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SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

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Old 06-01-2020, 04:00 PM   #1
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SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20



With Madden 21 news being delayed due to larger issues in the world taking precedence, I...

Written By: Chase Becotte

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With Madden 21 news being delayed due to larger issues in the world taking precedence, I think it’s good to take another look back at Madden 20 compared to other football games that came before it. It’s nothing new to compare Madden to older football games and lament the state of things — OS folks are very good at that — but I think constructive criticism and breakdowns like this one by SimFBallCritic are always helpful to watch.

Madden vs. All-Pro Football 2K8 in terms of man coverage is something that speaks to me more than a lot of other comparisons. All the way back to ESPN NFL 2K5, it was relatively easy to make the case for 2K having a better motion engine at least in terms of how it looked in action. Responsiveness of players and even how the passing game played out in both games was much more up for debate — how players moved in Madden was preferred by many and passing the ball in 2K was very easy — but 2K generally “looked” more realistic.

That same concept carried over to All-Pro Football 2K8, and I think it’s something shown off well in Sim’s video. There’s clipping between the two players in the APF 2K8 clip and plenty of other stuff to critique, but the way the secondary player deals with his man mark, and how both players interact just looks functionally more impressive, even now when compared to Madden 20.

For all the improvements Madden has received over the years, animations are an area where the game has generally fallen short. To me, it’s been two issues holding the series back there, and they’re both shown off in man coverage plays. The first is foot planting and sliding are generally an issue in EA football games. I don’t think we should expect perfect foot planting every step because gameplay-wise that might not even feel right if it’s superseding the human control (as has been the issue in other games attempting this), but it’s still easy to point out the flaws.

The other issue are those “blending” animations that take place as a player goes from one type of animation to another. At about 1:25 in the video, you can see a good example of this blending issue (there’s other examples in the video as well). The two players interact near the line of scrimmage, then sort of bounce out of that interaction as the defender slides into going into a trail coverage. It just doesn’t look right, and it also leads to an outcome where a large amount of space is gained by the receiver for no visual reason other than the animation oddity.

Sim goes more into real football technique and the like, and I think it’s valid to analyze those things and discuss where Madden comes up short, but first and foremost I think visually Madden needs to improve how the animations play out, and figure out a better method to branch from one animation to another during a play. If the visuals are cleaned up in those regards, things like proper football technique will matter more, but if your animations are going to let you down regardless, that “high-end” realism stuff is irrelevant because it won’t make the game look or play better from start to finish.
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Old 06-01-2020, 04:40 PM   #2
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

Fully agree with the video.


APF definitely has its flaws. But in terms of pure gameplay, it still tops Maddens in a lot of areas. I can fire up APF every once in a while and get a season in just because I enjoy the gameplay. Madden's problems are that it is so animation dependent and AI is so scripted. Madden's AI has been a big issue since start of 6th gen. CPU AI has to be scripted so everything goes according to plan. Madden has been two-man animation dependent for a very long time. You can see in the clip where the DBs have to slide in place and pop out of animations. Especially with tackling. You see the suction tackling or tackle animation starting before the interactions even takes place. You see in that APF clip how there were no sliding necessary. You see the DB give his press, stays close, actually look for the ball, turn to make play for ball, then tackles the WR to make sure he doesn't catch ball. In Madden, the DB would have slide into place, trailed behind, not look back, and would've went into a spectacular catch animation.

I feel Madden needs to overhaul its AI system. That's my main problem. The AI in Madden has been severely lacking. So CPU has to have its hand held and dictates what happens. CPU Players don't play independently of each other in Madden. With new generation consoles and vastly improved CPUs, hopefully Madden overhauls AI.
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Old 06-01-2020, 05:24 PM   #3
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

I've been screaming this from a mountain top: 2k really dropped the ball... and they continue to drop the ball. Everyone touts that 2k's gameplay exceeds Madden's gameplay. Everyone is frustrated with Madden. This is the time for 2k to create a fully customizable, non licensed game.

The major things that will make this game work:

Release Date
Release this game in May or June. Do not try to go head to head against EA because you're going to lose that battle. Release the game now... gamers still have the need for their football fix. They are bored with EA right now. This would be the perfect time to release because they have the market all to themselves. When Aug comes around, most will flock to EA, and that's ok. You already sold your copies

Fully Customizable
The game that you play for the first time will very well feature the Dallas Showboats and the Atlanta Hawks. It's not 2k's fault if some savvy computer users get creative and create a team that closely resembles the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys. It's not 2k's fault if the same user create accurate rosters. EA will probably try to sue, but they don't have a leg to stand on. EA messed up with NCAA by having the University of Florida's QB to be a mobile left handed white QB who wears #15 and comes from Jacksonville FL and swear up and down that it is not Tim Tebow. NCAA went too far with player likeness. If they would have simply had University of Florida's QB be truly some random person --and let the gamers upload real life rosters, then all would have been well. I do not know of any situation where a game company was sued based on what the gamers upload and download

Heck... the fact that nearly 12 years later, people are still playing these games because of their frustration w/ EA proves my point.

