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What Does a Post-Launch Madden 21 Franchise Mode Update Look Like?

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Old 10-10-2019, 07:19 PM   #1
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What Does a Post-Launch Madden 21 Franchise Mode Update Look Like?



With EA stating they plan to support Madden 21 franchise mode in a more substantial way...

Written By: Chase Becotte

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Old 10-10-2019, 08:06 PM   #2
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

Hey guys, a while back I did a deep dive into the scenario engine and with the recent update and addition of the "living league" scenarios, I wanted to revisit the scenario engine and see what's changed, if anything's improved or regressed and how these new scenarios have changed things from launch.

I ran the same test I did previously except this time around I used the Kansas City Chiefs whereas last time I used the Denver Broncos. Because the new scenarios largely revolve around the playoffs, I wanted to use a team that had a better opportunity to trigger those while keeping a lot of the same factors in play. I went week-by-week for five seasons and along the way tracked every interaction with the scenario engine including:
  • When the scenario occurred
  • What kind of scenario occurred
  • The player(s) involved in the scenario (if any)
  • The choices I was given during the scenario (if any)
  • The choice(s) I made for the scenario
  • What the goal was that came with the choices I made (if any)
  • Whether the goal was passed or failed
  • Any rewards/penalties that I received as a result of the scenario (if any)

I played the franchise just as I would if I was playing myself with the exception of actually playing the games. Everything was set to manual and I controlled all the roster management, offseason activities, etc.

And once again the main points I'm focusing on once I have the data is FREQUENCY, VARIETY, and IMPACT.

Frequency covering how often are scenarios occurring and how often you're interacting with the scenario engine. Variety covering how many different kinds and types of scenarios I encounter. And then Impact covering how the scenarios overall positively or negatively impacted my team, my players and the league. I feel like these are the three most important aspects of the scenario engine and that success or failure in these areas will make or break the feature.

FREQUENCY


This time around I encountered 102 scenarios which averages out to basically 20 per season and is up from the 89 I saw last test. Once again here, this doesn't cover every single interaction as I didn't include the follow ups with these as they're part of the same situation. So for example, when you get a breakout scenario, you'll get the initial notification of the breakout player, then the next week you'll get the follow up interaction notifying you of the results and so that sequence only counts as one unique scenario. And I mentioned last time, this is important because despite there only being about one scenario per week, you will be interacting it a lot more and pretty much every week.

Something I did notice that was similar to the previous test as well is that it feels like scenarios taper off the deeper into the season you get. This is more noticeable this time around because it definitely feels like there's more interactions as a result of the update. But there were a few seasons where it felt like you spent every week interacting and then would hit week ten and only get a couple of scenarios the rest of the way.

VARIETY


Last time I encountered nine different types of scenarios, this time around I encountered eleven due to the new additions and from most frequent to least frequent they were as follows:

X-Factor: Once again the X-Factor scenarios were the most common but they did happen at a lower rate this time around. Once again I was noticing that there would often be times where I'd be facing an X-Factor that week but wouldn't get a scenario for it. It wasn't due to the player being injured or anything, there would just be times where I'd play someone like the Chargers and the first time around get a scenario for Joey Bosa and Melvin Gordon then the next time only get one for Philip Rivers or no scenario at all.

The positions that triggered were once again the same and I didn't see any X-Factor scenarios when facing a WR, TE or S. In hindsight using the Chargers would have been a better move to see if I could get one to trigger when facing Travis Kelce.

Beat Reporter: This one was once again the second most common scenario and the biggest change here was the removal of introductory scenario at start of your franchise as well as the post-game reaction scenario where she asked what side of the ball needed more improvement. With those gone it was all important win and Pro Bowl scenarios. By and large these are pretty pointless but I did occasionally get 150 coach XP from the important win scenarios.

Breakout Player: This was by far the biggest change as I only encountered this three times in the last test but 17 this time around. I received them for a bunch of different positions but by far the most common were the RB and WR breakout scenarios. This also made me realize that even if these were available for the CPU it wouldn't even matter because through simulating the games, every single one of them failed. It also seems what was lost in the frequency of X-Factor scenarios was made up for here as between the two the total percentage is just about the same as previously.

Frustrated Player: This seemed pretty much the same as the last test. It only occurred with running backs and wide receivers and didn't ever seem to make much sense. The running back ones were often either back up running back being frustrated immediately after the starter got injured and then the receiver scenarios were pretty much always the #1 receiver being frustrated after a bad game even though he's leading the team (or league) in yards.

Bye Week: Once again encountered every bye week. Options were the same and it would be nice to see some different variables available here. Maybe a position coach asking who he should work with during the bye or something similar to the mentorship scenarios.

Mentorship: And speaking of which, I encountered these less than I did in the previous test but this is a contextual scenario so if your roster isn't made up in a way that supports it, you're going to see less of them. For that same reason I only saw the OL and WR mentorship scenarios and didn't see the new QB one because Mahomes was the starter and I never had a younger, drafted QB to mentor but more on that later.

