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Revisiting Passing Game Controls in Madden 
Posted on June 9, 2014 at 01:53 AM.

With Madden 15 right around the corner and defense getting a lot of love this year, I've decided to look ahead at what EA can do to make the passing game 1) more fun, and 2) intuitive and skill based. I cannot write this blog without briefly mentioning the legendary vision cone. Wether you loved it or hated it (yes feelings were/still are very strong in the online community on the mechanic) it provided a sense of realism to the passing game. Yes it looked stupid seeing Peyton Manning's head being used as a flashlight, however the intent to give the user more control of manipulating the defense and behaving and thinking more like an actual QB was there.

Before I go any further I will say no, my idea is not to bring back the vision cone. However it is important for the user to be able to control where the QB is looking. First things first. In order for a QB to throw it to throw an accurate ball, he needs to be looking at his man. Secondly the most successful QBs know how to look one way to throw off the safety and throw the other. A QB's eyes can be his most useful weapon.

The simplest way to be able to control the QBs eyes (turn his head if you will) is to keep the passing game the way it is. Hitting the icon button. However simply hitting the button only selects which receiver you intend to throw to. His icon will light up indicating which receiver the QB is looking at (all other Icons will be dim). To keep it simple, the primary receiver will always be highlighted first. If he is covered however, going through your progressions and finding the open receiver will require the appropriate button press. Looking one way, switching to a receiver, and throwing the ball too quickly without allowing the QB to adjust and get his head/body over in the right direction quick enough will lead to a bad throw. This will obviously be different for each QB based on ratings.

Taking it a step further for the casual gamer; going through the progressions may take too much time leading to a lot of sacks. If you tied ratings into this system, QB AI can automatically make the progression for the player and automatically find the open receivers.

Once the receiver is found, actually throwing the ball will require a different/separate mechanic. Just like every other sports game out there.... Throwing the ball ties into the Right Stick.

Using the RS to throw the ball allows you to chose the direction on the pass in one simple flick. The slightest flick to the Left or Right of the receiver will determine where the ball is placed. I chose the right stick as the throwing mechanic because it requires skill to make the gesture you want. Flicking the stick in the direction you want it to throw the ball is fast but also intuitive. Making a back shoulder throw or leading a receiver is as simple yet difficult to master as flicking that stick in the direction you want it to go. Of course accuracy and ease of use will all rely on QB ratings.

Also, by taking a page out of backbreaker's book, the right stick can also control what type of pass you want to throw. Flicking up would be just a bullet pass, going down then up would be a lob over the defense, and just flicking down would be pump fake. Very simple mechanic that feels natural and fun.

The best part of this look then throw mechanic is the fact that it brings much more control to the passing game. Hit the receiver icon you want to throw to and use the RS to chose what type of throw you want to make and where you want to put it. Playing as the QB, this "tap then flick" or "look then throw" mechanic gives the user the tools QBs use everyday to be successful. Being able to control where the defense thinks you are going to throw with the QBs "eyes" (or direction he is looking) and going through progressions is something this game has been missing since the vision cone. In my opinion, the more control you have, the more fun you have.

Quick Edit: I remember in one of the more recent maddens, there was a brilliant feature indicating wether or not the WR was looking for the ball based on timing if his route. If the WR was not looking, they would be unable to catch the ball. Would love to see that put back in the game, as receivers' eyes are just as important as the QB's.
# 1 shavane @ Jun 9
I like most of these ideas. I think it would be great if the QB had to really set up by looking at the receiver and squaring his body to be able to deliver a accurate pass. It would eliminate those infamous 360 perfect bombs down the field and also depending how you use it be able to either set a defense up by actually looking off safeties or suffer the consequences if you decide to stare down one receiver and deliver the ball.

I think the idea of the QB looking where he's throwing combined with the WR icon being highlighted is a great idea so if I'm user controlling my safety I can try and time a potential pick for those players laser locked on one receiver but at the same time it would be just as thrilling if I gamble and get caught out of position and the QB swivels his head and hits a receiver in the area I just vacated.

