Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds the release of an annual sports title. Depending on your social media circle and the forums you visit, you could spend hours just reading about all the features that aren’t in the game and all the bugs that are! For a change, it would be great to read not only about the things that bother us about our games but also hear about the realistic, feasible solutions to address them.
Here we will discuss how some, not all, of the top issues about Madden NFL 19’s Connected Franchise Mode (CFM) can be addressed by using tools EA has supplied to the user. EA has provided more tools than ever before and it would be a shame if these were overlooked. Each user wants their CFM to operate in a certain way. ‘SIM’ users often have different definitions of what true simulation football is and should leverage the provided tools to their liking.
Please note that some of the items below may or may not apply to both online and offline versions of CFM. An impact rating of Low, Medium or High has been used to illustrate the level of direct impact these tools can have on a user’s CFM experience.
Tool #1: 32-Team Control (offline only)
Madden 19 allows the user to step into the owner’s or coach’s office of another NFL team and make decisions for that organization. To be clear, a user does not need to set up complete 32-team control in their offline CFM to experience the benefits of this tool. A user can step in and out of as many or as few teams as they see fit to alter their franchise experience.
Several issues can be addressed using 32-team control. Overall control can be taken of a team’s roster to make decisions on who should be signed, re-signed, cut, traded, or assigned to a practice squad and this can make a critical impact on your CFM. Want the Steelers to re-sign or trade Le’Veon Bell? Want to mirror a recent NFL transaction (Khalil Mack)? This tool will allow you to do that, and more!
Controlling other team’s draft selections is another issue that users experience. Maybe the CPU has drafted a QB in the first round a couple of years in a row or maybe the CPU drafted three QB’s in one draft. Neither situation makes a whole lot of sense. Additionally, sometimes the CPU makes depth chart decisions solely on overall rating and does not consider any other ‘intangibles’. Being able to control the depth chart allows the user to choose when a young player can get an opportunity to shine. Lastly, this tool allows a user to help the CPU focus their training where it matters most and allows for progression to be more logical.
The use of 32-team control can be the most time-consuming tool covered here, but it could also be the most useful. Be sure to consult the SimSportsGaming guide on how to set up and use 32-team control.
Recommended uses of 32-team control:
- CPU roster management logic – signing, re-signing, cutting, trading players, or assigning players to practice squads.
- Complete control of the NFL draft.
- Adjusting team depth charts.
- Controlling team’s training focus areas and player progression.
Tool #2: Gameplay, Penalty, and XP Sliders (offline & online)
Sliders, sliders, and more sliders! Most of the sliders that we see in Madden NFL 19 have been around for a long time, but they should not be overlooked. EA has provided users with sliders that impact user and CPU game-play, sliders that adjust the frequency of in-game penalties, and, more recently, sliders that can change the XP earned by players.
Each of the individual slider sets can tailor the game-play and CFM experience for the user. If a user wants a simulation style football game but doesn’t like penalties being called they can reduce the penalty sliders. If the tuning within the code of Madden NFL 19 is resulting in an unusually high volume of fumbles, interceptions, dropped passes, etc. then these sliders can help address those issues. It is worth noting that some game-play issues are embedded within the game’s coding and these sliders can only change so much. The Madden NFL 19 community is always working to identify the ‘best’ set of sliders, but I would be surprised if any one set of sliders would be the ‘best’ for multiple users as expectations always vary.
Recommended uses of game-play, penalty, and XP sliders:
- Accommodate skill level of user-controlled team to make for more balanced game-play.
- Correct game-play issues embedded in game code that require tuning by EA, e.g. high volume of fumbles or interceptions, poor run blocking by AI, QB accuracy, etc.
- Create a more ‘realistic’ game-play experience based on user’s expectations.
- Address progression issues as identified by the user regarding over-developed or under-developed positions.
Tool #3: Direct Player Editing (offline & online)
Direct player editing within CFM has been around for a while now, however, it still might be under utilized by most of the CFM community. EA allows the user to directly edit any player’s information in their CFM. This not only includes their ratings, but also their equipment, player information, and contract information. This is probably the second most straightforward tool (see the winner below) and the recommended uses listed here do not even come close to addressing everything that can be done with this tool, but it is a start for sure.
Recommended uses of direct player editing:
- Change player positions for user-controlled or CPU team.
- Player rating adjustments required to correlate with real-world skill-sets, or any other reason.
- Update out-dated, inaccurate, or unrealistic player equipment, including jersey numbers.
- Direct edits to player contract details to match real-life events or to address in-game financial issues.
- To be leveraged to force trades with CPU that were originally rejected, but occurred in the NFL, e.g. Khalil Mack.
Tool #4: Force Wins
Did you know that EA allows the user to decide the winner of every single game within their CFM? It is called a “force win” and it can prevent a user’s playoff experience from being underwhelming at times. In Madden NFL 19 a user can navigate the schedule menu, select any game, and force a win for the home or away team. There might be some CFM users out there that are unaware of this feature and maybe have never even navigated to the schedule menu. This is a useful tool and here are some of the recommended uses for it.
Recommended uses of force wins:
- A user-controlled team that was clearly on their way to victory, but had the game freeze or crash, and does not have time to replay the game.
- CPU controlled team to mirror the real NFL season while playing your user controlled games.
- CPU in a decisive game with playoff or even Super Bowl implications to make for a more exciting/competitive CFM experience…
- …because it’s the user’s CFM and they can do what they want!
There will always be issues to gripe about when it comes to video games, especially for sports titles with annual releases and passionate fan bases. The level of perfection that some gamers expect will never be reached, simply because perfection is relative. It is unlikely a consensus will be achieved on things like CPU roster management logic, contract negotiations, player stats, and annual awards.
There is too much subjectivity and the NFL has real-life examples occurring every year. Teams make unusual roster choices that would be impossible to program into a video game (did I mention Khalil Mack in this article yet?) Unlikely players will have an amazing break out year in the NFL only to be never heard of again (remember Peyton Hillis in 2010?) yet some find issue when this occurs in Madden NFL 19.
While it is important to help developers identify the most important issues in their games, it is just as important to recognize the positive things in the games we love. EA has provided us with a variety of tools to help make our CFM experience in Madden NFL 19 unique to us as individuals.
What other tools are available to CFM users to help with their gaming experience? What other ways have you used the tools to improve your CFM? How can EA expand on these tools so that the community can have more control over their CFM?