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Old 06-29-2008, 09:52 AM   #1
Solecismic Software
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Canton, OH
How Much Control is Too Much Control?

Easily, the biggest frustration I hear from customers is the presentation of game planning options in the Front Office Football games.

Many people want more control over how their teams perform on the field. And many people feel overwhelmed by the number of options they have.

Addressing the former, as I've tried with the last releases, has greatly improved some aspects of the game. But with more options, there's more complexity. And there's still more I can and should provide, particularly with respect to late-half situations.

One direction Front Office Football must take in the future is providing a clearer picture of what's taking place on the field. It's not enough just to know passes defensed, interceptions and passes caught against a defensive back. Tomorrow's game must break down how often a defender successfully defended his assignment.

It's not enough just to know how often a lineman provides a key block or allows a sack. Tomorrow's game must show how often he successfully completes run and pass blocking assignments.

That much is obvious.

But those numbers still won't provide a complete picture. Even slight option changes can have significant impact on the team aspect of the game. If a defensive back is only responsible for one underneath zone, he won't be burned deep.

Not only will his pass defense assignment numbers grade out very well, but he'll be contributing more tackles on running plays. Numbers can be very misleading in football, in a way you'd never experience in baseball.

A football player, particularly one who plays defense, is only as effective as his team's scheme allows.

Therefore, detailed feedback will always be somewhat misleading in a football simulation. That's why there's much more reliance on scouting in football even after the initial acquisition. You play a baseball game by the stats the player accumulates. You play a football game based on the scouting report and hope the stats follow.

Going back to the question here, how much control is too much? Without more detailed feedback, I'm already passing that point. Every option has some impact on the field, but it's not always clear what impact it has.

But football is far more than a very advanced game of rock, scissors, paper, which is the direction simulations seem to be headed these days.

I have my own ideas of how to solve this problem, and they amount to a significant reassessment of these fundamental questions. I'm interested in what people think about this issue.

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Old 07-14-2008, 11:25 AM   #2
Ben E Lou
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Ben Lewis
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"Ben E Lou"

Football has been called a "game of inches," and it holds true for FOF. With only 16 games per season, and only 60ish offensive snaps per game, every play is magnified. Many people (myself included) either let the AI set the game plan when playing solo, or use a stock plan that doesn't change much as a season (and sometimes even a career) progresses. It is therefore much more important for multiplayer leagues, which move much more slowly, thus elevating the importance of every playcall in a game--especially in crucial situations at the end of halves. I've played text sims for 10 years now, and I'm far from convinced that this can be properly handled by AI. The more that is controlled by AI, the more the gamer is left feeling powerless over his team. Therefore, I suggest giving players the option of having more direct control of end-of-half situations. I would add new screens for how the two-minute drill is to be carried out and for how the defense plays when it recognizes that the offense is in hurry-up.

On a bigger scale, my suggestion is to leave the rest of the game planning interface pretty much where it is, but include two other ways to fill in all those boxes:

1. "Stock" plans--While the FOF game planning AI does a solid job, the more casual gamer can't relate to it. For example, loading up a stock game plan called "West Coast" is easier to understand than hitting a Recommend button and getting 45.2% run, 38.3% short pass, and 16.5% long pass, even though the two ways of getting there might result in the same playcalls. The same would hold true for "Tampa 2" on defense, for example.

2. Game planning wizards--Give the gamer a series of questions that he can answer, or sliders he can adjust. It would be great if people could choose "Very Rarely-Rarely-Below Average-Average-Above Average-Often-Very Often" for short, medium, and long passing, and for inside running and outside running on offense. Similarly, allowing these to be chosen for blitzing, m2m, zone, bump and run, and double coverage on defense would help things out as well.

There would also be stock plans and wizards for the late-game/two-minute screen(s) as well. And in the case of both stock plans and wizards, there wouldn't be any need to get rid of the existing grids, the beginning or intermediate gamer would just be able to use the stock plan or the wizard to fill out the boxes, and let the more advanced players have the option to tweak as many aspects of the game plan as they want.