As far as the controls I'm a little iffy on them. The amount of time in the pocket and the way madden plays now it would be difficult to pass with the RS. I was a strong supporter in backbreaker before it came out but the application of the RS passing game was horrible. It may work if you could hit the WR button circle, triangle, square, X and then pass with the RS but any kind of toggle other than that is death. If a QB is trying to look a safety off he knows where he is going so he snaps his head to that receiver and throws ie looking at square then hitting circle and RS. He doesn't look at square then X, triangle, R1, L1, then circle.

good ideas thought the passing game could use some umph to it
# 2 MAGboyswifT27 @ Jun 9
This blog brings back some good memories! ha
Back in 2005 I played in a Madden 05 tournament for the new Madden 06 (McNabb/vision cone) and we had to beat each other on the new game! It was crazy, tough, but really fun at the same time. Luckily I won and was able to learn the vision cone with my new Madden game! I do remember the vision cone and although it was hard to mess with it was still fun for those that are heavy Madden players or football fanatics when it comes to every detail of the game in real life. These ideas are good and it would be crazy to see some of your new ideas and old ones (vision cone) come back..
# 3 Sigma4Life @ Jun 11
I think you have some great ideas. I like the idea of simply using the buttons to select a receiver and RS to throw. A few things I'd change / modify...

Moving your thumb from face buttons to the R-stick is cumbersome and will frustrate a lot of people. Instead I propose using one of the triggers (LT or RT) to throw and use RS and / or LS to lead the receiver. The triggers are perfect for this application.

I think LT is ideal for throwing since RT is already used to sprint. Pull it slightly for a lob or fully for a bullet with lots of leeway in between to lob passes over a LB, for example.

I think this method greatly reduces the finger gymnastics of the OP without diminishing the end goal.

As the OP stated, for Brady / Manning types it would be tap, throw, tap throw with virtually no pause in between needed. For bad QBs it would be tap... wait... throw, tap... wait... throw. The length of the wait would depend on how far apart the receivers are on the field.

If I'm playing DB against a bad QB I know I can cheat towards who ever the QB is looking at because if he changes his focus I have a little bit of time to recover, and I also have hope for an inaccurate throw that might fall right into my lap.

Against Manning/ Brady I can't cheat on anyone because I know the QB can immediately burn my by throwing a quick, accurate pass to any receiver on the field.

The only time you have to wait when using elite QBs is when you change focus from one sideline to the other. To assist the user with letting them know when to throw they could add a subtle vibration or visual cue on the screen to indicate the QB is ready to throw.
# 4 johnnyg713 @ Jun 11
@sigma I appreciate the feedback. Honestly, in one of my original blogs I had the very same mechanic you just suggested. The triggers are great for allowing the user to keep their fingers in the same place, for the most part and the pressure sensitive nature of the trigger makes a lot of sense when throwing. The reason I have chosen the RS is because accuracy and throw power can both be tied in.

Again I like your ideas and I think we are both on the same page no how we think the passing game should be implemented. I've even considered having the throw stick set up like NBA 2k. Hold down on the RS and release to throw. This would be tied into the QBs signature throw animation. Time his release right and he throws a perfect throw. The degree of how late/early you release the stick too late, the degree on inaccuracy .
# 5 Sigma4Life @ Jun 11
Great minds think alike! I loved the vision cone when it was in so I do think some level of user accountability is sorely needed. I disagree with the throw stick though. It makes sense in basketball since a made shot is 1/2 selection and 1/2 release.

In football I think the success of a throw is more based on decision making, pressure, whether scrambling or set, and the quarterback's natural ability to make accurate throws. The user still has to put the right touch on the throw and lead the receiver. Anything beyond that would be too frustrating IMO, especially if that includes learning each quarterback's release point.
# 6 BigTone1970 @ Jun 12
The vision cone separated the men from the boys. The vision cone required you to read the defense pre-snap, figure out who you were going to pass to, and required you to look in the direction of the receiver. This also gave the defense a clue as to who was the desired target. Dropping back and being able to look at four receivers at once is completely unrealistic. Watch any NFL game. Many times someone gets wide open, but the QB is not looking in that direction. The vision cone required actual football skills, not just stick skills.
# 7 johnnyg713 @ Jun 12
@bigtone I completely agree, however many people thought it took too long to use the cone to scan the defense then hit the desired receiver. My idea tries to eliminate using up all that time with the cone.
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