Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
This is a discussion on Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild within the Madden NFL Football forums.
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
The main goal with this post is to illustrate just how much further CFM could be taken and how much more of a deep, engaging, challenging, and authentic experience that could be provided while also maintaining a good amount of the ease and accessibility that is required for new and casual users. If you saw the original post, this will be in the same format except instead of starting from the preseason, this time I will be starting from the point of starting up your CFM all the way through to what would be the next league year.
All pictures are clickable for full-size and if you're not one for the words and just enjoy the mockups, then you can go to this album where the descriptions of each mockup is much shorter.
A start-up option that would allow multiple or 32-team control through the use of only one profile. No more slogging through profiles and horrid UI to monitor team's rosters. Easier said than done but a godsend for any multiple or 32-team franchise player.
Think Xbox/PS2 era control. Basically owner mode without all the (pretty much pointless) financial stuff. Hire/fire coaches and have complete control over all roster management aspects. I think this should actually straight up replace owner mode but that would kind of leave relocation out to dry and I don't want that to be the case.
Play franchise as a coordinator in the NFL and try to work your way to a head coaching job. Playing as a coordinator would focus your gameplay on one side of the ball but would also allow you to play entire games if you so chose. You'd also be in charge of preparing your given unit each week.
Currently the only options are to start at the beginning of the preseason or regular season and I'd like to see this taken a step further. Offer the ability to start in the off-season prior to the current season and allow the user to "alter the NFL's reality" to start your CFM. You could make this as deep or as simple as the user wanted. I'd probably keep it at just the draft but if you were to introduce the free agency mechanic I mention later on then this would be a good opportunity for the user to go through a dry run to learn it as well as immediately improve their roster. And then you could do the whole draft or just the first round as that'd be much quicker and more simple rather than a 'process' or hinderance to starting a new season. Maybe you're a Bears fan who hated the move to go up and take Trubisky. Maybe you're a team in the teens or twenties and wanted Mahomes or Watson to be your QBOTF, this would give you the opportunity to go back and make the move your favorite team wouldn't.
Arcade vs. Simulation & Season Mode/Live CFM
Same idea applies here for CFM as it does for gameplay. When you started your franchise you'd be presented with multiple options of playing using an Arcade, Simulation or Season Mode settings. Each of these settings would default aspects of CFM to a certain setting and give the user the ability to tailor franchise aspects to their liking or, in certain cases, give the user the capability to turn certain parts of CFM off.
This setting would default to having things like the salary cap off as well as trade and negotiation difficulties set to Easy. Other settings such as wear-and-tear stamina and injuries as well as some of the more intricate aspects of franchise mode (RFA, Compensatory Picks, Waiver Wire) would default to off. This would be your freewheeling, fast paced setting that prioritized a more fun experience focused on the short term rather than extended over multiple seasons.
This would be for the hardcore franchise player. Trade and Negotiation difficulties would default to Hard and all intricacies would be included. This would be for the player looking to replicate the day-to-day workings and challenges of running a real NFL franchise.
TSIA. Allows the user to play through a season without having to worry about anything but the games. The most simplistic way to play a season. They could also take this a step further where you could play multiple seasons and still do things like the draft and just have all the scouting done or show full attributes and draft that way. The idea is just to create an even quicker and less meticulous way to play a season.
Play alongside real NFL stats for the entirety of the NFL season. Take over a team or teams and change their reality while the rest of the leagues stats and results mirror the current NFL season.
[Full | Games Only | Off]
The change here would be that Full would allow for injuries during both practice and games. Games only would be the current system and off would obviously be no injuries at all.
Sim Game Injury Slider
This slider would allow you to tune the amount of injuries that happen in simulated games. The CPU usually universly gets hit pretty hard by injuries so allowing that to be something the user controls is beneficial.
Position Injury Slider
Another way to tinker with injuries. This would be similar to XP sliders where the higher you go, the higher a player at that position has a chance to get injured, the lower you go, the less players at that position get injured. Just another way to combat potential imbalances or frustrations within the game.
This would allow you tune the average severity of injuries in your franchise. A lower setting would result in a significantly larger portion of minor injuries (strains, bruises, tweaks, etc.) while a higher setting would result in more injuries resulting in long term injuries (fractures, breaks, tears, etc.).
Adjusts the difficulty of making trades. The more difficult the setting, the more stingy the CPU will be when it comes to making trades. No longer will you be able to acquire the league's best QB for a likely low 1st rounder and a couple of mediocre players.
Free Agency Difficulty
Adjusts the difficulty of free agency. Easy would be basic free agency without much trouble, Normal would make teams a bit more aggressive and players a bit harder to compete for, Hard would make teams very aggressive in going after their players and more willing to outbid teams for players they really wanted. The one thing I really want when it comes to free agency is for it to feel rewarding and challenging and something like this could go a long way in allowing the user to decide how easy or hard they want this part to be.
Adjusts the difficulty of contract negotiations. The more difficult the setting, the more likely players will be to push the limits of their market value when entering contract negotiations as well as the more likely players will be to flat out reject offers.
[Free | Restricted | Strict]
This option would change the way XP was able to be allocated to players within a franchise.
Free - The current system. Allows all attributes to be upgraded freely.
Restricted - Physical attributes are locked from upgrade but all intangible ratings can still be fully upgraded
Strict - Physical attributes are locked from upgrade and intangible ratings are capped based on a players DEV trait.
[On | Off]
This would turn the ridiculous amounts of XP gained as well as the potential upgrade in DEV Trait nonsensically given through weekly and season awards off. Turning this off would eliminate the incentives placed on stat chasing to upgrade players which is something I'm strongly against.
Practice XP Distribution
[Very High | High | Normal | Low | Very Low]
This kind of pairs with the above. If you're going to take away the ability to get large those chunks of XP there needs to be a way to make that back up and this would be a setting to help with that. It would essentially be a modifier for how much XP a player gains from practice. So just as a hypothetical example, Player A earns 100 XP for a given practice. On Very High he'd receive 250, on high he'd receive 200, Low would be 75 and Very Low would be 25 hypothetically. This would just help users dictate how much XP was being distributed through practice and allow them to change it if they felt it was too high or too low.
[Visible | Perceived | Hidden | Progressive]
Visible would be the current system. Perceived would be non-exact ranges. Hidden would be completely hidden. Progressive would be a combination of all three. Essentially there'd be very little info known about younger players and players who haven't played much and as they played and/or spent more time in the league they'd advance through tiers of evaluation where more information about their ratings would become available and a more exact player picture would be painted over time. More on this later.
[Visible | Hidden]
This would allow you to decide whether or not the DEV trait was shown or hidden from you during your CFM. The benefit of this is having the challenge available to not always be fully aware and able to directly pinpoint a players developmental arch.
This is something that doesn't really get touched on very much but that is the overall UI of CFM. Everything is oversized, slow, clunky and just an overall pain to use. The News Feed is still buried and doesn't do a good job of providing relavent information from around your franchise (who cares that I practiced Cover 3 this week, that's not news). Getting information takes moving over tabs and then clicking through screens. It's just overall a very inconvenient experience and this would aim to change that. For this I basically just straight up copied NHL 17's franchise UI and mocked up what it would look like if Madden were to use it.
This would be the main CFM hub. You'd have quick access to virtually every aspect of your CFM from this menu. Standings, roster breakdown, cap space, and upcoming games all on the front page. Also quick access to full standings and stats with the Stats Central tile. And then at the bottom is a CFM ticker that constantly cycles through information relevant to your CFM. Also by pressing the Start/Menu button you'd be able to quickly change teams/owners.
This is the News Hub. Not on the front page but just a click away and also gives you a more intuitive look at stories from around the league. Features two main stories and two side stories. Scrollable Twitter feed along side all stories with talk from around the league. Also features transaction news from around your CFM on the bottom tile. Again, ticker is along the bottom no matter what hub you're on.
Draft News Hub
This is the Draft Hub or Draft News Hub. This would be separate from your NFL news and would be accessible through the Start/Menu button similar to how you would change teams or owners on the main hub. Obviously the actual NCAA screenshots will never happen so this section would look a lot more dull and stupid without them but it is still far better than Madden's current offering. Also included along the bottom bar is relevant information pertaining to the draft with overall draft depth, deepest position, weakest position, and the projected number one overall pick for the upcoming draft and a click of the RS would take you directly to scouting.
Team News Hub
This would be similar to the League News and Draft hub except it would only house stories related to your team. Stories about upcoming and previous weeks games, injury and transaction news, etc. Along the bottom you'd have more team stories directly relevant to your "big decisions."
This is where you'd want to be for any and all roster moves. Big Decisions tile on the right would alert you when certain moves needed to be made or opportunities were available. Each tile has relevant baseline information pertaining to the section it opens (i.e. Scouting>Points Available, Free Agents>Cap Space, etc.). Along the bottom is another quick link to Stats Central and displays your team leaders in passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, and sacks (or INT).
Starting with the preseason, probably the most commonly skipped item in all of CFM and rightly so. I used to play every preseason game back in the Madden 2004 days and even into M12. The problem with the preseason is that somewhere down the line, the already little incentive there was to play them was lost. There isn't many ways to spice up preseason games and I'm not looking to make them anything more than they are which is exhibition games predominantly played by backups.
Choosing Preseason Opponents
This was always one of my favorite things from past Madden's. It's obviously a little thing but would be a colossal improvement over playing the exact same preseason opponents (and often division foes) for the entirety of your franchise. I always used to do things like play the SB champs, the team with the #1 overall pick, try to play in stadiums I liked and against teams that were really active in free agency. Again, nothing huge but something that can incentivize playing preseason in some way. It would be another way to let users play the way they want to rather than being restricted by static opponents or even random ones.
Off-season NFL rosters allow for 90 players while Madden currently allows for only 75. It may not seem like much adding another 15 players to the bottom of your roster but for those that want even more ability to tinker with their roster it gives them that ability while more importantly being authentic to real life. Additional elements that come along with this is an increased free agent pool so that players won't disappear completely from your franchise as well as increased draft class sizes to account for more UDFA's being available.
Multi-Team Depth Charts
I don't know if this would make preseason more fun, so to speak, but I think it would definitely make it more practical and functional. The idea here is that as the user you'd be able to create unique depth charts to represent each "team" that may take the field during a preseason game. So to the example, you can see there's a first team, second team, third team, etc. To go with this, prior to each game you would choose the number of series each team would play before being subbed out. So rather than seeing your starters come out at halftime, or mid-drive at a quarter change like in previous Madden's, as well as obnoxious things like your starting CB's and WR's in on Nickel and 4WR sets, you'd now have full control of who is playing, when they're playing and how long they're playing during each preseason game. This is something that also would work wonderfully with Play The Moment. Say you're still not really interested in playing the preseason, you could hop into a game, play one series with each team while simming everything in between and still get a look at virtually your entire roster in a very minimal amount of time.
Big Decisions - Preseason
This pretty much goes along with the expanded rosters. It wouldn't make sense to add more players for preseason if you didn't get a decent chance to play with them. A recent NFL rule change has eliminated 'cut days' and turned them into one major "Cut Day" after the last preseason game. So that's going from 90 to 53 all at once. Being that it could be quite overwhelming to make that many decisions at once, I'd like to see multiple options for how cutdowns work with a few different choices of four-stage (weekly), two-stage (after weeks 3 and 4), and then one-stage which would be the authentic rules.
Position Coach Cut Suggestions
I'll get to the coaching staff later but this is something aimed at both helping the user as well as incorporating tangible effects of your hired coaching staff. The better a position coach is, the better he is at identifying and ranking players according to their value. Green circles indicate players the position coach recommends keeping while red X's would signify players that he suggests be cut. This would help make the task of cutting so many players a bit less overwhelming as well as providing a tangible risk/reward to your coaching staff.
This isn't exclusively a preseason item but this would be the first place you'd encounter it. This is something that in preseason can be quite an overwhelming experience as there will there can be a very large number of players available for claim. What I'd suggest for the preseason is that immediately following Cut Day you're presented with something similar to a View Roster screen with all the players cut from other teams all in one place and sortable by position with a checkbox so that you could easily see any players you may potentially want to claim.