As far as the rock-paper-scissors comment goes, I agree that football isn't that simple since teams adjust on the fly, but the limitation of simming is such that it might not be a bad idea--not that a counter would always stop the offense it's meant to counter, but that it would have a greater chance of doing so. Again I refer back to that feeling of powerlessness. If I know that my opponent has a QB and WRs with skill sets that dictate a lot of short passing/YAC, I should be able to counter that with a lot of tight coverage--lots more than FOF's current "balance-is-king" model on defense allows

Matt Blumenthal
Writing Staff

Ben's suggestions of stock plans and game planning wizards merit serious consideration. FOF has work to do in the area of user friendliness, and these features seem more intuitive than the current percentage-based scheme for game planning. Moving in this direction would make the art of gameplanning easier to understand for everyone and would provide a more meaningful representation for a team's gameplan.

Football is not only a "game of inches", as Ben called it, but also a game of adjustments. This area is perhaps FOF's greatest weakness. Users need more control over their offenses in two minute drill situations, because as it stands, the two minute drill is largely a crapshoot. Adding more flexibility here in the way of another screen or two for users would go a long way.

On a similar note, more options for on-the-fly adjustments based on the opponent could prove the difference between a win and a loss. If a team running a pass-happy offense has a surprising amount of success when they run the ball in the first half, they should crank up the running attack in the second half - or earlier. FOF doesn't have options for users to make such adjustments based on performance, but giving users the opportunity to make performance-based adjustments would allow teams to exploit their opponent's holes.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:19 PM   #3
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The thread is now open. Feel free to weigh in, but please stay on topic. Remember that these are moderated much differently from the rest of the forum. Check this post for more information.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:24 PM   #4
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i think "on the fly" adjustments would be great. this is a pretty key feature of football that is missing from the game as-is at the moment. even if the on-the-fly adjustments were not as detailed as redoing the gameplan but were along the lines of "try to exploit X" or "pay more attention to Y" (x and y being weaknesses or opponent's strengths). Maybe even to the point of after each series being able to "talk" with your offensive and defensive captains and point those things out.

Some sort of "wizard" interface would be awesome. because I'd love to experiment with gameplanning more in single-player, or even play more multi-player but I simply don't have the time to sit there and figure out if running it right 45% vs. 38% on 2nd and short will result in an extra 12 points in a season, which translates into 2 extra wins. And I have no idea where 45% versus 38% compares to league-average. I want the game to do that for me, and tell me "if you want to have a run-heavy attack i will figure out the league's average run-% and adjust yours to be heavier."

I think this would also be great because it would make the leagues very organic. If you had coaches with documented coaching-philosophies (who would presumably be hired by AI-teams based on how they fit the team's current or desired skill-sets), the league "average" would change over time based on these coaches and the personnel that they had. Thus you might see a league where a couple great offensive coaches got hooked-up with a couple great throwing-QB's and your league evolves for a time into a pass-happy league, before those players depart and the league starts to revert back to the mean. (does that make sense?). Hopefully that doesn't get too off-topic, but it's one example I think of how having a gameplan-wizard that used "league averages" combined with a couple other things, could make the game world really...unique and fluid.

i think Jim is right on as far as tracking even more "off the ball" stats (if you want to categorize them that way I guess). With the tracking of "off the ball" stats more, that increases the opportunity to reintroduce "scouting error" to the game as well - because you will finally have a more complete package of statistics to judge your players on (not to drag this off-topic). It would also give you the ability to gameplan more to your player's strengths and weaknesses if you were willing to dive in that deeply.

edit: hopefully this pertains enough to gameplanning. i wanted to speak on gameplanning, but also digress a bit into how enhancements in gameplanning could improve other features of the game as a byproduct.

Last edited by DaddyTorgo : 07-14-2008 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
Therefore, detailed feedback will always be somewhat misleading in a football simulation. That's why there's much more reliance on scouting in football even after the initial acquisition. You play a baseball game by the stats the player accumulates. You play a football game based on the scouting report and hope the stats follow.

Scout error is what throws a monkey wrench into this conversation. If I am supposed to look at stats to see how good someone really is, then I need lots of pertinent, accurate stats to paint the picture for me. If I don't get the stats, then I need to trust the scout so I can go look for other reasons (gameplanning?) for why things might be going wrong. If there are incomplete stats and inaccurate scouting reports, I have no idea where to even begin figuring out why I lost 27-17 to a team I thought I could beat so I can improve my gameplanning for the next one. With one or the other, I've got something to work with.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:45 PM   #6
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In relation to ascertaining the value of players (assuming that this is not too off topic): I think that I should have a very good idea of the ratings of the players on my team, notwithstanding my scout. Scouts don't evaluate players on their own team.

