Updating a sports game is tricky business. You can't rightly update the rules of football, so the only way you can really make the game feel fresh and exciting is by improving the simulation experience. The Madden series is well known for being the leading football game franchise around, but there are still some improvements that can be made. Here is what we want to see from Madden NFL 13.
As always, we want to see the game expand create-a-player and create-a-team options. Being able to tweak everything from your team's Jersey to their town to the individual stats on the players they draft is an absolute must in today's sports games. However, I don't want it to stop there. I think it would be awesome if EA added a "create-a-coach" mode.
Now, I'm not the biggest football fan out there, but I do know that coach turnover rate can sometimes be higher than the release rate of Madden. Some of my more sports-centric friends get quite upset when they have to play a game that shows an incorrect team coach on the sidelines. By implementing a create-a-coach mode, players will be able to pick and choose their coaches as they like. Not only will this end complains about outdated coaches, it will also let football fanatics assign dream coaches to their favorite teams as they like.
If the mode is implemented successfully, the created coach might "level-up" just like created players do. Coaches could learn different plays and strategies and can have a different effect in managing their teams. Coach selection could become as important as player management, and I think that's an interesting part of the football meta-game that has tons of potential.
Has anyone else noticed that it's nearly impossible to get pass interference called on them in a Madden game? I have, and it makes the game feel a little less real for me. In fact, passing in general feels rather dry and lacks a simulation aspect. Players certainly don't swarm over the ball in ways that they should.
I've heard fans complain about the lack of penalty inclusion in the Madden franchise. Some have called for the introduction of Illegal contact penalties or off-setting penalties. Essentially, any penalty that can be issues in a real NFL game should be able to be issues in a game's simulation.
In addition, the game should tweak the way you challenge ref calls. Right now, your only option is to challenge whatever happened last in a play. However, multiple challengeable things can happen in a single play. A simple drop-down menu would make challenging both simpler and more powerful.
Part of the fun of football is following your favorite team outside of the game. Real fanatics know where their favorite players went to college, what injuries they have suffered, and even where they live. It's all a part of the greater football narrative that we love to take part in. This is why football underdog movies are so popular.
It would be cool to see the Madden franchise focus more on the narrative of football, especially in the game's superstar mode. When you create a player, you should see elements of his personal life in addition to his life on the field. You should be able to see events that detail where he has been, where he came from, and how he got here. The ultimate implementation of this feature would be placing you in a sort of sports movie where you lead your team to victory through a series of trials and tribulations. However, simply letting us see press conferences about the events in a player's life would also be a nice touch.
Animations and Physics
This may sound like whining, but sports games have been lagging behind in the animation department. While my fighting games deliver the real impact of jamming my fist into someone else's face, and my shooters cause bodies to go limp with ragdoll physics, sports games still rely on canned animations more often than not. As a result, we tend to see players sliding along the field as if they were on ice skates when their animation and their positioning doesn't synch up.
Simply put, the series would be better with more physics-based movement. This too could have an impact on gameplay. Run faster, impact harder, increase the chance of injuries. If this causes a player's model to bend awkwardly during an animation, then you have injury-deciding criteria right there.
There's no denying that the Madden franchise has football simulation down to a science. In fact, our simulation technology has become so advanced that most of what we want to see in the future is just nit-picking. Better animations, better play handling, more customization, and so forth will naturally evolve as our ability to program a football simulation gets better and better.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: March 26, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*