Thursday, July 9, 2009

Madden 2010 - Rising Realism

by: Ryan Romano

EA posted a new blog entry on Monday featuring the improvements being made to both CPU AI and additional team specific formations and plays.

To sum up the post, the Madden team made several improvements to CPU AI when playing offline (usually in franchise mode). To give teams a more realistic feel, teams will now be more likely to call plays that play to their strengths. Two examples were given, the Vikings and Colts. Before when playing against the Vikings, if you built a lead or initially stopped the run, the Vikings would abandon the run. With AP being the #1 rated HB in the game it is not wise to move away from the run at any time when playing with the Vikings.

The opposite is true with the Colts. Manning is the #1 rated QB in the game. The new AI will be sure to utilize this and pass the ball more on 1st down (and every other down, for that matter). There is a detailed explanation on the post about how actual run versus pass percentages in '08 are factored into CPU play calling. The AI is also constantly reevaluating itself for changes to the team so it can update its game plan. “"What if Peterson gets injured or traded?" you may ask. A really cool thing built into Adaptive AI (which was first detailed here) is that the team will re-evaluate itself constantly - so if for example the Vikings no longer have a feature back like Peterson, they will adjust accordingly (and likely start running the ball much less on first down). To me this means that this CPU AI will be a huge asset not only when playing current season games in online franchise mode but also when playing teams that have evolved after ten seasons in offline franchise mode.

I have a feeling that, because the Madden team has zero info on how the new coaching regime will operate, the Seahawks will be a balanced 50/50 run/pass team. I also think they will use last year’s formations to create this year’s playbook, which means no shotgun, no screens, and lots of FB draws.

Another CPU AI function that desperately needed upgrading in the '09 version was play calling in different situations. Here is a quote from the post:

“To accomplish this, we used our Play Designer tool to totally re-vamp the "AI Groups" to change the way the CPU calls their plays. An "AI Group" is basically the same exact concept of a bucket of plays a team takes into the game geared around game situations. These situations include all the normal football situations like 1st and 10, 2nd Short/Medium/Long, 3rd and Short/Medium/Long, 4th and Short/Medium/Long, Goal Line, and many others. The AI Groups also cover all the “Special” situations like Special Teams plays, QB Kneel Downs, Conserve time (No-Huddle plays), Waste Time (when CPU is ahead and tries to run the clock out), and Hail Mary calls.”
Teams should play much more true to form in the new game than in years past. This was always one of my biggest problems with playing against the CPU.

The last new feature covered in the post was about team specific formations and packages. They use the example of Welker and the Pats. Welker is the #2 rated WR on the Pats. The #2 WR in Madden '09 always split out wide, usually to the left on the screen. In Madden 10, there will be packages that put Welker in the slot without having to make any package or player substitutions.
“We have also added new formations for various teams that have the WR1 and the TE1 lining up in the slot as well. So don’t be surprised when you play the CPU and guys like Greg Jennings, Hines Ward, Steve Smith and Dallas Clark are lining
up inside against you.”
I think this could apply to both Carlson and Housh when playing with the Seahawks. Madden designers have also hinted that because of Butlers speed he will be deadly in the slot.

Two more links for you SA Madden fans. The first is a screen shot of the sunset at Qwest field. It looks pretty good to me. Let me know what you think. The second is a bunch of NFC West screen shots, including another shot of Qwest along with pics of other NFC West stadiums. Pic 8 is of Tatupu running with an INT. There's also a couple shots of Kerney looking mean and a pic with TJ Housh. If anyone can figure out who is starting at #1 DT I would like to know. Kerney and Cole are obvious (this is in pic #7). I think these screen shots are worth a look for Addict Madden fans in this summer down time.

Finally, this date has yet to be confirmed by EA but there are reports from my favorite Madden blog that the one game demo – a 20 minute game recreating Super Bowl 43 – will be available July 23. Once again, the only way to access this demo is to reserve your copy of Madden 10 at a Game Stop; there will be an access code on the receipt. Personally I am not a fan of Game Stop but I will for sure be getting my copy there so I can get a three week head start getting used to the new game.

The only real problem in the demo will be trying to pick your team. So Addicts, when the time comes, which side do you pick -- Arizona or Pittsburgh?