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PVarck31's Blog
The state of football gaming. Thinking critically. 
Posted on June 25, 2010 at 06:18 PM.
Before you have a chance to wonder how I can make the claims I am about to make. Let me say that I have played almost every football game released since Caleco Vision Football.

First I want to start this article on football gaming with baseball gaming.

Lets think about it for a minute. What technically makes up a baseball video game? Its actually two games in one. The pitcher batter interface and fielding. Lets start with the pitcher batter interface. What is it? Fundamentally its two polygonal characters on the screen. Just like we see in real baseball. These characters generally have the same animations every time you are in this part of the game. Easy enough right? Lets move to fielding. This interface gives us nine men on the field plus any base runners. You control one man. The other 8 polygonal characters are following a pre-determined path laid out for them in relation to the situation. There are no obstacles they must overcome to get where they are going.

Lets move on to……Basketball gaming. Ten polygonal characters interact at the same time. While once again you are in control of one. This leaves 9 characters that need to be controlled by the AI. Once again, these characters move in a predetermined path laid out for them in relation to the situation. This time it also depends where they are on the court at any give time. Each character is assigned another character to guard. This does not change unless the user changes this. In Basketball, there is a little more contact going on than baseball. Does anyone see where I am going with this yet? This contact is very rudimentary. Some shoulder back downs, and some collisions in the paint.

Finally, lets talk about Football. I am going to make the claim that a Football videogame is the most complex game to develop.

This time there are twenty-two characters on the screen. Each character has a different assignment on almost every play. Not only do these twenty-two characters need to be different, some of them are drastically different. Take the speed of a lineman compared to a running back for example. Not only do they have different assignments, but they have different assignments almost every play.

Think about what must be programmed into the game. Man to man coverage, Zone coverage, combo coverage, blitzes, zone blitzes, line stunts, tackling, probability of tackle success, gang tackling, and that’s just defense. On offense there are hundreds of different plays that require different blocking assignments, receiver routes, not to mention hot routes, audibles, missed blocks, and, evasive maneuvers. Then there are the variables. Fumbles, the odds of fumbling, interceptions, good and bad throws, whether they are low, high, or out of reach, penalties, kicking, and blocking those kicks. And like any good game of chess, the offense and defense must be constantly adjusting to every possible scenario.
Even after all this, I know exactly what you are thinking. What about NFL 2K5?

I have 4 words for you; Lightning In a Bottle. In my opinion NFL 2K5 was the perfect storm of football gaming. Could it have continued its torrid pace? I guess we will never know. Or will we?
# 1 stlstudios189 @ Jun 25
I like the way you think on this. Football is the most complex of the games to code etc..
# 2 smlmeyer @ Jun 25
Perfect storm - at the time. You couldn't release 2K5 with updated rosters and be set. It'd be a nice running start towards 2K10, though. This is basically what I've been thinking also. They are the hardest games to make. But, I'm in the process of writing an entry as to why sports gamers should feel optimistic in the coming years, even if Madden isn't necessarily feeling the heat of competition.
# 3 smlmeyer @ Jun 25
Oh and nice Jack Russell.
# 4 rudyjuly2 @ Jun 25
Football is the hardest game to make. The AI is much harder to recreate properly than a baseball game imo. 2K4 was the lightning in a bottle for me though. 2K5 was overrated and 2K8 just felt old and stale to me. Maybe the sales for EA's football games have slipped because people have gotten tired of the "feel". Sometimes you have to shake it up and pro-tak and locomotion might do it this year.
# 5 DJ @ Jun 26
Nice dog. Love the terriers! We have a Rat Terrier and she's the queen of the house.

I agree with you about football being the hardest to make because as you said, there's more moving parts. Although, soccer has almost as many players on the pitch as football and the FIFA games seem to recreate its sport better than Madden/NCAA, and I'm not even a big soccer fan.
# 6 shadthedad @ Jun 26
You may be on to something. I've always believed that last generation video game hardware was far easier to program for vs this generation. I'm curious to see how madden would look and play if it was built from the ground up on ps3. With that said, I don't believe Sega caught lightning in the bottle with 2k5. As quiet as it's kept, they had more experience as developers with the current generation hardware (remember 2k on dreamcast). Ea's been playing catch up since play stations game day forced madden to take a year off (they tried to keep madden 2d sprite based in the dawn of the 3d gameplay-WTF).
# 7 Eski33 @ Jun 27
I enjoyed 2K5 but the gameplay was far from stellar. The game was loaded with money plays and had some glitches. What made 2K5 so great was all the bells and whistles. The commentary team is still unmatched (outside of the trio on The Show; and Nessler and Herbstriet do admirably well); the ESPN presentation was beyond outstanding with post-game highlights and SportsCenter that showed highlights from other games; VIP was the pinnacle of the one-player games in that the AI would pick up on your tendencies; and the Crib was a great way to integrate a ton of unlockables and add replayability.

But as far the actual gameplay itself, I find it dated compared to today's Madden....

However, great blog. Finally someone who has some sense.
# 8 blakty @ Jun 27
While I don't think it would hold up to today's standards (see APF), 2k5 was definately ahead of the curve when it came to doing all the little things just right. It was able to replicate a broadcast of football, a halftime/postgame show complete with highlights, and a V.I.P. system to sout online opponents; All things EA's madden has just recently added, but not yet mastered (madden 10&11).

Not writing a review or anything. Just saying madden, based on the pace EA is working, has a ways to go before they do anything as revolutionary for video game football.
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