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6 Ways Madden 14 Could Make Connected Careers Better

What can Madden 14 improve upon in M13's Connected Careers?
What can Madden 14 improve upon in M13's Connected Careers?

Madden 13 introduced a more robust incarnation of its long-standing franchise mode in 2012 with Connected Careers, but for some the new feature fumbled in a few key areas that bogged down what is otherwise an enjoyable gaming experience. In particular, there are five things that we would love to see changed for next season.

With the Madden 14 hype train just around the corner and the Madden 13 season nearing its end, now is probably the best time to talk about some of the things we didn’t like this year in connected careers, and how they could be better going forward in Madden NFL. Some of these adjustments are simple fixes, some are more intricate, but all of them would make for a much smoother Connected Careers mode.

1) Bring Back Strategy Sliders

Many players who opt to play Connected Careers over your typical head-to-head online matchup do so because they enjoy the process of drafting, developing, and building a Superbowl squad over the years. For these sim type players, the lack of week-to-week strategy options was a glaring weakness in this year’s CCM mode, as it essentially removed game planning from the entire process.

Imagine how much better Madden 13 would have been if players could have controlled the run/pass ratios for each individual matchup, or dictated which side of the line they wanted to run or blitz from more often. In the long-run, a more complex game planning system has to find its way into Madden so that players can “go after” certain parts of a defense (What good is a 6’8″ receiver versus a 5’8″ cornerback if we can’t use the mismatch?), but in the short-term just providing players with the option to move a few sliders around would be nice.

2) Provide Scouting Essentials

I really thought the new scouting system in Madden 13 worked really well for the most part, however I was a bit annoyed by the fact that common measurables of the past were no longer freely available. Things like 40 yard dash, bench press and shuttle were never dead-giveaways to a player’s exact Madden ratings in the past, but they provided a good tool for honing in on the type of player you were looking for.

If game balance is the issue, then perhaps you could balance the revealing of these sort of common measureables by hiding them for small-school prospects, and making players who opt to perform at their “Pro Days” report much less reliable results than the combine. Ultimately, I don’t think letting players know how much a player can bench or how fast he can run the forty yard dash is something that will hurt the scouting process, and really only adds realism and further strategical decision making to the game.

3) Don’t Hide Important Stuff in Menus

There is nothing, and I mean nothing quite as annoying in Madden 13’s connected career mode than the laborious task of wading through menus to get to the box score or injury report of the game you just played. Important stuff is pushed so far down into menus, in fact, that if you actually wanted to see what your draft position was in the offseason, you would have to initiate a trade just to check what draft pick order you have. Yuck!

Things like injury report should be available on the front page directly after every game, because simulation players are forced to check it in-between every match in case they need to adjust their depth chart. Box scores are just as bad, as you actually have to go to your schedule menu and find the latest game (that you just played) just to see how the stats played out. Let us access a “Game Recap” right from the front page, without having to dig through menus to see how well our rookie quarterback performed.

Another head-scratcher is the extreme separation in menus between a player’s salary, and his ratings. This makes trading or releasing players in salary cap leagues a complete chore, as you have to go back and forth between salary menus and ratings menus just to get an idea of whether or not you are making a smart decision. It’s completely mind-boggling that salary cap info isn’t available from the trade screen.

4) Bring Back Spectator Mode

If you wanted to spectate a game in Madden 13’s Play Now feature, it’s a simple matter of not selecting a team when you start a game. If you want to spectate a game in Connected Careers however, well, you’re out of luck. For some reason, you can’t actually sit back and watch a game without being forced to play it in Madden 13’s CCM. This is important, because players who like to sim games (you did implement the Sim feature for a reason, right?) typically want to watch their games to see how players, strategies and depth charts are working out.

Late in the Madden season a patch for CCM was introduced that let you play in “Coach Mode” where you didn’t have to control the quarterback, but you still had to pick plays, and do all the other sort of nonsense someone explicitly doesn’t want to do when they opt to spectate or sim a game. It’s also quite ridiculous that in a league where myself and a friend sim games to see who can develop the best team, we can’t watch our game live if we both met in the Superbowl. CCM has been a very poor experience from a Sim player’s perspective, despite the many good features it does add to the game.

5) Truly Randomized Draft Classes

Madden 13 currently has around 30 unique draft classes that don’t repeat themselves in a given career to ensure your CCM draft experience feels new for at least thirty seasons, however it’s really not all that much when you consider people often restart careers, or join others with friends online. While in an ideal world you play in one connected careers save game and never come across the same draft class again, the reality is that you very often do. Worse than that, online CCM is frankly a joke when it’s a simple matter of researching online whether the player you’re targeting is any good or not. This forces everyone to cheat to stay competitive.

If EA wanted to make it easy on themselves, they could keep the same unique structure of each draft class, and simply randomize the names, pictures and universities. Although that’s not a perfect solution for online play, it’s better than nothing. We had random draft classes in Madden 12 and for the most part they worked fine, so why did we get rid of them when suddenly a lot more focus was put on playing online with others? Someone has to have the foresight to realize this breaks the entire scouting process online.

6) Let Us Spend XP Points in Bulk

Oh, so you have 40,000 XP points for one of your players? Either let the computer assign them automatically, or have fun clicking the same button twenty times in a row as you add one point at a time to the desired skill. Of all the things missing in CCM, this is probably both the least important, and yet most tedious task in the game. The year is 2013, we have the technology. Why can’t we just move the joystick left or right to allocate additional points before submitting our changes?

Alright, so this isn’t exactly gamebreaking by any means, but it just seems like such a simple thing that would have been discussed at some point while testers were mashing the color off their “A” buttons. Certainly it isn’t too much to ask to not make me repeat the same step over and over again for dozens of players.

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