Another way to help alleviate this is to allow you to search or sort for a certain criteria of player available and narrow the field to those 'targets.' So maybe you're in need of a KR you can scan the waiver wire for players with only, say, 85+ KR rating and go from there. Players claimed in this portion go directly to the 53-man roster and once this event has passed, you can then move on to adding players to your Practice Squad. Claiming priority throughout all of the off-season and preseason would be the same as the draft order from the most recent draft.
And once again you'll notice in the screenshot the green circle and red X signifying that your position coach is either recommending or discouraging you to claim a player which could also be another search criteria to limit the sheer overload of players.
Practice Squad & Accrued Seasons
Pretty straightforward. Only thing here is changing the eligibility rules (and more so how seasons are accrued in-game) to accurately represent real life. Rules allow for 10 players on the practice squad with four of those players allowed to have up to two years of accrued service. Currently if a player spends an entire year on free agency, he accrues a season played and a full year of service when he really shouldn't. An accrued season is any season that a player is on a team’s roster (both active and inactive), Injured Reserve or Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for more than six games. Simple enough.
Active/Reserve Physically Unable to Perform List (PUP List)
This is a smaller thing but affects roster management early on in your season. It would become a more prominent tool if it allowed you to place players injured in preseason on it but that also goes against its intentions and authenticity. However if they added a few weeks of Gameplanning prior to preseason to represent Training Camp and then tuned more serious injuries to have a longer recovery time then this would become a much more important factor in roster management early on in your season.
How the PUP List works is that the Active PUP is used exclusively during the preseason for the players that are unable to practice at the start of training camp. They are still counted as part of the 90-man roster and are available to practice at any time once medically cleared. However, once a player either practices or returns to practice they are no longer eligible for any form of the PUP list.
If a player ends preseason and is still on the Active PUP List they're automatically transferred to the Reserve PUP List. These players don't count towards the 53-man roster but along with this designation comes the requirement that the player is inactive from both games and practice for the first six weeks of the season. Upon the end of those six weeks teams have another six week window in which the player can return to practice. If the player returns to practice the team has three weeks from that day to either activate the player, release him, or place him on season-ending IR. If at the end of that six-week window the player has still not returned to practice he must then either be released or moved to season-ending IR.
On to the regular season. I think that I may have a different view of how I'd like regular season to play out than others. I would personally prefer to leave a good amount of the off-season roster management type stuff like re-signings to the off-season and have the regular season majorly focus on playing games. I'm not completely aversed to it, it just has to be interesting enough and have enough of a tangible effect to make it feel worthwhile. And the issue without having those things is that the games have to make you feel like you're actually progressing through a living season and not just playing a series of consecutive Play Now games. To accomplish this I'm going to try to achieve the best of both worlds where you feel in charge of your franchise outside of the game and like you're in a living one while playing the game.
Game Prep (Gameplanning)
Mostly the same as setting up a practice in M17 where you choose an offensive focus and defensive focus but with one key change in shifting focus players into a position group focus for the week and one key addition in the form of practice intensity.
High intensity practices are more physical and create a greater risk-reward for you team in terms of both XP gain and gameday boosts. Players who have good practices will see greater boosts for the current week while players who have poor practices during a week of high intensity practices will be subject to harsher reductions. Also, high intensity practices come with a greater risk of injury as well as potential gameday hits to stamina and injury ratings. Save these practices to try and break a losing streak or for the biggest games on your schedule. Use wisely.
Standard practice intensity. Standard everything across the board. XP gain and gameday boosts are standard. No additional injury risk. Your ordinary practice
Low intensity practices are the lightest practices and come with the lowest potential XP gain and gameday boosts as well as the lowest injury risk but also carries the possibility of seeing harsher penalties to emulate players not being prepared for the ferocity of gameday. Limit these practices to points in your season where your team is beat up as well as short weeks where making sure your team is as fresh as possible is imperative.
First things first, showing a few of the key players on both sides of the ball that you need to watch out for and potentially game plan around. You could also take this into gameplay by placing a star icon under these players so you know where they are at all times.
This is more of an aesthetic thing but I always enjoyed in the older Maddens the ability to click the right stick and get a matchup breakdown that showed both teams stats and where they (and you) ranked in the league and this is a good place to do it. As it currently stands you only get a couple rankings and I'd like to see this expanded to showing YPG (total, rushing, passing) for both sides of the ball along with where they rank in the league. You could also throw in a couple extra stats like sacks and INT as well. This is also something that easily keeps the user aware of things going on in their league without really having to look for it which is always a big plus for immersion IMO.
This is another aspect I'd like to see represented and that's knowing how often the opponent uses certain personnel and lines up in certain formations. The formations isn't nearly as important but knowing the likelihood of the personnel grouping you'll see greatly aids in preparing for an opponent. At the very least it gives you an idea of what to be prepared for. In addition to showing how often personnel packages and formations were used, there would also be run/pass ratios attached to them. You could go even further and break it down again by down and distance but I think that would admittedly be a quite a bit of information to handle. The idea would just be to give you more general knowledge of how the opponent plays and what you can expect. Alternatively you could show how the opponents defense reacts to certain personnel as well showing their counter personnel as well as man/zone percentages and blitz percentages given the personnel they're facing. However in this mock up, I just followed the offensive format and showed how often the defense uses certain personnel and what they tend to do out of each.
Going to stick to the topic of tendency tracking first because I feel it's the most important aspect of Gameplanning as well as what needs the most work. For those unaware tendency tracking in M17 was pretty much useless. For online users the data tracked was only first down plays from the previous game. For AI teams the data shown was completely made up as well as static regardless of coach or personnel. So as an offline user the numbers you saw for the Chargers or any other team would be the same in 2045 as they were in 2016.
Now tendency tracking isn't something that is overly complicated to understand and with suggestions already in place there's really no reason for it to be as shallow as it is. The goal should be to provide the user with a detailed look at what their opponent has done so that they can be prepared as well as formulate a gameplan to attack and defend their opponent.
Down & Distance
This is the obvious one. Expand the tendency tracking to represent the full spectrum of situations to include 2nd/3rd & long, medium, and short as well as additional scenarios like Red Zone, Goal Line, and an overall run/pass ratio. This would provide a much better picture of your opponent and would prepare you for your game in far greater detail. Now this may seem like a bit of a overload but I'd imagine this is exactly what kind of information that someone in an online franchise would love to have.
This would also be a very simple visual aid to show the user certain tendencies that their opponent may have. Have a chart showing the percentage of runs that go left, right, up the middle, etc. You could expand this to outside left, inside left, middle, inside right and outside right but that wouldn't be essential to the purpose. You could throw in YPC averages into each slot as well to show how effective your opponent is at running in each direction. Also show a "spray chart" of pass tendencies that shows the direction and distance in which passes go. You could also have things like target and carry distribution and little nuance stats that just give you that much more information about your opponent. Same things would be shown for the defense where you'd see where they are the best and weakest at stopping opposing offenses.
Only improvement here would just be expanding the concepts to more than three that are currently shown on the offensive side. Show percentages for all the concepts that an opponent runs for both runs and passes. This isn't something that really needs to be broken down by down or distance and I think a simple percentage for each side would suffice. This would be something more expanded for the defensive side of things where it could provide man/zone percentages as well as blitz percentages and even blitz tendencies as well.
This would just be an ease-of-use addition. Rather than having to go to the injury report and scan through a bunch of teams to see what your opponents situation was, it'd be made readily available at on the teams game prep report
Pretty much the same thing here. This would show you something similar to your injury report but it would illustrate who wasn't practicing that week, who was limited and what players would be full participants which would all play into XP gain, gameday boosts, etc.
So having all of this info for your opponent is great but I think it is equally important to have all of this information tracked and easily visible to the user as well. It might just seem like something for the stat nerds but the way I look at it is that it's also an easy way to identify and be aware of your own playstyle and tendencies. This benefits users in two ways: it shows them their potential strengths and weaknesses from a gameplay and philosophy standpoint as well as showing what portions of their roster they could stand to improve to help bolster those strengths and tighten up any weaknesses.
The Solo Struggle
Now I haven't mentioned how any of this would work with the CPU and I'm not sure there's any pretty way to go about tracking stuff for nothing but simulated games. But earlier in the OP I talked about Dynamic Gameplans and what they could bring to CFM in regards to CPU playcalling and I believe it's something that could also work together very well into Gameplanning for the solo CFM or offline player. When you're playing another user, there's hard data based on actual games to base it off of. With the CPU all you really have is the sim stats but fortunately for a lot of what I've described above it can easily be manufactured simply by using the Gameplan Playbooks. The playbooks show how likely a team is to run vs. pass, run a certain direction or use a certain concept so most of the data would already be provided by the playbook itself. And not only is this data actually usable but it is far more relevant on a week-to-week basis which is something this feature completely lacks for the offline crowd. Obviously something like Dynamic Gameplans would be a full fledged feature but even with the base feature that is currently implemented it would still work just fine. Ratios and other stats could be directly pulled and provide the user with reliable data for every game rather than just fabricating it and having it be completely static.
Not a game! Not a game! We talkin' bout Practice! As someone who would rather do literally anything else within Madden than practice, it's good that there is the ability to sim practice but locking it behind having to do a drill first is a huge mistake IMO. You can sim practice without playing but it also comes at the expense of having your team progress at the slowest pace possible which I don't feel like is a reasonable trade off. To the other side if you get a couple drills Gold you're automatically locked into the best possible progression for an entire season without doing much at all. I understand this was done with Online CFM's in mind but I still think it is a poor design decision. In the end it's extremely monotonous and feels more intrusive than anything and having it be what essentially dictates the level of development for an entire unit of players is a poor choice IMO. I'm fine with keeping it as it is so that it can continue being a teaching tool for less experienced users but there needs to be some more options to make it a better and more well rounded experience. For me personally, I don't think you should be required to ever play practice or penalized for not wanting to do so.
Position Group Restrictions
This is something I'd like to see removed and that's restricting development to certain position groups every week. If that means that you have to reduce the amount of XP given on a per week basis then that's fine but I don't like that each week it can only be certain units and the rest of your team gets no credit for practicing. It should just be offense and defense and everyone should be eligible for some sort of gain. You can still use the current system to an extent where maybe those position groups are "emphasis groups" and get potentially a slight boost for everyone in that unit but everybody practices and that should be rewarded as such. And having the emphasis groups could be a nice way of expanding the "focus players" that it's more of team oriented focus rather than individual.
I do like the idea of players earning medals in practice. It emulates and can accurately depict a player having a good or bad week of practice which definitely is a good thing. However their implementation is quite basic and shallow. You earn a gold and the whole unit earns a gold. You earn a bronze, the whole unit earns a bronze. I'd like to see medals distributed individually to players rather than just allowing for one all encompassing medal for the unit. Now, this obviously presents a problem for those that do play practice and feel if they earn a gold, everyone should earn a gold and I'm not entirely sure how that can be handled. The idea I'd propose is having two options for practice (Manual & Auto), similar to progressing players where if you're on Manual you play practice and your players get the medal they get and then there's Auto where you can sim practice and each player gets a random medal largely based on a combination of morale, DEV trait, coaching staff, etc.
Definitely not a fan of how these worked in M17 but I think they can still have a place in CFM and add an interesting dynamic to matchups and even presentation. So under the system I've laid out, rather than having specific position groups (LB's, QB's, etc.) getting those boosts, it'd be expanded to specific players. So a player that earns gold will receive a very slight ratings boost (for the whole game, not just certain concepts) for that given week but if you only earn a bronze then it is considered a bad week of practice and those players see a slight reduction in certain attributes. Maybe a CB loses a couple points in MCV or PRC for the week due to a poor week at practice. Maybe an OL receives a couple point boost in RBK and PBK for the next weeks game because of a good week of practice. It would change week-to-week adding a new dynamic to certain matchups like a WR-CB matchup where both players had a great week of practice or maybe a T-EDGE match-up where a one had a bad week and the other a good. This also presents a great opportunity for commentary lines mentioning how coaches raved about his week at practice or how a player struggled through the week.
