safety in order to help their outstanding CBs.  The other position that seems to be unanswered is QB.  Andy Dalton isn’t really the franchise QB that some might think the ginger ninja is and that could become a great opportunity for you to come in and replace him.

If you are looking to run a team – replacing him with newly drafted AJ McCarron would also provide an interesting change of pace with a rather big name in the Queen City.

Cleveland Browns – Wide Receiver, Left Guard, Linebacker and Safety

Johnny Manziel.  There I said it – and it still feels kind of dirty to me as a Browns fan that didn’t like Manziel very much.  He is going to provide this team (especially in Madden) with a dynamic way of attacking on offense.  If you want to come in and play right away it might not be easy to run Manziel out of town.  If you are looking for an almost guaranteed spot on the roster you might want to try WR.  With Josh Gordon likely being gone for at least the season you could step in and be Manziel’s top target.

Cleveland also now owns the Bills first-round pick in 2015 and that could make for one heck of a nice addition as the owner or coach in the coming seasons.

Dallas Cowboys – Speed Wide Receiver, Balanced Free Safety, Prototype Strong Safety and Quarterback

Dallas needs help and they need it fast.  With the loss of DeMarcus Ware to the Broncos you might be looking to be the new OLB.  Also there is the chance that Romo could go down at any point and considering the fact that he is 34 and on his way out of his prime – being a QB for the Cowboys seems a bit easier to picture each day.

Denver Broncos – Future QB, Halfback

One of those teams that really doesn’t need much.  They were in the Super Bowl for a reason last year – even if they got smashed.  You could always try to come in and be the heir-apparent to Peyton Manning or fill the void left by the departure of Knowshon Moreno.

Detroit Lions – Balanced Cornerback, Safety and Possession Wide Receiver

A team that can’t seem to choose a direction and that has been hurting them.  Everyone knows that 90% of the passes want to go to Megatron (Johnson).  However, you could always be that other threat to really make teams cringe at the idea of facing the Lions’ offense.  After that you will see there are still many holes to fill when it comes to defending the pass for this team that has been like swiss cheese in recent years.

Green Bay Packers –  Wide Receiver and Cornerback

Green Bay needs to make sure that they can defend the pass as the Lions and Bears are going to be putting that ball in the air during 25% of the Packers schedule every year.  Otherwise, you could always try to become Aaron Rodgers’ new favorite target at WR.

Houston Texans – Quarterback, Playmaking Strong Safety

They still don’t have an answer at QB and even with Clowney on their defense the fact is that you need to score points to win.  Come into Houston and be the final missing piece they need.  You could also decide to train up Tom Savage and use him if you decide to be coach or owner instead.

Indianapolis Colts – Take Your Pick – Runningback, Receiver, Anything but QB

Sure, they made the playoffs.  However, Trent Richardson has been terrible and the Colts were fleeced for a first-round pick by the Browns last year in that deal.  They need an answer at HB and could use more depth at WR.  If you want to come in on defense I recommend rolling as a Linebacker.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Cornerback

They had one of the better drafts in recent memory as they grabbed a lot of talent throughout.  This includes good prospects at WR and Storm Johnson to possibly add to the running game.  With Bortles you will have what they are hoping will be a franchise QB.  They will need some help at Cornerback and that might be your best spot with this team.

Kansas City Chiefs – Field General Quarterback, Receiving Tight End, Run Stopping Strong Safety

If you want to come into a situation where you want to be a starter at QB, KC might be a surprising destination.  Alex Smith isn’t a long-term answer and Aaron Murray is a late round pick.  They still haven’t filled the void left by Tony Gonzalez at TE and they also need a bit of help for Eric Berry at the other Safety Spot.  Wide Receiver is also a wild card for this team.

Miami Dolphins – West Coast QB, Wide Receiver, Receiving Tight End and Safety

They had a lackluster draft and you could really come into this team and be any position you’d like to be.  They signed Moreno at HB, but you could always produce and take over.  The same goes for Quarterback as Tannehill hasn’t proven to be a franchise QB at this point.

Minnesota Vikings – Cover 2 Middle Linebacker, Safety, Cornerback and Halfback

The Vikings had a decent draft, but Teddy Bridgewater is going to have one hell of a time in the tundra of Minnesota for the next two seasons.  Can you be the bigger, stronger QB that they might be looking for?  One of the surprising needs could be halfback as Adrian Peterson continues to get injured and age his way into the downslope of his prime.  You could be the missing piece they need.  Also, their defensive secondary has been terrible in recent years.  Being a cornerback might be a great starting job here.

