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The problem with video game football, and how to fix it

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Old 05-17-2008, 04:17 AM   #1
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The problem with video game football, and how to fix it

It's getting to be that time of year when the hype for Madden and NCAA start up, and already I'm starting to be underwhelmed. For the last few years, really since NCAA 2004, I've felt like I've been playing progressively weaker versions of the same game. The move to next gen has not gone kind, and it feels as though the fundamental issues with the games never seem to get fixed, just sort of smoothed over with temporary band-aids which might stop the bleeding, but don't fix the underlying wound. When I stumbled upon a link to an EA developer answering questions about this years Madden, the following quote just made me realize that the major problems that the games have are never going to be fixed unless something drastic changes.

Quote:
" They would jump to deflect the ball and when they miss they end up tackling you at the same time while your WR is still in his stride going for the ball." - smokecapone

This is definitely on purpose...we put this in a few years back and we wanted the defenders to still have a chance at making a play. It's in there as a balance so because before that, there were a ton of huge plays for TD - just because a DB just missed a swat for whatever reason. That being said, if the community thinks this is maybe a really big deal, we could look at changing it or forcing the DB to be play in a much less aggressive manner.
Think about that, that's the lead designer for Madden admitting that they intentionally make defensive backs perform superhuman feats because they want to stop the deep ball, and even better, he admits that he doesn't see why this is a problem. If the arguments are convincing enough, maybe he'll make the defense play more passive. Notice that the word realistic never enters his mind.

It's clear to anyone who has played Madden or NCAA that the passing game is seriously messed up, and that is just one symptom. Quarterbacks are on target way too often, and to fix it, they've resorted to defensive backs who react to the ball way too well, the above mentioned swat and tackle, or an inordinate amount of drops. The primary problem with this system, in my opinion, is the way the passing game is controlled, namely the use of the face buttons. I pick the receiver I want to throw to, hit the button, and it's thrown to him. I have some input into the arc of the pass depending on how long I hold the button down, but absolutely nothing into the accuracy. That's determined by the computer, and it sucks.

The solution? I think passing should be moved onto the right thumb stick. The two best sports games of recent vintage, NHL 08 and Skate, both heavily incorporated the thumbstick into their control scheme, and both where much better for it. They both gave the player increased control and increased connection with the game, because it's wasn't the act of hitting X which shot the puck towards the corner, it was my deke around the defense followed by a quick flick of the stick aimed towards the upper corner which beat the goalie glove side. I didn't hit X to get sucked into a grind, I flicked the stick to initiate a kick flip and rotated my body using my left stick to line up the perfect angle.

The method for passing I propose in football would be similar. The left stick would work as it does now, moving the quarterback around the pocket. The right stick would take over for the face buttons. Instead of hitting X to dump the ball off to my running back in the flat, a gentle push of the stick in that direction would send the ball that way. If I wanted to hit my tight end on an intermediate crossing route, I would push a little harder in his direction to send the ball on its way. If I wanted to hit my wide receiver on the deep route, I'd push the stick as hard as I could towards him. If I wanted to modify my throw, I would use the triggers. The right stick would increase the velocity of the throw, pull it slightly down and the throw would be slightly flatter and harder, pull it all the way down and the ball would scream out of my qb's hand as hard as possible. The left trigger would be used to make the ball take a higher trajectory. If my tight end has a few steps on the linebacker, pull it down slightly to drop it in over his head. If one of my wide receivers breaks deep uncovered, pull it down all the way to throw it deep and high, giving him plenty of time to run under the football.

How would this improve the overall game? It's simple really. Currently, since the player has little control over how the football is thrown, most passes are generally on target. This is unrealistic, but it's annoying to the player to have guys running wild all over the field and your quarterback be unable to get it there. Therefore, in order to keep the game somewhat challenging, the developers cheat. Defenders react unrealistically to the ball, jumping with perfect timing even though their backs are turned or they were initially covering a different player. With this new control scheme, this would no longer have to be done. Inaccuracy with the pass would be solely the fault of the player, so not every deep ball would fall with perfect accuracy, and every once in a while a routine out would sail over the receiver's head or bounce at his feet. An accurate game of football could be played since it would not require a random roll of the die to determine if a pass was on target, but solely the user's inputs. Cheating would be unnecessary since every pass would no longer be perfect. It would also enable the use of more precision passing, throwing hard and low if that's what is open, or leading your receiver to the middle away from safety help in a cover 2. It would look like football.