The idea here is that based on a players morale they will progress differently based on their morale. The main goal being an increased emphasis put on maintaining a happier and more cohesive roster. How this would work would be that tied to each players DEV trait would also be a happiness modifier. For example, there'd essentially be Superstar-Happy, Superstar-Neutral, Superstar-Unhappy instead of just Superstar or any other DEV level. A happy player would receive a slight boost in the amount of XP earned while neutral would be normal and an unhappy would result in a slight reduction in the amount of XP earned. So hypothetically, a happy player with Quick DEV could be actually progress better than an unhappy player with SS DEV.
This could be taken a step further where you have five tiers of Very Happy, Happy, Neutral, Unhappy, and Very Unhappy but I think the main goal is still accomplished with just the three tiers. Something like this puts an emphasis on keeping players happy and maintaining that happiness to get the most out of them. Knowing that offering a contract or making a transaction could have a drastic impact on both a players (or multiple players) happiness or ability to progress adds an interesting dynamic to making every roster move.
Having injuries available in practice would be nice. Adds a bit more risk/reward in a couple of different facets. On one hand you risk any player at anytime getting injured which is something we see every year (hey Dante Fowler and Teddy Bridgewater). Having that risk of a player getting injured during practice and missing that weeks game or (far less likely) the season is something that adds some dynamism while placing a greater emphasis and priority on roster management as well. And secondly, it could propose a new "big decision" where you're faced with the proposition of practicing an injured player and risking further injury or the chance he misses the upcoming game or sitting him and sacrificing development time for health while a player lower on the depth chart gets their reps.
Other Game Prep Ideas
Practice Makes Perfect - Progress What You Practice
This is an additional idea I had for practice but it is quite a bit more restricting although, in my mind, it makes a bit more sense. This would be something that would be better paired with the 'Strict' XP allocation setting that I mentioned and how it would work is just like it sounds -- progress what you practice. The idea here is that whatever you practice dictates what you earn towards progression. Practicing Cover 3? Your DB's earn XP towards ZCV and PRC while DL earn XP towards FMV and PMV, etc. Practicing Read Option? BCV and AWR for the RB, RBK for WR, OL, TE. This is something that could definitely fit into the scope of what is already there with practicing concepts and even more so if the amount of available practice scenarios was expanded. Obvious this is a bit more restricting as you wouldn't be able to practice Cover 3 or anything else to boost a players SPD or other physical attributes but I also feel as though it would be more strategic.
To add to that, I mentioned that this is something that would work better paired with the strict XP allocation that I mentioned but it is also something that could work in itself as an automated progression system. Because what you practiced would allocate XP to specific attributes, there would be no need for the user to have to upgrade their players. once a player reached the amount of XP available it would automatically upgrade because the XP earned there wouldn't be allowed to be spent anywhere else. Additionally, if players had something like a career cap on certain attributes that essentially dictated their peak potential, it would add another element of strategy into what you're practicing especially if paired with masked ratings.
Just as a quick (and likely poor) example, let's say you draft two CB's that both have 75 for MCV. Player A has slow DEV with a MCV cap of 85 while Player B has normal and a MCV cap of 95. You pump a ton of practice hours into MCV and both players start going up and after a couple seasons Player A has reached his 85 MCV cap while Player B has progressed a bit quicker and is up to 88. Now as you continue to practice MCV, Player B still has the possibility of going up because his cap hasn't been reached. However for Player A his rating is stuck at 85 until he begins to regress but the rating shown still acts as if his cap is 99 and his attributes are continuing to grow until he starts to regress. So if you continued to practice MCV, at the end of the season maybe Player B is a 93 and it is a "true" 93 because he hasn't reached his peak yet while Player A might display as an 88 now because of the time put in but on the surface he's really still that 85. And as he regresses his "true" rating and his perceived rating might always be slightly different.
Obviously this isn't a fully fleshed idea but just something I'd been thinking about and wanted to add. There's a lot of different ways you could take it but it's not nearly as "fun" or user friendly as the other options obviously.
This could be something to add a little bit of uniqueness to players with Superstar DEV and that's something like Platinum Medals available to them for Gameplanning. They'd be more rare but would give a player a chance at earning a bit more than usual in a given week. You could have this tied into something like all the necessary factors being in line with each other where a player is Superstar DEV, has a good coach, is healthy, etc. Just an idea to throw an added element into the fire.
The GamePlan function is one of the most underutilized features in all of Madden. It's original premise was to reduce play time by giving the user the ability to have a "coordinator" call plays for them based on the scenario. This turned out to not have much of an impact but the implementation ended up giving us access and control over one thing that had always been more or less a mystery and that's CPU playcalling. Now when it comes to a User v. CPU franchise this is HUGE. Simply taking the tools that are already present and modifying the existing playbooks would make teams playcalling miles better and more exciting than it currently is but the issue comes with playing over several seasons this could become stale and repetitive. I'm aiming to take the current GamePlan function a step further so that as you play more seasons you get a real sense of teams adapting and changing with their coaches and players.
If you're not familiar how GamePlan works it's essentially a star system for plays in a given scenario (1st & 10, 3rd & long, etc.) that determines which plays are called. The higher the star rating, the greater the chance that play is called in a given scenario. Most teams playbooks consist of about 20 plays per scenario and for the most part most plays are rated at two and a half out of five stars. The first issue is that the playbooks don't take nearly enough of their playbook into consideration in these scenarios. You'll see plays like Curl Flats, Slants, Corner Strike, and Four Verticals prominent in just about every teams playbooks taking up multiple spots in multiple scenarios which plays a part in teams playing so similar. So the first step to this is to make sure each team is utilizing as much of their playbook as possible for each given scenario when possible. Now, that doesn't mean making all of their running plays available in 3rd & long scenarios, it just means applying more of the playbook to scenarios where those plays fit in so as to further diversify playcalling.
Now to the dynamic part. The idea I have is attaching star boosts/reductions to certain plays/concepts within a teams playbook based on player ratings, coach tendencies, and team performance.
A few examples:
I think you probably get the gist. The main idea is to giving teams the ability to adapt their playcalling on the fly to fit their rosters strengths and weaknesses rather than simply relying on their base playbook. If a team like Pittsburgh loses Big Ben they shouldn't be running the same air it out offense with Landry Jones or any other scrub QB. If a team like Carolina loses Cam Newton they shouldn't be running QB Powers with someone like Derek Anderson. This could be something that has a hugely positive effect on how teams play and really give you the feeling that the teams you're playing are alive and always evolving and adapting to injuries and the moves they make in the draft and free agency.
Now, obviously player attributes shouldn't be the lone factor in determining how a team calls their plays. Every coach/coordinator has their own preference and style when it comes to playcalling as well so that should also play a role in how this works. So apply the same logic as you would with the player ratings for coaches (and coordinators but more on that later). Instead of having star boosts based on ratings, essentially create a philosophy or personality trait for each coach where each concept is either neutral, boosted, or reduced. So a coach like Mike Martz would have traits that call for a boost in passing plays while a coach that loves to pound the rock would have boosts for running plays. These would work together with the player ratings to create a unique star system for every team that would adapt and change over time and make teams truly feel unique as you progressed through a CFM. Another big part of this would be the ability to create unique fictional personalities that enter your CFM and provide something new and exciting to the franchise.
And for the last part of this, team performance and personnel. This is something that would more appopriately tied to the Gameplanning/Game Prep side of things but I'll talk about it here and how this is where things could become really interesting. What I'd do is similar to what is set up now except maybe expand it to two or three concepts on offense and defense and have those based on an opposing teams tendencies as well as strengths and weaknesses. What would factor in this is ratings as well as team performance. So let's say your team is ranked in the low-20's against the run and you've been getting gashed up the middle or you have poor to average DT's. I'd like to see the CPU prioritize inside runs and runs in general in their gameplan to attack your weakness. The big change I would make to Gameplanning is that instead of having the attribute boost be based on this, I'd follow the format of star increases and apply that to inside runs in this scenario so that they're called more against you so you really get a sense that teams are trying to attack your weaknesses. Alternatively, each week you'd be faced with the decision to either try and spend more time focusing on trying to attack the other teams weaknesses and strengths or spending time trying to compensate for your own weaknesses. I want there to really be a sense of teams attacking your weaknesses and playing to their strengths and having that chess match feeling while prepping and playing.
Team Chemistry/Player Morale
This is something that would essentially replace Confidence. I haven't been much a fan of Confidence and the issues with Drive Goals pretty much sealed its fate for me. I don't like the attribute boosts or reductions as it is and especially so when they're predominantly based on stuff like wins and goals. So what I'd do is replace it with a Player Morale system similar to The Show which directly correlates to overall Team Chemistry. Each player's happiness could vary from very unhappy, unhappy, neutral, happy, and very happy. It would be based on a number of factors including contract status, player role, playing time, production, and team record. It could play a role in contract negotiations, performance on the field and during practice, as well as potentially affecting other players and bringing team morale down if he is very unhappy.
Big Decisions - Regular Season
This is the other big one when it comes to week-to-week type things. I'm glad they finally did something about injuries in M17 but I'm not exactly fond of how they did it. Giving XP boosts for opting to start backups and the static nature of how injuries are handled doesn't make much sense to me and isn't something I'm a fan of. A few things here:
More Injury Variety
More sprains, strains, bruises, contusions and just overall more variety. Injuries like broken collarbones are far too common and I don't feel as if there as many of those nagging and intermediate injuries as there should be. I also feel like there should be a good number of injuries available to each body part (hands, shoulders, feet, etc.) to go along with the expanded injury ratings that I'll talk about later.
Wear-and-Tear/Season Stamina Effect
This is one of the biggest things that I think would help convey a feeling of progressing through a season although maybe in a less noticeable fashion. Think something similar to Fight Night, UFC or MVP Baseball. The idea being that each player has a Season Stamina that is separate but also coincides with game stamina. The goal is to create something that represents the wear and tear of an NFL season while providing an effect on gameplay based on what happens over the course of each game and throughout the season.
I'll try to describe this as simple as I can using an RB as an example. Week One and your RB starts at 100% and receives 40 carries in the first game. After the game his season stamina falls to something in like the 60's or 70's and starts to regenerate based on how many days before the teams next game. By the time you reach the game he should be back to around the high 90's where as if he only had 20 or so carries or didn't take many hits he'd likely make it back to 100%. Over the course of the season it becomes harder to get back to that 100% threshold and the max that a player can get back to can begin to drop. The affect this would have is that the further the player falls in Season Stamina, the more it could start to affect certain attributes. So let's say you're going into the postseason with your workhorse running back and he's only at 80-85% maybe that takes a couple points off his injury and stamina rating so he fatigues quicker in-game and is at a little bit higher of an injury risk. The lower you go the more attributes that become affected and physical attributes start to become minorly affected as well. Also to clarify, this wouldn't be something that would mean if your player was at 85% that he would have 85% stamina when you started the game. He would have 100% per normal but he may fatigue faster than normal if the situation calls for it. This is also something that could have a great affect on older players where as they age their recovery period takes longer and they begin to wear down faster which can create a lot of interesting roster dynamics.
This would be something that would emulate the grind of an NFL season as well as helping represent things like short weeks for Thursday night games and/or teams fresh off of a bye. It would also present the user with roster management decisions when it comes to maybe resting players for the playoffs or in blowouts. For those that don't want to have to deal with or manage around this, put in an On/Off "Fatigue Effect" option to disable it.
Expanded Injury Ratings
One, all-encompasing injury rating is extremely antiquated and doesn't do a good job of giving players any sort of identity when it comes to their injury profile. This would look to change that. I really like what 2K does with their injury system and I think it's something that would carry over well to Madden. Assign a Injury/Durability rating to each major body part like the head, arms, knees, feet, and back. You could get a bit more intricate and have INJ ratings for both left and right sides but I don't think that would be necessary. These ratings would determine how likely a player would be to injure that part of their body. In addition, certain injuries would drop the durability rating for that body part and repeated injuries would increase those effects (i.e. repeated torn ACL's). This also adds an interesting element to scouting players with questionable medical grades.