I agree with gstelmack on that point. More control over my DB schemes only helps me if I know whether my safety can play a deep zone in a cover two or not.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:58 PM   #7
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I like the idea of giving teams a GM-only option. You get to hire coaches and staff that favor certain styles and you never see a gameplanning screen. This makes coach and staff hiring much more important because schemes are tied to their preferences and not anything you set.
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Old 07-14-2008, 04:57 PM   #8
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I like the current interface more than 2k4, but it's quite tricky at times. For example, it's not necessarily obvious that if you have 46% for running on 1st and 10 and for 3rd and 5, you'll be using the formations for "slight passing" in both. Now this isn't necessarily a problem, but it might be. It can be hard to do the basic gameplan and relate it to the formation screens.

I would really support the wizard idea, more than just the current recommend option. But too much control would make it even harder for the casual player.

I'd to be able to define my hurry up and clock drain offenses, plus the same on defense. We all know that there are some flaws in the logic there. A screen to set what we want to do in those situations would be ideal.

In general I think we all need to acknowledge that FOF is and is supposed to be a sim of football.
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Old 07-14-2008, 05:27 PM   #9
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How are we defining control here? Control of what exactly? It would seem that would be important to evaluating whether people do, in fact, want more control as Jim states above.

Imho, control involves making user choices have outcomes that are discernible. If users can discern that their choices are clearly making a difference, then control will follow. If they can't, users will never feel in control. This seems to be the point greg is making above. Give users outcomes they can identify as coming from their choices and they will feel in control. Or at least, give them the impression that their choices have yielded plausible outcomes. FOF does many things well, but in some areas, this plausibility is lacking.

But I guess before we talk about control, we need to ask about what outcomes we want users to be able to discern. I get a sense that there are some outcomes in FOF that the game doesn't want users to be able to discern. Why are users unable to know how some things work without waiting a year for a word from the developer? Should these even be included in the game if they are not documented? Perhaps from the perspective of realism. But from the gameplay perspective, they potentially become incredibly frustrating (the lack of available defensive gameplans would be an example here).

Another question we might ask would be, what constitutes evidence of control? If statistics do not provide enough evidence, what else would let users know their choices have made a difference? In the gold standard text sim that is FM, we not only have the evidence of numbers, but a decent amount of textual evidence. For example, I know that I have motivated a player when the in-game text tells me 'Player A is proving his manager wrong!' or I have positively influenced another manager when the profile of that manager features text saying, 'Feels the two of you could become friends.' FOF might take this type of evidence and add it to the in-game commentary. Why not include something like 'QB A completes a short pass to FL B. LCB C missed his zone assignment'? Or have longer strings of narrative in the text that detail not only what happens at the point of attack, but also what happens when the RB meets the linebackers and secondary. The text might include some lines like 'Coordinator D made the perfect call on that play.' If done well, these descriptions could go a long way to making users feel as though their choices are making a difference by allowing them to discern the outcomes of these choices.

Just my $0.02.
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:09 PM   #10
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Ben's comments are almost exactly what I was telling WSUCougar a few weeks ago during our softball games.

I'd absolutely prefer to see options for defensive schemes and then some of the sliders for the "Very rarely, rarely", etc., over what we currently have. Along with that, though, I'd like to see more of an explanation for when players are playing and where.

These controls are needed offensively, though maybe not as much. I think a large majority of players really try to make an offense their own but aren't sure what to try with defense. Personally, I don't think you'd need as much of a "scheme" with offense, but the sliders would be helpful.
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:21 PM   #11
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I would like more control over nuances of the offense and more information about which plays are called/availible from what formations.

If I want to run a primarly shotgun offense (ie Dallas with Danny White and Miami with Dan Marino late in his career) I should have that option.

I want to know who are the primary and secondary receivers in a given formation/plays out of that formation. This is very important (to me anyway), because there are other factors in the game which you have to set (keep in blocking) that are related to it.