New England Patriots – Tight End, Balanced Runningback, Future QB and Safety

Sure, you won’t take over for Brady this year.  But why wouldn’t you want to learn from the best and be his heir apparent.  They took Garropolo in the second round, but you could easily step over him in that way.  The same could be said for replacing the oft-injured Gronkowski.  What else do they need?  Maybe a bit of help at safety.

New Orleans Saints –  Red Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Run Support Cornerback

Coming in and playing with the  receivers in New Orleans is always nice because Drew Brees seems to spread the ball around like Paula Deen spreads butter.  This is going to be a dominant team right off the bat to use with the likes of Brandon Cooks adding even more to the vertical game for the Saints.

New York Giants – Receiving Tight End, Balanced Middle Linebacker and Halfback

The Giants are in need of some sort of help at halfback and you could easily come in and take that job during the preseason.  If you want a good player to study under and take over for – look no further than Eli Manning who you might be able to take over for in the coming years.

New York Jets – Halfback, Tight End and Quarterback

The Jets always seem to have some uncertainty at the Quarterback position – so feel free to blow it up and take them back to the AFC Title like Mark Sanchez (hopefully without the butt fumble).

Oakland Raiders – Speed Wide Receiver, Prototype Cornerback

A team that may have had one of the best drafts of any team now has a possible future starter at linebacker with Khalil Mack and at quarterback with Derek Carr.  They still need some answers at receiver and could use some help at halfback.

Philadelphia Eagles – Receiving Tight End, Prototype OLB, Run Support Strong Safety

The Eagles are primed for a Super Bowl run this year.  If you want to come in and join this team you should try to do it as a receiving Tight End or some sort of decent linebacker.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Good Luck… Receiving Tight End, Zone Coverage Cornerback and Halfback

The Steelers are trying to rebuild what seems to be a team that is always solid.  Take the chance to be their next halfback in place of LeVeon Bell.

San Diego Chargers – Red Zone Threat Wide Receiver, Run Support Strong Safety, Halfback

It could be fun to take up the Halfback or possibly be the wide receiver that Rivers needs to lead this team through the playoffs for once.

San Francisco 49ers – Outside Linebacker

Try and come in and take over for the injured LB Bowman.  Otherwise you are going to have a tough time coming in and taking over any role for a team that is stacked to make a few Super Bowl runs in the next couple years.

Seattle Seahawks – Halfback, Possession Wide Receiver, Outside Linebacker

You aren’t going to join the legion of boom any time soon.  However, you could try to come in and take some carries from Lynch.  Another possibility would be coming in as a receiver for Russell Wilson.

St. Louis Rams – Balanced Wide Receiver, Outside Linebacker, Man Coverage Cornerback

This team is in need of some sort of true #1 receiver.  Outside of that, you could try to come in and replace Bradford in the last year or two of his contract and take over.  The Rams had a solid draft with the picking of Tre Mason at HB, but otherwise you might be able to come into the team and take that job as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quarterback, Balanced Defensive End, Cover 2 Middle Linebacker

If there was a team that you could come in and become a dominant quarterback, it might be the Bucs.  With Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans drafted from A&M you will have a blast.  Also, consider playing linebacker for Lovie Smith.

Tennessee Titans – Strong Arm Quarterback, Possession Wide Receiver, Run Support DB

The Titans let go of Chris Johnson and picked up Bishop Sankey.  If you really want to make changes with this team you will want to come in as a quarterback and take advantage of the new players they are trying to plug into the offense.  Otherwise, this is a relatively fun and open team to use as a project.

Washington Redskins – Tight End, Possession Receiver, Prototype Safety and Cornerback

This team is once again in flux.  However, if you can come in as another WR to help the likes of Garcon and Jackson that could really help spell doom for opposing defenses.  The idea of coming in as a tight end might also provide you with ample playing time.  The Redskins are in the middle of trying to rebuild a possible playoff caliber squad.

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.

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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?

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.

XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

MGSV
Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Richard Sherman and Why Madden Needs Emotion

Until something changes with the exclusive NFL License, we will have to assume that Madden is the only option for gamers that want and NFL game.  That said, the crazy post-game interview of Richard Sherman begs the question that is on the minds of many sports gamers.

Sherman

Where is the emotion?

When players in Madden throw big touchdowns there is typically the same canned response and/or animation.  There are some of the typical ‘player specific’ celebrations as well (Dez Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, etc.)

While the NFL is taking out many of the ‘big hits’ and other parts of football that people and players expect – why do we not see more emotion from players on the field?  That goes for frustration as much as anything else.  The quarterback that has thrown four or five interceptions should be noticeably upset.  That goes for receivers dropping balls and running-backs losing fumbles.

While I’m not suggesting that the post-game interviews be presented in some sort of WWE fashion – I am suggesting that Madden adds some depth to their game in this regard.  Players often perform based on the emotion of the moment and that is something that the graphically dead faces of Madden players certainly don’t show.  For that matter – the players typically perform based strictly on ratings so much to a point that the game feels pre-determined.