This is the big one for me and kind of goes along with Injury Variety. Like I said before, I like that they did something with injuries but I'm not a fan of how they've done it. I don't like the idea that it's always 2 weeks before a player is scheduled to be back that you have the option to play him. This isn't dynamic or realistic and takes nearly all of intrigue away from dealing with injuries. Here's what I would propose as an injury timeline:
This one goes along side the last two. Allow players to accumulate more than just one injury. If they're playing through a sprained knee make it possible for them to suffer another injury like a sprained ankle or broken finger. Players suffering through multiple injuries could see ratings reductions in multiple areas because of those injuries and make a rating like Toughness play a greater role in the game. It would also make things a bit more dynamic on the injury front.
More severe injuries should also come with a higher chance of a reduction in DEV trait. Injuries derail a players career all the time and I'd like to see that become more of a factor. It would also make drafting players with medical issues more of a risk. I think there should be two main aspects of a players injury history that can affect his DEV trait. One is a devastating injury. Serious knee injuries or breaks should be more likely to have an influence on a DEV trait degrading due to injury. The other is a cumulative injury effect. The more injuries a player suffers the more likely he becomes each time to drop.
This is something the game currently does but it's limited to players with expiring deals in the upcoming off-season so it's more of just re-signing rather than extending. I'd like to see this expanded to included certain players with two (or even more) years left as well. This would be reserved for your more high end players and players who were greatly outperforming their current contracts. Think of similar situations to Russell Wilson where a rookie comes in and is majorly successful on their rookie contract and is looking for the big bucks sooner rather than waiting until their contract year. It pushes you to be more cap and roster conscious and as well as plays a developing role in player morale with contract negotiations.
This would be far more convenient than the preseason just because there wouldn't be the sheer overload of players available to claim on a week-to-week basis. The process remains very simple though. Claim priority through the first three weeks of the regular season works the same as the preseason with the most recent draft order being used. After the third week, the priority list defaults to worst to first based on the current season's records. Players released with four or fewer seasons are subject to waivers and every player regardless of credited seasons is subject to waivers if released after the trade deadline.
This is one of the more important areas IMO when it comes to making you feel like you're part of a living world and not playing a series of Play Now games. It's one thing to make you feel like you're building a team and playing a franchise outside of the game, it's a completely separate and equally important thing to be able to do that while actually playing the games. I'll touch on a few things here, in-game and out, that I think CFM would greatly benefit from when it comes to immersion.
Link for Mobile
So this is something you first saw above in the UI changes. M17 finally brought back the in-game score ticker which is nice and something I've advocated for several years is bringing the same things that the in-game ticker brings, and more, to the main menu of CFM. Like I mentioned, one of the biggest flaws with CFM are the painfully slow menus paired with the need to sift through multiple menus to get to the information you want. The CFM ticker would aim to help aid in this.
Make use of the ticker that scrolls along the bottom when in you're in your CFM and use it to scroll through things like weekly scores and stats, upcoming weekly schedule, stat leaders, team stats, awards, transactions, injuries, etc. No matter what menu or area of CFM you're in, the ticker will continously scroll relevant information from around your franchise across the bottom of the screen so you can always keep abreast of what is happening within your CFM world. Allow the user to tailor their ticker to the information that they want to see by allowing them to check/uncheck everything that is displayed on the ticker.
Another caveat to the ticker could be the ability to have everything within it available to the user at the click of a button. The idea I have is basically assigning something like the left thumbstick click to the ticker and expand whatever the ticker is currently scrolling through. A couple of examples:
Clicking while on a score would expand to show all of the scores from that given week:
Alternatively expanding when on a game from the current week it would show the week's schedule:
From this you could choose a game and view the matchup preview for the given game:
Expanding on a score scrolling through game stats would bring up that games box score:
Expanding on a transaction would show the latest transactions:
Multiple Broadcast Packages
This is also something I've been advocating for several years when it comes to CFM. CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network all have their own unique looks when it comes to your average Sunday game or the SNF, MNF, and TNF primetime games. This is something that other games have done and I would like to see Madden try to emulate as well. Now whenever I've thought of this, I've always thought of having several very different and unique styles and looks for each type of game and that's what you'll see here but recently I've come around more on the idea of having multiple variations of the same kind of style. For this though I mocked up each broadcasts overlays and gave them an EA Sports spin and IMO this would be an absolute game changer from a presentation standpoint.
And a few things that could be done with this to make the broadcast feel a bit more immersive:
Always use In-Game Assets
Link For Mobile
No matter what it is. The QB intros look nice but the real video kind of kills it IMO. So here I've replaced the real life video with in-game clips as well as the QB spotlight from Madden 15. When you do this it creates a much more cohesive package where presentation elements are working with each other rather than against each other.
In-Game Lookbacks and Lookaheads
This is something minor but that I think would be pretty cool and add a lot to presentation. A few years back Nantz and Simms would comment on division matchups the second time around and how the first game played out but there was no specificity to it and it was extremely canned, generic and repetitive. This is something that could help with that by showing a limited box score of the previous meeting and could be used for divisional matchups as well as potential playoff rematches the next season or regular season rematches in the playoffs. Another similar overlay could be a pop-up showing the head-to-head series between two teams and the last few scores from the matchup.
The lookaheads would resemble what a TV broadcast does. For morning games they could show the games coming up in the afternoon. Afternoon games could show next weeks schedule of games or for the game later that night. For TNF, SNF, and MNF they'd show an overlay of next week's game on their respective broadcast.
Stat Banner References
Another small thing that just adds the immersive nature of playing through a season of CFM. They've tried something similar when it comes to showing current games stats versus last weeks stats which is nice but it was a bit buggy and extremely forced when it came to commentary. I'd like to see them blow this out but have it be more of a subtle thing in regards to commentary. I think it'd be cool seeing an opponents in-game stats and then have it show that he had a big or poor game last week similar to the screenshot. Also showing stats from the last meeting if you're playing a division opponent and things like that. You could also tune this to show compiled season stats if it's early in the game. They don't need to be limited to players and could be used to show anything team related like scoring by quarter on the season and things like that.
I like what the score ticker does and I like what NCAA was able to accomplish with their in-game updates but the one thing that neither of them do is give you a quick, complete look at your leagues action in one fell swoop. What I'd like to see is something like this where a couple times a game they take a second to show you the progress of each game in the league. You could add a little bit by highlighting the "Game of the Week" or highlighting divisional games within this so you can easily see what the whole league is doing as well as be notified of information directly relevant to your season. I'm not a huge fan of halftime shows so this could be something that pops up as well at the end of your game highlights to give you another quick update. This could also work with NCAA style gamebreaks but the one thing I'd worry about is creating too many breaks in gameplay although something like this could easily be remedied by frequency options.
As mentioned before something that is very important is ramping up the feel and atmosphere of playoff games to be something more than the average game. If you make every game have that "rock concert" feeling that they're trying to sell then the games that actually need to have that kind of intensity lose some of their vigor. I won't really get into atmosphere but that is something that also needs a lot of attention when it comes to separating itself when it comes to playoff games. But as to the example here, I'd like to see more stat overlays that reflect season numbers as well as broadcast overlays that let you know you're in the playoffs. It needs to be more than just playoff screen wipes. Throw in some things like special camera angles and replays that are unique to the postseason and playoff games start to feel a bit more special.
This is another thing that gets buried within the menus that I'd like to bring to the front end just to keep the user more in tune with what's happening around their league. Especially when you consider how much winning one of these awards can change a players future. The idea is that there would be a stage somewhere following the end of the regular season where the user could cycle through the yearly awards and get a look at the players stats that earned them their honors. It's a small thing but winning awards should be celebrated and this would be a nice touch to keep users aware of the big awards without them being buried in menus or limited to the newsfeed.
On to the lifeblood of any franchise mode IMO, the off-season. If that first sentence didn't tell you, the off-season is probably my favorite part of playing a franchise. There have been a few things you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned too much of yet like XP, Goals, and Scouting which have been more regular season things but I'll get to those and how I think they should be handled here.
Big Decisions - Off-season
This is not something represented in Madden and another thing I would like to see. Whether it's an aging veteran or an underperforming money maker it'd be nice to have the option available to try and restructure contracts to create cap space. I'd have it be something that you can trigger through a player's player card and you basically get a response of either the player being willing to renegotiate or a firm hold on the player not being willing to do so. This plays perfectly into a player morale system. My thinking is that both would result in a morale hit for the player but a rejection to renegotiate would also likely result in a much stronger player happiness hit. You could also have "team players" occassionally come to you with offers to renegotiate although these instances would obviously be more rare as the onus should be on you to be making these decisions the majority of the time. This is something that could be handled through Big Decisions where you're made aware of the players with the biggest cap hit and future cap hits and then decide whether or not a restructure is in the best interest of their team.
This only applies to first round draft picks but seems like it would be perfect fit for Big Decisions. If you're unaware, all first round draft picks have fifth-year team options built into their rookie contracts. What this means is that after four seasons the team has the option to either retain the player for a fifth and final year or decline the option and allow the player to test free agency. This adds a certain dynamic to the draft in whether or not to trade into or out of the first round as well as an additional element to roster management that is currently unaccounted for.
Restricted & Exclusive-Rights Free Agents
Lumped these together because they would both involve tendering players but RFA's can also be snagged away by other teams. Not much to say here as this should honestly be standard for an NFL franchise mode. RFA's are free agents with three accrued seasons and can be tendered through four different means: first-round tender, second-round tender, original-round tender, and right of first refusal tender. ERFA are free agents with one or two accrued seasons and they can only be signed by their original team provided they are tendered.
Transition & Non-Exclusive Tags
Madden only currently offers the exclusive franchise tag to be applied to players while the real NFL also features the non-exclusive franchise tag as well as the transition tag. Teams can only apply one of these options to one player in a given year. A non-exclusive franchise tag is very similar to its exclusive counterpart except it allows other teams to negotiate with the player and sign them to an offer sheet. The original team gets the opportunity to match the offer or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
The transitional tag works a bit differently as the amount of salary is the average of the top 10 salaries at their postion rather than top five. Similar to the non-exclusive tag, players can negotiate with other teams and sign them to an offer sheet. Again, the orignal team has the opportunity to match the contract however if they refuse, under this tag designation they will receive no compensation.
I talked about the menus and UI before and one thing I'd like to see when it comes to the off-season is a centralized hub/checklist that takes you through each stage of the off-season. This is something that was done in the older Madden's and is much easier and convenient to navigate. You can see above each stage of the off-season I will be going through.
Nothing really to add here but I'd definitely change how the user is notified of retirements. They don't need to be buried or clutter up the transaction log and the news feed will never be able to keep up with them all so I'd do something similar to the way they used to be and what I suggested for the waiver wire. Just make this the first stage of the off-season and take the user to a View Roster type screen where all retirements can be seen in one place and sortable by all teams and positions. Quick, easy, and out of the way.
This is a big one. There absolutely needs to be some kind of representation of a full coaching staff. We had coordinators over ten years ago and the fact that there has been no progress on that front is extremely disappointing from an organization building standpoint.
First things first, the actual staff. Your coaching staff would be comprised of a HC, OC-DC-ST, QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, DB, and S&C coaches. It'd be nice if they could get all the real coaches but not completely necessary. The more real coaches the better but authentic OC's and DC's with ficitonal position coaches or just entirely fictional staffs while not ideal would be perfectly fine. The biggest key is just making sure they're present and that they have a tangible effect on your team so that their presence is worthwhile.
Similar to the DEV trait for players this would determine how well a coach progresses in his given ratings.
Offensive & Defensive Playcalling
[Retain | Defer]
Determines whether or not a coach retains playcalling for himself or defers to a coordinator. When defering to a coordinator, the coordinators playbook/gameplan would become the default.
[Aggressive | Balanced | Conservative]
This would dictate the type of playcaller a coach was. Aggressive would be more likely to go for it in applicable situations and attack in crucial situations. Conservative is more likely to play it safe in critical situations and not be overly risky while Balanced would be a mix of both.
This is essentially schemes with a different name. I was thinking of some kind of MUT Chemistries system where maybe if you match up multiple coaches with the same philosophy then you increase "Coach Chemistry" but the idea I had was something that I ultimately felt like was too gamey and arcade.