Franchise Mode
I truly believe that 2k's biggest short coming was the lack of a franchise mode. They hedged their bet that gamers would be in awe over the ability to create uniforms and play with John Elway and Too Tall Jones. No. The biggest thing was no franchise. Gamers want to build their teams, but you play a season and that's that. And if you played a season and your team was 3-10, there was no need for you to go on.

I honestly wish that I had the business mind (and resources ie finances) to do this. The lack of a license is not what would stop people from buying. I know folks will point to games like Backbreaker and that other game that was released last year but those were just bad games. And to prove my point, this 'non sim' game that 2k will be bringing out in two years will not be a success. It will have real teams/players but if it is an arcade NFL Blitz, it's not going to be successful.

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Old 06-01-2020, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

Something needs to be corrected because 100% of these Madden analysis "never" mention this, nor do I believe these individuals 1) understand what's driving said outcomes or 2) know about the under-the-hood metrics because they don't lab that deep for their analysis.

**Anyone with a PC can verify this to be true.

The current gameplay build we see Madden in is designed data wise, to placate to the User vs User gameplay.
- the AI is tweaked to fit within the User vs User framework, which is geared to a more open/fun experience void of any "major" AI difficulty application.

Attached is the pic to the Coverage file and some of the plethora of variables that affect what's being displayed in his video.

Just looking at the ManCoverage_Technique variables, you can see how the outcome in his vid is driven not because of a "bad game", but because of "bad variables" chosen to drive what is happening.

A lot of the shifting/warping is caused by the chosen variable for these different aspects forcing what is defined.
- both the HorzShade_Dist and OverShade_Dist is forcing the defender into the setup of these variables (1yrd and 1yrd)
- then you throw in the Cutreaction
- Read/React BreakTime
- Break During Throw
- Break During Release
- Break on Ball
- Play Receiver
- Play Ball
- Difficulty Modifier(s)
- Contextual Awareness Modifier(s)
- Bonuses, Delays
- Rating Delta's that partly decide chosen win/loss animations
- etc, etc, etc...

Many of the Interaction Distance is exaggerated for some reason
- 3yrds DefenderTrail_Dist in Man Cov
- 3.5 yrds for beat defender to jump Intercept
- 3.5 yrds for engaged defender to Reach Tackle

This game can be cleaned up so much if the Gameplay variables are set correctly to actually mimic Simulation of the sport, but they're not.

After adjusting many of these Gameplay variables to levels that enhance/bring out animations/outcomes, I'm like why can't this be the base build of the game, then Play Styles branch form here.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Coverage.jpg (171.1 KB, 326 views)

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Old 06-01-2020, 11:07 PM   #5
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

It's absurd that APF2k8 is still a viable comparison gameplay wise. I couldn't fathom what an NFL/APF 2k game would look/play like on current gen hardware, let alone next-gen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by khaliib
After adjusting many of these Gameplay variables to levels that enhance/bring out animations/outcomes, I'm like why can't this be the base build of the game, then Play Styles branch form here.
Intriguing to say the least. Im curious if the same can be done for OL/DL play. Can you post a gameplay video of the pc sim adjustments/modifications in action?
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:30 AM   #6
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

Why have they not made another APF? I would even take a remaster or remake.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:13 AM   #7
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanobi
It's absurd that APF2k8 is still a viable comparison gameplay wise. I couldn't fathom what an NFL/APF 2k game would look/play like on current gen hardware, let alone next-gen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Americas Team
Why have they not made another APF? I would even take a remaster or remake.
Exactly. APF gameplay still holds up very well today.
I would love a new APF game. 2k has better brand recognition than in 2007 and the want for a different licensed football is strong enough where a APF would do a lot better now.

But going back on topic, he had another video detailing difference on deep safety play. The main problem in Madden is AI. The CPU AI isn't intelligent enough to read and react. The AI is so scripted and follows coverage assignments regardless of what is happening in front of them. You shouldn't see Deep Safeties dropping back 10 yards when the offense route combinations are dictating it. Madden needs to have AI be intelligent to read and react. The game just feels so scripted.
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:46 AM   #8
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Re: SimFBallCritic Analyzes Man Coverage in All-Pro Football 2K8 and Madden 20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Americas Team
Why have they not made another APF? I would even take a remaster or remake.
It didn't sell very well at all is probably the main reason. A remaster would be great though, no draft/franchise mode makes this game unplayable for me though. I liked many things about APF, but always liked Madden a bit more in the end for whatever reason.

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