To go even deeper, I would like to have the option of picking which plays out of a formation that are run. Like in Madden, I would use a custom playbook just so I could take out the stupid toss plays that you always fumble.

For defense, I would like the option to set players to 'shadow' other target players. Example: Ray Lewis shadowing LT or Deion Sanders 'shadowing' Jerry Rice.

Slightly off topic: I would like to see what a players ratings would be for any position they can be moved to. It's what your scout rates them at that position, why do you have to move them first and wait for the export to know what their rating would be, and if you move them back, they are much lower than before. That makes no sense.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:11 PM   #12
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One thing that has always bugged me is that there's no way to adjust the offense if your backup QB comes into the game. For instance, if your very mobile starter gets injured and the backup is a statue, I'd like to change the running strategy, so Bernie Kosar isn't running a QB draw. Or a better example might be if your 2nd or 3rd string QB's really suck, you might want to cut back on the passing. It does look pretty silly when my terrible backup is hurling it downfield, when in real life the coach would clearly adjust to a short pass/running attack.

I think it'd be much better if the offensive gameplans were loaded per QB. This may be seen as too much control, but I think it is necessary.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:00 PM   #13
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I think what people are getting at in a lot of these posts is the concept of what you're controlling. For all Jim's very astute observations in the initial post about the complexities of football and the inadequacies of its statistics (I strongly agree on both points), FOF is still very much a statistical simulation and its approach to "gameplanning" is heavily skewed by that perspective. Most football games that are played between human beings are about matchups. Teams seek to create favorable matchups that they can exploit. Rookie cornerbacks that they can expose, undersized DE's they can run at, inexperienced QBs that can be deceived and intimidated... these are the data points that matter when teams analyze upcoming opponents and gameplans are created with an eye to taking advantage of these weaknesses or finding ways to create favorable mismatches. Most teams have their general packages and schemes in place (they may work to tweak their formation or personnel usage to disguise things from week to week), but they're basically attempting to leverage their advantages and exploit an opponent's weaknesses. This sort of thing is intuitive to the vast majority of FOF's user base (relatively informed football fans) because they understand that football is far more about getting Randy Moss one on one with an inferior player than it is about throwing "long" 68% of the time on 2nd and 5. I don't want to throw long per se, but I want to throw long (or at least in Moss's direction) whenever I get that kind of favorable matchup.

Along those same lines, it's clear that FOF's percentage-driven approach to playcalling and gameplanning makes for an effective statistical simulation, but it will also never lend an intuitive feeling of control for just that reason. It doesn't model, or pretend to, the key points of information that most people associate with football decision making. I know that a QB's "Timing" rating somehow approximates his effectiveness (or simply his willingness) in taking what the defense gives him and throwing to a better option as the play develops, but of course there's no real tangible depiction of that or sense of the criterion involved so I don't really know what's going on. When in reality, these sorts of decisions are at the core of every game of football. Many schemes are geared entirely around reads at the line of scrimmage or decisions made based on how a safety reacts in coverage, the concept of calling a "long pass" can be pretty foreign in those types of schemes.

So for me, before I ramble on completely, it's not how much, but what kind of control that matters. I want to be able to say let's get Westbrook 25 touches, and let's try to take some shots downfield with Moss, or let's target this defensive back, with a slider for how strictly I want it followed (i.e. keep feeding him the damn ball no matter what/if it's not working early, let it go). I'd also like some general settings that allow me to set a slider for something like conservative/aggressive playcalling (not the right words probably), but something that accounts for the fact that I've got Tom Brady and I'm willing to air it out and take some chances. And the flip side, I've got Joe Rookie out there and we're gonna hand it off on third and long inside our 20. (This is probably as simple as a general modifier setting for each quarterback that activates if they end up in the game.) I realize that the pushback here comes in the difficulty of coding an AI that can handle these kinds of variables, but in reality, i think the current percentage system creates just as many issues. If you shift the thinking toward this kind of matchup-based system, while accounting for some general guidelines for pass and rush frequency, I think you'll find that people can connect more to the control they have over their team.
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:48 AM   #14
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For those who want it you can't have too much control, but the key is having an option, like with team chemistry, to turn off what you don't want to control or an option of leaving it to your head coach like with game planning.

