In every single EA thread that crops up, people complain about how poor their sports franchises are.
I’d like some armchair coaches out there to explain just how they would improve their sports franchises. Take Madden for example, besides updated rosters, a few graphical improvements and a sprinkle of gameplay additions, what else is there to do?
I liked NCAA 08 a lot this year. They nailed the atmosphere. Madden was okay, but the atmosphere sucked.
Complaints that it (Madden) was too complicated may have some merit, but I suspect most folks don’t realize that you can essentially call the play and let the computer run it for you. Folks can get their feet wet that way. Before long they will be calling audibles and throwing hot route strikes.
Stop breaking the game with new flaws every season? That would help. The '08 culprit being CPU thrown interceptions which makes playing the game against the AI as fun as kick in the shin. It’s frustrating because the defensive AI is better, but now the CPU QB’s throw 3+ picks a game. It’s worse in NCAA than it is Madden.
Fixing the franchise mode would help, too, but sense maybe 5% of gamers use that I doubt it’s a priority.
Fix (or…“enhance”) the coaching AI? Playcalling AI? Fix collision detection problems? Allow online Dynasty mode in NCAA? Improve the ball physics so passes don’t look like the Magic Bullet? Yes, improve the atmosphere specifically in Madden. There’s a whole lotta stuff that needs fixed and improved and not just in Madden but in 2K’s games too.
As 2-player games I think they’re fine, albeit with very weak online features. Playing against the game’s AI remains its weakness. EA Canada is doing some cool stuff, though. I thought NHL 08 was a blast.
Another thing I’d like in Madden is a virtual SportsCenter style show. When I sim my way through a season of football, I have no real sense of what team is on a roll this year, what rookies are standing out, what players are reaching career milestones, etc. But if every week I could watch a few minutes of a virtual broadcast that picked out the top 10 plays of that week from all the games and maybe some stats, that would be awesome.
But mostly, the underlying simulation engine in games needs to be a lot better. Every year there are terrible problems with simulating proper sacks, or proper interceptions, or proper yardage. And even with ‘accel clock’ on, playing a game with full 15 minute quarters produces unrealistic results. Too many completions, I think. Also, YAC only seems to come if defenders blow coverage; you almost never see a WR break a tackle or juke a guy out for extra yardage.
One of the biggest problems with Madden has always been that speed is the only attribute that really matters. They have tried different approaches to change that (vision cone for QB’s, Truck Stick for RBs, weapons, etc.) For example in Madden the best defensive package has always been “Quarters” because it has 7 fast DBs on the field. In real football and NFL 2K5 the offense could just run the ball down the throat of such a defense. In Madden the small fast guys always trump the big strong guys. The usefullness of attributes besides speed has always been a strength of the NFL 2K5 series. I’d like to see Madden do the same. I will say that Madden 08 on the 360 was a big leap forward in terms of control and on-field fluidity over previous versions. I think they are headed in the right direction.
No, if that was how the NFL actually works, you would see teams playing with 7 DBs on the field. But you almost never do, except in a prevent situation or on 3rd and 20. Not only should you be able to run for 5+ yards per carry against such a defense, most teams’ 7th DB is a liability on the field in both coverage and tackling.
NHL 07 actually had a pretty great innovation with the skill stick. Other hockey games had toyed with the notion before but none implemented it that well. And in NHL 08, they improved the AI so that all the skaters were more or less doing things that made sense in whatever situation.
All I want from them in the next few years is to keep making it play a better game of hockey. I don’t want to have to call plays on the fly and the like–I just want the rest of my team to adapt to the way I want to play when I have the puck, and I want the opposing team to do the same. Don’t let me run the same money plays over and over again, give me multiple ways to score (so irritating when only one-timers sent directly across the crease have any chance of going in), and make it so I never cuss out my teammates for incredibly stupid plays. Unfortunately, “20% fewer dumbass moves by your teammates” doesn’t make for a compelling bullet point on the box.
Aside from the fundamentals – things like walks in baseball, realistic turnovers in football, ample free throws in basketball, that sort of thing, I really want AI coaches to try and out manuvere me…to force me to NOT use my bread and butter player.
This isn’t just EA (well, it might be soon, heh) but when playing College Hoops 2K7, I want the CPU coach to notice that I have a SG that drops 25 a game and the rest of my team is filled with role-players, and I want the CPU coach to try to take my SG out of the game either via double teams, a box and 1 – something that isn’t a straight up man or 2-3 zone that makes it easy for him to take over a game.
In football, if I have a 130 yard per game running back but no wide outs or pasing game, I want to see 8-9 men in the box in an attempt to take my run game out of the picture, forcing me to throw. This is especially important in a college game. If I have a 95 rated WR he needs an almost constant double team. If I’m using Arkansas, force my QB to beat me, not McFadden.
Playing against an active CPU coach would go a long way because if you don’t get that, games against the AI start to feel the same, regardless of the teams.
It doesn’t really need to be, though. We have tons of examples of one-man or otherwise very small studios that are able to put out a career mode that’s not horribly broken. Actually, EA itself used to be able to do this to some degree. The first year of franchise mode was much more functional then the one they put out this year. And other console sports games, while not as good as something like FOF or Football Manager, are able to do a more then acceptable job. I think the current state of franchise mode is an inexcusable embarrassment and smacks of complacency
I love NBA2K8 but it is annoying that I only really have to run the quick pick and roll. I’ve pretty much only run quick pick and rolls for evey basketball game I’ve ever played. There was one year ('94 maybe?) where I used the same high post play that had Allen Houston rubbing off of the power forward and getting the ball in perfect position for a 3 pointer. I think he averaged 40 points a game.
Edit: A fix for this is a working practice mode, like the one they have in Madden, show how the play is supposed to work and let me practice it.
At this point the coolest thing they could do is make it so individual players play without the puck the way they do in real life. But failing that, just making them play proper positional hockey would be nice. Hockey is a passing game and 90% of passing is guys getting open.
It’s about need, though. Why waste development time dotting the i’s when no one complains about it? The reviews for Madden 08, most of them anyway, gave franchise mode lip service and you could tell the people didn’t actually play the mode, but just read the fact sheet. Franchise mode in Madden is awful. Just awful. When one man, like Gindin and his FoF series, can make a text game with a great franchise mode on his own…the only thing it CAN be is a priority issue. I don’t even expect a really deep franchise like FoF in a game like Madden. I just want it to work and get the basics down. But again, I bet the number of people that actually play more than 1 season of Madden, (2 tops) and go through the drafts, free agency, etc. is very very small.
Sure, EA could fix it and it would be a small group of people that could do it, but it’s still development time spent on something that everyone seems to think is just dandy or don’t bother using.
I think you’re confusing Madden reviewers with Madden players. Reviewers are under a deadline and aren’t going to have time to give every aspect of a game as big as Madden a full inspection, and since franchise mode gets very little attention from the developer it gets little attention from reviewers as well.
There is a significant population that plays sports games almost exclusively. It’s probably misleading to call them gamers even though they play a ton of videogames because they don’t play anything other than sports. I play hockey with a lot of guys like that. And they play a lot more than one or two seasons per version. I remember a few years ago they were pissed off by some bug in franchise mode that kicked in after 10 seasons.
That seems like a ridiculously easy thing to fix. FBpro seemed to have that issue nailed back in the days when I bought football sims yearly. Unless you had some specific exceptional depth at a given position, it was always better to stick to the tried and true defences in most cases.