Hey guys, welcome back to Forward Progress #8. This week, I’m taking a break from the tips to answer some questions as feedback for the EA SPORTS Game Changers, who are asking questions to the community for next week’s Madden NFL 13 Community event. A select group of community leaders are selected to take a look at the game in development, and make sure to reach out to the community for feedback beforehand. This week, I’m answering questions posed by EA SPORTS Game Changers KOACHK (pronounced “Coach K”) and Shopmaster.
SHOPMASTER: What does EA need to do for the tournament community to progress?
ZAN: I think that people need to feel that the game hasn’t been dumbed down so much that skill and strategy aren’t factors. I understand that it’s good marketing to make a game accessible to all skill levels, and to allow everyone to compete; but we’ve hit a time in this process where a game can be as easy as hitting GameFlow, choosing hot routes, and still being able to move the ball downfield with ease. Something that most people have probably noticed, but don’t think about, is that every hot route, which exception of the drag route, seems to beat man coverage with ease, regardless of route running, speed, and acceleration ratings; with the outliers being situations where defenders like cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha or Darrelle Revis covering your wide receiver.
I think that the tournament community is also a very small subset of the entire Madden population, and in a way, has actually earned a negative stigma. The way that they depicted themselves on ESPN’s Madden Nation earns us (yes, I am a competitive/tournament player) a bad reputation. That’s a tough blow to overcome, and has led to about 3 years of downturn in the tournament community. Ultimately, it’s not about what EA can do for our competitive scene, but what we as players can start doing to bring it back.
To me, in order to achieve that, our leaders need to embrace their responsibilities. The guys that we look to to hold the proverbial “cookie jar” should not be dipping into it at the same time. We also have to clean our image (and mouths) up, as players. You don’t see pro/competitive players of other games at MLG (Major League Gaming) going around knocking each others hats off and using lewd slurs; we are above that. We need to respect each other if we want EA, potential sponsors, and the general public to respect us.
KOACHK: What should Madden 13 have to make it an ever better game than Madden 12?
ZAN: There are extremists who argue that EVERYTHING needs to be changed. I am not one of them. I’ll be honest, many of those players are living way in the past, and are part of the problem with the advancement of our tournament community. I’m going to look at this from a gameplay perspective first though.
Primarily, I think that we have a good starting point with Madden 12. There are a few tweaks I’d like to see when it comes to the defensive AI though. Recently, I read a post stating that linebackers shouldn’t be backpedaling in man coverage and need to run stride-for-stride with the offensive players they’re covering. I disagree with that. I agree, it happens .. but they usually don’t have the cover skills of a corner or even a safety. Linebackers are also responsible for read-and-react vs the run game; backpedaling allows them to have two eyes in the backfield to react to draws and other run plays with delayed handoffs. As for those who insist on having linebackers in man coverage, I have an issue with the game planning/strategy behind that; having outside linebackers manned up on slot receivers in real life is asking for trouble (Hence, why most real-life teams play nickel defense most of the time.). Just as in real life, it should be a catch-22 … put the linebacker on the tight end or slot wide receiver and risk getting torched, or put the nickel/dime back on the tight end or slot wide receiver and risk getting jump-balled/posted-up for a completion.
On the topic of the aforementioned “facethrows,” the real issue lies in that the defense would rather play the WRs position on the field once the ball is in the air rather than playing the ball itself. This leads to the defensive player getting pinned and having the ever so popular “over the shoulder” catch animation triggered for the offensive player, even though the defender, in proper position, is strafed and jumping up. This is why height is so important in every Madden, to combat any potential AI flaws related to this, and why CBs like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Brandon Browner are considered elite CBs over players like Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Flowers. Fix the DB/WR interaction once the ball is in the air, and all of a sudden, the over-effectiveness of streak patterns goes down exponentially.
The strip button seems to be overpowered; this needs to be adjusted, or have it removed altogether. In real life, you never see players making strips in 1-on-1 situations; instead they wait for their teammates to stand-up the ball carrier, or get opportunistic in pileups. Stripping the ball needs to be totally proportional to player awareness, pursuit, and play recognition ratings. There is no reason that Sam Shields should 1-on-1 “chainsaw” rip the ball out of Michael Turner’s hands. Maybe Sam Shields is capable of doing such once A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop have wrapped up/immobilized Turner … but even that’s a stretch. Those who argue that there needs to be a risk-reward for stripping involving things like more facemask penalties are also wrong … in real life, missing a strip doesn’t automatically end up in facemasking penalties being committed. Most of the time, unsuccessful attempts to strip the ball should at least end up in broken tackles.
My biggest suggestion can probably be handled by tweaking the defensive interaction AI itself. Playcalling needs to matter. You shouldn’t have to spread a cover 4 shell to stop someone who puts 3 routes on the field (Corner-Streak on one side … slant on the other.) and max protects. I understand that “user stick”, or the ability to make plays with the player you’re manually controlling, plays a great role in the game of Madden; but coverage calls should trump user catch ability, in my opinion. If you are throwing a corner pattern into the teeth of my Cover 4, I need to be coming away with that ball.
I’d like to see online practice mode implemented. It’d be nice to be able to invite a partner into practice mode and practice things such as user swats/catches or situational playcalling. No scoreboard or play clock needed. Both players could just be thrown on the practice field and help each other become better Madden players.
I’d also have mixed feelings about online “Spectator Mode” being implemented. I feel like it’s a mode that could lead to a more “uniform” or “copycat” Madden community when it comes to play styles; but it could also lead to better surveillance/security or “self-policing” of sorts in which players could document and report blatant glitching and other forms of outright cheating. Competitive players would be able to watch each others games as well; which is a major calling card in the community. Many competitors love to watch games that one another are playing. I think that if the spectator mode were enabled, both players watching should have an “Allow/Boot” option that lets them grant access to selected individuals for viewing.
My wish list of sorts … nothing really major.
Hope you enjoyed my opinions this week. Next week we’ll be back to strategies.
If you have any thoughts/opinions/suggestions for KOACHK to bring to next week’s Madden NFL 13 Community event, post them here (Click on the following hyperlink, or copy and paste it into your browser’s address bar.) http://compete4ever.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10047 .
Until next week,
Zac Neal (ZAN)
XBL Gamertag: Peyton ZANning