I think the key is having a more accurate scouting system, as pointed out stats lie and scouting and drafting are the keys to success.
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:51 PM   #15
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I think the wizard idea would be great, also having your coaches' skills play larger (and have the whole coach hiring process much more like the FA process where you can figure out what exactly is going on from one stage to the next, and even the ability to fire your coach mid-season). At the very least it would be nice to have a slider on the game planning screens, or make all the screens automatically adjust after you close them (the defensive game plan screen, for example, adjusts the "Aggressive Pass" defense if you reduce the "Aggressive Run" defense, so if I want to keep the focus on the run the same but just move some of the aggressive run defense to the regular run defense, I have to calculate in my head what the regular run defense should be before changing the aggressive run defense ... sliders would make this process much more intuitive, even breaking it down into "run" and "pass" and then sub-sliders for "aggressive" and "normal").

I love the depth that is there now with the game planning, but the intuitiveness of the interface is lacking. Each game plan I have to go into each pass coverage screen, for example, to set the pass coverage, and am always paranoid that I'm going to miss one. Again, using a wizard and then having your coach help out with the gameplanning more intuitively would be great.

Also want to echo the game time adjustments concern, not just when your starting QB goes out but halftime adjustments as well. Obviously this would be up to the coach to make these adjustments as it's impossible to game plan every possible situation, but if your game plan is failing there should be the ability to deviate from it somehow.
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:03 AM   #16
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Malcpow's post, in my opinion, is right on the mark. It's what you control, not how much you control. And feedback (both in stats and text) is absolutely critical or none of this really matters.

I think sliders may be the way to go. And it could still be a very complex gameplanning system if you have a number of them in a multitude of areas. Even with a lot, you could probably rip through 10 screens with 10 sliders in a few minutes. E.g. rather than percentages for blitzes on downs, and how many blitzers , and from what positions, and in what directions, this could be done quicker with sliders instead.

Love the suggestion on QB gameplans. But this could be taken care of also with a simple slider, as discussed, that says "run more if backup comes in."
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Old 07-25-2008, 01:22 PM   #17
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Malcpow summed up very well, my feelings.

Ben E Lou made a good observation about creating stock gameplans like the "West Coast" offense or--for defense--the "Cover-2".

But team's shouldn't switch from a West Coast offense in Week 1 to a Run and Shoot offense in Week 2. Not in real football, anyway. These are things that should realistically be set in training camp and by the coaches and coordinators. You pick what style you want and you get more of that during the game.

Then, with sliders, you "gameplan" your style. Enhance it to take advantage of perceived weaknesses or if the defense is really geared to shut down a "West Coast" offense (or has in the past) you can use the gameplan sliders to try and hide (as was already mentioned) or go away from it AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

Jim mentions that football is far more complex than "rock, paper, scissors" and I agree. But ultimately, the gameplanning shouldn't be. A head to head matchup should be an attempt to exploit your opponents weaknesses, almost in a "rock, paper, scissors" styled framework.

Designing a gameplanning technique that allows you to "see" your basic strategy vs your opponents perceived basic strategy and tweak from there is the ultimate FOF gameplanning question.

Good topic/question.

Last edited by Dutch : 07-25-2008 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 07-27-2008, 04:32 AM   #18
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I think maybe I should clarify a bit. Hopefully this falls in line with the discussion. I'm not against the FOF gameplan screens, but I disagree that you should can make wholesale/drastic changes from week to week with no penalty. This can be fixed by looking at "base" plans that fall underneath your weekly gameplan stages. This "base" plan (or template) would be created in the off-season. The training camp option in FOF is woefully lacking and would be the perfect place for the players to create their base offensive and defensive template.

Let me expand on this thought for a moment. With the training camp phase, the screen should expand on the general screen that is there now. What time players go to hang out (to build chemistry) or how much time they practice offense/defense is important and should not go away.

But training camp is a great place to build those offensive and defensive templates...these templates would really begin to identify with "real" football, and give bonuses to teams that employ what they learn do here (and penalties for those who side-step their own templates too much).

