Today Ian Cummings, Madden NFL 11’s Creative director, dropped in on the official EA Sports Madden NFL blog to talk about some new additions to this year’s game, specifically GameFlow and Strategy Pad. This is what I love about EA, they listened to the communities feedback from the demo and came right out and addressed the concerns, both of which I actually brought up in my impressions piece on the demo.
He pretty much says that the data from the demo is telling them that people really like Gameflow which pretty much falls in line with what I thought based on my experience, I said in my thoughts on the demo that I thought that it was a system that both casual gamers as well as hardcore gamers would find helpful and it looks like the data is backing that up.
Ian says that based on their telemetry, 95% of games played have had GameFlow as the default style of playcalling, though he did note that GameFlow is the default playcall option. To further support the fact that people like GameFlow he says that of all plays 80% of the offensive plays and 86% of the defensive plays were run via Gameflow vs the traditional playcalling system. This response from the community pretty much assures that GameFlow is here to stay.
The other thing that he talked about was my biggest issue with the demo which was how they changed the pre-play controls and replaced them with what they called the “Strategy Pad”. The interesting fact about this was that he said that while many of us who have been playing Madden for years have mastered the old system, apparently it was rather difficult for new players to pick up. I understand that, but I think that this is one of the times where they reacted way to much to only a small percentage of their core audience by making Strategy Pad the default. He references the data collected through online games played which is good and all, but who’s really playing online, is it the casual gamer or the hardcore gamer? Personally, while Madden Ultimate Team got me online much more last year, for the most part I am a franchise guy and they don’t really get my data. He says that based on telemetry data the biggest factor behind putting in the strategy pad was that much too often people accidentally triggered the hot route system when they didn’t mean to, at the rate it was happening it is an issue, but some part of me wants to be like just read the manual idiot.
The major issue it seems was that there was way to many people accidentally triggering the hot route system and they made a decision to make it idiot proof but in the process I think have limited the capability of people who actually know how to use the system. The decision was clearly all about making the game more accessible and they admit that.
But alas what does that mean for us old timers who long for the day of old, well all hope is not lost. Due to overwhelming feedback from the community though they are going to bring the old controls back as an option that can be enabled through an update. BUT. And there is always a but, that update won’t be available until some time around the start of the NFL season but even that depends on Sony and Microsoft’s approval process, which almost guarantees that it will be available for the 360 weeks before the PS3.
Well folks that’s it, guess we will just have to live with the Strategy Pad until the update comes out by which time most of us that consider ourselves real Madden fans will have by pure will to be really good have probably already mastered the Strategy Pad, but oh well it is what it is. Well just like Ian said, no reason to dwell on that, we have two weeks left till Madden NFL 11 drops and a few more weeks after that for the NFL season to start, so we can’t be that mad can we?