Last week, the first teaser trailer for Madden NFL 12 (why don't they just call it '2012'?) was released. Somehow, I managed to miss the initial release and didn't stumble onto the trailer until this weekend. But even though it's "old news" now, that isn't going to stop me from sharing my two cents.
First things first, here's the trailer in its entirety:
There's a lot of information in this trailer. A heck of a lot more than we got in the NCAA Football 2012 screenshot from a few weeks ago. Let's break it down!
Today, I'm going to go through items number 1 through 4 on the diagram above (the images that make up the number "1"). I'll be following this blog up tomorrow with an analysis of items 5 through 10 (the images that make up the number "2").
Table of Contents:
Why does the trailer sound like it's the theatrical trailer for Inception?
Honestly? Did the guys at EA/Tiburon not have enough sports-like music to use? They had to make the trailer sound like you're watching some epic mind-bending movie trailer? Well, I certainly hope that this music is not going to be indicative of the soundtrack in the final game. If the sounds of Autumn Thunder (the official soundtrack of NFL Films Productions) get replaced with this kind of stuff, I am going to be very upset.
Ok, so I'm just joking there. I know the game isn't going to have Inception music, and this was just a marketing ploy to make the trailer grab people's attention. But what it did do is make me miss NFL 2K5 and its licensed ESPN soundtrack. Every time I turned that game on, it was like tuning into SportsCenter or NFL PrimeTime. Oh, how I miss that polygonal Chris Berman pointing his fingers at me like I just peed on the rug...
Section 1: Online chat rooms and/or tournaments?
The first new feature that EA decided to expose to us appears to be some sort of chat room feature either for online Franchise or for some kind of new tournament mode that they may be adding. The feature appears to include a real-time (or at least semi-real-time) score ticker. There seems to be several games in progress in the "True Dat Nation" league/tourney. And ChittyChitty is holding onto a commanding 46 to 12 lead over BangBang late in the 3rd quarter. Surprisingly enough, BangBang has not rage-quit yet.
This feature doesn't really concern me. Online play is something that I avoid in video games, especially in Madden because the integrity and sportsmanship of the Madden online community is severly lacking. In my opinion, online play is one of the worst things to happen to sports games ever. The idea of playing against human opponents seemed like a dream come true 5 or 6 years ago, but the casual nature of online gamers took all the appeal of it away for me, and focusing on online integration only seems to have taken time away from developing better AI and physics simulation for the single-player game.
Section 2: New player stats/profiling system
This looks somewhat interesting. The developers are apparently taking efforts to differentiate the play styles and on-field personalities of individual players through some kind of new stat/attribute/profiling system. The images in this video show two pages of Ladainian Tomlinson's information. Most of the information displayed seems to relate to quarterbacks and various intangibles such as pocket pressence and how often they force their throws. But there are also a few other tendencies listed, such as how often the player initiates contact with other players and how often he covers the ball with both hands.
On the one hand, this looks like it could be a big step up for the franchise and could finally represent the drastic differences in play style when comparing players like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning against someone like Jay Cutler or Michael Vick. However, if EA keeps just adding new attributes to players, then managing and comparing players is going to become a nightmare! There's also no way to tell whether this feature is fully implemented for all positions (including kickers, linemen, defenders, and special teamers), or if its only going to apply to skilled players like quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers.
This one goes into the category of "restrained excitement".
Section 3: Historic / Hall of Fame Ultimate Team Cards
Hey! Look! It's Sweetness! From this image, it appears that EA is going to be gracing the game with new Ultimate Team collectible player cards - and it looks like they are going to be Hall of Famers! I guess this is exciting if you're an Ultimate-Team-kinda-guy. But I'm mostly just in it for Franchise. Besides, if this ends up being anything like the previous versions of Ultimate Team, these cards won't even carry over to next year. And what's the point of having a "collectible card game" feature if you don't get to keep your collected cards?!
Section 4: New team and player introductions
Well, this one definitely goes into the category of "big whoop". Basically, they're just stealing a feature that they introduced in last year's NCAA Football 11. Hopefully, with only 32 teams instead of 120, they'll actually get every team's unique entrances and tradition instead of just a select few. That means everything from Pittsburg's "Terrible Towels" to the raising of Seattle's "12th Man" flag.
But you know what this will really end up meaning? It will mean that when you play Franchise with the a single team, you're going to be looking at the exact same team "unique" team introduction every game. Exact same players, doing the exact same things, with the exact same background music and commentary. Wake me up when the actual game starts...
Well, that's all I've got for this teaser for now. But before I go, I've got one last thing I want to get off my chest.
Why did EA stop taking consumer feedback?
Before I move on, I want to talk about one other thing that I've noticed. And it is not something in the teaser itself. It has to do with EA and Madden's websites and blogs.
A few years ago, they started the Inside EA Sports blog, which was supposed to be a developer's blog detailing inside information about how the new games are being developed, what new features they are adding, and a way of receiving consumer feedback. For the first year or two, Madden and NCAA were frequent topics of the blog, and those blogs detailed upcoming features, showed new screenshots, and asked the consumer what they thought of the new features that were being announced through their comments section. It was a pretty awesome move by EA! It got many consumers feeling like they were involved in the game-development process, and built a lot of hype for the games within the community.
But last year (or was it the year before?), all that seemed to stop. I had the site on my homepage for quite some time so that I could keep up on the newest info. But info about Madden and NCAA slowly dropped off the blog, moving instead to the new Madden website's blog, and the comments section was not included in this version of the blog. Eventually, developer info on Madden and NCAA disappeared completely from the Inside EA Blog, leaving only player annecdotes and "tips and tricks" posts.
What happened, EA? Was the feedback you were getting not what you wanted? So you shut the whole thing down so you wouldn't have to hear it anymore? I think it's a bad sign that EA doesn't even seem to allow comments on their previews, blogs, and videos that go up on their websites. As if they don't want to hear what real people have to say.
In all fairness, though, those blogs did get bombarded with hate spam and repetitive advertisement posts that drowned out the real constructive feedback. But couldn't they have just moderated it? Apparently, they don't bother.
I wonder if those sort of decisions may have contributed to the decline in sales for Madden last year? Or maybe it was because last year's game was a horribly disappointing product. I guess we'll see what happens this year.
Well, that is all for now. Stay tuned for Part 2!