As we prepare to enter the doldrums of gaming in the first quarter of 2014, we should start looking to the future of gaming (especially sports gaming) and wonder when we will start to see more emotion.

Remember this video?
Remember this video?

Madden 25 – Choosing A Team In Connected Franchise Mode

Now that we are about six weeks into the NFL Regular Season there are many surprises in the league as far as performance and records go.  There are already many teams vying for the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft while others are suddenly looking like they think they can make a surprise playoff run.  Here is a list of some teams you might want to consider using in Connected Franchise Mode with some ideas of how to build them to success.

Obviously Bad Teams

JagsThe Jaguars are among the worst teams in the NFL and we knew this before the season started.  Given the fact that their Quarterback situation is almost laughable.  When running this team it might be wise to create a new owner as well (unless you want to be the Wario look-a-like Shahid ‘Shao’ Khan.  Also, taking it upon yourself to look into trading Maurice Jones-Drew for a potential draft pick might be something to consider if throwing away the season is on your possibility list.  Another action to consider for a fun storyline would be signing Tim Tebow and trying to save the franchise in Jacksonville.  Otherwise, moving the team to Los Angeles might be the absolute best idea… even if EA doesn’t do much to make it worthwhile to move a team other than strictly in being in a new city.

BucsTampa Bay is in desperate need for an overhaul in how their team is run.  If that means you go through a season with Greg Schiano leading the way with his faux-military take no prisoners style or possibly just creating yourself as an intelligent player’s coach – the choice is yours.  With the departure of Josh Freeman there is a possible storyline to go with in using rookie QB, Mike Glennon and having him lead the Bucs to success.  Otherwise, you might want to start looking into the potential for getting someone in the draft or free agency.  You will have a decent base of skill players to use with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at WR on top of having the ‘muscle hamster’ Doug Martin at HB.  Tampa Bay isn’t a terrible team, but they could use some serious help and changes – starting at the top.

Surprisingly Bad Teams

SteelersThis team has been a perennial contender for the last decade and they are starting to show their age… not to mention some serious holes in personnel.  When they lost their starting Center in Pouncey it looked bad.  Now that the season has started and they have no real answer at HB, WR, OL, LB or DB it is looking like they might need more work than anyone ever thought.  Maybe it is because they play in what used to be a two-team division and they are simply falling behind the other teams.  Either way it goes, the Steelers are a team that could potentially use a huge front office change and maybe a new face for the franchise if Big Ben proves to be declining as much as he seems to be.  Do yourself a favor and revamp the O-Line before you do anything.  Try to sign a true #1 WR and hope that the defense can pick it up.  The potential for a fun rebuild is there in using the Steelers – and suddenly it isn’t so surprising.

GmenThe Giants are in trouble.  This is a team that just a few years ago won two Super Bowls.  Now they are looking similar to the Steelers in almost every way.  The Giants have started to look like an aging team and Eli Manning is starting to look like the player he was early in his career throwing INTs like they are going out of style.  This compounded by the fact that they are a team without a true HB threat.  Bringing back Brandon Jacobs was surprising after he had been released by the team rather recently.  Their defense was once one of the most feared in the league and now it has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.  Taking over ownership of this team could be a lot of fun if you want to get rid of Manning and start fresh.  Although, that could be a long road ahead.

 

Surprisingly Decent Teams

BrownsCleveland is a team that looked like they were destined to go 0-16 after two weeks and suddenly they are tied for first place in the AFC North.  While they are a team on the rise, they are also a team without a true answer at QB or HB.  While Josh Gordon seems to be a legitimate threat to be a Top-10 WR in the league and Jordan Cameron is one of the better TEs this season the Browns need some serious help in offensive skill positions.  On defense, the Browns are among the best in the NFL and this is largely due to the aggressive approach they have taken under Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton.  You might want to look into getting some help for Joe Haden on the other side of the field at #2 CB.  Otherwise, this is a team that simply needs a couple pieces before they become a true contender.

ChiefsKansas City is starting to look like a serious contender with new coach, Andy Reid.  If you were to take this team to a 5-0 record in your first season in Madden it suddenly isn’t too far-fetched.  However, this doesn’t mean that they are a perfect team that doesn’t need any help.  They have some good pieces to play with in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Alex Smith at QB.  This goes with a defense that is rather dangerous and can hold their own against virtually any team in the league.  It could be fun to take over the Chiefs and make some moves to make this a team to compete with the Broncos for the AFC West.

Madden 25 Connected Franchise Mode – Don’t Settle For Anything!