Morale Effect would be a trait for Head Coaches that somewhat dictates their overall effect and influence on the roster. So for example, a veteran coach with a 'Well-Respected' will have the trust of his players and during hard times the team won't turn as quickly and morale will be more steady. However a younger or newer coach might have the unproven trait and hard times could possibly result in serious morale issues and losing the team. Another morale trait could be something like Disciplinarian where morale effects are more pronounced to emulate players reacting positively to harder coaching while some players react more negatively.
Primarily this rating will dictate the coaches quality of evaluating talent when it comes to coach suggestions for cutting, signing, claiming, trading, and drafting players. Coaches with higher ratings in this category would also gain knowledge and reveal a player's true attributes quicker. You could also make this rating tie into the coach evaluations in rookie scouting where a better coach would give you more detailed info while a lower rating will provide you with more vague information.
Rating determines a coaches ability to achieve the maximum ability out of his position group, unit or team. Coaches with higher ratings in this category are more likely to see their position groups players practice better as well as be less affected by attribute reductions from morale. Coaches with lower ratings
This rating determines the level of discipline a coach imparts on his team, unit or position group. Coaches with higher discipline ratings will value players with higher rated discipline traits. Players under their watch may also be granted a one or two tier boost in their discipline trait depending on this rating.
Rating determines the level of teacher a coach is. Coaches with higher ratings in this category will grant XP earn rate boosts and/or XP discounts for intangibles specific to their speciality/unit.
Position Specific Ratings
Each coach would have a position specific rating that would indicate how adept a coach was with that position. For example an RB's coach will typically rate much higher in RB's than everything else. This helps carve out specific roles for coaches as well as giving them room to grow into more well rounded coaches with the chance to be elevated to coordinators or head coaches. The rating itself wouldn't mean too much but moreso be a modifier for how effective their other attributes were.
Each coach would also have an overall offensive and defensive rating based on their positional ratings on each side of the ball. A more well rounded coach would have a much higher rating in these ratings categories than coaches with one specific expertese. This would be the ratings teams would look at when looking for coordinators and HC's.
Every coach would have this but it would be something that would impact your team more greatly from the Head Coach and Coordinator perspective. A coaches specialty could range from a specific position (QB Guru) to a unit specialist (Defensive Mastermind) to maybe a more intangible specialty (Player's Coach, Disciplinarian). This could be taken anywhere from a coach having one specialization to being something a coach was able to accrue over the course of multiple seasons kind of like a badge system used for players. Position coaches would be more likely to have more position specific related specialities that had less impact on the rest of the team while coordinators and Head Coaches especially would typically have the higher tier, more impactful specialties.
So as I mentioned before, the biggest key with having coaching staffs in the game is making sure they have a tangible effect on your team. This includes having an impact on both on and off the field.
For practice and player development, I'd like to see position coaches have a more significant role than Head Coaches and Coordinators. This doesn't mean that they wouldn't still have an impact, it's just that their impact would more so be limited to their specialities. How this would work is that position coaches with higher motivation ratings would be able to get more out of the players at their position. And by more, it would mean they "practice better" and have a higher chance of getting the highest medals for practice sessions. You could take this a step further and even have a combined MOT rating based on the position coach, coordinator, and head coach. And then to go along with that a coaches Development rating could dictate some kind of XP multiplier or simply offer discounts for ratings related to their postion. Obviously coaches wouldn't be the end-all-be-all when it came to player development as player potential, player morale and injuries would all also factor into how much XP a player is earning in a given week as well as how much it might cost to upgrade a certain attribute. The biggest thing is that they'd play a role in player development which adds a ton to both roster and organization management. Coaches would progress, regress, retire, etc. as well as earn promotions from other teams adding another element of teambuilding to franchise mode.
This is where your HC and coordinators would play the biggest roles. I'm not a huge fan of boosts but it's what I kept coming back to when it came to coaches and coordinators. Earlier I mentioned the attribute boosts and penalties a player could receive from a good or bad week of practice and that's where I'd like to see head coaches and coordinators to a certain extent dictate how much those boosts or penalties are. So basically your position coaches carry responsibility for the preparation and your head coach and coordinators determine how strong it is so you're entire staff is really working together to produce the end result. Admittedly it's not a perfect representation but something similar to this puts an more importance on maintaining a well rounded staff rather than just having a good Head Coach or a good trio of Head Coach and Coordinators.
This is a big one when it comes to implementing staffs and making it a well rounded feature. Teams would identify coaches on the rise who have progressed well and target them for head coaching positions. If this happens to one of your coaches you can expect him to also poach your staff a bit and take a couple guys with him along the way. Maybe your OC gets hired to be a HC and then he takes your QB coach as an OC and one of your defensive coaches as a DC and all of a sudden losing one coach turns into losing three or more. Also if you hire a new HC in a similar fashion he would come with a list of suggested coaches that he may want to bring with him while giving the user the opportunity to choose between them or their own handpicked staff. To add to this you could have an influx of fictional coaches from college that bring with them new staff members that you've never seen before so there is a constant plethora of coaches at every position coming and going.
The first thing that I think of when it comes to scouting is shallow. The biggest thing I want to add is the ability to have more depth. More information, more variables, more everything. I also want to add some elements that add a bit of immersion on an outside level as well. And the single most important thing is allowing the user to tailor their experience to their preferred depth and accessibility. I don't want scouting to be this tedious process where you have to sift through and work for every bit of information if that's not something you want to do.
I recently came across images from the Raiders 2010 Coaching Staff Draft Evaluations and going through the images and seeing how their coaches graded and scouted players was pretty cool and is something that I think would translate well to Madden especially if they were to add coaching staffs. The way I'd think of it is essentially an expanded version of the Xbox/PS2 scouting. You get some blurbs and statements about the pros and cons of the player as well as projections on where that player might fit on your current roster as well as short term and long term projections on the players overall ability. And once again, this adds another tangible variable on having a good or bad coaching staff. At the very least it would be scouting provided to you without having to do anything at all. So even if you decided to forego every bit of scouting in a season you'd still have information on prospects. You could add an additional element to this by having smaller school players or late round picks have less info available to them as they're lesser known commodities than those at the top-end of the draft.
The fact that we only get to scout the three best attributes is pretty absurd to me. It's not a good way to get a unique profile of a player or even allow the user to know the information they might want to know about a given player. I'd like to see this expanded to where you have the option to scout all relevant attributes to the position so you can get a more full player profile. Scouted attributes for each position would be something similar to this:
QB (THP, SAC, MAC, DAC, PAC, TOR)
RB (CAR, CTH, TRK, SPM, JKM, SFA, ELU, BCV, PBK, RBK (FB))
WR (CTH, SPM, JKM, CAR, RTE, CIT, SPC, RLS, KR)
TE (CTH, RBK, RTE, CIT)
OL (RBK, PBK, IMP)
DL (PWM, FNM, BKS, PUR, PRC, TAK)
LB (TAK, POW, PWM, FNM, BKS, PUR, MCV, ZCV, PRC)
DB (PRC, MCV, ZCV, PRS, TAK, CTH)
K (KPW, KAC)
P (KPW, KAC)
Now, knowledge is power and as I've already seen with only being able to scout three attributes, having even limited knowledge with semi-precise information makes it far too easy to find and identify great players. The key here would be to balance the fact that you're getting more information by also making the information you get be less exact. This would start with eliminating the +/- designations from the letter grades. I would also go a step further and have the letter grade ranges overlap with each other as to provide an extra layer of obscurity. Something like that goes both ways as well so you may draft a player with a B grade that is actually closer to a C while you also might draft a player with a B grade that is actually closer to an A. This adds more variables to scouting and makes identifying studs and gems as well as busts a bit more difficult which also makes the drafting process more of a challenge and IMO much more fun.
This goes along with the expanded injury system I laid out. When scouting a player you'd receive a look at his injury profile along with an overall medical grade. The higher the grade, the more sound his health. The lower the grade and it could be a possibility of a consistently injured player or a sign of something that may potentially derail or end his career.
For those that are unaware SPARQ stands for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, and Quickness. It's essentially an attempt to quantify athleticism into a single metric. For more info you can go here. Also, the site 3-Sigma Athlete has created a variation of this called pSPARQ (position specific SPARQ) based on combine and pro-day data that gives players a rating based on their specific position. They also provide a z-score (number of standard deviations a player is above or below the NFL average) and NFL percentile which is essentially the same but shows where the player ranks among peers based on percentage i.e. 85th percentile means he ranks in the top 15% in the league.
Okay, so how does it fit in Madden?
When it comes to incoming rookies, it would basically straight up replace the "combine grade" and give you something that was quantifiable with every current player in your CFM. First, you would receive a perceived SPARQ score at the beginning of the year. One of the things that bugs me about scouting is that you're given zero info in regards to a players physical traits prior to the combine and this would aim to remedy that. Once you reach the combine you'd receive a players actual SPARQ score based off of their combine numbers as well as a Team Ranking and NFL Percentile. The team ranking would show you where the player ranked compared to the players at his position on your current roster while the NFL percentile would show you where they rank based on the entire league at their position. If they included Pro Days as well it could allow for some variation where a players score could get better as well. For veteran players, it would essentially replace the Physical rating and be sortable through the view roster screen.
Now where this could be taken to the next level is by allowing the user the ability to customize the formula to their own specific preferences by both overall and by specific positions. So let's just say the formula is made up of Speed, Acceleration, Agility, Jumping, and Strength and the base scale weighs each attribute equally or 20%. If you coveted speed receivers you could adjust the rating scale to weigh speed more heavily and receivers with good speed would rate higher on the scale while slower receivers would grade out much lower. This would be able to be adjusted unique to each position. This helps users not only in the draft but also in trading and free agency at quickly and easily identifying the physical player types that they covet while also weeding ones that they don't want to even consider.
Projections & Mock Drafts
Now this wouldn't exactly all be a part of scouting a player, but would still be something that would show up on his scouting player card. Every year once the off-season hits the first thing you hear about is every analysts mock drafts. Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock, everyone. Everyone and their mother mocks the draft and this is something I wouldn't mind seeing represented in Madden. I've mocked this up before to a further extent but I don't think it needs to be as in-depth as that where I had each analyst grade players on each attribute. I think having each analyst simply have a projection as well as a first round mock would do the job. It would be mostly aesthetic but one of those cool little things to see and watch while also being somewhat relevant to what you're doing. And with this you don't necessarily need the analysts to be real NFL people like Kiper, McShay, Mayock, etc. As cool as that would be they could create their own analysts with their own "personalities" when it comes to their mock drafts and assessments which I think would be kind of cool for something like this. In addition and probably more importantly than this, you'd get projections from your position coach as part of his coach evaluation and you'd also have a scouting department or agency that would give you projections as well. So in total you'd have five different projections that could range all over the place and it is something that's a bit more expansive and mysterious than the current projection system.
More of an aesthetic addition to the scouting card but something that would be a cool thing to see as well as potentially being used to hint at players potentially trending upward, downward and so on.
Only thing here really is an option for a wider range of results for Combine data i.e. 4.32 40-time doesn't always equal 97 or 96 speed SPD and 44 reps doesn't always equal 97 or 98 STR, etc. A potential remedy for this could also be adding Pro-Days so that a player has two separate forms of data tied to him so there is a little bit more of a mystery there. This would also allow the game the emulate the scenario of players missing, skipping or not being invited to the combine limiting the amount of physical data you have on the player. The main thing is making there be a bit of mystery behind the numbers and at least having the option to make them a bit tougher to read.
Like I said one of the key things I want when it comes to scouting is options. With adding more factors to scouting the important thing is to finding a way to give that information to those that don't really want to spend as much time trying to obtain it. I'm going to go through a few options of how scouting under this format could be handled so that you can make as many people happy as possible.
Auto would take all the trouble out of scouting. You'd have every piece of information on every prospect from the second your season started. I'm honestly surprised this isn't an option already. You'd still have to wait until the offseason to get combine data but everything else would be available immediately.
