Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 7

It’s been a while, with all of the Eagles draft coverage, since I’ve posted anything new in our series of Madden ’09 improvements. Today seems like a good day — not much going on in the NFL front, and tomorrow I plan on updating the Mock Draft Spreadsheet.Madden 2008

If you haven’t been following along, this link will take you to all of the previous posts on the subject — which covers everything from disguising coverage to a “no freaking way” defense.

Today I’m going to discuss something only the hardcore gamers would utilize, as it would require both an acute knowledge of pre-play mechanics and the ability to potentially execute a series of complicated button presses before the snap.

What I’m talking about is customized blitz pickup. More than just line shifts, it would be awesome if you could get your center to “call out” blocking assignments before the play. This is one real weakness of the ’08 game — a person who knows how to blitz effectively can destroy an offense — which has little to counter with.

In ’08, the linebackers with “elite” speed — guys like Manny Lawson of the Niners — can be virtually unblockable. It would be great if you could identify Lawson’s location before every play and make your own decision on how he will be blocked.

This ability would ideally be available to everyone but not be imperative for playing a casual game.

Madden ’09 Tidbits

Many of you may already know this, but Madden ’09 is not going to be available on PC. No big deal to the vast majority who own a console, but it has still left some bitter. The President of EA Sports talks a bit about it on his blog:

We knew that our decision to not develop this year’s Madden for the PC would be an unpopular decision in some circles. But I’ll reiterate what I said a couple of weeks ago in this space…the PC presents some very serious business challenges to us in the sports category, particularly because so many of you all are playing your favorite sports games on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. We are committed to shipping a limited number of our games on the PC this year, but we’ve also had to cut a few of our games from the platform. We do have ideas for how to revitalize the PC for sports games and the types of games that are best suited to the platform, and we’ll continue to explore those.

The PC gaming market has evolved to the point where almost all of the money is in RTS and MMORPG. This is another sign of the times.

Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 6

It’s been a couple of weeks since the last installment, so it’s time to get back to our wishlist for the next edition of Madden. First, a review of what we’ve covered — formation shifts, fumbling, gang-tackling, the ability to disguise coverage, and the “no effing way” defense.Madden 2008

Today I’m going to shift focus a bit, away from the in-game AI discussion. Let’s explore the possibility of a legitimate four-way cooperative experience.

It has always seemed like an awesome idea, but one that had some obvious difficulties for implementation. For one, it’s not so easy to split a television screen four ways and still maintain a view large enough to make the game playable for each person.

But now, with the proliferation of the XBox 360, PS3, Wii, and broadband connections — almost everyone has the capability to play online. No need to split the screen for that. One of the guys drop his connection momentarily? No big deal, the other teammate picks up the slack flying solo.

It would truly be awesome to have the headset on and talking strategy with a buddy while you take on another pair of Madden geeks on the other side of the country. Think of the “team standings” page online — how cool would that be?

Offense would be sweet for the obvious QB-WR team. But think about how cool it would be on defense to take up the defensive ends and race to the QB. If the folks at EA are looking to make a splash with a new edition, this could definitely be the way to go.

Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 5

Today I’ll inject yet another request into our multi-part Madden ’09 improvements list. So far we’ve talked about formation shifts, fumbling, gang-tackling, and the ability to disguise coverage.

Today, I want to discuss something that at one point has been on every Madden player’s mind — the need for a “No effing way” defensive coverage.

Every person who has played Madden has at some point fallen victim to a late-game (or late-half) bomb against a coverage that you thought was set up to stop it. Whether the opponent ran a flea-flicker, play action, or a straight “hail mary”, you were left cursing and confused.

As it stands now, if your opponent has 70 yards to go on a single play, your best bet is to call a prevent, then manually run your defensive backs towards your own goal (if you have time).

What I propose for the “no effing way” formation is to have those players already 40 or 50 yards off the line of scrimmage — why should I have to furiously run them back there? It’s a simple request, and one EA has undoubtedly been aware of. They’ve already made a lot of AI improvements to stop stuff like this (which used to be rampant), and the defensive “commit” feature helps too — but it’s not enough.

Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 4

Madden 2008Let’s continue the discussion of what might have been wrong with Madden NFL 2008, and how to fix it in the new edition.

Today’s topic: Formation shifts

Specifically, the disadvantage the defense suffers when the offense audibles into a dramatic formation change. For example, if an offense comes out in shotgun with four wide receivers, it makes sense for the defense to come out in dime.

Unfortunately, if at this point the offense chooses to do something wacky like shift to goal line, the defense can do the same but they have no shot at stopping the ball carrier. He gets six or seven yards each time. Go ahead. Try it.

I don’t want the fine folks at EA to take freedom away from the offense, I just want their chances for success when they do strange things to be reasonable. This is one area of the game where it is anything but life-like.

Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 3

Let’s continue with our running series on how best to improve the upcoming edition of the incomparable John Madden NFL Football.

Today’s complaint — the inability to effectively disguise coverage.

A determined offensive player can always, and often way too easily, discover whether a defense is a zone or man. Some simple formations reveal it immediately. I would like the ability to disguise man coverage when I’m using it. I believe in previous editions of Madden there was a “man lock” option, but that is not around any longer.

I would like to be able to disguise a blitz better as well. Blitzes from DB’s are particularly difficult to hide, especially when you’re trying to do other things before the snap. It would be great to have a few options when calling the play that could toggle where the DB lined up and whether or not they moved towards the line of scrimmage before the snap.

Madden ’09 Wishlist, Part 2

Today I’ll continue talking about bit about what I’d like to see improved in the next version of the incomparable football simulation. Last time we talked about the rampant fumbling, today — gang tackling.

I really like the concept behind gang tackling. It essentially goes like this:  if more than one defender is tackling a runner it is increasingly difficult for that player to get away, even with a “highlight” move. It reduced the impact that highlight moves had on the game in ’07, which were too powerful.

For those of you thinking “gang tackling? What gang tackling?” — you probably have a PS2. This feature was only made for the advanced systems — 360, PS3, and the Wii.

The physics and logic algorithms need to be tweaked so it continues to take over. It should be extremely difficult for a player to escape two tacklers at a time — and if those tacklers are good players, damn near impossible. The highlight moves are fun, but they continue to be too powerful. If the developers at EA continue to hope for a fun but true simulation, they’ve got to make the game hard as well as fun.

Madden ’09 Wishlist

Over the course of next several months I’ll talk a bit about what I’d like to see added, tweaked, or taken away in the next edition of the incomparable game. Madden ’08 was without a doubt the best that has been offered to date — they added a lot of flexibility on defense and fixed some annoying points about the awesome ’07 edition.

But there’s still room for improvement. I’ll start today with one simple aspect of this season’s gameplay that annoys me the most — the ridiculous amount of fumbling.

It’s got to get reduced somehow. I know you don’t want to overvalue the quarterback position, but you can’t have quarterbacks fumbling 90% of the time they scramble without sliding. Especially the bigger quarterbacks like Roethlisberger, McNabb, etc.

For the other skill positions, the impact of the “hit-stick” needs to be decreased further still. It was terrible in ’07, improved in ’08, and it’s time to take it down one more notch in ’09.