General Manager: The first of the new scenarios that I encountered and this scenario was the GM coming to you after you've clinched a playoff spot to congratulate you. I made the plays four out of the five seasons but only saw this twice and both times didn't receive anything for it. I figured that was normal but then in running through other franchises, I was often getting +20 morale for the entire team so I'm not sure what dictates that.

Rest or Start: Another new scenario revolving around the playoffs and this came in the form of your coordinator coming to you asking whether you want to rest or start a key player. This again triggered twice for me and in both cases revolved around Patrick Mahomes. If you chose to rest the player they'd see an increase to their STA and INJ ratings while if you decided to play them, they'd get an increase to their morale and that was dictated by the number of snaps they played.

One big issue with this scenario is that it gives you the impression that you've locked up your spot and have nothing left to gain or lose when in reality that wasn't the case at all. In one of the seasons I was one of a few teams at 11-4 and a first round bye was possible if I won and heading on the road and losing the division was possible with a loss.

Short Week: Just like last time this occurred when I had a Thursday Night game but I only had two in the five seasons rather than one every season. Nothing changed here and the options of choosing rest and prep were the same.

Players Only Meeting: This is the scenario that triggers when you're on a losing streak and only had this occur once. Another contextual scenario that will happen more often if you're losing or using a lesser team. This one appears to have been updated as the options are the same to call out the DL, LBs or DBs but upon ending the losing streak Alex Okafor, who was the player that came to me, received 100 points to his legacy which was something I didn't see last time.

Player Development: And then lastly and only because I included it last time was the player development onboarding scenario that teaches users about the DEV trait.

IMPACT


If you saw the last post, this looks familiar and to be expected but still disappointing nonetheless. Once again I'm going to mention that this is the result when failing a TON of scenarios. Remember I said I had 17 breakout scenarios and failed every single one. If I had accomplished just a few of those where things like DEV upgrades and 20000XP starts getting thrown around this would look even worse. As a user if you're playing the games and conscious of these goals, there's no doubt in my mind that the success rate is going to go up and the rewards you're going to earn would be even higher than what you see here.

On the negative side the seven points in lost team morale came from a short week and two bye weeks where I chose prep over rest. In losing the seven points though my entire team picked up 100 XP once and 300 XP per player twice. So while that's listed as negative, the result of each situation was still positive.

And then for Walter Poe, he was part of a frustrated running back scenario that ironically came after a bye week so after I received the scenario I decided to bench him on purpose to see what would happen. He played zero snaps and after the game that 5 point loss to morale was the result. The thing there was that by telling him I'd get him involved in the next game he received 10 morale. So despite being completely lied to and being benched, he left the situation five morale points higher than he entered it. In all fairness here though, when going through other franchises I did see this result in as much as a 20 point loss to morale which is MUCH better and what should have happened here.

New Scenarios

The only new scenarios I didn't encounter were the QB Mentorship and Win One for the Veteran scenarios.

Preseason QB Mentor

As mentioned earlier I didn't see experience this in the test but I did see it in another franchise and while it's similar to the WR and OL mentorship scenarios, it breaks the mold of strictly being about upgrading a specific attribute. In addition to that option you also have a choice to work with the offensive line instead or challenge the defense. It's definitely good to see some variance there and more options available.

Win One for the Veteran

This scenario is supposed to mimic the Jerome Bettis, Michael Strahan, Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning, etc. situation where the team rallies around the veteran. And I understand what they're going for here but this is probably the worst scenario I've seen in terms of the effect the rewards have. In a test franchise with the Ravens, they made the playoffs which resulted in a general manager scenario congratulating me for making the playoffs which resulted in a +20 morale boost for the entire team. The same week I received a Team Leader scenario from Alex Lewis (Ravens LG) about Marshal Yanda possibly retiring which triggered another +20 morale boost for the offense and at this point every single player on the offensive side of the ball was at 99 morale and huge ratings OVR boosts across the board.

Final Thoughts

Going to try to keep this short but this feature in it's current state is not good. It's entirely too focused around success and rewarding the user without anything to really balance that out. You're almost always playing with house money because if you achieve the goal you get massively rewarded over and over again and even if you fail or in my case with the Walter Poe scenario, have the intent of failing it's still possible that you'll come away from that situation no worse than you entered it and even potentially better. When you look at the frustrated player scenarios and the amount of rewards that come from them as a result of pissing the player off it makes the entire system feel meaningless and like your decisions don't matter.

The new update was touted as "Living League" scenarios but with the exception of X-Factor scenarios, the scenario engine still fails to take you outside of the bubble that is your own team. Everything revolves around your coach, your players, your team and what's happening and what other teams are doing is pretty much completely irrelevant. On top of that even what happens with your players and team becomes largely irrelevant after a game or two because pretty much every scenario is based around a one to two week window with limited effect and zero domino effect. A breakout scenario triggers because of a good previous game, the next game dictates whether an increase occurs and that's that. A frustrated player scenario triggers because of a poor previous game, the next game dictates the outcome and then it's as if nothing ever happened.

