Hey Madden fans!
Iím Josh Looman, senior designer for Madden NFL 10 and the guy who had the privilege of tuning franchise mode this year. I thought Iíd sit down and answer a lot of the questions Iíve received about franchise mode and the changes we made this cycle. As Iíve mentioned before (in this blog), my goal was to clean up the logic and get this mode back to where it needed to be. Iíll repeat my favorite analogy for those of you who havenít heard it before: If you found out you had termites in your house, would you build on another addition or clean up the foundation so that you could build on the house in the future? That was exactly our attitude and my sole focus since I joined the Madden team halfway through the development cycle. I enlisted the help of one of my top programmers from NFL Head Coach í09 (Jeff Keyek) and worked with the rest of the Madden team to address many of the core aspects of the mode that really needed fixing.
There have been a ton of questions posted out on the forums that I wanted to answer, but first off I wanted to talk about one key addition to Franchise mode, which was a total overhaul to the overall interface and flow of the mode. We learned on NFL Head Coach í09 that a career mode is a lot more fun to play when you donít force people to go dig for common information every week. Surfacing these key pieces of info streamlines the experience and allows you to get what you need at a glance and advance to next week. We felt that one major issue with the previous Franchise experiences was just that it didn't feel alive. The Franchise hub was designed primarily with the one-player experience in mind...a one-stop shop to play games, watch "The Extra Point" recap show, and jump to top news around the league (though it's important to note the multi-player experience is just as streamlined through new league & team schedule screens). Here is a quick look at the Franchise "hub" - the home screen of sorts for your entire Franchise:
Now we can compare that to Madden NFL 09:
Also, here's a demo of "the hub" in action in an interview I did at E3 with our very own Carlos Navarro from the EA Sports Live team. Forgive my voice breaking up...E3 consists of a lot of shouting. :)
So that's enough talk about the core improvements to the flow - on to the questions...
Q: Has trade logic been improved? Will I still be able to trade for Matthew Stafford even though the lions just drafted him 1st overall and made him their franchise player?
A: Trade logic has been improved. Itís much harder to trade for good players or very high draft picks now. In the case of Matthew Stafford, the logic a.ssigns him a trade value which becomes his worth in the game. Since heís young and heís yet to reach his potential, they increase that worth and essentially inflate his overall rating in trade negotiations. Iím sure you could swing a trade for him if you offered Peyton Manning, a first round pick, Bob Sanders and a pineapple upside down cake, though. :)
Q: Do CPU teams value their Draft Picks more than before?
A: Yes, they do. In the past, you could trade for the #1 pick by offering up something like the 15th overall pick and a 3rd rounder. We tuned it so that you have to offer up much more to get high draft picks now.
Q: Has there been more focus put on where a player wants to play in free agency?
A: Yes. I spent a lot of time tuning this over the past few months. I wanted to make sure that it would be harder to convince marquee free agents to play for the Lions, for instance. In Free Agency or in the Re-Signing stage, players will expect more money to sign or re-sign with a struggling team. If youíre Detroit and you want to sign a 90 overall free agent, you will need to pay him much more. If youíre New England, he may play for his expected salary or slightly less.
Q: Will players be able to become coaches after their retirement?
A: Yes. We even tuned this so that thereís a greater chance that retired players come back as coaches sooner this year.
Q: Since two-back systems are in vogue, will running backs split carries a la Carolina, Tennessee, etc.?
A: Yes. This is all determined by the RB sliders in your coach options. We have logic that determines how carries will be split later on in franchise. If you have two 90 overall running backs, they will split carries.
Q: How often does progression take place and will season performance effect it? (yearly, quarterly, every game, etc.)
A: All of the tuning this year was done to make the progression system from í09 playable. Last year, players rarely progressed and if they did, they didnít go up much. We fixed those problems and Iím seeing what I expect when I get to the offseason after having good seasons with my players. In the future, weíll look into using a progression system similar to the one we used in NFL Head Coach í09. It allows for more flexibility than the system weíre working with now.