Basic would be an expanded version of the current system. Instead of spending points you'd have an alotted amount of either players you could scout or hours you could spend scouting. So let's just say you can scout five players per week starting in the preseason through the Super Bowl so that's 125 players. When you chose to scout a player you'd get a letter grade for every attribute relevant to that players position instead of only his three best like mentioned above. You could even provide an option within this to use the old format of 3 best attributes with options for 3, 5, 7, and 9 or even allow the user the choice of their own attributes rather than just the best.
Enhanced would follow the same format as Basic where it's either something like hours or number of players but it would give you more information. In addition to the letter grades you'd also get the coach evaluations and medical and would get the full scouting report on a player.
Full would allow the user to tailor the amount of information they get on each player to their liking. Each week you'd be given an amount of hours to spend on players and each bit of information would cost an amount of hours to acquire. The more hours you spend the more information on that player you'd get until you had the full report on him. Coach Evals would require a certain amount of hours while getting letter grade hours would scale to the amount of information you wanted. So let's say you spend the least amount of time on a player for letter grades you get to choose one or two attributes to reveal and there's a few levels in between that and a full report where the hours increase. Obviously some of this would have to be scaled for positions like OL because they only have a few relevant attributes while LB's have way more.
The biggest issue that kills free agency for me is the fact that it's so easy to get any player I want with no trouble at all. The main thing I want to feel is the sense of fighting for players and it might sound strange but I think it's actually more fun when you get beat out and lose certain guys you're bidding for. Obviously you don't want signing good players to be impossible but it should be something that feels worth the process and feel rewarding and in my opinion that's something that is severely lacking when it comes to Madden.
This is something that I think should be indicated to the user throughout the season as well as something that has an impact on the AI. Whether it shows in the scouting screen or somewhere else I think there should be an indicator of perceived depth of both the draft as a whole as well as position-by-position. Since Free Agency takes place prior to the draft, it would be helpful for the user in a multitude of ways as well as being a factor in helping the AI dictate where they may or may not attack in Free Agency. For instance, if a team is in need of a QB and the draft depth indicates that the upcoming class is weak for QB's, the AI would likely be more aggressive in free agency and vice versa.
This is something that I'd also like to see become more prominent when it comes to advancing to the off-season. Have team needs be more specific than simply just position. Expand it to be more particular to the depth chart and indicate that a team needs a QB2, WR3, WR1, etc. Also, allow this to be modified by the user when heading into an off-season. I'd imagine this would be huge for online leagues as it would allow them some kind of direction if they were absent for the process. Have a list of like top ten team needs that is automatically suggested but is also customizable.
Free Agent Targeting
This kind of goes along with the Team Needs. Prior to free agency you would go through an event where you're allotted five or so slots that you want to target. This would be handled similarly to a trade block but far more specific. You'd be able to input anything from simply "High OVR WR's" to "WR's with high CTH" or "3rd Down RB." The idea is that you input what you're looking for when you advance to free agency you get a list of ten players that fit your search. You would use these for the areas you consider high priority and places where you're definitely looking to add players through free agency and would be something that I think would greatly aid users in building the type of team that they desired.
Within the current system I'd like to see some sort of roster strategy similar to what The Show has with options like Rebuilding, Win Now, etc. When it comes to free agency, a rebuilding team will look for younger players with upside while a Win Now team would be more willing to spend big bucks on a highly rated, aging veteran. This could also be something that extends to trades as teams that were rebuilding would be looking to acquire more draft picks and young players while another may be willing to part with those things. This is more of an AI thing but is something that could also benefit users who simulate through seasons as they could set a path or direction for their team and have the AI act accordingly without having to worry too much about their team being dismantled.
This is something I'd like to see for all parts of the off-season but I'll talk about it here. Traits like Free Agency Aggressiveness, Draft Pick Strategy, Draft Trade Strategy, etc. would give teams a more uniqueness that they currently lack. You'd see teams like the Packers being extremely passive in free agency and building through the draft while other teams like the Redskins would be big spenders every year. If GM's were ever added these traits could be applied to them rather than the teams adding another element of depth to the off-season.
Day-By-Day Visit System
The idea is that Free Agency is split into two calendar-like events, one prior and one post draft. The first one being the longer, more significant portion whether it be something like 30 days or 45 days and the second being a more brief period used mostly for roster filling, say 10 or 15 days but the amount of days is fairly insignificant.
Upon the beginning of free agency you'd first be made aware of every player that was available, basically a quick event where you simply go through a view roster type screen of all of the upcoming free agents so you can peruse and figure out what your top priority free agents might be.
Now once you enter free agency, things would begin to look quite differently compared to what we have now:
So this would be a format to kind of equalize free agency and try to prevent what I hate the most about free agency and that's the ability to get whoever I want without any challenge from other teams whatsoever. Think of this kind of like an old NCAA recruiting mechanic. Each day of free agency you'd be allotted one or two (maybe three) visits to bring in free agents and start the negotiation process.
Players would prioritize their visits based on their interests. This could be used in the form of a points system similar to how contracts are handled and use the interests as a modifier to determine their most desired destinations. Basically before free agency started each player would formulate their own list of all 32 teams in order from most desired to least desired with some teams being completely eliminated if there is a strong conflict with their interests. This would almost certainly have to be under the hood and hidden but since it's something largely out of your control, having the option to see the list I don't think would end up hurting too much either.
I hesitate to even put this on the list because almost every player's biggest interest should nearly always be money so it's something largely universal. But I think when it comes to older players it's something that can become a bit less of a factor so being able to see that represented as a player grows older would be something that would be good to see so I included it. Players with money being the greatest interest would prioritize teams willing to pay them the most money and with the most cap space.
Indicates a players interest in playing for a winning team. Players that value this the most would prioritize winning teams and eliminate teams at the bottom of the league and out of contention for consideration. Player would also be more willing to take a lesser contract from a proven contender over a team that's been in and out of the playoffs.
A player most interested in a system fit would eliminate teams that have strong scheme conflicts and would prioritize places where a scheme fit was possible. The only time players might consider options where they weren't fits would be when other options are extremely thin.
Indicates a players desire to play near his hometown. Players with high interest in this category will prioritize teams nearest to his hometown.
Indicates a players desire to sign with a team that would lead to him seeing the most playing time. Players most interested in this would be looking to sign with teams where they could be starters based on the depth chart.
There's probably a lot more that could be included here but I wanted to keep it simple enough to where there isn't a lot of moving parts as well as being something that is fairly easy to understand in terms of why a player is or isn't interested.
Requesting A Visit
Prior to the start of free agency there would be a five day period where you would be able to contact players and schedule visits. Think of this as a modified version of the tampering period in the NFL. This is where teams would prioritize the highest target free agents scheduling visits for the moment that free agency starts. How this would work is that you would go through the free agent list and choose the players that you're interested in signing and negotiating with and check them off in a process similar to scouting.
When the day advances you'd receive request updates for the players you've selected and will be prompted to select a date for the player to "visit." This is also where you'll find out where you fall in terms of that players interest in your team. If you're far down on his interest list, you may find out that he already has multiple visits set-up with teams he is more interested in thus making him much harder to sign. If you're high on his interest list, you'll have a good chance of being able to schedule a visit as quickly as possible.
As you get into actual free agency you can continue to request visits with free agents but they won't be able to actually visit until the next day at the soonest. I think two visits per day sounds about right but having options for just one or even more would be optimal.
I'll get more in-depth on this later but as for here I'd love to have free agency be somewhat similar to rookie scouting where there is more mystery behind what you're signing as well. This is a place though where I think having a limited view of attributes works well from both a realism and challenge aspect and would add a lot to trying to find free agent gems or dealing with free agent busts similar to how you do in real life and the draft.
So the idea here is that instead of players being sorted by OVR in free agency, they'd be sorted by their "market value" or asking price essentially. This would take some fairly significant re-working of how much money players demand but I'd like to see the amount of money a player asks for largely based on their performance. If there's a free agent QB that is 26 that just threw for 4000 yards and 40 TD's he should be going after $20-million+ per year whether he's a 99 or a 78 and this is something I'd like to see represented.
Onto the hidden/perceived ratings part, I'd like to see this be treated similar to rookie scouting but more in-depth when applicable and minus the actual need to "scout" a free agent. What I mean is that say there is a player that is a 12-year veteran that is a free agent. A player like that would have the most information available about him and at that point you could even go as far as showing actual attributes because a player like that has been around long enough that everybody essentially knows what he is. As for younger players, the information would be less exact and also based upon actual playing time. So let's say you have two players, both 4-year players coming off their first contracts and entering free agency. Player A is a 4-year starter and has played significantly every season he's been in the league. For this player you would get a decent amount of information about his attributes because essentially there is more "tape," so to speak. Player B has seen very limited time whether it be due to injury or being buried on the depth chart for the extent of his first contract. A player like this would have very little exact information available about him because he has virtually no "tape" to speak of. So the more (and longer) a player plays, the more information you'll know about him and the more certain you can be of what kind of player he really is. Physical attributes would not be included in this and would be known whether it be in exact numeric form or in the form of combine style numbers which I think I'd prefer. To add to this, any players that were free agents that you had scouted while they were part of a draft class would always have that information available for you.
Now, there are tons of different directions this could be taken to expand upon. If there are coaching staffs or position coaches, you could integrate them in a way where they know more about the players they've coached and are familiar with. So let's say you hired another team's DB coach, if there were any free agents DB's from that team in free agency, it would almost be a bonus in terms of information on those players because of how familiar that coach was with them. You see coaches all the time showing a preference for players they know over ones they don't and this would attempt to emulate that.
The Process of A Visit
Once that first period has ended and free agency officially begins, players will begin to take their "visits." Just think of a visit as entering negotiations under the current format. It could also be something that is used to find out a bit more information about a player that you don't see from the basic free agency menu. For instance, requesting a visit could be a process very similar to scouting where you know very little about a player before hand and must go further to find out more. It could also be used to provide some other minor details like injury ratings to emulate the player taking a physical. There's a lot of freedom here to work with.
Contracts & Negotiations
This is something I'd like to see them completely overhaul. I mentioned before that I'd like to see players ask for money based on performance than just overall and I think that's something that's really important here. Players should be asking for money that matches their perceived market value. Starters should want money that coincides with other starters at their position. Stars should ALWAYS be asking for above and beyond and this is one of the reason's it's so easy to work around the cap in Madden. I don't care if a player is a 75 OVR, if he's a free agent and coming off a 22 sack season he should be looking for Von Miller money.
I think they should also make contract offering a bit more user friendly. When negotiating, lay out the entire contract instead of just showing salary and bonus. Bring back the frontloaded, backloaded, escalating, deescalating options for contracts. Also, instead of toggling salary and bonus separately and players asking for a "3-years/$15-million", show players asking price as APY along with Guaranteed Money. You could even take this a step further and create contract templates around these options so that the entire negotiating process is made quicker and easier.
Goals > Incentives
One thing that seem to be becoming less and less prevalent are goals. They've taken a back seat to GamePlanning this year in terms of development but are still used as another means to earn XP. I'm very much a fan of them taking a back seat to practice as I feel that's how the vast majority of progression should come from however I still do not like them (or awards) being used as another avenue to earning XP. Now, getting rid of them would be an obvious step backwards for something that was such a major part of the mode when it was initially introduced so my idea is to retool goals into contract negotiations in the form of incentives.
By doing this you're allowed to open up goals to be more than strictly stat chasing benchmarks and you can also have it factor into several other areas of the mode like player morale, salary cap, management, and contract negotiations. You can add certain goals like "lead team in carries" or "Play 85% of snaps" so that you're not necessarily chasing stats but more so carving out projected roles for players that also carry financial implications. I've mocked this up as incentive packages that you can choose to offer a player and these show Easy, Medium, and Hard but you could also have team-player oriented packages and a whole array of different options.
And maybe you're thinking, well I'll just shaft all my players incentives to give me more cap space. And that's where player morale would come back into the fold. Don't accomplish a players goals and expect them to become unhappy because they're missing out on more money. Sure you can get away with doing it for guys that you know you won't retain but let it happen with guys you want to keep and expect them to ask for far more money or refuse to negotiate with you entirely. Sign too many players with expectations of significant playing time at one position and bet on it becoming a watering hole for unhappiness. Also expect to see your franchise become a less desirable location for free agents and trade targets as a result of your failure to make players happy. It would be a system very similar to what I believe was in NCAA and used for recruiting and allow for a very interesting dynamic between contract negotiations, player morale, and gameplay.
