These are some things I hope Electronic Arts includes in the next iteration of Madden football.
FIRST PERSON MODE: I would love for Madden to have a first-person mode like ESPN Football has. It is the single biggest difference between the two games and if that’s a feature that matters to me as a prospective buyer, and I donâ€™t know much else about either game, then it’s a no-brainer to chose ESPN Football because it’s less than half the price of Madden, as well. The point, obviously, is obviated if, with EA’s their new agreement with ESPN, eventually merges the two video games.
SELF-INDUCED UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: Sometimes during a game I get really frustrated when the other team keeps stopping my offense or gains effortless yards against my defense. It is times like these that I really just want to pound one of the opposing players. I’d love to have the ability to take a cheap shot at one of my opponents after the play is over. Just, you know, a forearm to the chin or something. You’d be penalized 15 yards, of course, but it sure would be satisfying.
TURNING OFF MADDEN AND MICHAELS: I know this is probably heresy around EA’s office, so I’ll lower my voice during this part. Nine times out of ten I turn Madden and Michaels OFF when I’m playing a game. They both drive me nuts when I watch Monday Night Football for real but they drive me even more crazy in my video game. So I turn them off and turn the on-field chatter up. That’s an awfully thoughtful feature for us John Madden-haters. And the on-field chatter is really good. I’d just like some more variety as well as some variety from the stadium announcerâ€”maybe mix it up with some music and the occasional announcement telling parents their kid is missing, etc.
VARIOUS BIT OF UNREALISM: Okay, these next two apply to a lot of video games, not just Madden, but they are two problems that should really get solved because they absolutely destroy the realism of any game. I think it has to do with the "physics engine," if you’ll allow me to use Game Geekspeak. I haven’t really noticed this in Madden but I have noticed in a lot of games (Medal of Honor: Frontline comes to mind) where a character will bump up against a wall and just keep on walking as if there’s not a wall there but, sadly, the wall is keeping him from going anywhere and he doesn’t realize it. What the hell? Idiot character. You can either solve the problem so he understands that there’s a wall there, or, more entertainingly, you can allow the user to blow him up. Just press X and kah-BLOOM! The other problem, and this happens a lot in Madden, is where two player walk through one another. And I know from experience that you can’t do that.
The following bits of unrealism are more cosmetic than anything: 1) Why is it that Randy Moss’ defender is never, ever called for interference when it’s ab-so-LUTE-ly clear that he was mauled? That’s unrealistic, especially given the officials new "point of emphasis" in enforcing no contact. 2) The officials challenges, whether initiated by the user or by the CPU, are random and sometimes so clearly wrong that they surprise even this long-time, jaded NFL fan. 3) The cheerleaders. Really. Since when do cheerleaders have sharp edges?!? Either make them realisticâ€”and by so doing also make them hotâ€”or get rid of them entirely.
POST GAME INTERVIEW: You know what would be really cool? If you could be interviewed after the game. Here’s a way to add a new feature, enhance the realism of the game, hedge your bets on an aging broadcast crew who may or may not be out of a job when the NFL renews their TV contract and who, at any rate, will in the foreseeable future, be replaced by younger faces. Here’s the idea: You take Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter and have her interview the Horsetrailer Player of the Game after the game. And you, the player, equipped with your microphone Xbox/PS2 headset, get to answer her questions. Example: "David, you threw for over 400 yards today, sixty-plus completion percentage, and tossed two touchdowns and no interceptionsâ€¦were you in a zone today?"
"Well, Michele, I donâ€™t know about that. I had a lot of help from my teammates blah blah blah."
But the thing is, you could save the interviewâ€¦and upload it to the web. Which brings me to my next new great feature:
WEB INTEGRATION: The following ideas serve dual purposes: They are either new features or enhance/complement existing features and happen to be great ways to increase use of the EASports.com and therefore, are a great marketing tool because it would require registration to the site so EA’d get the usersâ€™ emails. I think the following features would help to both drive more online play adoption and more registrations at EASports.com.
Uploading Plays/Interviews: The only reason anyone would want to upload a play or an interview is so that they could show it to other people. And there’s your viral marketing. Give me the ability to upload X number of plays to my account at EASports.com so I can easily watch them from the site. I’m guessing the Madden demographic is in the twenty to thirty year age bracket but they have a significant teen demographic, most of whom do not play the game online. This is a way to encourage them to get online. It’s also a way to encourage them to interact with EASports.com. Two of teens’ favorite online tools are Instant Messaging and blogs. So give them an easy tool where they can cut and paste an EASports.com branded video player into their blogs that plays their latest Madden 2005 uploads or does a rotation of them. There would, of course, be links to EASports.com, Buy Now links, etc. Finally, give them the easy ability to IM their videos to friends.
You could even have an offensive and defensive play of the week from online tournaments, or whatever, and post those clips prominently on EASports.com. You’d be surprised at how important a Play of the Day would be for some of the people. Some people will give that much more effort to get the Play of the Day and when they do, you know theyâ€™re gonna let people know about it. More viral marketing.
Create A Player Online: One of my favorite features of Madden is the ability to create a player. I especially love the fact that the stadium announcer says "Erickson back to return the kick." What I donâ€™t like is the fact that the profile for my created player has no photograph. Why can’t I just upload the photo I want for my created player and have it synchronize with Xbox Live and download it to my Xbox so it can be in the game. It gives new meaning to their tag line: It’s in the game! More like, You’re in the game.
Rosters/Historical Rosters: There are two problems with the rosters 1) the historical rosters are historical in name only and 2) the current method of using the controller is just too unwieldy to be useful. And that presented two problems for me that have not been solved: I wanted to create my own team and I wanted accurate historical Vikings teams but I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to spend a year doing data entry on a controller in order to get my rosters the way I want them.
The historical rosters are a joke because the make no pretense to accuracy. Honestly, I was pissed off when I saw that not only did the 1975 Vikings not have Fran Tarkenton has their quarterback, but that their quarterback was number 5 and not Tarkenton’s number 10. Neither the names nor the numbers were correct on the roster.
So maybe the reason their historical rosters are wildly inaccurate and random is because of royalties to the people who played on those teams or the players union. That would explain the state of the rosters but the game suffers as a result.
Here’s a way around it: Give me, through my EASports.com account, access to an application where I can easily set my historical rosters. So, I can pick the 1975 Vikings team roster and set everything on it though the web site: Name, number, position, height, weight, player ratings such as speed and strength, bodily features, equipment, et cetera, just like I can do in the game, but instead Iâ€™ve got access to a real keyboard so it won’t take for bloody ever to get it done.
I wanted to create my own team with the guys I play actual football with on Saturdays. I should be able to do that online as well. A web site is a hell of a lot easier to use for such tasks than a controller.
Finally, after I’ve set my roster, let me share it with people so they don’t have to do all the work. You know that there will be people out there who will do the research on their own to get meticulously accurate rosters and then, if they have to share them, it adds value to the product and you didn’t have to compile all that information.