To answer your question:
Season performance has a huge impact and progression happens in the offseason.
Q: How much does potential matter vs. production for progressing players?
A: Potential matters because it ultimately decides if a player has reached their ceiling or not while production is important since it determines if your playerís attributes increase or decrease. So Iíd say that they matter equally.
Q: Has anything been done to the logic to stop players from retiring too early?
A: Yes. The retirement logic has been tuned so that less 30-34 year old players with a higher overall rating retire. Youíll still see players retire, but if theyíre any good, theyíll stay around a little longer.
Q: How many different draft classes are there and how many extra undrafted players will there be on average?
A: There are 32 different draft classes that contain around 250 players each. That means about 30 players will go undrafted in each class.
Q: How will the scouting process work for rookies pre-draft and how is it different from the last few iterations of Madden or similar to HC?
A: Scouting is different than it was in í09. This year you pick the players you want to scout and each week a piece of information is unlocked about them. At first, the information will be a bit vague. Youíll see comments like, ďHis awareness is less than an 80.Ē Once you scout the player a few more weeks, youíll clear up the vague comments and see something along the lines of, ďOk, weíre sure that his awareness is a 76.Ē
This will help you get a total picture of the player. Since you also have an idea of what his potential is, you can combine the information to determine if the player has high potential and if heís able to be more than a project. Just because a player has high potential doesnít mean that heíll be a productive player for a while. You may draft players in the 7th round with high potential but theyíll come in at 59 overall. So it could take years for them to be ready to play significant roles. If you do your homework, you can find the Marques Colstonís of the Draft. Players with high potential and high overalls that can contribute right away. I spent a lot of time tuning the draft classes so that there are really busts and gems in the draft now. You may draft a LT who comes out at 80 overall but has a potential of 81. Or you may draft a QB in the 6th round who has a 99 potential and a 78 overall rating ala Tom Brady.
Q: Is there a noticeable difference between regular season and playoff games?
A: Yes. Ian and the presentation team did a lot of great things to make sure that the playoffs felt different than the regular season. Iím not going to spoil them for you, but I have a feeling your jaws are going to drop when you see some of the things we have in store.
Q: Has anything been done to fix the scheduling logic? Will we still see teams with 4 straight Monday night games or open the season with a 6-game road trip?
A: This has been fixed by the guy I mentioned above...Jeff Keyek. He fixed some weird logic issues that were causing scheduling anomalies.
Q: Will coaches effect progression? For example it seemed like the Ravens and Steelers could draft LBer after LBer and most of them would become at least solid players.
A: Coaches, especially elite coaches, do impact a playerís ratings in Franchise Mode. Coaches like D. LeBeau will give a constant increase to certain player ratings in-game and when games are simmed, effectively making players on their team better all the time. You can see the impact they make in the player management screen. Youíll notice a little plus sign and a number next to the ratings they are increasing.
Q: How are the draft classes, are they the same classes from Headcoach?
A: The draft classes are my favorite thing about franchise mode this year. They are different from Head Coach (some old HC favorites were carried over) but they were all hand created like they were there. I created lots of different types of players, too. Run Stopping DEs vs. Pass Rushing DEs, big bruising backs vs. scat backs, etc. I think you guys will have a blast trying to find the hidden gems and living with the busts. I canít you how satisfying it is to turn a team around like I did when playing a few seasons with the Bengals. I couldnít run the ball at all with Cedric Benson for 17 games in year one. I got into the offseason and found a RB in the 3rd round that immediately ignited my running game in year two. I made the playoffs and that kid won rookie of the year.
Q: Will you marry me?
A: No. :)
Q: Will it be fun enough to play more than 2 seasons?
A: Yes. And that was my goal this year!
Thanks for all of the questions and the positive feedback so far. I look forward to working with Phil, Ian, Donny and the rest of the team to bring you guys the best version of Madden every year! You guys are the most passionate fans and we love that about you.
- Josh Looman
Senior Designer, Madden NFL 10
Last edited by Jago; 06-19-2009 at 09:14 PM..