That's not the only place changes would be made. The movement system in football games is hopelessly dated. Push forward to move, push X to sprint, use a stick to make a ridiculous sideways dodge to avoid a tackle. That's not football. Football is about momentum, stopping and starting, moving quickly into and out of cuts to keep your defender at bay. How many times has LaDainian Tomlinson done a quick stutter step to freeze a defender in the open field, then accelerate past him to gain the corner on his way to the endzone? Has that ever happened in a football game? The answer is no, and the reason is the all or nothing control scheme. Again, I'll refer to NHL 08, whose skating engine eschewed the use of a standard turbo button and instead relied on complete analogue control. Push slightly up on your stick, and your skater would slowly move forward. Push all the way, and he'd skate in a full out sprint. Slowly roll the stick to the side, and he'd perform a long curving turn. Quickly jam it to the side, and he'd abruptly stop and turn. Using this, you could maneuver around traffic in many different ways, slowly turning to keep your opponent at bay, or using the quick stop to have him go sailing by. Using the same type of system in a football game, you'd no longer see cartoonish side steps that never happen in a real football game. Instead, you'd see stutter steps, quick cuts against the grain of the defender's movement, things you'd see in a real football game.

Does any of this have a chance of happening? Probably not. But it's something that's been bothering me for a while, and since I've been having trouble sleeping tonight, I decided to write it and see what others thought.
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Old 05-21-2008, 04:45 AM   #2
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Re: The problem with video game football, and how to fix it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudd
That's not the only place changes would be made. The movement system in football games is hopelessly dated. Push forward to move, push X to sprint, use a stick to make a ridiculous sideways dodge to avoid a tackle. That's not football. Football is about momentum, stopping and starting, moving quickly into and out of cuts to keep your defender at bay. How many times has LaDainian Tomlinson done a quick stutter step to freeze a defender in the open field, then accelerate past him to gain the corner on his way to the endzone? Has that ever happened in a football game? The answer is no, and the reason is the all or nothing control scheme. Again, I'll refer to NHL 08, whose skating engine eschewed the use of a standard turbo button and instead relied on complete analogue control. Push slightly up on your stick, and your skater would slowly move forward. Push all the way, and he'd skate in a full out sprint. Slowly roll the stick to the side, and he'd perform a long curving turn. Quickly jam it to the side, and he'd abruptly stop and turn. Using this, you could maneuver around traffic in many different ways, slowly turning to keep your opponent at bay, or using the quick stop to have him go sailing by. Using the same type of system in a football game, you'd no longer see cartoonish side steps that never happen in a real football game. Instead, you'd see stutter steps, quick cuts against the grain of the defender's movement, things you'd see in a real football game.
I agree with this part the most.

However, the right stick passing would be hard to control. In my opinion, what you said with the triggers could stick right on(one controlling velocity and the other controlling loft). But what if you are running a crossing route or something to that affect where two recievers cross. How would you decide who the pass goes to?

In my opinion, if the movement by stick ever does really get implemented, the best way to tune passing would be to have a QB push a corresponding button to a reciever, then pull back on the right stick and let it flick into it's standard position(like shooting free throws in 2K).

However, the right stick could also lead(it would have to be thrown at, ahead, or behind a reciever). So you'd actually have to aim. This would just help out so the CPU that decides who your pass will be going to on crossing routes will no longer have to decide and it is truly an all user skill passing concept.

So, my idea would look something like this:

QB gets snap > drops back > makes read > clicks corresponding reciever button > Pulls back on right stick into general direction of reciever to either lead, throw behind, or squeeze into a hole) > Let's go of right stick.

Hope that makes sense...?
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Old 05-24-2008, 12:36 PM   #3
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Re: The problem with video game football, and how to fix it

Backbreaker's control scheme is basically how you said you wanted to control your qb and runner.
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:49 PM   #4
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Re: The problem with video game football, and how to fix it

I would rather have the right stick move a target around the field that would be where you're going to throw to. Only one button would be used to throw after the target is placed. The target movement would be pressure sensative. Velocity and ark would still be determined by how long you hold the button.
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