This is also something that could have a huge number of possibilities as well and even develop into a pseudo personality system. Maybe one players interests revolve more around the team so his incentives are somewhat team oriented and the morale gain/loss isn't nearly as impactful. While another players interest might lean more heavily to his next contract so his incentives would be more heavily weighed on personal accomplishments and would more significantly affect his morale if achieved or not achieved. One last thing this does is gives users multiple players with goals to strive for over the course of multiple seasons that has potential tangible effects on performance and negotiations.
After A Visit
As you advance a day, players will either sign or move on to their next visit. Some players may sign immediately, some may take all of their visits before choosing an offer, while others may decide in the middle of their tour of visits. This would create an interesting dynamic where there is constant action around the league each day and you have to constantly keep abreast with your negotiations and what's happening around the league. You may be put in a situation where you have to choose to withdraw an offer to a player because you simply can't afford to wait on him. The start of free agency would emulate that "free agent frenzy" that we see each year and would be able to be as quick or methodical as a user desired.
I don't have much to really add to the actual process of drafting but the one thing I want to hit on is draft presentation. Outside of preseason games, the draft is probably the single most boring process within CFM. The NFL Draft has gone from an untelevised, 17-round marathon to a three-day, seven-round spectacle over the years. Whether it be the Eli Manning vs. the Chargers saga, Aaron Rodgers' draft day plummett, or even a gas mask bong tweet, the draft is always filled with drama and excitement. However when it comes to Madden, there is no drama. There is no excitement, no emotion, no spectacle and not much of anything in regards to the presentation as a whole. The storyline aspect was a good idea but ultimately fell hollow and didn't add nearly enough as it only applied to ten out of nearly 300 prospects and became completely inconsequential the second Trey Wingo or Adam Schefter stopped talking. What I'd like to see is something that is a mix of what we currently have, but taken a bit further, mixed with an actual NFL draft type "broadcast."
First thing though is compensatory picks. This is basically a full round of the draft that we miss out on. These picks are based on what you lose vs. what you sign in free agency so there is also some added element of strategy or thinking within it. The logic behind it wouldn't have to be perfect, just coherent enough to make sense.
The goal here would be to create a look that resembles an NFL Draft broadcast but maintains all of the same accessibitly that is needed while drafting. It would be much better if the screen both looked like what we see on TV but also allowed for everything at our fingertips in the process.
So to start, what was the CFM ticker now becomes the Draft Ticker. Just as you see on TV it would scroll through the rounds showing who's been picked as well as the upcoming order in the draft. This would work similar to what I mentioned earlier where at any point you could press a thumbstick or other button tied to the ticker and it would give you a round summary of whatever round you were on in the ticker.
In addition to this there would be an additional bar at the bottom that would scroll through relevant information to the team that is on the clock. Things like past first round picks, team stats from the most recent season, free agent acquisitons and losses, team needs and roster breakdown. When a pick was made you could have either take up the scouting portion and show the scouting card of the player who was drafted or you could just show his player card quickly on the right hand side like I've shown in the mock up.
Draft Crowd Reactions
I really miss this from the old Madden's and I think would fit well here. Back then when you'd draft a player you'd either get a positive reaction, negative reaction, or no reaction from the "draft crowd." It was a small thing but it added a nice presentation element to the pick you made and gave you a quick hint of whether or not you reached on a player high in the draft or hit on a player deep in the draft. It was also something that gave you a rewarding feeling when it was positive and an itch at redemption when it was negative and it made going through the draft more enjoyable. Here's a video of what both a positive and negative reaction to a pick could look like in-game.
Link for Mobile
Another thing from Madden's past that is probably looked at as largely inconsequential but I really enjoyed. This is also something that could be tied into the draft analysts I've mentioned and really wrap something like that all together. This is something that showed your highest pick as well as your "best pick" and was paired with a draft grade. The grade itself was mostly irrelevant but gave you a decent idea of who drafted well and who didn't and was one of those cool features that made you feel like you were immersed in a living franchise.
As an offline/solo CFM player, I really have no reason to ever use the draft board. Maybe as a tool to keep abreast of potential targets but even within that, it really doesn't stand to have much of a purpose and this would aim to change that. So basically the draft board would become a priority board when it came to UDFA's similar to the visit system I explained in free agency. At the end of the draft the remaining prospects would weigh their interests and similar to free agency although their interests would be tailored a bit differently than players established in the league would. Money would be less of a factor and greater value would be placed on teams where depth at their position was weak as well as things like location.
So following the draft would be an expedited day-to-day free agency process where you'd basically get back a list of your draft board as well as the correlating interest level from those UDFA's. The higher the interest the more likely they'd be to sign with you. So there would be another of element of strategy here where do you go after a player you think is better and risk losing out on a sure signing or with the guys that are easier to sign. You could add additional elements to this like offering small amounts of guarantees to sway guys as well.
Rookie Mini-Camp, OTA's and Training Camp
Off-season activities are a crucial part of an NFL player's development and should be something represented in-game in some form or fashion. In my previous post I laid out a much more meticulous approach to them but here I want to focus more on wrapping up the season and getting into the next season as quickly as possible and taking gameplanning/game prep and applying it to these activities with some modifications seems like a logical choice.
One Gameplan session immediately following the draft. Only drafted rookies, UDFA's, eligible non-rookies, and tryout players would participate and you'd need a minimum number to start this phase. Low injury risk and very minimal XP gain, thinking something like 1/3 or 1/2 of normal XP gain.
Similar to Rookie Mini-Camp. One Gameplan session. Eligible to full 90-man roster and tryout players. Again, low injury risk and minimal progression but slightly higher than Rookie Mini-Camp.
Three gameplan sessions to represent three weeks at camp. Again full-90 man roster is eligible. Full XP gain (or maybe even slightly higher) just like Normal practice. As much as I'd like to see this handled on a more day-to-day process so that the added element of missed practice due to injuries was in effect but as long as injuries were still possible within the period, I think it's a decent compromise. An added element to this could be a similar training camp system to the Xbox/PS2 era Madden's where you have options where maybe instead of spotlighting players you're allowed to choose three skills trainer type drills to run with players to earn XP towards certain attributes (i.e. pocket presence for AWR, WR for CTH, DL moves for FMV or PMV, etc.).
NFL's Top 100
This would be something that would be as pointless and as much of a joke in your franchise as it is in real life but still something that's fun and that's the NFL Top 100 list. It could be something that is loosely based on OVR's and is just one of those things that the news feed talks about that is kind of cool. As I've mentioned many times before, it's just another thing that adds to the immersion of playing in a living world. Every year it changes and the further you get into your franchise, the more you start to see the generated players and the players you've developed.
Expanded Player Card
This isn't something huge but expanding the player card a bit more would be nice. Having things like career stats show the teams they've played for should be something that is shown. Tracking player accomplishments as well as transactions is also something I'd like to see. Making it all more accessible and easy to find for the user is the biggest thing. I think the biggest thing is to make everything available on the player card. With the current player card if you want to look at stats or game logs you have to open up new windows and such.
Obviously these are never going to go away so asking for outright hidden ratings is pointless. However in terms of CFM I think it can be argued that doing so can be something that not only adds more of a challenge, but also makes things more realistic in it's own way. So like I mentioned at the beginning, I'd like to see a franchise option for player ratings to be: Visible, Hidden, Perceived, and Progressive.
Traditional, exact ratings. Everything is how it would normally look with all exact numerical ratings for every player.
All non-physical ratings are completely hidden. Physical ratings are represented in combine numbers or by a letter grade. I think combine numbers would do a better job at conveying a more accurate perception than a letter grade which is important. If you have a guy with 99 SPD, you want to know he's fast or strong or whatever. Letter grades can give you the perception that a player is much better or worse at something than he actually is so I'd probably keep those away from physical attributes.
All intangible ratings are non-exact. This could be done with numbers but I think the easier way to do this would be to break down ratings into letter grades. No +/-'s, just letters. You could take this further by having your position coaches rating them and the better the coach, the more accurate depiction of ratings. Physical attributes would again be viewed as combine numbers with everything else letter grades. The key with the letter grades would be to make their ranges not only overlap but to also have the middle levels have a much wider range than the A's and the F's so that you're still able to fairly easily identify the top-tier players as well as players who aren't worth much at all. It's something that just creates an added element of strategy and challenge when it comes to progressing, cutting, signing, and drafting players and something that I think would make franchise a better experience.
This is my preferred method to be used in CFM. Essentially it would be a progressive reveal of ratings over the course of a players career. So incoming rookies, even after drafting, you would know the least about and players that had spent years in the league would pretty much be known commodities. How this would work is that you'd split all the attributes into two categories: Physical and Intangible.
Physical Attributes - SPD, STR, AGI, etc. would be shown in the form of either combine data or numeric attributes. Combine data would work better for multiple seasons and you could still show the user how much speed a player was losing due to age. For example, Player A enters the league with a 4.53 40-time, as he gets older or suffers injuries relevant to speed you can see on his player card that he's lost -1, -2, etc. for speed. This would accumulate through the seasons so in the view roster screen once he's significantly older it might have his speed as 4.53 (-7) while numeric would just show you exactly what it was. For physical attributes it doesn't really matter to me since the variation from data to numeric attributes isn't going to be large enough to make that much of a difference IMO.
Intangible Attributes - 100% Uncertain (not to be confused with unknown) until the player becomes a known commodity. To keep it simple and understandable I'd just use a letter grade system and then apply tiers to that.
Tier 1 - Basic knowledge. Letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) with a the largest gap in range in terms of what an 'A' or 'B' might represent.
Tier 2 - Advanced knowledge. Expanded letter grades with +/- indicators providing a much finer range for each grade to represent.
Tier 3 - Fully Scouted. Full numeric rating.
The idea is that as players enter the league they start at Tier 1. This would be what you'd be scouting and drafting and with time those ranges will become more narrow as the player becomes more of a known commodity. Ideally you'd have position coaches (although this could work with coordinators at the very least) with ratings tied to certain attributes that would determine how quickly certain attributes would advance tiers meaning the better the coaches you have, the quicker you're able to identify and quantify players making it easier to evaluate and adjust your roster. Player progression, free agency, trades, all becomes a more interesting process with increased risk/reward. This is just the idea in it's simplest form and it could go so much deeper in depth but I think this is something that would not only add depth but not be overly complicated or difficult for most users to learn.
My main thing with this is trying to allow as many people to play the way they want to play as possible. By creating more options you have a greater chance of covering and including more of your player base which is something that should always be considered.
Player Potential & Regression Traits
I want to echo the same sentiments as I did for player ratings here. Player potential is absolutely something I do not ever want to see because it ruins the fun of trying to find those players to develop and build your roster around. So I'd like to see the same type of option as I mentioned for player ratings for player potential.
With that, I like the idea of dynamic player potential but as with many other things, I'm not a fan of the implementation. Basing something as important as a players development trait on things like weekly and/or yearly awards doesn't make too much sense to me. It incentivizes stat chasing and while I don't necessarily mind the idea of having a players potential boosted or reduced based on their performance but I think it should be one of the lowest things that affects it. What I wouldn't mind seeing is a slightly more restricted player potential but something that is still remains dynamic. Instead of just having static Poor or Superstar type development traits I'd like to see more career oriented player potential categories. A couple of examples:
Those are just a few examples but it's something that could maintain that dynamic element while following a more baseline career curve for players rather than potentially having them all over the place based on goals and performance. It's not a perfect method but it's something that I'd feel is more realistic than the current system and something that would be fun given that potential was hidden and these unexpected dips and rises would be allowed to happen organically.
Alternatively you could also have Regression traits that take over for a players DEV trait when their career has hit it's peak. So just to use an example above, a player with Fast Rise, Early Demise may have a career trait arch of: Season 1 - Good and Season 2 - Superstar but once season three hits, that Superstar DEV transitions to a Rapid regression trait and his intangibles start getting hit hard. Meanwhile a player with the Journey Man may go through four or five seasons of Good or Below Average years with his DEV trait before it transitions into a Slow regression trait keeping him in the league longer.