For instance, in the offensive realm, there are different styles that (no doubt) the beginnings of understanding begin in training camps around the NFL. Offenses are learning the West Coast or Smashmouth Run attacks. Defenses are practicing in the 4-3 or 3-4....cover 2, tampa 2, cover 3, cover 4...

So, with that in mind, before you set the sliders on the training camp screen (in 2 minutes or less) and press on by hitting the "Run Training Camp" button, this is a great place to employ new options for the game player and to build your philosophy on both offense and defense.

Nobody understands defense in FOF2k7. And this may not really help that, but at least we can know we are MAXIMIZING our players talents. This could really allow us to think more about defense.

A screen that should make us decide between the 4-3 and the 3-4. Make us decide how much time we want to spend working on different secondary coverages.

A screen for training camp depth charts would be absolutely critical to allow the decisions you make hit home. You want to run the 4-3? Well guess what? Now you have to tell us who your primary MLB is going to be in the off-season. You have a 2nd great MLB you want playing? Maybe you better run a 3-4.

You love the 4-3 tampa-2 defense but your MLB is an oversized tank with no coverage skills? Maybe you better run something else this year.

Give greater bonuses to training camp starters vs those who are used out of position to "exploit" the system or those free agents that don't know a thing (yet).

Expand season rust to also include "offensive/defensive philosophy knowledge".

And offense?

You have the best offensive run blocking line in the game? A power RB? And you are running a West Coast offense? Something is wrong. Make people pay for decisions like that in training camp. You picked the West Coast offense. You lineman aren't getting any bonuses (to experience/skill presumably) this year, your QB is only getting bonuses to his short game passing, but that's it.

Encourage people play the style of football they built their rosters to do!

Show off what styles teams are running. FOF needs that "football" relationship.

Also, another thing you could do is give bigger bonuses to styles that are used rarely in relation to the rest of the league. Meaning, eventually we all will "follow the leader" to success. If somebody determines that the West Coast offense is clearly the most impressive, everybody will run the West Coast offense. Make the question of "What offense will everybody run this year?" be a big discussion during the training camp stage.

For example, say that there are 4 styles of offense and the league splits equally between the four. They get the standard training camp bonuses. But if 29 teams choose "West Coast" then their bonuses are severely reduced (not penalized mind you, just reduced) while the teams that picked other styles (smash mouth) get enhanced training camp bonuses.

A lot of this stuff isn't a blueprint to success or what Jim should do, but I did want to explain kind of how I *think* we could bring some football into the wonderful spreadsheet simulation.

The gameplan screens, with the implementation of something like these pre-built templates that we make in the pre-season could remain basically the same.

You have the perfect gameplan, but do you have the right roster to run it perfectly?
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:23 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dutch View Post
So, with that in mind, before you set the sliders on the training camp screen (in 2 minutes or less) and press on by hitting the "Run Training Camp" button, this is a great place to employ new options for the game player and to build your philosophy on both offense and defense.


A screen that should make us decide between the 4-3 and the 3-4. Make us decide how much time we want to spend working on different secondary coverages.

Good thoughts.

I seem to recall there were certain sliders for TC in FOF2001 for such things as 3-4, 4-3 defense and others. Although admittedly, my memory is a little fuzzy there.

And this would of course fit well with an overhaul of the staff portion of the game where coaches had their own philosophies. So if you try something in TC they are not particularly good at, there would be a corresponding effect.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:53 PM   #20
Join Date: Jan 2006
Originally Posted by Subby View Post
I like the idea of giving teams a GM-only option. You get to hire coaches and staff that favor certain styles and you never see a gameplanning screen. This makes coach and staff hiring much more important because schemes are tied to their preferences and not anything you set.

This is exactly what I am looking for in a game.

I love building a roster and playing the role of GM. I would love to be able to set things up and let the game set my game plans based off the coaches I had hired.

It would also be great to see a coach cohesion to go along with this.
Tormaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2008, 07:37 PM   #21
Join Date: Aug 2008
I feel we desperatly need to see much more of what actaully happens on the field of play before anything else is thought about, for instance i'd love to know why my shut down corner got beat by a poor WR, did he slip, mis read the pattern, was it a blown courage, did he get beat for speed etc etc, until i know why something happened how can i change things for the better, how can i become a better gameplanner and understand the game without this knowledge

This has to be the next consideration .
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:41 AM   #22
Poet in Residence
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Charleston, SC
I've been thinking about this issue of managing complexity while playing Civilization 4 again -- it and FOF are the only two games I consistently return to year after year. To my mind, though, Civ 4's major accomplish is in designing a gameplay experience that a) presents a vast array of different, interrelated data in an entertaining, informative, and non-overwhelming way while doing so by b) having a 'guided' set of actions before the player is able to exercise full control.