All of that continues to enhance that feeling of just going through the motions and going week-to-week while being isolated to you're own little world that is completely separate to the rest of the league rather than actually navigating through an entire league over the course of an entire season. As it stands right now it's on a path where if I was ever forced to interact with scenarios it would actively make me not want to play franchise mode.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you guys are interested in the scenarios I tracked, the document I used to track scenarios will be posted below. It has every scenario logged and more notes about some of the scenarios than the previous document. I'll also say again that if you don't want to know the outcome or potential outcomes of scenarios that you probably shouldn't look at it because it will ruin any surprises as it's completely straightforward.


Let me know your thoughts about scenarios and the recent update and if you have any ideas for scenarios that you'd like to see, make sure to head over to the thread below and leave them there.


Last edited by DeuceDouglas; 10-10-2019 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:48 PM   #3
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

Great write up, Deuce. I agree wholeheartedly. While I love the effort and general thought behind this feature, in its current state, it's simply unacceptable.

It's basically a rewards feature for XP with no negative consequences for the user. It doesn't impact storylines around the league and make every franchise mode experience different. It's just a text message system within which to bury more XP rewards for the user.

Gameplay wise, I love Madden 20. But, the way this scenario engine was marketed and the way it has actually panned out couldn't be more different.

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Old 10-10-2019, 11:26 PM   #4
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

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Originally Posted by scitychamps87
Great write up, Deuce. I agree wholeheartedly. While I love the effort and general thought behind this feature, in its current state, it's simply unacceptable.

It's basically a rewards feature for XP with no negative consequences for the user. It doesn't impact storylines around the league and make every franchise mode experience different. It's just a text message system within which to bury more XP rewards for the user.

Gameplay wise, I love Madden 20. But, the way this scenario engine was marketed and the way it has actually panned out couldn't be more different.
It's really unfortunate because there is an unbelievable amount of potential with the feature. There's tons of things you can do and directions you can go but there's so much worry about making users feel bad or the slightest bit frustrated and it just doesn't allow for things to open up.

The update did make some changes and there are negative consequences but they almost always are either easily avoidable or come along with something that basically cancels them out. Like with the bye week ones you lose three morale points (which is nothing) but every player on the roster earns 300 XP. And then with the frustrated players ones it's possible to see a 20 point morale hit which is fairly significant but with how many other avenues you have to constantly pick up morale and the fact that the scenario has no effect once it's concluded, it doesn't ever give you the sense that any of it really matters.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:47 PM   #5
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

Do you think there is any possibility we ever truly see this fleshed out to its true potential?

In other words, negative consequences like disgruntled players, players who want a bigger role, demand a trade, etc? I'm fine with that not being the case often. But, at least one major player across the league every season wants out in recent history.

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Old 10-11-2019, 12:04 AM   #6
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

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Originally Posted by scitychamps87
Do you think there is any possibility we ever truly see this fleshed out to its true potential?

In other words, negative consequences like disgruntled players, players who want a bigger role, demand a trade, etc? I'm fine with that not being the case often. But, at least one major player across the league every season wants out in recent history.
It's possible but not to the extent where there's ever significant balance IMO. Take the 'Win One for the Veteran' scenario and the effects that gives off, if there was ever a "locker room cancer" type scenario it would likely end up being something like -5 morale for the entire team rather than the -20. Same with the Bye and Short Week scenarios where there's a negative aspect to it but it's still outweighed by the positive.

And anything that could potentially put a user in a position where they can't do something they want to or feel forced to do something they don't want to do it's going to be a really tough sell. I'd imagine there's going to have to be some sort of increase to negative consequences in the future just because of how insanely unbalanced things are currently but at the same time I can't really see them promoting a scenario that is just outrightly negative without there being some sort of positive outcome which from what we can tell so far, would not be balanced.
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

It's important to remember that EA told us back in April that the Scenario Engine would include trade demands & hold outs, and in August they promised 5th year options.

And to think people's biggest concern pre-release was the fact the CPU wasn't going to get these oh-so-important 'scenarios'.

People need to stop buying into the lies.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:57 PM   #8
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Re: Scenario Engine Revisited by Deuce Douglas

The "Win one for the Veteran" scenario is insane, I had it trigger for Marshall Yanda and I've won two playoff games now and after each game and each advance to the next week I've gotten +20 Morale for Yanda and +20 for the entire offense which means they have all gotten

+20 before Wild Card round game
+20 after Wild Card round game
+20 before Divisional round game
+20 after Divisional round game
+20 before Conference Championship game

This means that literally every offensive player has max morale and are seeing overall boosts of up to 4 points. I have to believe you're not supposed to receive the morale boost both before and after each game with this scenario because it's ridiculously helpful
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