After Madden 25 announced a recent Gamestop promo for ‘Connected Franchise Mode’ and an article surfaced on Bleacher Report talking about the supposedly tweaked Connected Careers Mode; there seems to be a lot of work for us to do in order to make Madden better instead of simply allowing EA Tiburon to give us old features and call them ‘new’.

There is a poll on the Brian Mazique article asking if editing rosters, fantasy drafts and controlling every team are enough to make you completely satisfied.  These aren’t new features!  Madden 12 had every single ‘feature’ they are trying to re-implement into a mode that essentially disallowed them.  While these features are a must and will only add more depth to the game they by no means should satiate your desire for a better football game.

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Some of the (many) additions Franchise Mode needs in order to mimic the real NFL are below:

  • Player Morale – Player morale was in Madden 2005 and has been in the NBA 2K series for years.  If there is one thing that Madden lacks in terms of bringing life into the players it is morale and mood when it comes to the actual players.
  • Free Agent/UDFA Signings – Madden seems to think that free agency is something that allows a team to go and simply sign anyone they want if they aren’t on a team.  After this weekend’s draft there were many players that were picked up just seconds after it was over.  These players don’t simply go to the first time that calls, they weigh their options and choose.  Some players have no desire to play for a team that has too much depth or a team that simply doesn’t win.  Madden needs to make this more realistic and that starts with a more true-to-life free agency.
  • Storylines – The addition of storylines for some of the draft prospects in Madden 13 was awesome.  It was a nice way to give some of the players in the draft a personal touch.  The downfall is that their stories all seemed to stop once they were drafted.  The commentary doesn’t follow any of them and the updates on the ‘news feed’ seem to leave any of those stories high and dry.  Continuity is something that Madden’s career modes always seem to lack and while it will take some work to fully implement – it will be worth it.
  • Fan Bases – Some teams sell out almost every game.  Some stadiums are lucky to be at 50% capacity.  Somehow, almost every game in Madden is a sell out according to the stands.  While some games have low attendance due to weather it doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in a given city for a game to be sold out.  I can promise you one thing, if the Browns ever host an AFC Championship Game and it is snowing like crazy… the stands will be FULL.  On the other hand, if the Bengals are playing a game in the middle of the season at home and they are 2-7, they will be lucky to have any ‘fans’ show up.  The NFL is nothing without the fans and that needs to be made apparent in Franchise Mode.
  • Team Movement – While this poses some sort of strange issues with licensing, etc. there were some serious shortcomings when Madden allowed you to move a team to a new city.  Outside of the issues listed in the fan base section, you couldn’t keep the team logo and there wasn’t any real support for the gamer to create a team in a new city because the commentary was terrible and franchise mode lost its luster.  If you look at the fact that many teams are looking to move to new cities because of stadium issues or simply for more money it is something that will be happening soon and should be given the proper attention in the game.
  • Injuries – Madden finally put in some sort of real-time physics last year with the Infinity Engine.  The downfall was evident in many areas but injuries are one of the most obvious.  As much as the NFL wants to censor Madden and try to convince people that it isn’t a violent sport – football is a violent sport and that is why we like it!  Real time injuries need to be in the game and big hits need to matter.  It makes no sense for my 6’4″ 260lb MLB to have a random injury when he crushes Joe Flacco or Mike Vick in the backfield and they get up like nothing happened.  Fix the injury system… please.
  • Player Progression – While I have always been a proponent of performance based progression I do not like how Madden 13 allowed the user to simply accumulate points by stats and put them where ever we wanted to in each player.  Abilities should progress as the player uses them and performs them.  How can a strength rating go up randomly or just because we decide we want it to?  Follow the lead of MLB The Show and let the user have the option to determine what areas players will work on in a given week or set it to auto and let the coaching tendencies determine it.
  • Player Value – After Joe Flacco won the Super Bowl he got a healthy contract renewal.  I drafted a QB in my Browns CCM, Mark Mallett… He has thrown for over 4500 yards and 35 TDs in his first three seasons.  He then won a Super Bowl in 2015 and is up for a new contract offer from our front office.  His OVR is 84 but his abilities have been growing with his performance.  His contract demands?… 5 Years, $4.6 Million per year.  There is no thinking about this from my perspective – Mallett is never going to ask for the money he deserves and that is sad.  Players with great speed or players we like using are typically going for crazy statistics in our Franchise Mode.  We should have to pay a premium price to keep them around if that is the case.  Player value shouldn’t be determined by OVR but by performance and that should make it harder for teams to sign players they want to abuse the other teams with and keep them forever.

We will continue our efforts to make Madden a better game and you shouldn’t let EA get away with calling old parts of the game ‘new features’.  What are your thoughts?  What is Madden missing the most in Franchise Mode?