The genius of the 'guided set of actions' approach is that it creates the famous 'one more turn' effect -- my sense is that the way it is designed offers a useful philosophical model for text sims as well. When the player ends a turn, he watches certain plans resolve (e.g. a granary is built in city A, what do you want to build now?), and when control is given, sets things up again to resolve one or two (or as is generally the case, hours worth of gameplay more) more plans, or engage in combat, before ending the turn again. The guided actions give the player an overview of what is occuring, allows normal, general changes to be made, and then permits the player to change things further. Because of the various automated settings, a casual player is able to control a number of game decisions in a timely, guided manner. If a player wishes to have more (or less) control, the settings can be tweaked, but the immersive technical experience is remarkable effective in keeping a player playing, rather than consulting outside notes or updating spreadsheets.

It seems to me that FOF offers fertile ground for such an addition (to the current elements, such as the e-mail system), as guided elements would reduce a key concern while playing -- how long it can take to process the different general non-match tasks in comparison to playing the matches. Partly that's the point of the game, I suppose, but the experience could be made more enjoyable. Could it be as simple as having e-mails pop up, rather than have to remember to click on several different screens prior to each game?
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:05 AM   #23
High School Varsity
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Oklahoma
Here's an idea I just had that would be really cool and would make game planning much more intuitive: have the game planning screens show the offensive and defensive formations with X's and O's, colorized according to the scout score of the various positions. Have the formations changable with a drop down box. Make it where you can see the appropriate skills for each play call type, for example, to choose the running game strategy have it show the defensive players' run defense colors, and the offensive line's run block colors, and the running back's appropriate color (or composite color). Enable swapping of players on this screen for the various situations (i.e. in defensive game planning, show your goal line defense against their various offensive formations, and allow you to swap in your stronger run defenders for that situation). For offensive game planning, have text boxes located in each of the running lanes to decide how much to run through each lane, which would be much easier to decide with this visualization. For passing offense, have boxes that represent the various distances and of course you can then see the skill level of defensive players in those positions. On defense, show the scouting report's data on this same screen, having color coded boxes indicating the frequency of the opposing team using the various running lanes (when planning your run defense) or passing distances/direction (when planning your pass defense).
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:11 AM   #24
H.S. Freshman Team
Join Date: Jun 2005
one thing we do need is to have access tot he hurry up offense options/settings
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:43 PM   #25
High School Varsity
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Oklahoma
I wanted to post one more comment here (yeah, I'm sure this will be my last) and try to keep this simple. The beauty of FOF is the amount of data and control you have in your gameplanning and franchise developing. Its weakness is the difficulty in using the data as you do your game planning. I think you could add more control to the game if you presented relavent data to the user as they are making the gameplanning decisions, so you don't have to keep going between windows or writing everything down. That's the essence of my last post, but I wanted to just put it in a shorter post.

That's all. For now.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:02 PM   #26
High School Varsity
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Florida
Personally I want information, not control. Since I view this primarily as a GM sim, I'd be fine with letting the coordinators handle everything but putting the roster together and setting the depth chart. However, I do want more information so that I can use that to put together the best team possible.

I think the crux of this is, there needs to be some way for me to infer, if I'm paying enough attention, when someone is playing better than their ratings on the field, and help to diagnose why things went wrong or right. To this end some minor things like player notes and a graph showing your scouts opinion of the player over time could be very useful.