Progression/Regression at end of Off-season
One of my biggest issues with the whole XP system is that I feel like it destroys roster building which is something that I believe should be the fundamental focus of a franchise mode. Madden puts more of an emphasis on player building when it comes to progression and regression and does so in a very unrealistic, simplistic, paint-by-the-numbers manner and I wouldn't have much of a problem with this if there were other avenues to create a more realistic approach. One of those being not allowing progression/regression until the end of the off-season. This was something that MVP Baseball did that I think is a great idea. The reason being that it forces you into trying to anticipate how your roster will look rather than knowing every single exact detail about it at all times.
For example, let's say you have an aging starter who is on the decline but is still a serviceable player. At some point he is going to decline to the point where he is no longer starter worthy. Now in Madden, you're made aware of this as soon as your season ends. You already know in Week 17 that going into your next season that you should cut ties and that he's not going to be remotely the same player as he was before. This makes roster management a very simple process with very little risk. Now if that same player regresses in the same manner BUT you're not made aware of it until after you have to take care of these off-season tasks, it forces you to think about it a bit more and try to anticipate the rise and falls of certain players. Do you take a high pick at his position or go after a top free agent anticipating his decline? Or do you do nothing and risk that the position becomes an immediate need? This is not only more realistic but also more challenging which is something CFM desperately needs. The idea with locking progression under the same rules has to do with the same concept. I'd hide the amount of XP a player has until the end of the off-season so that you're not always aware of who might be a breakout star or a breakout bust. Obviously this wouldn't be the only option, just another option for those that wanted a more challenging and more realistic experience.
Alternatively, it provides a great foundation for free agent gems and busts. You might sign a player to a huge deal hoping he'll be the cornerstone of your offense or defense only to find out that he's already on the downside of his career and have him fizzle out after two years. To that same extent, you might sign a player and upon signing him find out he's sitting on a boatload of XP and that the fairly arbitrary signing you thought you made ends up being a breakout star and a free agent gem. It also would make you think a bit more about who to resign or let go heading into the off-season.
A small thing but I always liked how the older Madden's would show you a game preview of sorts during the loading screen with stats and key players and I'd like to see that be something specific to CFM as well. The goal loading screens were about as close as it's gotten but what I'd like to see is something similar to what what I mocked above for the CFM ticker where pre-game you get a preview of team stats, key players and series history and then post game you get a truncated box score with some key players from the game as well.
With all the additional roster elements I've provided this would be absolutely crucial. Whether cutting players or signing players, no matter the move, comparing players side-by-side is an extremely valuable tool that is available in MUT but is absent from CFM.
Kind of along the same lines of the UI here. Viewing standings in Madden is somewhat obtuse and not very user friendly and there's no way to just look at the whole league on one screen without having to click through a bunch of tabs. The mockups I've made separate the standings into three categories: Playoff Hunt, League, and then division-by-division.
This is something that would likely be quite difficult but would have hugely positive benefits in CFM and that's how OVR's are calculated. I think they were on the right path when it came to schemes and using it to change OVR's however they gave up on it too soon and it never really materialized into much. OVR is what controls how the AI manages their roster as well as how contracts and negotiations are handled and modifying the formula of how it is calculated could be a complete game changer I think.
Production is one of those things in Madden that never seems to really matter. A player could run for 2000 yards one year and be buried on the depth chart or out of the league the next. Production needs to be something that plays a significant role in the calculation of OVR. Few things are worse than seeing players who have produced ridiculous stats ask for low-tier contracts simply because their OVR dictates that they shouldn't be asking for anything more. If a player has 20 sacks in his contract year, he should be asking for big cash and his OVR should represent that of a player who is coming off a monster season.
Another thing that is largely ignored when it comes to Madden. A player that is high injury risk is valued less by teams than guys who are in good standing health wise. If a player can't stay on the field he shouldn't be getting monster deals. This is something that I'd like to see not ever boost a players overall, but only hurt it for guys with low injury ratings and what this can create is those bargain signings where if a player stays healthy then you've got yourself a steal but at the same time you're facing a bigger risk in that he won't ever be at 100% or even able to get on the field.
I'm just going to use Trent Richardson as an example here because he's the first one that always comes to mind. The Colts gave up a first rounder for a running back who could do little more than run up his offensive lineman's backside. And it was all because they felt they could get his "third overall pick" talent out of him. Guys that go high in the draft get more chances and hang on longer than players drafted anywhere else and that should be something that is represented in-game. This would also be something that only impacts overall in a players first three seasons or something where it's impact reduces each season so that it isn't a factor as long as it should be.
This is another thing that MVP Baseball did that if it was the only thing added into OVR calculation I think it would still greatly benefit multiple aspects of CFM. In MVP there was no classic numeric overall, it was instead shown in the form of a bar. The fuller the bar, the better the player essentially. However, something rather ingenious they did was have a player's potential affect the bar or overall. So you could have two players with identical attributes across the board but a team would value one more than the other because of that difference in potential and this is something I would love to see Madden do. I think this would help CFM in numerous areas especially when it comes to having the AI build a smarter roster by valuing younger talent with more potential over older, aging, high-priced talent. The Dev Trait wouldn't have to be entirely hidden, just removed from the player card and viewable inside the player edit screen. This would also come with the caveat of making the Dev Trait editable which I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy as well.
The addition of relocation was a really nice add and they were definitely ahead of the curve so major props there but the amount of restriction included with it is both disappointing and frustrating. You look back at what was allowed in the Xbox/PS2 era games and what is currently available in other sports games like NHL or NBA2K and Madden's relocation and team creation is laughable. I'm just going to touch on a few things here on how it needs to be better.
City and Team Names
So this is actually a big thing they did right when they introduced this feature and that was making sure that the announcers said each team by their team name. I'm fine with them limiting the cities to ones within the realm of possibility but there should be far more options for team names per city. Three is pretty limiting and this is something that hasn't been touched since it was introduced. Having Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis in as often as they do should make stuff like this a much easier process than ever before so bumping the team names available to five or ten would be great.
Logos and Uniforms
Going along with the city and team names, I think there should also be a far larger database of logo options for each city. Instead of being forced into the one generic logo connected to a team name, have a bunch that the user can choose from. Ideally, they'd implement something akin to paint jobs in Forza, emblem editor from CoD or even Teambuilder from NCAA and allow users to create their own logo. This is something that could also cross with MUT and allow users to create their own MUT teams and make them unique and a bit more personal. However, they've never really shown the willingness to allow such an open and creative feature so having vastly more generic logos would be the most logical route here. I believe NHL has an abundance of generic logos including some of the same ones used for the relocation teams in Madden so utilizing some of those could be start. And if adding more team names isn't something they want to do, they should still try adding more logos for the existing team names so there is at least more options available. Color ways should also be able to be edited for each logo as to further customization.
This is the main aspect I wanted to focus on because this is the most notable form of identity that your team will have. When Owner Mode and relocation was first introduced it was rumored by a couple GC's that EA had worked with Nike to design the uniforms of these imaginary teams. This sounded like a very solid idea however nothing ever came of it. Instead, the majority of the relocation uniforms are shoddy ripoffs of current NFL uniforms and outside of color scheme (most of which are poor as well), provide no real uniqueness or personal attachment that could be gained by allowing users to create their own uniform. When relocating, players should have a multitude of options for each aspect of a uniform with the ability to create something unique and specific to their liking. I just used the helmet logo and helmet, shoulder, and pant stripes to show some of the options you could have but really the options are absolutely limitless in terms of what the options could be.
Color & Finish [Glossy | Matte]
Stripe Style & Color(s)
Logo Size [Small | Medium | Oversized]
Nose Bumper [Logo | Team Name | City Name ]
Collar Style & Color(s)
Shoulder Stripe Style & Color(s)
Number Style & Color
Number Stripe Type & Color(s)
Pant Stripe Style & Color(s)
Stripe Style & Color
This is just a rough estimate of options that could be available and like I said the amount of styles you could have within these options are absolutely limitless. You could allow the user to create a Home, Away, Color Rush Home, Color Rush Away, as well as a home and away alternate and you'd have a complete set of unique uniforms to choose from. Added benefit to this is that you could allow people in MUT to also create their own unique teams and even sell unique styles and items in packs.
I'd say this is on-par with uniforms but I'm willing to be a bit more lenient with how it's done. As nice as it would be, I don't think it's necessarily required to be able to create-a-stadium however I definitely believe there has to be more options available to choose from. However if create-a-stadium was made available, and as much as it disgusts me to say, it could be part of a microtransaction within CFM where you purchase a type of stadium to rebuild and it takes effect immediately for your team. This is also something that easily crosses over to MUT as the additional stadiums could be available in packs.
Another idea would be to add some classic stadiums and make them available to choose from. Obviously that could create some immersion issues but I think what they would add would be greater than then the loss of immersion might cause. I've always thought it'd be cool to play in places like the Kingdome or the old Mile High and you could even add cool elements like playing on the old Astroturf and such.
I recently made a thread comparing the last ten years of real NFL data versus the data from ten years of simmed Madden seasons to see how they stacked. For the most part the Madden sims do a good job but there are still definitely some issues with scoring, the amount of plays per game, and most glaringly the running game.
And that's going to do it. Once again if you've managed to make it through this entire post I very much appreciate the time you've taken to do so and I hope you've enjoyed what you've seen and read. I'm very happy to be a part of this wonderful community and to be able to share and discuss ideas like this. As I stated in the original post, I'm well aware this isn't something likely to happen overnight, if even at all, but if CFM resembled anything close to this, it would be in my system year-round without question. I've tweeted this at the Devs and some of the community leaders when it comes to franchise and if you're on Twitter and would like share, the tweet is located here. Once again I thank you for your time and any feedback, have a wonderful day.
Last edited by DeuceDouglas; 07-18-2017 at 05:50 PM.
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|07-16-2016, 08:53 PM||#2|
Re: Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
Amazing write up. All that would make me buy madden again lol
Have you sent a resume to EA?
|07-16-2016, 08:59 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Re: Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
I really like your player potential idea. The idea of a player having a variety of different possible ceiling and floors would add quite an organic feel to franchise.
Last edited by mtmetcalfe; 07-17-2016 at 09:25 AM.
|07-16-2016, 09:01 PM||#4|
Re: Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
Damn bro, wish EA would hire you to help mold the future of the franchise. Very well thought out and great presentation of ideas. #GAMECHANGER
|07-16-2016, 10:44 PM||#5|
Tecmo Super Bowl = GOAT
Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
Reading this just makes me depressed. Lol. Our current CFM falls so far from this. Sad thing is many of these things have been in past FB titles. Some where EA games. Madden NFL 05-08 ps2 gen. NFL head coach 09. Had several of these ideas. Great write up
Last edited by charter04; 07-16-2016 at 11:39 PM.
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|07-16-2016, 11:21 PM||#6|
Re: Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
Absolutely incredible write up. We can only wish. Someday....
|07-16-2016, 11:29 PM||#7|
EA Game Changer
Join Date: Jul 2003
Re: Connected Franchise Mode: A Rebuild
This is all really good stuff. Obviously I can't comment too directly on things but the team is very aware of CFM's shortcomings to this point. Whether or not it gets where it needs to get is another thing entirely. A bunch of us have sent in pitches on everything from progression to the draft and scouting, and a lot of the ideas I've seen make me very excited for the future of the mode. Fingers crossed.
Oh, two things:
1) team building logic is in this year, in a very basic sense. I don't know exactly what all the states are but I know that buyer/seller logic is in there when it comes to draft picks and player transactions.
2) They've expanded how overall is calculated based on scheme and player type. I really want this blown out for the future, and am like halfway through a write up on it. Would that be something that would be of interest to people? If you could basically set the types of players you want in certain spots, and the game would recalculate the OVR based off your desires?
EA SPORTS Game Changer, host of the Post-Game Podcast
Last edited by mrprice33; 07-16-2016 at 11:34 PM.
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