There are some issues with defensive control which I'm sure you'll be addressing whatever you come up with. My main issue there is the way the Nickel/Dime/Goalline are presented as subsets of the 4-3 and 3-4, when they are really separate formations. The whole concept of "4-3 with nickel personnel" makes no sense to me other than as a programming construct, but I don't think you'd ever hear a coach/announcer saying that unless they meant they had a DB substituting for a LB and they were indeed sticking with a flat 4-3, just with an undersized linebacker.
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:29 AM   #27
High School Varsity
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Oklahoma
Another comment I'd like to make on the user interface. I'm going to restate that I think the level of control is probably where it needs to be, it just needs to be more accessible. There was a post here about "pushing" info vs. "pulling" info, which I think hits the nail on the head. In that line, there are a number of things that seem to require "brute force" actions that are tedious but apparently necessary.

Last night we finished the draft at AUFL, and I was adjusting positions in my roster, and hadn't given this much thought before but I changed one of the rookie players' positions and got the message "it is likely that this will increase this players' ratings." Well, suddenly I decided to go through my roster and see how many of the lower-rated players benefit from a position change. This was tedious, required me to open each player, choose the "change position" button, submit the change, and then I am finally presented with the results of the change. I click "no" if I don't like it and have to go through all those steps again to try a different position. This is one of those things that favors GM's who have all the time in the world to do these "brute force" actions, when the effect on the player rating could just as easily be next to the weight information and cut the time required to make the decision exponentially.

Another brute force area is weight training. It seems clear from other threads that you want to get your players' weight optimal (or is it BMI? I think the consensus is weight) - so for the training camp stage you have to go through all 60 players, click on "weight training," descipher what the info actually says, and choose whether to have them gain weight, lose weight, or nothing. This would go much faster if we could have a page that shows our entire roster, their weight info, and a radio button to decide what their weight training should be.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:47 AM   #28
Join Date: Jul 2009
absolute agreement to what dutch posted above and to what jdavidbakr wrote about accessibility of the UI..

I would either like to have more options and control - see below - or more things managed by the AI of the game, per global rules set by the player.

more control would mean:

- control more aspects of the training camp. Train players not as a global team, but as units or even on a "per player" base. If I've got a rookie who lacks endurance he should (and in RL would, I expect..) get some extra time working the weights and running.

- in preparation for a draft I would expect not only to have the - often flawed - impression of my scout about a player and a number of combine results, but also facts like: which system did he play on college.. what were his stats there.. and I would like to have the option to sort through the draftees on a base of personal preferences.. Position, system played in college, certain bar values..
oh, and maybe a bit of push by the scout along the line of "take a closer look at this guy, he might be worth it in our style of play.." would be nice

- in preparation for a game I would like to have a lot more information and control about play situations. Stats for the opponent, like which formation is used most often in certain situations.. which formations do they prefer to run or pass from.. and for me the option to bring on my defense formations not only on a percentage of plays base, but as a reaction to what they see on the field. Right now it makes not much difference if the opponent's offence comes out for a 3rd and 1 in a Goalline Formation or a I with Slot WR. Neither it makes much of a difference if it happens early or late in the game when the score is tied.. but a 3rd and 1 for the opponent with 30 seconds to go in the game on my 10 yard line might need a total different approach than a 3rd and 1 for the opponent after 2 (still tied..) minutes of play at his own 45.. think about risks here..

- more control about how my offense works.. yes, I can set percentages where to run to globally. But isn't there again a small difference between a run at a 3rd and 1 or a 1st and 10? And depending on score, field position and time to play left?

Yes, several of the aspects of control of plays could be done by personally making the calls.. but I don't have time for that. And if I would do all that "micromanagement" on my own, what would I need the coaches for anyway?

less control would mean:

- set up a "style of play" for defense/offense and rules for how to handle special situations. Like: I want you to play a 3/4 with a lot of blitzes. Offense should be run heavy and time grinding, unless we fall back.
We got some of that already, but for a "I just hire the players - the coaches do the rest" approach the AI of the game lacks a bit... fexibility. Players are put into positions not by way of abilities, but by total value.. a WLB in a 3/4 with superb skills in Pass Rush Technique and Strength but mediocre values in all the other skills and a 0 in Special Teams ends as a backup, because there's a player who's total value makes him a little better LB, but worse blitzer. Or in a game against an opponent who favours the run, there would be a LCB in the 1st spot who is great at all pass defense, but his backup, who is a little less skilled there, but a lot better in run defense would stay on the bench.

So, in total I'd say:
More control means more information, too. Less control would mean the games' AI has to be improved.
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